September is a very exciting time for us fantasy baseball managers. That minor league player you’ve had stashed on your roster is getting called up and you’re in a tight race to either get into the playoffs of your head-to-head league or finish in the money of your roto league. Don’t ever underestimate the power of a little outside help, especially from those who haven’t touched a major league field this season.
The guy I’ve been watching all season has been referred to countless times on this podcast and in these articles and that’s Billy Hamilton. The Reds finally came to their senses and have announced they’ll call him up on Monday, September 1 to officially be a member of the Reds. We don’t know yet what kind of impact he’ll have but they’ll want to get him on the basepaths as soon as possible to see how well his blazing speed translates to the majors. Hint: It’s going to be great and he’s going to pile up the stolen bases. Hamilton, when not used as a pinch-runner, will play center field and is even eligible at shortstop in all Yahoo! Fantasy leagues. Get this guy on your team NOW. Even if he doesn’t start that doesn’t mean he can’t pick you up a couple SB’s over the course of the game. Remember, the double-switch is your friend.
Another top prospect, already called up to his big club is Seattle Mariners pitcher Taijuan Walker. He made his debut this week against the Houston Astros, a very smart move by Mariners brass, but may be shut down early due to an innings limit instilled at the beginning of the season. GM Jack Zduriencik calls Walker the best athlete in the entire system and it showed on Friday, as Walker mastered his fastball and cutter to weave his way through the Houston lineup. Though he only recorded two strikeouts, his command was strong and the M’s defense behind him was extremely helpful, including a fantastic sliding catch from Dustin Ackley in front of the infamous Minute Maid Park hill. Get Walker on your team immediately and unless you’re in a keeper league, feel free to drop him when (not if) the M’s shut him down.
Besides these two guys, who I’ve been looking forward to seeing for some time, there are a handful of prospects that should see time with their parent clubs before the season is out. Pirates pitching prospect Jamison Taillon should make his debut within the next couple weeks. He had some high-level experience pitching for Team Canada in this year’s World Baseball Classic and has recorded exactly one strikeout per inning pitched for AAA-Indianapolis. I also like Detroit Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos. He’s been on my radar for a couple years and has put up strong numbers for AAA-Toledo this season with a .276 average, 18 homers and 76 RBI. He’ll be especially helpful if Miguel Cabrera continues to have nagging injuries in his abdomen. Don’t be surprised if Miggy ends up at DH while Castellanos takes over the fielding duties at third.
Looking back at the AL West, the Oakland A’s have Michael Choice, a hard-hitting outfielder who deserves a cup of coffee this September. Though he’s struggled as of late, his average has hovered around .300 the entire season and he’s added 14 home runs and 89 RBI’s, numbers that definitely garner a call up for this talented youngster. Finally there’s George Springer, who I talked about on the podcast last week. Springer is in the home-stretch of his run at a 40/40 campaign, only needing three more home runs before the season is out to reach that plateau. I would love to see the Astros bring him up just so he could pop his last three homers over the short porch in left field. Houston has already brought up journeyman outfielder Trevor Crowe and pitcher Jorge De Leon but may leave some guys in the minors, like Springer, Jonathan Singleton and Carlos Correa due to minor league playoffs.
Keep an eye on the MLB transactions list and keep checking your “Watch List” for notes on minor league players on the verge of promotion. You may have gone the entire year without changing your outfield but that doesn’t mean these guys can’t help you push into and through the playoffs.