As we get towards July in Fantasyland, those in H2H leagues are seeing their league take shape; and whether you need to final piece to get over the hump and really contend, or you need to top up your bench with the rising stars; I’ve got you covered! So without further ado, we start once again with another of my beloved prospect pickups…
Ian Happ, 2B/OF, Chicago Cubs
I was all aboard the Ian Happ hype train upon his promotion to the bigs back in May, when he dazzled early on hitting .357 in his first 9 games with the Cubs. He then slumped in a big way over the next couple weeks, as a lot of rookies will do as the Major Leaguers adjust to them; until the calendar rolled over to June. So far this month he has 8 HRs, 18 RBIs with a .349 batting average and a remarkable 1.007 OPS. He’s always been a hitter first prospect, and his defence does leave a little bit to be desired; but who cares about that in fantasy, right?! Joe Maddon always finds ways to use his younger players, and if the Cubs lineup can start hitting like it did last season, those counting stats could really come in thick and fast as the season wears on. He’s a must-add right now.
Mike Fiers, SP, Houston Astros
Any pitcher playing for the Astros right now will have at least some fantasy relevance, purely due to the fact they could pitch hopelessly and still wind up with a win due to the dominance of their offence. But in Fiers case, he’s slowly stepping up in the absence of Dallas Keuchel as their ace as he hasn’t recorded a loss since the 20th May! In the last 30 days, Fiers has gone 4-0 with a 1.72 ERA, 1.07 WHIP to go along with 29 Ks in just 31 Innings. He’s due to face the A’s Tuesday (before I write this piece, so sorry in advance if he gets his tits lit up) and the Yankees on Sunday, who the Astros have a really good record against. If your pitching is flailing, I know mine is, Fiers is certainly worth a look.
Matt Davidson, 3B/DH, Chicago White Sox
If I asked you to name who has hit the second most HRs in the Majors over the last 15 days (second to Toby Bellringer, of course), Matt Davidson would almost certainly not be the first name on the tip of your tongue. He was in and around the lineup early on this season, but has now worked his way into a regular role with the rebuilding White Sox. Once upon a time, Davidson actually was a high calibre prospect for the Diamondbacks (drafted in the 1st round), with 30/35 HR power potential, so this doesn’t look like a fluke. In the White Sox, he has a chance to stick long-term, as they’ve practically written off this season anyway, and Yoan Moncada has moved back to his natural 2B, so it’s a trend I expect to continue.
Deeper League Finds
Deep in the fantasy wasteland of free agency, there are still some good value picks to be made for the hardcore nuts like myself who you really need to dig deep to find. In this section we have one relatively well known name making a comeback and then an up and coming youngster with a high ceiling to look out for.
Doug Fister, SP, Boston Red Sox
For those with longer memories, Fister was one of the more underrated pitchers in baseball between 2011 and 2014, the latter of which he finished 8th in the NL Cy Young voting with the Washington Nationals. He’s made his way back to the Majors with the Red Sox, and made a reasonable start against the Angels (who released him not long ago) allowing 3 runs in 6 innings of work. Playing on a contender will help his wins keep ticking over; and with a stellar infield in Boston (now that Pablo Sandoval has disappeared again) his ground-ball heavy approach should be well suited at Fenway Park. At the very least he should be able to pump in Quality Starts for his new team and fill a gap on your fantasy roster.
Franklin Barreto, SS, Oakland Athletics
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, Blake recommends young prospect recently promoted to the big leagues. Hopefully this one goes a little better than Lewis Brinson, who was just demoted; but Barreto seems to have a lot more job security than Brinson did in Milwaukee. Oakland are like the White Sox and Davidson mentioned earlier, with not a lot to lose my getting some seasoning to their younger players. Barreto started like a house on fire with a pair of 2 for 5 performances, including a HR on his debut. The power is for real, and he should be able to hit towards .280 at the big league level; and at a thin position like Shortstop, he could be a nice little add for your teams.