Fantasy baseball depth chart analysis
So what actually happened when active roster caps expanded from 25 to 40 on Sept. 1? As expected, many of the additions were of the back-of-the-bullpen, fifth-outfielder variety. More names may emerge as the minor league seasons gradually draw to a close, but there have been some interesting developments.
Without any further ado, here are 10 observations:
Six Intriguing Calls
Jurickson Profar, SS, TEX
This was easily the biggest surprise of addition season. There had been some rumblings earlier in August that the Rangers would recall Profar during the September opportunity, but I dismissed the notion that they would recall the majors' top hitting prospect without a place to put him on a regular basis. I was wrong. He shone in his big league debut Sunday, with a home run and double in his first two at-bats (bear in mind those at-bats came against the Indians' Zach McAllister). He made the start Sunday for an ailing Ian Kinsler, but it remains to be seen where regular appearances could come for Profar. Kinsler entered Sunday with an AL-leading 600 plate appearances, so there is a chance the Rangers rest him more often as they prep for October. Otherwise, Profar will be limited to pinch (running, hitting, and fielding) duties.
Carlos Peguero, OF, SEA
I am still not sure where the at-bats will come from and he has yet to hit on the better side of .200 in the majors, but I find it hard to quit a man of his size (listed at 6-foot-5, 245 pounds) and power. Peguero had 21 home runs in just 281 at-bats for Triple-A Tacoma this season, good for an impressive .278 ISO, and he hit 31 as a 22-year-old in 2009. Safeco Field is typically a place where power dreams go to die, but he went deep once in three at-bats Sunday (at home), and the M's still have series in Toronto, Anaheim and Arlington before the end of the season. There could be some time in the outfield available in the short term with Michael Saunders' groin acting up, or he could have a part in the team's rotation at DH.
Tony Campana, OF, CHI-N
Campana seems to be a guy who has been featured in several In Some Depth's this season, and he earns another mention after he was one of three players the Cubs chose to recall Saturday. He actually has made more starts in center field this season than any other Cub with 32, but he stands little chance of displacing Brett Jackson at that spot before the season is over. Instead, he could enter into a strange timeshare in right with David DeJesus and Joe Mather. He could provide a speed boost down the stretch even if he only serves as a substitute player. He has gone 44-for-54 on the basepaths between Chicago and Triple-A Iowa this season over 302 combined at-bats.
Eduardo Nunez, 3B, NY-A
The Yankees added Nunez to the roster Saturday after sending him back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in May. A thumb injury derailed much of his 2012 campaign, but with Brett Gardner lost for the year, Nunez is one of the few men on the Yankees' roster who can steal a bag at will. The Yankees said earlier in the year they wanted to limit the number of positions Nunez plays, but his defensive versatility could be an asset as some of their older players require days off in September.
Brock Holt, SS, PIT
A month ago, Brock Holt was a 24-year-old, 9th-round draft pick filling a role at Double-A Altoona. On Sunday, Holt led off and started at second for the Pirates. He OPS'd 1.013 in a month-long trial at Triple-A Indianapolis, but Holt has little power (just 11 home runs over four seasons) and middling speed (11 steals in 22 chances at Altoona). He could see time at second in the near-term with Neil Walker dealing with a back injury, but he could also see time at short. The team's shortstops' .257 OBP ranks 16h in the NL, and only eight home runs have come from the position. Clint Barmes, Josh Harrison, and Jordy Mercer are all replaceable while the team fights for one of the league's Wild Card slots. Holt's stock could boost further if the Pirates move into "let's evaluate for 2013" mode.
Avisail Garcia, OF, DET
The Tigers opted to add Garcia over fellow outfield prospect Nick Castellanos, and the right fielder made a pretty good impression in his first weekend in the big leagues. He started Saturday and Sunday against Francisco Liriano and Chris Sale (both left-handers), and he notched three hits in his first seven at-bats. He is a big kid, drawing comparisons to Miguel Cabrera from teammates, with good plate presence, which could help him pan out offensively. All Detroit outfielders not named Austin Jackson should be considered "on notice."
Four Potential Falls
Brandon Belt, 1B, SF
Belt has only had to worry about the occasional Buster Posey start at first base the past few weeks, but that trend is bound to change over the season's final month. The Giants not only recalled Brett Pill from the Triple-A on Sept. 1, but they also activated Aubrey Huff from the disabled list. Bothmcould spell Belt, who does not have a home run since June 23, on a regular basis. Pill started against a left-handed pitcher Sunday, and manager Bruce Bochy may turn that direction more often with Belt splitting .222/.341/.361 against left-handed starting pitchers.
Wilson Betemit, 3B, BAL
The Orioles took advantage of roster expansion to activate Betemit (wrist) from the disabled list, but it does not look like he has a home to return to. Chris Davis had a .935 OPS from Aug. 11 through Sept. 2, Mark Reynolds bucked a season-long slump with a four-home run series against the Yankees, and it does not look like the O's will be showing Manny Machado the bench anytime soon. That means the DH, first and third base slots are all unavailable for Betemit. He could spell those spots a few nights a week, but a regular job may be unlikely.
Jeff Francouer, OF, KC
The Royals may decide to pull the plug on Jeff Francouer's 2012 season before the end of the month. He surprised all with a 20-20 campaign in 2011, and then he re-surprised with a .644 OPS through 121 games this season. His 14 walks in August nearly matched the 16 he had through the season's first four months, but his playing time has become more sporadic as the Royals feel out an outfield of Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson. Even the recently-recalled David Lough saw more at-bats than Francouer during the weekend series against the Twins.
Mike Aviles, SS, BOS
The Red Sox recalled Jose Iglesias in the waning days of August, and he figures to start the majority of the team's September contests as they evaluate his standing for the 2013 roster. Mike Aviles played an extremely capable shortstop in 2012 (his 7.8 UZR ranks fifth among AL shortstops), but that is not enough to stand in the way of a 22-year-old who could have more of a future with the team. Aviles could see time around the diamond in September, but he will probably be out of the lineup more often than not.
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