Well, it’s official: The 2013 fantasy season is getting old. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it does mean that the home stretch is nearing for fantasy owners across the country, and with that, the increased need for that magical Kris Medlen-type pickup who can turn around our fortunes. Granted, capturing lightning in a bottle is hardly an easy proposition, but in the case of our two guest stars this week, we’re looking at two big prospects who just might be ready to blossom in the second half.
Matt Adams | St. Louis Cardinals | 1B | 11 percent Yahoo ownership; 11 percent ESPN; 34 percent CBS
YTD: 152 PA / .309 / .368 / .532 with 7 HR and 0 SB
ZiPS updated: 325 PA / .290 / .342 / .489 with 13 HR and 1 SB
I’m not dispensing any sage wisdom when I talk up Adams’ virtues, as he’s been a fairly well known prospect for several years. And yet, the ownership levels are still too low for a guy who has legitimate pop and, at least for the immediate future, a full-time gig playing first base for one of the best offensive teams in the National League.
Adams, part of the Cardinals’ never-ending parade of young talent, arrived in the majors last year after demolishing minor league pitching to the tune of a .318 / .364 / .563 line and hasn’t let up since Matt Holliday became sidelined earlier this month with a hamstring injury. With Allen Craig pushed to the outfield, Adams has held his own so far in July, sporting a .822 OPS entering yesterday’s action.
In a nutshell, this guy can hit, and there aren’t a lot of question marks surrounding the 24-year-old aside from whether he’ll get the plate appearances necessary to make him more than just a stopgap option in fantasy this year. The Cardinals seem content playing Craig in left field in the absence of Holliday, who officially went on the disabled list on Saturday, retroactive to July 12. That means he won’t be back until at least the end of Week 17, and perhaps longer given that Holliday is 33 years old.
Then there’s the impending arrival of super prospect Oscar Taveras, but he’s been sidelined with a high ankle sprain and won’t play again for at least another week. Taveras will probably dip his toes into the majors before 2013 is over, but that doesn’t seem likely to happen for at least a few more weeks.
In the meantime, Adams is worth picking up across the board as a great power source. If the Holliday injury lingers, he might emerge as an excellent waiver addition in all mixed leagues as the second half unfolds.
Recommendation: Adams can be used in all leagues for at least the next week.
Wily Peralta | Milwaukee Brewers | SP | 12 percent Yahoo ownership; 22 percent ESPN; 30 percent CBS
YTD: 113.1 IP / 4.61 ERA / 5.6 K/9 / 3.6 BB/9 with 7 wins
ZiPS updated: 180 IP / 4.64 ERA / 6.1 K/9 / 4 BB/9 with 11 wins
Once considered the best pitching prospect in the Brewers’ organization, a high ceiling was never the issue for the 24-year-old right-hander with the live arm, but after he entered June with a 6.35 ERA, it certainly seemed as if the Dominican native was still raw in his first full season.
Peralta, as you may recall, was excellent in 29 innings (five starts) last year, keeping his BB/9 under 3.5 while contributing decently in the strikeout department and maintaining a sparkling 2.48 ERA that was backed up by a 2.65 FIP. This year, however, the strikeouts and (especially) the strand rate collapsed, sending his ERA soaring despite a neutral .301 BABIP.
Fortunately for the Brewers and prospective fantasy owners, Peralta has turned things around since and has been especially hot lately, posting a 0.87 ERA over his last six starts, including eight shutout innings Sunday. While the strikeouts have yet to materialize for Peralta, the 7 K/9 he’s owned over that recent stretch hopefully foreshadows a return to the strikeout-per-inning pace he flashed during his minor league career.
The Brewers, of course, have been terrible this season, and if Peralta starts to tire toward the end of the season, there’s little reason for Milwaukee to push its luck with a guy who’s twice been named among Baseball America’s top 100 prospects. But that’s something to be dealt with later. For the time being, Peralta is a nice pickup in mixed leagues looking for pitching, a true upside guy who’s starting to make good on his promise.
Recommendation: He’s a hot hand to ride right now in most mixed leagues.