Trent Oeltjen | ARI | OF
True Talent: .268/.318/.399
Next Week Forecast: 0.3 HR, 3 Runs, 2 RBI, .268 BA, 0.7 SB
Arizona sent Chris Young down to Triple-A this week, bringing up Oeltjen, a nine-year minor league veteran with a career line of .293/.358/.410. He has steadily improved in his last three years at Triple-A, reaching a .300/.358/.505 level in 2009, which earned him that long-awaited call-up. He’s crushed in his brief time in the bigs, but that’s not going to continue, and True Talent’s not the only reason. Conor Jackson and Eric Byrnes are due to return soon, and Justin Upton could come back around the same time, so Oeltjen’s basically auditioning for a fourth OF spot on the team. All of this makes him only worth a short-term pickup in the deepest of NL-only leagues.
Anibal Sanchez | FLA | SP
YTD: 7.1 K/9, 1.6 K/BB, 5.55 ERA
True Talent: 7.1 K/9, 1.7 K/BB, 4.53 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 5.2 IP, 0.3 Wins, 5 K, 4.82 ERA
One of Florida’s promising young arms, Sanchez is due back soon from the minors, where he’s been rehabbing a sprained right shoulder. He says he’s ready now and has tickled the mid-90s with his fastball, so expect him to start sometime next week. His early season stats are a bit inflated as he was battling those shoulder problems, but True Talent shows his peripherals are right on target. His career has been marred by injuries, including surgery on that same right shoulder, so handle him with care. But the talent is there, and he’ll deliver Ks as well as wins from a Florida club that has won 13 of its last 21 and 5 of its last 6. If he does well in his first start, he’ll be a good roster addition for nearly all NL-only leagues and mixed leagues of at least 12 teams.
Alcides Escobar | MIL | SS
True Talent: N/A
Next Week Forecast: N/A
Milwaukee’s housecleaning this week cleared the way for Escobar, their top prospect, to make his mark. He’s a wizard with the glove but has been working on his hitting in order to reach the majors. In 2009, he hit .297/.346/.412 in the minors, with 42 SB, showing you his real fantasy value—speed. His batting eye needs more work, although his 0.5 BB/K this season in minors was an improvement over his .34 career mark, and it’s the reason he’ll start out at the bottom of the batting order (he hit ninth in Macha’s LaRussa-esque lineup on Thursday). He’s likely to struggle initially getting on base, which will affect his SB numbers, and he won’t collect as many runs until he can hit leadoff. Hardy remains in the wings if he struggles, further diminishing his value. But teams with a need for speed aren’t going to find any better waiver wire opportunities to collect steals at this point in the season, making him a good add in almost any league. Just keep in mind his probable BA drag, diminished power and runs.
Oliver Perez | NY | SP
YTD: 8.7 K/9, 1.1 K/BB, 5.97 ERA
True Talent: 8.2 K/9, 1.6 K/BB, 4.78 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 12.0 IP, 0.7 Wins, 11 K, 4.52 ERA
How bad do you need strikeouts? Enough to take Perez’s 8.2 BB/9 and ERA that floats around 5? Enough to pray for a win from the Quadruple-A Mets? Perez has given up only seven ER over his past four starts, dishing out 26 Ks over 21.2 IP, but he didn’t pick up a win. That’s about what you should expect from Perez, who’s also prone to disastrous starts, like the two seven-plus ER starts he had in April. The good news is that he’s been looking better of late; the bad news is that for Perez, looking better isn’t hard to do—this is the first month his ERA has dipped below 7.00. Maybe you see that glass as half-full and see continued improvement—he’s got to lose over a run to match his TT projection, after all—but he’s unlikely to prove worthy of the gamble. Let’s hope you don’t need Ks this bad.
Angel Pagan | NY | OF
True Talent: .263/.323/.410
Next Week Forecast: 0.5 HR, 4 Runs, 3 RBI, .258 BA, 0.9 SB
Shortly after Carlos Beltran hit the DL, Pagan became New York’s everyday CF and leadoff hitter, and he’s been about the only thing Mets fans have been able to count on, outside of David Wright and being below .500. Particularly of late, Pagan’s been getting on base at a good clip and scoring runs, even getting a handful of extra-base hits. Cory Sullivan has started in the past couple of days, as punishment from Jerry Manuel for poor play from Pagan, but Pagan should be back there soon. He’s still not going to bring a ton of value, but he’s not a bad pickup for his combination of moderate power and speed. His best value is in NL-only leagues 15 teams or deeper; teams in other leagues can try to snag a few steals from him, but be warned: He’s only swiped four bags in his last 28 starts.
Madison Bumgarner | SF | SP
YTD: 7.0 K/9, 3.0 K/BB, 1.97 ERA (minors)
True Talent: N/A
Next Week Forecast: N/A
Heads up, keeper owners: Bumgarner is coming. Though he’s currently at Double-A, rumors persist of this 20-year-old lefty’s imminent call-up, and you’ll see him in September (if not sooner) as either a starter or reliever. His fastball is so nasty that he’s had to work only recently on a good peripheral pitch, settling on a slurve instead of his inconsistent curve. He’s got poise, power, good health, and can even hit (.429/.500/.857 in 9 PAs this year). On any other club, he’d be a sure ace, but there’s some guy named “Lincecum” in his way to that honor. If your keeper league doesn’t allow minor-league pickups, get your finger ready on the mouse for when he gets that call-up; if you can take minor-leaguers (and he’s still available), now’s the time to get him. You won’t be sorry.
Wladimir Balentien | CIN | OF
True Talent: .234/.301/.408
Next Week Forecast: 0.5 HR, 2 Runs, 2 RBI, .230 BA, 0.2 SB
One of the lesser names to switch leagues before the trade deadline, Balentien was swapped by Seattle after they DFAed him, finally tired of waiting for his power to develop. He’s only 24, but his 0.38 BB/K in the minors declined to a 0.27 in the majors, and his .368 career SLG in the bigs couldn’t make up for that. He’s competing for time with Jonny Gomes, who is both older and very streaky—his 3-HR night on Thursday followed a 4-for-27 stretch—so Balentien could eat up more PT as August progresses, but Bruce is due back in September, which should push both Balentien and Gomes back to the bench. That .357/.455/.500 with CIN makes Balentien look juicy, and he could be worth a short-term flier in very deep NL-only leagues, but he won’t give you very much for very long.
Bobby Parnell | NY | SP/RP
YTD: 7.3 K/9, 1.6 K/BB, 3.94 ERA
True Talent: 6.3 K/9, 1.3 K/BB, 5.18 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 5.2 IP, 0.3 Wins, 4 K, 5.19 ERA
Parnell is the latest to toe the Rubber of Death for the Mets, filling in while Mike Pelfrey left to take care of his wife. He’s going to get another chance to start tonight, which could determine whether he sticks in the rotation or not, and thus what kind of value he might have for your team. His average stats make him suitable only as a fringe-y starter, so watch this next outing carefully. He’s a well-regarded prospect in the Mets system, so he’s got the skills, but his long-term outlook sees him coming out of the bullpen. Consider him a gamble for NL-only leagues 15 teams and deeper, or as a pick-and-stash for deep keeper leagues.
True Talent and Next Week Forecasts courtesy of Heater Magazine.