2015 Fantasy Baseball, Impact players to target: Russell, Rodon and Heston
Rarely does a fantasy season go off without a hitch. Regardless of how well your draft goes, injury or an unexpected down season are bound to affect your team at some point. There are always ways to upgrade your team, and below are five players to target that should be able to help your team in some aspect of fantasy.
Last week was ripe with Kris Bryant mania. While Theo Epstein would have liked to wait a few days so that he could have brought up his über prospect on the road, the fact that the service time had resolved itself and Mike Olt and Tommy La Stella are currently injured, his timetable was accelerated. This week however, the prospect hype has shifted to the south side, as the White Sox have summoned the 3rd overall pick in the 2014 draft. After just 31.2 innings between A+ and AAA, Carlos Rodon will be added to the major league roster. While he’s initially going to work out of the bullpen, Rodon’s long-term future is as a member of the starting rotation, and picking him up now could pay dividends later in the season.
Seemingly the only downside to Rodon’s potential thus far in his career has been his propensity to walk hitters. His lowest rate has been 3.60 in 2015 at the AAA level, but at just 22 years of age, his command will likely improve. His other numbers however have all been fantastic. His lowest K/9 was 11.70, has yet to allow a homerun, and even with some inflated BABIP numbers, has fantastic peripherals. His FIP has been consistently lower than his ERA, which indicates that his pitched better than what his ERA suggests. The White Sox are unfortunately not a team full of defensive wizards, but they’re undoubtedly better than what Rodon has behind him in the minor leagues. While he likely won’t rack up any saves, he will help in the strikeout department, and once he steps into the starting rotation will be even more valuable.
Staying in the Windy City, now that Kris Bryant is on the major league roster, the title of über prospect now belongs to Addison Russell. While Fangraphs has his ETA listed at 2016, the current consensus is that not only will he see action at the MLB level in 2015, but that it could be relatively soon. The Cubs currently have a platoon of Arismendy Alcantara and Jonathan Herrera at 2nd base. That’s less than desirable for a team trying to get back to the playoffs, and with Russell now taking reps in AAA at second, it’s fair to wonder if the Cubs have expedited his ascension to the big leagues.
|2014 (AA) OAK||14.0%||14.0%||.167||.385||.333||.439||.500||.429||173|
|2014 (AA) CHI||4.4%||17.1%||.242||.306||.294||.332||.536||.388||141|
|2015 (AAA) CHI||2.7%||13.5%||.143||.333||.314||.324||.457||.340||103|
Russell has gotten off to somewhat of a slow start in AAA, but his numbers are solid for the most part. His AVG is good, and his wOBA suggests that his OBP doesn’t reflect his true skill set. Even if your league doesn’t have a designated minor league slot, Russell is good enough to stash on the bench before he’s called up and someone else picks him up before you can.
Greene was a part of the deal that sent Didi Gregorious to the Yankees, and Robbie Ray to Arizona. While Gregorious was the “headliner” of the deal, it seems that the Tigers came away with a steal. Ray is in AAA pitching to the tune of a 4.15 ERA and a 6.60 FIP, while Gregorious is lighting it up with a wRC+ of -4 (that’s horrible). Greene on the other hand has allowed just one run in 23 innings, and posted excellent peripherals.
Greene is obviously due for some regression, but has already shown an ability to be an above average MLB starter. His K/9 is concerning, and his BABIP is unsustainably low, but his FIP is spectacular. Ordinarily, seeing a SIERA that high would be worrisome, but because of how it’s constructed, Greene is punished for the low K/9 rate. He’s not going to have a sub-one ERA over the course of an entire season, but if the Tigers offense remains this productive Greene could rack up a lot of wins.
Heston was originally supposed to make a spot start for the Giants when Matt Cain couldn’t make his first start of the year, but with the way he’s pitched in three starts, he’s likely up to stay. At 27 years of age, there was hardly any hype about his call-up in 2014, and the same was true in 2015. The media outlets didn’t report on it, and is still relatively unknown.
While he doesn’t boast a blazing fastball that he can put hitters away with, he does have some great secondary pitches. His curveball has made Troy Tulowitzki and Paul Goldschmidt look like little leaguers, and his sinker has helped him generate groundballs at an elite rate; eighth overall at 62.1%. He’s 2-1 on the season, and currently pitching the best baseball on the Giants staff, an incredible feat considering that Madison Bumgarner is a member of that team. Heston isn’t going to strike out many batters, but he’s also not going to walk many hitters. After abandoning his four-seam and two-seam, Heston has transformed into Tim Hudson lite. By inducing weak contact, his BABIP will remain low, along with his HR/9 rate. If pitching is a weakness on your team, and Heston is available in your league, it would be wise to give the man known as Hesto Presto a shot.
Span made his first start of the season on April 19th after having a core injury that required surgery. Now that he’s back, he certainly deserves a spot on your team if he’s still available. He had a fantastic season in 2014, and if he’s fully recovered, will be able to provide positive value in multiple categories.
Span isn’t going to do much in the way of power, but can undoubtedly bolster the others. He’s extremely helpful in the stolen base department, as he swiped 31 bags in 2014, and 20 the year before that. While last season was one of Span’s best, his career numbers in his rate statistics were remarkably similar. His career triple slash line is .286/.352/.392. It’s unlikely that his slugging will remain above .400, his AVG and OBP were well within what to expect from the Nationals outfielder.