This is the weekly Fantasy Roundtable, where the writers of Rotoworld Baseball let the readers of Rotoworld Baseball in on a quick staff discussion. It's water cooler talk ... that we've decided to publish. Look for it every Tuesday.
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Drew Silva: MLB rosters will expand next Thursday, September 1, allowing teams to call up players for their first taste of big league life or to serve as functional depth for the stretch run. Every year it seems a few of those September callups actually have a legitimate fantasy impact. Anyone come to mind who could fit that mold?
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D.J. Short: I’m not banking on mixed league value from most of the September call-ups, but there’s opportunity in the Padres’ outfield and prospect Hunter Renfroe has been knocking on the door for a while now. The 24-year-old has slashed .310/.341/.570 with 28 homers in 119 games this season with Triple-A El Paso. Fortunately, his recent hand/wrist issue turned out to be minor. Numbers in the Pacific Coast League must be taken with a grain of salt and his shaky plate discipline (105 strikeouts and 20 walks in 508 plate appearances) remains a legitimate concern, so those expecting a seamless transition will likely be disappointed. But the Padres figure to give him a long look as they plan for 2017, so he could be an interesting speculative play in deeper formats assuming he gets the call.
Drew Silva: To piggyback off Renfroe, it also looks like the Padres might give a long look to top-100 outfield prospect Manuel Margot down the stretch. And while he has plenty of holes in his game like Renfroe, the speed should at least be appealing for deep mixed leaguers and those in NL-only formats. Margot, 21, has tallied 27 stolen bases in 111 games this season at Triple-A El Paso and he boasts 159 career steals in 453 professional games. You’re not going to get much power or any other sort of counting stats, but he has batted .305 for El Paso and the Padres might as well let him run wild on the basepaths as they play out the string in 2016. San Diego’s current starting outfield consists of Alex Dickerson, Travis Jankowski, and Patrick Kivlehan. Those aren’t big hurdles for the highly-thought-of Renfroe and Margot.
David Shovein: One player that I'm interested in seeing in September is Bradley Zimmer. The 23-year-old outfielder has a lot of swing-and-miss to his game, but is also a dynamic talent, slashing .264/.378/.450 with 15 homers, 61 RBI, and 38 stolen bases in 117 games this season between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus. His speed alone makes him a very intriguing commodity in mixed leagues if he were to find his way into a regular role with the Tribe over the final month of the season. Given the fact that the major impediment to his potential playing time is Abraham Almonte and his .291 OBP, it isn't far-fetched to think that Zimmer will find that regular role.
Matthew Pouliot: Like Dave, I want to see what Zimmer can do. The Indians aren’t going to have Almonte in the postseason anyway – his steroids suspension rules him out – so there’s extra incentive for the team to give Zimmer a look.
I’m curious how the Phillies are going to align their outfield in September. Ideally, Nick Williams would be ready to take on a starting job, but he’s slumped badly in August at Triple-A Lehigh Valley and his lack of plate discipline is a big problem. Roman Quinn might be more interesting, at least for the short term. The shortstop-turned-center fielder is hitting .308/.384/.446 this month and .281/.358/.414 overall in Double-A. Most importantly for fantasy purposes, he’s swiped 28 bases in 65 games. The Phillies would give themselves perhaps the fastest outfield in baseball playing him alongside Odubel Herrera and Aaron Altherr. It might be that he’ll be more of a reserve than a starter next month, but if it looks like he’ll play regularly, the steals will likely make him worth owning.
Ryan Boyer: I suspect the Brewers will want to get a look at Josh Hader next month. Acquired from the Astros at last year's trade deadline in the Carlos Gomez/Mike Fiers deal, Hader has struck batters out at a high rate his entire professional career but has taken it to another level this season. After whiffing 73 over 57 innings at Double-A, he's since recorded 81 punchouts over 61 Triple-A frames. In his last outing on Sunday, Hader struck out a career-high 12 batters over six scoreless innings. The left-hander's ERA has also gone up quite a bit in his move up the ladder from 0.95 to 4.79, but he has a 2.88 mark over his last six starts. Plus, we need to keep in mind that Hader is pitching at a launching pad in Colorado Springs. The Brewers have been careful with Hader's innings, as he's only 15 frames beyond last year's total and four shy of his career high, so he shouldn't be shut down anytime soon. If the 22-year-old gets a shot he should at the very least provide strikeouts for fantasy owners.
Nathan Grimm: When news of the trade of Rich Hill and Josh Reddick from the Athletics to the Dodgers began to leak on Twitter, the first name identified as going to the A's was pitching prospect Jharel Cotton. As minutes passed and no new info was passed along, the question became: "That can't be all, can it?"
That wasn't all, obviously, but Cotton has certainly justified the Athletics' interest. While Reddick has hit .149/.208/.164 in 18 games since the trade and Hill hasn't made a single start for the Dodgers due to a lingering blister issue, Cotton has posted a 3.51 ERA, 0.85 WHIP and 26/4 K/BB ratio in 25 2/3 innings over four starts with the A's Triple-A affiliate. He really only has two pitches, a low-to-mid 90s fastball and a plus changeup, that will play in the majors, and there are some questions about his long-term role, but the A's don't have any incentive to move him to the bullpen while he's pitching well as a starter. And with the 24-year-old excelling against Triple-A competition, the club -- which is starting journeyman Ross Detwiler and someone named Andrew Triggs, among others -- doesn't have much incentive to keep Cotton in the minors, either. The team is bad and Cotton isn't a perfect prospect, but that ballpark and American League hitters' unfamiliarity with Cotton could produce some usable statistics in the season's final month.