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Deep Pickups 9/11: Hitters

by Nick Nelson
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:09 pm ET

Oscar Taveras - OF, STL

He's among the top five prospects in all of baseball, and his arrival in St. Louis was met with much fanfare, but Taveras' big-league debut hasn't exactly been a smashing success.

After a couple excellent months in Triple-A, the 21-year-old outfielder was called up to the Cardinals in late May, but headed back down to the minors after batting .189 in 11 games. He returned to the bigs a couple weeks later, but his performance continued to sag. From his July 1st recall through August 15th, he batted just .219 with a 547 OPS and one homer in 35 games.

The youngster's ample skills weren't showing through. He wasn't driving the ball, showing patience, or stealing bases. His fantasy value was close to nil.

Just after the mid-point of August, however, Taveras began to turn a corner, finally putting together some multi-hit games and showing signs of life at the plate. Later in the month, Cards manager Mike Matheny commented that the outfielder was making "huge adjustments." Taveras continues to make strides here in September, where he has homered and notched his first three-hit game.

It goes without saying that the Puerto Rican's talent is immense. He has hit .320/.376/.516 while flying through the minor-league ranks, bashing 53 homers in parts of six seasons. Understandably, adapting to the majors has been a process, but he's showing signs of breaking out. This makes him an intriguing pick-up candidate for fantasy owners needing a late-season boost.

Even with his struggles, Taveras has been a regular in right field for St. Louis, and that figures to continue the rest of the way, especially if his bat keeps heating up.

Rusney Castillo - OF, BOS

The Red Sox landed Castillo, one of the preeminent stars in Cuban baseball, with a massive $72 million contract last month, and they don't intend to waste time in getting him on the field at Fenway. The outfielder is acclimating to the pro ranks with a quick crash course in the minors but is expected to be up in the big leagues sometime next week.

If you want to take a chance on him, you'd better snag him sooner rather than later.

Castillo starred in Cuba, where he posted a .319 career average and .899 OPS while featuring both power and speed in his skill set. During his brief time in Boston's system, he has shown positive signs, going 6-for-19 (.319) with three RBI, a steal and an even K/BB ratio in six games between the GCL and Double-A. He joined Class-AAA Pawtucket this week to help them in their best-of-five championship series, and is expected to head to Boston as soon as that's finished.

Obviously, we have no idea what to expect from the 27-year-old, but there's a reason that the Red Sox splurged so heavily to bring him aboard. It's the same reason they're pushing him rapidly through the minors and making sure they get a look at him in the majors this month. They've got themselves a special talent. Look no further than Jose Abreu, who is a lock to win the AL Rookie of the Year award, for an idea of how quickly great hitters from Cuba can adjust here in the States.

If Castillo can catch on quick, he'll have a chance to provide nice production in the homer and steal categories, especially when hitting in the favorable confines of Fenway Park. His imminent promotion is likely to garner a fair amount of hype, so if you're interested, get the jump on your opponents by picking him up this week and stashing him on your bench.

Nick Nelson

Nick Nelson is a frequent contributor to NBC Sports Edge's baseball coverage and regularly blogs about the Minnesota Twins at Twins Daily. Follow him on Twitter @NickNelsonMN.