As we’ve spent the past few weeks picking the bones of injury replacements here in the waiver wire dumpster, let’s turn to our other pastime in this business: placing bets on penny stock prospects in the hopes they’ll yield some value. In the cases of the Diamondbacks and the Mets, however, we’re talking about two sub-.500 teams, which presents the possibility that these young guns could stick around in the majors with some regular playing time — presuming, of course, that they produce.
Chase Anderson / SP / Arizona Diamondbacks
1 percent Yahoo / 1 percent ESPN / 8 percent CBS ownership
I don’t care how bad the Diamondbacks have been to start the season; when your fifth starter posts a 6.08 ERA with a 1.73 WHIP, as Mike Bolsinger did, it’s time to plug the leak in your starting rotation. That’s unfortunate for Bolsinger, but not so much for Mr. Anderson, 26, who looked sharp in his big league debut on Sunday, allowing just one run in 5.1 innings against the White Sox, the AL’s highest scoring offense. Running his fastball to 94 mph, Anderson threw first-pitch strikes to 14 of the 18 hitters he faced, which surely helped him post six strikeouts against one walk.
One start does not make a fantasy stud, it need not be said, but Anderson is a guy who was going off like gangbusters in Double-A at the time of his call-up, destroying batters in six starts with a .71 WHIP and 2.20 FIP over 39 innings. He’s posted a strikeout-per-inning rate in 398 career minor league innings, and, the Diamondbacks say, has the best changeup in the team’s system. (More proof on this point can be seen here.)
Anderson has never been a big name prospect, due in no small part to elbow injuries that have taken a bite out of his past three seasons. He’s also not yet locked into the D-Backs’ rotation, and the presence of Randy Wolf in Triple-A could make for a short leash if things don’t work out immediately. But he’s available in leagues across the board, and as the Diamondbacks seem poised for a rebuilding year in 2014, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of urgency in pushing Anderson out of the rotation. That spells opportunity, and owners in deeper mixed leagues shouldn’t hesitate to take notice.
Wilmer Flores / 3B/SS / New York Mets
3 percent Yahoo / .1 percent ESPN / 11 percent CBS ownership
Fantasy baseball doesn’t care about a guy’s glove, which is good news for prospective Flores owners, since he’s not really a shortstop. But David Wright isn’t going anywhere at third base for the Mets, and with Ruben Tejada hitting .198 entering Tuesday’s play — and the Mets starving for offense — Flores is back up and ostensibly seems like he’ll have a chance to grab everyday at-bats.
Formerly one of the organization’s top prospects, Flores, 22, likely won’t make an immediate splash in the power department, and offers no help for steals. But the kid also doesn’t strike out, so the hope is he won’t drown when faced with big league pitching. Naysayers will point to the putrid .542 OPS he posted in 101 major league plate appearances last year, or cite a friendly hitter’s park in the offense-loving Pacific Coast League as evidence that his impressive Triple-A numbers (.318/.357/.524 in the past two years) are not necessarily harbingers of big things to come in New York this season. There’s also the possibility that if he’s terrible in the field, manager Terry Collins will have no choice but to plug Tejada back in.
But even if Flores is raw at the plate, it’s not as if third base and shortstop are overflowing with showstopping options, and the pedigree is there. We haven’t yet seen Flores produce in the majors, but he’s not a bad option for owners to consider if they need to plug a middle infield spot.
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