Unknowns to Help You Win Your 2009 Fantasy Baseball League

May 30, 2009

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Anthony Wayne asked:

Baseball is weird.

What other sport allows you to expand your roster by 60% for the last month of the season? Then, you have to decrease your roster by 15 players in time for the playoffs!

These September call up players can play a pivotal role down the stretch. So, I’m always amazed that teams don’t all call up 15 more players on September 1! I mean, why wait? You could have that speed merchant pinch runner from a Low A team that can steal that base and possibly earn a wild card spot for you!

Other guys, usually who play on less fortunate teams, get a chance to make an immediate impact. It’s these players that you should be looking for for your fantasy baseball stretch run.

Josh Anderson, OF — Braves’ center fielder Anderson led off for the Braves last night and had a 3 for 5 night. Since getting called up on August 28, after the Braves’ dealt Mark Kotsay to the Red Sox, he has started all four games. Anderson hit .314 at AAA Richmond while stealing 42 bases and was an International League all star. He also had a 27 game hit streak. Clearly, Kotsay became expendable. He’s a lefty with no power, but will help your stolen base totals down the stretch. Anderson was up earlier this year and is hitting .326 thus far with 4 steals. He may get a rest now and then to give Gregor Blanco a chance to play, but expect Anderson to be the main man in center for the Braves in September.

Jonothon Niese, SP, Mets — With John Maine likely out for the season, Niese, just 21, gets the start tonight for the Mets in Milwaukee in a packed house pressure situation. Niese has a 92 MPH fastball, nasty splitter, good curve, and nice changeup. He was 5-1, 3.40 at AAA New Orleans after spending the first half of the year at AA Binghamton. Niese definitely has the stuff to be effective at the major league level, but does he have the mental toughness to survive a New York September in a rugged pennant race?

Taylor Teagarden, C, Rangers — Teagarden, just back from winning the bronze medal in Beijing, was expected to get significant playing time in September, but he should get more now that Jarrod Saltalamacchia has an arm injury. Teagarden, who entered the game for the injured Saltalamacchia last night for Texas, pounded a three run homer. Thanks to his first homer against the Twins in July, Teagarden now has two homers in just 8 at bats. Don’t expect these Ruthian numbers to continue as Teagarden only hit .225 with 7 HR’s at Spokane before leaving for China, but he will get a chance and if you have a weak backup catcher, why not take a chance on Teagarden. Besides, he has a cool name.

Ryan Shealy, 1B, Royals — There’s a lot of talk in Kansas City about a young Hawaiian named Kila Ka’aihue. And, why not, Ka’aihue cracked 38 homers and hit .314 in the minors this year in just 124 games. Plus, talk about a cool name. But, the belief here is that Ryan Shealy will get more playing time in September than Ka’aihue. Shealy, 29, has played for Colorado and Kansas City and has hit .267 with 12 homers in three years of part-time duty, although this is his first call up this year. The key to the Royals’ crowded first base situation in September though is that Shealy is out of options and Ka’aihue, 24, is not. The Royals have to make a decision now or they lose him next season. One thing is for certain, however. Ross Gload, currently at the top of the Royals depth chart, does not have the pop required of a major league first baseman with only 3 dingers all season.

Travis Snider, OF, Jays — With Alex Rios and Vernon Wells signed through 2014, there’s really not an opening for the 20-year-old Snider right now. He will see some action at DH in September, likely sharing that role with Adam Lind. Snider was the 14th overall pick in 2006 out of high school. The stocky corner outfielder has 225 RBI in 305 games in his minor league career.

These guys probably won’t get a lot of action in September, but they are awesome prospects likely to be impact players in 2009. If you are in a keeper league and you are out of it for this season, now is the time to pick up these 2009 fantasy baseball sleepers on the cheap.

Nate Schierholtz, OF, Giants — He’s the guy who ran over the Chinese catcher in the Olympic games. Schierholtz hit .304 in 100+ AB’s last year for the Giants.

David Price, SP, Rays — Price is the 6′ 6″ first rounder out of Vanderbilt last year who has blistered through the minors this year. He won his first 11 starts!

Matt LaPorta, OF, Indians — The former Florida Gator was drafted 7th overall by the Brewers in 2007. This dude has power. 12 homers in his first 30 games in the minors and LaPorta also hit a homer in the bronze medal game for Team USA.

Matt Wieters, C, Orioles — The Sporting News claims Wieters could be “one of the top five backstops by this time next year.” Wow, some claim. Has anybody told Ramon Hernandez? Wieters is a big time slugger. He is not, however, expected to get a September call up and will play in the Arizona Instructional League.

Scott Elbert, RP, Dodgers — A 2004 first rounder who has great stuff. He’s 3-0, 1.46 in his last ten games with Jacksonville. He’ll be limited to one inning per game with the Dodgers.

Dallas McPherson, 3B, Marlins — McPherson leads all minor leaguers with 42 homers this year at AAA Albuquerque. Unfortunately for McPherson, he would have been up earlier, but is blocked by Jorge Cantu who has been the Fish’s best player this season.

Tony K. Gwynn Jr., OF, Brewers — He will likely steal some bases for the Brewers coming off the bench in September. His Dad was a pretty good player too.

Matt Gamel, 3B, Brewers — Gamel was hitting .384 in mid-June, but has slipped some since to .329 when he got the call up to the Brew Crew. Gamel will challenge Bill Hall for the Brewers third base job next year.

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