Amed Rosario, SS, Mets (40% rostered)
Not much is going right for the New York Mets this season, yet they’re still just six games out of a NL Wild Card. The team is currently riding a four-game win streak, thanks in no small part to the play of Rosario. The 23-year-old has been scorching hot during an eight-game hitting streak — he nearly hit for the cycle in Wednesday’s demolition of the Twins. Rosario is now up to 10 home runs and 10 stolen bases on the year and seems poised to crush his previous career-highs in RBI and runs scored. Rosario is still so young, but perhaps he’s finally starting to showcase the power-speed potential that helped make him such a highly touted prospect a couple of years ago. Nonetheless, he is someone to take advantage of as long as this torrid stretch continues.
Tyler O’Neill, OF, Cardinals (26%)
Few players reflect the title of this piece more than Tyler O’Neill. The 24-year-old is currently riding a six-game hitting streak in which he’s hit four home runs and collected 11 RBI. He’s hitting .322 this season and his BABIP is a startling .490, but when you pair that with his unseemly 38.3% strikeout rate in 94 plate appearances, you know that the good times can come to a crashing halt at any time. The inimitable Scott Pianowski said it best: “Tyler O’Neill, hacker makes good.”
O’Neill doesn’t discriminate when it comes to pitches, as his 40.9 O-Swing% indicates, but you just can’t deny what happens when he actually makes contact with those swings. The power is very real — 139 home runs in his minor league career — and with the musclebound O’Neill available in over 70% of leagues, fantasy gamers in need of a boost in home runs can take advantage until the good times run out, and cut bait just as quickly.
Travis d’Arnaud, C/1B, Rays (29%)
Just as the Houston Astros are able to get the very best out of their pitchers, the Tampa Bay Rays have turned acquiring cast-offs and transforming them into productive players into a science. Travis d’Arnaud is just the latest in that line, and luckily for fantasy gamers, he’s a catcher — one of the more despised and shallow positions in fantasy. Since joining the Rays, d’Arnaud has done nothing but rake. He’s slashing .268/.327/.514 with Tampa Bay this season, and in his last seven games, he’s hit four home runs and collected eight RBI. His current BABIP is near his career average, and his current wRC+ of 99 isn’t a far cry of his career mark either, so this might not be a mirage. Suffice it to say, d’Arnaud is hot right now, and if you’re scuffling at the catcher position or play in a two-catcher league, he’s available to help.
Daniel Ponce de Leon, SP/RP, Cardinals (38%)
Don’t you just hate it when a pitcher you think deserves to be added gets lit up in his latest start? Well, such is the case of Ponce de Leon, who barely got past the third inning in his latest outing against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He needed 73 pitches to get there too, allowing four runs and striking out just three. So, why should you take a chance on him?
Well, this is Ponce de Leon’s first “blow-up” performance since June 29, when he allowed four runs against the Padres (he still collected nine strikeouts though). Before the aforementioned start against the Pirates, he dominated the D-Backs to the tune of 6.2 IP, 1 ER, and 7 Ks. He’s been admirable in spot starts this season and lights-out in the bullpen, working to a combined 2.80 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. He possesses enticing strikeout potential (10.44 K/9) and with Michael Wacha being sent to the bullpen, Ponce de Leon’s rotation spot seems secure for now. ERA estimators expect his to jump (3.92 FIP), but Ponce de Leon’s strikeout numbers and playable ratios outweigh some expected regression. He gets another shot at those same Pirates next week.
Luis Robert OF, White Sox (18%)
Luis Robert is currently ranked fifth in MLB.com’s top 100 prospects of 2019, and he’s been doing his best to leave the minors behind. Robert is making a mockery of Triple-A pitching, hitting .440/.500/.960 since being promoted and boosting his 2019 home run and RBI totals to 19 and 62, respectively. Robert has five-tool potential (Andy Behrens called him the prospect with the highest fantasy upside this season) — the question is, when will we see him in the big show? Well, lo and behold, the White Sox have a couple of openings on the active roster with Eloy Jimenez hitting the IL and Charlie Tilson being demoted ... aaaaand Robert has been excluded from the last two games with the Knights. Of course, there’s no guarantees of an impending call-up (he’s only played a handful of games at the Triple-A level), and as fantasy gamers know very well, tempering hype and expectations with prospects is key. That said, there aren’t enough reasons to NOT stash Robert, and plenty to do so.
Andres Munoz (9%), RP, Padres
Speaking of stashes, here’s an option for deeper leagues and leagues which count saves/holds. Munoz’s value would likely climb exponentially in the growing likelier event of a Kirby Yates’ trade. 35-year-old Craig Stammen (14%) has been the primary setup man for the Padres this season and he’s had some success with his 20 holds in 46 games, but his ratios aren’t exactly worth jumping up and down for, especially his unappealing 7.11 K/9 rate. Trey Wingenter (2%) is another option at closer for the Friars in the event of a Yates trade, but his strikeout ability (12.36 K/9) is dampened by his proclivity for giving up runs. Enter: Andres Munoz.
Munoz was called up by the Padres and has been utterly lights-out ever since. In three appearances, Munoz has collected six strikeouts against just one walk and has allowed no runs in 4.1 IP. He has elite strikeout ability (12.7 K/9 in his minor league career) and regularly throws in the triple digits. If Yates is traded, the Padres could shuffle up their bullpen, but it shouldn’t be long until the highly touted rookie — whom Andy Behrens called the best reliever prospect in the minors this season — takes over the high-leverage innings.
Kevin Newman, 2B/SS, Pirates (39%)
It’s a bit shocking that Kevin Newman is rostered in so few leagues. One obvious reason why he deserves to be in more mixed-league rosters: his current .331 batting average would rank fourth in the National League if he qualified, behind the likes of Christian Yelich and Cody Bellinger. Sure, Newman is not going to wow you with incredible power or speed, but he can help cover your BA category — the man only strikes out 12% of the time. You wish the Pirates would just leave him in the leadoff spot, but nonetheless, Newman is a player who won’t hurt you in any category — can’t leave those kinds of guys on the waiver wire.