Gavin Lux, Los Angeles Dodgers (12% rostered)
He just won the Pacific Coast League Player of the Month award during his first month in Triple-A, as he posted an eye-popping .435/.519/.837 line in July. Los Angeles has recently ended its experiment of Joc Pederson at first base (even before Alex Verdugo suffered a strained oblique, further clearing the path), moving Max Muncy there and ostensibly opening up second base for Lux down the stretch. Few if any expected this kind of accelerated timeline for the 21 year old, but Lux is quite clearly a special talent and he could be a difference-maker in fantasy leagues as soon as he gets the opportunity, which seems more imminent than his 12% rostership tag suggests.
Dinelson Lamet, San Diego Padres (20%)
He got off to a bit of a slow start while returning from Tommy John surgery but looked plenty good while striking out 12 batters over seven scoreless innings his last time out. Lamet is up to 42 Ks over 30.0 innings and should only get stronger the further he’s removed from surgery, and he’ll benefit from pitching in the NL West and Petco Park. He’s throwing harder than ever now (95.7 mph) and has recorded a 14.1 SwStr% that would rank top-10 among starters if he qualified, as his stuff is legit. Lamet should be rostered in all competitive leagues out there.
Mike Ford, New York Yankees (0%)
He’s started five straight games since getting recalled, and while that hasn’t resulted in much other than a homer, Ford was batting .303 with 23 homers (and a 149 wRC+) over 294 at-bats in Triple-A this season, as the 27 year old may not be a top prospect but can hit. With Edwin Encarnacion and Luke Voit joining their injured teammates on New York’s IL, Ford is looking at regular playing time at first base and DH right now, which is a terrific situation for fantasy value even if he’s hitting mostly from the bottom of the lineup.
Yankee Stadium has increased homers for left-handed batters by a whopping 38% over the last three seasons, which leads MLB by a mile (no park helps boost righties nearly as much either), so there’s sneaky upside for someone with a zero percent rostership tag. Ford currently sports an anemic looking line, but he’s walked nearly as often as he’s struck out and has a .294 expected batting average while hitting the ball hard, so he’s a flier worth adding.
Aristides Aquino, Cincinnati Reds (30%)
He broke out in Triple-A this year, mashing 28 homers (with five steals) over just 294 at-bats and is off to an extremely fast start (.429/.455/.905) after getting called up by the Reds. Aquino blasted his third homer in his seventh game with Cincinnati on Thursday (the hardest-hit big fly in the majors this season), and he appears to be settling in as the team’s new cleanup hitter with Yasiel Puig traded. Few venues in baseball boost power for righties more than Great American Ballpark, so the rookie is an extremely intriguing add in fantasy leagues.
Mitch Keller, Pittsburgh Pirates (6%)
One of the better pitching prospects, Keller continues to mow down hitters in Triple-A, where he fanned 12 batters during his last start, and he’s reportedly set to be recalled by the Pirates soon. He gave up a bunch of runs during his first stint in the majors earlier this season, but that was brief over just three starts and also came with an 11.3 K/9 mark and an 11.2 SwStr%, so he’s well worth grabbing in fantasy leagues.
J.D. Davis, New York Mets (33%)
I wrote about him here last week, but Davis remains rostered in fewer than one-third of leagues despite another strong week that saw him add a couple of more homers while continuing to see regular playing time with Dominic Smith out. Davis is multi-eligible (1B,3B,OF) and while it’s fine to be skeptical of the small sample, he continues to hit the ball exceptionally hard; Davis’ exit velocity (92.2 mph), expected batting average (.323) and Hard Hit% (49.8) are all in the top 5% of the league, so he needs to be taken seriously.
Mike Leake, Arizona Diamondbacks (28%)
He’s a boring veteran coming off a lackluster first start with Arizona, but Leake was quietly pitching better than ever before getting traded, posting an impressive 49:5 K:BB ratio (and 1.18 WHIP) over June and July. He’ll now be joining the National League West as well as a home park in Chase Field that’s played very favorably for pitchers this season both in run prevention and homers. Leake is worth a look for those in deeper leagues searching for pitching.