This week, Yahoo! Sports fantasy expert Brandon Funston looks at nine intriguing fantasy baseball players still available on the waiver wire in more than half of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.
Multi-tooled Belt looks like he has staying power in Giants lineup
Brandon Belt (1/O) San Francisco Giants
As is often the case, we start this week with a hold over from last week's POW list. Despite an impressive pedigree and a June in which he's posted a 1.104 OPS, Belt can still be had in two-thirds of Yahoo! leagues. Giants manager Bruce Bochy has kept Belt down in the order (No. 7, usually) despite his hot month. But with the ability to work the count, square the ball up with solid pop and run (two steals this past week), Belt belongs higher up in the order. And, if he stays hot, it probably won't be too long before that happens. Aubrey Huff's sprained knee opened the door of opportunity for Belt, and there's a good chance Huff, who is hitting .155, won't get his job back when he returns from the DL.
Y! % 33%
Y! rank 434
Second time around the league should be much more charming for Rizzo
Anthony Rizzo (1B) Chicago Cubs
After slugging .702 in 69 games for Triple-A Iowa, Rizzo is finally going to get an opportunity in Chicago. The Cubs promoted Rizzo on Monday and he's expected to settle into a regular first base role. Most fantasy owners recall that Rizzo was abysmal when the Padres promoted him last season (.141 BA in 49 games) but, as Andy Behrens has pointed out, there's reasons to be optimistic that things will turn out better this time around, especially trading home games at Petco Park for the summer months at Wrigley Field.
Y! rank 1175
Cody commands the immediate attention of the power needy
Cody Ross (OF) Boston Red Sox
In his first six games back from the DL, Ross has picked up right where he left off, hitting .318 with three home runs and 10 RBIs – when Ross went down in May with broken bone in his foot, he was sporting a solid .883 OPS. With 11 home runs in 155 ABs, Ross ranks 10th in the league with an average of a home run per every 14.1 at-bats. And among the players with as many RBIs (38), all have at least 50 more ABs than Ross. Players that can make positive contributions in home runs and RBIs without killing your batting average aren't easy to come by off the wire.
Y! rank 152
Ramon who? Hernandez injury has allowed Rosario to make a name for himself in Colorado
Wilin Rosario (C) Colorado Rockies
Rosario is tied with Ross (above) with an average of a HR every 14.1 ABs (11 HR/155 ABs). The Rockies' top catcher with Ramon Hernandez on the shelf (strained left hand – no timetable yet for his return), Rosario is the No. 2 fantasy catcher since May 1. Yes, he's got plate approach issues (43:7 K-to-BB rate), but Colorado's No. 2 position prospect coming into the season, according to Baseball America, leads all rookies in home runs and RBIs. And he's doing it without yet taking advantage of the home field Mile High air – hitting .195 at home compared to .301 on the road. This is another situation like Belt's in San Francisco, where the injured party (Hernandez) may not get his starting job back upon return.
Y! % 21%
Y! rank 252
Rockies' return home after putting full Nelson on recent road opponents
Chris Nelson (2/3) Colorado Rockies
The Rockies are at home for their next seven games. Like most of his teammates, Nelson gets a nice home-field boost, as he's hit 90 points higher at Coors Field compared to his road efforts over his career. But he just concluded an eight-game road trip in which he hit .324 with three home runs, nine RBIs and seven runs scored. With Troy Tulowitzki out with a groin injury, Nelson hasn't had a problem finding playing time in the Rockies infield in June, and he's taken advantage of the opportunity with a 1.075 OPS for the month – ninth-best June mark in MLB among those with at least 50 plate appearances. Nelson is a former first round pick ('04) who has a .320 average and 23 home runs in his 167-game career at the Triple-A level, though Colorado Springs, where he played those game, is also a nice hitter's environment. That said, playing time and Coors Field aren't going away any time soon for Nelson, and there's enough athleticism and track record here to make a case for his fantasy employment, if only on a trial basis, in deeper leagues.
Y! % 5%
Y! rank 802
Angel in the infield has been swinging a divine bat in recent weeks
Erick Aybar (SS) Los Angeles Angels
On June 9, Aybar's batting average was sitting at .215. Since then, he's collected 20 hits (seven for extra-bases) in 13 games – only Andrew McCutchen and Adrian Beltre have more hits (21) in the past 15 days. He's the No. 5 fantasy shortstop in the Yahoo! game for the past two weeks, and that's without benefit of his best fantasy tool – zero stolen bases in that span. Aybar stole 30 bases last season and 22 in '11, so there's reason to hold out hope that he'll be able to kick the running game into a higher gear going forward. Aybar, unfortunately, takes a run production hit by having to operate from the No. 7 spot in the order. But should a spot ever open up for him between Mike Trout and Albert Pujols at the top of the order, it could do wonders for his roto line. At the very least, keep watch on Aybar.
Y! % 36%
Y! rank 807
Not surprisingly, Morales' seeing encouraging signs of progress away from Colorado
Franklin Morales (SP/RP) Boston Red Sox
It's unclear how long Morales will stick in the Boston rotation, but he's certainly going to make it hard for manager Bobby Valentine to return him to the bullpen if he keeps things up. In his past two outings, both starts, Morales is a combined 1-0 with a 3.27 ERA and a 17:1 K-to-BB ratio. Freed from Colorado, Morales has seen a sharp increase in the amount of swings he's induced on pitches outside the strike zone as well as the percentage of swinging strikes he's created. With better than a K per inning and a career-best BB/9 rate, Morales is someone to consider now in hopes that he continues to find work in the rotation.
Y! rank 289
His stuff isn't flammable, but Fiers still catching fire in Brewers rotations
Michael Fiers (SP) Milwaukee Brewers
Pinpoint control and a deceptive delivery have allowed Fiers to get by despite a fastball that averages just 88 mph. In fact, Fiers has flashed K per IP numbers throughout his minor league career – the Brewers minor league Pitcher of the Year last season – and he's right at that pace with the Brewers this season (31 K in 33.1 IP). In three of his five starts this season, Fiers has pitched at least 7.0 innings and allowed one earned run or less. Among those with at least 30 innings pitched, Fiers ranks No. 8 overall with a K/BB ratio of 6.2:1. For as long as Shaun Marcum is out with a sore elbow, Fiers will continue to get a chance to cut his teeth as a starter.
Y! rank 240
Francisco injury has done wonders for Parnell's popularity
Bobby Parnell (RP) New York Mets
For those that didn't get the memo – and judging by Monday's list of most added players, many of you did – Parnell will take over the closing duties for the Mets with Frank Francisco on the DL with an oblique injury. Despite an upper 90s average fastball, Parnell is not as overpowering as you'd like a closer to be – the league has hit .272 against him for his career. But he's easily the best remaining option for a woeful Mets bullpen. Parnell could ultimately make things interesting when Francisco returns if he ably handles ninth inning duties. But that's not a concern that fantasy owners need to worry about now. Immediate save opportunities is all you need to know. Go get him.
Y! rank 379
Other Week 13 Pickups: Ben Revere, Min, OF; Michael Saunders, Sea, OF; CoCo Crisp, Oak, OF; Ike Davis, NYM, 1B; Adam Lind, Tor, 1B; Pedro Alvarez, Pit, 3B; John Mayberry, Phi, 1/O; Casey McGehee, Pit, 1/3; Scott Rolen, Cin, 3B; Neil Walker, Pit, 2B; Andrelton Simmons, Atl, SS; Marco Scutaro, 2B/SS, Col; Danny Espinosa, Was, 2B; Gordon Beckham, ChW, 2B; Kirk Nieuwenhuis, NYM, OF; Michael Brantley, Cle, OF; Norichika Aoki, Mil, OF; Trevor Bauer; Ari, SP; Tom Wilhelmsen, Sea, RP; Jarrod Parker, Oak, SP; Jonathon Niese, NYM, SP; Felix Doubront, Bos, SP; Aaron Harang, LAD, SP; Garrett Richards, LAA, SP; Sergio Romo, SF, RP; Greg Holland, KC, RP; Tim Collins, KC, RP; Joaquin Benoit, Det, RP
Logan Schafer, OF (Mil) – Brewers top outfield prospect has hit .403 with a 1.066 OPS in 22 June games for Triple-A Nashville.
Chris Carter, 1B (Oak) – A's perennial power prospect owns a .344 BA with a 1.006 OPS in 18 June games for Triple-A Sacramento.
Alex Castellanos, OF (LAD) –Since returning to Albuquerque, Castellanos owns a .356 BA and 1.032 OPS in 12 games.
Brandon Hicks, 3B (Atl) – 26-year-old former Braves farmhand has 6 HRs, 3 2Bs and 18 RBIs in his past 8 games for Triple-A Sacramento.
Wil Myers, OF (KC) – Keeping tabs on the next big thing awaiting MLB promotion, Myers has hit .297 with 2 HRs and a 1.007 OPS in his past 10 games for Triple-A Omaha.
Drew Pomeranz, SP (Col) – The Rockies top pitching prospect has allowed just 1 ER in his past two outings (11.1 IP, 12 Ks) for Triple-A Colorado Springs.
Jarred Cosart, SP (Hou) – The Astros top pitching prospect has allowed zero earned runs in his past two outings (13 IP, 9 Ks) for Double-A Corpus Christi.