Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market: Brett Lawrie, Ivan Nova, more

by Nicholas Minnix on August 5, 2011 @ 14:09:46 PDT


Your fantasy baseball cheat sheets are no longer of use.'s Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market series gives you tips on fantasy baseball players available as free agents, on waivers or for your FAAB dollars in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball league. It's time to replace your fantasy baseball busts.


Acquire Add player (in most circumstances)
Consider Add for speculation or because of need
Watch Track player, consider if trend continues
Pass Do not add player (in most circumstances)


Corner infielders

Brett Lawrie, Toronto Blue Jays

It's about time, you might say. In actuality, despite Lawrie's .352/.416/.666 slash line in 329 plate appearances at Triple-A Las Vegas, it's not so certain that he'll light the majors on fire right away. He has a tendency to become overly aggressive on occasion, which may catch up with him in the bigs at some point. The PCL isn't exactly the toughest test for wood-wielding prospects, as often noted. In his first two pro campaigns, he posted more pedestrian slash lines of .274/.340/.436 (2009, two levels) and .285/.346/.451 (2010, Double-A Huntsville).

Toronto Blue Jays 3B Brett Lawrie
Lawrie, finally

If someone in your fantasy baseball game wasn't already stashing Lawrie, though, grab him. There's no question that he can be a force in two vital counting cats - homers (18 this year) and stolen bases (12). He'll be eligible at second base, third base or both in your league at some point. You'd rather him flame out on your bench than come up with that kind of production in a fellow contender's lineup.

Shallow mixed: Consider

Deep mixed: Acquire

AL-only: Acquire

Middle infielders

Johnny Giavotella, Kansas City Royals

KC's sunshine band - its big league club, thanks to its ridiculously deep farm system - has added another member to the infield. Chris Getz will take a seat regularly, despite his solid play this year, in favor of Giavotella, 24, who'll join the Royals for this weekend's series.

In 503 plate appearances at Triple-A Omaha, Giavotella posted a .338/.390/.481 slash line. He belted nine dingers and stole nine bases. The right-handed hitter doesn't offer the promise of outstanding counting contributions, although he did swipe 26 in 2009 for high Class A Wilmington. However, statistically, he's maintained a high-quality batting average profile as he's steadily risen through the club's system, which fits his MO.

AL players will be much more interested than mixed leaguers, but Giavotella could prove to be quality depth or more for the latter, too.

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Watch

AL-only: Acquire


J.B. Shuck, Houston Astros

The Astros don't ... stop ... thinkin' about tomorrow. You've seen their lineup - would you stop? Shuck was in the midst of a .302/.401/.375 slash line at Triple Oklahoma City. He's had about a season's worth of plate appearances at the minors' highest level, so it's time to see what the 24-year-old can do in the bigs.

Shuck may fancy himself a bit of a speedster - he has 19 thefts this year - but he's also been caught 11 times. Last season, he swiped 16 bases in 28 attempts combined at two levels, and he was similarly inefficient at the lower levels. Considering that base-running education isn't necessarily a strong suit with the big club, it's hard to imagine that Shuck will suddenly become more opportunistic. That seems a shame, because the 5-foot-11, 195-pounder seems like a sponge. He knows his limits on the diamond and avoids strikeouts fairly well, making him a good leadoff candidate.

The left-handed Shuck should play quite a bit, at least initially. He's demonstrated the ability to draw a free pass in more than 10 percent of his plate appearances at all his farm stops. There's nothing to suggest that he won't hit for a solid average. He should provide himself with shots to thieve, making him an OK speculative play, but he's unlikely to be a difference-maker.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-only: Acquire

Yonder Alonso, Cincinnati Reds

Chris Heisey sustained what he's calling a minor oblique strain. No matter how minor, an oblique strain is an oblique strain, so he'll probably be sidelined for more than the couple of days he thinks. Alonso, a left-handed hitter, has played sparingly since his promotion, but fantasy baseball managers would like to see him get an extended chance. Might it be now?

This 24-year-old has been one of baseball's better prospects for a while; this issue for Cincy, with Joey Votto and a host of outfield talent in tow, has always been where he'll play. With his recent reps at third base, Alonso might even fill in at third base with Scott Rolen (shoulder) out at least another month. This isn't likely, but it's another possible PT avenue that adds intrigue to Alonso.

Alonso boasts a career minor league slash line of .293/.370/.466. He's 4-for-10 with a double and a couple of RBIs in his limited time in The Show. The lefty swinger has modest power, runs a little and is overall a quality stick man with a really nice approach. He won't deliver high-end power and speed, but he'd be a valuable roto piece while mixed in with that high-caliber lineup at Great American. Keep tabs.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-only: Acquire

Trayvon Robinson, Seattle Mariners

Cincinnati Reds OF Yonder Alonso
PT not far Yonder?

The M's are expected to call upon either Robinson or free-agent signee Wily Mo Pena this weekend to replace Greg Halman on the 25-man. Pena could be an OK pickup for AL-only players, too, but there seems to be more of a belief that it'll be the player whom Seattle acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of the Erik Bedard deal.

Robinson, 23, was dynamite (.297/.375/.563 slash line, 26 homers, eight stolen bases) for Double-A Chattanooga, LA's affiliate. He's off to a slow start at Triple-A Tacoma, although he's had very little time to settle in. The switch hitter has made big-time gains in the power department this year, it'd seem. It's come at the expense of his aggressiveness on the base paths, however (he thieved 37 bases in 2010 and 43 in 2009) and of his already impaired plate discipline. Will he make it in The Show?

This seems like another case of Seattle's overestimation of a prospect's ability because the organization seemingly doesn't recognize the possible shortcomings of a player who doesn't make contact consistently. Far too many of their outfield prospects have failed or are failing for this exact reason, despite their enthralling athleticism and superb numbers in the minors - when they post them. Robinson is worth a stab because of what he might bring to the table, but he just seems likely to have an uphill battle to be a long-term contributor.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

AL-only: Consider


Ivan Nova, New York Yankees

The Yanks seem to want to whittle their six-man rotation down to five hurlers in the near future. Nova appeared to be a better candidate to stick than Phil Hughes, but Hughes' dominant outing on Tuesday night put that thought to rest temporarily. Nova, not to be outdone, pitched seven innings of one-run ball on Thursday and registered his first MLB game with double-digit strikeouts.

Game on. Maybe the Bombers would be better off pitting these two against each other for a while longer. Would that be the worst scenario on a team that still has questions about how deep its rotation can go in the playoffs? Nova is 10-4 with a 3.81 ERA despite a 1.39 WHIP and a 5.67 K/9.

Nova may have the stuff to generate K's and, during his three-start demotion, flashed it there as well. He's making a slider, something he experimented with before, a regular part of his repertoire, and that could prove to be the offering that puts him over the hump in generating swinging strikes. He may be more focused and is getting plenty of rest, just like Hughes. At the very least, he'll earn starts as long as he pitches well. This could be a nice addition.

Shallow mixed: Consider

Deep mixed: Acquire

AL-only: Acquire

Nathan Eovaldi, Los Angeles Dodgers's Ken Gurnick notes that the likeliest candidate to replace Rubby De La Rosa (who'll have Tommy John surgery on Tuesday) in the rotation on Saturday is Eovaldi. The 2008 11th-rounder might've been a more attractive draft pick had he not undergone TJS as a high school junior. The 21-year-old has really come on for Double-A Chattanooga this year.

In 20 games (19 starts), Eovaldi is 6-5 with a 2.62 ERA, a 1.18 WHIP, a 8.65 K/9 and a 4.02 BB/9 for the Lookouts. He's been tough to hit, but control issues will leave him vulnerable to big innings if MLB hitters break through for a few hits against him. Reliever Javy Guerra experienced a similar reckoning in his major league initiation; after having dominated hitters at Chattanooga, he gave up plenty of hits in his first several weeks in a Dodgers uni. De La Rosa limited the damage that his 4.60 BB/9 might've caused, but it remains a danger for Eovaldi, who'll be making the same transition.

The right-hander has a low- to mid-90s heater and appears to have a lot of promise, although he's not yet on top prospect lists. The advances make him a candidate to appear in them regularly before long. Although he'll probably be rough around the edges, he has some nice upside, like De La Rosa did.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-only: Acquire

Chris Tillman, Baltimore Orioles

The O's will call up Tillman to replace Jake Arrieta (fibrous mass in elbow, previous issues with bone spurs) in the rotation on Saturday. Despite the occasional brilliant outing, Tillman's initial forays into MLB haven't gone as planned (5.47 lifetime ERA, 5.16 ERA in 2011).

This year, in the bigs, he posted a 6.54 K/9 and a 3.61 BB/9 while yielding a mere three homers in 52 1/3 innings - all marks that represent notable progress. His PC at Triple-A Norfolk, Mike Griffin, believes that the righty has improved his delivery substantially, per MASN's Roch Kubatko (aka the coolest beat man on the planet).

With the Tides, Tillman has gone 3-3 with a 4.17 ERA but has fanned only 5.80 per nine while walking 4.17 per nine, though. Statistically, he remained inconsistent and showed little progress. Tillman is a great talent and may turn out to be a good pickup, but the odds aren't in the gambler's favor.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Pass

AL-only: Watch

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About Nicholas Minnix

Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.

The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.

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