Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market: Yasiel Puig, John Lackey, more

by Tim Heaney on June 3, 2013 @ 12:45:00 PDT

 

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KFFL.com's Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market gives you candid reviews and ratings of fantasy baseball players making MLB news in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball leagues. Are they trade bait? Are they worth your FAAB dollars in your fantasy baseball games?

Hottest Pickups
Most frequently added in leagues polled

OF Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers

At Class AA Chattanooga a few days ago, Puig was tried out in center field. Guess he did well. He was called up yesterday and should fill that spot for the deactivated Matt Kemp (hamstring) on a daily basis. Puig clubbed eight homers in his first 147 at-bats at Double-A while keeping a 17.4 strikeout rate -- respectable, given some scouts' issues with his tendency to chase.

Though the 22-year-old Cuban will whiff more often than that in his first big-league exposure, he boasts thump and speed; he'll also be given every chance, at least for as long as Kemp is sidelined, to jolt a tepid Dodgers attack. As Keith noted in Player Prospecting not long ago, Puig profiles to become a more dynamic Yoenis Cespedes, though his age may compound the difficulties in his transition to this level of play.

Keeper-leaguers already should have picked him up, naturally, but hopefully redrafters gauge(d) their FAAB flexibility before deciding what his noticeable potential and equally present downside, for this season, cost.

RP Rex Brothers, Colorado Rockies

Boston Red Sox SP John Lackey
Lackey one of "Best Available"

Rafael Betancourt (groin) landed on the DL, succumbing to the latest stage of what reportedly has been a chronic injury. Brothers, who strikes out a bunch of batters while also walking plenty, carries a closer's makeup, and he's competent at forcing grounders, a useful skill for a Coors Field arm.

The drop in K's, while still to an elite level, hasn't produced a stark control improvement, but the southpaw should be owned in deep leagues regardless of role. Though Wilton Lopez or Matt Belisle could have a cameo here and there, Brothers' job as stopper could last deeper into the summer than initially expected, given how the 38-year-old Betancourt has struggled with this lower-body crankiness.

SP Michael Wacha, St. Louis Cardinals

Fozzie Bear's favorite prospect was also dissected in our Puig showcase, and the right-hander delivered in his MLB debut Thursday (one run, two hits, six punchouts in seven walk-less frames against the sterile Kansas City Royals). Though there's a chance he's sent down at some point, the Cards' pitcher injuries could solidify a summer-long stay for Wacha, who sped through the farm system after being drafted last summer with his control-oriented approach.

He won't compete for the big-league strikeout lead in his peak form, but his across-the-board polish, fueled by a grounder-focused approach, plays well with an organization that excels at developing arms. Turning 22 on July 1, Wacha could pay off the rest of this year as a deep-league staff's back-ender.

Best Available
Owned in fewer than 50% of league polled

SP John Lackey, Boston Red Sox

New York Mets 1B Ike Davis
Davis beginning another rebound?

He's hopped in the DeLorean. Tommy John surgery is in his past, along with the clock tower. A punchier sinking fastball has boosted opponents' worm-burning frequency, and his confidence in the pitch expands his arsenal. Expectations now sit in the mid-3.00s FIPs he posted in the late aughts.

Though Lackey wasn't at his best during the John Farrell pitching coach years in Beantown, at least his return helped with familiarity. Mike Napoli said his pitcher's arm is "freer": Lackey isn't trying to guide pitches, so there's less tension in his approach. A repeat of numbers from his 2005-09 window looks realistic.

1B Ike Davis, New York Mets

Time to Like Ike again? If Davis was dropped in your shallow league, you might have some time to confirm the validity of his small spark at the plate lately, in which he's gone 5-for-15 with a homer and five ribbies. This tiny sample size doesn't erase the gaping holes he has once again shown in his early-season hacks.

What might plug them are recent changes he's made: moving up in the batter's box, standing more upright and fixing his balance on his back side. Fine, he seems to tinker with something in his hacks every few months, but we at least have a reason to think that Davis could move forward along the lines of his torrid rebound last summer.

Proactive speculation wins leagues. Many fantasy teams may have little to lose at this point, which means they should open their minds and consider taking the chance of a violently positive momentum swing.

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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