This blog is in conjunction with the “Fantasy Focus” segment on the Boise Hawks pre-game show
If you would have told me at the beginning of the season we would have already had two no-hitters, two-perfect games, and three guys competing for the Triple Crown in the AL, I would have bet you “a brand new Memorial Stadium” that you were wrong.
Thank God I don’t gamble that often.
It’s been one of the crazier season that I can remember in baseball. Which means our fantasy baseball season has been “Tom Cruise” (before and after “Oprah”). It’s safe to say if you have guys like 1B Miguel Cabrera, OF Josh Hamilton, and RHP Ubaldo Jimenez, ride them until their legs fall off. But if you are looking for guys who could potentially be great “buys” in the second half, here are some names to consider.
Buster Posey, Catcher, San Francisco Giants
38 G, 137 AB, .350 BA, 7 HR, 25 RBI, 8 BB, 22 R, 48 H, 16 SO
As if the power, the batting average, and the fact he’s a good player at a thin position is not enough to lure you to pick him up, consider this. He’s all alone on the depth chart. With the trading of long-time catcher Bengie Molina, Posey is now “the guy” and should see an increase in those impressive numbers. If he can get more disciplined at the plate, he could become a “Top 5” catcher on draft day in 2011.
James Loney, First Base, Los Angeles Dodgers
88 G, 337 AB, .308 BA, 6 HR, 63 RBI, 28 BB, 47 R, 104 H, 50 SO
It seems like every year we keep saying “this will be the year that Loney breaks out”. And every year since his rookie year in 2007, we are all sadly disappointed. But Loney went on major hot streak before the All-Star Break (unlike years past) and could finally be ready to restore our faith in him. He has never hit above .300 before the break (outside of 2007) until this season and he is batting a ridiculous .447 in July.
Sean Rodriguez, Second Base, Tampa Bay Rays
70 G, 219 AB, .264 BA, 6 HR, 30 RBI, 6 BB, 34 R, 58 H, 64 SO
Consistency is the name of the game and for Rodriguez, he’s still looking for it. But the thing I like is he will consistently get the duties at second base in the second half and he went into the break batting .309 since June 29th. Rodriguez is a guy worth snagging in head-to-head leagues.
Stephen Drew, Short Stop, Arizona Diamondbacks
81 G, 298 AB, .275 BA, 4 HR, 29 RBI, 6 SB, 31 BB, 43 R, 82 H, 56 SO
Drew is batting .346 in July and has been one of the more consistent producers in fantasy baseball this season (ranked 11th). Drew has always been a better second half hitter and if you are in dire straights and need a solid short stop, he is one worth trading for.
Ian Stewart, Third Base, Colorado Rockies
81 G, 256 AB, .257 BA, 11 HR, 44 RBI, 5 SB, 34 BB, 40 R, 66 H, 76 SO
The weird thing with Stewart is that if you take away June, he’s been a really good fantasy player. But after hitting a dismal .167 in June, Stewart has seen his value drop. With the arrival of SS Troy Tulowitzki (who is due back soon), Stewart could get his production up and becoming a must-start fantasy option.
Drew Stubbs, Outfield, Cincinnati Reds
85 G, 293 AB, .235 BA, 11 HR, 43 RBI, 17 SB, 31 BB, 47 R, 69 H, 90 SO
If it weren’t for the batting average, there would be more people out there talking about him as a Rookie of the Year candidate. Stubbs has been inconsistent (much like Stewart) but nonetheless, he is still on pace to be a 20-20 guy. If he can learn better plate discipline in the second half, scoop him up and get him active.
Tyler Colvin, Outfield, Chicago Cubs
80 G, 179 AB, .262 BA, 12 HR, 32 RBI, 2 SB, 14 BB, 29 R, 47 H, 53 SO
I know this seems like a homer pick, but you and I know at some point the Cubs will trade somebody. And when they do, Colvin will see those every-day at bats in outfield and his value should increase tremendously. He’s already having a solid year in terms of production. Giving him the starting job should make those numbers soar (just don’t tell this to Lou Pinella).
Jair Jurrjens, Pitcher, Atlanta Braves
1-3, 5.40 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 35 IP, 25 K, 16 BB
The hamstring injury he suffered early in the season had a huge affect on him. He’s always been a guy who struggles with walking batters, but he averages an ERA around 3.23 and he is good for at least 10 wins and 101 K. The Braves are in contention, which means Jurrjens will get plenty of starts from here on out.
Tommy Hunter, Pitcher, Texas Rangers
5-0, 2.33 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 42.3 IP, 27 K, 10 BB, 1 CG
Hunter, like Posey, really didn’t acquire the starting spot until later in the early part of the season. That being said, he has been lights out this far. He will lose a couple of games here and there, but he has a great offense backing him up and should be added in head-to-head leagues.
Brian Matusz, Pitcher, Baltimore Orioles
3-9, 4.77 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 103.7 IP, 80 K, 38 BB
This is a guy that had a lot hype going into the season and given his W-L, ERA, and WHIP, he really hasn’t lived up to it. But then again, he does play for the Orioles. Matusz seems like he is getting back on the winning track and the K/IP totals are pretty darn impressive. If he heats up, add him!
If the first half of the season is any indication, the second half is going to be one of the more exciting ones we have seen in a long time. Good luck to you and your fantasy squad and for more info, tune in every Monday night on 1350 KTIK “The Ticket” for more fantasy advice from myself and Mike Safford.
Till next time..
First off, thank you for everyone that read my first installment. My first blog was a bullpen session, so it’s time for me to take the mound and start diving into topics that you care about.
To kick off my second installment, I want to talk about the MLB First-Year Player Draft, which is less than 48 hours away. The Chicago Cubs, who are the parent-team for your Boise Hawks, are sitting at pick 16 and needless to say, have plenty of options. The question on everyone’s mind is who will they go with; a young arm or will they follow suit and take an athletic, five-tool player?
That question will be answered by Tim Wilken, the Cubs Amateur and Professional Scouting Director. Since Wilken took over in December of 2005, he has had a pretty solid track record at finding good talent early. Outfielders Tyler Colvin and Brett Jackson have both been impressive in the minors and Colvin has been a solid bat for the Cubs this season, hitting .293 with 5 HR and 13 RBI. Wilken also cashed in on pitcher Andrew Cashner, who flew through the minors to earn a spot in the Cubs bullpen this season. Third baseman Josh Vitters is the highest rated prospect to ever make to Boise in 2008 and he did not disappoint, hitting .328 with 5 HR and 37 RBI. Vitters’ 25 doubles were the second most in Hawks history and he was the only unanimous for the Northwest League All-Star team that season.
With all of that being said, Wilken has several interesting options at pick 16. Wilken’s track record has always been selecting the best, positional athlete on the board. But according to MLB.com Draft expert Jonathan Mayo, he predicts the Cubs will go with a young arm this year in Asher Wojciechowski from The Citadel. Wojciehowski has 6’4″ frame and is known for his fastball, which registers around 94 mph. The word from many scouts is that he has a good slider, but his change up has been a little suspect and it is not a strong as his other pitches.
My take on Wojciechowski is this; just about any team can use a 6’4″ fireballer in the bullpen who can spell the closer or be the closer. My only hang up is that given the profile, Wojciechowski sounds a lot like Cubs relief pitcher Jeff Samardzija. If I am WIlken (given the current layout of my team), I would be looking more for a solid starting pitcher, as opposed to a relief pitcher. Given what we know thus far on Wojciechowski, it sounds like he is more suited for the bullpen than the rotation.
If I were Wilken, I would take a long look at pitcher Karsten Whitson from Chipley High School in Florida. Whitson has a great fastball that registers around 91-96 mph and a slider that resembles Wojciechowski’s. Where the two pitchers differ is in their off-speed pitches. Whitson has a very nice change up that hits between 80-82 mph and has enough fade to where that pitch could be a “plus pitch” for his arsenal. Anytime you can find a 6’4″ guy like Whtison with this kind of profile, it’s hard to pass on him. The biggest plus is that he is straight out of high school, so he has not hit his full potential yet. With great tools and the ability to grow, Whitson would be a great choice if he is still there at 16.
If Wilken is dead set on a skill position player, then Justin O’Conner is a name that could generate a lot of buzz. O’Conner, a shortstop/catcher from Cowan High School in Indiana, has the make up that a lot of Wilken’s picks have had; he’s a powerful, patient hitter who has great, raw athleticism. The most intriguing thing about O’Conner is the fact that he doesn’t really have a position. He has shown a cannon for an arm (pitching up to speeds of 95 mph) and some people think he is best suited at the catcher position, rather than his current position of shortstop. The only drawback is that he is very green at the catcher spot, so if the Cubs put him in that role, they will have to give him several years to develop.
Regardless of who the Cubs decide to go with, they should benefit in some form or another. Most of the players highlighted have the athleticism the Cubs seek and hopefully they can add even more depth to a minor league system that is producing big league talent. But then again, the name Mark Prior still resonates with many in Wrigleyville.
Till next time..
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