by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
We all know the big names and whether or not we believe in them. However fantasy titles can often be won or lost by your ability to find lightning in a bottle from an under-the-radar addition. Let’s take a look at three players who could make an impact down the stretch and try to decide if they are worth adding or not:
Rafael Ortega – Miami Marlins – Outfielder
CBS Sports – 6%, ESPN – 4.1%
It’s been a long road for the 27-year old left-handed hitter, who first debuted in the Majors as a member of the Rockies all the way back in 2012 (6 PA). He didn’t return until 2016 (202 PA) as a member of the Angels, but ultimately spent all of ’17 at Triple-A as a member of the Padres’ organization. He joined the Marlins this year, performing well at Triple-A (.275 with 2 HR and 12 SB over 328 PA) before joining the Major League team. He’s now settled in atop the batting order, hitting .300 with a .375 OBP over his first 50 AB.
He’s currently on a seven-game hitting streak (11-29, while adding 5 BB vs. 4 K). Over his first 11 games he had shown an elite command of the strike zone, with a 2.8% SwStr% and 24.6% O-Swing%. That’s a little bit better than his Triple-A mark (5.0% SwStr%), but he continued to show a strong command of the strike zone (13.4% walk rate, 9.5% strikeout rate).
Obviously he’s not going to provide much power, but his ability to get on base, steal some bases and score runs is going to give him value. Hitting atop the order he’s a three-category producer who should continue to get an opportunity down the stretch. If you need help in stolen bases specifically, he’s an under-the-radar addition to make.
Verdict – Buy ‘Em
Greg Allen – Cleveland Indians – Outfielder
CBS Sports – 7%, ESPN – 7.3%
Allen brings a similar profile to Ortega, as a potential three-category producer. The difference is he’s not going to routinely hit atop the batting order (Francisco Lindor is entrenched in the leadoff spot), and that is at least going to limit his plate appearances over the remainder of the season. You also have to wonder if the Indians, who tried to acquire alternatives ahead of the trade deadline, will do a little bit of shopping prior to August 31 to look to strengthen the spot for their run through October.
Allen also doesn’t bring the same type of approach at the plate, as you can argue that he brings too much swing and miss for the style of player that he is (SwStr%):
- Triple-A – 10.2%
- Majors – 8.7%
Obviously the MLB number is better, and he entered yesterday’s game with a 7.0% SwStr% in August. That said the risk of strikeout issues loom, and with little power that’s going to cap his AVG/OBP (.251/.291). While he could be a short-term play while he’s going well, in general the risk outweighs the reward.
Verdict – Short-term play and little more
Ramon Laureano – Oakland A’s – Outfielder
CBS Sports – 3%, ESPN – 0.8%
Laurenao recently had a monster day at the dish, going 2-4 with 2 HR and 5 RBI on August 20. Of course those are his only extra base hits in the Majors this season (40 AB), though the former Houston prospect was hitting .297 with 14 HR and 11 SB over 284 PA at Triple-A prior to his recall (after hitting 11 HR with 24 SB at Double-A a year ago).
He’s always shown speed, the question is if he’s going to provide enough power and bring enough discipline. Early on he’s shown a terrible approach in the Majors:
- SwStr% – 17.8%
- O-Swing% – 36.6%
That comes after a 10.8% SwStr% at Triple-A (11.1% at Double-A last year). That shows that strikeouts are going to remain an issue, even if there’s a slight improvement, and with 12 doubles and 1 triple at Triple-A it would appear that the power is limited. Only adding to that is this scouting report, courtesy of Baseball America:
Making contact can be problematic for Laureano. Given his well below-average power, his strikeout rate of 21 percent is too high.
In other words, while he had a big game and does bring some speed he’ll likely be exposed. He’s the type of player that you ride while he’s hot, but quickly move on from.
Verdict – Ride ‘Em, then Deny ‘Em
Sources – ESPN, CBS Sports, Fangraphs, Baseball America, MLB.com