Toiling away in MLB’s cellar, Pittsburgh always produces some talented players. Unfortunately for Pirates fans, the club never keeps them around for very long.
But that doesn’t mean fantasy owners should avoid them. Three Pirates’ prospects make this most recent waiver report and at least two of them should be owned in every league right now.
As usual, there is a mix of players who are must-adds, others that are dynasty/keeper prospects and still others who are spot fill-ins at best. All players are available in at least 75% of Yahoo and ESPN leagues. Ownership rates provided are as of mid-day Saturday, July 24:
Pedro Alvarez (23% Yahoo, 21.1 % ESPN) — The top available player on the list in my opinion. Alvarez is an uber prospect at a scarce 3B position. He had two-homer games on Tuesday and Wednesday last week, scored eight times, drove in nine and hit .393 (11-for-28) over the last seven days. Yet, the fantasy world has left Alvarez 77% available in Yahoos and almost 79% available in ESPNs.
Luke Scott (16% Yahoo, 10.4% ESPN) — Another must-add from this list. When Scott starts mashing he’ll mash for a while. He is a streaky player and in the five games with the Orioles since coming off the DL, he is 9-for-20 (.450) with three homers and six RBI. He has 15 homers and is on pace to reach 30 this season. Don’t be surprised if the 1B/OF eligible Scott gets most of the way there in the next couple weeks.
Jose Tabata (4% yahoo, 4% ESPN) — While speed is not at a premium at this point in the season, Tabata is still one of the better options in the majors, especially for dynasty/keeper leaguers. Tabata scored nine runs, drove in seven and hit .323 (10/31) in the last week. The outfielder misplayed a triple Friday and was called out on a close play at home despite being safe, but don’t expect that to hurt his confidence or playing time. Tabata has been too good so far this season.
Chris Johnson (2% Yahoo, less than 1% ESPN) — Hit his first major league homer on Monday and his second on Tuesday. In the last week he also drove in eight runs, scored six and went 9-for-22 (.409). He’s still listed behind 3B Pedro Feliz on the Houston depth chart but has been getting more regular at-bats and has done more with them than Feliz. Look for Johnson to officially take over soon and eventually develop 20+homer power. He’s a great add now in deep keeper/dynasty formats and will help teams in redrafts as long as he keeps up this hot hitting.
Jack Cust (4% Yahoo, 2% ESPN) — Cust’s .297 average is the best on the Athletics. In the last week the OF/DH hit .375 with a pair of homers and eight RBI. He hit 25 homers last year and 33 the year before but has never had an impressive average. He’s been getting regular playing time since returning from the DL and will be on a lot more fantasy rosters as the season progresses. Add him for his pure power potential and consider any average bump you get a bonus, but don’t be afraid to drop him if he gets mired in a prolonged slump.
Neil Walker (9% Yahoo, 7.1% ESPN) — Walker, a 2B/3B eligible player starting at 2B, is the one Pirates player who might not need to be owned in every league. His versatility is a great bonus, but he won’t help you in homers (3 in 175 ABs) or steals (2). Walker will get some runs and RBI to go with an impressive average. He has 16 hits in his last 30 at-bats and his string of six multi-hit games was broken in an 0-for-3 on Friday.
Chris Denorfia (1% Yahoo, 0.3% ESPN) — Denorfia has three homers, two steals and a .471 average in the last week, but has only two starts since the All-Star Break. Will Venable returned from the DL late this week and that will only make it harder for the Padres to find a place to play Denorfia. Denorfia is a cautious add for the same reason he’ll continue to get some at-bats. But if he struggles it won’t take long for the hook.
Matt Diaz (4% Yahoo, 8.4% ESPN) — Jason Heyward, Nate McLouth and Melky Cabrera are listed as the Braves starting outfielders, but Heyward’s recent injuries have allowed Diaz to see more at-bats. In the last week, he had 16 and did a lot with them. Three of his eight hits (.500 average) were homers and he drove in nine runs. Diaz hit safely in nine of his last 12 games and is 17-for-44 (.386) since he came off the DL himself June 29. He needs to get more playing time to get full approval for an add in mixed leagues, but at this point he deserves the chance to start.
Reid Brignac (3% Yahoo, 1.6%) — Brignac had a great preseason and won his chance to make the major league roster. He qualifies at both shortstop and second base but is not a starter at either position. He’s done a lot more with his at-bats than current SS starter Jason Bartlett. In the last week, Brignac hit three homers and drove in seven runs while hitting .471 (8-for-17). I’ve been monitoring Brignac, and his middle-infield parter-of-the-future Sean Rodriguez since the spring. They’ll both be fantasy relevant in the future, probably by 2011.
Randy Winn (7% Yahoo, 0.5% ESPN) — In the last week, Winn has two homers, two steals and five RBI. He’s hit .385 over the same stretch and is hitting .292 in 72 at-bats since joining the Cardinals. However, like a couple other players on this list, Winn will get less frequent at-bats once regular starter Ryan Ludwick comes off the DL (expected back Sunday). Unlike the other players on this list, I don’t have any delusions about Winn winning more playing time. As many of you know, that means he’ll be the one to somehow pull it off.
Who did I miss? Who did you add/drop this week? Let us know in the comments.