Top prospects are often hit-and-miss, especially when they first get called up. Especially pitching prospects. At the same time, there are systems in the Majors that are built purely on the strength of their pitcher development. Tampa Bay, St. Louis, Atlanta, and Oakland all come to mind. So when you see a top prospect coming out of the Cardinals’ farm system, you can’t help but get excited about the idea of snagging the next Shelby Miller or Lance Lynn. With fellow rookie John Gast hitting the disabled list, Michael Wacha is a quickly rising commodity in the fantasy world and owners shouldn’t wait too long to take a shot on him. Let’s take a closer look at Wacha and some other worthwhile pickups in this week’s waiver wire rundown.
Michael Wacha (Owned in 18% of Yahoo Leagues): With the Cards placing John Gast on the DL, top prospect Michael Wacha will get the call after just 73.2 innings in his two-year minor league career. There’s a lot to be excited about with the 2012 first-rounder though, he went 4-0 with a 1.71 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, and 74 K/19 BB over that short career. As a rule, Cardinals pitching prospects are usually worth a pickup.
Nick Franklin (3%): The Mariners are calling up top 50 prospect Nick Franklin to take over their shortstop duties and any shortstop with potential to go 20-20 is worth a look. In 39 games in Triple-A this year, Franklin has a .324/.440/.472 line with four homers, seven steals, 20 RBI, and 28 runs. More impressive, he has 30 walks to just 20 strikeouts. Although the power has been inconsistent in the minors, he has shown the ability to hit 20+ home runs as he slammed 23 in 2010 but is more an extra-base hitter than a true power hitter. He’s also got good legs, stealing 25 bases in 2010 and 63 in his minors career.
Jerome Williams (25%): While most headlines about the Angels this season have been negative, Jerome Williams has proven to be a rare bright spot on a sub-.500 $140 million team. Williams is now 4-1 with a 2.58 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. The strikeouts are definitely on the low-end, 5.7/9 this season and over his career—but he has given up more than two runs just once since sliding into the rotation in late April.
Mike Leake (17%): Mike Leake flirts with fantasy relevance often and with back-to-back scoreless performances this is another one of those times. Leake’s 3.25 ERA is good but if you take away his first two starts in which he gave up a combined nine runs, he’s 5-2 with a 2.28 ERA and 32 K in 43 innings. The WHIP is on the high side, 1.39 on the season and 1.34 in his career. He’s not really a long-term investment but is definitely worth starting when he’s this hot.
Julio Teheran (40%): I was expecting a breakout season for Teheran this season and after struggling in his first three starts he seems to have gotten in a serious groove. After allowing 13 runs in his first three games, Teheran is 3-1 with a 2.23 ERA and 23 K in 40 IP. The strikeouts come and go and he’ll definitely get his K/9 up. As long as he can keep the ball in the park (again, five of his eight home runs allowed came in the first three starts) he should end the year with some good looking numbers.
John Lackey (27%): If he can just manage to stay healthy, Lackey is a front-runner for comeback player of the year this season. He has given up more than three runs just once and more than two runs just twice. His 2.72 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 40 K/11 BB over 39.2 IP are all stellar and there is no reason he should be unowned in any league right now until he proves otherwise.
Domonic Brown (35%): Like Teheran, I was expecting Brown to have a breakout season this year and also like Teheran, he has been up and down. With two homers in the last week, he is now up to nine home runs and 27 RBI in 49 games (his previous career high was five homers and 26 RBI in 56 games). His .257 average and .296 OBP leave something to be desired but even that is significantly better than his .235 BA last season. The kid is a former top prospect who is on pace to hit close to 30 home runs and 100 RBI, batting average aside there is no reason you shouldn’t take a shot on him.
Jose Quintana (19%): I have turned into a big Quintana fan this season and while he has not been the most consistent pitcher his numbers are all very solid. After tossing 6.1 scoreless innings against Boston, his is now down to a 3.48 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. His 6.8 K/9 are just below the league average and he’s not a guy to be owned in all mixed leagues but he makes for a pretty solid starter if you ever need a change.