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Week 15 Fantasy Baseball Sleeper Stock Market: Wild Wild West

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Erasmo Ramirez
 Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Erasmo Ramirez

September 30, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Erasmo Ramirez (50) pitches against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning at O.co Coliseum. Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The American League West is rife with top prospects, especially young pitchers. It’s also become an incredibly difficult division for a rookie to succeed. This week we will see the 2013 debut of Erasmo Ramirez for the Mariners and the Major League debut of Jarred Cosart for the Astros. Both have good potential but neither would be the first if they struggled this year.

We have already seen top prospect Brad Peacock come up for the Astros and put up an 8.07 ERA and 1.76 WHIP over 29 IP. We’ve seen top prospect Brandon Maurer come up for the Mariners and put up a 6.93 ERA and 1.68 WHIP over 49.1 IP. The problem isn’t strictly with pitchers on bad teams. In Texas, Justin Grimm owns a 5.88 ERA and 1.58 WHIP over 85.2 IP and Nick Tepesch, though much more solid, owns an iffy 4.85 ERA and 1.35 WHIP.

While we should all be excited about the potential that Ramirez and Cosart possess, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see similar numbers from both or either. Just something to keep in mind as we take a look at who’s up and who’s down in this week’s stock market.

Buy:

Erasmo Ramirez: Speculative Buy. I’m surprised it took this long for the Mariners to recall Ramirez, considering how terrible guys like Aaron Harang, Brandon Maurer, and Jeremy Bonderman have played. The 23-year-old Nicaragua native made his Majors debut last season, putting up a very impressive 3.36 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 48 K/12 BB over 59 IP. This season in the minors, Ramirez is 3-3 with a 2.96 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, and 45 K/16 BB over 48.2 IP. He has definitely developed a knack for the strikeout and doesn’t walk as many guys as most strikeout pitchers do – and he keeps the ball in the park. I wouldn’t hesitate to take a shot on him.

Jarred Cosart: Speculative Buy. We profiled Cosart a month ago as a top fantasy sleeper and he is set to make his Major League debut Friday against the Rays. Coming into last season, Cosart was rated the 50th top prospect by Baseball America but injuries cost him some starts and he was dropped from the Baseball America rankings entirely this season while falling to 89th on the MLB.com rankings. Unlike Ramirez, Cosart has a serious control problem, allowing a pretty ridiculous 4.8 BB/9 this season and 4.0/9 last season. Even so, his ability to keep the ball in the park and his 3.29 ERA and 9.0 K/9 make him a compelling prospect. For all the struggles with walks, he has a serviceable 1.26 career WHIP. Unlike Ramirez, I would wait to see how his first starts go before taking a shot on him.

Adam Eaton: Solid Buy. After numerous setbacks, Adam Eaton is finally back in a uniform and (hopefully) ready to live up to the hype. Over his first 103 PA last season, he didn’t do a whole lot, putting up a .259/.382/.412 line with two homers, five runs batted in, seven extra-base hits, and two steals – though he did score 19 runs. The hype, of course, comes from his minor league production. In 2011, Eaton put up a very impressive .318/.434/.463 line with 10 HR, 67 RBI, 39 XBH, 34 SB, and 85 R. He followed that up with a huge 2012, putting up a .375/.456/.523 line with seven homers, 48 RBI, 69 XBH, 48 SB, and 130 runs in 130 games. With numbers like that, it’s tough not to salivate over his potential. He’s expected to bat leadoff for the DBacks every day and could be a big get in the SB, R, and possibly BA categories.

Ivan Nova: Solid Buy. I don’t like Nova. Maybe’s it’s the 5.02 ERA he put up last season. Maybe it’s the 6.48 ERA he put up through April. Either way, I had to overcome a serious personal bias to include him on this list but the kid has really been playing well since that dreadful first month. Over his last six appearances, three starts and three relief appearances, Nova is 3-1 with a 2.29 ERA, .217 BAA, and 36 K/8 BB. He’s expected to remain in the rotation moving forward so I would definitely grab him before he starts receding back to his normal self.

Brad Miller: Solid Buy. Miller is 50 plate appearances into his Major League career but I already like what I’m seeing. He hasn’t hit a home run yet but has hit four doubles, two triples, driven in six runs, scored five runs, and stole two bases in just 12 games. The strikeouts could be an issue but he walks a ton as well and is a great extra-base hitter with potential for 15+ HR and 20+ SB. Definitely grab him if you need to fill a middle infield spot.

Derek Jeter: Solid Buy. I’m probably more confident the other guys on this list will perform than a 39-year-old Jeter coming off of ankle surgery and a long setback in his recovery earlier this year. Still, he finished seventh in MVP voting last season and put up a .316/.362/.429 line with 15 HR, 58 RBI, 99 R, 32 2B, and nine steals so he’s definitely worth a shot and is available in 35+% of Yahoo leagues. He is expected to return and DH on Thursday.

Sell:

Jon Lester: I was positive this would be Lester’s comeback season after an unexpected disappointing 2012 (9-14, 4.82 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 7.3 K/9). I even drafted him in a shallow eight-team mixed league and laughed it up as he went 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA and .204 BAA over his first nine starts. Since that stretch, Lester has allowed less than four runs just twice in 10 starts. In his last 10 games, Lester is 2-5 with a 6.49 ERA, .313 BAA, and has given up 10 home runs. I don’t know if he will be able to turn it around in the second half but in some of the games he’s looked worse than he did last season and I don’t like his outlook.

Paul Maholm: Like Lester, Maholm got off to a good start, going 4-3 with a 3.09 ERA, .204 BAA, and two homers allowed over his first seven games. Over his last six starts, Maholm is 2-4 with a 5.19 ERA, .331 BAA, and has given up five home runs. With Brandon Beachy‘s return around the corner, Maholm may be playing himself out of the rotation.

Adam Lind: Everyone got all excited when Lind went on his torrid hot streak, owning a .408/.427/.684 line with seven homers, 21 RBI, and 18 R over 24 games between May 24 and June 21. Of course, this is Adam Lind we’re talking about. Over his first 21 games, Lind was homerless with a .220 BA and three RBI. Since June 21, he owns a .179/.203/.321 line with one homer, four runs batted in, and two runs scored. Don’t expect him to show up month to month.

Tommy Milone: Milone is another guy who looked great to start the season with a 3.13 ERA and 41 K/6 BB over his first seven starts. Since then, Milone owns a 4.97 ERA, 46 K/22 BB, and has surrendered 13 home runs in 12 games. Most recently, he lasted just 2.2 IP while allowing three runs on seven hits and two walks to the 25th ranked Pirates offense. With Sonny Gray now looming in the bullpen, Milone is in danger of losing his job if he continues to succumb to the long ball.

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