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Week 22 Fantasy Baseball Sleeper Stock Market: Walker, Torres, Eaton

Mariners SP Taijuan Walker
Mariners SP Taijuan Walker

Feb. 15, 2012; Peoria, AZ, USA; Seattle Mariners pitcher Taijuan Walker throws during a pitchers and catchers workout at the Peoria Sports Complex. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Another week, another top Mariners pitching prospect getting the call to the Bigs. This week it’s #5 top prospect in the league, Taijuan Walker. Seattle has a ton of good looking pitcher in the minors yet they’ve had a tough time bringing up their top guys all season. Brandon Maurer won a job out of spring training but went on to put up a 6.59 ERA. The highly coveted Erasmo Ramirez owns a 5.44 and Hector Noesi owns a 5.64. Hopefully Walker can buck the trend and give fantasy owners a nice boost heading toward the playoffs.

Buy:

Taijuan Walker: Speculative Buy. Walker is one of the most highly touted prospects in the country, ranked 18th by Baseball America and 5th by MLB.com. Save for some struggles in his initial move to Double-A last season, Walker has strung together a solid minor league career, owning a 3.49 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and 9.7 K/9. This season, Walker has been much improved, putting up a 2.93 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and 10.2 K/9 in 141 IP between Double-A and Triple-A – though his ERA was a run higher in Triple-A. I don’t know if I would rush out to snag him before I’ve seen him on the mound but he’s worth a speculative investment in deeper leagues.

Adam Eaton: Solid Buy. It took Eaton a long time to bounce back from injury so his first couple of weeks in the Majors were tantamount to extra rehab games. He’s been much better since August began, putting up a .309/.378/.469 line with two homers, 10 RBI, 17 R, seven extra-base hits, and two steals over his last 17 games. He hasn’t been stealing or hitting doubles at the rate many had hoped but his average is much improved and the runs are there.

Carlos Torres: Solid Buy. With Matt Harvey out for the season, Torres will slide back into the rotation. Torres made three starts back in July with varied success. He gave up just one run, five hits, and no walks while striking out five against Pittsburgh over five innings. He looked equally as solid surrendering just one run and striking out six over six innings against Atlanta. Then, the Nats dinged him up for eight runs in three innings and he returned to the pen where he owns a 1.56 ERA on the season. I wouldn’t hold that one bad game against him, he’s been stellar all year.

Chris Carter: Solid Buy. Although he leads the league with 179 strikeouts, Carter’s 26 HR and 70 RBI have been very overlooked because of his lousy team and his .218 BA. One of the things I’ve noticed in every league I’m in is the lack of consistent power options. In one of my roto leagues, I have long abandoned average in favor of power hitters like Mark Trumbo, Adam Dunn, and Pedro Alvarez. Carter is in that class and he’s especially worth owning while he’s hot. Over his last 17 games, Carter is batting .274 with seven home runs, 18 RBI, and nine runs.

Sell:

Jeff Locke: It’s not that Locke has been sent down to Double-A, he’ll be back by next week. It’s that he’s given up 16 runs and 32 baserunners over his last three starts (just 11.1 IP). We all knew there was going to be a leveling out when Locke, who entered the season with a 5.82 MLB ERA and 3.60 minor league ERA, was hovering in the low 2.00s. Now, it’s time to cut him loose.

Bruce Chen: Just as we knew that Jeff Locke’s ERA would return to normal, so would Bruce Chen’s 1.62 ERA. And so it has. Over his last two starts, Chen has given up 13 runs and 20 baserunners over nine innings of work. His ERA is still as 2.88 so there’s more late-season leveling out to be seen.

Jimmy Rollins: Rollins has had a disappointing season overall, owning a pedestrian .247/.310/.339 line with five home runs (23 last year), 35 RBI (68 last year), 48 R (102 last year), and 17 SB (30 last year). Things have only gotten worse for the 34-year-old as he’s batting just .198 with four RBI, six runs, and five steals in 25 games in August. He’s still owned in more than 80% of leagues and I’m not sure what those owners are waiting for.

Starlin Castro: Rollins is old for a shortstop and on the decline. What’s Castro’s problem? After batting .283 with 14 HR, 78 RBI, 78 R, and 25 SB last year, Castro is batting just .239 with seven dingers, 33 RBI, 51 R, and eight swipes. Just as with Rollins, the disappointment of the season seems to have worn on Castro who is batting just .189 with one homer, three runs batted in, six runs, and no steals over his last 31 games. He’s owned in about 80% of leagues too, unfathomable.

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