Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups - AL-Only Leagues
Each week I will be treading through the murky waiver wire in the American League to try to find you some hidden gems that could pay off exponentially. These players should be owned in AL Only leagues and some will even be rosterable in deep mixed league formats. This is the first installment. All ownership percentages from Yahoo!.
1. Abraham Almonte - OF, SEA
Almonte was an afterthought when he came over from the Yankees before the 2013 season, but he propelled himself to the big leagues last September after a strong 2013 minor league season (.314 BA .401 OBP 20 SB 11 HR). After injuries depleted the Mariners outfield in the offseason, Almonte was given the first crack at the center field job this spring. He did not hit the ball all that well, but he still showed a patient eye, and the Mariners trusted him with the opening day leadoff spot in their lineup. In his first week in 2014 he hit .286 with a homer and a steal. Almonte could be a 15/25 HR/SB guy in 2014 and will hit leadoff in a pretty potent lineup. He is currently owned in 11% of CBS leagues, and only 5% of Yahoo leagues. His ownership should be higher, and now would be the time to do it. I am bold on Almonte's outlook for the future, but obviously you would have to revisit him in a few months once he has been around the league a few times.
Check out this majestic bomb Almonte hit on Saturday vs the A's:
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2. David Lough - OF, BAL
Lough came over from the Royals in the offseason, after playing in 96 big league games in 2013. The Royals did not have a spot for Lough, and he had already conquered the triple-a level after hitting .275 there in 2012 with 26 SB and 10 HR. He batted leadoff a couple times at the end of the week replacing Nick Markakis who moved down to the 5 spot for the Orioles, so the organization is showing faith in this 28 year old in his first season with the team. Sure Lough has Delmon Young lurking over his shoulder for at bats, but it seems like the Orioles know Nelson Cruz needs to DH more than he plays outfield, and Young has never been a great defender, so Lough is currently safely parked in the leadoff spot playing left field. At worst he will always play against righty's, and at best he turns Delmon Young into a utility outfielder that gives guys days off and is injury insurance. He stole bags in the past 2 games, and also hit 2 triples, so now seems like the time to pounce. A .270/15 HR/20 SB line is within reach. Lough is 2% owned on CBS and 1% owned on Yahoo.
Check out this video of Lough taking 2013 AL Cy Young Award Winner Max Scherzer out of the yard:
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3. Jarred Cosart - SP, HOU
This former 38th round pick of the Phillies, was brought over in the Hunter Pence trade 2 years ago, and made his major league debut in 2013. He made 10 stars, and finished with a sub 2 ERA. His peripherals were ugly, but he worked his way out of trouble and showed enough promise to have the front office predicting 15 wins for him this year. In his first outing, he beat the Yankees, by going 5 innings, giving up 4 hits, no runs and striking out 3. Of utmost importance, Cosart did not issue a walk, and after an offseason in which he spoke repeatedly about cleaning up his mechanics and trying to throw more strikes, he delivered. He made a subtle adjustment in his delivery, dropping his hands down to his waist on takeoff, so his arm should be better equipped to "catch up" which will stop him from missing on his arm slot like he did in 2013. If those walks stay low, this could be a steal. Cosart is currently owned in 7% of Yahoo leagues, and 28% of CBS leagues. I doubt he will be a helper in strikeouts, but the whip and the era, as well as wins is where this young hurler will help your fantasy team. Grab him and ride it out, if he starts to pile up walks, cut bait, but his potential is too great to leave him sitting on the waiver wire.
Check out some video of Cosart's 2014 debut against the Yankees:
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4. Conor Gillaspie - 3B. CHW - 1% Owned
Gillaspie, a former Wichita St. standout, and first round pick of the Giants got his first taste of steady big league at bats in 2013 under Robin Ventura. He did not set the world on fire, but showed enough progress at bat to at bat to give Ventura the confidence to put him smack in the middle of the lineup to open 2014, and he has delivered hitting .400 in his first week. Gillaspie is not going to be a high home run guy, but he can be a very cheap option for BA and RBI with the potential to hit 15 HR. There is a lot of value in the White Sox lineup right now, and this guy is at the forefront. Hitting behind Jose Abreu should be prove to fruitful as the year goes on, but waiting too long on him could cost you your chance. Don't hang on to the guys you had to reach for on draft night, you didn't want them then, and you still don't. Grab Gillaspie now if third base is a problem spot for you, or if you are searching for a solid and safe backup for your roster. He is currently 1% owned on Yahoo, and 2% owned on CBS, but that will change if he hits .400 again this week. Don't take the chance, make the move now!
Check out this clutch extra inning home run Gillaspie hit last year against the Royals:
[iframe width="100%" height="220" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/jSvFXrs-9Ss"]
5. Robbie Ross - RP/SP, TEX
This could be the biggest boom or bust guy on this list. Ross was a starter all the way through the minor leagues, but broke camp with the team in 2012 as a reliever. The team had World Series aspirations, but did not have a quality bullpen, so Ross won a spot. The team decided to take a chance with his development in order to help the big club, but finally in 2014, because of injuries, the opportunity for Ross to start again has presented itself. He had a tremendous spring, and had a very nice first start in the regular season going 5 innings, striking out 7 and giving up 2 earned runs. Ross was always a pretty high strikeout guy in the minors, and has proven time and again that he has what it takes to get big league guys out due to his sub 3 era over his first 125 appearances as a reliever. Ross could potentially lose this spot to someone like Neftali Feliz, but the other Rangers starters have struggled, so Ross's job appears safer than theirs do currently. He will make another start this week, and the team will probably make a decision on his future after that. He is currently owned in 20% of CBS leagues, and only 3% of Yahoo leagues. This is the one guy on this list I think could be an integral piece of winning your league, Ross could end up being the #2 starter on a playoff team in 2014. Buy now, sort it out later, or else you will regret it if he has another stellar outing this week.
Check out footage from his first major league start last week:
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