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NL-Only Waiver Wire Team of the Week: MLB Week 19 September Call-Up Edition

Every week in baseball, a significant player will hit the disabled list, slip into a slump, or get traded out of a good spot. How fantasy owners adapt to these situations can make or break the season as a whole. One lousy add might not hurt the long-term standing of a team, but failing to take advantage of breakouts or impact bats before others sure can.

The primary challenge of playing in an NL or AL-only league is often the lack of options regarding adding and subtracting players when needed. In mixed leagues, the players on the waiver wire are usually starting for an NL-only staff. So then how does one wade through the names of players that even regular fantasy players have never heard of, and that often will not even start for their teams,to begin with? That is where this series comes in.

Instead of owners spending time digging the waiver wire of 0% owned players, this article will give owners a player at each position to fill the gap, or at the least, keep an eye on to add or stash. Not all of these players will replace that injury, but offer the best option off the scrap heap. Often the players advocated for here are long shots due to the nature of shallow leagues. No quick fixes, but some upside that could turn into much more.  With that onto the island of misfit fantasy toys.

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NL-Only Team of the Week

C - Francisco Mejia (C/OF, SDP) - 8% owned

Mejia is already owned in a ton of leagues but is the clear pick at the position concerning future call-ups. Boasting both catching and outfield eligibility, for the time being, the ability to add Mejia to a lineup is critical moving forward for a few reasons. First, on a bad team, there will be playing time. This is why catchers like Will Smith with the Dodgers did not make the list, as there will be little playing time to be had. Mejia should get the call and get time to impress before the season is over. Second, since his move to San Diego, Mejia has been tearing Triple-A hitting apart. Through 10 games to date, he is slashing .289/.340/.437 with one homer. While a small sample, there is no doubting that Mejia is an elite offensive player if he stays at catcher, and should be fantasy relevant if he moves off. While the apparent pick on this list, if Mejia is available owners should grab him while they can.

1B - Peter Alonso (1B, NYM) - 1% owned

When the Mets drafted him in the second round, there was little doubt if Alonso could hit for power, but the glove and overall bat skills needed improvement. So far, Alonso has performed well above expectations and finds himself as one of the top prospects in the game. The glove has improved to the point that there is no question that he will play at first in the Majors, and the bat has not slowed down in his time in pro ball. This season, in 42 games at Triple-A, he has slashed .230/.337/.503 with 11 homers and 53 RBI. While the batting average is down from the .314 mark at Double-A, the power has stuck around, and the slugging percentage shows what impact potential this bat has. Like Mejia, Alonso should have chances to play, and with the Dominic Smith experiment seemingly over, he is the future in New York.

2B - Isan Diaz (2B, MIA) - 0% owned

One of the major pieces that the Christian Yelich trade brought back to Miami, Diaz is a unique mix of power and glove at second that might play better in fantasy leagues that real life. Before his move to Miami, Diaz played a lot at shortstop, and this shows the athleticism that underwrites the profile as a whole. In all fairness, some of the prospect luster has worn off, and he is no longer a top-20 prospect but should be able to make an impact on a bad Marlins team. The 2019 season will be his year to make the team, but in September he should get a shot if he keeps hitting. At Triple-A, in only 15 games following a promotion, he is slashing .294/.400/.627 with two homers and 10 runs. Diaz, if he meets his ceiling, is a power hitting second baseman who will offer fringe speed as a compliment. Worth the stash this year, and if not, target him next draft season.

3B - Austin Riley (3B, ATL) - 2% owned

Riley is one of the hottest prospects in the Atlanta system, and with the majority of the other stars being pitchers, this offers him a more natural path to the Braves. In 47 games this year at Triple-A Riley is slashing .275/.354/.390 with four homers and 29 RBI. The knock so far has been the lack of in-game power, but there is still enough pop to expect close to 20 over a full year with the Braves. Even if the power is not there, this should be a high contact play with a good floor for the hit tool to carry him in most fantasy leagues. While a different position, Riley comps well to Jesse Winker who has the high average bat, but there are questions on the power side of the profile that have been answered so far to some extent. With the Braves in a pennant race expect Riley to be added for that spark down the stretch, and he should be the starter next year.   

SS - Brendan Rodgers (SS, COL) - 4% owned

Shortstop is a bit tricky this week, as most of the top players are still years away from playing time with their clubs, and the pick this week in Rodgers might not stay at short. No insider knowledge here, but the guess by many if that Rodgers moves to second to take over for D.J. LeMahieu after this campaign. And yet, that does not mean that he will lose the shortstop eligibility and could be a nice stash to play that role for teams next season. Concerning this season, the call-up seems likely after a good campaign and the Rockies needing more offense than they are currently producing. With LeMahieu being hit by the injury bug often this year, there might even be a long-term role in September if all plays right. Back to Rodgers, in 95 games at Double-A, he slashed .275/.342/.493 with 17 homers before a recent call-up to Albuquerque. Rodgers might still be a year away from regular time, but even including Mejia, has the highest upside on the list. Even with a move across the diamond, this is a power bat, playing at Coors, with the skills of an infielder. That is a sexy fantasy profile.

OF - Socrates Brito (OF, ARI) - 0% owned

Brito is a name that most fantasy owners know and loath, as it seems that every year he is about the to breakout only to struggle and get demoted. Why is this year different? Even with some brief struggles in the Majors, Brito has put together his best campaign to date at Triple-A, with a .333/.397/.580 slash in 92 games. Add to that 17 homers and 13 steals, and he has earned another, maybe a fifth, shot at the outfield in Chase Field. The most significant benefit to fantasy owners is that Brito offers more than just typical speed play on the bench giving him a bit more upside than other call-ups in the outfield. Will he push Jon Jay for time, perhaps not, but with how Arizona uses their pen there are plenty of late-game chances to impress. With the team also being in a race for the division there will be opportunities in good matchups as well. Time to give Brito one last shot, as if this is the time he finally works out there could be five category impact.  

OF - Chris Shaw (1B/OF, SFG) - 0% owned

With Andrew McCutchen on the way out in August, hopefully, there will be a spot in the outfield, and in the short term, with Pablo Sandoval moving to the DL, there is another spot for a corner infielder to play. Enter, Chris Shaw, who is the number two prospect in an admittedly weak system. A repeat of Triple-A has been stable for Shaw this year, with a .264/.312/.525 slash in 86 games. Add in 22 homers, and this looks like a good fantasy catch moving forward. The one issue is that lefty power does not play up in San Francisco, but if he can put together seasons like pre-2018 Brandon Belt this should still be an excellent play at the corner. One of the more likely call-ups, Shaw will not save a team on his own but could solidify a category of two if needed.

OF  - Jordan Luplow (OF, PIT) - 0% owned

While not a new name on this list, and already in the Majors, Luplow benefits from the Chris Archer deal more than most, as without Austin Meadows he is the next in line for a starting role.  Luplow has been one of the darlings of this list, and finally is getting his chance to play with decent results to date. To be fair, he was also up at the end of last year, but with only 44 total games total in two years, still plays as a fantasy prospect. In 17 games with the Pirates this year, Luplow is slashing .167/.239/.357 with two homers and a steal. Ignore the small sample batting average, as in the minors he is consistently a .300 hitter, and while there is no guarantee to carry over, with time the line should improve. The other good news is that his K% is down in the bigs to 15.2% from 17.8% at Triple-A, and 25.3% from his call-up last year. Long-term he profiles as an OF4, but with the ability to play all positions, and some hidden power, there is a ton of upside to this profile.  

P - Nick Burdi (RP, PIT) - 0% owned

On the road back from Tommy John currently, Burdi looks to be a factor down the stretch, and while there is always a risk with the arm, the stuff plays up and makes him worth a look. For a Pirates team that is back in a race, and already added Keone Kela to the pen, Burdi might work best as a seventh-inning reliever for the time being. The fantasy value is the stuff and the ratios that he can support a team with. Every season that he has stayed healthy, Burdi has averaged more than 10.5 K/9, and Fangraphs gives his fastball an 80 grade. The other good news is that the walks are solid with between a two and three per inning line. Burdi should be back in August, and if owners jump the line, this could be a key strikeout option down the stretch. Little risk to this add and the payoff could mean a few roto points on Burdi's own.  

P - Jake Thompson (SP/RP, PHI) - 0% owned

Former top prospect Jake Thompson has never put it together in the Majors and currently sits back at Triple-A. That being said, being on the 40-man roster means he will be up and adding depth to the bullpen in September at the very least. Owners might have to give up on him as a starter long-term, but with the growing number of moves to the pen with more extended innings caps, this could be a functional role for Thompson. Perhaps he is the next Robert Gsellman without the elite stuff upside? Owners can dream at least. He makes the list due to the likelihood that he is called, as opposed to the production he might offer to owners. That being said, this is solid injury cover for limited innings that might play up based on the minor league track record. At Triple-A he has managed to strike out 9.39 per nine and lowered the HR/9 to 0.59 this season. Unlike others on the list, this is the opposite of sexy, but if owners can capture a few solid innings they will be none the wiser.  

P - Lucas Sims/Matt Wisler (SP/RP, CIN) - 0% owned

A double-dip for the final spot on this week’s team with two pitchers who just moved to Cincinnati in the Adam Duvall deal, and who both play a similar role moving forward. In Atlanta, they were perhaps starters in the long term but appeared out of the bullpen mostly for the Braves. With the Reds, they should be slotted into the rotation, as there is not much talent holding them back with the Red’s pitching issues. That being said, Sims is perhaps the better prospect, but Wisler is the safer add concerning the role moving forward. Sims, for example, posted a 2.84 ERA with 10.23 K/9 this year at Triple-A, and while the walks are a bit high, has the ceiling to be an SP2 in a few years. Wisler, used as a closer at times in Atlanta, posted a 5.04 ERA with Atlanta and struck out 7.09 in 26.2 innings. This means Wisler might be a set-up man before long based on usage with Atlanta, and therefore might be more fantasy relevant this season, even if the upside is lower with the team context. Both are worth a look and should get some playing time this season. The issue for both is that Great American Ball Park is not a great place to pitcher, but opportunities matter at this point in the season. If owners need a dart to win, pick Sims, but if they are looking for solid production then the choice is Wisler.  Moving forward both are strong recommendations.  


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