September is no time to stop pushing in your fantasy baseball league. In fact, with a wealth of new players hitting the Big Leagues when rosters expand to 40, there will be some talent available to help you out.
Here’s a look at a few that we think will have the biggest impact in the 2011 stretch run.
Jesus Montero, Catcher, New York Yankees — Jesus Montero is hitting .290/18/67 at Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre. He’s been sizzling lately with 5 homeruns in his last 7 games. Montero, 21, was expected to compete with Francisco Cervelli for the Yankees starting catcher job in Spring Training, but then the Yanks acquired Russell Martin instead. Expect Montero to get some action as the DH as the Yankees try to see if he has a better bat for post-season than Jorge Posada. In fact, look for Montero to get the start on Thursday night when the Yankees face southpaw Jon Lester.
“I could DH him, and I wouldn’t be afraid to put him behind the plate,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I don’t know if I would start him in a game, just because the relationship between pitchers and catchers takes time to build. Our catchers are a lot more familiar with the pitchers than him, but it’s not a guy that I’d be afraid to put in.”
Montero is the 6th top prospect in the Majors and the very top rated catcher.
David Cooper, First Base, Toronto Blue Jays — Cooper stunk early in the season in Toronto, hitting just .121 in 13 games. He will get his chance in September, however, with current first baseman Adam Lind looking to make a move to DH. If he performs like he has in the minors, Toronto fans will love him. Cooper hit .375 with 9 homers and 65 RBI’s in the minors. Cooper is a good pickup if you are in a battle for batting average in your fantasy baseball league.
Leonys Martin, Outfield, Texas Rangers — Leonys Martin, a Cuban defector, is an interesting story. With Nelson Cruz on the DL, the Rangers called up Martin on Tuesday. He will see some action and is an outside chance as a late season pickup in deep fantasy leagues. Martin, 23, has hit .263 with no homers and 17 RBIs in 40 games (175 at-bats) for Triple-A Round Rock. He has a combined .295 batting average and 19 stolen bases in the minors this season with Arizona, Double-A Frisco and Round Rock. The Rangers signed him to a $15 million deal this off season so he must be good.
Anthony Rizzo, First Base, San Diego Padres — Rizzo stunk early in the year, hitting just .143 for the Padres. But, Rizzo has been tearing up the minors with 26 homeruns. Jesus Guzman has been playing well for the Padres, however, so Rizzo’s playing time may be limited. If Jesus Guzman is available in your league, take a look. He’s hitting .330 with 35 RBI, 5 HR’s, and 8 SB’s since coming up.
Julio Teheran, Pitcher, Atlanta Braves — Julio Teheran would likely be in the starting rotation on any club except Atlanta and Philadelphia. Teheran was named the International League Pitcher of the Year this week. He was 15-2, 2.22. He will likely stay in Gwinnet until the playoffs are over. If he’s up by September 8, and rested, he could get the start against the Mets in a doubleheader.
Jacob Turner, Pitcher, Detroit Tigers – The Detroit Tigers aren’t wasting time with Jacob Turner. Detroit will keep rookie pitcher Turner around after he makes his second career start Thursday. Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Turner will be used as protection in case the team has a rainout and needs another pitcher to start a game down the stretch. Turner was the Tigers first round pick in 2009. Turner was an ordinary 4-5, 3.44 with two minor league clubs this year.
Edinson Volquez, Pitcher, Cincinnati Reds – Edinson Volquez will get a call up on Monday. He’ll likely spend a few outings in the bullpen and then enter the rotation. As a rookie in 2008, Volquez won 17 games for the Reds.
Brett Jackson, Outfield, Chicago Cubs – Promoted to Triple-A Iowa in July, Jackson has excelled. In 43 games thus far, Jackson is hitting .319 with nine HR, 25 RBI and .954 OPS. Jackson’s defense has also been exceptional, with eight assists thus far. With the uncertainty of Alfonso Soriano’s future, Jackson could find himself in the Cubs’ outfield next season with a strong showing in September. He’s got to be better than Tyler Colvin.
Wilin Rosario, Catcher, Colorado Rockies — Chris Ianetta has not impressed and is only signed through 2012 so the backstop job appears to be Rosario’s. Rosario might have gotten a serious look in September, but won’t due to the Double-A Tulsa Drillers being in playoff contention. Therefore, Rosario’s debut for the Rockies will likely be delayed, thus making him as attractive for a fantasy baseball September call-up.
Chris Carter, First Base, Oakland A’s — Carter has 187 minor league homers, but has struggled during his brief call-ups to the Bigs. He likely won’t be able to join the club until as late as September 11 due to minor league playoffs. After his arrival, expect him to be used mostly as a pinch hitter so he is not worth a fantasy baseball pickup.
Steve Lombardozzi, Second Base, Washington Nationals – Following in the footsteps of his father, Washington Nationals infield prospect Steve Lombardozzi is thriving in Triple-A and on the verge of reaching the major leagues. At Harrisburg and Syracuse this year, he’s hitting .315/.366/.443 with 24 doubles, nine triples, eight homers, 36 walks, 71 strikeouts, and 27 steals in 517 at-bats. Danny Espinosa has stated publicly that he does not want to give up any playing time to a September call up, but with the Nationals out of the race, look for Lombardozzi to get a few chances to play in September.
Bryan LaHair, First Base, Chicago Cubs — Bryan LaHair set the Iowa Cubs homerun record this year with 37 so he is certainly deserving of a look in Chicago in September. That being said, LaHair is 28 and likely is blocked with the big salaries being earned by Carlos Pena and Aramis Ramirez.
Mat Gamel, First Base, Milwaukee Brewers – With a line of .320 BA, 28 HR, 96 RBI at Triple-A this season, he has proven worthy of a chance, and at 25 years old, he has little more to gain in the minors. Gamel hits .367 off righties and only .209 against lefties, so it’s rather obvious as to what his niche role in September may be: pinch-hit specialist against right-handed pitchers.
Domonic Brown, Outfield, Philadelphia Phillies — Domonic Brown was up with the Phillies earlier, but did not take advantage of his opportunities and was demoted when Hunter Pence came to town. He will get some pinch hit opportunities down the stretcha and will battle John Mayberry Jr. for the left field role vacated by Raul Ibanez next year.
Stephen Strasburg, Pitcher, Washington Nationals — I think you’ve probably heard of this guy. Read more about the return of Stephen Strasburg here.