It’s a good time to need roster help as seemingly every day there’s a new player that falls into an every day job. Here are two of the most recent.
Ketel Marte | SS ARI | CBS 8% Owned
All of a sudden, the Diamondbacks shortstop options all hit the DL and are expected to remain there for a while. Fear not, because Marte is here to save the day. Acquired from the Mariners in the Jean Segura trade, Marte was thought to be competing for a starting job during spring training, but ultimately opened the year at Triple-A. He didn’t get the call until the end of June when injury struck and now he has the chance to play full time once he returns from the bereavement list.
You might remember that back in 2015 over about a half season’s worth of plate appearances, Marte teased with some solid fantasy potential. He made strong contact, took a walk, and displayed his speed, suggesting 20 steal upside with a helpful batting average and a couple of homers. Unfortunately, 2016 didn’t go nearly as well, as he suddenly forgot how to take a walk and a BABIP drop exposed his severe lack of power as more problematic.
This year, his plate discipline has returned, and although his BABIP has tumbled and he has attempted just one steal so far, he has transformed himself into a power hitter! Welcome to the club, Ketel. His four homers already are one more than he had hit in his entire MLB career previously, but came in 594 fewer at-bats! This power spike is actually just a continuation of a surge he enjoyed at Triple-A this year. Obviously, he’s not going to keep up a HR/FB rate above 20%, but rather than think of him as a five homer guy, at best, perhaps he could now be seen as a 10-15 homer guy. Since he still has the speed, that means he’s a hidden 10/10 guy, which isn’t sexy, but does have its value.
Kaleb Cowart | 3B LAA | 3% Owned
It’s true — if you’re an Angel and your first name could potentially begin with a K or a C, then it must start with a K, and your last name will most certainly begin with a C. Kole Calhoun nods his head in agreement.
Unless I’m forgetting an obvious name, the Angels have had serious issues finding a second baseman these past couple of years. After cycling through the likes of Danny Espinosa, Cliff Pennington, Nick Franklin, and Nolan Fontana, the best of which has given them a putrid .277 wOBA, Cowart is the latest to try his craft on the second base merry-go-round in Anaheim.
Cowart is already 25 and was last ranked as the Angels 13th best prospect in 2016, failing to be mentioned in this year’s version. He’s exactly the type of player I love to pick up in a deep league as a potential marginal contributor all-around. Like Marte, he’s not going to save you in any one category. Instead, he owns some power, possessed some speed, and doesn’t have any alarming plate discipline issues.
He’s coming from Triple-A after having swatted 12 homers, while swiping 19 bases, which is valuable in any format, but also came over just 414 plate appearances. Extrapolated over a full season would yield a 15-25 guy in the minors, which would typically excite fantasy owners. And yet just 3% have noticed his existence.
Assuming Cowart doesn’t completely flop offensively, he would seem to have some job security. The Angels have no clear potential alternatives in the minors and surely wouldn’t want to make Pennington their every day guy. Perhaps they pick up a guy that passes through waivers, but Cowart owners could worry about the implications at that point if such a move is made. For now, he’s a nice little hole-plugger.
Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.