Injuries have been aplenty in the 2017 MLB season, including many key players for surging MLB teams and Fantasy teams alike. Guys like AJ Pollock for a solid Arizona Diamondbacks team, Ryan Braun for the overachieving Brew Crew, Madison Bumgarner, Noah Syndergaard, Cole Hamels, Felix Hernandez, James Paxton, Corey Kluber, Aroldis Chapman, Jeurys Familia, the list goes on and on. Obviously, some will be on the shelf for more significant periods than others, but still it’s a shame to see so many players going down. For Fantasy owners, the only good that might come of all this is the opportunity to snag the potentially few replacements that turn into major assets. As the herd thins, opportunities arise, specifically for platoon players and the up-and-coming studs of our future MLB. Fantasy owners who do their research, stay on top of the news/updates, and scour the waiver wire will be the beneficiaries of such active depth chart fluctuations… especially those who read articles like this. For those in the deepest leagues or in need of something that can have an impact on your roster right now, keep tabs on the following players.
Possible Platoon/Bench Opportunists
OF Reymond Fuentes (age 26) Ari- Fuentes was recently called up from the minors after the injury to AJ Pollock. With no true timetable for Pollock’s return yet in place, and the fact that a groin injury last season kept him out for a month, Fuentes may have a good opportunity to showcase his skills for a while. It’s assumed he will platoon with Chris Owings in centerfield, but Owings is also the Diamondbacks best shortstop, meaning Fuentes should see a majority share of playing time in center. He’s not a Top 100 prospect but he’s had some impressive minor league numbers, including a .376 BA, nine SBs, eight 2Bs, and 25 runs scored in 34 games this season in Triple-A.
OF Ezequiel Carrera (29) Tor- Carrera was expected to return to more of a platoon role with Steve Pearce as Jose Bautista’s been getting healthier. But Pearce was recently put on the DL for a potentially serious calf injury, opening the door to an everyday role for Carrera. He’s not someone particularly lighting the Fantasy world on fire right now, although he is batting .314; he can be a useful option in certain formats due to the ample amount of at bats he’ll receive.
OF Bradley Zimmer (24) Cle- With Abraham Almonte and Brandon Guyer both hitting the shelf within the last few days, Zimmer has been called up to fill in the gaps. Zimmer’s a Top 100 prospect and pure rookie making his MLB debut tonight, the same day his contract was purchased from Triple-A. This is certainly a guy to watch, as he should see a good amount of playing time and may even keep hold of the starting centerfield job when Almonte gets back after a mostly lackluster performance at the dish to this point. Zimmer has the speed, power, and plate discipline to make an impact right away in the bigs; he’s also shown consistency within his last two full seasons- 2015/2016 numbers: .273/.250 BA, 16/15 HRs, 26/25 2Bs, 44/38 SBs, 55/77 BBs in 127/130 games played.
OF/2B Ian Happ (22) CHC- One of the best prospects in the Cubs organization and a Top 100 prospect in baseball overall, Happ seems to be MLB ready. With certain guys hurt, including Jason Heyward, and the versatility he possesses, the Cubs decided to call Happ up a few days ago. This is a must-have player for Fantasy owners in deep or NL-only leagues, especially if he gets playing time all around the field. Manager Joe Maddon thinks he can be a super utility guy for the time being, and is considering him for a platoon role in the outfield and middle infield., Maddon loves using versatile guys like Ben Zobrist and Javier Baez, so if Happ can produce he’ll see playing time. Produce he has so far, although not having much of a tenure in the minors, Happ has shown promise defensively and in every aspect offensively as well. He was batting .298 with nine HRs and 25 RBIs in just 26 games in Triple-A before his call-up, and he’s already three for seven with a double and a home run in two games to start his MLB career… Like the Cubs need more fire power. This is someone you’ll need to jump on quickly before the masses realize the potential he possesses.
SS Pat Valaika (24) Col- A young shortstop who’s been producing since his call-up from Triple-A in place of Trevor Story who’s dealing with a shoulder injury. More than likely Story will be back within the next few weeks to reclaim his spot, but Valaika is someone worth monitoring from this day forward… especially with Story’s already significant injury history.
3B Luis Valbuena (31) LAA- Although he won’t be a good asset in the long run, Valbuena could help in the interim for an owner in need. Yunel Escobar should be out with injury for a while and the Angels don’t have much else to fill the hot corner besides Cliff Pennington, who shouldn’t take away very much playing time from Valbuena.
1B Jesus Aguilar (26) Mil- I’m not sure if anyone really noticed, or notices, but this is a guy with a lot of power. Aguilar hit 40 homers last season, albeit in 179 games across Triple-A and the Venezuelan League, he still hit 30 of them in Triple-A. In Spring Training, he was one of the hottest guys in baseball, but during the regular season he hasn’t had the consistent playing time to show what he can do. Recently, however, with Braun on the DL and Eric Thames filling that leftfield role more often, Aguilar has started to see increased starts at first. He’s getting hot at the dish lately as well. When someone with this type of power gets an opportunity to play almost every day it’s in your best interest to follow closely.
OF Magneuris Sierra (21) StL- This one’s a bonus, with two outfielders on the DL for the Cards, Sierra has been a super replacement. He only just turned 21 and came straight from the lower levels of the minor leagues. So, he will likely be sent back down when others get healthy. Bu, this guy straight flies and has already shown he can handle the bat in the Majors, going way beyond expectations as a replacement. Perhaps he won’t be their full-time centerfielder until next year or even longer, but the electricity and poise this kid’s showing cannot be ignored right now.
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