D.J. Short

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Thursday, May 31, 2012




NL ONLY

George Kottaras C, Brewers (Yahoo: 2 percent owned, ESPN: 0.2 percent)

One of the better backup catchers around, Kottaras will get regular playing time behind the plate now that Jonathan Lucroy is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a fracture in his right hand. While Kottaras is hitting just .217 in 66 plate appearances this year, he also has three home runs and more walks (19) than strikeouts (12), hence his impressive .881 OPS. His combo of pop and patience makes him a worthy pickup in NL-only leagues and even some deeper mixed leagues.

Michael Fiers RP, Brewers (Yahoo: 0 percent owned, ESPN: 0 percent)

Stepping in for the injured Marco Estrada, Fiers made his major league debut Tuesday night against the Dodgers and tossed seven innings of one-run ball while striking out three and walking none. The 26-year-old right-hander was never considered a top prospect in the minors, despite some impressive peripherals (9.6 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9), but he locates his pitches well and has a very deceptive delivery. He's worth keeping around until Estrada returns, especially with a start against the light-hitting Pirates up next.

Nathan Eovaldi SP, Dodgers (Yahoo: 2 percent owned, ESPN: 1.3 percent)

Another injury replacement, Eovaldi filled in for Ted Lilly on Tuesday and allowed two runs over seven innings as part of a tough-luck loss to Michael Fiers and the Brewers. Considered one of the Dodgers' top pitching prospects, the 22-year-old right-hander throws in the mid-90s with his fastball and also features a hard slider. His control has been an issue at times in the minors (3.7 BB/9) and some wonder whether he's best suited as a reliever in the long run, but it's well worth taking a chance on his electric stuff. I'd think twice about using him in Colorado on Sunday, though.

Andrelton Simmons SS, Braves (Yahoo: 0 percent owned, ESPN: 0 percent)

Tyler Pastornicky wasn't doing the job on offense or defense, so the Braves demoted him to Triple-A Gwinnett on Wednesday night while calling up Simmons from Double-A Mississippi. Simmons only has 200 plate appearances above High-A, so many question whether he's ready to hit in the big leagues, but he makes contact and has enough speed to be useful. That said, his stolen base success rate (54-for-78) isn't anything to crow about and his running opportunities will likely be limited since he'll be batting eighth. The Braves are mainly calling him up for his glove, but the 22-year-old should be relevant as long as he's getting regular playing time.

AL ONLY

Stephen Pryor RP, Mariners (Yahoo: N/A, ESPN: 0 percent)

You know how I mentioned earlier that Tom Wilhelmsen is the one to own in the Mariners' bullpen right now? I still think that's true, but Pryor has all the makings of a "closer of the future." The 22-year-old right-hander reaches the high-90s with his fastball and has a dominant 0.64 ERA and 39/12 K/BB ratio over 28 innings between Double-A Jackson and Triple-A Tacoma this year. The Mariners are expected to call him up on Thursday, so now is a pretty good time to tuck him away.

Casey Crosby SP, Tigers (Yahoo: 0 percent owned, ESPN: 0 percent)

Doug Fister is back on the DL with a strained side, so Crosby is poised to make his major league debut Friday night against the Yankees. The 23-year-old left-hander has struck out 307 batters over 304 innings in the minors, including 57 over 50 2/3 innings this year with Triple-A Toledo. While he has three promising pitches in his arsenal, including a low-to-mid 90s fastball, a curveball and a changeup, he has had trouble commanding them. That he was rushed up the organizational ladder, even with elbow woes, probably didn't help his development. I wouldn't trust Crosby in this first matchup, but his upside is worth stashing given that we don't know when Fister will be back.

Endy Chavez OF, Orioles (Yahoo: 0 percent owned, ESPN: 0.1 percent)

Chavez is back from the disabled list and should get a decent amount of playing time now that Xavier Avery is back in the minors and Nick Markakis is in danger of missing time with to a wrist injury. The 34-year-old outfielder was hitting just .123 (8-for-65) prior to his oblique injury, but he batted .301 with five homers, 27 RBI, 10 stolen bases and a .749 OPS in just 83 games last year for the Rangers. He's plenty relevant in AL-only leagues.

Garrett Richards SP, Angels (Yahoo: 0 percent owned, ESPN: 0 percent)

The Angels lost their ace Jered Weaver to a lower back injury earlier this week. While he's hoping to get back as soon as possible, there's no clear timetable for his return. Richards will take his spot in the starting rotation after posting a 4.31 ERA and 48/29 K/BB ratio over his first 10 starts this season with Triple-A Salt Lake. Those aren't special numbers, but keep in mind he was pitching in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. The 23-year-old hasn't racked up big strikeout numbers in the minors (7.9 K/9), even with a mid-90s fastball, but he at least has a favorable ground ball tilt. While he still has a lot to prove, I would consider using him next week against the Mariners.



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D.J. Short is a Rotoworld baseball editor and contributes to NBCSports.com's Hardball Talk blog. You can also find him on Twitter.
Email :D.J. Short



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