May 29, 2009

Here's your weekly look at fantasy players to consider.

Jason Berken, Baltimore Orioles: Berken, 25, joined the rotation Tuesday and pitched well, but is not a top prospect. The right-hander posted a 1.05 ERA in five starts at AAA Norfolk though. He throws a fastball, slider, curveball and changeup, throwing around 90-93 mph, and changes speeds well.

David Hernandez, Baltimore Orioles: Hernandez, 24, joined the rotation and looked good in his first start Thursday night. He posted a 2.93 ERA with 60 strikeouts and 13 walks in 43 innings, relying mostly on his excellent slider and late movement on his fastball. He is not a blue-chip prospect, but is worth serious consideration in AL-only leagues if you need a starter.

Tommy Hunter, Texas Rangers: Hunter, 22, was recalled to fill in for Matt Harrison. Hunter, who got hammered in three starts for Texas last year, throws in the low-90s with a curve, slider and splitter. He has decent control, but his strikeout rate wavers. He was 2-2 with a 4.89 ERA in nine starts between AA Frisco and AA Oklahoma City this season.

Casey Janssen, Toronto Blue Jays: Janssen (labrum surgery) was activated to join the rotation and pitched well in his first start. He posted a 0.76 ERA in five rehab starts. He missed all of last year with a torn labrum. If he's healthy, he could be a decent pickup.

David Price, Tampa Bay Rays: Price, 23, joins the rotation for the injured Scott Kazmir, but will likely stay the rest of the season. He went 1-4 record with a 3.93 ERA for AAA Durham but has been strong in his last couple of starts. He also has 35 strikeouts in 34 innings. He was great in the postseason last year with a 1.59 ERA and eight strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. Grade A for the future.

Ricky Romero, Toronto Blue Jays: Romero was recalled to rejoin the rotation. The 24-year-old lefty has good stuff (fastball, big curve, changeup), but has trouble staying healthy and sometimes struggles with his command. He had shoulder problems in 2006. He opened the season for the Jays 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA, prior to straining an oblique muscle while sneezing. He was roughed up in his first start off the disabled list.

Sean West, Florida Marlins: West, a 22-year-old lefty, will join the rotation and has pretty good stuff. He throws in the low-90s with a curve, slider and changeup but at 6-foot-8, has trouble with his mechanics and command. He has potential but is probably not yet ready for the majors.

Matt Capps, Pittsburgh Pirates: Capps (bruised elbow) threw a 32-pitch bullpen session and he had no discomfort afterward. He could return on Friday or the weekend, but John Grabow likely would close in the meantime.

Fernando Martinez, New York Mets: Martinez, 20, was recalled to play right field for now. He was batting .291-8-28 at AAA Buffalo. He is not a finished product, as his 31 strikeouts in AAA will attest. He still hasn't fully developed his power either. Don't expect a high batting average but is a great addition to fantasy teams in a rebuilding mode. Grade B+ for the future.

Chad Fox, Chicago Cubs: Fox, 25, was hitting .423 with 17 home runs in 149 at-bats upon his recall this week. He's not that good obviously, but is worth a flyer in NL-only leagues if he gets any kind of playing time at the corner infield positions and left field. Defensive struggles will ultimately hold his playing time down though.

Matt Wieters, Baltimore Orioles: Wieters, 23, is hitting .305-5-30 at AAA Norfolk (.391 with four homers in his past 46 at-bats). He hit a combined .355-27-91 last year and was named Baseball America's Player of the Year. Top of the line prospect who is ready now. He is also a top defensive catcher. Grab him now if he's still available.

Dennis LePore is the head writer and editor of the Sandlot Shrink, a group of sportswriters with a direct pipeline to general managers, managers, coaches, players and scouts in Baseball, Football and Basketball. LePore's columns have appeared in several national newspapers, web sites and magazines over the years. At the Shrink site, he combines scouting reports and statistical data to develop his player rankings and dollar values. LePore is also the author of the Shrink's two annual books, the Fantasy Baseball Insider and the Fantasy Football Insider.

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