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Under the radar: Players poised to blossom after trade deadline


There were plenty of big names scrolling across the sports tickers last week as baseball's trade deadline came to a close. SP Dan Haren became an Angel, SS/3B Miguel Tejada became a Padre and for the first time since 2000, 1B Lance Berkman and SP Roy Oswalt don't play for the Astros.

Less noticeable were all the unheralded talents impacted by each trade. Some guys look much better fantasy-wise in their new uniforms (by the way, I'm amazed at how quickly a player's photo gets doctored so they appear to be wearing their current team's hat) and many that stayed put received long overdue promotions.

Whether you're trying to build roster depth for the fantasy playoffs (a la the Yankees) or looking to 2011 because your team is currently in the toilet (like the Indians), here are 10 under-the-radar names that are worth a shot:

>>> ... Astros trade Oswalt to the Phillies and Berkman to the Yankees ... >>>

SP J.A. Happ, Astros -- Prior to the trade, Happ had only pitched three games for the Phillies due to an elbow injury. But when healthy, he has proven to be a budding star (12-4, 2.93 ERA in his '09 rookie season). Happ looked good in his first start with Houston on Friday, pitching six scoreless innings with six strikeouts against the Brewers to earn his second win of the year.

1B Brett Wallace, Astros -- After being traded three times in his first two professional seasons, Wallace may have found a permanent address in Houston. He replaces the 34-year-old Berkman, who now is a regular DH in the Bronx. Wallace can swing the bat, hitting .301 with 18 HR and 61 RBI at Triple-A Las Vegas. He made his major league debut on Saturday, going 0-for-4, but got his first hit on Sunday off Milwaukee's Randy Wolf.

>> ... Cubs trade SP Ted Lilly and 2B/SS Ryan Theriot to the Dodgers ... >>

2B/3B Blake DeWitt, Cubs -- DeWitt's sub-par defense at second (he's a natural third baseman but was blocked by Casey Blake) and his overall inexperience hampered his playing time in three seasons with the Dodgers. The former first-round pick is better with the bat (.262 BA, .723 OBP in '10) and he should beat out Mike Fontenot for the Cubs second base job. He'll also get some chances to play third with Aramis Ramirez recovering from a thumb injury.

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SP Brett Wallach, Cubs -- A converted high-school shortstop, Wallach excelled on the mound at Single-A Great Lakes this season (6-0, 3.72 ERA, 9.8 K/9) but he still has work to do before reaching the majors. He certainly has baseball in his DNA -- his father Tim was a 17-year veteran mostly with the Expos and Dodgers, and both of his brothers play in the Dodgers minor league system (his older brother Matt is a catcher and his younger brother Chad is a pitcher).

>> ... Nationals trade RP Matt Capps to the Twins ... >>

C Wilson Ramos, Nationals -- Ramos' path to the majors was blocked by Joe Mauer but now he has a legitimate shot at becoming Washington's opening day catcher in '11. The 22-year-old catcher will first have to make a good impression come September when he is expected to get a call-up. Ramos struggled in the Twins minor league system this year (.238 BA, .342 SLG in 281 AB) but his career totals tell a better story (.283 BA, .426 SLG in five seasons).

RP Drew Storen, Nationals -- Without Capps, the Nationals will implore a closer-by-committee, but Storen has the most upside. Judging by his minor-league numbers, he offers everything a manager could want in a game finisher: a low ERA (1.23), a low WHIP (0.82) and tons of strikeouts (10.7 K/9). Sooner than later, Storen will be Washington's dominating closer.

>> ... Three-way trade: Indians trade SP Jake Westbrook to the Cardinals, OF Ryan Ludwick goes to the Padres ... >>

SP Corey Kluber, Indians -- There's a lot to like about this young power pitcher. His traditional stats at Double-A San Antonio may look pedestrian (6-6, 3.45 ERA, 1.312 WHIP) but the 24-year old righty also had a league-leading 136 strikeouts with just 40 walks in 122.2 innings.

OF Jon Jay, Cardinals -- Ludwick's departure was partly due to Jay's recent play, as the rookie outfielder hit .431 and slugged .667 in 72 at-bats for St. Louis in July. Can he keep it up? Well, Jay was a .300 hitter in five minor-league seasons but don't expect a ton of power since he only averaged one home run every 47.4 at-bats.

>> ... Pirates trade RP Octavio Dotel to the Dodgers ... >>

SP James McDonald, Pirates -- McDonald couldn't secure a starting job this season (0-1, 8.22 ERA, 2.087 WHIP in 7.2 innings), but that's not a very big sample size. In seven seasons down on the farm, the two-time Dodger minor league pitcher of the year had a 3.49 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 9.7 K/9. A tall and lanky righty, McDonald still has immense potential at age 25 and he should get more latitude in Pittsburgh.

RP Evan Meek, Pirates -- Fantasy owners who waited patiently finally get to see the All-Star reliever in the closer role with Dotel shipped to Los Angeles. Meek still has to share ninth-inning duties with RP Joel Hanrahan but if he pitches like he has all year, that won't last. In 48 games, Meek has a 1.23 ERA, 0.874 WHIP and 7.6 K/9.