A slew of high-profile call-ups have made the waiver wire, especially in AL- and NL-only leagues, a bit more robust than usual. Triple-A imports are a bit trickier to figure out than the usual waiver-wire fodder. There are players of the can't-miss variety, someone along the lines of a Stephen Strasburg, who should be owned before they even make it to the majors, should league rules allow. Then there are guys who are need-based adds and others who are worth taking a shot on. Most of the recent call-ups fit that mold.
Along with the rookie prospects, though, we have a selection of ready-made MLB talent to consider, as well.
Brennan Boesch, Tigers -- It's understandable for a prospective Boesch owner to be gun shy in the wake of a hot streak from the Tigers outfielder. After dominating the league before the All-Star break in 2010, Boesch absolutely went in the tank in the second half. But that first-half monster lurks inside him, and he has burst out recently. Just as important, he's hitting third in Detroit's lineup in front of Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. Magglio Ordonez had already been ousted from the three-hole before he went to the DL, and it's hard to see Jim Leyland putting him back there when he returns. As long as Boesch is hitting in front of Cabrera and Martinez, he'll stay hot enough to warrant rostering in mixed leagues. He also doesn't scream like his homophone Chris Bosh, so that's a plus.
Dee Gordon, Dodgers -- If you're feeling like Top Gun's Maverick and Goose and you've got the need for speed, Gordon is your man. The Dodgers shortstop prospect will start and leadoff for at least the next month while Rafael Furcal is on the DL. Yes, his .315 batting average at Triple-A Albuquerque isn't all that impressive in the environment of the Pacific Coast League. Still, Gordon immediately becomes an elite stolen-base threat. He has swiped 22 bags in 25 attempts this year after thieving 53 a year ago. Shortstop and middle infield remain as shallow as ever, and Gordon has a definable skill in high demand.
J.J. Hardy, Orioles -- Hardy is the antithesis to Gordon, an option for owners struggling at shortstop looking for power. He has turned it on in the last week, going 9-for-21 with three homers and five RBI in his last six games. After an 0-for-2 on May 22, Hardy was hitting .219/.292/.359. He's now up to .275/.350/.440. We've seen enough of Hardy over the years to know this won't last forever, but he's a nice option while he's swinging a hot bat.
Michael Brantley, Indians -- It's hard to believe Brantley is owned in only about half of all fantasy leagues right now. He contributes across all five categories, and while he's not going to hit for a ton of power, he should get to 15-17 homers this season. Brantley is basically Jayson Werth with a little less power and a lot less name recognition. His .311 BABIP isn't especially high, especially considering he's carrying a 20 percent line-drive rate. This is a guy who needs to be owned in all leagues.
Phil Humber, White Sox -- Anyone who tells you they saw Humber's 2011 season coming is lying. Even if it's Humber. After allowing five hits and three walks in 7.2 innings against the Mariners Tuesday, his WHIP actually inched up, although it still rounds to a cool 0.98 in 75.1 innings. He's doing this despite striking out just five batters per nine innings and inducing the same number of ground balls as fly balls. It seems like this can't go on forever, and his 4.08 xFIP is a full run higher than his ERA. Even though Humber is bound to regress, he should still be more widely owned. He's not an automatic add, but owners looking for help in rates could do a lot worse.
Jemile Weeks, A's -- Rickie's little brother got the call this week after Mark Ellis went on the DL. Doesn't have the power of his big bro, but is a nice speed option as long as he's in the lineup. He started in his debut on Tuesday.
Rubby De La Rosa, Dodgers -- De La Rosa struggled with his control in the first start of his career Tuesday, walking five batters, but the Phillies managed just four hits and one run, and he struck out four batters. He consistently sits in the mid-90s and touches the upper-90s. An immediate add in all NL-only leagues and worth keeping an eye on in mixed leagues.
Anthony Rizzo, Padres -- The New Adrian Gonzalez is absolutely ripping the Pacific Coast League apart, posting a .365/.444/.715 line with 16 homers and 20 doubles. News broke Wednesday that he would make his debut with the big league club Thursday. Grab him while you can.
Jonathon Niese, Mets -- Niese is 3-1 in his last five starts, allowing nine runs while striking out 28 in 32.1 innings. After getting the Brewers in his next start, he draws favorable matchups against the Pirates and Angels.
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