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ESPN Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups – Week Of September 3, 2017

September can be a very hectic month in the waiver wire world as MLB teams bring up prospects and other minor leaguers for a look to see if they can play at the major league level and provide contending teams with some added depth. Before we take a look at this week’s recommendations for players owned in less than 50 percent of ESPN leagues, with stats as of September 1, here is the often requested trivia question: Two players have won the Rookie of the Year, MVP, and Cy Young awards in their career, with one of them being Don Newcombe. Who is the other player? (hint, this player is still active and recently in the news) Answer at the end of the article.

Greg Bird, 1B, New York Yankees

Bird made a strong debut at the end of 2015 before missing all of 2016 with shoulder surgery. He had a very nice spring training and was the Yankees number three hitter on Opening Day 2017 following a spring in which he batted .451 with eight homers before being sidelined for most of 2017 with a right ankle injury. With a lifetime .883 OPS in the minors, Bird could be a nice pickup in leagues where he has been all but forgotten. Since his return from the disabled list, he has six hits and nine RBI in 18 at-bats.  Bird made nine starts at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre during his rehab assignment, hitting .423/.484/.846 with three home runs and six RBI.

Jack Flaherty, SP, St. Louis Cardinals

Despite the shaky start to his MLB career, Flaherty is a pitcher with a great deal of upside. The real damage to Flaherty’s stat line came at the hands of Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, and Hunter Pence, who combined to go 6-for-6 with five runs and three extra-base hits.  The rest of the Giants’ lineup went 2-for-14 with only one RBI and was struck out six times. Flaherty pitched very well in the Minors, posting a solid 2.18 ERA in 25 starts between Double-A and Triple-A. According to Fangraphs, he struck out 25 percent of opposing batters while walking just six percent. Flaherty has a great deal of upside and many in Cardinal Nation expect him to be in their rotation for many years.

Scott Schebler, OF, Cincinnati Reds

Sometimes you can see a common theme running through waiver wire pickups, which is when a player is healthy, he tends to perform better. Scott Schebler is no exception. In the first 10 games since returning from the disabled list, Schebler has hit .387/.459/.839. During the early part of the season, he had been playing with a bruised right rotator cuff suffered when he dove for a ball, which impacted his performance at the plate. Schebler hit .261/.332/.583 while healthy.  When trying to play through an injured right shoulder, he hit .210/.295/.389.  He received a major vote of confidence from manager Bryan Price, who said,  “I think this kid has an opportunity to be a real beast as a ballplayer.”

Jorge Polanco, SS, Minnesota Twins

After finding himself on the Twins bench in July, August was a lot better for Jorge Polanco. Since August 1, Polanco is hitting .378/.411/.656 with 20 RBI in 98 plate appearances. Manager Paul Molitor has stated that Polanco’s hot month of August has a lot to do with the fact that he’s being more selective at the plate, as he stopped chasing off-speed pitches outside the strike zone and fastballs at the top end of the strike zone. He does not show signs of slowing down as shown during a recent stretch of 13 games in which he hit safely in 12 of them while adding six home runs, 10 runs scored, 17 RBI and three steals.

Ozzie Albies, 2B/SS, Atlanta Braves

Albies is currently the No. 2 ranked prospect in the Braves’ organization and No. 19 in baseball, according to At Triple-A Gwinnett, Albies had 117 hits in 411 at-bats for a .285 average, which also includes 21 doubles, eight triples, nine home runs, 41 RBIs and 21 stolen bases. With the Braves, he went 8-for-47 in his first 14 games but has rebounded nicely during the next 10 games by going 15-for-38 during that stretch. Even though he was not called up until August 1, he leads the team with four triples, showing that his speed in minors is serving him well with the Braves.

Alex Verdugo, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

Verdugo had a stellar year in the minors, posting a slash line of .314/.389/.436 with the Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers. According to Baseball America, Verdugo’s at-bats this season have consistently been good and he shows excellent strike-zone awareness, walking 52 times and striking out just 50 times. He shows an advanced feel to hit, although his line-drive stroke is not geared for power. He has the bulk and bat speed necessary to hit 15-20 homers. The Dodgers are eager to see him against big league pitching in hopes of getting him acclimated to compete for a job in 2018, making a good pickup for Dynasty or Keeper leagues.

The answer to the trivia question: Justin Verlander won the Rookie of the Year in 2006 and won the MVP and Cy Young awards in 2011.

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