The theme for this week is hot, or Caliente for the Spanish speakers out there. While the temperatures outside continue to rise, so does the fantasy stock of the players below. This is the week we can also finally thank the St. Louis Cardinals for realizing that they should play their best players and stop holding out hope that players that were good a few years ago will magically revert back to their previous forms. Two players, one hitter and one pitcher, below hail from The Gateway City and lead the way in this week’s Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire report along with a couple faces in new places.
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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire – Hitters
Tyler O’Neill, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
It’s about damn time St. Louis. I’ve been waiting for Tyler O’Neill to get consistent playing time with the Cardinals for nearly half my life it seems and now it’s becoming a reality. Who says dreams can’t come true? It’s almost a shame to have a guy with this much power down in Triple-A. While O’Neill will never contend for any batting titles or anything, the immense power upside has always made him an intriguing prospect and there are enough contact skills here for him to be a .250-.270 type of hitter. Basically, the upside is Khris Davis 2.0 with maybe a little high average.
Now, back to that playing time. O’Neill has now started the last six games for St. Louis and has been in the lineup nearly every day since his recall in late-June. Speaking of the last six games, O’Neill has a hit in all six games with five of them being multi-hit efforts. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, add in four dingers for good measure. With his power upside and favorable lineup spot hitting cleanup behind Paul Goldschmidt, O’Neill needs to be owned in all fantasy leagues right now.
Nate Lowe, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays
I’m still sensing a little pause from the masses when it comes to adding Nate Lowe. As it stands right now, he’s available in around 2/3 of fantasy leagues. Listen, people, this needs to change. And it needs to change right this second. If Nate Lowe is available in your fantasy league, I’d scoop him up right this instant. Sure, he’s had a couple days off recently and there’s a lot of 1B/DH types on this team, but the Rays are working him out at 3B which is a big signal that they’re trying to keep him up and in the lineup.
While his first stint with the Rays wasn’t overly impressive, this second stint certainly has been. With his 3/6 showing in yesterday’s double-header, Lowe is now up to .315 with a .975 OPS and five home runs in 20 games. On top of that, he was hitting .292 with a .936 OPS and 17 home runs in the minors this season. With his ability to hit for average and power, draw walks, and now looking like he’s going to remain up and in the lineup, that ownership rate needs to go way, way up.
Garrett Cooper, 1B/OF, Miami Marlins
Welcome back to another episode of “Why the heck is he available in this many leagues?” Okay, that game show title could stand to be shortened, but it’s fitting with this week’s waiver wire report. As of now, Cooper is available in well over 50% of fantasy leagues despite hitting .313 with 11 home runs and 37 RBI in 208 at-bats so far this season. This 30-homer pace he’s on is a bit fluky when you see that he has an 18.9% flyball rate and astronomical 39.3% HR/FB rate, but he’s hitting the ball hard and is using the whole field well this season. Cooper is also locked into an everyday role in a favorable batting spot which has helped him keep a good RBI and runs pace despite the Marlins ranking 29th in runs and dead last in OPS.
Travis d’Arnaud, C, Tampa Bay Rays
You know what they say, the third time is a charm. We haven’t even reached the end of July yet and Travis d’Arnaud is on his third team of the 2019 season. After a 2/23 stint with the Mets and one stinking at-bat with the Dodgers, d’Arnaud seems to have found a home in Tampa, at least for the rest of the season. Since joining the Rays in mid-May, d’Arnaud has hit a respectable .274 with seven doubles and nine homers in 40 games. Three of those homers came in one game earlier in the week when he single-handedly beat the Yankees 5’4. With him starting to pull ahead of Mike Zunino in the playing time department, d’Arnaud is worth a look if your current catcher is giving you stomach pains. Which he likely is.
Alex Dickerson, OF, San Francisco Giants
Sometimes all it takes is a fresh start with a new team to give a player a kick in the pants. After not finding much success with the Padres, Dickerson was traded to the Giants for good ol’ Franklin Van Gurp. The change in scenery seems to have done wonders for Dickerson who is slashing .410/.478/.787/1.265 with 13 extra-base hits, four home runs, 19 RBI, and 16 runs scored in just 61 at-bats. Obviously, there’s some BABIP inflation here, but take solemn in knowing that Dickerson’s 48.5% hard contact rate would rank 12th best in baseball if he had enough at-bats to qualify. It’s a small sample size, but there’s some sneaky good fantasy value here moving forward as long as he continues to play regularly for San Francisco.
Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire – Pitchers
Daniel Ponce De Leon, SP, St. Louis Cardinals
Tyler O’Neill isn’t the only one in St. Louis worth adding this week. After shuttling back and forth from the Majors to Triple-A a few times this season, it finally looks like Ponce De Leon can stick in the Cardinals rotation for a bit with how he’s performed recently. His last outing wasn’t overly spectacular, but the overall line looks pretty damn good at a 2.80 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 10.4 K/9 between five starts and three relief appearances. Ponce De Leon also was performing quite well in Triple-A too with a 3.90 ERA in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League and has pitched well most the majority of his minor league career. The Cardinals switched Wacha to a bullpen role so it appears that DPDL is staying in the rotation for the time being and can provide decent back-end fantasy value the rest of the way.
Andres Munoz, RP, San Diego Padres
This is a move that pays immediate smaller dividends with the potential for much more if Kirby Yates gets traded. The Padres called up Andres Munoz last week, one of the most electric relief pitcher prospects in the minor leagues, last week and he has not disappointed so far. In three outings, Munoz has only allowed one hit and one walk while striking out six across 4.1 scoreless innings. With a blazing triple-digit fastball and plus slider, Munoz has the upside to develop into one of the top closers in baseball in the near future. For the time being, he can help in the ratios and strikeout department. And if the Padres are sellers at the deadline and deal Kirby Yates, Munoz could be in the mix for saves down the stretch.
Photo/Video Credit: St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres
Eric Cross is the lead MLB/Fantasy Baseball writer and MiLB prospect analyst for FantraxHQ and has been with the site since March 2017. In the past, he wrote for FantasyPros and FanSided. He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) and a contributor in the best-selling Fantasy Baseball Black Book. For more from Eric, check out his author page and follow him on Twitter @EricCross04.
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