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Melchior: Callups just around the corner

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Every year around this time, the anticipation over September callups starts to build to a crescendo. Rarely, though, does the reality of a highly anticipated callup's performance meet the expectations.

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This is not to say callups can't make an impact. Though he wasn't the most hyped prospect to reach the majors last September, Chris Parmelee rewarded the owners who did pick up him up, as he hit .355 with four home runs and 14 RBI in his 21 games. So while odds are long on any callup making that kind of impact, it's worth scouring the waiver wire in search of 2012's version of Parmelee.

The biggest-name minor leaguers aren't always the best targets. Top prospects like Anthony Rendon, Jedd Gyorko and Gary Brown may not get added to their respective major league rosters, and even if they are, there doesn't appear to be much playing time available for any of them. Owners are better off leaving some of the big, close-to-major-league-ready names for their keeper league rosters and targeting one of the 10 minor leaguers listed below. Some, like Billy Hamilton and Wil Myers, could already be scarce in deeper leagues, but plenty of others should be widely available in the vast majority of formats.

While not all of these players are certain to be recalled, each has the potential to make a Fantasy impact over the season's final month. I've ranked them in the order of their likely impact, starting with the top player to target.

1. Dan Straily, SP, Athletics (39 percent ownership rate): We already know that Straily can handle big league hitters, as he put together an impressive 3.18 ERA over his first three starts with Oakland. Though he was sent down to make room for Brandon McCarthy, he could very well be the long-term replacement for Bartolo Colon, even though Tyson Ross is handling those duties for now. Should Straily get summoned on or around Sept. 1, he would be the player on this list most worth pursuing in standard mixed leagues.

2. Tyler Thornburg, SP, Brewers (4 percent ownership rate): With the release of Randy Wolf and likely innings limits for Mike Fiers and Mark Rogers, there are going to be opportunities for some young Brewers to prove themselves in the rotation over the season's final weeks. Thornburg appears to have the best shot of getting promoted into a starting role, though Wily Peralta is also under consideration. If the Brewers are looking to reward good performance in the minors, Thornburg should have an edge over Peralta. Depending on his matchups, Thornburg could have some low-end appeal in standard mixed leagues, and he'd certainly be worth pursuing in deeper formats.

3. Billy Hamilton, SS, Reds (25 percent ownership rate): Arguably, Hamilton has generated more excitement than any other yet-to-debut prospect this year. Now that he has broken Vince Coleman's single-season professional baseball record of 145 stolen bases, could Cincinnati be the next frontier? The Cincinnati Enquirer reports the Reds are considering Hamilton as a September addition. Should he get the call, Hamilton would probably be relegated to a pinch-running role, but in that capacity, he could still help owners with steals, making him a viable option in most mixed Rotisserie leagues.

4. Jenrry Mejia, SP, Mets (2 percent ownership rate): Just like Straily was passed over for another pitcher to fill a vacancy in his team's rotation, Mejia missed the chance to fill in for Johan Santana (back) Thursday versus the Rockies. That doesn't mean Mejia won't get starts in September, though, and the hard-throwing righty could reward owners looking for a late-season boost in strikeouts.

5. Wil Myers, OF, Royals (35 percent ownership rate): The Royals have indicated they are in no rush to promote Myers, but with so few impact players having a strong chance of getting a callup, it's worth making a speculative pickup. Myers hasn't slowed down much in moving from Double-A to Triple-A, and at the very least, it's conceivable that Myers could be used in a timeshare situation in the outfield down the stretch. Should Lorenzo Cain, Jarrod Dyson and Jeff Francoeur get more than their usual time off, that could afford Myers enough playing time to be a factor in deeper leagues.

6. Avisail Garcia, OF, Tigers (1 percent ownership rate): Most of the hype and callup speculation around the Tigers has centered around Nick Castellanos, but as an outfielder, Garcia is probably closer to being able to help the big league team out now. He is not guaranteed a promotion, and should he come to Detroit, Garcia could merely fill a reserve role. However, Brennan Boesch and Quintin Berry are not the most immovable of roadblocks in right field, so there is a potential opportunity for Garcia to get playing time and be useful to owners in AL-only leagues.

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7. Jake Odorizzi, SP, Royals (9 percent ownership rate): Though the Royals don't have an obvious need for a starting pitcher, they have not ruled out the possibility of promoting Odorzzi. After breezing through seven starts at Double-A to start the season, he fared extremely well at Triple-A with a 2.80 ERA, even though he sustained a sharp decrease in his strikeout rate. On the off chance that one of the Royals' current starters gets hit with an injury or a severe late-season slump, it's worth putting in a claim on Odorizzi -- even in standard mixed leagues -- as he would likely be the next in line to join the rotation.

8. Adam Eaton, OF, Diamondbacks (3 percent ownership rate): The Diamondbacks' outfield situation is well set, but manager Kirk Gibson has shown a willingness to bench Chris Young -- and even Justin Upton -- when they have struggled over an extended period. It's not inconceivable, then, that Eaton could factor in as part of an outfield rotation. With Gerardo Parra also in the mix, that wouldn't leave Eaton with many plate appearances, but even with limited exposure, he could help owners with steals. Because he is an extreme long shot to see regular playing time, Eaton is more of an NL-only option. Owners just need to be aware that Eaton may wind up eating a spot on their Fantasy roster, as his debut might not happen until 2013.

9. Melky Mesa, OF, Yankees (0 percent ownership rate): Mesa's minor league stolen base totals aren't particularly noteworthy, but he has enough speed that the Yankees could be interested in bringing him up to use as a pinch-runner. He also has some nice power, but it's probably asking too much to expect manager Joe Girardi to find Mesa regular playing time. Consider him as an option for deeper AL-only leagues.

10. Danny Hultzen, SP, Mariners (20 percent ownership rate): There is no particular reason to expect the Mariners to call up Hultzen, especially since they haven't done so already. However, he had been shut down for a couple of weeks earlier this month, and since returning, he has had better results. The layoff also has meant fewer innings for the southpaw, so at least a callup isn't likely to be ruled out based on workload concerns. Hultzen may be the least likely prospect to be called up out of this group, but if he does get to pitch in the majors, he could provide owners in deeper mixed leagues and AL-only formats a shot in the arm.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Al Melchior at @almelccbs . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Dodgers' Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu scheduled to throw BP
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:02 pm ET) Dodgers pitchers Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu are scheduled to throw batting practice Friday and Saturday, respectively, per MLB.com. Both players are dealing with injuries, and remain one start behind the other pitchers on the roster. Both pitchers will make their spring debut five days after their BP session.

Pirates' Jordy Mercer looks to build from last season's strong finish
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:54 am ET) Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer worked on improving his defensive struggles last year with Clint Barmes and his offensive struggles with first-base coach Nick Leyva, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

"What's the best thing that Barmes could do for our ballclub? That's to tutor this young kid, and that’s exactly what he did," Leyva said. "It was phenomenal to watch that."

Mercer hit .199 through the first 49 games last season. He bounced back with a .278 batting average, a .333 on-base percentage, 11 home runs and 19 doubles since June 2. Now that Mercer is the incumbent starter at shortstop, he is hoping to use his experience as an advantage to beat out Korean shortstop Jung Ho Kang for playing time throughout the season.

"You can't substitute for innings played, you can't substitute for at-bats, you can't substitute for innings pitched at this level," Leyva said. "You talk all you want about it, but when you get 450 at-bats, you've had a major league season. When you've played 140 games, you've played a major league season. The only way you're going to get those is by competing and getting the job done."


Indians 2B Jason Kipnis (hand) to make spring debut Saturday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:50 am ET) Indians manager Terry Francona said second baseman Jason Kipnis will make his spring debut Saturday against the Dodgers, per MLB.com. Kipnis had surgery in December to repair a damaged tendon in the ring finger on his left hand.

Tigers' Ausmus: Miguel Cabrera really close to running on flat ground
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:45 am ET) Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera (ankle) has run at 72 percent body weight on the AlterG anti-gravity treadmill, manager Brad Ausmus said Thursday. Once Cabrera can run at 80 percent body weight, he will be cleared to run on flat ground and have grounders hit directly at him.

"He should be really close," Ausmus said, per the Detroit Free Press.

Cabrera participated in batting practice on the field Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

"He was hitting balls 425 feet out to left-center," Ausmus said.


Yankees might not have room on roster for Pirela as bench option
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:39 am ET) Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he is curious about keeping Jose Pirela on the roster as a bench player, according to The Journal News. However, there is no clear path right now for Pirela, and it might take an injury for him to get on the roster.

“We’re going to move him around because that flexibility is nice to have,” Girardi said. “In the limited time that he was up last year, he did a really good time for us. And you could put him in the outfield as well. I don’t know how much we’ll put him in the outfield in spring, but I’m comfortable putting him out there anywhere. You never know how things are going to shake out in camp.”


Reds 1B Joey Votto getting closer to playing in spring games
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:30 am ET) Reds manager Bryan Price said Thursday first baseman Joey Votto is getting closer to making his spring debut, per the Cincinnati Enquirer. Votto missed 100 games last season with a left knee injury. 

"You won't have to hold your breath, I promise you, you won't have to hold your breath for this," Price said. "Just to reiterate, we just went too far into the rehab and made a commitment to do an extensive rehab to do anything before we feel he's ready. I think he's very close and he's champing at the bit to get in there."


A's 1B Nate Freiman to miss at least two weeks with back injury
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:26 am ET) Athletics manager Bob Melvin said first baseman Nate Freiman will miss at least two weeks due to a muscle strain in his back, per MLB.com. Freiman is competing for a spot on the A's bench.

Cardinals' Matheny wants Heyward, Adams to gain confidence vs. LHPs
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:24 am ET) Cardinals slugger Matt Adams is tired of hearing folks say he can't hit left-handed pitchers. But the numbers don't lie. He is batting just .197 off lefties in his major-league career, as opposed to .306 against righties.

“People think I can’t hit lefties,” he said, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Coming up through the minors, I hit them. But that’s totally different. Hitting lefties in the minors and hitting lefties in the big leagues is different. The confidence for me is there, in the back of my mind. I know what I can do. That hasn’t changed. This is where I definitely have to focus and put the hammer to it.”

Adams isn't the only starter for St. Louis that struggles against lefties. Outfielder Jason Heyward hit just .169 against lefties in 2014. However, manager Mike Matheny isn't a fan of platooning either player.

“There are certain guys that you don’t want to platoon,” Matheny said. “There are guys you don’t want to have off the field, and I think that’s what they want. They want to be the guy who doesn’t come off the field. They want to be out there all the time. Both of them have shown it in the past that they can have success against left-handed pitching. It’s just a matter of getting them comfortable. With our lineup they’re going to throw a lot of (lefties) at us. Maybe that will help generate that confidence.”


Pirates' Josh Harrison not too concerned about ankle injury
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:11 am ET) Pirates outfielder Josh Harrison doesn't seem too concerned after rolling his left ankle during Wednesday's spring game against the Blue Jays.

"I wouldn't even say I completely turned it. I kinda caught myself when I felt something," Harrison said Thursday, per MLB.com. "The trainers spotted me pulling up and right away said, 'Let's just be cautious,' so I came out."

Harrison had issues with his left ankle in 2014 after twisting it June 11. He had recurrences later in June and in early September, but he did not miss significant time.

"And this wasn't anything like last [year's ankle injury]," Harrison said. "I know how it felt then, and this time it was a lot less [painful]."


Report: Suk-Min Yoon parts ways with O's, returns to South Korea
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:48 am ET) It appears pitcher Suk-Min Yoon is parting ways with the Orioles, per MASNsports.com. According to a report out of Korea, Yoon has returned to South Korea and isn't expected to report to minor-league camp on Saturday.

The Orioles signed Yoon to a three-year, $5.575 million contract last February. However, he spent the year in Triple-A, as he struggled through injuries and ineffectiveness.

The 28-year-old right-hander went 4-8 with a 5.74 ERA in 23 appearances (18 starts) at Triple-A.

Yoon was taken off the 40-man roster in August and did not receive an invite to major-league camp this spring.


 
 
 
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