Fantasy Focus is a regular MiLB.com feature in which we use a Minor League perspective to give you the edge in your fantasy league. Have a fantasy question? Tweet it to @MiLB or @AshMarshallMLB with the hashtag #fantasyfocus.
In this week's Fantasy Focus, we ask whether Danny Salazar will be given an opportunity to shine in Cleveland and whether Jonathan Singleton's hitting streak gives him a chance to earn a big league callup next month.
There's also your roundup of the notable Minor League rehabs, including B.J. Upton and Domonic Brown, as well as a quick look at the impact Avasail Garcia can make in the White Sox organization.
Under the Radar
He hasn't been promoted to Triple-A just yet, but with the Diamondbacks trying to stay in the NL West hunt, it could be difficult to resist calling on the golden arm of Archie Bradley.
The right-hander, who turns 21 on Saturday, was magnificent on Friday, allowing just an unearned run on six hits while walking one and striking out seven in a complete-game victory over Jacksonville.
The D-backs are only five games behind the Dodgers, and Bradley, maybe the best pitching prospect currently in the Minors, has a 1.88 ERA in 124 2/3 innings this year, with 133 strikeouts to 54 walks.
If Arizona turns to their prized young arm for a shot of energy, he could provide a lot of value at a crucial time.
Will He Stick?
We here at Fantasy Focus are actually big fans of the Indians' decision to bring up No. 6 prospect Danny Salazar for a start on Wednesday. Salazar has given up just two earned runs over his last seven starts -- including five no-hit frames last Friday -- for Triple-A Columbus dating back to June 26. Now, there is a catch. The Indians have limited his innings as he continues to come back from Tommy John surgery, which he underwent in August 2010, and as such, that spectacular seven-start run encompasses only 30 innings.
There is a lot to like though. Between Double-A Akron and Columbus this season, Salazar has struck out opponents at a rate of 12.5 per nine innings and walked them at a rate of just 2.3. What's more, the 23-year-old right-hander made a spot start for the Tribe on July 11 and impressed by taking a no-no into the sixth before finishing with a run allowed on two hits and a walk while striking out seven in six frames.
To answer the question from above, he will be returned to the Minors after Wednesday's start. But this is the time of year when the playoffs are on the line and seasons can be made or broken by good or bad nights. Salazar provides just the opportunity to grab a pitcher who could put up a lot of K's and zeros. Chances are he'll be better than whatever pitcher you've been looking to get rid of, anyways.
Rehabs of Note
Upton came off the disabled list Saturday, and he's batting .375 (6-for-16) with a double and three steals in four games since returning.
Upton's numbers are down across the board from his past couple years in Tampa Bay. He is hitting .183 with eight homers and 20 RBIs in 87 games, and you might be able to get him at a discounted rate if you wanted to take a gamble on him over the final month.
Domonic Brown needed just one game in the Minors to prove there were no lingering effects from a concussion sustained while diving for a ball on July 25.
The left fielder went 3-for-5 with a homer, two RBIs and a pair of runs scored for the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws on Monday, and he was back in Philadelphia's lineup on Tuesday evening.
Brown should be universally owned. He leads his team with 24 homers and 71 RBIs and, unlike Upton, is unlikely to have been dropped during his DL stint. You should have no reservations in putting him back in your lineup.
Triple-A Oklahoma City has won 11 straight games entering Tuesday, and part of that is Jonathan Singleton's turnaround. When the streak started, the Astros' No. 2 prospect owned a .191/.294/.294 slash line in 38 games with the RedHawks after a 50-game drug-of-abuse suspension delayed his PCL debut. He's done nothing but hit ever since that time. He's batting .353 with a two homers and eight RBIs over those 11 games, raising his season line to .228/.327/.365 in that span.
Obviously, this is a streak of good hitting, and like all streaks, they come and go. But if nothing else, it is a good sign that Singleton's run of poor performances at the plate should be behind him. As it stands, the Astros aren't exactly getting killer production from the first-base position this season. Carlos Pena was designated for assignment and released a few days ago, and Brett Wallace (.225/.287/.464) isn't blowing anyone away albeit with a nice display of pop.
Singleton is the future, and if he can continue to push his numbers higher and higher, there's no reason he can't be on the roster -- and in the starting lineup -- when rosters expand next month, just in time for fantasy playoffs. Owners in AL-only leagues should consider picking him up if they need first-base or utility help. For those in keeper leagues but out of playoff contention, consider investing in Singleton now. He's the only first baseman listed in MLB.com's top 100 overall prospects.
Alright, maybe Taijuan Walker is human. The Mariners top prospect was off to a killer start in the PCL, going 2-0 with a 0.86 ERA, 21 strikeouts and seven walks over his first four starts (21 innings) with Tacoma. Then came the growing pains.
Walker gave up nine runs in just 11 frames over his next two outings and surrendered five runs (three earned) on seven hits while managing just three frames Sunday. His ERA has jumped to 3.60 following those three lackluster performances.
Listen -- no one in their right mind thought Walker's introductory PCL brilliance was sustainable, but you're lying if as a fantasy owner, you weren't at least hoping it to be. At 119 innings, the right-hander, who turns 21 on Aug. 13, is closing in on the 126 2/3 he tossed for Double-A Jackson a season ago.
He's likely to make about six more starts, all with Tacoma. He could crack the Mariners rotation in 2014, but a call to the big club in September remains unlikely. There's still plenty of room for growth in Triple-A. As such, he can be avoided for your stretch run, unless you're in a very deep keeper league and can store him for next year.
Transaction to note
In the most noteworthy deal of the trade deadline, the White Sox moved the deadline's biggest name, Jake Peavy, in a three-team transaction that brought them Avisail Garcia as a centerpiece.
Garcia, who's already been in the Majors for Detroit for 30 games this year, could certainly get a chance to contribute during the stretch run -- for fantasy owners, at least -- if he joins Chicago.
Even if he doesn't, keeper league owners will do well to keep an eye at him. He hit a modest .241/.273/.373 in those 30 games for the Tigers, but in 45 Minor League games this year he's batted .383/.431/.570, with seven homers, four triples, seven doubles and 34 RBIs.
The White Sox, through that big deadline splash, showed just how much faith they place in the bat of the 22-year-old. He's not much for pitch selection, but he's flashed power potential and makes good contact, so he could help in batting average and maybe home runs in friendly U.S. Cellular.
Keep an Eye On
Jonathan Gray has been on prospect radars since he was considered a candidate for the No.1 overall pick in this year's Draft. He dropped to No. 3 and the Rockies. After four innings-limited starts with Rookie-level Grand Junction, he moved up to Class A Advanced Modesto, where he struck out seven and scattered two hits over five scoreless innings in his debut.
But there was one quote that really caught our eye. After throwing 99 mph in the first inning with the Nuts, Gray told MiLB.com, "Oh, yeah, I can do that whenever." Sure, Gray might be inflating that ability a little bit, but it was that heater that vaulted him up Draft boards. He'll get in a few more starts in the Cal League this season before a full-season assignment (perhaps with Double-A Tulsa). But with stuff like that, it's tough for prospective fantasy owners not to get excited.