With football season almost upon us, many Fantasy Baseball owners start to stray. Sure, they still check their lineups every morning and make a few waiver pickups here and there, but they do not analyze and obsess over their team like they used to in May. If you are in the championship hunt, now is the exact time when you need to capitalize. Grabbing a rising talent just as he begins his ascent could be a game changer. If you are out of the mix this year, you should still pay attention to how the season ends up for a number of prospects that are currently shining. Here are the top five second half breakthrough performances that are happening right now.
- Kyle Schwarber (Cubs, C) – Schwarber has done nothing but hit since the Cubs drafted him last June. He made quick work of the farm and has continued his assault on pitching in the majors. Schwarber has gone from an intriguing 2016 sleeper to one of the most coveted keepers because of his catcher eligibility and impressive bat. For the rest of the season, consider him a locked in Top 3 option. It is likely that he will move off catcher in the near future, but his bat clearly will play anywhere. Now is not exactly the time for dynasty owners to invest in him, though, as the price tag is sky high. Wait until the offseason and see if you can put a reasonable deal together, but you might need to overpay or accept that the opportunity window has closed abruptly.
- Miguel Sano (Twins, 3B) – The word on Sano was power. Through 45 major league games, that checks out with 12 HRs and 12 Doubles to his credit. He is going to strikeout a lot but he is also going to draw walks. His average may fluctuant over the next couple of seasons but he should settle in as a .270 -.285 hitter in the long-term. The raw power is there for him to hit 30 HRs annually and be a legitimate threat to hit 50 if everything comes together. Sano is giving Kris Bryant a run for his money as far as young power hitters go. While his hot streak may not continue, you simply cannot take him out of your lineup because of his potential. Much like Schwarber, his keeper value is through the roof right now and you would have to give up half of your roster to acquire him.
- Rusney Castillo (Red Sox, OF) – Castillo is already 28 years old, but just starting to establish himself in the majors after defecting from Cuba. He flashed a bit late last season and that made him a popular sleeper this spring. Unfortunately, he battled an injury and then struggled upon being recalled earlier this season. Back up in late July, Castillo has made up for lost time and should be owned in all leagues at this point. Over the course of a full season, he’s a 20 HR / 20 SB threat with a good average and plenty of runs. That is not going to make him a superstar, but it is plenty valuable to have on your roster. If he is somehow still on your waiver wire, he should be added immediately. He’s an ascending, yet affordable talent in keeper leagues because of his advanced age. Use that to your advantage in negotiations.
- Raisel Iglesias (Reds, SP) – Since the All-Star Break, Iglesias has found his comfort zone, sporting a 2.64 ERA with 50 Ks in 44.1 Innings. In his most recent start, he struck out 13 Diamondbacks hitters. He has gone at least six innings in his last six starts and is really starting to put it all together. While there could be ups and downs over the last five weeks of the season, Iglesias needs to be added if you need pitching help. The Cuban product has been pitching in America for less than a year and continues to refine his repertoire. There is the risk that this is nothing more than a hot streak, but the potential intrigues. Iglesias has Top 30 upside if he can put it all together, possibly as soon as 2016.
- Stephen Piscotty (Cardinals, OF) – Piscotty has made a steady climb through the Cardinals’ farm system by hitting for average, showing decent pop and the ability to swipe a handful of bases. With a number of injuries in the Cardinals outfield, Piscotty has certainly seized the opportunity to make a name for himself. In his first 32 major league games, he has 4 HRs, 3 SB and a .319 average. Piscotty is far from a flashy player, but he does everything well enough to be a solid bench player or starting OF in a deep league right now. With his minor league stats more solid than spectacular, he could very well be an affordable player in dynasty formats. As long as you temper expectations regarding his statistical upside, you should be very happy with his steady production.