The Long Game: The Other Guys
The Long Game: The Other Guys

This article is part of our The Long Game series.

A couple of weeks ago I filled in for Vlad Sedler on the MLB Barometer and put together a list of top prospects who still had a chance of making an impact in 2016. Upon reflection, however, that list wasn't particularly useful to people playing in keeper or dynasty leagues, as the chances of an Alex Bregman or Tyler Glasnow not being on someone's roster already was essentially nil.

To make up for that oversight, I've come up with a companion piece of sorts, a list of "other guys" who don't command as much attention as the bigger prospect names but who still might get a chance to spread their wings and fly like a peacock in 2016. Don't get me wrong here, these aren't scrubs. These are players who still have upside (some more than others) and legitimate chances to be valuable assets in AL-only or NL-only leagues or even in shallower mixed formats. The more important factor here is that they are actually likely to be available in your league's free agent pool, and thus are players you can stash now if you have an open roster spot or wait and pounce on once they do get called up to The Show.

Josh Bell, Pirates: John Jaso has been a great bargain-basement first baseman for the Bucs this year, providing a solid .352 OBP from their leadoff spot, but he's offered little in the way of power from a traditionally power-heavy spot on the diamond. Bell may be ready to change all that. The 23-year-old is now leading the International League in OPS, hitting .321/.408/.537 in 71 Triple-A games with 11 home runs. That HR total may not seem like much, but he's just begun to tap into his natural strength on game days and over his last 10 games he's hitting .390 with four of those 11 bombs. The switch-hitter has controlled the strike zone well all season (36:50 BB:K) and has no real platoon split (.322/.433/.540 vs. LHP and .320/.395/.536 vs. RHP), although most of his power so far has come from the left side of the plate. In short, he's got nothing left to prove in the minors, so the only question now is when the Pirates decide to give the roster a boost. With their offense scoring just 3.4 runs per game in June, one of the lowest marks in the league, that could be any day now. ETA: Right after the All Star break

Jorge Bonifacio, Royals: After struggling for two straight years at Double-A, Bonifacio's prospect status almost disappeared this past offseason but he's clawed his way back with a .301/.366/.523 line at Triple-A that includes 11 home runs in 70 games. His profile is the same as it ever was (big power, shaky plate discipline) so a big first half this year may not mean a whole lot more than some better luck on balls in play, but with the Royals struggling to get production out of their corner outfield spots, it could be enough to put him in consideration for a promotion as the team tries to keep pace in a tightly bunched AL Central. ETA: September 2016

Mike Clevinger, Indians: Clevinger fell on his face in his first big league audition in May, but he took it in stride and hasn't let it affect his performance since returning to Triple-A. Control remains a bit of an issue for him but he's reeled off three straight scoreless appearances in June, posting a 21:7 K:BB in those 18.2 shutout frames. With Trevor Bauer settling in as the Indians' fifth starter, however, Clevinger may have to wait for another injury before he gets his next shot in the bigs. ETA: September 2016

Ben Gamel, Yankees: For the second straight season, Gamel is hitting well for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, posting a .298/.364/.404 line through 60 games and getting a brief cup of coffee in the Bronx in May. He hasn't shown the power he did in 2015, but the 24-year-old has decent speed (12 steals already this year) and could become a poor man's Brett Gardner if he ever gets a chance to replace the genuine article, or any of the Yankees' aging and brittle outfielders, really. All three regulars have mostly stayed in one piece so far this year though, so Gamel will have to continue biding his time. They can't stay healthy forever. ETA: September 2016

Dilson Herrera, Mets: By some definitions Herrera isn't a prospect anymore, having exhausted his rookie eligibility by getting 149 at-bats in the majors over the previous two seasons. So far in 2016 he hasn't sniffed the majors despite his solid .290/.337/.496 line in 66 games for Triple-A Las Vegas. The Mets could use a boost on offense, though, especially with David Wright lost for the year and a rotating group of utility players trying to man third base in his place. Is keeping the likes of Eric Campbell on the 25-man roster really a better use of a spot than bringing Herrera up and giving him a chance to show whether he can cut it in the big leagues? ETA: After the All Star break

Dillon Overton, Athletics: The A's have treated Overton with kid gloves following his 2013 Tommy John surgery, but those gloves appear to be off this year. The 24-year-old lefty has taken a regular turn in the Triple-A rotation and posted a solid 3.01 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 72:22 K:BB in 83.2 innings this year. He's been even better recently, firing up a 1.40 ERA over his last seven starts. With six starters on the DL and Eric Surkamp clinging to a rotation spot by his fingernails, Overton figures to make his debut in Oakland sooner rather than later. Actually, scratch that. Almost as I'm writing this, the A's have announced that he'll take the mound for them Saturday. The big concern with him is that his velocity, at least up through 2015's scouting reports, hadn't returned to its pre-surgery levels. It'll be interesting to see the radar gun readings Saturday and if his recent run of success coincided with a return to the low 90s with his fastball.ETA: Saturday

Chris Reed, Marlins: A former first round pick of the Dodgers, Reed got moved to the bullpen last year in the LA organizations before being dealt to the Marlins in a minor trade. He got a cup of coffee in Miami in 2015 and did nothing to distinguish himself. Sent back to Double-A to begin 2016, Reed pitched well enough to earn another look in the rotation, then well enough to earn a promotion to the Triple-A rotation without missing a beat, putting up 2.93 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 35:14 K:BB in eight starts and 46 innings for New Orleans. Note too that nearly half of his earned runs came in one ugly start in El Paso, and he certainly wouldn't be the first guy to have a bad night there. The 26-year-old lefty has typical finesse lefty stuff (fastball that touches 91 mph, solid slider and changeup) and finally seems to be getting a handle on his control so, at the very least, he's put himself in contention for a stroll through the revolving door that is Miami's fifth starter spot.ETA: After the All Star break

Brady Rodgers, Astros: Very, very quietly, Rodgers is having one of the best seasons of anyone in the minors. A third round pick in 2012, Rodgers has piled up a 2.99 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and outstanding 74:9 K:BB in 75.1 innings over 12 Triple-A starts this year, with the highlight being a four-hit, nine-K, zero-BB shutout of Reno in early May. Coming into the year, he was a fringy righty with a low 90s fastball, good, but not great, slider and workable changeup and curve. Clearly something has changed for him this year, as he's improved his numbers across the board, but whether he's found a couple of ticks on his fastball or somehow changed his approach or mechanics, I don't know, as no one seems to be paying enough attention to him to produce a fresh scouting report. What I do know is that numbers like that find their way onto a major league roster. The Astros don't have any rotation openings at the moment, and they have a line of guys, including Joe Musgrove, who in theory would be ahead of Rodgers in the pecking order. Given his low prospect profile and iffy path to quick returns, you're better off just keeping an eye on him rather than stashing him for now. ETA: September 2016

Dan Vogelbach, Cubs: Vogelbach's doing what he always does, which is hit. His .298/.419/.522 slash line and 12 home runs in 67 games for Triple-A Iowa is legit, as is his power, but his defensive work remains, well, let's just say that as a first baseman he makes a fine DH. That's the key to any immediate value he might have. The Cubs have nowhere to put him barring a major injury to Anthony Rizzo, but there are any number of AL teams who might like to get Vogelbach back as part of a deadline deal. How would he look in pinstripes launching bombs at the short porch in Yankee Stadium's right field, for instance? If you grab him and stash him now, that's the scenario you're hoping for.ETA: After the trade deadline

Austin Voth, Nationals: While everyone salivates at the thought of Lucas Giolito making his big league debut, it's easy to forget that Giolito is only 21, pitching at Double-A on a likely innings restriction and isn't even on the 40-man roster yet. The Nats have every reason in the world not to rush the kid. Meanwhile, Voth just goes about his business, posting a 2.99 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 75:19 K:BB in 81.1 innings over 14 starts at Triple-A this year. He doesn't profile as an ace, having an arsenal a lot closer to Tanner Roark's than Giolito's or Stephen Strasburg's, but his low 90s fastball, curve and changeup all play up due to his strong control and command. If an injury creates a hole in Washington's rotation it's Voth, not the wunderkind, who'll probably get the call.ETA: September 2016

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Erik Siegrist
Erik Siegrist is an FSWA award-winning columnist who covers all four major North American sports (that means the NHL, not NASCAR) and whose beat extends back to the days when the Nationals were the Expos and the Thunder were the Sonics. He was the inaugural champion of Rotowire's Staff Keeper baseball league. His work has also appeared at Baseball Prospectus.
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