Fantasy Baseball: Hitter stock watch

Fantasy Baseball: Hitter stock watch

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Yasmani Grandal, C, Padres: He's finally all the way back from his oblique injury - Grandal has been hitting line drives all week - and he's a super plug-and-play this weekend, working at Coors Field for three games. Grandal already has three homers in 16 at-bats against the putrid Rockies pitching staff this summer, and he went deep twice during his first MLB start, which came late June in the thin air. Gravity always wins.
Josh Rutledge, SS, Rockies: A sore quad cost him a handful of starts this month, though Rutledge still gave us a homer and a steal as a regular pinch-hitter. He's finally back at shortstop, adding to a splashy 40-game debut (.350 average, seven homers, five steals). Don't worry if Troy Tulowitzki eventually returns to the fold - the Rockies want to see Rutledge at second base anyway, a position he played in the minors.

Trevor Plouffe, Utility, Twins: Thumb injuries are known for their ability to sap power, but Plouffe has finally gotten back to full health and he was locked in during the Seattle series, even if the results don't show it (3-for-13). See the forest for the trees here: Plouffe had a homer, four RBIs and three walks against the M's, and hit a couple of rockets right at defenders. Look for 4-6 homers in September, along with a useful four positions of eligibility in Yahoo! leagues.

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Mike Aviles, SS, Red Sox: He only started one game at short during the Anaheim series, in part because the Red Sox have turned their final quarter of the year into community auditions. And while the Boston lineup was a fun place to be for most of the summer, it's a ghost town now: no more Gonzalez, Ortiz, Youkilis or Crawford. This probably won't be a Top 10 offense the rest of the way, and Aviles won't be a full-timer besides.

Matt Joyce, OF, Rays: He's fallen into some bad habits during the second half of the year (.217.293.342, 32 strikeouts, just three homers), and now a forearm injury has crept into the picture. The Rays also know Joyce can't be exposed against too many left-handed starters - he has a puny .620 OPS against them. In mixed leagues, you need someone more reliable (and someone who plays more often).

Joaquin Arias, SS3B, Giants: Manager Bruce Bochy is going to ride the hot hand with Arias, but anytime you see a .429 average tied to a .450 on-base percentage, be skeptical. Arias is an ordinary journeyman with a .280.318.389 line over 202 MLB games (just four homers). He might be worth holding if you need a push in batting average, but otherwise there's nothing to see here.

Many Machado, SS3B, Orioles: The opening weekend against Kansas City was a blast, but since then Machado has gone 9-for-50 with 14 strikeouts (and just two walks). Baseball is still hard, especially for a teenaged Double-A prospect who was having a so-so year in the minors. We still love the future for Machado, but we're not going to bet on his present. Growing pains are here.

Hold
Todd Frazier, Utility, Reds: He's turned into a surprising Rookie of the Year candidate, posting a handy .294-49-18-62 line and qualifying at three positions in standard Yahoo! leagues. Some gamers are worried about Frazier for the final month - Joey Votto is coming back soon, which means Frazier doesn't have the first-base slot to himself anymore - but we can't imagine Scott Rolen being hale for the balance of the year. Dusty Baker can also slot Frazier in the outfield if he wants. Trust the skills here, and have faith that Frazier will keep a spot, somewhere.
Nate McLouth, OF, Orioles: He's still zipping around with plus wheels, even at age 31, which is why McLouth has 15 runs and six steals during a snappy month with Baltimore. And while McLouth isn't going to threaten the warehouse too often at Camden Yards, he still can knock a ball out of the park now and then (two homers over 80 at-bats). Buck Showalter is a believer; he's using McLouth in the No. 3 slot against right-handed pitching. McLouth is a solid No. 5 outfielder or utility play in deep mixed formats.

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Prospect report: Playoff time in the WHL

Prospect report: Playoff time in the WHL

Hershey update: 38-19-8-3, 4th in the Atlantic Division. Last week: 1-1-0-0

The Hershey Bears split their two games over the weekend with St. John’s with a 4-3 loss on Saturday and a 2-1 win on Sunday.

Saturday’s loss came in heartbreaking fashion as the Bears gave up the game-winner with just 16 seconds remaining in regulation.

Chandler Stephenson recorded an assist in the game, but gave up an absolutely dreadful turnover for the game-tying goal. From behind his own net, he attempted a no-look back pass that went directly to a St. John’s player who passed it to the slot for the goal.

Jakub Vrana recorded two points in Sunday’s win, including the game-winning goal.

Jonas Siegenthaler made his season debut for the Bears in Sunday’s game. He was a plus-one on the day.

The real star of the weekend for Hershey was goalie Pheonix Copley who started in both games. The young netminder was particularly strong in Sunday’s win, stopping 35 of the 36 shots he faced in the win. Since returning to Hershey, Copley is now 7-2-0 with a 1.94 goals against average and a .942 save percentage.

Travis Boyd and Riley Barber each had a goal and an assist over the weekend for the Bears.

RELATED: Caps show off scoring depth in Colorado

Other prospect notes:

The WHL Playoffs are underway. Lucas Johansen’s Kelowna Rockets jumped out to a 3-1 series lead and are one win away from eliminating Garrett Pilon and the Kamloops Blazers. Johansen and Pilon both have one assist in four games.

The news wasn’t all bad for Pilon, however, as the Caps signed him to a three-year, entry-level deal on Thursday. He will report to Hershey at the end of the WHL season which may come as early as Friday.

Connor Hobbs and the Regina Pats are on the verge of sweeping Beck Malenstyn and the Calgary Hitmen. Regina has outscored Calgary 15-5 in three games. Hobbs has recorded two assists in each game while Malenstyn has yet to record a point.

Dmitriy Zaitsev is locked in a tight battle as his Moose Jaw Warriors are currently locked in a 2-2 series tie with the Swift Current Broncos. He has one assist.

Both Shane Gersich and Brian Pinho saw their seasons come to an end in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

North Dakota loss to Boston University 4-3 in double overtime on Friday. Gersich registered eight shots on goal, but could not get onto the scoresheet. Providence also lost in the first round to Harvard 3-0 on Friday.

There is no word yet on their future plans or if the Capitals have tried to sign either to an entry-level deal. Gersich’s teammate, Brock Boeser, was signed Saturday by the Vancouver Canucks and scored his first goal NHL that afternoon. For any who may have dreams of Gersich or Pinho following suite for the Caps, that’s unlikely to happen.

The Capitals seem pretty set with their lines right now and, if they were to recall anyone as a backup, it would likely be Jakub Vrana or they would stick with Paul Carey. Neither Gersich nor Pinho would likely be the top choice for a Washington team hoping to win the Stanley Cup.

That doesn’t mean the team won’t be interested in signing them and sending them to Hershey, however.

Gersich will be a rising junior at North Dakota, Pinho a rising senior for Providence if they both choose to return to college.

Ilya Samsonov’s KHL team, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, completed a four-game sweep of Ak Bars to advance to the Gagarin Cup Finals for the second consecutive season. They will face SKA starting April 8.

While Siegenthaler returned to Hershey, there will be no such return trip for forward Kevin Elgestal. Elgestal’s season in Sweden was limited to only 25 games after he suffered a broken thumb in January. NOVA Caps caught up with Elgestal to get an update on his progress and it sounds like he will need to continue rehabbing over the summer.

Check out the full update here.

Forward Damien Riat has been selected to Switzerland’s initial team roster for the World Championships. The team will have a two-day training camp starting on April 5. This year’s tournament will be held in Germany and France from May 5 to 21.

For more Capitals coverage, check out the latest edition of the Capitals Faceoff Podcast!

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Paul George calls out Pacers with NBA playoffs approaching for not being 'pissed off enough'

Paul George calls out Pacers with NBA playoffs approaching for not being 'pissed off enough'

The Indiana Pacers appear headed to the playoffs, as they currently sit eighth in the Eastern Conference and 1 1/2 games ahead of the Bulls in ninth. Indiana could even face the Wizards, depending on how all this shakes out.

The Pacers, though, are struggling. They are 37-38 on the year, have lost six of 10 and two straight. With seven games remaining, time is running out before they have to face one of the best teams in the East in the first round of the playoffs.

Superstar Paul George is fed up with all of it and this week had some critical words for his teammates via the Indianapolis Star. After a loss to the Timberwolves, he pointed out the Pacers were lackluster against a team not even heading to the postseason.

Then, he said this:

“There’s no urgency, no sense of urgency, no winning pride,” he said. “This locker room is just not pissed off enough.”

As a guy who has led the Pacers to the Eastern Conference Finals, George knows what it takes to win in the playoffs and clearly he does not think their current roster has what it takes. Earlier this season he lamented the fact they are so bad on the road, as their 11-26 mark in away games is the worst among teams currently in the playoff picture. 

Even with George, one of the game's best players, the Pacers look like a team few would be scared of come playoff time and he appears to know it.

Via ProBasketballTalk

[RELATED: Top big man prospect to leave school for 2017 NBA Draft]