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A little extra flavor never hurts. Especially when puttin’ together a fantasy squad.

When I’m in the kitchen I make moves. If something aint selling, I take it off the menu. If a staff member isn’t doing their job, they’re gone. That’s how I run my fantasy teams.

Each week I will hit you with the players moving up the rankings that you NEED to know about. I don’t care if it is the No. 8 hitter on the Cubs or the No. 4 starter for the Astros. If they are producing, you’re gonna know about it.

Now that the sample sizes are starting to grow, we can start to see trends, whether positive or negative. However, in this column we are only talkin’ about the guys on the rise due to recent production or increased playing time. No one his perfect, so I might swing-and-miss from time to time, but that is the beauty of fantasy sports. Let’s get to it shall we?

The Hackers

James Jones, OF (SEA)--The Seattle Mariners have managed to stay afloat in the American League West this season, although there offense has endured many changes over the first 85 games. Once of those changes has been in the outfield, with speedster James Jones making a name for himself since being promoted to the big leagues. Not known for his power, Jones has caught the attention of prospective fantasy owners by way of his blazing speed on the base paths, logging 17 steals while maintaining a solid .293 batting average with 34 runs scored along the way. Now that he is a permanent fixture in the top third of the Mariners lineup, Jones is going to get plenty of opportunities to produce for both the Mariners and his fantasy owners as long as he continues to makes solid contact at the dish and keep his strikeout rate at a respectable level (17.5 percent K Rate). As we speak, Jones is owned in less than 30 percent of leagues throughout the major fantasy providers so if in need for speed and aid in the runs scored category, give Jones a strong look.

Mookie Betts, OF (BOS)--Betts was a very attractive target off the waiver wire this last weekend, but is still not getting enough love. Although he is just 3-for-15 through his first four games (15 AB), Betts registered his first multi-hit game on Wednesday, while smacking his first career home run. The sample size is extremely limited, but his most recent performance could be just what this top prospect needed to get him moving in the right direction after a slow start. In fantasy sports sometimes you have to gamble. Considering he was a .341 hitter with seven home runs, 39 RBI and 20 stolen bases through 185 minor league at-bats before his promotion that type of production could be what we get form this youngster if he puts it all together. To me, he is worth a shot, especially in deep league formats even if there are some bumps in the road along the way.

Logan Forsythe, 2B, 3B, SS, OF (TB)--The more positions a player is eligible at the better. In the case of Forsythe, he could be a dream come true to fantasy owners in desperate need of filling some gaps in a depleted lineup. Although he is hitting just .253 with two home runs and 11 RBI on the season, he is currently streaking, going 11-for-24 (.458 BA) with two home runs, six RBI and five runs scored over his last seven games. With Yunel Escobar on the disabled list, Forsythe has started to see regular playing time in the Rays infield and should for the foreseeable future. He does need to work on his walks (9 BB over 162 at-bats) to reach his full potential, but as long as he is in the starting lineup on the regular basis he holds fantasy value for those in deep league formats while riding a ridiculous hot streak, logging five consecutive multi-hit games.

Arismendy Alcantara, 2B (CHC)--He may not be in the big leagues just yet, but if he continues to produce at a high level in the minors, it will be no time before he makes his mark at the highest level. Through 318 at-bats for Triple-A Iowa, Alcantara is slashing .311/.351/.547 with 10 home runs, 41 RBI and 20 stolen bases playing most of his games at second base. However, management has recently started to get him time in center field, which is his likely destination once in the big leagues. Those in both NL-only and deep league formats will want to keep a close eye on this youngster over the next few weeks, as he could be a nice five tool player if his game translates to the next level once promoted.

D.J. LeMahieu, 2B, 3B (COL)--The Rockies have been one of the worst team’s in baseball since the start of June, but there are still some players worthy of an investment in the team’s offense. Although I am not really sure how to pronounce his name correctly, LeMahieu has turned up his production of late, as he quietly puts together a solid season. He is now riding a nine-game hit streak, in which he has a home run, five RBI and five runs scored while bringing his batting average up to .275 on the season. Considering he qualifies at both third base and second base, LeMahieu could provide some much needed depth in a reserve role if nothing else.  Unfortunately, he has been slotted in the bottom third of the Rockies lineup on most occasions, which limits any upside he may have, but he is still a solid add for those in NL-only ahd deep mixed leagues while swinging a hot bat.

The Hurlers

Vance Worley, SP (PIT)--Since joining the Pirates starting rotation last month, Worley has looked like the pitcher that took the league by storm a few years back as a member of the Phillies. Through four starts, Worley has allowed three runs or less while pitching into the seventh inning in each contest. Although his 5.86 K/9 is nothing special, he has managed to allow just four walks over 27.2 innings which shows his command is right where it needs to be to continue his recent success. On the flipside, opposing batters are hitting only .210 against him thus far, which is going to adjust more towards his career .278 BAA as he gets more innings under his belt. Either way, Worley is worth taking a long look at if in search of an inning-eater for a depleted starting rotation in both NL-only and deep league formats.

Carlos E. Martinez, SP, RP (STL)--Since joining the starting rotation, Martinez is 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA through four starts. The Cardinals have kept him on a strict pitch count since making the switch, as he has yet to pitch past the fifth inning, throwing 88 pitches our less in each of his last four trips to the mound. He has certainly shown some promise over a brief major league career, but most of his work has come in relief, so it is hard to determine just where his production is going to go from here. As the season progresses, his pitch count is likely going to increase, which should lead to more production in both the wins and strikeout columns, but there is also still a chance he returns to the bullpen, where he can be sued on more of a regular basis. Whatever the case may be, he is worthy of an investment for those in deep league formats while pitching his best in his young career.

Jeff Locke, SP (PIT)--His record may not show it (1-1), but Locke has pitched very well since making his return to the Pirates starting rotation at the beginning of June. Over his last five starts, Lock has allowed more than two runs only once, as he now sits on a 3.46 ERA and 1.01 WHIP through 41.2 innings while maintaining a respectable 26:5 K:BB rate. The face he has been able to pitch deep into games can be attributed as the main reason for his success, having pitched through the sixth inning in each of his last five starts. Although this could just be a mirage similar to what we saw between the first half and the second half of last season, it is certainly a situation where the risk is worth the reward if his recent success continues.  

Santiago Casilla/Jeremy Affeldt, RP (SF)--After blowing his fifth save of the season last Saturday, the Giants decided to remove Sergio Romo from the closer role, as the team turns to a closer committee to handle the final frame moving forward. The Giant have recently indicated that both Casilla and Affeldt will share the role for the time being, but there has been no indication as to who would be the front runner in the situation. Both Casilla (40 Saves) and Affeldt (28 Saves) have been used in the closer role as different points in their careers and will likely be used depending on how the opposing lineups stack up, with Casilla taking on right-hand heavy lineups and Affedt against southpaws. Even if the situation is not resolved over the next few weeks, both players will hold minimal fantasy value for those desperate for saves as we quickly approach the All-Star break.

Until next time, study hard and eat plenty!

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