Congratulations: With just one week left in the 2023 MLB regular season, if you’re reading this post, chances are you’re either in your fantasy finals or close enough in your roto league that a key pickup or two can make all the difference. It’s officially time to quit being precious: Unless you’re in a keeper/dynasty league, loyalty and long-term outlooks mean nothing; the only thing that matters is finding who’s hot and riding them to fantasy glory. Which means smart adds have become even more important: Hit on an under-the-radar free agent, and a trophy awaits; miss, and you’ll spend the winter wondering what if.
Luckily, our weekly waiver wire recommendations are here to help, with position-by-position looks are players you should consider snagging off the waiver wire. Next up: the corner infield spots.
Fantasy baseball waiver wire: Week 27 corner infield targets
Junior Caminero, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays
Roster percentage: 2.0%
How’s this for a September call-up? Tampa is so desperate to track down the O’s atop the AL East (and the AL playoff bracket generally) that they’re calling up Caminero, not only their top prospect but among the best prospects in all of baseball — despite the fact that he just turned 20 and has yet to appear in a game above Double-A. Still, when you have the kind of year Caminero has had as young as he is, you tend to get people’s attention: The Dominican infielder has hit .324/.384/.591 across High-A and Double-A, with 31 homers and a walk rate under 20 percent. Look at this oppo power and tell me that’s not a future superstar:
Junior Caminero goes oppo for HR #26 on the season! pic.twitter.com/Vq58atDank— Tampa Bay Rays Minor League Updates (@raysfarmreport) September 1, 2023
With Brandon Lowe on the shelf, Caminero figures to play regularly this week — the Rays didn’t call him up to ride the bench — and his upside is as high as anyone’s.
Bobby Dalbec, 1B/3B, Boston Red Sox
Roster percentage: 0.4%
Triston Casas’ season-ending shoulder injury has opened up a second chance for Boston’s former top first-base prospect, and Dalbec seems hell-bent on making the most of it. The slugger went 6-for-14 with three extra-base hits in his first four games since being recalled, all of which he started, and that playing time should continue for the remainder of the season — especially with the Sox out of the Wild Card picture. The 28-year-old tore up Triple-A this season, slashing .269/.381/.557, and while his ability to hit in the Minors was never in question, it does serve as a reminder of why scouts were so high on him in the first place. At 6’4, 225 pounds, he does serious damage when he makes contact, and Fenway Park is a great place for righty power.
Mark Vientos, 3B, New York Mets
Roster percentage: 1.1%
Vientos got off to a discouraging start to his MLB career, but the top prospect has settled in over the last few weeks and has begun to show off the kind of power that made Mets fans clamor for his promotion. The 23-year-old went yard again on Friday night, his third in a seven-AB span and his fifth of September — and none of them have been cheap:
How's this for some damn good company? MLB average exit velocity leaders (min. 100 balls in play):— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) September 21, 2023
1. Aaron Judge, 97.1
2. Ronald Acuña Jr., 94.7
3. Shohei Ohtani, 94.4
4. Matt Olson, 94.1
5. Mark Vientos, 93.6https://t.co/o2P1oPm6Au
The Mets have no reason not to play Vientos, Ronny Mauricio and the rest of their young kids every day for the season’s final week, and Vientos — who slugged a whopping .612 in at Triple-A this year — has the potential to swing a weekly matchup if he stays this hot.
Christian Encarnacion-Strand, 1B/3B, Cincinnati Reds
Roster percentage: 8.2%
You’ll notice a theme developing here, namely “top prospects that people moved on from far too quickly”. CES got off to a slow start to his MLB career — understandable, given that he always carried real strikeout risk that figured to get exposed by the best pitching — but he’s started to adjust in recent weeks, and the results have been terrific. Getting more playing time, especially against lefties, with Elly De La Cruz in the midst of a funk, Encarnacion-Strand has hit .320/.346/.600 with four homers so far this month, making good on the promise he showed when he obliterated Triple-A to the tune of a 1.042 OPS. The Reds figure to face plenty of southpaws in series against the Cardinals (Drew Rom, Zack Thompson) and Guardians (Logan Allen) over the final week, which means more playing time for CES in that terrific power-friendly home park.