In addition to Monday's nine featured Pickups of the Week, Yahoo! Sports fantasy expert Brandon Funston offers a Wednesday update on five hitters on the rise that weren't profiled in Monday's POW. The same criteria applies - players must be available in more than half of Yahoo! leagues. On Friday, we'll offer the same drill for pitchers.
Long-time prospect proving he belongs in Cincy
Todd Frazier (3B) Cincinnati Reds
Scott Rolen has been out of the Reds lineup for more than a month but, thanks to Frazier, the Reds haven't missed him. Frazier has been a top 10 third baseman in the Yahoo! game for the past month, and his .932 OPS ranks second (behind David Wright) among all hot corners with at least 100 ABs. Rolen is likely to return soon, but given the way Frazier has been swinging the bat and his ability to play almost anywhere on the field, it's unlikely that his playing time will be dramatically impacted.
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There's nothing like the taste of Coors to jump-start a flat-lining career
Tyler Colvin (OF) Colorado Rockies
Fellow Yahoo! Scott Pianowski nicely laid out the case for Colvin in his Wednesday Closing Time. This is post-hype prospect with a lot of power (33 HRs in 693 MLB at bats) who draws few walks and strikes out often. But he's still only 26 years old, and he's upgraded his home hitting environment from Wrigley Field to Coors Field, where he's produced a 1.177 OPS and six of his seven home runs this season. Playing time in the outfield will be the issue that needs to be worked out going forward but, as Pianowski pointed out, there's a Detroit road series this weekend that allows for Colvin to get time at DH. And with four home runs in his past three games, you can bet Colorado will allow Colvin to ride this streak out.
Japanese rookie has been Milwaukee's best in June
Norichika Aoki (OF) Milwaukee Brewers
Over the past month, Aoki has outproduced fellow countryman Ichiro in the Yahoo! fantasy game. The 30-year-old rookie had spent his past eight years with the Yokult Swallows, where he was a regular .329 hitter with 15/20 skills. Aoki also showed a fantastic eye, most seasons tallying a K-to-BB rate right at 1:1. As FanGraph's Mike Axisa points out, Aoki has been one of the best in the league at laying off pitches outside the strike zone. Mat Gamel's season-ending injury has opened up regular playing time for Aoki, and he's clearly taking advantage of it. He's got nice three-category (BA, R, SB) upside, and unlike so many of the waiver wire speed options, he's not completely incapable of knocking the ball out of the park on occasion.
After a slow start, Danny Boy flashing 20/20 upside again
Danny Espinosa (2B) Washington Nationals
A little more than a week into May, Espinosa's batting average was below the Mendoza Line, and he was sitting on just one home run and one steal. It wasn't the start that those who drafted him coming off a promising 21/17 rookie campaign wanted to see. But since May 11, Espinosa is the No. 3 second baseman in the Yahoo! game, with a .280 batting average, 5 HRs and 8 SBs in that span. Those that drafted him likely did so for his 20/20 upside, not for the all too many strikeouts and expected less-than-desirable batting average. If you cut him loose after his rough start, it's time to give him another look. Because the power and speed are standing out once again.
M's hope Gutierrez can "stomach" his latest return to action
Franklin Gutierrez (OF) Seattle Mariners
Gutierrez is set to make his '12 MLB debut after spending the first two-plus months rehabbing a torn pectoral muscle. With Mike Carp headed to the DL, and the M's in need of more right-handed hitting, Gutierrez should get all the playing time he can handle. Of course, staying healthy has been a major issue since last season, when a stomach issue forced him to miss nearly half the season. But in his two full seasons with the M's ('09 and '10), Gutierrez averaged 15 homers and 20 steals. In deeper leagues, that's something to believe in when sifting through the waiver wire.
• LW Rank denotes a player's ranking in the Yahoo! fantasy baseball game for the past week