MLB waiver wire: Plouffe, Simmons offer boosts to thin infield ranks
With only 11 career homers, Trevor Plouffe has hit 13 homers since May 16
Andrelton Simmons has speed, seen in his 54 steals in 236 games in minors
In 40.1 innings this year, Doug Fister has a 2.68 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 30 Ks
The Waiver Wire is here to offer up the choicest cuts of waiver wire goodness, paying attention to mixed, as well as AL- and NL-only leagues. Every league is different, and some players listed here may not be available if you play in a deep mixed league. However, we'll try to address everyone's needs, whether the depth of your league resembles a kiddie pool or the Atlantic Ocean.
Trevor Plouffe, Twins -- By now you're probably familiar with Plouffe, who had a grand total of 11 homers in 387 career at-bats before exploding for 13 since May 16. In that time, Plouffe has raised his slash from .138/.282/.262 to .252/.341/.568. While no one could have predicted a power breakout with this sort of intensity, Plouffe had begun to raise his power-hitting profile his last two years in the minors. He hit 15 homers in both of his seasons with Triple-A Rochester, achieving the feat in 2011 in just 192 at-bats. His pop looks legit, and though he's playing third base for the Twins, he has shortstop eligibility. With both of those positions short on options, and especially short on power, Plouffe should be owned in all formats.
Andrelton Simmons, Braves -- Simmons has acquitted himself quite nicely since earning a promotion from Double-A Mississippi, hitting .333/.396/.542 with a pair of homers, six RBI and a 5/4 K/BB ratio. While he bypassed the Triple-A level mainly because the Braves couldn't keep running Tyler Pastornicky out there, he's justifying the move. It's safe to say the shortstop job belongs to him now, and at 22 years old there's plenty of room for him to get better immediately. We haven't seen his speed manifest itself in the form of stolen bases yet, but this is a guy who swiped 54 bags in 236 career minor league games. The Braves won't keep him chained to the base for long. He should be owned in all but the shallowest of leagues.
Jon Jay, Cardinals -- Jay, on the DL for a month with a sprained shoulder, began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Memphis on Tuesday, and should be back with the Cardinals in the near future. Once back, manager Mike Matheny will find a spot for him to play every day simply because they need his bat in the lineup. Before hitting the DL, Jay had been one of the Cardinals' best hitters, compiling a .343/.395/.438 line with two homers and eight RBI in 105 at-bats. Outfield remains a deep position, but even if you're set out there keep an eye on Jay's progress. If you're looking for help, he's your man.
Chase Utley, Phillies -- Utley began a rehab assignment last week with High A Clearwater, finally making his way back to the field from the knee issues that have limited him over the past few seasons. He's not the player we all remember, but even 75 percent of the Utley we once knew is a worthy add in all mixed leagues. The Phillies expect him to return to the big league club the first week of July. If you've got a flexible roster spot and need help at second, grab him now. Otherwise, keep him on your radar and monitor his progress in the minors, as well as his timetable for return.
Doug Fister, Tigers -- Fister returned from an oblique injury over the weekend and looked great, pitching six shutout innings while allowing just three hits and striking out six against the Rockies. In 40.1 innings this season, he has a 2.68 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 30 strikeouts. Yes, the Tigers' poor infield defense will hurt a pitcher with his extreme ground-ball profile, but that tendency remains a weapon, not a weakness. If not for injuries, he'd likely be owned in a majority of mixed leagues at this point of the season. As it stands, he's owned in less than 20 percent of them. If yours is one, remedy the situation and add him.
Anthony Rizzo, Cubs -- Bryan LaHair has picked up a few starts in right field this week, and that can only mean one thing. Rizzo's arrival is right on the horizon. He's tearing up the Pacific Coast League, hitting .360/.421/.733 with 23 homers and 59 RBI at Triple A Iowa this season. Yes, he struggled when the Padres called him up to the majors last year, but don't forget that he was all of 21 years old at the time. Once the Cubs make the move, he'll be in the majors to stay. Those in keeper leagues should pursue him aggressively, and those in redraft leagues could still poach themselves a very cheap, legitimate power-hitting corner infielder.
Marco Estrada, Brewers -- Estrada is headed out an assignment rehabbing his injured hip flexor, and his return to the Brewers is on the horizon. He's prone to the long ball, surrendering nine in 36 innings, but he also has 34 strikeouts and a 1.11 WHIP in those 36 innings.
Joe Mather, Cubs -- Mather was already getting significant burn in the outfield, but now with Ian Stewart on the DL, he'll see time at third, as well. He really just offers another warm body, as he's hitting .252/.308/.396 this year.
Felipe Paulino, Royals -- If all goes according to plan, Paulino will return to the Royals rotation from a groin strain on Monday. Paulino has started fulfilling this year the promise he showed as a youngster in Houston's farm system, posting a 1.67 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 39 strikeouts in 37.2 innings. He's a worthy add in deep mixed leagues, in addition to AL-only.
Jacob Turner, Tigers -- Turner will make his major league debut Thursday when he takes the bump against the Cardinals. He may only be up for this start, but the top prospect is worth a shot in all leagues.
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