Fantasy baseball waiver wire: Astros promote top prospect Kyle Tucker

At age 20, Kyle Tucker starred for Team USA in the 2017 Futures Game, hitting an RBI double in the third inning at Marlins Park.

After passing the midpoint of the regular season, players who’ve been missing in action are starting to come back — whether it’s from suspension or injury — and fantasy owners in mixed leagues are poised to take advantage.

Meanwhile, one of the top prospects in the minor leagues is getting his long-awaited promotion to the majors.

Double check: Last week’s recommendations, including Wily Peralta, Keon Broxton.

Suggested bid values based on $100 FAAB (free agent acquisition budget). Feel free to exceed the recommendation if league dynamics or team needs warrant. Stats through Thursday.


NEW: OF Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros(AL: $23, Mixed: $16).

After trying to get by with the likes of Tony Kemp and Jake Marisnick in their everyday lineup, the Astros have decided to give their top hitting prospect a chance to show what he can do. Tucker, 21, has been fantastic at Class AAA Fresno, hitting .306 with 14 homers, 66 RBI, 14 steals and a .520 slugging percentage in 80 games. In one of the majors’ best offenses, this five-category contributor could help AL-only fantasy teams even more than any big names who come over from the NL in trades.

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SS Jorge Polanco, Minnesota Twins(AL: $20, Mixed: $14).

Polanco sat out the Twins’ first 80 games after a positive drug test in the offseason. He emerged as an offensive force in the second half of 2017, slashing .293/.359/.511 after the All-Star break. It will be hard to duplicate those numbers, but owners who’ve just lost Carlos Correa to the DL will have a ready-made replacement.

DH Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels(Mixed: $13).

Owners in mixed leagues bailed on Ohtani when an elbow injury looked like it might end his season. But even if he doesn’t pitch again this year, the two-way star still has value as a hitter — maybe even more. He’s put up a .285/.362/520 slash line with six homers in 123 at-bats. Without the need for days off before and after his turns on the mound, Ohtani will play more often and will be able to concentrate fully on offense. He may even try to steal a few bases.

RP Will Smith, San Francisco Giants(NL: $9, Mixed: $6).

After going through the Giants’ potential closer options two weeks ago, Smith somehow managed to fly under the radar. He’s been almost unhittable since being activated off the DL in early May, posting a 1.11 ERA and 0.70 WHIP. The left-hander has converted the Giants’ last three save opportunities.


RP Tyler Clippard, Toronto Blue Jays(AL: $7, Mixed: $4).

Ryan Tepera’s injury has turned Clippard into the temporary closer. His 3.02 ERA and 4.28 FIP are high for a closer — so don’t expect smooth sailing — but he gets plenty of strikeouts. Roberto Osuna is scheduled to return from his suspension on Aug. 5, when he’ll reclaim the closer’s job.

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C Willians Austudillo, Minnesota Twins(AL: $4, Mixed: $1).

Fantasy owners scrambling to find someone to replace the injured Brian McCann or Mike Zunino, Astudillo is a widely available shot in the dark. The 26-year-old Venezuelan is an anomaly in today’s game in that he almost always puts the ball in play. He’s never had a strikeout rate OR walk rate over 5% at any level in the minors. He’s 5-for-14 (.357) with a triple and three RBI since being promoted.


RP Kirby Yates, San Diego Padres.

As the trade deadline approaches, there will be plenty of interest in Padres closer Brad Hand. If a deal goes through, Yates would take over the job in San Diego. The 31-year-old righty been more than up to the task with a 0.79 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 34 innings.

RP Jordan Hicks, St. Louis Cardinals.

The biggest arm in the game today (sorry Aroldis Chapman) has finally learned to throw something other than his 100+ mph fastball for strikes. Although walks are still a problem (4.6 BB/9), he’s been much better lately. And even when he gets in trouble, he’s been able to wiggle out of it more often than not. If Bud Norris falters, Hicks is next in line to close. In keeper leagues, he’s a wise speculative pickup for next season.

Follow Gardner on Twitter @SteveAGardner.