In light of the recent emergence of home run threats Marcus Thames and Russell Branyan, who's the next under-the-radar bat to emerge as a viable source of power? MLB.com's fantasy gurus tackle that question in this week's edition of the Roundtable.
Jeff Clement, C, Mariners
If anything positive came from Seattle's housecleaning last week, it's this: Young, talented bats like Clement will be playing a lot. That's great news for all the owners in need of a power boost. The 24-year-old catcher delivered a mouth-watering .680 slugging percentage and 43 RBIs this season at Triple-A, sprinkling in excellent plate patience (35/29 BB/K ratio) for good measure. Add it all up and you're left with a well-polished power bat capable of doing serious damage right away.
-- Alex Cushing, Reporter, MLB.com Fantasy
Sure, Clement was sent down in May for fanning 20 times in 47 at-bats. Chalk that up to inexperience and overeagerness. This guy was picked third overall in the 2005 Draft, and he smacked 14 long balls and 17 doubles in 172 Minor League at-bats this season. The 24-year-old has immense power potential at the thin catcher position, and with the Mariners in the cellar and Kenji Johjima struggling with a .218 average, expect the young slugger to see plenty of action.
-- Milosh Marinovich, Reporter, MLB.com Fantasy
Aubrey Huff, DH, Orioles
Luke Scott, OF, Orioles
Veteran lefties Aubrey Huff and Luke Scott have been doing their share to keep the inconsistent Orioles offense afloat, with Huff hitting five homers in his last six games and Scott hitting six so far in June. Huff, who peaked at 34 homers in 2003 before slumping to 15 in '07, has already knocked 14 long balls this year, while Scott hit 28 homers in 583 at-bats over the previous two seasons in Houston and a dozen so far in 213 at-bats this year. Neither are superstars, but both could approach 30 homers this season.
-- Cory Schwartz, Host, "MLB.com Fantasy 411"
Elijah Dukes, OF, Nationals
Remember last year, when Dukes crushed 10 homers in 52 games before being sidelined by off-the-field problems? Well, he's back and flying below the radar in D.C. His numbers (.256 AVG, 2 HR, 14 RBIs) look pretty puny, but he deserves some slack for missing April with a hamstring injury. Dukes has shown a keen eye at the plate (22 BB, .365 OBP), and he's had a few huge games this month. Furthermore, he's still a monster of a human being. With his swing rounding into shape, it won't be long before Dukes starts going deep on a regular basis again.
-- Tim Ott, Reporter, MLB.com Fantasy
Mark Teahen, OF, Royals
Mark Teahen has all the makings of a bust-loose home run bonanza. The 26-year-old Moneyballer has shown flashes of going bucknasty with the power stick, belting five homers over 81 June at-bats. Don't forget, this is a guy who knows how to put up big numbers in a hurry (7 HR, .692 SLG in July '06), so scoop him up now and reap the rewards soon.
-- Dave Feldman, Reporter, MLB.com Fantasy
Adam Lind, OF, Blue Jays
Lind was recently called up by the Jays for a second time this season, and word is he's going to be given the chance to play nearly every day. Lind spent a little more than half of 2007 in the Majors, hitting 11 homers in 290 at-bats. If he indeed does play regularly, he should amass a similar number of ABs and reach the mid-teens in homers.
-- Todd Zola, Correspondent
Jeff Baker, 2B, Rockies
After a two-month jaunt through the realm of fantasy nonexistence, Baker has rapidly begun to emerge as a legitimate mixed-league slugger. The German-born 26-year-old erupted last week, going deep in four straight games while inflating his slugging percentage to an absurd .864 for June. Call it a fluke, but Baker's track record suggests he might just be here to stay; just two years ago, he cracked 20 homers and 30 doubles with 108 RBIs in 128 games at Triple-A Colorado Springs. Power-hungry owners should roll the dice on the Rockies utilityman, who could make an unexpected second-half dent a la Josh Fields in 2007.
-- Corey Gottlieb, Reporter, MLB.com Fantasy
Frank Thomas, DH, Athletics
The Big Hurt is on the disabled list with a strained right quadriceps, which means he could very well be available on the waiver wire or for a discounted price. If that's the case, owners would be wise to obtain the veteran thumper. Remember, Thomas crushed 23 home runs from July to September in 2006, when he was last with the A's. Those who roll the dice on Thomas having enough left may be rewarded with a home run assault that could propel any fringe playoff team into the postseason race.
-- Kyle Stack, Reporter, MLB.com Fantasy
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.