Keep eye on Astros' Jonathan Villar 

July, 24, 2013
There’s little question the Houston Astros are building something special and eventually their middle infield of Carlos Correa and Delino DeShields Jr. could be the envy of most organizations, but the current options look pretty good, too. Second baseman Jose Altuve continues to thrive, is signed long-term and seems on his way to a top-5 finish at his position. The Astros have time to worry about it, but Altuve’s performance could push DeShields to center field, but regardless, he should help fantasy owners for years to come. On Tuesday, the universally owned Altuve stole his 23rd base and raised his batting average to .280.
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Jonathan Villar
Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports Jonathan Villar has already made an impact on the Astros since being called up, including scoring the winning run on Tuesday.

The guy now manning shortstop, Jonathan Villar, is owned in a mere 1 percent of ESPN standard mixed leagues. While a strong prospect, Baseball America ranked Correa and Nolan Fontana better at shortstop within the Astros organization in their 2013 annual, noting that Villar’s stock slipped from fourth in 2012 to 12th for this season. But he’s in the big leagues now and after seeing his two starts this week, it’s like watching a young Jimmy Rollins. Installed immediately as the leadoff hitter, Villar stole his first base in Monday’s game and on Tuesday added three hits, two of them doubles, and scored the winning run in the exciting comeback victory over the Oakland Athletics.

When the switch-hitting Rollins came up for the Philadelphia Phillies late in the 2000 season, it was clear what tools he brought. He stole three bases in 14 games from mid-September on, supplying electricity and confidence to a dormant lineup, and by 2001 became a fantasy fixture, providing lofty stolen base and runs totals and surprising middle-infield pop. Similarly, the switch-hitting Villar brings an enticing combination of modest power and aggressive base-stealing prowess to the top of the lineup, and he certainly appears the starter until Correa is ready. After that, who knows, but fantasy owners should act now. I know it’s only two days, but looking at the lack of shortstop depth in fantasy baseball and Villar’s obvious skills, it wouldn’t be shocking if this was a top-10 shortstop for the rest of 2013.