Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: And The Teoscar Goes To!
Welcome to the third installment of my weekly fantasy baseball waiver wire column and the first where we actually have some sample sizes, albeit small ones, to look at and analyze. Even though we’re only 6-7 games into this crazy 2020 season, that still means we’re whizzing past the 10% mark of the season. In a blink of an eye, another 10% will be gone when we meet up again next Friday for my next waiver wire piece. We need to act quickly in a 60-game sprint and that means capitalizing on every lineup change, hot streak, and prospect promotion as quickly as you possibly can. Or ASAMFP if you catch my drift. I can’t spell out that acronym or I might lose my job, but you smell what the Rock is cooking, don’t you?
This week’s report is bursting at the seams with targets all over the diamond, most of which fall into one of the aforementioned three categories.
Last Week’s Recommendations
Kiké Hernandez (2B/SS/OF – LAD), Austin Riley (3B/OF – ATL), Austin Hays (OF – BAL), CJ Cron (1B – DET), Yoshitomo Tsutsugo (OF/3B – TB), Nate Pearson (SP – TOR), Brady Singer (SP – KC), Kwang Hyun Kim (RP – STL), Vince Velasquez (SP – PHI)
Now, onto this week’s Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire targets!
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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Hitters
Teoscar Hernandez (OF – TOR)
Coming into the season, what would you have said if I told you that the top fantasy asset on the Toronto Blue Jays through the first two weeks wasn’t Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Cavan Biggio, or Lourdes Gurriel? Then what would you say if I added in that this top performer was running laps around that aforementioned quartet? Would you have called me crazy? Well, we’re over a week into this crazy 2020 season and Teoscar Hernandez is the one from this exciting Blue Jays squad that’s pushing top-10 overall status in fantasy rankings. Beast mode has been unlocked and fully engaged for Hernandez with four home runs, two steals, six RBI, and six runs scored through his first 28 at-bats. Don’t extrapolate that out over a full season, especially if doing so in the presence of others, as it’s certainly NSFW.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen brief moments of pure excellence from Teoscar Hernandez. It’s not the second or third time either, if we’re being honest. When you look at his per-162 stats, Hernandez paces at a 78/30/77/6 line with a .237/.304/.479 slash. Throughout his professional career, the two consistencies in a mostly inconsistent player have been his immense raw power and big-time strikeout issues. He’s also a sneaky-good athlete as well.
This is exactly the type of player that can get hot, as he is now, and ride that wave for a big chunk of a 60-game season. He also could go into a long slump. Who knows. But with how well Hernandez is demolishing baseballs right now coupled with the fact that Charlie Montoyo bumped him up into the top part of the order, Hernandez needs to be rostered in all standard mixed leagues. If he’s not, then shame on you.
Colin Moran (2B/3B – PIT)
Here’s the hot start in a shortened season part of the article.
Speaking of demolishing baseballs, who would’ve thought that Colin Moran would even be a top-20 ranked player at any point in any season? That’s 2020 for ya. Even with his combined 0/5 over the last two days, Moran is hitting .300 with three long balls so far this season and has appeared to settle into the cleanup spot in Pittsburgh’s lineup. When it comes to hitting the ball hard, Moran has a ton of pink and red in his statcast metrics.
Obviously, we’re talking about a small sample size here. But in a 60-game season, any hot streak takes on much greater significance. A 10-game hot streak in 2020 is equivalent to a 25-30 game hot streak in any other full season. We have to take advantage of these hot streaks and ride them out as long as they last. And right now, Colin Moran is impacting the ball better than he ever has as a professional. He’ll likely sit against tough southpaws, but Moran deserves some love with how well he’s hitting right now.
JaCoby Jones (OF – DET)
The same preface can be applied to JaCoby Jones as well, who always seems to sneak his way onto lone of my fantasy baseball waiver wire articles every season. The 28-year-old outfielder is off to a terrific start, hitting .421 with three home runs and two doubles over his first six games, all while hitting 9th in Detroit’s order. Someone this hot isn’t going to remain 9th in the order for very long, and even though Detroit’s lineup is far from intimidating to opposing pitchers, getting Jones up near guys like Miguel Cabrera, Jonathan Schoop, and CJ Cron would be a boon to Jones’ value.
Joey Bart (C – SFG)
This might end up being a week too early, but mamma always said it’s better to be a week too early on a player than a week too late. It’s beginning to sound like Joey Bart is going to be joining the San Francisco Giants sooner rather than later. The 2018 #2 overall pick is the best catching prospect in baseball not named Adley Rutschman and has shown the offensive tools that could make him a middle of the order force in short order.
— SFGiants (@SFGiants) February 23, 2020
It’s rare that I get giddy about catching prospects, but if you’ve ever watched Joey Bart, you would immediately see why. Bart possesses 70-grade power to all fields (as seen above) with a powerful swing that produces natural loft. He’s far from an all or nothing slugger either with average to above-average contact skills and has limited his strikeouts well with a career 20.8% strikeout rate. That power has constantly been on display at every level too with 29 homers in 130 professional games after slugging 29 in his final 101 games at Georgia Tech.
This type of offensive potential at a premium position like catcher makes Bart an immediate addition in all fantasy leagues as soon as he’s called up. Why not get a jump on the rest of your league and add him a few days early?
If you miss out on Bart, I’d give Daulton Varsho a look in deeper leagues with him now on his way to Arizona. The playing time situation is incredibly foggy, but if Varsho can find close to regular playing time, his offensive upside is worth taking a risk on. It’s not every day that a .280/20/20 prospect with catcher eligibility gets promoted.
David Fletcher (2B/3B/SS/OF – LAA)
Well, an 0/9 stretch threw some cold water on David Fletcher’s mini hot streak, but there’s still a lot to like about Fletcher moving forward. First off, he’s been hitting leadoff in front of Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, and Shohei Ohtani. Sure, Trout hasn’t been as Troutian this season and will be out for the next several days for the birth of his first child, but this is a great spot to be if you’re David Fletcher. On top of that, Fletcher has eligibility at as many as four positions, including three infield positions depending on your positional eligibility requirements in your league.
Fletcher might not be a statcast darling, but he sure is a contact machine with a top-notch plate approach. In 2019, Fletcher’s first full season, he posted a 55/64 BB/K mark and ranked at or near the top of many contact metrics. Here, take a gander.
- Contact: 91.1% (1st out of 137 batters with 500+ PA)
- Z-Contact: 96.1% (1st)
- O-Contact: 82.6% (1st)
- Swing: 36.2% (3rd lowest, right between Bregman, Trout, and Betts)
- SwStr: 3.2% (Lowest)
As you can see, Fletcher ain’t about chasing that junk opposing pitchers will try to throw. He’s going to wait for a good pitch to hit and when he does, that ball is going to be put in play at an extremely high clip. If you’re looking for someone that can help you in the power department, that’s not going to be Fletcher. Even his speed is more in the 10-15 SB range at most. But what he can do is be a steady source in the AVG and OBP departments while scoring runs at a high clip hitting atop the Angels lineup. Player consistency and roster flexibility are crucial this season and Fletcher is a rockstar at both.
Trent Grisham (OF – SDP)
Another aspect of early-season fantasy baseball waiver wire shopping is identifying early lineup trends that boosts a player’s value. Getting moved from 9th to 2nd in between Fernando Tatis Jr, Manny Machado, and Tommy Pham is a prime example of that. It also helps that Grisham is playing well to start the season with another multi-hit effort last night, his second in as many games. He also stole his first bag of the new season as well.
— FOX Sports San Diego (@FOXSportsSD) July 31, 2020
The back to back two-hit games has pushed his overall slash line to .296/.387/.630 with four extra-base hits, two home runs, a steal, and four walks in seven games. Those four walks and subsequent 12.5% walk rate should come as a shock to absolutely no one either. Grisham posted a 15.8% walk rate in the minors and was considered to be too patient and too passive at the plate until his breakout 2019 campaign where Grisham became more aggressive and really started to flex his plus raw power.
That power hasn’t translated into sexy statcast data so far this season, but Grisham entered Thursday’s contest with a 14.3% barrel rate and an average 26.6-degree launch angle. Some would say that launch angle is a tad too high, but it’s encouraging that Grisham finding the barrel consistently so far and putting the ball in the air. With 30/10 potential to pair with a high OBP and favorable lineup spot/supporting cast, I don’t see any reason to not roster Grisham in standard mixed leagues right now.
Deep League Target: Edward Olivares (OF – SDP)
Two Padres in one week? You gotta love it! While Edward Olivares isn’t a name you ever saw well inside top-100 prospect rankings, he’s always carried that element of intrigue due to his power/speed potential. In Olivares’ three full seasons in the minors from 2017 to 2019, he averaged a robust 20 home runs and 33 steals per 162 games with a tidy 17.7% strikeout rate. You’d like to see him walk a bit more than the 6.8% walk rate he’s shown in the minors, but that’s a minor quibble when there’s 20/30 upside here.
With Wil Myers mostly slotting in the new DH spot and Franchy Cordero now in Kansas City, a golden opportunity for playing time has opened up for Olivares this season and he’s taken full advantage of that so far. His 0/5 performance last night in a 12-run effort for the Padres is a bummer, but Olivares compiled four hits in his first three starts and could continue to see consistent playing time in this Padres outfield. He’s not quite in the 12-team mixed league discussion for me yet, but Olivares’ power/speed upside makes him a great deep-league target now that he receiving consistent playing time.
Also, make sure Wil Myers isn’t floating around on your league’s waiver wire.
Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Pitchers
Zach Pleasac (SP – CLE)
Let me start by showing you Zach Plesac’s line from Wednesday night’s start against the loaded Chicago White Sox.
Hot damn, have yourself an outing Mr. Plesac. Unfortunately, Plesac got absolutely zero run support and Brad Hand came in and coughed up the game in the 9th, but this start is highly encouraging. Cleveland starters have dominated this season and Plesac is the lastest to add to that. In this outing, his 2020 debut, Plesac landed 72 of 98 pitches for strikes (73.5%), with a 37.8% CSW rate which combines called strikes and swinging strikes. Any way you slice it, this was a dominant start from Dan Plesac’s son.
Zach Plesac, K'ing the side.
Because…that's what Cleveland starters do. pic.twitter.com/zevRLO2zIf
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 29, 2020
The strikeouts are what impressed me the most in this start. If you look back to 2019, Plesac performed admirably in both the ERA and WHIP departments (3.81/1.23), but an abysmal 6.8 K/9 limited him to streamer territory instead of being a season-long asset. If Plesac can just get that strikeout rate up to around a K per inning, he could legitimately end the season as a top-50 fantasy starter. This is as encouraging of a 2020 debut as you’ll get from a fringe guy like Plesac and the upside is there for him to stick around on your fantasy squad for the rest of the season.
Cristian Javier (SP – HOU)
Lost in all the pitching prospect debuts was the impressive first career start of Cristian Javier. In 5.2 innings, Javier allowed only one earned run on two hits and one walk while striking out eight. The 23-year-old Dominican right-hander was also one of the more impressive pitchers in the minors last season with a 1.74 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and 13.5 K/9. Unfortunately, that came with a 4.7 BB/9. Command and control issues have plagued Javier for a while and add some reliever risk to the overall longterm. But in the here and now, Javier will pitch out of the Houston rotation and you have to be encouraged by how he looked Wednesday night.
The fastball only averaged 92.6 mph but with good armside life on it and both Javier’s changeup and curveball were playing well off that fastball. All three of those pitches project as above-average offerings with both secondaries flashing plus at times as well. But as I mentioned, command and throwing strikes are the keys to Javier’s success, especially since he’s not going to blow anyone away with the sheer velocity on his fastball. I’d definitely be giving Javier a look if I needed an arm to see if he can build some momentum off his dominant first start.
Oliver Drake (RP – TB)
In this crazy, shortened season, 2/3 of MLB bullpens are giving me headaches. Tampa Bay is absolutely included in that. The first two saves of their season went to Oliver Drake of all people. Not Nick Anderson. Not Jose Alvarado. Oliver Drake. That’s Tampa Bay and 2020 in a nutshell for you. Is Drake the most talented arm in that Rays bullpen? Absolutely not. But we as fantasy managers need to take what we’re given, and right now, that’s Drake in the closer’s role.
That’s not to say Drake isn’t a viable arm that can provide solid fantasy value for your squad. In 56.0 innings last season, Drake recorded a 3.21 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and 11.3 K/9 on the strength of his fastball/splitter mix. Honestly, I should list that splitter first as he throws it more than 60% of the time with a super low spin rate which ranked as one of the 10 lowest in 2019. As long as Drake has the closer role in Tampa, he’s worth rostering in mixed leagues.
Deep League Target: Kris Bubic (SP – KC)
Just one week after promoting Brady Singer to the active roster, the Royals dipped into their farm system once again to grab Kris Bubic. A 6’3 southpaw and my #7 Royals dynasty prospect, will get the ball today in a tasty matchup against the lowly Detroit Tigers. I’m not quite as high on Bubic as I am with Singer, but there’s still some fantasy appeal here in deeper leagues. Bubic’s bread and butter is a plus changeup that he can use as an out pitch or land for strikes. Both the fastball and curveball teeter on the average/above-average threshold, but when he’s throwing both well to compliment the changeup, he can turn over a lineup with ease.
He’ll get a tough matchup in his debut against the loaded White Sox today, so I wouldn’t start him right away, but Bubic is an intriguing pickup in deeper formats. The 6’3 southpaw posted a 2.23 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9, and 11.1 K/9 last year in 26 combined starts between the Single-A and Advanced Single-A. Yes, he’s yet to even pitch at Double-A, but this is an advanced collegiate arm with good stuff and solid command of his arsenal. For that reason, I could see him carving out some deep-league value. I’m talking at least 15-team leagues.
Media/Link Credit: MLB, Rob Friedman (Pitching Ninja), San Francisco Giants, Prospects365, Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire, Fox Sports San Diego
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