Sometimes the Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire before September prospect promotions can be a boring and uneventful place. Sometimes, but not this year. The waiver wire is surprisingly full of several intriguing players that can provide your fantasy team with a spark in a number of ways. Below we have an top-10 hitter over the last two weeks, a rookie that was on a near 40/25 pace in the minors, and three of the most underrated hitters in baseball that need to be owned in far more leagues than they are right now.
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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire – Hitters
Mark Canha, 1B/OF, Oakland Athletics
Few hitters in baseball have been hotter than Mark Canha lately. Over the last 14 days, Canha has hit .417 with six homers, 13 RBI, and 10 runs scored while starting in center field for Oakland. He’s not your prototypical center fielder, but the A’s really don’t have anyone else to step in, so Canha’s playing time appears to be fairly secure moving forward. Especially so if he continues to be one of the best hitters in the lineup. A few minor adjustments that have really helped Canha this season have been his career-high 13.3% walk rate and the fact that he’s been pulling the ball more in the air than ever before. While the batting average will never be anything special, Canha should be a solid power source for the rest of the season with a strong OBP. He needs to be owned in all fantasy leagues right now.
— Oakland A's (@Athletics) March 27, 2019
Willie Calhoun, OF, Texas Rangers
It’s amazing that a player producing like Willie Calhoun is still available in around 60% of fantasy leagues. Say what you want about his poor defense, but this little pint-sized ball of fury can absolutely rake. For the season, Calhoun is hitting .290 with 15 home runs, 34 RBI, and 34 runs in just 207 at-bats. That’s around a 45/100/100 pace if you extrapolate out to 600 at-bats. He’s been especially hot over the last two weeks, hitting .352 with five homers in 54 at-bats.
This type of production should come as a surprise to absolutely no one. Calhoun consistently demonstrated both an above-average to plus hit tool and plus raw power during his minor league career hitting .289 with 28 homers per every 600 at-bats to go along with a sound plate approach. The additional power can be attested to a 39.4% hard contact rate, 54.1% pull rate, 43.5% flyball rate, and a hitter-friendly home ball park. If Calhoun is still available in your league, change that quickly.
Kevin Newman, 2B/SS, Pittsburgh Pirates
Though they’re vastly different players, the same sentiment that I started the Calhoun section above with rings true here as well. Kevin Newman is too good of an asset to be sitting in the waiver wire in over 2/3 of fantasy leagues. Just indulge me and look at these stats for a second. In 392 at-bats, Newman has a .309 average, nine home runs, 13 steals, 50 RBI, and 43 runs scored.
Nothing there outside of the average stands out, but that’s a 14 HR, 20 SB, 75 R, 65 RBI pace which is damn solid for a guy you’ll probably stick in your middle infield or utility slot. And with his contact skills and plate discipline, you can feel fairly safe that the high average will continue. Newman currently ranks 10th in contact%, 4th in Z-Contact%, 13th in O-Contact%, and has 16th lowest SwStr%. The man just makes contact and needs to be owned in much more leagues right now.
Sam Hilliard, OF, Colorado Rockies
While most people were caught up in Lux/Tucker rumors, Sam Hilliard was recalled by the Rockies over the weekend and hasn’t really received much buzz yet. Well, when you take a look at his Triple-A numbers this season and see the power/speed profile he brings to the table, he sneaks his way into mixed-league consideration. Hilliard has started in two of the three games since his promotion, sitting in the 2nd game against lefty, Eduardo Rodriguez. That will likely be a common trend with Hillard sitting against most southpaw, but that still means he should play 3/4 of the time at least. And with his power/speed upside to go along with his home field, Hilliard has some sneaky-good ROS upside.
Sam Hilliard. Wow.
Exit velocity: 105.4 mph
Distance: 455 pic.twitter.com/UF0Vc1bjkO
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) August 28, 2019
Here’s what I said about the intriguing Rockies rookie in this week’s Fantasy Baseball Prospects Report…
“Yes, I know what you’re thinking. I’LL NEVER TRUST THE ROCKIES TO PLAY THEIR ROOKIES AGAIN FOR AS LONG AS I LIVE. Calm down, this one actually has a shot a playing time in addition to an intriguing offensive profile. In exactly 500 Pacific Coast League at-bats, Hilliard racked up 71 extra-base hits, 35 home runs, and 22 steals. The average wasn’t nearly as impressive but still sat at a modest .264. The power/speed profile sure is nice, but with below-average contact skills and a sub-par plate approach, I question how much average Hilliard hits for at the Major League level. But with his power/speed upside, Hilliard is worth a look in standard mixed leagues.”
Tommy Edman, 2B/3B/SS/OF, St. Louis Cardinals
Double-dipping is frowned upon with chips and dip and usually has been frowned upon here in this weekly article. However, Tommy Edman has been a godsend for a few of my fantasy teams and needs much more love in the fantasy baseball world. Why, you ask? Because Carlos Correa has the back of an elderly man. That’s why. There’s nothing about Edman’s game that stands out, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. And really, there’s a lot to like here. In addition to his multi-position eligibility, Edman has contributed solidly across the board this season, hitting .274 with five homers, nine steals, and 34 runs scored in 215 at-bats. There’s not one set spot for him to settle in at, but Edman has managed to remain a lineup staple with his strong play. If you need an injury fill-in or a boost in the speed department, Edman is your guy.
Mike Ford, 1B, New York Yankees
Here’s one for you deep leaguers out there. What do you get when you combine left-handed power with a short right field porch? Dingers. Straight up dingers, my friends. Ford has proven that with nine homers in 105 at-bats this season. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you can hit with any smidgen of power out to right field at Yankee Stadium, good things are going to happen for you.
If you combine his Triple-A numbers with his Major league numbers, Ford has combined for 32 home runs, 75 RBI, and 81 runs scored. The average hasn’t been sexy, but Ford has generated a solid 12.4% walk rate and 10.0% with the Yankees which has kept his OBP from tanking. Ford has been getting regular at-bats with Encarnacion on the shelf and is worth a look in deeper mixed leagues if you need a first baseman or your lineup needs a little power boost.
Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire – Pitchers
Tony Gonsolin, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it’s a guarantee that Gonsolin has a rotation spot locked up for the remainder of the 2019 season. Just look at Dustin May as an example and how he’s now in the bullpen instead of the rotation. But with how To-Go has pitched, he needs to be owned in standard leagues as long as he’s in the rotation. There I go making nicknames again.
Tony Gonsolin, Filthy 89mph Slider. 😷 pic.twitter.com/qRGLMndUR6
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 24, 2019
In four starts and one relief appearance, Gonsolin has recorded a 2.74 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, and only walked three batters in 23.0 innings. The strikeout rate that we saw from him in the minors hasn’t quite been there, but with his arsenal, I’d expect him to get up around a strikeout per inning soon enough. That arsenal features an above-average to plus fastball/curveball combination, a slider that flashes above-average to plus at times, and really good split-change. When Gonsolin can command his pitches, there’s SP2/3 upside here. Gonsolin gets the Diamondbacks on the road tonight and should get some more starts moving forward as well.
Brock Burke, SP, Texas Rangers
Although his promotion came with minimal fanfare, Burke has shown that he belongs after his first two starts. In those starts, Burke has thrown six innings each time, allowing just one earned run and six hits while striking out nine. This after posting a respectable 3.90 ERA and 1.20 WHIP with around a strikeout per inning in the minors this season. The upside here isn’t incredibly high, but Burke should be able to carve out some back-end value with his solid three-pitch mix and above-average command and control. He’ll get the Mariners tomorrow at home.
Photo/Video Credit: Oakland Athletics, MLB Pipeline, Rob Friedman/Pitching Ninja,Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire
Eric Cross is the lead MLB/Fantasy Baseball writer and MiLB prospect analyst for FantraxHQ and has been with the site since March 2017. In the past, he wrote for FantasyPros and FanSided. He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) and a contributor in the best-selling Fantasy Baseball Black Book. For more from Eric, check out his author page and follow him on Twitter @EricCross04.
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