Welcome to my first fantasy baseball waiver wire report of the season. It’s hard to believe I’m already writing this article as it feels like spring training just started. While the 2022 regular season is one singular day old, it’s never too early to improve your fantasy team. And lucky for you, there are endless possibilities ready to give your team that needed boost, wherever you might need it.
If you aren’t playing your dynasty leagues on Fantrax, you’re missing out on the deepest player pool and most customization around. For more rankings, check out Eric’s Top-400 Prospect Rankings or Chris Clegg’s Top-500 OBP Dynasty Rankings, and make sure to check out the Fantrax Toolshed Podcast for more dynasty talk!
Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire
Let’s just get the big names out of the way. I’m not listing the trio of Bobby Witt Jr, Julio Rodriguez, or Spencer Torkelson in this article for obvious reasons. If for some strange reason one of J-Rod or Tork is still sitting on your waiver wire, go pick them up immediately and shame the rest of your league for allowing it.
Outside of those three, we have a plethora of intriguing prospects to consider picking up this week.
CJ Abrams (SS – SDP): While I do think San Diego is rushing him a bit, Abrams has a skillset that could land him inside the top-25 overall picks one day. He flashed that immense upside this spring with two homers and three steals with a .324/.359/.514 slash line. Leading the way is elite double-plus or better speed and a plus hit tool with increasing raw power. It’s not ideal to see him riding the pine in his debut, but it was against left-hander Madison Bumgarner. Even if he struggles a bit with the bat due to being pushed, Abrams could still easily put together a .260/12/25 showing in 500+ plate appearances this season and will likely have dual eligibility within the next few weeks.
Bryson Stott (SS – PHI): Stott just might be the most underrated top-100 prospect, or at least in the top-5. While he doesn’t stand out in any one area, Stott does everything well offensively which allowed him to hit .298 with a .390 OBP in 680 plate appearances with 22 homers and 15 steals. His OBP skills should land him near the top of Philadelphia’s order one day, but for now, he’ll hit near the bottom due to all the potent sluggers the Phillies have 1-6 in their lineup. Still, even at the bottom of the order, Stott could post a 15+/10+ season with a solid AVG/OBP and enough counting stats to be mixed-league relevant.
Jeremy Pena (SS – HOU): Pena was another prospect that excelled this spring, recording a .350/.381/.700 slash line with a pair of homers in eight games. He doesn’t stand out in any one area offensively, but Pena could be above-average across the board and will get to start at shortstop in a loaded Houston lineup and a great home ballpark. He’s worth a look in all 12+ team leagues.,
Steven Kwan (OF – CLE): The power/speed blend isn’t overly impressive, but Kwan’s 88% and 92% contact rates in Double-A and Triple-A respectively last year sure are. On top of that, he’s proven to be one of the most difficult hitters to strike out and has begun hitting for more power over the last year or two. I’ve heard comps in the Michael Brantley or Jeff McNeil range which feel fair. If you have deeper benches or play in a league with more than 12 teams, I’d give Kwan a look with him starting in Cleveland’s outfield.
Nick Lodolo (SP – CIN): Despite being a top draft pick with an impressive collegiate resume and minor league career, Nick Lodolo still feels a bit undervalued in fantasy circles. In 21 minor league starts spanning 69 innings, Lodolo has struck out 39.3% of batters with a 2.35 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 15.3% SwStr, and a minuscule 4% walk rate. It hasn’t been cemented yet, but it looks like he’ll be the Reds’ #5 starter to open the season.
Hunter Greene (SP – CIN): After not pitching in two years due to surgery and COVID, Greene returned in style last season with a 3.30 ERA and 31.7% strikeout rate in 21 starts between Double-A and Triple-A. He’s dazzled since being drafted with his triple-digit heater and sharp slider, but Greene is a bit less polished than Lodolo is. If I had to pick one for 2022 alone, I’d lean towards Lodolo. But if you have the room and want to take a shot on Greene as well, I won’t stop you.
Matt Brash (SP – SEA): Brash has been one of the buzzier names this spring thanks to his strong performance (9.1 IP, 3 H, ER, 2 BB, 12 K) and devastating fastball/slider combination. That slider especially could be one of the best in the game, and if Brash shows continued improvements with the remainder of his arsenal along with his command, he has the upside to finish as a top-50 starter this season.
Akil Baddoo (OF – DET)
When glossing over the Yahoo rostership rates, I happened to notice that Akil Baddoo was available in 53% of fantasy leagues. Why? How? In just 461 plate appearances last season, Baddoo racked up 13 homers and 18 steals with a .259/.330/.436 slash line, and cranked four more homers this spring. Yes, there’s a bit too much swing and miss to his game, as evident by his 26.5% strikeout rate last season and 31.4% this spring, but as long as Baddoo exceeds 500 PA this season, 20/20 is certainly a possibility.
One concern I’m sure most have is Baddoo being in the strong side of a platoon due to his lowly .214/.278/.245 slash line against southpaws last season, but even that role should yield 500+ PA and he’ll bat 1st or 2nd in the order more often than not in a vastly improved Detroit lineup that has added Javier Baez, Spencer Torkelson, and will add Riley Greene sometime midseason. Even in 10-team leagues, Baddoo should be rostered right now.
To finish on a positive note, here’s Baddoo with an opposite-field home run off a lefty several days ago. This after having a big, fat goose egg in the home run column against southpaws in 2021.
Oppo Akil to tie it! pic.twitter.com/jZPVRRrK2g
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) April 3, 2022
Josh Lowe (OF – TBR)
Yes, Josh Lowe is still considered a prospect, but I wanted to list him separately from the rest as he made his debut last season in an extremely brief cup of coffee. Now he’s going to occupy one of Tampa’s outfield spots to begin the season following the Austin Meadows trade. From a fantasy standpoint, there’s a lot to like in Lowe’s profile. To start, he’s an easy plus runner with high efficiency that led to 26 steals last season without getting caught once.
Lowe has also hit for more power over the last few years, cranking 22 in 2021 with a .535 SLG and .244 ISO. He’ll likely never be a huge AVG source, but the profile longterm could be in the .260/20/25 range and possibly in the 15/20 range this season as long as he gets 500+ plate appearances. It’s hard to find this type of power/speed on your waiver wire.
Nick Senzel (OF – CIN)
We’ve all heard and used the term “post-hype sleeper”, and one of the current poster boys for that term is Cincinnati outfielder, Nick Senzel. The former top prospect and #2 overall pick has struggled to stay on the field throughout his professional career, but the production has been intriguing when he’s actually playing. In 249 minor league games, Senzel posted an impressive .311/.385/.505 slash line with a 600 PA pace of 16 homers and 23 steals. Senzel also demonstrated a solid plate approach with a 10.4% walk rate and 19.2% strikeout rate.
He’s yet to find his footing in the Majors which has resulted in underwhelming results, but Senzel appears to have locked up a starting spot in Cincinnati’s outfield following hisn strong showing in spring training where he picked up a pair of homers and steals in 38 PA with a .382/.447/.647 slash line. Can he remain healthy? Who knows. But the talent makes it worth an add to find out.
Ha-Seong Kim (2B/3B/SS – SDP)
In the wake of Fernando Tatís Jr’s injury, Ha-Seong Kim has stepped up in a big way. After an underwhelming 2021 debut, Kim excelled in spring training with four extra-base hits, one homer, and two steals with a .367/.472/.600 slash line. Even with the CJ Abrams promotion, it’s likely going to be Kim getting the bulk of time at shortstop until Tatís returns mid-season, and he possesses enough all-around upside to make an impact in 12-team mixed leagues or deeper. Kim routinely posted a high AVG/OBP in Korea before coming to the Majors and has enough power and speed to flirt with 15/15 over a full season. He’s also eligible at two or three positions depending on your league’s setting which is definitely an added bonus.
Andrew McCutchen (OF – MIL)
Don’t you dare write off the former National League MVP quite yet! Yes, McCutchen’s average dipped to a career-worst .222 last season, but he still managed 27 homers, 80 RBI, 78 runs scored, and six steals. His days of being a .280+ hitter are likely in the rearview mirror, but Cutch could easily return to the .250-.265 range if his BABIP stabilizes in 2022 after dropping down to .244 in 2021.
Another area worth focusing on are his quality of contact metrics, all of which stayed in the same range that he’s always been in. Plus, McCutchen will primarily DH for Milwaukee this season, which should only help his aging body. A repeat of 2021 numbers is a likely outcome with a rebound in the AVG department as well. There’s no reason why he should be sitting on any waiver wires in 12-team leagues or deeper.
Tylor Megill (SP – NYM)
Tyler Megill was undervalued in draft season, but I have a feeling that’s about to change after last night’s performance. In Megill’s first start of 2022 against Washington, he tossed five scoreless innings, allowing only three hits with zero walks and six strikeouts. He averaged 96.1 mph on his four-seamer, which was up 1.5 mph from 2021.
The fun doesn’t stop there either. Megill finished the night with a 30% whiff rate and 34% CSW with his slider being especially dominant. Megill was impressive during his 2021 debut as well, even if the final 4.52 ERA doesn’t stand out. That mark was influenced by a rough final seven starts which Megill entered sporting a stellar 3.21 ERA. If tonight’s performance is any indication, Megill might be on his way to a breakout season where he vastly outproduces all pre-season expectations. He’s widely available right now, but you’ll have to hurry after this performance.
Jesús Luzardo (SP – MIA)
Can someone please explain to me why Jesús Luzardo is so widely available. He’s sitting on the waiver wire in around 2/3 of Yahoo leagues for crying out loud. In case everyone didn’t notice, Luzardo looked absolutely dominant this spring in his three outings. He allowed only one earned run in 11.2 innings while adding around 2 mph of velocity.
“But Eric, he was so bad last season!”
Honestly, I don’t care. Yes, his numbers last season are uninspiring, but he still had two offerings with a whiff rate of 35% or higher along with premium left-handed velocity. Miami has a great track record of pitching development over the last several seasons, especially with changeups. While Luzardo had a 35% whiff rate on his changeup last season, that came with a .266 BAA and .506 SLG. Don’t forget Luzardo’s last start of 2021 either where he twirled 5.1 innings of one-run ball with zero walks and 11 strikeouts against the Phillies. The ingredients are all here for a big-time bounceback season from Luzardo, potentially with him finishing as a top-25 starter by season’s end. If he’s available in your league(s), change that quickly.
Drew Rasmussen (SP – TBR)
Drew Rasmussen’s tenure with Milwaukee wasn’t anything special with an ERA over five, but that all changed after he was traded to Tampa Bay last season. In 10 starts and 10 relief appearances, Rasmussen compiled a 2.44 ERA and 0.97 WHIP, albeit, with an unspectacular 20.9% strikeout rate. However, Rasmussen has added another slider variation this spring that helped him record a 33% whiff and 34% CSW rate overall on the pitch in his last spring start on Sunday against Pittsburgh.
Looks like Drew Rasmussen was throwing two pretty different SLs today. #RaysUp
Last year his SL sat around -3" vertical and 3" horizontal @ 86mph. Occasionally had 7-8" hrz.
Couple shapes today:
A) 4" vrt & 2" hrz @ 89mph (hard bullet-y)
B) 1" vrt & 10" hrz @ 85mph (sweeper) pic.twitter.com/jywOxAr2NL
— Lance Brozdowski (@LanceBroz) April 3, 2022
A higher strikeout rate would be huge for Rasmussen this season. He’s shown solid fastball command along with his premium velocity and dropped his walk rate down to 8.3% in 2021 overall and just 5.7% with Tampa Bay. It’s hard to see him exceeding 150 innings or so this season, but that could come with a mid-3 ERA, solid WHIP, and hopefully a strikeout rate more in the 24-27% range.
David Robertson (RP – CHC)
First, it was Rowan Wick as the reliever to roster in the Cubs bullpen. Then it was Codi Heuerbefore needing surgery. Now, it appears that veteran David Robertson will be the closer in Chicago to begin the season. The 37-year-old (tomorrow) hasn’t received a ton of save opportunities since 2017, partially due to missing a bunch of time, but he has the most experience in this Cubs bullpen and has a career 2.93 ERA and 32.2% strikeout rate. The Cubs could be surprisingly competitive this season and it wouldn’t shock me to see Robertson lead this bullpen in saves. He’s off to a good start, securing the save in Chicago’s opening day win against Milwaukee. If you missed the reliever boat in your drafts, Robertson is your first chance to make up for that.
Other relievers to consider: Emilio Pagan (MIN), Daniel Bard (COL), Anthony Bender (MIA), Art Warren (CIN)
Media Credit: Lance Brozdowski, Baseball Savant, Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire, Detroit Tigers
Fantrax was one of the fastest-growing fantasy sites over the last few years, and we’re not stopping now. We are the most customizable, easy-to-use, and feature-rich platform in the industry, offering the greatest fantasy experience for your dynasty, keeper, redraft, and best ball leagues. Fantasy sports doesn’t sleep, and neither does Fantrax, with seasons running 365 days a year. Take your fantasy leagues to the next level now at fantrax.com.