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Waiver Wire Report: Senzel with a Side of Franch Fries

A wise man once said, “The games you win in April are just as important as the games you win in September.” Just because there might be another 150 or so games left in the Major League season doesn’t mean that it’s too early to start making changes to your fantasy roster. This week is especially intriguing, as a couple high-upside fantasy prospects are anticipated to debut and a former top prospect suddenly finds himself with an everyday role.

Top Waiver Adds

Nick Senzel (3B – CIN)

Ownership: Fantrax 69%, Yahoo 30%, ESPN 12%

Before we go any further, if Senzel is sitting on your waiver wire, stop, drop, and roll your way over and pick him up immediately. Go ahead, I’ll wait. All set now? Good. Outside of Ronald Acuna, the most valuable rookie call-up this season will likely be Nick Senzel. In my top-100 prospect rankings, I ranked him seventh, and frankly, wanted to rank him a couple of spots higher. All he does is wake up, hit baseballs, and repeat.

In 455 at-bats last year between High Class-A and Double-A, Senzel hit a robust .321 with 14 home runs and 14 steals. He was even better after his promotion to Double-A, hitting .340 while improving both his walk rate and strikeout rate. Not only did the average go up, Senzel hit for more power, too, hitting 10 dingers and 14 doubles in 209 at-bats. Senzel is one of the most polished hitters in the minors and could push for a .280/15/15 season, if not more.

Franchy Cordero (OF – SD)

Ownership: Fantrax 27%, Yahoo 9%, ESPN 2%

Would you like some Franch fries with that? Sure you do. Who doesn’t love fries? With Manual Margot on the shelf, Cordero takes over Margot’s spot in center field and atop the Padres lineup. He wasted no time making an impression, slugging a solo home run in his first game back from injury.

While Cordero didn’t get a ton of buzz as a prospect, he carries intriguing fantasy upside thanks to his power and speed potential. In 390 Triple-A at-bats last season, Cordero was on a 26/23 pace while hitting .326/.369/.603/.972. Due to his swing-and-miss tendencies, that .326 average will likely end up as an anomaly in Cordero’s career, but his power and speed are legit. If he’s hitting well, he could hold down a starting outfield spot, even when Margot returns.

Mallex Smith (OF – TB)

Ownership: Fantrax 42%, Yahoo 17%, ESPN 8%

This one is for the owners that have a need for speed. Mallex Smith is far from a five-category producer. If he were, he wouldn’t find himself listed here, as he’d be universally owned in fantasy leagues. Of course, if you read the first sentence here, you’ll know that Smith’s specialty is speed. Throughout his six-year minor league career, Smith averaged a ridiculous 86.7 steals per 600 at-bats, including a three-year stretch from 2013-2015 where he stole 64, 88, and 57 bases, respectively.

That’s what you’re going to get if you want to add Smith to your roster. It also helps that he’s swinging a hot stick so far this season, hitting .333. Don’t expect that to continue, but Smith’s minor league track record and contact skills show that an average in the .275-.290 range is attainable.

Derek Dietrich (3B/OF – MIA)

Ownership: Fantrax, 45%, Yahoo 23%, ESPN 16%

The name Derek Dietrich doesn’t make you want to haul ass to your waiver wire to scoop him up. Trust me, I know. But the 28-year-old Dietrich now has an everyday role and a favorable spot in the Marlins batting order. Yes, the Marlins sometimes resemble a high school lineup, but it’s encouraging that Dietrich has hit first or second every game this season and actually leads the Majors Leagues with 59 plate appearances through 12 games.

Dietrich has made the most of his full-time opportunity so far, hitting .304 with one home run, four RBI and six runs scored and has averaged 19 home runs, 68 RBI, and 85 runs per every 600 at-bats in his six-year Major League career. Dietrich carries third base and outfield eligibility in Fantrax leagues, and depending on your league set-up on other sites, could have first and second base eligibility in your league, as well. It’s not a sexy pick by any means, but you can do much worse than Dietrich as a bench/depth guy on your roster.

Joey Lucchesi (SP – SD)

Ownership: Fantrax 46%, Yahoo 29%, ESPN 11%

Okay, I’m going to double dip here and list Joey Lucchesi for a second straight week. Even after a very solid showing in Coors Field, Joey Lucchesi remains unowned in more than half of Fantrax fantasy leagues, 70% of Yahoo leagues, and nearly 90% of ESPN leagues. WAKE UP, ESPN USERS! What in the name of Ted Williams cryogenically frozen head are you waiting for? I’ve heard some say that Lucchesi was just a “middling” prospect. False. There’s a big difference between middling and undervalued, which is exactly what Lucchesi was. He didn’t get a whole lot of attention due to all of the other big names in the San Diego system.

Through three starts, Lucchesi has is showing that he belongs with a 1.72 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, four walks, and 16 Ks in 15.2 innings. The strong start should lock up a rotation spot for him going forward, and his upside makes him definitely work owning in all leagues. Make sure he’s not hanging out on your league’s waiver wire. Don’t make me hound everyone again about Lucchesi next week.

Nick Pivetta (SP – PHI)

Ownership: Fantrax 62%, Yahoo 19%, ESPN 18%

You could say Nick Pivetta’s rookie season didn’t quite go as smoothly as he would’ve hoped. The 6-foot-5 right-hander finished 2017 with a 6.02 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 9.7 H/9, and 1.7 HR/9 over 26 starts. The one positive he had going for him was his strong 9.5 K/9. That has carried over into 2018, and then some. Pivetta’s K/9 through three starts sits at 10.3, and the rest of his game is following suit. In 16.2 innings, Pivetta has impressed with a 2.70 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 1.1 BB/9. In fact, his 1.31 FIP is the lowest in the Major Leagues after two weeks of action.

So what’s changed this season? Well, first and foremost, hitters are making much less hard contact off Pivetta. Opposing batters are making hard contact only 20.9% of the time in 2018, which is down 15.6% from last year’s 35.5%. Pivetta is throwing just as hard as he did in 2017, but he is commanding his fastball much better than he did in 2017. All of this is very encouraging to his rest of season outlook in fantasy.

Deep League Dive

Jurickson Profar (2B/3B/OF – TEX)

Ownership: Fantrax 20%, Yahoo 2%, ESPN 1%

Let me start out by saying that I have never been a Jurickson Profar supporter. The fact that he was once a top-five prospect is wet-your-pants laughable. No, that’s not to say he’s a bad hitter, because that’s not the case. And in deep leagues, Profar could hold some value going forward.

One of the biggest issues for Profar throughout his career has been the lack of consistent playing time. Well, the injury to Elvis Andrus has opened up consistent playing time for Profar for the next 6-8 weeks while Andrus recovers from a broken elbow. It’s hard to know what to expect statistically from Profar, but he’s worth a look in deep league strictly because he has some upside with his bat and two months to show what he can do when given a full-time spot.

Thank you for reading this week’s waiver wire report. Got a question about a player not covered here? Then follow me on Twitter @EricCross04 and ask there. Check back in next Friday for more waiver wire recommendations here on Fantrax.

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