Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Prospects (4/18/22 - 4/24/22)
Fantasy Baseball Guy; follow me on Twitter @fantasybbguru
Well, the first full week of the 2022 season is in the books and it was a wild one. Last week, I highlighted some guys in this waiver wire column that are looking pretty strong – Steven Kwan, Jesus Luzardo, Alex Cobb, Jorge Mateo, and Nathaniel Lowe — and I’ve got some more recommendations for you this week. So, while you’re decorating eggs and eating Peeps (seriously though, who eats these?) this holiday weekend, we’ve got you covered @weknowfantasy. Let’s dive in.
As with last week, we’ll take a look at players that are out there in leagues of different sizes (shallow/10-12 team or deeper/AL or NL only leagues.) As always, you should be checking your wire regularly to see when another team may have cut an injured star they don’t have the roster space to retain. If you can stash that player, do it and reap the rewards later. In one of my shallow leagues, someone recently cut Lance Lynn because there are limited IL spots and the team had been besieged with injuries – you better believe I scooped him up. Be active with your in-season management – it makes all the difference.
Shallow Leagues – 10/12 team mixed leagues
Andrew Vaughn, OF, Chicago White Sox
Vaughn’s ownership percentage is down not because of his talent, but because of playing time concerns. Guys who can mash like Vaughn don’t rot on the bench and Tony LaRussa is realizing he needs to get Vaughn more ABs – Vaughn has now started four games in a row and five of the last six. He should remain in the lineup. Vaughn’s plate discipline is elite, he currently has a fantastic 10-percent walk rate and a miniscule 10-percent strikeout rate. In addition, he sports a .353 BA with 2 HR and 6 RBI in only 19 plate appearances. This guy can flat out hit and he should be being doing it for your team rather than your competition.
Connor Joe, 1B, Colorado Rockies
I have no idea how, but somehow the leadoff hitter for the Rockies – who is off to a great start by the way – is incredibly under owned. In his time in the majors, Joe has displayed elite plate discipline, striking out less than 20-percent of the time and walking more than 10-percent of the time (he had a .379 OBP in 63 games last year and has a .448 OBP so far in 2022.) Mix in that Joe already has 2 HR and 1 SB and has been in the leadoff spot the last six games in a row and you have a guy that should NOT be on the waiver wire. Don’t let him stay there any longer.
Anthony Santander, OF, Baltimore Orioles
Santander is a guy that I have always thought has more ability than he has shown, and I’m hoping 2022 might be the year he takes another step forward. While he hasn’t yet posted big 2022 numbers, I’m very encouraged by what I have seen from him at the plate. Santander currently sports an over 25-percent walk rate and, if this process change sticks, it could be the thing that propels him to the next level. Santander has always hit the ball hard and had a good strikeout rate, but his walk rate was low and suggested that he may not be waiting for his pitch. If he is more selective this year with that strikeout rate and pop, he could breakout. He’s worth a flyer if you have a roster spot to see how he performs over the next month.
Joe Ryan, SP, Minnesota Twins
Ryan is a starting pitcher for the Twins that came into the year with relatively high expectations after being traded from the Rays to the Twins in the Nelson Cruz trade in 2021. But you may have a brief buying opportunity. Ryan underwhelmed in his first start against the Mariners, when he uncharacteristically showed control issues and walked 4 in 4 innings. Ryan usually has exceptional control and command and also sports a high strikeout rate. His stock is on the rise though, especially given the line he put up Friday night against the Red Sox: 6 IP, 5H, 1ER, 0BB, 7Ks. He isn’t likely to be an ace, but could be a steady, middle-of-the-rotation guy for your squad, and that is valuable.
Tristan McKenzie, SP, Cleveland Guardians
The Guardians know how to churn out pitchers from their minor league system and McKenzie is no exception. McKenzie is one of the more exciting young pitchers in the league and his stuff is electric. Like many pitchers after the shortened spring training, McKenzie is still building up to a full starter’s workload, but in his first two starts, he compiled 7 Ks in 7 innings and allowed only 5 hits, 2 earned runs, and 2 walks in 7 innings. McKenzie has a very high ceiling and, if everything clicks, you may not have many more opportunities to add him to your team, so grab him while you can.
Matt Brash, SP, Seattle Mariners
When it comes to pure stuff, Brash has the best of the three pitchers on this list in my opinion. Brash mixes in a fastball that averages 96-97 with a videogame, high spin slider that has some of the best movement I’ve seen. Just check out the compilation below from Pitching Ninja. Brash made his ML debut this week and did not disappoint, going 5.1 innings and allowing just 4 hits, 2 earned runs, 1 walk, and 6 strikeouts. He looks poised for a big year – scoop him up now.
Deeper Leagues (15 team or AL/NL Only)
Ji Man Choi, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays
Choi is a longtime favorite of mine for the CI position or in deep leagues – his only real drawback is that he plays for the Rays and playing time is . . . frustratingly uncertain. But Choi has carved out more regular PT for himself and there isn’t a clearly better—or even equivalent — option on the Rays bench. Choi is on a tear over his first 7 games of the year: .526 BA/.640 OBP/1.000 SLG with a 24% walk rate, 2 HR, 5 R, and 7 RBI. He should be owned in all OBP and points leagues and I think he’ll be a steady contributor for your team across the board in any format.
Owen Miller, 1B/2B, CleveIand Guardians
I was suspicious of the Guardians’ Owen Miller until I took a closer look and I now think he is definitely worth a speculative add to see what he can become. Miller’s Statcast page is almost entirely shades of red, showing he is hitting the ball with authority. While his current line of .522/.520./1.043 of course cannot continue, there are skills underlying the hot start. Mix in that he is 90th percentile in sprint speed and my eyebrows are raised. Miller never showed a ton of pop or speed in the minors and he hits the ball on the ground too much, but he’s been a lineup staple lately batting 6th for the Guardians and could put up a respectable line if you need reinforcements. The PT alone is worth the add in deep leagues.
Seth Brown, OF, Oakland Athletics
If you’re looking for pop and can sacrifice some batting average, Brown could be your man. He’s going to be in the lineup pretty much every day for these hapless A’s and he has power – in 2019, Brown hit 37 HR in 112 games at AAA and he hit 20 HR for the A’s last year in only 300 PAs. His 30%+ strikeout rate is going to hurt and he may post a Gallo-like batting average, but if you need HRs and RBI, take a shot.
Santiago Espinal, 2B, Toronto Blue Jays
Espinal was already getting semi-regular PT for the Blue Jays before the Teoscar injury, but Teoscar’s IL stint has further opened the door (Espinal has now played in 7 straight games). While he isn’t a power or speed standout, the playing time alone has appeal in deeper leagues and I am also a fan of Espinal’s plate discipline (low K% and respectable BB%), not to mention being a part of one of the best lineups in baseball, which will lead to additional runs and RBI.
Brad Keller, SP, Kansas City Royals
If you’ve lost starters to injury, Keller is a respectable fill-in that has looked great in his first two starts of the season: 13 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 10 Ks, 1.38 ERA, .62 WHIP (and a 3.22 FIP). There are red flags, however, as the .129 BABIP against and 90% strand rate certainly are not going to hold. He’ll have some regression, but should overall be a steady contributor for your team in deeper leagues.
Michael Lorenzen, SP, Los Angeles Angels
Lorenzen is a hard throwing righty for the Angels that came over from the Reds. He was traditionally used as a RP by the Reds, but is being transitioned into a SP by the Angels. He was phenomenal in his first start of the year against the Marlins, going 6 innings and allowing only 2 hits, 1 earned run, 0 walks, and with 7 strikeouts. While we don’t have a long track record, I love the profile here – combine a strong swinging strike rate and a traditionally high ground ball rate – and that is enough for me to take a chance in a deeper league.
Jhoan Duran, RP, Minnesota Twins
When you have a messy bullpen situation, always bet on the talent. And while there are some very good pitchers in that Twins bullpen, my money to emerge as the closer (now that Alcala is on the IL) is Jhoan Duran. This guy has absolutely filthy stuff – like an easy 100 mph fastball that is paired with a 98 mph splinker (yes, you read that right), truly unfair. He’s only thrown a few innings in the majors and Baldelli has said he wants him to get used to pitching at the major league level, but the talent dictates that he’ll end up in high leverage roles and perhaps as the closer.
As I noted last week, it is important to be aggressive on the wire early in the season – some of these guys are going to stick and end up being year-long contributors, but don’t cut your stars. Roster crunches can be tough and owners have to make some difficult decisions at times, but you should always have one or two guys that are expendable so that you don’t have to dump a top-tier player that may be currently injured. Happy Easter to those that celebrate and good luck all!