Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Prospects (5/16/22 - 5/22/22)
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Happy Sunday all – somehow we are already in the sixth waiver transaction period of the season, but there are still plenty of hot commodities out there. In addition to the below, take a look back at my waiver article from last week, which covers a number of the high-profile prospect call-ups you won’t see below (Kirby, Yepez, Miranda, etc.). As always, this article is divided between potential waiver acquisitions in shallower leagues and those for deeper leagues, so you can find what's right for you. Alright, time's a wastin', let’s dive in and help you win a championship. Good luck all!
Shallow Leagues – 10/12 team mixed leagues:
Yoan Moncada, 3B, Chicago White Sox
Outside of a stellar 2019 (.315/25 HR/10 SBs), Moncada has never completely lived up to the massive hype that surrounded him when he was signed by the Red Sox out of Cuba. That said, he is a talented and well-rounded player at a third-base position that gets thin relatively quickly after the superstars. Because Moncada started the season on the IL with an oblique injury and returned only this week, he may have flown under the radar in your league and very well may have been cut in a roster crunch. If you have a weak 3B or CI position, Moncada is an add, particularly in OBP leagues given his nearly 11% career BB%. With everyday playing time, Moncada could provide a .260 avg. (.350 OBP), 16 HR, 65 R, 60 RBI, 6 SBs the rest of the way, with the potential for even better counting stats if the White Sox can get all their stars back to full strength.
Andres Gimenez, 2B/SS, Cleveland Guardians:
Gimenez was all the rage when he was called up by the Mets in 2020 as a 21 year old and hit 3 home runs with 8 stolen bases in just 49 games. He was then traded to the team n/k/a the Guardians and, overall last year, struggled to get momentum out of the gate, resulting in a demotion to AAA. After returning to the team in August, however, Gimenez looked rejuvenated, having lowered his strikeout rate, hitting the ball with more authority, and ultimately hitting 3 home runs and stealing 7 bases in just 39 games. That 2021 momentum has carried into 2022, and then some. Gimenez is hitting a robust .329 with a .913 OPS and, in just 89 PAs, has 4 HR, 11 R, 19 RBI, and 2 SBs. He isn’t going to walk much if you’re in an OBP or points league, but he looks to be a young stud on the rise (still only 23) that will give you consistent contributions across the board.
Josh Naylor, 1B/OF, Cleveland Guardians:
If you feel like you’ve been reading a lot about Naylor, you have – he has been absolutely red hot lately. He was featured in my waiver wire article just two weeks ago as an add for deeper leagues and his ownership percentage is still not high enough. Since April 16th, Naylor has hit .362/.392/.638 with 5 HR, 10 R, and 22 RBI – over that time period, that would rank 4th in batting average (behind Machado, Bogaerts, and T Ward) and 2nd in RBI. Naylor may be more than just a hot hand as well – he has big time prospect pedigree from when he was in the Padres organization and a well-rounded skill set at the plate. For example, Naylor has just a 13% strikeout rate, which is good enough for top 25 in MLB this year and on par with guys like Alex Bregman and Michael Brantley. To retain these power gains, Naylor will need to hit the ball in the air more consistently (he currently has a 47% GB%), but either way, his proclivity to hit the ball hard (49% hard hit rate per Statcast) and low strikeout rate are a recipe for success.
Ramon Laureano, OF, Oakland A’s:
Despite making his return from an 80-game PED suspension last weekend, Laureano’s roster rate is still surprisingly low. Granted the lineup context is bad . . . okay, putrid . . . but Laureano has been a consistent power/speed combo during all his years in the majors and could legitimately post 20/15 or better the rest of the way with an average in the .250 range and an OBP around .315-.320. Add in that (1) he will most definitely play everyday once his legs are fully underneath him, and (2) he may get traded to a contender where his counting stats will only get better and you have a must add player in 5 OF leagues – speed is just too hard to come by. Grab Laureano and reap the benefits when he gets rolling and, most likely, gets traded to a team with a much better offense.
Jameson Taillon, SP, New York Yankees:
Is Jameson Taillon back? A few short years ago, Taillon was a fantasy favorite that carried high expectations. However, he never quite lived up to them following a breakout 2018 season with the Pirates in which he registered a 3.20 ERA and 1.18 WHIP while striking out 179 across 191 innings. After missing time due to both injury (Tommy John) and a cancer scare, Taillon looks to be rounding into form in the early going this year for the Yankees. So far, he has started six games and surrendered no more than 2 earned runs in any of them. His current line is: 30 IP, 33 H, 3 BB, 25 K, 2.93 ERA, 1.17 WHIP (and a 3.25 FIP). The Yankees are fifth in the majors in runs scored and are looking strong. If Taillon pitches anywhere near this level, he will be a boost not only to your pitching stats, but should be in line for a good number of wins as well. He’s an add.
Josh Winder, SP, Minnesota Twins:
I am very intrigued by what I’ve seen from Josh Winder so far and his subpar performance on Thursday against a surging Astros team may be a blessing in disguise, allowing you to buy in. Even after this poor start (3 IP, 6 H, 3 BB, 3 ER), Winder has just a 2.45 ERA with only 18 hits allowed across 25 innings. While not overpowering, Winder has above-average command of multiple offerings, including his slider and changeup, which he throws just over 50% of the time combined and that register whiff rates of 35.8% and 46.7%, respectively. In addition to an expected low walk rate, Winder also has a respectable swinging strike rate (over 12%) and groundball rate (over 40%). He has the tools to succeed at the major league level and is worth a flyer if you have been hit by injuries or underperformance at SP.
Joe Barlow, RP, Texas Rangers:
After early season uncertainty regarding the Rangers' closer situation, there seems to be little doubt hat Joe Barlow is now firmly entrenched in the role. Barlow has now converted the team’s last six save opportunities dating back to April 30th and shows no signs of relinquishing his grip on that role. After posting a 1.55 ERA with 11 saves across 29 innings for the Rangers in 2021, Barlow has a 1.59 ERA across his first 11.1 innings in 2022. While the underlying metrics cast doubt on those numbers (he currently sports a 4.01 FIP), the fact remains that Barlow has now saved 17 games with a combined 1.58 ERA and 40Ks in 40 innings pitched across 2021-22. If you need saves, he should be owned in all formats.
Deeper Leagues (15 team or AL/NL Only)
Alek Thomas, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks:
Alek Thomas, the 18th best prospect as rated by MLB.com, was called up by the Arizona Diamondbacks last Sunday and, as such, was not available to add in many formats. In all but shallow leagues, Thomas is an immediate add and, at least in the early going, he is doing well in an environment where many other rookies have struggled. He has plus grades on his hit tool, power, and speed and showed his skills in AAA in 2021 and early 2022, where he hit a combined: .332/.394/12 HR/51 R/32 RBI/8 SB across 58 games. In just 5 games since the promotion, Thomas is doing his best to show he belongs—he has hit .385 with a home run, 4 runs, and 3 RBI. Thomas is tooled up and has a ton of promise, but it remains to be seen how quickly he can deliver on that promise. In my opinion, it is worth a roll of the dice to see if you can acquire a difference maker.
Colin Moran, 1B/3B, Cincinnati Reds:
Don’t look now, but Colin Moran has more RBI (21) than each of Mike Trout, Vlad Jr., Kyle Tucker, and Byron Buxton. After playing sporadically to start the year, Moran has elbowed his way into the lineup and has now started in 12 straight and delivered 4 HR in just 84 PAs (after 10 HR in 359 PAs last year). While the batting average leaves much to be desired at just .219, that comes with some bad luck for Moran as well, as he has just a .222 BABIP, compared with his career BABIP of .316. As that normalizes, more hits should fall and the average should rise. Moran won’t keep up this torrid pace, but if he continues to contribute within the hitter-friendly confines of his new home park, he will have a lineup spot on what is an awful Reds team. The regular playing time and consistent production will be valuable in deep leagues, such as NL only or 15 team and deeper leagues.
Nolan Gorman, 2B/3B, St. Louis Cardinals:
Although he has not yet been called up to the show, Gorman is definitely a stash-worthy, high-profile prospect that has been absolutely mashing this year at AAA. In just 30 games so far, Gorman is slashing .278/.344/.643 and has already crushed 13 HR with 25 runs, 20 RBI, and 2 stolen bases. The strikeout rate is far too high (35.9%), but this is somewhat uncharacteristic for Gorman who, by way of comparison, had just a 19.2% strikeout rate in 76 games at AAA in 2021. If he can get the strikeout rate back under control, the Cardinals could make room on the roster for him and he could be up very soon. I like Gorman’s long-term prospects and, the way he is swinging the lumber, he could contribute right away. Worth a stash in a deep league if you can spare the roster spot.
Tyler Wells, SP, Baltimore Orioles:
These days, it seems anyone pitching in a Baltimore uniform deserves a second look. The modifications to Camden Yards in the offseason have transformed the park from a hitting haven to a pitchers’ park instantly and Wells, among others, has been a beneficiary. Wells has a fastball that averages about 93-94, although he primarily relies upon a three-pitch mix of a curveball, slider, and changeup, which he throws combined 58% of the time. Wells had very good strikeout rates in the minors (over 10K/9 nearly every year), although that has not yet translated in the small six-start sample (17Ks in 24 IP). That said, Wells’s control has been fantastic and he has walked just 4 batters so far in 2022, yielding a very good 1.13 WHIP. Wells does have fly ball tendencies and I worry that a continued lack of strikeouts combined with those fly balls will eventually yield home runs that will come back to bite him. That said, Wells is currently doing the job and has a 3.75 ERA through six starts. If you need help at the SP spot in a deep league, Wells should be on your radar.
Felix Bautista, RP, Baltimore Orioles:
Felix Bautista has been another pleasant surprise on this 2022 Baltimore Orioles pitching staff. He is a big, power pitcher that averages nearly 98 mph on his fastball, regularly touching 100. Complementing that power offering, Bautista has a splitfinger and slider that he throws a combined 33% of the time, each of which have a whiff rate over 35%. This has resulted in a 1.93 ERA for Bautista with 16 strikeouts in 14 innings. Bautista picked up his second save of the year on Thursday and—while showing great stuff—the fact remains that Bautista is second in line for saves behind Jorge Lopez, who has been excellent in his own right this year (and out on bereavement leave recently). In a deeper league where you need good ratios, some holds, and the occasional save, Bautista is a savvy pickup. And, if Lopez were to be injured or simply demoted due to a cold streak, Bautista is the clear next up.