Batter’s Box: Kie-BOOM
The past couple of years, there have been seemingly countless prospects we are all anticipating with bated breath. This year, however, many of those got to start the year up in the majors, as Eloy Jimenez, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Pete Alonso did. There were still plenty we were waiting on, but none more than the kid that cranked a pitch over the fence in his first game last night. That’s right, Carter Kieboom. All jokes aside, Kieboom is one of the top SS prospects in the game. With Trea Turner still out for a while, the Nationals thought it was time to give Kieboom a shot. He took that shot with his first homer in his first game, finishing 1-4, R, HR, RBI. It’s probably nice to get that first homer out of the way. If your team has the room, he’s worth consideration, but he should be added in any keeper type league.
Not to overshadow the anticipation of Kieboom’s call up, there was another young stud that finally got his shot at the show last night. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. stepped into his dad’s jersey quite literally last night and onto a major league field for the first time. Even though he couldn’t knock it over the fence, Vlad had a few solid flyouts, a hard hit grounder, and double finishing 1-4, 2B. He is the top prospect in the game and was most likely drafted in the fourth or fifth round in your league. He should be a force to reckon with for quite a while.
Other players played last night too. I know, it didn’t seem like it, but it’s true. And plenty of them had fantastic nights at the plate. Too many in fact. Let’s take a look at the ones that stood out to me.
Yan Gomes (C, Washington Nationals) — 3-4, R, HR, 2 RBI. When the Nats signed both Gomes and Kurt Suzuki in the offseason, I thought it was a great move for the team but an awful move for fantasy. Two fantasy worthy catchers, a rare commodity, splitting time? Not good. So far Gomes has the slight edge on plate appearances, but it is fairly 50/50. Gomes popped his second homer of the year but hasn’t been hitting the ball as well as last year. He’d be worth an add only if he picks up more playing time.
Lorenzo Cain (OF, Milwaukee Brewers) — 2-5, 2 R, 2B, 3 RBI. Yelich has been carrying the Brewers offensively, and a good thing for Cain as he gets to score all those runs Yelich knocks in. That will keep up as the year goes on, but Cain will need to revert his plate discipline to last year’s numbers to improve. He’s making less contact and walking less. Owners have Cain to score runs, steal, and hit for a solid average. He’ll still do that fine, but not as good as we’d hope if his plate discipline stays the way it is.
Daniel Murphy (1B/2B, Colorado Rockies) — 3-5, R, 2 2B, RBI. Murphy was an exciting pick going into the draft as a hit machine that found his way to Coors. However, he fractured a finger early in the year and didn’t get a chance to hit in Coors until a few days ago. In his second game back, he added three hits with two doubles. This kind of output can be expected from Murphy moving forward as long as he doesn’t get run over by racing teeth.
Tyler Flowers (C, Atlanta Braves) — 4-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. Mostly known for his defense, Flowers can be a threat at the plate. Gathering four hits with two home runs spiked his average up to .378 for the year. He is striking out a bit more while walking less despite his relatively consistent plate discipline numbers to last season. He’s still only a fringe catcher to own at this point as he may not get a ton of plate appearances.
Nelson Cruz (DH, Minnesota Twins) — 3-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. Cruz’s year so far has been volatile. He’ll have a game like last night every few games or so, but then have a three-game stretch of 0-fers. This still maintains a solid pace for his numbers but it looks frustrating. Regardless, he is crushing the ball overall and owners should have no concern for his production.
Max Kepler (OF, Minnesota Twins) — 2-4, R, HR, RBI. Kepler has been a perpetual breakout candidate and this year getting to hit leadoff for the Twins certainly helps the cause. So far, he has increased his exit velocity further while maintaining a good fly ball rate. He is popping the ball up a bit more though. The past few years, Kepler has been applauded for his plate discipline but he seems to have taken a step back by being more aggressive. That is an interesting call for being the leadoff guy. Kepler looks poised to have his best season yet but he still may not necessarily be worth an add yet.
Tim Anderson (SS, Chicago White Sox) — 4-6, 3 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, SB. This guy cannot be stopped. His average is now over .400 for the season with ten stolen bases. He still is barely walking but his strikeouts are down significantly. He should be owned in any format.
Jose Abreu (1B, Chicago White Sox) — 4-5, 2 R, HR, 5 RBI. If it not for an awful home run blunder late in the game, Abreu would have another home run, run, and RBI. On a fly ball that scaled the fence, Abreu ran passed the runner on first, as the runner was waiting to see if the ball was going to be robbed. He has been en fuego over the last six games totaling 14 RBIs. He has been hitting the ball harder than he ever has so far this year.
Nicholas Castellanos (OF, Detroit Tigers) — 2-5, 2 R, HR, RBI, BB. Another game, another homer. And this time it was a real 400 footer and not the one that barely made it over the wall down the line from the other night. The same details I dug into yesterday still apply.
Miguel Cabrera (1B, Detroit Tigers) — 4-6, 2 R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI. Miggy wanted to get in on Castellanos’ fun and hit his first of the year. Cabrera had a classic Cabrera game. Despite a seemingly weak start, Miggy is hitting the ball well compared to his last few seasons before 2018. I would not be concerned about him.
Francisco Lindor (SS, Cleveland Indians) — 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI. Lindor is back baby! It took a few games to get comfortable again, but Lindor showed you why you still took the chance on him in the first round.
Jesse Winker (OF, Cincinatti Reds) — 2-4, 3 R, HR, RBI, BB. There were plenty of Reds to talk about in today’s list with tons of home runs to go around. Peraza even got on the board. Winker had a rough week and a half to start, but he immediately turned it around. Since April 9th, he has seven dingers and is hitting over .300. It can be easy to give up on your sleepers early, but patience can be greatly rewarded.
Yasiel Puig (OF, Cincinatti Reds) — 2-5, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI. The same can be said about Puig, but that window of patience may have had to be a bit wider. He’s done alright over the past couple of weeks but has turned it on his last four games. Puig is not being patient at the plate. He’s swinging 60% of the time and 82% of the time at pitches in the zone. Those are both crazy high. He’s skying the ball too with a 50% fly ball rate. Hopefully, he starts being more patient before our patience runs out.
Nomar Mazara (OF, Texas Rangers) — 3-5, R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI. Mazara is one of those players that could be ‘fixed’ if he just stopped hitting ground balls. An immense power threat, Mazara can’t hit home runs if those hits are not in the air. Last night, Mazara barreled both a double and a home run showing what he is capable of. He has brought his ground ball percentage down slightly, but it’s nothing eye-opening just yet.
Edwin Encarnacion (1B, Seattle Mariners) — 2-4, R, HR, 4 RBI, BB. Encarnacion kept the honored Mariners tradition going last night with another home run. He hit two lasers with the home run going 434 feet. He has changed his approach a bit this season, swinging less, especially at pitches out of the zone.
Austin Barnes (C/2B, Los Angeles Dodgers) — 2-4, R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI. I know Bellinger hit another home run but Austin Barnes can hit them too! Barnes was expected to take control of the catching position this year as Grandal left for free agency. He has had the playing time but his average keeps hovering around the Mendoza line like it did last year. He is not hitting the ball hard and is mostly topping it. Last night was different so let’s hope this changed something for him.
Luke Voit (1B, New York Yankees) — 3-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI, BB. Another lesson in patience, Luke Voit now has a 13 game hit streak. He also has his only three multi-hit games coming in the last four. Voit is on a tear right now and is barreling the ball better than almost any player in the league. This is Voit we dreamed of.
(Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire)