Photo by: Juan DeLeon/Icon Sportswire
Sometimes you fall in love with tools. Ask any sorority girl, they’ll tell you. Joking aside, tools are fun when it comes to fantasy baseball. It’s exciting to own a player with standout power or speed and dream on their potential. Even when the rest of their game has some major flaws, it’s fun to take an optimistic approach and hope they’ll iron those out over time and blossom into a star.
I bring up tools, because Adalberto Mondesi has them in spades. We’re talking blazing fast speed with a surprising amount of pop. In 85 AAA games last year, Mondesi stole 21 bases and hit 13 home runs while slashing .305/.340/.539. He flashed those tools last night when he went 2-4, HR, 4 RBI, BB, SB, and it’s tempting to want to jump on board considering the kind of ceiling he appears to have. But his inability to make contact or get on base may be enough to ground him before he ever takes off. It’s a small sample, but a 50.9% chase rate, 20.3% whiff rate, and 3.2% walk rate are not going to cut it at the major league level. His biggest roadblock to playing time is Alcides Escobar, so he’ll have every opportunity to establish himself, and but only time will tell if he can develop enough to put those tools to use and become a fantasy monster.
Juan Soto (OF, Washington Nationals): 3-4, R, RBI, BB – There was a great tweet yesterday that pointed out that Soto is younger than 44 of the 50 players playing in the MLB Futures Game this year. His numbers this season are astonishing for a teenager who played just eight games in AA: 16.5% walk rate, 18.1% strikeout rate, 38.2% hard contact. The xStats back it all up too, as he’s posting a 13.1% value hit rate and .398 xBACON. I’d say Soto is a future superstar, but he may already be there.
Andrew Benintendi (OF, Boston Red Sox): 2-4, R, 2 RBI, BB, SB – Super Benintendo decided to play some Double Dragon yesterday, doubling twice to drive in runs. His 25 doubles are just one shy of his total from last season, and we’re not even at the All-Star break yet. Benintendi is a monster.
Kolten Wong (2B, St. Louis Cardinals): 4-5, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI – Wong got the start at second base in this game thanks to the extra lineup slot that the DH afforded St. Louis, and he took advantage of it. He’ll shift back to being a rarely-used bench player once this interleague series is over.
Dexter Fowler (OF, St. Louis Cardinals): 2-5, HR, 4 RBI – Fowler has been an absolute nighmare this year, slashing .173/.272/.288. Aside from a dip in his contact rate, there isn’t really a glaring red flag in his peripherals, so his .200 BABIP should start to correct eventually. In the meantime Harrison Bader will probably continue to eat into his playing time.
Ozzie Albies (2B, Atlanta Braves): 3-4, 2 R, SB – Baseball is a game of ebbs and flows, and the hits are now flowing for Albies the Racist Dragon. He’s hitting .406 over his last 15 games and has just a 5.5% strikeout rate thus far in July. The nine homers he hit in April were clearly an aberration, but Albies is undoubtedly an all-around beast nonetheless.
Maikel Franco (3B, Philadelphia Phillies): 2-4, HR, 4 RBI – Is the reign of Maikel Stanko finally over? Over Franco’s last 30 games he’s batting .321 with four homers and just 11 strikeouts in 84 at-bats. Franco’s biggest weakness–his groundball rate–has dropped to 42% so far in July, and if that change sticks Franco could be in for an excellent second half.
Amed Rosario (SS, New York Mets): 3-4, 2 R, RBI – Like literally every other aspect of the Mets season so far, Rosario has gotten worse as the year has dragged on and is currently sporting a -61 wRC+ in July. Yep. Negative. This performance was nice, but stay far away from Rosario.
Wilson Ramos (C, Tampa Bay Rays): 1-4, HR, 3 RBI – Somebody should tell Ramos that if he keeps this up, he won’t get to play in the first-rate establishment that is Tropicana Field for much longer. And who wouldn’t want to spend as much time as possible in a stadium that has speakers and poles hanging onto the field? Ramos continued to raise his trade stock, with his third homer this week. He’s continuing his habit of overcoming high groundball rates (52%) by posting above-average HR/FB rates (23.7%), and should get a nice boost in value if/when he’s traded to a contender.
Christian Yelich (OF, Milwaukee Brewers): 3-5, R, 4 RBI – Yelich and his notorious groundball rates continue to hold him back from kicking it into a higher gear, but it’s hard to complain about a guy slashing .287/.362/.458 on the year. When you’re making 46.3% hard contact and spraying the ball all over the field while whiffing at a below-average clip, good things happen.
Manny Machado (SS/3B, Baltimore Orioles): 3-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB – The Yankees have denied rumors that they’re in the Manny Machado sweepstakes, so of course they’ll acquire him next week in exchange for a signed Paul O’Neill bobblehead doll. Machado had a nice audition for what is fated going to be his future team. Machado’s current 149 wRC+ would be a career-high, and he’s certainly picking a good year to have one of his best seasons yet.
Brian Anderson (3B/OF, Miami Marlins): 2-5, RBI – Brian Anderson has a bit of a Joe Schmo Effect going on, as he’s rostered in roughly half of fantasy leagues despite a .285/.360/.416 slash line. The 50% groundball rate is likely going to cap Anderson’s power in the mid-teens, but his plate discipline and hard contact rates are super promising and make him worth owning in 12-team leagues and deeper. Though he was hitting closer to the heart of the lineup earlier in the year, he’s moved up to second in the order lately, and may challenge 100 runs by season’s end, as he has 51 already.
Kyle Tucker (OF, Houston Astros): 2-4, 3 R, SB – This was great to see after Tucker got off to a 1-for-10 start to his career. Tucker stole 14 bases and hit 14 homers in 80 minor league games, and showed a mature approach at the plate that should give up a very high floor here in the majors.
Alex Bregman (SS/3B, Houston Astros): 2-5, 2 HR, BB – Alex has been putting the “man” in “Bregman” this past month. Which is great, because I don’t really want to know what putting the “Breg” in “Bregman” would entail. He’s hit 13 homers with a .317 average over his last 30 games, and has exactly as many walks as he does strikeouts (53) this season.
Wil Myers (OF, San Diego Padres): 1-4, HR – That’s now six homers over Myers’ last four games. He’s striking out at just a 21.1% clip this year, and has a 53% hard contact rate this year. He’s one of the rare players who can challenge a 30/30 season, and should be owned everywhere.
Daniel Murphy (2B, Washington Nations): 4-4, R – It’s only 23 games, but Murphy’s hard hit rate has dropped significantly so far this year, and is now down to a terrible-no-good-very-bad 15.3%. His plate discipline is still excellent, but he’s visibly hampered by his right knee right now, and it’s seeming like that may rob him of his power until he gets back to 100%. His 28.2% line drive rate will give him a decent batting average floor in the meantime though.