Welcome back to Buy & Sell, where this week’s theme is “Uh…who?” The roster vacuums created by teams out of contention have encouraged teams to throw their prospects at a wall and see what sticks, no, not literally. Though given how most teams treat their minor leaguers, maybe they actually would do that. Still, there’s some excellent talent available if you’re willing to roll the dice on names you’ve probably never seen before. Honorable mention to Frank Schwindel, who I wanted to put on this week’s list, but I’m pretty sure that’s the name of the guy who sold me a defective A/C Unit in the summer of 1986. Thanks for nothing, you good-for-nothing Schwindeler. But this hitter fits well with the no-name mashers coming out of the woodwork, so without further ado, on to the list!
Avisaíl Garcia (OF, Milwaukee Brewers)
Life may take Visa, but fantasy life takes Avisaíl. Despite the lack of consistent playing time in the early going, he has finally delivered on the Statcast metrics that have predicted some level of breakout for years now, thanks to his combination of strong exit velocity with speed. He’s rocking an impressive .267 with 21 HR, 54 RBI, 70 RBI, and 6 SB, supported by an even better .277 xBA and .498 xSLG that are both 85th percentile in the MLB. His max eV of 113 mph is quite good but a career-low after years of 116 mph. However, he’s increased his consistency with career-best 48% HardHit% and 91 mph avg. exit velocity. He’ll continue to produce plenty in the heart of an underrated lineup and is an excellent player to buy in 10-team AVG leagues.
Mike Zunino (C, Tampa Bay Rays)
This Zune is NOT a failure and keeps cranking out the tunes. After a month or so of scuffling that may have been related to a hip injury, he’s come rip-roaring back, hitting a fantastic .407/.407/1.037 with 5 HR in 27 ABs the past two weeks and hitting .467 with 4 of those homers this past week. It’s likely many didn’t notice since it raised his season average to a mere .214. Still, his average isn’t as much as a drain as Joey Gallo for the mere reason that he doesn’t log as many plate appearances (they still want to play Mejia for some odd reason, as he only has 275 PA this year (Gallo has 464, in case you were wondering). But Zunino has managed a Gallo-like homer total despite nearly half in the PAs, thanks to his insane 26% Barrel/BBE that leads all of baseball. In fact, it’s so extreme that despite his 38% K%, he still ranks tied for 3rd in Barrels per plate appearance, with Fernando Tatis Jr. behind only Buxton and Ohtani. The power is simply too good to pass up at such a weak position and is well worth the warts. Scoop in 10-team OBP.
Anthony Santander (OF, Baltimore Orioles)
Much like Santander Bank, he’s likely burned you, and you wish you had overdraft protection. But since his punchless and injury-riddled start, he’s been bringing the boomstick back, hitting .317 with 4 HR and 1 SB in 41 PA over the past two weeks. It still only raises his line to .245/.293/.418 with 10 HR in 282 AB, but he’s been one of the unluckier hitters in baseball with a much more palatable .277 xBA and .446 xSLG, and I believe in his combo of good contact rate and high flyball rate to lead him to a late-season surge. He’s one of the few hitters who should be helpful in both power and average, and while he hits in a depleted lineup, at least he’s batting in the heart of it, which should afford plenty of run-producing opportunities. While he’s nothing special in OBP formats, he’s a solid add in deeper 12-team AVG formats and all 15-team formats.
Tyler Wade (2B/3B/SS/OF, New York Yankees)
This seems wrong, and somehow I feel dirty. Maybe I should Wade in the water. The long-mediocre journeyman suddenly catapulted himself into relevancy with a .455/.500/.591 line and 5 SB in 22 AB the past 10 days. So what’s the problem? It seems like it could bottom out at any moment, as his decent-looking season line of .270 with a SLG% of .330 is completely trashed by his Statcast rates, with a horrible xBA of .195 and xSLG of .244, and most hilariously, a HardHit% of 9%. So why do I still bat for him in 12-team? Mostly because his aggressiveness on the basepaths has been ridiculous, with 12 SB and 3 CS in only 108 PA, and also because he qualifies nearly everywhere. He’s never run like this before, with more SB this year than in the past two seasons combined, but his 95th percentile sprint speed suggests this is no fluke. With Gleyber out, he should continue to get opportunities to be the Yankees’ spark plug, so if you need speed in the worst way and are prepared to sacrifice power, it might be worth getting yourself Wade down. Consider as a speed-only utility play in 12-team AVG leagues and all 15-team leagues.
Connor Joe (1B/OF, Colorado Rockies)
Fun fact, the red hot C.J. Cron’s first initials actually stand for Connor Joe. Okay not really, but he’s earned more than a cup of coffee, batting .291 with a .496 SLG%. This may seem fluky, but it is nearly perfectly validated with a .291 xBA and .486 xSLG, and I’m especially encouraged considering that Statcast often underrates Rockies hitters. Not only that, but he keeps getting better, with a .417 xwOBA in his past 50 PA compared to a .289 xwOBA in his previous 50 PA. He was a first-round pick and can sort of be the hitter version of James Kaprielian as an underrated late bloomer pedigree guy, and his dual 1B/OF eligibility makes him a useful sleeper. He’s likely available in enough leagues given his Joe Schmo profile, but he’s a must-add in all 15-teamers, and I’d argue he makes a flyer worth considering in deeper 12-team AVG leagues, as Coors’ cozy confines confer a chance to call him Connorado.
Lewis Brinson (OF, Miami Marlins)
I wanted to be a contrarian and write him as a sell, but after looking closer, I couldn’t Brin myself to do it. He’s the #1 add in fantasy leagues, skyrocketing from under 1% rostered to 39% this week, and it’s easy to see why. The former top Rangers’ prospect has tantalizing tools, with an excellent 113 mph Max eV (89th percentile) and an 86th percentile sprint speed. While he’s yet to steal any bases, he’s hit a toasty .362 with 3 HR and 12 RBI in 47 AB the past two weeks. After being burned by him so many times before, it’s easy to assume he’ll crumble, and perhaps he will. He still lacks plate discipline, though his 26% K% and 6% BB% is actually his career-best, though he has only 3 K in 22 AB this week.
Jorge Mateo (SS/2B, Baltimore Orioles)
Do you need speed but don’t want to completely tank yourself in other categories? Then why not take a flier on Jorge Mateo, the poor man’s Adalberto Mondesi, if he’s on your wire? He hasn’t been super aggressive on the base paths yet, but with his true 80-grade speed (best in the majors) and being on a team that is laughably out of contention, I wouldn’t be surprised for him to rev up the wheels in the final weeks of the season. He has a touch of power as well, which will play up more in Camden, and he’s currently rocking a .317/.333/.488 line with 3 SB in 41 AB since arriving in Baltimore. On the season, he has a less impressive .238/.273/.373 line with 2 HR and 8 SB in 126 AB, but Baltimore’s comfy confines and ample playing time opportunities should give him plenty of opportunities to improve that. Just be aware that his abysmal sub-2% BB% and 29% K% give him a trapdoor floor. Still, he can at least leg out more hits when he does make contact on the ground. Add in 15-team AVG leagues and consider streaming for speed in 12-team AVG formats, but buyer beware in OBP.
Yohel Pozo (C, Texas)
Don’t be the Bozo who sleeps on Pozo. That’s right, a Bozo! Pozo entered this year a back-end prospect with an Astudillo-esque plate approach and skills, but he added the boomstick with a fantastic .337 AVG/.353/.608 with 19 HR in just 280 PA in Triple-A before earning the call. Before you think he’s the next Joe Mauer, consider that the 24-year-old had a great but not outstanding 126 wRC+ because it’s an offense-stuffed league, but unlike the other catcher callup flop Cal Raleigh, Pozo has displayed major league ability that intrigues me, with his excellent 91% Contact%, though it comes with a downright hilarious 73% Swing% and 94% Z-Swing%. I’m also encouraged he already has a barrel, and I’m not yet worried about his 104 max eV as I think he’ll be more of a batting average play than power. He’s been getting regular reps at DH, so Texas clearly believes in him, and he could easily claim time behind the plate as their options there have been pretty ho-hum. I think he could potentially hit .300 down the stretch like Astudillo did his rookie year, and you’ll be happy to take a flier on him in deep AVG leagues and two-catcher AVG leagues, but don’t bother in OBP leagues until he learns to not swing at everything. Can I get a Yohel yeah?
Yonny Hernandez (2B/3B, Texas Rangers)
As they say, everything’s deeper in Texas. Hernandez hasn’t made as big a splash as many others on this list, as since his debut, he’s quietly hit a solid .273/.324/.303 with no homers and 3 stolen bases in 33 AB. The 23-year-old prospect has absolutely zero pop, as he’s hit 4 homers total through all his minor league stops since 2015, averaging about a homer every 2 years. But he’s got wheels, with 21 SB this year and 44 SB in 2018, so it’s good to see he’s been aggressive in Texas early. He also has a fantastic 6% K% supported by a 90% contact rate, and so far, he’s only struck out twice. Although he doesn’t hit the ball hard at all, Statcast thinks he’s deserved good numbers thus far with a .353 xBA and .427 xSLG. While the sample size is too small for that to be significant, he can definitely be a David Fletcher-esque option with regular playing time, which has plenty of value in AL-only leagues and 18-teamers that use AVG.
Christian Vazquez (C, Boston Red Sox)
I’ve been suggesting catchers the past few weeks, but here’s one of the replacement level options that people have trouble cutting to make room. He’s a fun catcher in that his biggest assets are his average and stolen bases, but this year he’s only hitting .252/.303/.332 with a lousy .214 AVG in 28 RBI the past two weeks. While the stolen bases are nice, he was also caught stealing 4 times, so it’s unlikely he gets the green light much going down the home stretch. With some more intriguing options available, it’s time to take CV off your fantasy CV.
Jeff McNeil (OF/2B, New York Mets)
For some of you, it might be hard to accept that McNeil is worthless this year. It isn’t hard for me, as I cut him from a 14-teamer back in May, mostly because I’m not very patient. But he certainly hasn’t rewarded the faithful with an abysmal .182/.250/.250 with 0 HR in 44 ABs the past two weeks, bringing his season line to a mediocre .255/.331/.369 with 6 HR and 2 SB in 263 AB. This is admittedly a bit surprising as he set bests in Max eV at 108 mph and Barrel Rate of 5%, with similar strikeouts and walks as past years. But his xAVG of .247 suggests he’s just not putting it where they ain’t. Without much pop or speed, he’s simply not worth holding on to in any 10-team or 12-team AVG league.
Carlos Santana (1B, Kansas City Royals)
It’s a shock to me that Santana is still owned in nearly 80% of leagues after his recent putrid stretch. He’s hit just .155/.241/.283 with 0 HR in 71 ABs over the past 3 weeks, dragging his previously hot start to a mediocre line of .224/.335/.375. It might seem kind of shocking that a hitter who socked 17 home runs has managed a slugging percentage under .400, but it’s because he only has 2 doubles and 0 triples (well, obviously) on the year. More and more, his 2021 is looking like a continuation of his awful 2020 season, and given his lack of defensive ability, he could be near the end for Santana, and I can only say Oy Como Va. Cut in 15-team and 12-team, and consider cutting in 15-team AVG leagues.
Harrison Bader (OF, St. Louis Cardinals)
In shallower leagues, it’s time we Bader farewell. He seemed to show promise as a five-tool talent, but recently all of those five tools have oxidized. He’s hitting .222/.300/.222 with 0 HR and 0 SB in 45 ABs the past two weeks, and I’m concerned with his 18 Ks (and only 3 BB) in his last 48 PA. It hasn’t been just bad luck either, as his rolling 50-game xwOBA plummeted from .351 to just .190 in his last 50 PA, which is, like, really bad. Many may overlook it with his solid-looking season line of .267 with 9 HR and 6 SB, but I don’t expect him to hit double digits in SB with his 3 CS, and his .226 xBA and .376 xSLG suggest he may have overperformed, and the road ahead could be pretty disappointing. I’d much rather take a shot at Connor Joe over him, and you can cut him in all 12-team leagues as well as 15-team OBP.
Ji-Man Choi (1B, Tampa Bay Rays)
This one isn’t so hard; he recently had a dead cat bounce streak but went right back to whiffing more as his expected stats plummeted to meet the disappointing reality, with just 20 AB over the past two weeks with a .150/.326/.200 over that span and an overall line of .241/.360/.417. He’s still somewhat of an asset in OBP with his high walk rate, but that also carries a lot less weight given his declining playing time. Cut in 15-team leagues and consider also cutting in 18-team average leagues if there’s a decent option with more upside on the wire. Choi vey.
Before you tread too far into Jack Morris territory, a little enlightenment regarding Connor Joe: His grandparents immigrated from China and “Joe” was a common last name used by Chinese immigrants whose actual surnames sounded similar phonetically (https://www.mychinaroots.com/surnames/detail?word=Joe).
Very cool, I did not know this! Thanks for the great info!