Welcome back to Buy & Sell, where this week’s theme is Prospectapalooza! For those of you who were not lucky or patient enough to have saved up enough FAAB or waiver priority to get Bo Bichette (an obvious must-add in all formats), there are still plenty of consolation prizes. Are prospects high bust risks? Absolutely. But then again, most teams at this point are looking for lightning in a bottle to break out the standings duldrums, so unless you’re at the tip top, better to increase the risk in your portfolio because you won’t have to pay off debt next season. Ha ha! Business!
But I’ll guide you to the ones with better odds of rewarding you. And once again, for the redditors who love to complain yet keep coming back, note that this is NOT a buy-low/sell-high advice article but my take on the waiver wire transaction trends. Also, don’t get too caught up in the league size placement of the players this week, as many of these guys are on the fringes, and based on your needs and streaming capability, the 15-teamers can be 12-team viable and vice versa. On to the list!
Gio Urshela (3B, New York Yankees)
Gio’s sudden rise to fantasy stud makes me wonder if Urshela’s a sea witch. He’s been launching shells all season but is in a rising tide, hitting .368/.400/.737 with four homers and just seven strikeouts over 57 at-bats the past three weeks. While that may not stand out in this offensive environment, he’s been one of the most improved hitters over the past 50 plate appearances, with his xwOBA going from .286 to an insane .486 over that time. While you may assume that like other hot hitters he’s benefited from luck, his season line of .314/.359/.522 with 12 home runs in 293 at-bats is actually pretty well validated as legit by Statcast, with an xBA of .308 and xSLG of .506. Yet he’s still only owned in 35% of Yahoo leagues. Calling him not just a 12-team add but a 10-team add may seem aggressive, especially as he’s currently day-to-day, but I think his ability to hit .300 with power is underrated. He could be a huge impact player for your end-of-season run. Add in 10-team average formats and 12-team OBP.
Mike Tauchman (OF, New York Yankees)
Not only can he Tauch the tauch, he can wauch the wauch. He’s gone from being a completely blah bench bat to being infused with the Yankees IL replacement voodoo magic and becoming Giancarlo Stanton himself, hitting an insane .434 with four home runs, 17 runs, 16 RBI, and two stolen bases over 53 at-bats the past three weeks. While Statcast has remained skeptical on him overall, pooh-poohing his season line of .299/.368/.541 by giving him an xBA of just .240 and xSLG of .401, he at least has an above average exit velocity at 89 mph, and he is among the bigger risers in expected wOBA over the past 100 plate appearances, up from .276 to .344. While this may seem out of nowhere, he was hailed a sleeper stud preseason by baseball genius Alex Chamberlain, which is why I slammed my Red Sox hat down in anger when I learned Cashman acquired him this offseason. There’s no telling how long this will last, but even with Brett Gardner back, his run production potential is so strong in the Yankees lineup that he’s worth scooping up in all 12-team formats and is even a viable streamer in 10-team five-outfielder formats.
Adam Duvall (OF, Atlanta Braves)
He’s making his impact Duvall of a sudden. He’s come on like gangbusters and hit five home runs over the past week and change with an average over .300, and if you happened to own him for that, lucky you! Temper your excitement though; the power is as real as ever for him, but the average is merely a small sample size mirage. There’s simply no realistic way he hits above .300, much less .260, from here on out with him striking a third of the time. But with an exit velocity of 92 mph and xSLG of .666, this slugging devil can provide dingers in bunches, so you can see if the juiced ball beneficiary is worth the squeeze if you need the power. Like Austin Riley before him, he can fade fast, but you can consider steaming in 12-teamers for homers and homers alone.
Josh VanMeter (2B/3B/OF, Cincinnati Reds)
He doesn’t go yard, he goes meter. After hitting an insane .349 with 14 home runs and eight stolen bases in 211 plate appearances in Triple-A, he fell flat in his initial debut, hitting just .222. But it seems that now he is finally adjusting to the majors he’s gotten Reds-hot, hitting .364 with three home runs and three stolen bases and a 6:7 BB/K over 33 at-bats the past two weeks (though most of it was the previous week). He’s been easy to overlook as someone without much prospect pedigree, but I’m impressed with his combination of plate discipline and power, with a 13.5% walk rate and a 90 mph average exit velocity. The one skill I’m more skeptical of is his stolen base ability, as his 27 feet/second sprint speed is merely league average. Still, with Yasiel Puig and Scooter Gennett gone, he now has a clearer avenue to playing time and should be better for average and OBP than most waiver wire finds. He should be added in all 15-team leagues and is at least a viable utility stream in deeper 12-team formats, especially OBP.
Trent Grisham (OF, Milwaukee Brewers)
Now that Grisham is up, it’s A Time to Kill baseballs. He’s hit the ground running, hitting .333 with five RBI and just two strikeouts (zero walks) in his first 12 major league at-bats after hitting a studly .300/.407/.603 with 26 home runs, 71 RBI, 12 stolen bases, and 71 runs scored in 97 games this season between Double-A and Triple-A. The talented 22-year-old 2015 first-round pick’s biggest battle may be for playing time, as he’s recently only gotten it because of Christian Yelich’s seemingly minor injuries. Still, even with Triple-A padding half of his 2019 minors numbers, Grisham arguably has more offensive upside than anyone on this list with his combination of power, speed, and OBP. I’m being aggressive and buying shares now as I feel he’ll earn playing time somehow, even if it’s at the expense of declining veteran Ryan Braun. Add in all 18-team leagues and 15-team leagues, and consider as a speculative add in 12-team OBP leagues with room on the bench as a high-upside add.
Cavan Biggio (2B/SS, Toronto Blue Jays)
Most of the players I write about have been hot; Cavan has been decidedly not. So why would I recommend a hitter who’s gone just a paltry .183/.329/.350 (with three home runs and two stolen bases) over 60 at-bats the past few weeks? Because Statcast thinks he’s been unlucky—nay, cursed—and this may be a rare late-season buy-low opportunity. His .214 average and .383 OBP are belied by a somewhat better .237 xBA and .428 xSLG, and over the past 50 plate appearances, he has produced a solid .353 xWOBA. He’s such a walk machine that he should really only be a target in OBP leagues that are sleeping on him, but he can still quietly produce at a 20/20 pace with a .350 OBP, which is extra rare at the keystone. He should be held in all 15-team formats and scooped as a power/speed spec add in 12-team OBP.
Isan Diaz (SS, Miami Marlins)
Well that’s one way to make a memorable debut. Diaz hit an impressive homer in his debut for the Marlins, leaving many owners scrambling to the wire hoping he’s the 2019 Juan Soto. But let’s not get too carried away. He certainly has had a mighty strong year on the farm, hitting .305/.395/.578 with 26 home runs and five stolen bases over 435 plate appearances in Triple-A. In a normal year, that’d be amazing, but with Triple-A being such a launching pad, it’s merely quite good. Despite improvements, he still has issues with strikeouts, with a 22% strikeout rate, and his dinger potential will be dinged by being surrounded by a putrid offense playing half of his games in Miami. In shallower 15-teamers, given the depth at the position, it’s hard to justify chasing him as more than a Hail Mary play, but he’s a worthier gamble in 18-team formats, especially ones that use OBP.
Jake Rogers (C, Detroit Tigers)
Well, it beats Grayson Greiner. The Tigers’ top catching prospect is more praised for his defense than his offense, but now that the 24-year-old has gotten the call, he’s at least worth taking a deep league gamble on because he’s the everyday backstop. The 24-year-old slugged 14 homers with an .845 OPS over 76 games this season between Double-A and Triple-A, and he hasn’t been overmatched in the majors with a .235/.350/.412 line with a homer already in his first 17 at-bats. In single-catcher leagues, he’s more of an AL-only or deeper 18-team league add for owners looking for some upside and full playing time, but in two-catcher leagues, he is viable in OBP-based 15-team leagues as well now that the Comerica backstop is Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood.
Scooter Gennett (2B, San Francisco Giants)
Contrary to his name, Scooter may not do well with being under the razor. He’s been super slow since his return, hitting just .217/.233/.301 with a home run over 83 at-bats, which likely prompted his trade to the Giants. As bad as he’s been, he’s still better than Joe Panik, so he’ll get at-bats. Seeing as this is essentially his “spring training,” he could still round into form and heat up. But teams that held tightly hoping for a big end-of-season surge need to remember that often effects from injuries linger even after a player’s return. Especially considering he was always outproducing his expected stats by a considerable margin the past couple years, the move from the Cincy bandbox to the pitcher-friendly Oracle Park could be the death knell to his shallow-league fantasy value. In 10-team and 12-team leagues, it’s time to cut your losses.
Jonathan Schoop (2B, Minnesota Twins)
When one player Arraez-es, another one falls. Considering how much noise the Twins have made all season, it’s rather shocking how quiet the gradual takeover of the keystone has been in Minnesota, but it’s well-deserved. While Schoop punched in and produced his usual above-average power, with 16 home runs and .456 slugging percentage in 331 at-bats, the Twins are smart enough to realize his .301 OBP is a major liability on a team already flush with power, especially when his competition in Luis Arraez has posted a .429 OBP and a .444 slugging percentage (what he lacks in homers he compensates for in doubles). Sure, lately his lack of playing time has been primarily because of an abdominal strain, but that could linger like his oblique issue last season and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him relegated to a part-time role, which kills you in fantasy. Cut in 12-team and 15-team formats.
Phillip Ervin (OF, Cincinnati Reds)
Here I go, talking trash about a pretty sunset. I know he’s not so widely owned, but he’s picked up a lot of hype lately as a deep-league sleeper because of his major league production thus far, hitting .340/.410/.553 with two home runs and three stolen bases (two caught stealing) over 94 at-bats this season. But I find the numbers underneath quite un-Ervin. His 28% strikeout rate combined with his below-average 85 mph exit velocity make it highly likely that his high average is a mirage, and his Statcast xBA of .242 and xSLG of .324 tell you Statcast’s opinion on that. Now that he’s cooling off, more of that playing time deserves to go to the real deal in VanMeter, and in all but the deepest NL-only leagues. you should take a screwdriver to Phillip.
(Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire)