Every Monday from now until the end of the season, we will take a look at players with less than 15% ownership (Yahoo!) who should be on your radar in deep leagues. The majority of fantasy baseball leagues are mixed leagues with 10 to 12 teams, however we know many of you play in 18-to-20-team leagues and/or AL or NL-only formats. This column is for you all.
Just like last week, it’s a bit too early to make drastic changes to your roster. However, there are still plenty of highly talented players who need to be picked up in deeper leagues and are playing their way onto the 12-team radar as well. While this post is pitching-heavy (we are called Pitcher List after all) there are a handful of hitters for your consideration as well.
Adam Frazier, 2B/OF, PIT (9% Owned)
The first of two Fraziers on this list (the other one isn’t Todd, don’t worry), Adam Frazier whacked his first home run of the season on Sunday as part of a 2-for-5 night. Frazier is now slashing an excellent .333/.429/.533, with five runs, three RBI, and two steals.
The Pittsburgh Pirates lineup isn’t doing Frazier any favors, but as long as he is sitting atop the order he will score at least some runs. The stolen bases are a huge bonus and the kind of thing that could help you win a matchup on any given week.
Lastly, his positional flexibility is really nice. The combination makes Frazier a desirable fantasy talent and a player who should be owned in 12+ team leagues.
Clint Frazier, OF, NYY (11% Owned)
The other Frazier, New York Yankees outfielder Clint, won’t be available in most formats for very long — not after he went 2-for-4 with two taters and four RBI on Sunday afternoon. That gives him three homers in just 19 plate appearances since getting called up to replace slugger Giancarlo Stanton.
Frazier was a highly touted prospect, but a crowded New York outfield and a serious, lingering concussion issue dimmed his prospect star as of late. However, Frazier is healthy — and most of the rest of the Yankees are not — and it is clear he doesn’t want this promotion to be a short one.
If you have a chance to snatch him up in 12-teamers or deeper, now is your chance. There’s a very good chance his playing time (and thus his fantasy relevance) is short lived. But for now, ride the red wave while you can.
Alex Gordon, OF, KC (12% Owned)
Remember Alex Gordon? While he is no longer the perennial .290/20/10 hitter that he was in the early-2010s, he’s off to a great start this season and may have put the last two rough seasons behind him. So far in 2019, Gordon has already scored nine runs and driven in seven, while popping two home runs.
Obviously the sample size is ridiculously small, but it sure is nice to see Gordon with a 17.1% walk rate and minuscule 5.7% strikeout rate. Strikeouts have been an issue for him over the last few seasons, so seeing his a 6.1% swinging strike rate and 84.6% contact rate is encouraging.
Gordon probably won’t pop 20 home runs, especially not with a 9.5% line drive rate, and his speed is nearly gone. Still, as long as he is hitting third in the order he is a nice source of runs and RBI and should be owned in all deeper formats. He’s creeping his way onto the radar in 12-teamers as well.
Pablo Lopez, SP, MIA (7% Owned)
A pair of Miami starters, Pablo Lopez (Number 54 on the list) and Caleb Smith (Number 56) are both criminally underowned in the fantasy world right now. Either arm has the chance to win fantasy owners matchups this season with their strikeout potential — although those in leagues that count wins may be hesitant to pick up anyone that is backed up by Miami’s “hitters.”
Lopez’s 6.10 ERA through two starts is an eyesore, but his 12/1 K/BB ratio through 10.1 innings is considerably more palatable, as is his 2.89 SIERA.
I could go on about Lopez, but if you are interested in more info on the young right-hander I’ll direct you to this fabulous GIF breakdown written by our own Ian Post.
Caleb Smith, SP, MIA (11% Owned)
Caleb Smith is proving that his 2018 season was not a fluke, stringing together two very solid starts to open up the 2019 campaign. He went five innings with eight strikeouts and two earned in his opener and followed that up with a quality start on Sunday that featured seven K’s.
Smith is a left-hander who has shown that both his slider and his changeup have swing-and-miss capabilities, which gives him a high ceiling as a strikeout artist. He also had a tendency to lose his command and, while that hasn’t happened yet this year, he will have his fair share of WHIP-killers.
Still, for 93% of fantasy leagues there is a starting pitcher on the waiver wire that should be getting some more love, particularly in 12+ team leagues.
Spencer Turnbull, SP, DET (2% Owned)
For the one percent of you who held onto Detroit Tigers right-hander Spencer Turnbull after his rocky first start, you were rewarded handsomely by his 6.o IP, 2 ER, 2 BB, 10 K performance against the Kansas City Royals last week. Turnbull now sports a 15/4 K/BB ratio in 11 innings this season, continuing to demonstrate the outstanding command that he totes alongside his filthy repertoire.
It is pretty astonishing to see that his ownership only increased 1% after his latest performance, particularly when his next start is against an injured, struggling Cleveland Indians team. If you are in any format deeper than 12 teams, he should be picked up right away.
Even in 12-teamers, he’s worth a stream next time out. There’s a chance he holds on to that roster spot for longer than just that one start.
Kyle Zimmer, RP, KC (1% Owned)
The Royals bullpen, as many could have projected, is in complete disarray. Brad Boxberger and Wily Peralta have been steaming trash and Jake Diekman hasn’t been any better. Manager Ned Yost thrust converted starter Ian Kennedy into the ninth-inning role and, while he did nail down one save, he also blew another opportunity.
This means that former fifth-overall pick Kyle Zimmer could end up in a late-inning, and possibly even a closer role for the Royals. Zimmer’s pitching career was completely derailed by a series of injuries, with most believing his career would end before he could even set foot on a big league mound.
That was not the case however, as he battled his way through a rigorous training at the Driveline baseball academy this offseason and made his way onto the active roster for Kansas City. Zimmer has had a pair of outings, one good and one bad, but in this bullpen that might be enough for him to get some save opportunities.
I wouldn’t add him unless I’m in a 16+ team league or an AL-only format, but everyone who is hunting for saves should at least add him to their watchlist.
Photo by Juan Salas/Icon Sportswire
What are your thoughts on Yandy Diaz? Seems like he’s getting a lot more air under the ball and it’s working out for him, is this just anecdotal or is there a real launch angle change that effecting his results? I’m guessing a little of both but with the every day playing time and a lot more FB than GB compared to past years I’m buying.
I love Yandy Diaz. Didn’t feature him here because he’s just about at 15% owned and I wanted guys with less helium, but yeah I do believe the launch angle change is real, and I think he could be tapping into that very real power potential. Playing in the AL East won’t hurt either. He’s owned in my Pitcher List 12-teamer.
Not so sure about Spencer Turnbull’s “outstanding command” – scouting grades have him at 40/45, and he had a 3.7 BB/9 in AA last season (where he spent the bulk of his time).
Hi BB – I go into more detail here on my bold predictions post, but basically Turnbull showed off an excellent ability to hit the corner in his brief big league cameo last year, and that carried over into spring training and the regular season so far. Sure it’s a small sample, but control has yet to be much of an issue in the big leagues. http://pitcherlist.wpengine.com/andy-pattons-10-bold-predictions-for-2019/