Every Monday from now until the end of the season, we will take a look at players with less than 10% 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, though 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.
Last week was one of the craziest weekends for prospect call-ups I can ever remember. Almost every one of the big name prospects who was recalled is already owned in more than 15% of leagues, however, so you won’t see them featured on this post.
I’ll say it here for the record: If you have a chance to snag Keston Hiura, Brendan Rodgers, Austin Riley, Willie Calhoun or Nicky Lopez in 12-plus-team leagues, go get those guys as soon as you can. Yordan Alvarez is another name to keep an eye on, as he could be getting the call in short order.
For now, here are five hitters and two pitchers for you folks in deeper leagues to snatch up going forward.
Logan Forsythe, 1B/2B/3B, TEX (9% Owned)
With Elvis Andrus hitting the shelf with an elbow injury, the Rangers are giving veteran utility infielder Logan Forsythe a starting gig. That’s good news for Forsythe, who is slashing a blistering .318/.420/.518 in 132 plate appearances on the season.
He’s only got three home runs, but he does have 22 RBI, 20 runs scored and one stolen base. While I don’t expect Forsythe to return the value he had at the end of his tenure with the Rays, when he blasted 37 home runs and swiped 14 bases from 2015-2016.
Still, his .407 xwOBA and 40% hard-hit rate are both excellent, and with regular at-bats at tiny Globe Life Park in Arlington, it looks like Forsythe will hold down value in 12-plus-team leagues at least for the time being. If you need a versatile middle infielder, Forsythe is a nice temporary pickup.
Dawel Lugo, 2B, DET (0% Owned)
The Detroit Tigers sent struggling third baseman Jeimer Candelario down to Triple-A, opening the door for 24-year-old infielder Dawel Lugo to be the team’s everyday third baseman, at least for the time being. Lugo is 2-for-14 to kick off the season, although he did hit a three-run home run in his first game of the year.
Plus, Lugo was crushing the ball down in Toledo—slashing .341/.393/.468 with two home runs and three steals for the Mud Hens.
Lugo’s never been one to draw a walk, but he makes a lot of contact, which allows him to hit for a high average. He doesn’t have a ton of power or speed, which limits his value to deeper leagues, but for those in need of a versatile infielder who will help boost your average, Lugo is your guy. He should get third base eligibility soon as well, which will give him a slight boost in value.
Jordan Luplow, OF, CLE (3% Owned)
When the Indians called up outfield prospect Oscar Mercado, it looked like playing time was going to be hard to come by for Luplow. That hasn’t been the case, however, as the 25-year-old outfielder started seven of the past eight for the Tribe, smacking three home runs with six RBI in that time.
His power has been excellent, with five home runs and a masterful 53.8% hard-hit rate, which would be among the top ranks in the league if he had enough at-bats to qualify.
However, even though he is scorching the ball, he is only slashing .258/.319/.532 thanks to a ghastly 34.8% strikeout rate and a high rate of ground balls, as seen in the chart below:
The Indians don’t have a very good outfield, so as long as Luplow keeps hitting home runs, he should get regular at-bats, which makes him worth owning in 16-plus-team leagues and AL-only formats. If he struggles, the combination of Mercado, Leonys Martin, Jake Bauers, Greg Allen, Tyler Naquin and Carlos Gonzalez could push him into a reserve role, so be weary of that.
Brian McCann, C, ATL (5% Owned)
Very quietly, veteran catcher Brian McCann is having a good season in a reserve role for Atlanta. He’s slashing a tidy .306/.368/.486 with three home runs and 16 RBI, splitting duties with fellow veteran Tyler Flowers.
McCann is making the best contact of his career, posting a minuscule 9.5% strikeout rate and an equal 9.5% walk rate, his highest mark since 2016. He’s also boasting a 34.3% hard-hit rate, which isn’t great but is also his strongest rate since 2016.
Obviously, playing time is an issue here. But guess what: That’s the case for most catchers. McCann plays less than most fantasy-relevant catchers, but even playing part time makes him fantasy relevant in deeper leagues or NL-only formats.
Jefry Rodriguez, SP, CLE (9% Owned)
Indians right-hander Jefry Rodriguez has looked solid through five starts in the rotation, posting a 3.45 ERA and a very nice 1.18 WHIP. He’s posted a quality start in three of his five outings, missing his first one by one out and his most recent one by one run.
However, it’s worth considering the opponents here, as Rodriguez has had the pleasure of facing the Royals, Marlins, White Sox, A’s and Orioles—which is truly a pitcher’s dream this season.
His 15.8% strikeout rate is bad, and his 7.5% swinging-strike rate is even worse. However, he does a good job of limiting hard contact and keeping the ball on the ground, which has helped him succeed thus far. With Mike Clevinger working his way back, Rodriguez’s tenure in the rotation might be short-lived.
If you need a streamer in a quality-starts league and you have a nice lead in strikeouts, Rodriguez isn’t a bad option. Don’t count on him for much more than that however.
Trent Thornton, SP, TOR (8% Owned)
Thornton forced his way onto this column with a solid performance on Sunday, tossing six innings and giving up just one earned run with one walk and four strikeouts against the Giants. The start lowered his ERA to 4.41, while giving him a nice 9.18 K/9.
Thornton is probably a reliever long-term, as one of his biggest flaws is an ability to get deep into games. He’s had other solid starts this year, but a lack of command rarely allows him to post quality starts, which limits his value in those formats.
Still, he’s not a bad streamer in 12-plus-team leagues against poor hitting teams, and he should be rostered in 16-plus-team leagues and AL-only formats as long as he still has a spot in the rotation.
Jared Walsh, 1B/RP, LAA (0% Owned)
The Angels apparently felt that one two-way player wasn’t enough and decided to call up Jared Walsh to join Shohei Ohtani on the active roster. Walsh is 3-for-7 with three singles so far, having scorched two of them over 100 mph.
His role is to be a platoon bat at first base with Albert Pujols while Justin Bour toils away at Triple-A. While it’s likely a temporary assignment, Walsh did hit .302 with 10 home runs in just 37 games at Triple-A, so if he continues to hit well in The Show, he could work his way into more regular at-bats.
While Walsh doesn’t expect to pitch much, if at all, he did throw five innings in relief with Salt Lake. So it is also possible he works his way into some middle relief outings for Los Angeles, although I don’t expect him to have much fantasy relevance as an arm.
Walsh is only an option in the deepest of leagues, but he’s worth a look, particularly in formats that allow daily lineup changes.
(Photo by Juan DeLeon/Icon Sportswire)