The Morel of the Story
Christopher Morel (CHC): 1-4, 3 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB.
In the ninth, with the Cubs in the middle of an 8-1 rout of the Phillies, Morel took a big cut at an Andrew Bellatti slider down and in and lofted it 371 feet and just over the wall in left. Not a moon shot by any means with a 98 mph EV but still that’s his sixth home run in nine games. Woah.
The profile is, well, not for the faint of heart. He’s striking out at a 38.9% clip with a 20.8% SwStr rate and a chase rate of 39.1%. So, yes, he might be better off hitting lower in the order (eighth last night) until he can show better plate skills. The power, though, is off the charts and he’s a fun player to watch.
Nico Hoerner returned last night from a strained hamstring but another spot in the order has since popped open in Cody Bellinger who is now on the IL with a knee bruise. The playing time is there for Morel who can play all over the field.
The question is, is this any different than last year’s journey? It began in Double-A, and he debuted on May 17th. He started off with fireworks and then, well, this happened.
In the end, the strikeouts proved too much to overcome. Before his call-up this year, Morel posted a .400 ISO across 29 games with Triple-A Iowa. Wild stuff. But it also came with a 30.6% K rate. Can he overcome it this time? I don’t know. I’m reminded of TLC. We were told not to chase waterfalls. But my goodness is this tempting.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Friday:
Rafael Devers (BOS): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.
Devers helped orchestrate Blake Snell’s latest implosion. His second home run of the game and 13th of the year came in the third, a three-run shot to straightaway center hit 435 feet (109.4 EV). The pitch was a slider on the outside corner. Devers has a .866 OPS, fourth among qualified 3B.
Akil Baddoo (DET): 2-4, HR, R, 4 RBI, BB, SB.
Long time, no see Mr. Baddoo. The lefty socked his first dinger of the year, a 412-foot shot to right (105.8 EV) on a hanging change from RHP Jake Irvin. Baddoo is probably just a platoon bat but he has the speed upside to be worth considering in deep formats. He stole nine bags on 15 attempts across 73 games last season with the Tigers.
Josh Naylor (CLE): 3-4, HR, R, 5 RBI.
Naylor missed a couple of games with a sore left leg but returned last night to what was a wild game at Queens. He took Carlos Carrasco deep in his first at-bat with a three-run, 396-foot blast to right (105.8 EV). The damage was done on a 3-1 sinker down Broadway. He’s found his power stroke with four home runs over his last five games. Last year, he hit .283 with a .856 OPS against RHP, so he can really be a useful player in daily formats.
Brett Baty (NYM): 2-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI.
This was a wild game at Citi Field last night. Baty went oppo on a 1-0 heater from Cal Quantrill in the sixth (368 feet, 105.3 EV) that cut the Guardians’ lead to 5-3. A seventh-inning grand slam from Pete Alonso tied the game 7-7 before the Guardians stormed back only to lose in the bottom of the ninth thanks to a walk-off single from Francisco Lindor off closer Emmanuel Clase. As far as Baty goes, his playing time is still up in the air. The Mets also recently called up Mark Vientos which might push Baty to the outfield in an effort to get both of them in the lineup.
Mickey Moniak (LAA): 3-4, 2B, 3B, RBI.
Moniak has led off five of the last seven for the Angels. The Phillies’ first overall pick back in 2016, the team’s first number one overall pick since Pat Burrell back in 1998, Moniak was swapped in the Noah Syndergaard deal last year and showed some pop this year with a .277 ISO across 33 games with Triple-A Salt Lake. I don’t think he has stand-alone value yet, but he’s someone to watch list in deep leagues and at the very least he could be a thorn if you’re banking on Taylor Ward to bounce back. Ward started last night but Mike Trout had the night off.
Ezequiel Duran (TEX): 3-3, 2B, BB, SB.
Duran has flashed some impressive pop with a 90th percentile xwoBACON and 60-grade power via PLV. Although, the sample size is a little flimsy (134 PA). Either way, hard to argue with the results which now include a .855 OPS and a .307 average. A former Yankees prospect who was a part of the Joey Gallo trade two summers ago, Duran posted a .847 OPS in 33 games with Triple-A Round Rock last year. He posted a .643 OPS in 58 games with the Rangers last season before being optioned in late September. If you’re in OBP leagues, note that he’s posted low walk rates.
Bryan De La Cruz (MIA): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI.
De La Cruz has now homered in back-to-back games. His fifth of the year came on a sweeper from Taylor Rogers (or maybe Tyler, who knows? What if they swapped jerseys?) and was hit 402 feet to left (102 EV). DLC impressed late last season hitting .388 with six home runs over his final 25 games. He has a secure role with Jesús Sánchez, Jazz Chisholm Jr., and Avisaíl García all on the shelf.
Marcell Ozuna (ATL): 2-4, 3 RBI.
I want to ignore Ozuna at this point. But he is in the middle of a six-game hit streak with seven RBI. I’m not sure what the deal is with his playing time given that Travis d’Arnaud is back and he could siphon some DH at-bats. Eddie Rosario is a platoon bat there too. Regardless, Ozuna is worth being aware of at least in deep leagues.
Anthony Santander (BAL): 1-2, HR, R, RBI, 2 BB.
Santander’s eighth of the year wasn’t hit all that well (347 feet, 93.6 EV) but, hey, they all count. it came as a lefty off a changeup from Trevor Richards. Thanks to three home runs over his last five games, Santander has his OPS up to .833, third on the Orioles.
Jake Fraley (CIN): 1-3, 2B, 2 RBI, SB.
Fraley has five home runs and six steals with a terrific .374 OBP. He’s in a platoon role given his splits against lefties, but that’s not a bad thing at all if you’re in a daily league. He’s hitting .317 with a .930 OPS against RHP. That’ll play.
As far as other Reds go, top prospect Matt McLain had his first multi-hit game and went 2-for-4 with a double.
10-team h2h categories league (OBP instead of AVG); my 3B-eligibles are Gunnar and Steer. Given the shallowness of the league and the shortcomings of each of those guys (Steer outside of CIN and Gunnar just being not very productive and sitting vs LHP), are either or both holds, or am I just as well off streaming at 3B with hot hands or volume plays? Out on the wire: guys like McMahon, Burger, Candelario, Senzel, Urshela.