Tick, Tick… KieBoom!
Carter Kieboom (WSH): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.
It’s been over four years since Carter Kieboom made his MLB debut as one of the game’s bright young prospects early in the 2019 season. After many disappointing results and a handful of injuries, he’s back for a fourth taste of MLB action, still looking to prove himself as a foundational piece for a young Nationals club building for the future.
Kieboom flashed some of that long-forgotten prospect hype when he opened the scoring in Toronto last night, pulling an inside sinker from José Berríos 410 feet and into the left-field stands for a two-run home run. He’d go on to finish the day with a 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI batting line.
After recovering from Tommy John surgery he had last May, Kieboom continued to fight the injury bug as he battled his way back through the minor leagues. He finally made his 2023 MLB debut last Tuesday and has started in six of the Nationals’ nine games since his return. Over that limited 23 plate appearance sample, Kieboom has already hit three home runs and is slashing an impressive .273/.304/.727. It’s important to remember that he’s played so little that those numbers are prone to swing wildly—his OPS went from .874 before yesterday’s game to 1.031 afterward.
Kieboom will turn 26 later this week and is just now entering his prime years. Regardless of the struggles he’s faced, he still carries the talent of a former first-round draft pick. While it’s too early to tell if what he’s doing at the plate is a flash of the player he could finally become or just a momentary hot streak, he’s worth a prospective add in deep formats where you need third base help. In 14+ team leagues, I’d at least put him on your watchlist.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Tuesday:
Willson Contreras (STL): 2-4, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI.
There’s not a single thing that could happen the rest of the season to make 2023 feel like it wasn’t a complete failure in St. Louis, but Contreras has quietly turned things around. After all the early-season drama about whether he’d remain behind the plate, he’s been able to put that noise behind him and slash .253/.348/.436 on the year. He hit two home runs yesterday, including a dramatic two-run bomb that tied the game in the eighth inning. The Cardinals would eventually win 6-5 in extras. Contreras’ 118 wRC+ is his third-best mark since 2017.
Randal Grichuk (LAA): 3-4, 2 2B, HR, 4 R, RBI.
The Angels shocked the baseball world yesterday by placing pretty much every valuable veteran on their roster who’s a soon-to-be-free-agent on waivers. Grichuk was one of those guys and he responded to the news with a strong audition for his potential suitors, racking up three extra-base hits. He doubled twice against Michael Lorenzen and then homered off of José Alvarado, but in true Angels’ fashion, they still lost to the Phillies 12-7.
Luis Rengifo (LAA): 3-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
Rengifo was one of the few veterans the Angels didn’t place on waivers last night. He also got the better of Lorezen, launching both of his home runs against the new Phillie starter. Rengifo is up to 14 long balls this year and is slashing .258/.341/.433. He was a sneaky good late-season addition for deep-league fantasy managers last year, and he could be again this year since he’ll likely be hitting near the top of a depleted Angels’ lineup as the season winds down.
Alec Bohm (PHI): 2-3, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB.
On the other side of that high-scoring affair in Philadelphia, Bohm got in on the fun with two extra-base hits. His first was a three-run go-ahead homer in the bottom of the sixth. Tyler Anderson painted the low outside corner of the strike zone with a changeup, but Bohm was on it the whole way, blasting it 411 feet to left-center field. Bohm has career-best marks in home runs (15), strikeout rate (15.5%), and wRC+ (111).
Liover Peguero (PIT): 3-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
After Cole Ragans dominated the Pirates for seven innings, the Bucco’s bats came alive against the Royals’ bullpen en route to a 6-3 victory. Peguero had the biggest blow—a three-run home run against Steven Cruz that broke the game open in the ninth inning. If you need middle infield help in 15+ team fantasy leagues, Peguero could be worth a look. He’s playing nearly every day and is hitting .248/.300/.446 with six home runs and four steals in 112 plate appearances. His 31.3% strikeout rate will hold him back though.
Isaac Paredes (TB): 2-5, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.
Paredes has truly turned into a fearsome bat in the middle of Tampa Bay’s lineup, and you may not realize just how good he’s been. His home run yesterday was his 27th of the season, and his 144 wRC+ is the eighth-best mark among all qualified hitters. Yes, eighth. In ALL of baseball. He’s been better than Kyle Tucker, Corbin Carroll, Luis Robert Jr., and a load of other star players.
Alex Bregman (HOU): 3-5, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
Bregman was seeing everything Brayan Bello was throwing last night. Each of their three matchups ended with hard contact, and two of those balls fell in for hits for Bregman. The Astros’ third baseman is having another excellent season slashing .265/.365/.447, and it’s his fifth straight campaign where he’s walking nearly as much as he’s striking out.
Ryan McKenna (BAL): 2-2, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 SB.
McKenna was called up from Triple-A yesterday and didn’t even enter last night’s game until the seventh inning, but he quickly made his presence felt. He stuffed the stat sheet with twos across the board—hits, runs, RBI, and stolen bases. McKenna is just a role player for the Orioles and isn’t worth your attention in fantasy, but it’s always fun to see those smaller-name players put up big nights.
Matthew Batten (SD): 4-4, 2 2B, 2 R, BB.
Speaking of lesser-known players, Batten is a 28-year-old with just 56 career MLB plate appearances. The Padres picked him in the 32nd round of the 2017 draft, and that round doesn’t even exist anymore! Batten’s four-hit day against the Cardinals has to be the highlight of his short big-league career thus far. His slash line is at a remarkable .367/.441/.633, but don’t get too excited. He’s barely playing for the Padres, and those numbers will tumble quickly if he cracks the lineup more often. He had a .740 OPS in Triple-A this year.
Patrick Bailey (SF): 2-3, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
Alex Cobb finished just one out away from a no-hitter last night, and although he didn’t need much run support, Bailey did his best to help his battery mate out. He won a seven-pitch battle against Brandon Williamson in the bottom of the third, eventually getting a cutter right down the heart of the plate and sending it 401 feet to center field for his seventh home run of the year. Bailey’s put together a solid rookie campaign for the Giants, slashing .260/.311/.411. His 99 wRC+ is especially impressive as a catcher, sitting 10% above the league-average 90 wRC+ mark for backstops.
Shea Langeliers (OAK): 2-3, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Langeliers saw a fastball he liked from Luke Weaver and didn’t miss it, blasting it 439 feet to center field. It was the second furthest-hit ball of the day. The A’s are trotting out all their young guns to see what pieces they have for the future, and it’s been a mixed bag from Langeliers. He’s slashing .208/.273/.392, but has 16 home runs and 47 RBI in 411 plate appearances. Catchers notoriously struggle at the plate, especially early in their career, so it’s too early to cast too harsh a judgment on Langeliers. His 28.7% strikeout rate is troubling, but on the plus side, it’s down from the 34.7% mark he posted in limited time last year.