Wander Franco (TB): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB.
I know why you are all here. The 80 Grade prospect, Wander Franco, finally got the call and debuted for the Tampa Bay Rays last night, batting second. After tearing up rookie ball at 17, Low-A and High-A ball at 18, skipping Double-A due to the pandemic, and then finishing up his Triple-A stint early, he got the call while still just 20 years old. Throughout his minor league career, Wander stood out by keeping his K% below 10% and his BB% above his K rate. That stopped in Triple-A, as his K% was 11.9% and BB% 6.8%, yet that is still excellent. Overall, he puts the ball in play and has been hitting comfortably over .300 his entire minor league career.
The minors are quite different than the majors, though, especially this season. The lack of full baseball in 2020 left many players in a tough spot in their development. Increased injuries in the majors and minors have thinned the talent pool a bit as well. These factors make it hard to predict what Franco may do for the 2021 season. Look at Jarred Kelenic. Many expected him to come up and rake. Instead, he batted .096 in 92 plate appearances and was sent back down to the minors. So far, Wander looks comfortable.
In his debut game, Franco finished with this line: 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB. In his first at-bat, he drew a walk after the count reached 0-2. In his second at-bat, he rocketed a hard hit ball high and deep to center for an out. In his third at-bat, he ripped a ball into the left field bleachers for a home run. It was only 362 feet but hit hard and pulled into left. In his next at-bat, he rifled a double at 105.3 MPH off the bat into left. His final at-bat was his only at-bat as a lefty. He hit a soft ground ball for an out.
It was a promising outing for Franco with three hard-hit balls, a great walk after falling behind 0-2, and of course, his first home run. We should expect many more games like this from the young phenom.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Tuesday:
Ryan Jeffers (MIN): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
With Garver on the IL again, Jeffers has stepped up to the plate. Since this 24-year-old was recalled from Triple-A on June 2nd, he’s slashed .255/.305/.600 with five home runs and 13 RBIs in 15 games. He’s been a power-first bat in the minors, and he’s shown that so far in this recent stretch. If you are looking to stream catchers or just need someone to fill in a recent injury like Carson Kelly, Jeffers is a solid pick-up until Garver returns.
Tucker Barnhart (CIN): 3-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
A serviceable catcher doing serviceable catcher things. Every once in a while, I feel like Barnhart has a big day, and it falls on Tuesday because I write about him enough in Batter’s Box that I feel like it happens too frequently. But he’s not that good. His wRC+ is above 100, but he only has four homers to his credit. However, he is scoring and knocking in runs plenty while also batting close to .260, which is saying something this year. He’s not going to win any leagues, but if you need a catcher replacement, he’ll do the trick until the next hot catcher rolls around.
Tyler Naquin (CIN): 4-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB.
Naquin had cooled off after the blistering start, but here he is again with a big four-hit day. After a 144 wRC+ through the end of April, Naquin finished with May with a 95 wRC+ and June with an 86 wRC+. The season as a whole has been fine. 12 homers are nice with 46 RBI, too. He’s fallen back down to earth, though, and it doesn’t look like he’ll reach what he was doing back in April. He had over a 50% fly ball rate with a 26.1% HR/FB. The fly ball rate dropped to the mid 30s, and the homers haven’t been around for those balls either. He hasn’t been a fantasy asset for a while now.
Hunter Renfroe (BOS): 2-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Renfroe is having quite the stretch. From late May (starting May 26th), he has hit safely in all but five games with a slash of .333/.413/.580, with a 169 wRC+ and four home runs, two of which have been within the last week. Yesterday he launched a 417-foot homer while also crushing a 106.7 MPH liner, forcing the left fielder to make a spectacular leaping catch for an out. Renfroe has settled in after a rough April and should be added if you have the room.
Eli White (TEX): 3-5, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
White was called up for a third time on June 8th. He is a utility player with a solid bat, some speed, and minimal power. The bat hasn’t come alive much this season, as he is hitting .185 through these three stints. It doesn’t help to be jumping around all year, not being able to develop a rhythm. However, last night White had three hits over 100 MPH, one of which was a 440-foot bomb. Unfortunately, he’s not of fantasy value, especially with uneasy playing time.
Mark Canha (OAK): 3-5, 3B, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.
Despite being pretty excellent at the plate for the last three seasons, I was still surprised by Canha’s 2021 start. He has been in the leadoff spot for the A’s, and with his .379 OBP, he’s scored 55 runs on the year, good for being tied second in the AL. Since 2019 he has consistently been striking out around 20% of the time while walking 13% of the time. One remarkable thing about Canha is his success against both righties and lefties. His splits are nearly identical with a 138 and 140 wRC+, respectively.
Ramón Laureano (OAK): 3-5, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI.
Laureano was out for about three weeks and returned on June 16th. In the six games since his return, he’s hit safely in all but one game and has homered twice. He’s been having a breakout season. A chunk of his value is his potential for a 20/20 or even 30/30 season. He has eight steals on the year, but he may be more limited on the base paths with his right hip strain. Additionally, all eight of his steals were bundled in the first nine games of the season. He’s been caught twice since with no success. I am worried his steals may be done.
DJ LeMahieu (NYY): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB.
LeMahieu has been quite a disappointment this season. He has only 16 extra-base hits with a slugging percentage under .400. The last time his slugging was under .400 was in 2015. What’s going on then? His hard-hit rate is still in the mid 40s, he is barreling the ball more often than last season, and he is even hitting fewer ground balls. Ultimately, his BABIP is back down to earth. It’s about the same as his 2018 numbers when he finished with an 86 wRC+. His success against fastballs this season is much lower than normal, but his xBA is still solid. It is hard to maintain the success he’s had with a ground ball rate in the mid-50s.
Luke Voit (NYY): 2-3, 3B, HR, R, RBI, BB.
He’s finally back! With the first pitch he saw after returning from the IL, he launched a ball 110 MPH into the left field bleachers. He added a triple on a weird fan interference misplay that was right at the top of the wall. It could have been another homer, but it just missed. Voit is back, and everyone that has been waiting patiently, rejoice!
Jonathan Schoop (DET): 2-5, HR, R, 3 RBI.
Schoop is here again! I feel like it’s been four or five weeks in a row that I’ve written him up. But seriously! Just this last week, he’s hit a home run in every other game with five multi-hit games in seven games played. He is not stopping. If Schoop is somehow not rostered in your league please please please pick him up.
Jake Rogers (DET): 2-4, 2B, 3B, R, 3 RBI.
Another random catcher on the Tigers, another oddly strong outing. Haase has been at catcher every now and then but looks to be playing the outfield quite a bit (which is pretty nice for a catcher, especially in Yahoo leagues). First off, Rogers has a wild stache, so go check that out. Second, he has five hits in three games with three extra-base hits. I don’t believe Rogers is worthwhile in fantasy, but if he’s playing catcher more and Haase is getting time in the field, Haase looks better and better as a catcher option.
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