Juan Yepez (STL): 3-5, HR, R, RBI.
Who doesn’t love PEZ? They’re bite-size, they’re crunchy, and they’re delicious. Yeah, sure, oftentimes the only way to purchase them is to also buy a completely useless plastic dispenser that looks like Harry Potter or Mickey Mouse. Which you almost immediately throw into a landfill. Where it sits for awhile before being washed into the ocean. Where it then floats for a few years, traveling between continents, before finally washing up on the shores of a formerly beautiful fishing village on the other side of the planet, along with thousands of other pieces of plastic waste, slowly choking the life out of the area. But, I mean, whatever right? Because that raspberry flavor? So yummy!
What does this have to do with baseball, you might ask? Well prospect hype is sometimes like PEZ. Initially it’s all fun and fresh and exciting. But sometimes, after you’re done eating the candy, you find yourself alone, holding this weird plastic totem that looks vaguely like Superman, wondering how you got here in the first place.
Ironically, Juan Yepez does not appear to be such a prospect. After going 3-5, HR, R, RBI yesterday and breaking out of an 0-for-8 stretch that seemingly qualifies as a slump for the hot-hitting 24-year-old, Yepez has pulled his overall line up to .333/.390/.556 over his first 59 plate appearances while primarily batting cleanup for the Cardinals. Though the batted ball metrics are fairly mediocre to this point, he does have just 40 batted balls to his name at the moment, and considering he hit 27 home runs last year in the minors over just 434 plate appearances, the power could be fairly legit. Even if he ends up as more of a 25-home-run hitter though, he makes enough contact to maintain an average around .275, and with playing time essentially secured in the short-term after Tyler O’Neill hit the IL, he’s looking like a valuable offensive player to have on your roster, especially if he continues to hit in the heart of a fairly deep St. Louis lineup.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Thursday
Trevor Story (BOS): 4-4, 3 HR, 5 R, 7 RBI, BB, SB.
I mean, dang. In the span of one game, Story pushed himself back onto a 20/20 pace for the season. It’s pretty interesting to note that Story has been struggling mightily against fastballs this year—a pitch that he has typically feasted on throughout his career. While that is troubling in a sense, it’s encouraging to see that he’s holding his own against offspeed and breaking stuff so far, even without the help of Coors Field in muting their pitch movement. I wouldn’t declare him totally fixed after this performance, but he’s posting one of the better line drive rates of his career right now and pulling the ball a ton, which bodes well for him in Boston. If he can sort out his fastball struggles, there’s no reason he can’t return to being something close to vintage Trevor Story.
Anthony Santander (BAL): 3-4, 2 2B, HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, BB.
Santander Bank made a few deposits yesterday, blasting a home run and two doubles off Jordan Montgomery—no small feat. It’s been a rough go of it so far for Santander, but he is up to four homers over his last seven games, and with a 9.2% barrel rate this season there’s no reason he can’t continue this power barrage.
Pete Alonso (NYM): 3-4, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB, SB.
If you’ve ever watched Pete Alonso run, you know his low sprint speed isn’t a byproduct of lack of effort—sometimes he runs so hard that I think his skeleton is going to burst through the front of his body. Given that, it’s nice to see him pick up a stolen base, despite it coming on the back-end of a double-steal with Francisco Lindor. It was a big day for Alonso, as his walk-off homer brought him up to 10 home runs on the year and an MLB-leading 36 RBI. His xwOBA over the past week is peaking at a point it hasn’t hit since his 53-homer rookie campaign in 2019, and frankly it all looks legit. The 26% whiff rate is extremely impressive for a guy with a 14.3% barrel rate, and he could be in line for a 40+ home run campaign and a career-best batting average in the .275 range.
Paul Goldschmidt (STL): 3-4, 2B, HR, R, 4 RBI.
Remember when we all thought Goldschmidt might be washed? Yeah, me neither. The man is posting one of the highest Hard Hit rates (49.1%) of his career, and one of the lowest strikeout rates (19%) of his career. He’s also continuing to go to all fields really well with a healthy amount of line drives. He’s, like, really good.
Dylan Moore (SEA): 1-2, HR, R, 4 RBI, 2 BB.
Ah, hello old friend. The man who almost single-handedly ruined my entire 2021 fantasy season on account of the fact that I rostered him on all my teams is back to tease me again with his tantalizing combination of power and speed. He’s a better defensive player than Souza Jr. And even in a horribly down year, he was pacing towards a 20/30 season in 2021. No. NO. I won’t let it happen to me again. NOOOOOO.
Hunter Dozier (KC): 3-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.
Hunter Dozier has looked kinda good this year. After a series of injuries—including a concussion—robbed him of a productive 2021, Dozier is looking a lot more like the guy who popped 26 homers and hit .279 back in 2019. He’s going to have to up the 43% groundball rate to get there again, but he does have some power and decent-enough contact ability. Not a terrible corner-infield option in deeper (14+ team) formats.
Julio Rodríguez (SEA): 3-5, HR, R, RBI.
The speed was already there, as Rodríguez has racked up 11 steals on the season, but now the power is starting to come around, with two homers over the last week. He has two things he needs to address: his very high whiff rate (34%) and his penchant for hitting the ball on the ground (51%). But it’s not difficult at all to see that he’s going to be an absolute monster in the very near future.
Daulton Varsho (ARI): 1-4, HR, R, RBI.
Varsho is the #1 catcher on the Razzball Player Rater at the moment, as we all predicted when the season began. With him pulling the ball in the air a ton this year with good quality-of-contact metrics, there’s really nothing stopping Varsho from being one of the first 20/10 catcher-eligible players we’ve seen in a very long time (Fun Fact: even J.T. Realmuto has never accomplished the feat).
Harrison Bader (STL): 3-5, R, 2 SB.
With two more swipes, Bader now has 11 stolen bases on the year, surpassing his total from last season in 67 fewer games. His strikeout rate (15.6%) has halved from what it was just two years ago, and while he may never be an asset in the batting average category, he has the tools to hit 15 homers, steal 30 bags, and hit for a semi-palatable batting average, and that plays in just about every format.
Jorge Mateo (BAL): 1-3, R, RBI, SB.
Mateo is tied with Bader and Julio Rodríguez with 11 steals after he swiped yet another in yesterday’s game. For a noted speedster, Mateo actually has a decent amount of pop, flashing a 35.4% Hard Hit rate this year with a 6.1% barrel rate. He’s also making the most of that power with an absurd 51.2% Sweet Spot rate so far, which makes me think a 10/30 season is 100% well within his grasp.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)
A brief point: the plague of ocean plastic doesn’t come from the US; it comes from Asia, where they still dump trash directly into the ocean. Another: you can buy Pez without the dispenser.
Also: Trevor Story is alive!
Would you drop Baez for Gleyber? Nothing says Baez is coming out of his slump and Gleyber is hitting pretty good. Results haven’t been there so much yet