Depth Chart Review: Michael A. Taylor, Mike Mayers, Luis Arráez (2021 Fantasy Baseball)
With the 2021 fantasy baseball season underway, we’re receiving an abundance of news daily. Each week throughout the fantasy baseball season, we’ll look at several notable transactions as a depth chart review for standard-sized (10-12-teamers) and deep leagues (15+ teamers). Hopefully, this list and analysis will help us identify players to monitor or quickly act upon in fantasy leagues. Furthermore, we’ll also touch on a few minor leaguers to put on the watch list or speculatively pick up.
Who Replaces Fernando Tatis Jr.?
Late Monday night, superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. left the game with a shoulder injury and will undergo an MRI on Tuesday. Follow the news via the FantasyPros MLB News Desk for all the latest Tatis updates. The honest answer to who replaces him — no one to his level of talent and production. However, the Padres have two players on their roster that can and will continue to contribute for real-life and fantasy purposes in Jake Cronenworth and Ha-Seong Kim.
Early in draft season, Jake Cronenworth’s ADP felt a bit too high. Then as the heart of draft season came upon us, Cronenworth fell in drafts with concerns about playing time. In 23 plate appearances, Cronenworth’s started in five out of six games with seven hits, three runs, and one RBI with a .412 batting average. With Cronenworth’s multi-position eligibility, he can play at shortstop for the Padres and fill the void to a lesser extent.
Ha-seong Kim should also gain playing time. While in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), Kim totaled 19 home runs and 33 steals in 2019, then 30 home runs and 23 steals in 2020. He displayed strong plate discipline with almost identical 145 walks and 148 strikeouts in 2019 and 2020. It may take Kim to gain confidence and reps in the majors but could help for real-life and fantasy purposes.
For now, the Padres are prepared to have Tatis avoid surgery and return after 10 days of rest and rehab. It seems that surgery is still in consideration depending on how he does upon return, so continue to monitor the situation.
Kole Calhoun (OF – ARI)
This one’s more of a situation where we’ll recommend picking up and stashing Kole Calhoun in an injured list spot if he’s available in standard 10-12 team leagues. Recent reports indicate Calhoun could return towards the end of April. Calhoun is better suited for OBP leagues, but he’ll provide 20 plus home run power.
Yusei Kikuchi (SP – SEA)
In his first start of the season, Yusei Kikuchi dazzled against the Giants with a quality start where he allowed three earned runs, one walk, and ten strikeouts in six innings pitched. Kikuchi boasted a solid 40.4% called strike plus whiff rate (CSW%). It’s a one-game sample, but Kikuchi increased his slider usage from 16% in 2020 to 22.5% in his start against the Giants. He’s worth picking up and streaming in standard 10-12 team leagues.
Jazz Chisholm (2B/SS – MIA)
Jazz Chisholm made his brief MLB debut in 2020 with two home runs and two steals with a .161 BA. Chisholm made the Opening Day roster after hitting three home runs, and four steals with a .268 BA in Spring Training. In a game over the weekend, Chisholm stole two bags, and he’s hitting the ball hard even if it’s not showing up in the counting stats. In standard 10-12 team leagues, it’s worth snagging Chisholm for the power/speed potential.
Jake McGee (RP – SF)
Ever heard of the saying never trust Gabe Kapler? Well, during his time with the Phillies, Kapler often mixed and matched with their closer situation, which led to some questions surrounding the Giants’ closer situation. Add in the fact Roster Resource shows a four reliever committee, and it muddies the water. Maybe, just maybe, the Giants and Kapler settled on McGee as the team’s closer.
On Opening Day, McGee came into the 9th inning during a tie game against the Mariners. Then he came into the 9th the following night and closed the game. On Monday, against the Padres, McGee pitched a scoreless 9th and recorded his second save. It’s a small trend, but it’s a trend worth speculating on for save needy teams in standard 10-12 team leagues.
Luis Arráez (2B – MIN)
With Josh Donaldson landing on the injured list with a hamstring injury, Luis Arráez should benefit after beginning the season as a utility-type player. Arráez provides a solid source of batting average and OBP with a career .337 BA and .399 OBP. Unfortunately, it comes with little to no power of four career home runs in 504 plate appearances. In 10-12 team leagues, he’s worth adding and plugging into lineups for batting average with more playing time coming.
On Monday, Arráez left the game with a non-COVID-related illness after going 1-for-1 with one walk and two runs scored in a blowout by the Twins. Arráez returned to the lineup on Tuesday and went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts. He’s a must-add in standard 10-12 team leagues in need of batting average, runs, and OBP.
Depth Chart Review for Deep-Leagues
Colin Moran (1B – PIT)
Phillip Evans (3B – PIT)
Although Colin Moran has played at first base, he used to play at third in the past. With the Ke’Bryan Hayes injury (sorry, Brendan Tuma) that landed him on the injured list, there isn’t a direct beneficiary. In 15-team leagues or deeper, Moran likely isn’t available on waivers, but he could add third base eligibility if the Hayes’ injury lingers. In the first game without Hayes, Phillip Evans slotted in at third while Moran remained at first. Evans went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two hard-hit balls. On Monday, Moran and Evans hit a pair of solo home runs as the Pirates only two runs of the game.
On Tuesday, Evans crushed a solo home run with a 108.7 mph exit velocity for the only Pirates run of the game in a blowout loss to the Reds. Phillip Evans is a bit of a journeyman with only 119 MLB plate appearances with three home runs and one steal with a .305 batting average. Evans is more of a name to monitor in NL-only or leagues deeper than 15-teams. If you see Moran in 15-team leagues, he’s a must-add as a bench bat or utility spot since he’ll continue to receiving playing time.
Jake Diekman (RP – OAK)
Sergio Romo (RP – OAK)
On Opening Day, the Athletics announced that their closer Trevor Rosenthal landed on the injured list with a shoulder injury. Before Rosenthal signed with the Athletics, lefty Jake Diekman projected as their closer after a solid 2020 campaign. Last season, Diekman boasted a 0.42 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 36.9% strikeout rate, and 14.3% walk rate in 21.1 innings pitched.
He’s typically struggled with walks, but he added seven inches of horizontal movement on his slider in 2020 that contributed to his success. Per Brooks Baseball, Diekman’s slider recorded a much lower negative horizontal movement value on his slider, which indicates an increase in glove-side movement as a lefty. We’ll note Sergio Romo as well because they could go committee on us after Diekman struggled in his first appearance, where he allowed two earned runs with two strikeouts in 0.2 innings.
Mike Mayers (RP – LAA)
Chris Rodriguez (RP – LAA)
In deeper leagues with 15 teams or more, sometimes it’s helpful to find speculative guys in setup roles. In Mike Mayers case, he recorded a couple of saves in 2020 with a 2.10 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 35.5% K%, and 7.4% BB% in 30 innings pitched. Mayers finished with three pitches that resulted in a double-digit swinging strike rate with his slider (13.3%), four-seam (16.4%), and cutter (18.4%).
If Raisel Iglesias falters, maybe they turn to Mayers. On Sunday night, Iglesias came in for the save with a one-run lead only to allow an unearned run. Iglesias blew the save and recorded the win after the Jared Walsh walk-off homer. It’s early and small samples but put Mayers on the watch list.
Update: On Monday, Mike Mayers recorded a save yet allowed one solo home run to Kyle Tucker. Then on Tuesday, Raisel Iglesias came in for the 9th in a tie ballgame and gave up a two-run homer to Carlos Correa for a blown save. Meanwhile, Mayers pitched a scoreless 8th with one strikeout. In 15-team leagues, make a speculative pickup on Mayers.
With Chris Rodriguez, he’s more relevant in saves plus holds leagues. In the dynasty and prospect community, he’s a well-known pitcher. Rodriguez battled back injuries throughout his minor league career but has filthy stuff with his fastball and slider grading as plus pitches. So far, Rodriguez’s slider has over 14 inches of vertical movement and just under four inches of horizontal movement. Even his cutter has over four inches of horizontal movement, and his sinker with two inches of arm side run. Rodriguez could also help with ratios and strikeouts in the meantime.
Braxton Garrett (SP – MIA)
Nick Neidert (SP – MIA)
With the injury to Elieser Hernandez (insert sad face), where do the Marlins turn for a pitcher to call up? Initially, the Marlins sent Sixto Sanchez to their alternate training site. We figured the Marlins planned on limiting Sanchez’s innings without the need for a fifth starter right away, but then news broke that Sanchez dealt with shoulder discomfort that showed minor inflammation after an MRI. If Sanchez’s injury isn’t serious, then he should receive the first call-up. However, Craig Mish noted that Nick Neidert looks like one of the pitchers they could call up, and they have two spots to fill. On Monday, guess what, Neidert received the call.
They will now need two starters moving forward between 3 guys. Nick Neidert, Dan Castano and Braxton Garrett. In addition they must consider a vet of some kind to backup these kids. ASAP. https://t.co/XoqdHtAL3A
— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) April 4, 2021
That said, Nick Neidert is a sneaky starter to put on our radars in deeper leagues of 15 teams or more. Neidert made his brief MLB debut in 2020 with a 4.51 ERA, four strikeouts, and two walks in 8.1 innings pitched. In Spring Training, Neidert threw 12.2 innings with three walks, 15 strikeouts, a 2.84 ERA, and 1.11 WHIP. He possesses above-average command, with his changeup as his best pitch. He’s not a big strikeout pitcher, but consider streaming Neidert after we see how he fares against the Mets on Wednesday. If he stays up, Neidert would likely end up as a two-start pitcher during the week of April 12th against the Braves and Giants.
One of the other pitchers of note via Craig Mish – Braxton Garrett. He made a brief debut in 2020 with a 5.87 ERA, eight strikeouts, and five walks in 7.2 innings pitched. Garrett doesn’t throw very hard with a fastball averaging out just under 90 mph with his curveball grading as an above-average to plus pitch. He’s the bigger name than Neidert, but both project as viable deep-league (15-team+) streamers in a good matchup.
Michael A. Taylor (OF – KC)
Let’s touch on a Royals outfielder that’s a few years removed from a 19 home run, 17 stolen base, and .271 BA season in 2017 with the Nationals. Since then, it’s been a bit downhill for Michael A. Taylor with 12 home runs and 30 steals with a .225 BA in 581 plate appearances from 2018 to 2020. The Royals signed Taylor as their everyday centerfield, and he’s a sneaky source of power and speed.
Taylor played relatively well in Spring Training with two home runs and a .333 BA in 39 at-bats. He already crushed two home runs with four runs, six RBI, and a .438 BA in 17 plate appearances. One of his home runs ended up with a 111.4 mph exit velocity with a league-leading 458-feet as of April 3rd. He’s a must-add in 15-team leagues and worth snagging if 10-12 team leagues with five outfield spots.
Your daily Statcast leaders for Day 3 of the season:
Swings & misses pic.twitter.com/6sSdyv3tiB
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) April 4, 2021
Depth Chart Review for Minor Leaguers
Kyle Isbel (OF – KC)
Outfield prospect Kyle Isbel broke camp with the Royals and made the big club after hitting well in Spring Training. Isbel hit three home runs, and two steals with a .333 BA in 42 at-bats in Spring Training and continued his hot start in the first few games of the season. In four games, Isbel recorded five hits in 14 at-bats for a .357 BA and one steal. He’s crushed a couple of balls for an exit velocity of 106.1 mph and 111 mph. In 15-team leagues, he’s worth a pick-up as a bench stash or 5th outfielder. With a full season of playing time, Isbel could produce double-digit home runs and steals, which provides value in deeper formats.
Geraldo Perdomo (SS – ARI)
Over the weekend, the Arizona Diamondbacks called up shortstop prospect Geraldo Perdomo with Nick Ahmed likely hitting the injured list. It doesn’t sound like it’s a long-term call-up for Perdomo, but he’s worth monitoring in deeper redraft leagues if he hits and sticks around. In the minors, Perdomo displayed above-average speed with 26 steals and three home runs in 2019.
Perdomo never recorded a walk rate below 12.3% in any stop in the minors from 2017-2019, but we’ll note he hasn’t played above High-A ball. That said, he’s better suited for OBP leagues with a career .411 OBP in the minors but can provide speed with little to no power. As of April 5th, Perdomo went 0-for-4 with one walk and one strikeout.
A.J. Puk (SP/RP – OAK)
On Monday, the Oakland Athletics recalled their big lefty in A.J. Puk. He battled multiple injuries throughout his young career, with a shoulder injury that needed surgery in September 2020. According to A’s beat writer for MLB.com Martín Gallegos, Puk worked hard in the offseason with his training program and to clean up his mechanics in hopes to lessen the injury risks. Even manager Bob Melvin noted Puk’s cleaner mechanics for what that’s worth.
All indications point to A.J. Puk starting in the bullpen, which means he could vulture some wins with strikeouts and decent ratios. There’s a chance Puk also makes spot starts here and there. He appeared in relief on Monday and allowed one hit and three walks with four strikeouts in 3.1 innings pitched.
AJ Puk comes in and makes Corey Seager do this… pic.twitter.com/s98UhJCk9d
— Alex Fast (@AlexFast8) April 6, 2021
Maybe he’s just ramping up because Puk averaged 93.7 mph on his fastball on Monday when Puk typically boasts the elite fastball velocity at around 97 mph. Puk also uses a plus slider and above-average changeup that he sprinkles in. It’s mostly a matter of health and command for Puk, but let’s hope he thrives in the bullpen role in 2021.
Yermín Mercedes (UT – CWS)
On a podcast the other day, I heard someone say they didn’t even know Yermín Mercedes’ name. Well, I’m sure they do now as he burst onto the 2021 fantasy baseball scene. Mercedes debuted in the majors last season for a single plate appearance at 27 years old. The White Sox cut Jonathan Lucroy and kept Mercedes and Zack Collins as their backup catchers and designated hitters. All Mercedes continues to do is hit. He began the season with eight consecutive hits, which landed him in the record books.
The best or nothing.
— MLB (@MLB) April 4, 2021
For now, Yermín Mercedes only played at DH, which limits his positional flexibility in leagues with only one utility spot. However, the dude continues to rake with three batted balls with an exit velocity of 103.6 mph or higher in Monday’s game against the Mariners. In 15-team leagues or deeper, he’s almost universally rostered at 85% in NFBC leagues. However, in standard 10-12 team leagues, ride the hot streak with Mercedes before you experience a bit of FOMO.
Akil Baddoo (OF – DET)
The Tigers selected Akil Baddoo in the Rule 5 Draft in 2020 from the Minnesota Twins. Baddoo reached High-A with the Twins system in the Florida State League and totaled four home runs, and six steals with a .214 batting average. He flashed his plus speed in 2018 with 11 home runs, 24 steals in 29 attempts, and a .243 batting average in 517 plate appearances.
.@AkilBaddoo ARE YOU SERIOUS?!
He homers on the first pitch of his MLB career. pic.twitter.com/JKI5goelHQ
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) April 4, 2021
So far, Baddoo totaled two home runs, two runs, six RBI, and one steal with a .500 batting average in eight plate appearances. Even in NFBC leagues, Baddoo’s rostered in 32% of leagues, which makes him relevant in 15-teams as a bench stash if he earns more playing time. Don’t throw too much FAAB on him since he’s a bench bat on a weaker Tigers team.
Beyond our fantasy baseball content, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Baseball Tools as you navigate your season. From our Trade Analyzer – which allows you to instantly find out if a trade offer benefits you or your opponent – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team, and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy baseball season.
Corbin Young is a featured writer at FantasyPros.