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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Riley Greene, George Kirby, Michael Harris II (2022)

by Andrew Seifter | @andrew_seifter | Featured Writer
Jun 18, 2022
Riley Greene

Each week, as I sit down to write this column, there is always one position where I know there will be plenty of good, lightly-rostered players to choose from: relief pitcher. That makes sense, to some extent, because the value of relievers tends to vary widely based on league format. But it could also be argued that the fantasy value of the top relievers isn’t fully reflected in their rostership rates.

Consider a standard 5×5 rotisserie/categories format. According to Baseball Monster, seven of the 35 most valuable fantasy players in standard roto/categories leagues are relievers, as are 22 of the top 100. That’s…a lot. In fact, starting pitcher and outfield are the only other positions that are as well-represented in the top 35.

What’s more, many of the relievers in the top-100 are not even closers, including J.P. Feyereisen, Eli Morgan, Adam Cimber, Dennis Santana, Brock Burke, A.J. Minter, Michael King, and Joe Mantiply. Some of these guys rank so highly because they happen to have picked up some wins, and some are due for regression, but the fact is that non-closing relievers who post elite ratios and strikeouts can make a big impact in fantasy leagues.

But enough about relievers, right? I don’t write the Closer Report anymore, and we’ve got yet another top prospect to discuss!

Note: Rostered rates are from Yahoo leagues as of Friday.


FAABulous Four: Top Waiver Targets

Riley Greene (OF — DET): 43% Rostered
At long last, the Riley Greene era is nigh.’s number two overall prospect had the start to his season rudely interrupted by a broken foot, but now he is finally all systems go. Greene’s numbers during his 15 game rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo were pretty middle-of-the-road, but he is just a year removed from a terrific 2021 campaign in which he hit .301 with 24 HRs and 16 SBs in 124 games between Double-A and Triple-A.

The Tigers currently have the worst offense in baseball by a large margin and badly need a spark. Greene is just the type of talent who could provide it for them — and for fantasy managers everywhere. Go get him if he’s available in your league.

George Kirby (SP — SEA): 48% Rostered
I’m honestly a little baffled that Kirby is still free for the taking in more than half of Yahoo! leagues. We’re talking about a highly-regarded 24-year old prospect who dominated in five starts in Double-A to begin the year and has had just about as smooth a transition to the Majors as you could hope for. Sure, it would be nice if he was missing as many bats as he did in the minors, but he’s put up a healthy 3.56 ERA and 1.14 WHIP with a stellar 1.05 BB/9 rate. His 3.34 xFIP and 3.80 xERA show he is performing like a true sub-4.00 ERA pitcher. Perhaps fantasy managers are turned off by his one win in eight starts, but win rate is far too fickle a stat to hang your hat on.

Michael Harris II (OF — ATL): 49% Rostered
Consider this the last call on Harris, who was also featured in the headline of this column two weeks ago. In that article, I quoted former Braves outfielder Marquis Grissom comparing Harris to Chipper Jones, Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield, and Jim Thome. We can probably chalk that up as a bit of hyperbole, but Grissom may have been onto something when he said Harris is “different” than most other prospects. So far, it sure looks like the Braves’ phenom is more ready for primetime than the typical 21-year old prospect. Harris hit .305 with five homers, 33 RBIs, and 11 steals in 43 games at Double-A and he’s gone right on raking since joining the Braves, hitting .328 with two homers, 11 RBIs, and two steals in 18 games with Atlanta.

Luke Voit (1B — SD) 44% Rostered
I predicted a power binge for Voit back in May but turns out I was a month early. Nevertheless, it is happening now. The 31-year-old slugger has delivered five round-trippers and 18 RBIs since the start of June for the red-hot Padres. Voit led the Majors in home runs during the Covid-shortened 2020 season, and he’s averaged 33 homers per 162 games for his career. He’s well worth rostering and starting for however long he can stay healthy.


Priority Pickups – <40% Rostered

Alex Cobb (SP — SF): 35% Rostered
As of this moment in time, Cobb’s 2022 season may well be the unluckiest of the Statcast era. Among pitchers who have allowed at least 100 balls in play, he has the lowest expected ERA (2.06), lowest expected batting average against (.197), and lowest expected slugging percentage against (.280). Yes, you heard that right, Cobb leads all MLB pitchers in every one of Statcast’s expected statistics, and yet he currently has a 5.73 ERA and 1.49 WHIP. It really is hard to fathom.

The 34-year-old right-hander has spent the last couple weeks on the injured list with a sore neck, but he’s slated to return to the mound on Sunday against the Pirates. Sounds like a perfect spot for Cobb’s fortunes to start improving.

Brandon Belt (1B — SF): 36% Rostered
Cobb isn’t the only 34-year-old Giant who is fresh off the injured list and needs to be rostered in more leagues. Say hello to Brandon Belt. Between the 2020 and 2021 seasons, Belt .hit 285 with 90 runs, 38 HRs, and 89 RBIs in 145 games. He even chipped in three steals. He was off to a relatively slow start this year before landing on the IL with knee inflammation, but he has hit five homers in 28 games, including one in his first game back on Wednesday. If he performs anywhere close to how he has over the last couple seasons, it will quickly become apparent that he is a must-roster player.

Adam Duvall (OF — ATL): 39% Rostered
Duvall is not the most well-rounded player, but there is no doubting the power potential he brings to the table. In 2021, his 38 home runs were tied for 10th-most in MLB, while his 113 RBIs were tied for fourth. The fact he provides no help in steals or batting average makes him an easy player to move on from when he’s struggling, as he was over the first two months of this season. But Duvall’s bat has come alive over the last two weeks, during which time he’s hitting .268 with 12 runs, five homers, and nine RBIs. He’s batting towards the bottom of the order, but that hardly matters on a team that is scoring as many runs as the Braves are. He could be a very nice source of power and run production moving forward.

Christian Bethancourt (C,1B — OAK): 29% Rostered
The defensive demands of the position make good fantasy catchers hard to find, but it helps when a guy plays more than half his innings at a different position. That’s the case with Bethancourt, who has been getting most of his starts at first base. The A’s lineup is a sorry one, but it’s still useful to have a catcher-eligible player who bats in the heart of the lineup, where he can accumulate a lot of plate appearances. Did I mention that Bethancourt has also stolen four bases in 44 games? Bethancourt may be a 30-year-old journeyman, but he’s accrued top-12 catcher value in standard 5×5 formats despite hardly playing to begin the year.

Alek Thomas (OF — ARI): 19% Rostered
Thomas is flying under the radar on a rebuilding Diamondbacks squad, but if you look closely, you can see the signs of a potential breakout. While his overall numbers are solid, he’s been particularly good lately, hitting .310 with two homers and three steals over the last 14 days. That’s precisely the kind of steady, five-category production that made Thomas a highly-coveted prospect as he ascended through the minors. He’s currently in the midst of an eight-game hitting streak and is the kind of player that you want to bet on.

Oh, and his defense should be good enough to keep him in the lineup through any offensive slumps:

Ezequiel Duran (2B,3B,SS — TEX): 31% Rostered
Duran makes a second straight appearance as a recommended add, following a productive second week in the Majors. He’s currently working on a six-game hitting streak during which he’s batting .360 with a homer, two steals, and seven RBIs. Duran’s quick start with Texas follows a 45-game stint at Double-A Frisco, where he hit .317 with seven homers and seven steals. If there’s a concern, it’s that he’s struck out 13 times since joining the Rangers, while only drawing one walk. But let’s worry about that if and when the time comes. For now, just sit back and enjoy the across-the-board production from a player who is eligible at three different infield spots.

Jon Berti (2B,3B,OF — MIA): 37% Rostered
Last week, I wrote that Berti is probably not a player you’ll want to roster for the entire season, but if he keeps running at this clip, I may have to change my tune. The 32-year old utility man has stolen 12 bases in 17 games since returning from the Covid list on May 27. To put that in perspective, there are only eight players other than Berti who have 12 or more steals for the entire season. Berti has stolen bases at close to a 40-SB clip before (in both 2019 and 2020), and even once stole three bases in one inning. He’s just never had anything resembling regular playing time before now. If you have the need for speed, you know what to do.

Nathaniel Lowe (1B — TEX): 34% Rostered
Lowe’s roster rate is on the rise since I mentioned him in this space last week, but it should be higher still. The Rangers’ first baseman is having a terrific month, hitting .322 with five home runs in 15 June games. He was also very good in April, so right now his rough May looks like the outlier. There was some buzz around a potential Lowe breakout this spring, and while he’s shown no signs of stealing bases like he did last season, he could be emerging as a .275/25 kind of bat in his age-26 season.

Amed Rosario (SS,OF — CLE): 40% Rostered
Rosario hasn’t quite delivered the breakthrough fantasy managers were hoping for after he hit .287 with 15 HRs and 19 SBs as a 23-year-old for the Mets in 2019. But he posted a very respectable .282/77/11/57/13 fantasy line in his first season with Cleveland in 2021, and has been heating up of late after a slow start to his 2022 campaign. While it took until June 15 for Rosario to finally hit his first home run, he’s batting .377 with 13 runs and four steals in 14 games since May 31. Still just 26 years old and regularly perched in the second spot in the Guardians’ lineup, Rosario is not a player we should be giving up on just yet.

Roansy Contreras (SP — PIT): 36% Rostered
Contreras has given up six earned runs in nine innings over his last two starts, but they came against St. Louis and Atlanta, two of the best offenses in baseball. Overall, he still has a solid 2.92 ERA in five starts since joining the Pirates rotation. Most importantly, the arsenal that made Contreras an exciting prospect is still there. His fastball is regularly sitting above 96 mph and his slider is generating an excellent 44.8 percent whiff rate. He could deliver a double-digit strikeout game at any moment, causing his roster rate to spike. Save your FAAB and be ahead of the curve.

Seranthony Dominguez (RP — PHI): 26% Rostered
After several weeks of walking a tightrope, Corey Knebel is officially out as closer for the Phillies. Manager Rob Thomson says Knebel could regain the role after “a couple” low-leverage outings, but the door is also wide open for another Phillies reliever to seize the job. Brad Hand locked down the first post-Knebel save on Friday and is the reliever with the most prior closing experience. But Dominguez will reportedly also see opportunities and is undoubtedly the better pitcher than Hand at this stage of their respective careers. Even if he is on the short end of a committee, Dominguez is worth rostering for his pristine ratios, including a 1.88 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 12.0 K.9 rate.

Deep League Targets – <10% Rostered

Jarren Duran (OF — BOS): 9% Rostered
Duran has already been shuffled back and forth between the Red Sox and Triple-A Worcester a couple times this season, but perhaps he’s about to finally get an extended opportunity to show what he can do. The fact he’s hit leadoff in all three starts since getting recalled is certainly an encouraging sign. Widely considered one of Boston’s top prospects, Duran struggled in a 33-game stint with the Red Sox last season, but showed his power and speed potential by hitting 16 home runs and stealing 16 bases in Triple-A. He’s been even better there this year, hitting .305 with six homers and 11 steals in 43 games for the WooSox. The five-category potential is enticing, especially while hitting atop a loaded lineup like Boston’s. He’ll need to cut down on his strikeout rate to stick in the Majors, but is well worth a test drive in the meantime.

Esteury Ruiz (2B — SD): 4% Rostered
Who knows if or when Ruiz will get the call to the Majors, but if you play in a league that values steals, he needs to be at or near the top of your prospect stash list. Remarkably, the 23-year-old middle infielder has stolen 46 bases in just 58 games between Double-A and Triple-A. He stole 30+ bases in three previous minor league seasons, too. Ruiz is also displaying some impressive power growth this year, recently hitting his 13th home run after never previously hitting more than 12 in a season. Although he was not seen as a high-end prospect entering this season, Ruiz could absolutely make a big impact if the opportunity arises in San Diego.

Didi Gregorius (SS — PHI): 4% Rostered
Gregorius has always been an under-appreciated fantasy player, and that is particularly true now that he is 32 and coming off a down year. While he’s yet to homer or steal a base in 2022, he’s posted a solid .298 average in 28 games and was producing at a 25-30 HR pace as recently as 2020. While his best days may be behind him, Gregorius can at least be a glue guy in deeper leagues.

A.J. Puk (RP — OAK): 4% Rostered
A’s closer Dany Jimenez has endured a very rough stretch of late, allowing 11 earned runs in six innings since May 27. Oakland manager Mark Kotsay has stuck with Jimenez as his closer so far, but one or two more slip-ups could cost him the job. If a change were to occur, Puk would be the logical long-term replacement.

In March, Kotsay compared Puk to Brewers’ closer Josh Hader, stating that Hader was a “[l]eft-handed power arm that started as a multi-inning reliever and transitioned into one of the better closers in the game … He went through that process and earned that role. I think that’s what we want to see from A.J.”  The lanky 6′ 7″ left-hander has dealt with an assortment of injuries over the years, but is pitching well this season, posting a 1.65 ERA and 0.99 WHIP through 27 1/3 innings despite a reduced strikeout rate. Judging by Kotsay’s spring comments, it seems less a matter of if than when Puk gets a chance to close games.

Alright, that’s it for this week. If you like what you see here, you can get more of my thoughts on waiver wire pickups, buy-low/sell-high candidates, rest-of-season player values, and more by going to I’m also always happy to talk about anything fantasy-related on Twitter @andrew_seifter.

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Andrew Seifter is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Andrew, check out his archive and follow him @andrew_seifter.

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