Fantasy Baseball Category Analysis: Vinnie Pasquantino, David Peterson, Darick Hall (2022)
Yes! It’s good to be back, baby. Let me start by saying thank you to the magnificent Ms. Kelly Kirby for filling in admirably for me last week. I was in Yosemite sleeping under the stars with very little internet access. The surrounding beauty was breathtaking but even amongst the great outdoors, I was still able to sneak away and check in on a few box scores and news wires. I still fell asleep dreaming of lineups and potential call-ups because even when I’m away, I still live and breathe baseball! (Do I have a problem?)
There have been a few solid late-June call-ups, as well as a few players hitting their stride as injury replacements. Luckily for many, despite half of the season being complete, there is still a gaggle of valuable targets sitting patiently on the waiver wire.
At this point, most of the veterans that are still available are un-rostered for a reason. They’ve likely been bad for a while now and if they haven’t shown signs of life yet, it’s probably better to let them simmer a bit longer. I wouldn’t fault you for taking a chance on one of them though. We’ve all seen a player have a monster second half after a dismal first one. But at this juncture and for this week’s piece, (on the offensive side) I’m going to be focusing more on the up-and-coming young stars that are finally getting their shot. Some will fizzle out quickly, but others could take the league by storm as we’ve seen from so many other youngsters.
Without further ado, here are 14 players, rostered in less than 50 percent of Yahoo Leagues that can help you in one of the major categories. Most of these guys will help you in more ways than one, with their primary contributions coming in the category under which they are listed.
Vinnie Pasquantino (1B – KC): 35%
The Royals finally shipped off Carlos Santana, opening up a spot for their hottest hitter in Omaha, Vinnie Pasquantino. Pasquantino’s been a fantasy favorite over the last few months, with fans everywhere clamoring for his promotion. He not only hits for power but also rarely strikes out and hits for a good average.
The Virginia-native hit his first dinger last night against Michael Pineda and is already batting cleanup in the Royals order. He mashed in Triple-A and should be a solid run producer at the Major League level as well. He won’t be available for long, so add him now.
Mitch Garver (C – TEX): 40%
Mitch Garver needs surgery on his forearm, yet he’s still playing and hitting home runs! Since everyone dropped him after hearing about his injury, the Rangers’ DH is now available in the majority of leagues. He’s obviously still a risky choice with the impending surgery, but qualifying at catcher and hitting near the middle of the order (four times a week) isn’t a terrible option for those in deeper leagues.
Darick Hall (UTL – PHI): 1%
The Phillies have found their replacement for Bryce Harper. In fact, he may find himself in a position battle when he comes back. Ok, that was obviously a joke, don’t @ me, but I do love this guy Darick Hall! The first rookie to make his debut in the cleanup spot since Kris Bryant, Hall has already collected three hits in his first three games, all for home runs!
The soon-to-be 27-year-old was a clutch machine in Triple-A this season, knocking in an eye-popping 67 runs over just 279 at-bats. He also clubbed 20 homers. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound lefty swings a heavy bat and looks like he’s capable of going yard every time he takes the bat off his shoulder. The upper-echelon pitchers probably won’t have much trouble with him and he likely won’t hit above .230, but the home runs and RBIs should come in bunches. I already roster him in most of my leagues and you should too. Add the big man in Phili now to help boost your power numbers.
Nico Hoerner (2B/SS – CHC): 34%
Hoerner is an ex-first rounder who has had trouble staying on the field for most of his career. Now fully healthy, fantasy managers are finally getting a glimpse of why the Cubs took him so early on in the draft four years ago. Hoerner’s up to a .310 batting average to go along with six steals and four home runs. The power is lacking but he only K’s about once every 10 at-bats and rarely makes soft contact (under 15 percent). If your average is low, you could do a whole lot worse at middle infield. Hoerner has been raking lately and deserves an add in most leagues.
Bligh Madris (OF – PIT): 4%
MLB’s first player of Palauan descent hits really hard line drives and ground balls. While that may not sound enticing, from a batting average standpoint, it should place him among the league’s top 25 percent.
Madris has made a living in the Minor Leagues spraying the ball all over the yard, producing a high BABIP and BA. While some regression is a given, there’s no arguing with the .310 average he’s already registered in 11 MLB games and the .304 average he obtained over 46 games in Triple-A.
The Pirates are finally letting the kids play and for a baseball junkie like me, it’s been exciting to watch. The lefty-swinging Madris has been hitting in the three-hole versus righties and even if he doesn’t stay there, he’ll still have decent value in 14+ leagues.
He’s the type of athlete that can contribute across the board while hitting for a great average. Plus, he’s jacked! Have you seen his arms? The man just looks like he rakes.
Add Madris now in deeper leagues if you need help in batting average.
Esteury Ruiz (2B – SD): 13%
I know I briefly mentioned Ruiz in the past and he’s still not up in the Major Leagues but it doesn’t matter. Get this guy on your roster ASAP. Baseball hasn’t seen a base stealer like this since Billy Hamilton, plus the dude mashes.
Combining his Double and Triple-A numbers this season, Ruiz has already racked up, are you ready for this… 53 stolen bases and an OPS over 1.000. He’s hit 13 home runs, 22 doubles, two triples, and his strikeout total is below 20%. Minor League numbers should always be taken with a grain of salt, but this type of speed will play at any level.
If the Padres are serious about winning an NL West title, then it shouldn’t be long until we see Esteury in Friar Brown. Fernando Tatis is still a ways off from returning and no one on the Padres has been hitting the cover off the ball outside of Manny Machado. Add the lighting quick outfielder now and stash him to give your steals a massive boost down the stretch.
CJ Abrams (2B/SS – SD): 12%
Abrams is also someone to consider. Unlike Ruiz, Abrams is up with the Major League club and is starting every day. He has yet to swipe a bag in his return, however, and still doesn’t quite have the look of the fantasy star many were hoping for. He very well could be a 20/20 player next season but I’d be hesitant to rush back to add him now unless you are truly desperate. He did rake in Triple-A after his demotion so he could be worth a flier if you have the room, just don’t go dropping anyone good.
Kolten Wong (2B – MIL): 36%
Wong got dropped in over a quarter of leagues while nursing a calf injury. Now back to 100 percent, the dynamic second baseman is starting against right-handed pitching. With Christian Yelich entrenched in the leadoff spot, Wong has moved down to fifth in the order where he has continued to get on base and score runs while also benefiting from more RBI opportunities. In three starts since his activation, Wong has totaled four runs and two RBIs.
Over 145 at-bats against righties this year, Wong has registered an .830 OPS to go along with eight steals, five home runs, 10 doubles, and three triples. The two-time Gold Glove winner can contribute across the board and should be starting in the majority of daily leagues when facing a RHP.
Tyler Wells (SP/RP – BAL): 31%
Tyler Wells is my dark horse to win the Cy Young award. Ok, I’m joking but man is this guy good. Since a rough season-opener, Wells has been masterful giving up just 21 runs over 14 starts. The 6-foot-8 righty has been a model of consistency, limiting free passes and hard contact in nearly every start. His changeup and slider have been nearly unhittable, rendering a .191 batting average with a .280 SLG.
If that doesn’t convince you just look at what he’s done against the Yankees, Boston, and Toronto. In five games against three of the top slugging teams in baseball, Wells has held them to just five runs over 26 innings.
I know I’ve spotlighted him before, but he just keeps making me look good. Wells was on my radar before the season started because of his success as a reliever last year and Baltimore’s pitcher-friendly dimension changes. He’s scheduled to take on Minnesota next and my guess is he’ll impress once again.
Devin Smeltzer (SP/RP – MIN): 21%
You guys still aren’t in on Smeltzer but this dude is a winner. I know I’ve mentioned him before as well, but seeing as he’s still available in over three-quarters of leagues, he absolutely deserves discussing again.
Smeltzer won’t light up the radar gun nor does he possess a wipeout slider, but he does pitch deep into games and regularly keeps hitters off balance. The southpaw out of New Jersey has a quirky delivery that not only makes his offerings difficult to square up but hard to even swing at. The late movement he gets on his pitches is also a big part of why he is so successful as well as his excellent command.
With so much working in his favor, Smeltzer has managed to win four of his last five decisions while quietly putting together one of baseball’s better seasons – a 2.86 ERA with a 1.01 WHIP.
Scheduled to start Sunday against Baltimore and Tyler Wells, Smeltzer is going to have to be at his best to earn another win. While I do love Wells and think it’ll be a low-scoring game, either pitcher could come out ahead (so add both!). Plus, after Baltimore, Smeltzer is facing another winnable matchup in a great pitchers’ park against the Rangers in Texas.
Any time a pitcher can go out and register such low numbers over more than a few starts (Sunday’s will be his 10th) he is worthy of a roster spot in the majority of fantasy leagues. Smeltzer’s only had one clunker all season and you have to like his odds with the two matchups coming up. Add Smeltzer where available.
Zack Greinke (SP – KC): 30%
Has the Zack Greinke of old returned? He’s set to face his old mates in Houston this week and while that’s not a great matchup, the six-time All-Star has produced back-to-back quality starts since returning from the IL.
Besides throwing kid’s baseballs into the stands (to which the team attests the boy was pushing younger kids out of the way), Greinke seems to have found his footing. His last two starts resulted in his lowest average exit velocities of the season.
Although he’ll give up his share of hits, Greinke rarely allows a free pass, keeping him on the leaderboard for WHIP. He currently sits at 1.23 for the season and while Father Time may have finally caught up to him, Greinke hasn’t produced a WHIP above 1.17 since 2016. I’m sitting him against Houston, but I’ve got him rostered in leagues he was dropped. Start Greinke in favorable matchups throughout the rest of the year.
Michael Pineda (SP – DET): 5%
Big Mike is back in Detroit. While he didn’t pitch great on Friday – his first game since early May – Pineda is one of those boring guys who is useful in the backend of your rotation. He won’t stand out in any category but he does limit walks which helps keep his WHIP down to a respectable number. He’s available in nearly all leagues and could be helpful for those with WHIP’s above 1.30 or just below.
David Peterson (SP- NYM): 37%
What has gotten into David Peterson? Suddenly his breaking pitches look sharper and his fastball looks faster. Over his last three starts, the young right-hander has struck out an attention-grabbing 25 batters in just 18.1 innings. And it’s not as though he’s facing seven hitters an inning. Peterson has only allowed 17 base runners over those 18.1 innings (while surrendering just five runs). He’s looked exceptional of late and is scheduled to take on the hapless Reds next. He deserves your attention in deeper leagues.
Lou Trivino (RP – OAK): 26%
The wheels finally came off Dany Jimenez last month and while there was speculation a few others could take over in the closer role (AJ Puk in particular), it seems the A’s are content to turn to their old stopper in Lou Trivino. They could just be boosting his trade value in the short term but he seems to be the man in Oakland right now. His ERA (6.85) is atrocious but his FIP (2.86) is light years ahead of that.
Trivino still has swing and miss stuff, he just leaves it over the plate a few times too often. If you’re desperate for saves take a chance on Oakland’s former and current closer, Mr. Trivino.
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Austin Lowell is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Austin, check out his archive.