Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Vinnie Pasquantino, Christopher Morel, Jarren Duran (2022)
One topic I’ve admittedly given short shrift to in this column is streaming pitchers. My approach here has been to prioritize players who could emerge as long-term difference-makers rather than short-term band-aids. Perhaps it’s my bias towards leagues with innings caps. Still, I also generally dislike recommending pitchers with low strikeout rates and/or glaring warning signs in their peripherals.
While I don’t plan to suddenly start focusing on streamers weekly, some of the pitchers who didn’t quite make the cut for this week’s waiver wire happen to be interesting streaming options. These lightly-rostered pitchers include Devin Smeltzer (vs. BAL, 21% rostered), Tyler Wells (@MIN, 30% rostered), Dean Kremer (vs. TEX, 15% rostered), and Chad Kuhl (vs. ARI, 19% rostered).
Now back to your regularly scheduled programming!
Note: Rostered rates are from Yahoo leagues as of Friday.
FAABulous Four: Top Waiver Targets
Vinnie Pasquantino (1B – KC) – 34% Rostered
The Royals made us wait far longer than they should have, but after finally finding a taker for Carlos Santana, Kansas City promoted Pasquantino to the Major League roster. The “Italian Nightmare” is the kind of upper-echelon prospect that was already worth stashing when he was toiling away in the minors, but now he is a must-add. A 24-year-old left-handed slugger, Vinnie P. had 18 home runs and 67 RBIs in 69 games at Triple-A Omaha while walking more often than he struck out. If anything, his .280 batting average was due to rise based on how much contact he was making.
Plenty of prospects have struggled in their first taste of the Big Leagues, but Pasquantino seems more likely to succeed than most, thanks to his advanced age and mature plate approach. He could be a meaningful contributor in power and batting average from day one. Think Travis Hafner 2.0.
I always thought Travis Hafner was a somewhat, good comp for Vinnie Pasquantino. Very similar swings.
– Jack Johnson (@JohnyJ_15) June 27, 2022
Christopher Morel (2B, 3B, OF – CHC – 52% Rostered
While other rookies have generated far more hype, Morel has quietly been one of the best. Since he was called up on May 17, Morel has been the 18th-most valuable hitter in standard 5×5 leagues, ahead of Bobby Witt Jr. and all other rookies not named Julio Rodriguez. While his 30.3 percent strikeout rate is somewhat concerning — and all but ensures some batting average regression is coming — Morel is displaying an intriguing blend of power and speed. He’s also batting leadoff most nights, which should allow him to keep scoring runs at a high clip. He may not be a brand name, but at this point, it’s tough to justify the 40 percent gap in roster rate between Morel and Witt/Rodriguez.
5-for-5 with a 440-foot blast!
Decent night for Christopher Morel. pic.twitter.com/iI6jDWvynU
– Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 1, 2022
Jarren Duran (OF – BOS) – 30% Rostered
I wrote about Duran last week, but he’s getting the headliner treatment this week. Duran missed the last three games in Toronto because he’s unvaccinated, but the fact that the Red Sox put him on the restricted list rather than sending him to the minors again is a good sign that he is with the Red Sox for good this time. Plus, he’ll apparently be vaccinated and available for Boston’s next trip to Canada in September.
With concerns about a possible demotion out of the way, Duran becomes a must-roster player. The speedy 25-year-old was considered a top-25 prospect in baseball last year, and he’s dominated Triple-A by hitting .305 with six homers and 11 steals in 43 games to begin 2022. He was hitting .327 with nine runs and four steals in just 13 games with the Red Sox entering Friday’s action and just smacked a leadoff home run as I was writing this! Duran should continue to be a terrific source of runs and steals as long as he’s hitting atop one of the best lineups in baseball.
JARREN DURAN IS BACK AND HE’S LAUNCHING BOMBS pic.twitter.com/uC8G7Bu5gM
– Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) July 1, 2022
Alex Kirilloff (OF – MIN) – 35% Rostered
Kirilloff was my number one recommended add last week, and I don’t have much to say now that I didn’t say then. This is a polished prospect with a terrific hit tool who looks to be fully over the wrist issues that derailed his 2021 season and the start of this one. Kirilloff connected on his first home run of the season on Wednesday and has collected 7 RBIs in his last six games. The opportunity to pick him up for free isn’t going to be there much longer.
Alex Kirilloff (403ft) Hits His 1st HR This Season…
– SportsGridTV (@SportsGridTV) June 30, 2022
Priority Pickups – <40% Rostered
Aaron Ashby (SP, RP – MIL) – 29% Rostered
Ashby is reportedly on the verge of returning to the Brewers’ starting rotation, and that means he should also be back in our fantasy plans. A former top-40 overall prospect, Ashby pairs an outstanding strikeout rate with a high ground ball rate, the ideal profile for fantasy success. He currently has a 4.25 ERA on the year, but his 3.02 xERA and 3.08 xFIP give a better sense of how well he’s pitched. The Brewers have a strong track record of developing frontline starters in recent years, and Ashby could be the latest success story by year’s end. Add him now before news of his return becomes official.
Nick Lodolo (SP – CIN) – 16% Rostered
Lodolo is another high-end pitching prospect about to return from the Injured List. The 24-year-old left-hander posted an unimpressive 5.52 ERA over his first three Big League starts, but he got progressively better with each outing, and his 3.79 xERA and 3.18 xFIP show he deserved better. Last year, Lodolo posted a dominant 1.84 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, and 13.91 K/9 at Double-A Chattanooga, highlighting his potential upside if and when he figures things out.
– MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) June 29, 2022
Juan Yepez (1B, 3B, OF – STL) – 39% Rostered
Yepez got his Big League career off to a smoking-hot start, hitting .333 with three home runs in his first 14 games with St. Louis. He then fell into a prolonged slump that saw his batting average drop all the way down to .259 and threatened his grasp on an everyday starting job. Thankfully, he’s heated up again just in time, hitting .340 with five homers and 13 RBIs in 16 games since June 11. The versatile 24-year-old has now hit 18 home runs in 71 games between Triple-A and the Majors after hitting 27 round-trippers in 111 games between Double-A and Triple-A last year. While his .284 batting average may regress into the .250-.260 range, that kind of power will play.
Juan Yepez is RED HOT!!! ??? His second homer of the night makes it a 7-0 game in the sixth.
– Bally Sports Midwest (@BallySportsMW) June 28, 2022
Evan Longoria (3B – SF) – 10% Rostered
The Giants seem to find productive players in unexpected places, and the 36-year-old Longoria is no exception. While it’s been a long time since he was considered a fantasy star, Longoria is still a legitimate power bat. Before suffering a shoulder sprain last year, he was off to a terrific start, hitting .280 with nine homers and 30 RBIs in 50 games. He’s performing at an even higher level lately, hitting .284 with eight homers and 16 RBIs in 29 games since May 25. Longoria hasn’t played an entire season since 2017, and the next injury could happen at any time, but he’s well worth utilizing in the meantime.
Kolten Wong (2B – MIL) – 35% Rostered
After missing three weeks with a strained calf, Wong is freshly back from the injured list, and Craig Counsell has inserted him right into the heart of the Brewers’ batting order. When healthy, Wong is an underrated across-the-board contributor, particularly in roto/categories leagues. He emerged as a fantasy asset in 2019 when he hit .285 with 11 HRs and 24 SBs, and he was also quite useful last year, hitting .272 with 14 HRs and 12 SBs in just 116 games. This year, he’s delivered five homers and eight steals in 55 games, and while his .233 batting average is disappointing, we can expect him to hit at least .260 going forward based on his past track record.
Jorge Mateo (2B, SS, OF – BAL) – 25% Rostered
I could basically write the same thing about Mateo here that I wrote a month ago. He’s not a very good hitter, as is evident from his .199 batting average and 32.3 percent strikeout rate. But he continues to find his way into the Orioles’ lineup daily and is currently tied for the Major League lead with 19 stolen bases. He’s also on pace for about 14 home runs and is eligible at three different positions. I can’t promise the batting average will come up very much, if at all, but Mateo is still a player that should be rostered in most categories leagues.
Luis Urias (2B, 3B, SS – MIL) – 38% Rostered
Urias was a trendy sleeper this spring after posting a .249/77/24/75/5 fantasy line last year as a 24-year-old in his first full Major League season. I wasn’t buying a breakout then, and I’m not buying it now, but he can still be useful, especially in points leagues. Urias boasts an above-average walk rate, and his .217 batting average should be closer to .240-.250 moving forward. He’s another player who offers multi-position eligibility, and even with the slow start, he’s on pace to match last season’s HR and run production numbers.
Nico Hoerner (2B, SS – CHC) – 34% Rostered
I won’t lie. Up until recently, I dismissed Hoerner as a source of empty batting average who wouldn’t contribute enough elsewhere to matter in fantasy. That may still be how this story ends, but so far, he’s produced just enough category juice (four homers, six steals) to pique my interest mildly. At the very least, you could consider riding the hot hand. He’s currently on an eight-game hitting streak during which he’s batting .531.
Deep League Targets – <10% Rostered
Mitch White (SP, RP – LAD) – 6% Rostered
Any Dodgers starter should immediately capture your attention, and White certainly qualifies. The 27-year-old right-hander isn’t a prospect at this point, but he has posted a solid 3.64 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and 9.0 K/9 over his first 84 innings in the Majors. Many of those appearances came in relief, but White is locked into a rotation spot with Walker Buehler and Andrew Heaney on the IL. White has posted a 3.38 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in four June starts for L.A. and gets favorable home starts against Colorado and the Cubs his next two times out.
Will Crowe (SP, RP – PIT) – 6% Rostered
David Bednar has been a fantastic closer for the Buccos this season, but he’s been bothered by back discomfort of late, and he’s been hit hard in his last two outings. A stint on the injured list could be in his future, and if so, Crowe is the best bet to take his place in the ninth inning. Crowe hasn’t been nearly as dominant as Bednar this season, but he does have a respectable 3.45 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and 9.34 K/9 across 30 appearances. Bednar is an excellent example of why closers on bad teams matter in fantasy, and Crowe could quickly emerge as a viable fantasy option if called upon to close games.
Darick Hall (UTIL – PHI) – 1% Rostered
Apparently, Bryce Harper’s pain is Hall’s gain. With Harper sidelined for 6-8 weeks by a broken thumb, the Phillies suddenly have a gaping hole in the middle of their lineup, and Hall will be given a chance to fill it — at least against righties. After crushing 20 home runs in 72 games at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Hall hit two more in his second Major League game while batting out of the cleanup spot. However, he’s not likely to hit for average and has done almost all of his damage against right-handed pitching while hitting just .188 against lefties at Triple-A. He’ll likely start as a platoon player, but needless to say, the power potential is legit.
Rafael Ortega (OF – CHC) – 3% Rostered
Although not in Morel’s class, Ortega is another Cubs hitter flying under the radar. After bouncing around four other organizations, Ortega did not land regular playing time until he joined the Cubs at age 30. Since then, he’s been quietly productive, hitting .279 with 15 HRs and 17 SBs in 162 games since the start of the 2021 season. He hasn’t been quite as good this year as last, but the underlying numbers are similar. He’s a solid option in deeper leagues while batting at or near the top of Chicago’s lineup.
Josh Lowe (OF – TB) – 8% Rostered
Expectations for Lowe need to be kept, well, low. But there is still quite a bit of untapped potential to get excited about here. Right now, his K% is far too high to trust him in your starting lineup, but if he can even get that number down into the 30 percent range, he certainly can provide the category juice that fantasy managers are looking for. The hope is that Lowe can eventually replicate his 2021 season at Triple-A when he hit .291 with 22 HRs and 26 SBs in 111 games. He’s looked like that player in Triple-A again this season (albeit with an elevated strikeout rate), and the Rays are playing him just about every day to see if that version of Lowe can also emerge in Tampa.
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 subscribing to ROSrankings.com. I’m also always happy to talk about anything fantasy-related on Twitter @andrew_seifter.
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