Fantasy Baseball Category Analysis: George Kirby, Vaughn Grissom, Elehuris Montero (2022)
Let’s hear it for the rookies! Last week, I said I was going to hold off on recommending the latest call-ups to see how they debuted. After following their production all week, I can safely say, many of them belong on your fantasy team. With so many players on the move (the trade deadline was insane again), including players heading to the IL, more than a handful of spots have opened up, and these talented youngsters have made the most of it.
Let’s get to it. All of these players are rostered in 50% or less of Yahoo leagues and can help you in at least one major category. They are broken down by where they are most likely to contribute, but many of them will do so in more than one.
A quick side note before we begin. Lance McCullers doesn’t qualify for this list at 63% rostered, but he’s making his long-awaited return today. If you play in one of the 37% of leagues he’s available in, it would be wise to add him ASAP.
Montero has been on fire since being recalled at the beginning of August. In 10 games this month, the Rockies prospect has gone 14 for 38 (.368 BA), with five doubles and a home run. He’s already knocked in 6 RBI, including two yesterday, and has scored five runs.
If you tune into Rockies’ games, you’ll see just for yourself how great this guy looks at the plate. At 6-3, 215 pounds, Montero’s swing is powerful while still being quick to the ball. His hard-hit rate is 42%, with a 10.6% barrel rate. Montero has only walked once in 20 games but did show great patience in the Minors. At first glance, his strikeout percentage may seem alarming, but much of that was earlier in the season as he’s only struck out four times over his last 28 at-bats.
Montero’s swing was built for Coors, and while his average likely won’t stay above .300, his other numbers should be steady. He produced a .933 OPS in Triple-A this season and is off to a great start this month. And he only played four games at home this month. It’s a small sample size, but the Rockies have awarded him an everyday job, and he’s someone you should consider too.
Gonzalez was activated from the IL on August 2nd and has gotten at least one hit in every start since. In eight games, the massive left fielder has totaled 13 hits to go along with 5 RBIs. Gonzalez generates a ton of power to his pull side but doesn’t sell out for homers leading to a high batting average (.304). Hitting behind the Guardians core, Gonzalez and his 42% hard-hit rate should continue to rack up a decent amount of RBIs.
He won’t earn you any steals, but he will contribute in the other four major categories. Add the Dominican masher now if you need help in RBIs or batting average.
I loved this guy on Friends, but what he’s doing in Miami is even more impressive. Over his first 11 games (40 plate appearances), LeBlanc has totaled 16 hits, good for a .410 batting average! Now, his .517 BABIP is proooooobably going to come down, but it’s not like he’s hitting weak grounders that just happen to find their way through. No, the Marlins’ new third baseman is hitting lasers all over the field. His line drive rate (by far the highest expected BA outcome) is a whipping 37%. He’s got positive marks on every offering sent his way except changeups coming from the left side and even hit over .300 in Triple-A this year.
He may lose playing time now that Brian Anderson has been activated, but they could get creative and find more at-bats for their hottest hitter. Obviously, the wheels could fall off at any moment, but for now, ride the hot streak and boost that average!
I’m also a fan of Michael Massey. He was impressive in the Minors and College and probably would have been a top pick in 2019 had it not been for a late injury. Over the last two seasons in the Royals system (186 games), Massey has clubbed 37 homers while knocking in 164 runs and stealing 25 bases (with only four caught). His batting average this season in Triple-A was .325, and he’s hitting .333 (12 for 36) so far for KC.
Massey probably won’t total enough stats to make him worth your while in shallow leagues, but in deeper ones, he’s worth a shot.
Grissom had quite the coming-out party. His homer over the Green Monster, coupled with his steal in the late innings, pushed his rostership to nearly 40% in just a day. The Braves’ latest youngster to join the big league club wasn’t projected to see the bright lights until 2024. However, with injuries mounting and little production coming out of the keystone position, Atlanta made the move to bring up its top prospect.
While the 21-year-old does possess a world of talent, fantasy managers should keep their expectations in check, even after such an impressive beginning. Grissom could become a five-category contributor, but his biggest asset is likely his speed. The stolen bases should come at a favorable pace while he continues to accumulate solid numbers across the board. Ozzie Albies won’t be out forever, though, so don’t go spending your entire free agent budget on him.
I wasn’t happy when I was outbid for Meneses because this dude has been hitting moonshots. With four home runs to his credit already in just his first eight Major League games, Meneses has become a popular addition. He’s hitting .370 and has only K’d four times.
He launched 20 long balls for Washington’s Triple-A squad this year and has looked patient at the plate. Sometimes these long-term Minor Leaguers (he’s 30 years old and toiled for over 10 years in the Minors), when finally given their shot, are well prepared and up to the challenge. Add the Nationals’ newest addition while he’s mashing and help boost those home runs.
Sears came to Oakland in the Frankie Montas deal with the Yankees and started Wednesday for the Bay Area club. He allowed just one hit through the first five innings before surrendering two singles which the bullpen allowed to score. In his two starts in New York, the 26-year-old lefty gave up zero runs over 10.2 innings. In Triple-A this season for the Bombers, his ERA over 11 games (nine starts) was 1.67 and in his lone start for Oakland’s affiliate was 1.93. Do we see a pattern here? The kid just doesn’t give up runs!
He struck out better than a batter per inning in the Minors, but that part of his game hasn’t transitioned quite as well. Nevertheless, Sears has continued to shut opposing offenses down by keeping line drives (11.7%) and hard-hit balls (28.2%) to a minimum while rarely surrendering free passes (1.65 BB/9). As a starter, Sears has been quite valuable. Oakland won’t offer him much support, but he should be started in deeper leagues for his two-start week coming up.
DL Hall (SP – BAL): 11%
Hall was rumored to be approaching his call-up last weekend, and now it’s become official. The Orioles’ fourth-ranked prospect and 22nd overall in baseball (according to FanGraphs) will be making his debut today against the Rays.
Hall, a former first-rounder, has averaged nearly 15 strikeouts per 9 innings this year in Triple-A, something he’s done rather consistently throughout his Minor League career. Still, at only 23 years old, Hall can be a bit wild at times, racking up the walks while losing control of his fastball. He’s not a sure thing by any means but is a great bet for strikeouts, and with the Orioles playing good baseball, he should have a chance to succeed.
Quantrill has been a tough one to figure out this year. After getting crushed by Arizona and Boston (Bobby Dalbec had five RBIs that game), he’s bounced back to produce two nearly flawless games against much better offenses (Houston and Toronto). His splits say he’s better at home, but on Friday, he allowed just one base runner over seven shutout innings in Toronto. Toronto is the second-highest scoring team in the AL with the highest batting average (and xBA for you analytical fans).
On the season, the Stanford alum has registered a 3.67 ERA with a 1.22 WHIP – numbers that were much higher a week ago. He’s also recorded nine wins. Quantrill often pitches deep into games, and with a solid 7-8-9 trio of relievers, more wins are sure to come his way. Add the sinkerball specialist while his 2-seamer is back up to last year’s velocity (when he recorded a 2.89 ERA over 149.2 innings) if you need wins – and aren’t faint of heart.
Kirby barely qualifies for this list, and for good reason. Not only can he reach triple digits with his fastball, but his slider can be devastating at times as well. He shows impeccable command (1.25 BB/9) and strikes out better than a batter per inning (9.29 K/9). With very few walks given up, Kirby’s been able to keep his WHIP to an excellent 1.17.
The secrets out on Kirby, as it was in many fantasy circles before the season even started. He won’t last much longer, even in the shallowest of leagues, so if he’s still available, pounce now.
Garrett Whitlock doesn’t qualify at 55% rostered, so I’m going with Kennedy here. While Mark Melancon may still see the occasional save opportunity, more often than not, it’ll be Kennedy who’s handed the ball in the ninth. With Arizona playing well lately, saves have been on the rise, and Kennedy has recorded three of their last four. Melancon’s ERA has come down from the ghastly 5.28 it was last month, but Kennedy’s is still more than a full run better. Kennedy has had plenty of experience closing throughout his career, and if he can stay healthy, he could be in line for 8-10 saves the rest of the way.
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Austin Lowell is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Austin, check out his archive.