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The Watchlist: Vaughn Grissom, Jovani Moran & Endy Rodriguez (2023 Fantasy Baseball)

The Watchlist: Vaughn Grissom, Jovani Moran & Endy Rodriguez (2023 Fantasy Baseball)
cameraThe Watchlist: Vaughn Grissom, Jovani Moran & Endy Rodriguez (2023 Fantasy Baseball)

This is “The Watchlist.”

“The Watchlist” is a weekly column designed to help you monitor and pick up players in the coming weeks. Whether they’re waiver wire or trade targets, these are the players you’ll want to add now before becoming the hot waiver commodity or trade target in a week or two.

Using underlying and advanced metrics, “The Watchlist” will help you get ahead of the competition in your league and reap the rewards later from your pickups.

The players could be anyone from a prospect in an ideal situation close to the Majors, a reliever in a saves+holds league or even a starter doing well with misleading surface-level stats like ERA. They might even be hitters with quality underlying stats. Or they could be none of those types of players and a different kind of player entirely. The point is that they’ll help you find success in your fantasy league while staying ahead of the curve against your league mates.

The Watchlist (2023 Fantasy Baseball)

The payoff might not be immediate, but these players should eventually provide significant value.

Vaughn Grissom (2B – ATL)

Similar to Brandan Pfaadt last week, Grissom makes an ideal stash candidate despite just being optioned to the minors by Atlanta.

Grissom seemed like an ideal candidate to take over the starting shortstop role in Atlanta vacated by Dansby Swanson. And while Grissom might eventually do that, it won’t be for Opening Day. Instead, the National League East club will go with Orlando Arcia at the position.

And while Arcia had a solid season at the plate last year, he doesn’t possess Grissom’s long-term upside.

The 22-year-old former 11th-round pick made his Major League debut last season and made an instant impact for Atlanta, hitting .291 with a .353 on-base percentage, five home runs and five stolen bases in 156 plate appearances.

Elsewhere, Grissom registered a solid 7.4% barrel rate and struck out just 21.9% of the time. He followed that up with a strong spring at the plate, hitting .371 with an even .400 on-base percentage in 40 Grapefruit League plate appearances, adding two doubles, two steals and a pair of walks in the process while striking out just four times.

It only seems like a matter of time until the former top prospect is back with Atlanta, making now the perfect time to add him to your bench if your league mate dropped him, or if Grissom was left undrafted following his demotion.

Perhaps most crucially for fantasy managers – in addition to the home run and stolen base upside, as well as the fact that he’ll play in a strong Atlanta lineup – is that Grissom should gain both second base and shortstop eligibility in fantasy leagues this season after playing the former last year and the latter this season. That’ll only further underscore his value in leagues where there’s a middle infield slot in the starting lineup.

Jovani Moran (RP – MIN)

Jhoan Duran will rightly draw many of the headlines in the Twins’ bullpen, but the fact remains that Minnesota seems likely to continue to utilize multiple relievers in the ninth inning if past seasons are any indication.

Last season, Emilio Pagan, Duran, Jorge Lopez and Tyler Duffey combined for 23 saves with none of the group logging more than nine saves each.

Turning the calendar back to 2021, Alex Colome, Hansel Robles and Taylor Rogers registered save totals of 17, 10 and nine respectively.

Make no mistake, Duran and his electric stuff will likely get a significant chunk of Minnesota’s saves this season, but finding the relievers who are the secondary sources of saves could be significant for fantasy managers.

One of those relievers could very well be Moran.

The 25-year-old only registered a hold and two saves last season, but features an elite bat-missing offering in his changeup. Sporting a 45.5% usage rate, the pitch finished last season with a 49.7% whiff rate, the seventh-best rate among changeups. Among pitchers who threw at least 300 changeups last season, only Brandon Woodruff‘s changeup logged a higher whiff rate.

Elsewhere, Moran didn’t allow a home run in 40.2 innings of work and finished with 54 strikeouts compared to just 18 walks allowed. What’s more, he finished with an ERA (2.21) and a FIP (1.78) both under 2.50.

There are certainly other bullpen options in Minnesota outside of Duran and Moran. Namely Jorge Lopez, Caleb Thielbar and Griffin Jax. But if past seasons have taught us anything, it’s that Minnesota can support multiple fantasy-relevant ninth-inning options.

Dynasty Addition/Trade Target Of The Week

Endy Rodriguez (C – PIT)

Despite relatively recent Major Leauge debuts from Adley Rutschman, William Contreras and Alejandro Kirk, the catcher position still isn’t incredibly deep in terms of long-term dynasty options. That’s especially true with Daulton Varsho potentially losing his catcher eligibility in the future if he only plays the outfield for the Toronto Blue Jays.

So if you’re in a position where you missed out on those three catchers, or are perhaps trying to plan for the future with someone like Varsho or an older catcher like Salvador Perez or Travis d’Arnaud on your roster, Endy Rodriguez makes for an ideal addition.

Though even if you already have a long-term solution at catcher, Rodriguez is still someone to consider in dynasty formats given his ability at the plate and versatility in the field.

Ranked as the game’s 23rd-best overall prospect by FanGraphs, Eric Longenhagen and Tess Taruskin wrote the following about Rodriguez in the publication’s breakdown of the league’s top 100 prospects:

“He’s a young, switch-hitting catcher with cartoonish offensive numbers (especially from a bat-to-ball standpoint) and uncommon defensive versatility, as he’s played a bunch of second base and left field as well. Throw in the visual twitch and athleticism, and this is the player Spotify’s algorithm would recommend to FanGraphs if prospects were musical artists.”

Rodriguez might not be incredibly far away either, he finished last season at Triple-A, logging a 208 wRC+ in a tiny 23-plate appearance sample size there. This spring, the 22-year-old hit .412 with three doubles in 17 plate appearances during Spring Training play.

The Pirates prospect and Varsho are obviously different hitters, but Varsho’s fantasy value has skyrocketed considerably this season with his eligibility at catcher and in the outfield. Per NFBC, the current Toronto Blue Jay has an ADP of 38.21 at the moment, being taken as the second catcher off the board in fantasy drafts after J.T. Realmuto.

This is not to say that Rodriguez is going to produce exactly like Varsho, but he has the potential to make a significant impact for fantasy managers in the years to come due in part to his versatility.

Beyond our fantasy baseball content, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Baseball Tools as you prepare for your draft this season. From our free mock Draft Simulator – which allows you to mock draft against realistic opponents – to our Draft Assistant – that optimizes your picks with expert advice – we’ve got you covered this fantasy baseball draft season.

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