After a 3-for-16 start to the year, Kurt Suzuki had found his rhythm over his last nine games (12-for-30) leading to seven runs, three HRs, and nine RBI. Even with Tyler Flowers due back at the end of the month, Suzuki should command the edge in playing time at catcher in Atlanta. His game took a step forward over the second half of 2017 (.311 with 12 HRs and 26 RBI over 148 at-bats) at age 33. Kurt may be a free agent in shallow two catcher leagues (dropped in my 12-team league last week). I expect more power production going forward with a chance at mid-teen home runs with 400+ at-bats.
Russell Martin played his way to the bench in five of the last 13 games by the Blue Jay creating a surprising window of success for Luke Maile. On the year, Maile has 12 hits in 29 at-bats with seven runs and nine RBI. Last week in three straight starts, Luke went 6-for-10 with four runs and five RBI. He’s only a career .204 hitter in the majors with five HRs and 33 RBI over 313 at-bats with a boring minor league resume (.253 with 19 HRs and 171 RBI over 1,487 at-bats). Only an injury cover for now.
The weekly tab on Francisco Mejia looks like this. After hitting a home run in back-to-back games while going 4-for-9 with four RBI, Mejia didn’t have a hit in 12 at-bats followed up with a 3-for-5 game with a double and RBI. He’s had seven starts behind the plate, two at DH, and four games in the outfield. If Francisco is called up, it will take him a long time to qualify at catcher unless the Indians have an injury at catcher in the majors.
The Rays have committed to playing C.J. Cron in 2018, and he responded with a step up in production over the last week or so (14-for-40 with five runs, three HRs, and nine RBI). Over this span, Tampa has moved to him to second in the batting order helping his opportunity. Cron has always had a 20/80 type skill set, but the Angels never allowed him to play every day. It’s time to add C.J. as he looks poised to make a step forward in his game while expecting him to get 550+ at-bats.
The Red Sox have been forced to find a way to get Mitch Moreland in the starting lineup over the last week. Over nine starts in Boston’s last 12 games, Moreland has 13 hits in 30 at-bats with seven runs, two HRs, and 11 RBI. He’ll sit against most lefties if all the Red Sox outfielders are healthy, which makes Mitch only a play in deep leagues.
The Yankees called up Gleyber Torres on Sunday after a successful 14 games at AAA (.347 with six runs, one HR, and 11 RBI). With Neil Walker off to a slow start (11-for-60 with no HRs and three RBI), Torres should have a nice window to seize the second base job in New York. Gleyber is a career .285 hitter in the minors with 24 HRs, 208 RBI, and 61 SBs in 1,398 at-bats. Possible mid-teen power with enough speed to steal 20 bags early in his career.
Adam Frazier will get a chance to bat leadoff and play almost every day for the Pirates with Josh Harrison out until early June with a broken bone in his last left hand. Over the last week with five starts in seven games, Frazier only has four hits in 23 at-bats with three runs and one RBI. Adam is only worth a dance in deep leagues due to his low upside in power and speed. At best, he has a 10/15 skill set with some value in batting average and runs.
The third base job for the Yankees looks cloudy in 2018, but Miquel Andujar is making a play to keep the starting role long-term. Over the last week with five starts in six games, Andujar has nine hits in 20 at-bats with six runs, two HRs, and six RBI. Miguel played well in 2017 between AA and AAA (.315 with 16 HRs and 82 RBI) suggesting he’s ready to be a factor in the majors.
Over the first two weeks of the season, Jeimer Candelario only hit .200 over 50 at-bats with two runs and two RBI leading to some impatient owners dumping him back into the free agent pool. Over his last seven starts, Candelario has 12 hits in 30 at-bats with three runs, three HRs, and eight RBI. The Tigers continues to bat him second in the lineup, which will lead to plenty of runs over the long haul. Jeimer has a chance to produce 80+ runs, 20+ HRs, and 70+ RBI with 550 at-bats in the majors.
Yangervis Solarte hit three home runs with six RBI over the last week with only a .227 batting average. With Devon Travis battling a sore foot and slow start (7-for-47 with no HRs and two RBI), Solarte should work his way into an everyday role compared with a rotation situation at the beginning of the season for the Blue Jays. Yangervis already has 14 walks in 64 at-bats suggesting he’s seeing the ball well. More of a steady piece to a Fantasy team than an impact option while qualifying at three positions (2B, SS, and 3B).
Johan Camargo returned for the DL mid-week, but the Braves gave him his first start on Saturday night where he delivered a game-winning triple. The free agent pool is weak at short. Camargo may work his way into full-time at-bats at third base for Atlanta, but he has limited upside in power and speed. His dual position eligibility will help some teams cover injuries as a bench option.
Over the last week, Denard Span has started only four games. He has a four-game hitting streak (7-for-18 with three runs, one HR, and nine RBI) pushing his RBI total to 17 on the year over 54 at-bats. Denard had double-digit power and mid-teen value in steals. His success should lead to more playing time especially with Kevin Kiermaier on the DL for a couple more months.
I admit Jason Heyward hasn’t been great in his major league career with only one season of impact value (2012 – .269 with 93 runs, 27 HRs, 82 RBI, and 21 SBs). Three times in his career, Jason has over 20 SBs. He’ll take a walk, and his K rate tends to be fair, but his power has been well below his stature for five straight years, and the Cubs are hitting eighth in the batting order in 2018. Through all of that, Jason does have 12 runs, two HRs, and 12 RBI over his first 57 at-bats with a nice approach at the plate (seven walks and seven Ks). His start projected over 550 at-bats would be 116 runs, 19 HRs, and 116 RBI. I’d like to see more speed, which was a lost skill set in 2017 (four stolen bases) plus a more favorable slot the batting order.
Ian Happ has hit his way to the bench after 25 Ks in 52 at-bats showing he doesn’t belong at the top of the Cubs lineup. Chicago has been riding the hot hand of Albert Almora over the last three games at leadoff (7-for-14 with six runs and two RBI), but his minor league resume (.290 with 24 HRs, 191 RBI, and 33 RBI over 1,622 at-bats) doesn’t paint a leadoff picture. Almora is a buy this week with Ben Zobrist going on the DL. Albert has starting value as an injury cover in most format if he’s batting at the top of the lineup. I don’t expect a big push in power or speed.
My gut tells me Heyward is going to the player that emerges as a top of the order hitting for the Cubs while adding back some steals. His power may finally be a factor in his skill set in 2018. Jason has five hits in his last 12 at-bats with three runs, one HR, and five RBI. Don’t sleep at the wheel here.
The Giants called up Mac Williamson to replace Hunter Pence over the weekend. Over 220 at-bats in the majors in his career, Williamson hit .227 with ten HRs and 24 RBI. His minor league resume (.283 with 315 runs, 81 HRs, 313 RBI, and 26 SBs over 1,789 at-bats) paints a much higher picture. Worth a flier if your Fantasy team has a bench spot, but I don’t expect him to have a long-term opportunity even with glitter to his minor league resume. Over 39 at-bats at AAA in 2018, Mac has six HRs and 16 RBI. Ride him while he’s hot type of play.
I’m going to hit you over the head with Jorge Soler for the last time in 2018. Most Fantasy owners have a tough time battling what’s good and what’s bad in a player’s stats. In the case of Jason Heyward, we see a beaten veteran player hitting 8th in the batting order with questions about both his power and speed plus a less than desirable batting average (.247) out of the gate.
In the case of Soler, he has the opportunity and skill set to produce power. Over his last 11 games, Jorge has 14 hits in 39 at-bats with minimal production (four runs, one HR, and one RBI). Soler has the batting average (.280) look, but an empty feeling when sliding him into your starting lineup. In his major league career, Jorge has 30 HRs and 106 RBI over 829 at-bats, which breaks down to 20/71 over 550 at-bats. His previous success should be his floor in 2018. Now over six seasons in the minors, Soler hit .286 with 52 HRs, 179 RBI, and 18 SBs over 867 at-bats. Over 550 at-bats, the breaks down to 33 HRs and 114 RBI. His 2018 major league season should finish somewhere between his floor (major league resume) and ceiling (minor-league resume). The Royals don’t have a ton of talent at the AAA level to steal his job. Be patient, and you will be rewarded with a nice player here.
Matt Wisler was once considered a top pitching prospect in the majors. He went 37-26 in his minor league career with a 3.52 ERA and 526 Ks over 594 innings highlighted by his 2013 season a High A and AA (10-6 with a 2.78 ERA and 131 Ks over 136 innings). Over five years at AAA, Matt has a 4.21 ERA and 247 Ks over 314 innings) with more failure in the majors (5.16 ERA 305 innings with 217 Ks). His 2018 season started off well at AAA (three runs and six hits over 12 innings with 11 Ks) leading to a call-up to the majors to replace Anibal Sanchez in the starting rotation for the Braves. Wisler threw the ball great with Braves (one run, two hits, and eight Ks over seven innings). This week he has double starts on the road (@CIN and @PHI), which isn’t ideal. Worth a short-term flier based on his early 2018 success.
Miami hopes to have Wei-Yin Chen back in the starting rotation in a couple of weeks. In his first rehab appearance in the minors, Chen allowed one run over two innings with three hits and four Ks. He threw 60 pitches (42 for strikes) putting him on track to return to the majors in early May.
Michael Kopech could be set to replace Lucas Giolito or Miguel Gonzalez in the starting rotation for the White Sox. In his three starts at AAA, Kopech has a 2.40 ERA over 15 innings with 21 Ks. In his last outing on April 20th, Michael allowed three runs over five innings with one walk and ten Ks. Kopeck has a career 2.72 ERA in the minors with 365 Ks over 284.1 innings.
The Mets will add Jason Vargas to the starting rotation this week at the expense of Matt Harvey. Vargas will make a start at AAA on Monday if he’s cleared by the doctor while being expected to start in the majors later in the week in San Diego. Last week he had 12 Ks over six innings in a simulated game vs. his teammates.
With Rich Hill placed on the DL with a fingernail issue, Walker Buehler may have his 2018 major league debut in San Fran next weekend. Buehler has a 2.08 ERA over 13 innings at AAA with 16 Ks. His last start in the minors was April 16th, which gives him an outside chance of starting on Monday night as well. Over 106.2 career innings in the minors, Walker has a 3.04 ERA with 147 Ks.
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