I hope you didn't strike out on the prospect-a-palooza this week. We saw an incredible run of top prospects get called up within days of each other, leading to one of the most anticipated waiver runs of the year.
Unfortunately, there's only one Keston Hiura or Austin Riley. Only one Willie Calhoun or Brendan Rodgers, too. Maybe you got one – I snagged Rodgers in my main league – but you might have missed out on all of them.
No worries. Sure, they all have untapped potential and huge upside, but so did Carter Kieboom. With so much attention paid to the prospects, you might have missed that there are plenty of potential impact players out there on waivers already.
Here are 10 players to consider adding heading into Week 9 and beyond, beginning with six pitchers with big upside:
It might have taken just a couple of good outings – plus a blown save by the interim – to get Leclerc back in the closer's role. Manager Chris Woodward told reporters Sunday that Leclerc is "real close" to getting the role back, coming off consecutive outings with five strikeouts on seven batters faced. Most importantly? Zero walks. If Leclerc has command of the strike zone, he can be unhittable. He may have rediscovered that, and there's top-10 closer upside here.
I don't know if Lyles can keep up this pace or if he's truly making an ace leap, but it's hard to pitch much better than he has of late. In three May starts, he is 2-0 with just three runs allowed in 19.2 innings to go along with 21 strikeouts. For the season, his ERA is down to 1.97, with a 3.24 FIP that suggests above-average production even if he comes back to Earth. There are some warning signs in the profile (a sub-par swinging strike rate, primarily), but he's pitching too well right now to not buy in where available.
Here's another pitcher I'm not quite sure can keep up his recent pace, but Bassitt has been one of the best pitchers in baseball since making his season debut four weeks ago. He struck out seven over eight innings in his most recent start to bring his season numbers to a 1.93 ERA with 38 strikeouts in 32.2 innings and nine walks. He's not a two-start pitcher in Week 9, but he should have two in Week 10, so you'll want to beat the crowd. He should be more than 61% owned as it is.
It's hard to know exactly what Nelson will look like after more than a year off, but it's important to remember what he looked like the last time he pitched in the majors: 175.1 innings of a 3.49 ERA, with 10.2 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9. It was borderline ace stuff. In three appearances during his rehab assignment, Nelson hasn't quite had great control, but he does have 16 strikeouts in 14.1 innings. If Nelson is over the shoulder injury, there's a ton of potential here as he gets ready to make one more rehab start and then return to the rotation.
Ignore the ERA. Ignore the 10-run start. Lopez has shown real flashes of being an above-average pitcher this season, as his 3.54 FIP shows. In fact, if you take the 10-run start out, he has a 3.40 ERA. Sure, you can do that for any pitcher, but in his case, it probably helps paint a fuller picture. Consistency has been a huge problem, but he allowed just a leadoff hit in his most recent start before striking out seven in seven shutout innings. It takes a lot of faith, but Lopez is showing the skills to make a leap.
To get the full Alcantara experience, you just need to look at his last four starts:
- 5/19: 9 IP, 2 H, 8 K, 1 BB
- 5/11: 5.2 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 1 K, 2 BB
- 5/6: 5 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 5 K, 6 BB
- 4/30: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 K, 3 BB
I don't know how someone with Alcantara's stuff can go a single start striking out just one batter, let alone two starts; he also had a zero-strikeout start in April. Sunday's start is far from the norm, but it's a reminder of just how good Alcantara can be. If he ever figures it out for more than one start, there's still huge upside here. You're not starting him this week against the Nationals, but if you're looking for some upside to stash, he's got plenty of it. We might never see it consistently enough to matter, but we'll chase those flashes for a while.
And four hitters …
The overall season numbers are still awful, but a .587 OPS represents significant improvement for Odor. On May 12, Odor had a .465 OPS, but has gone 7 for 25 with three homers and two doubles in six games, with only five strikeouts. Yes, only five strikeouts; he had 26 strikeouts in his previous 13 games. We know Odor is streaky, and we know he's a valuable Fantasy option when he's on. Maybe he's back on.
Calhoun had failed spectacularly in two previous stints in the majors, hitting just .233/.283/.338, but in fairness, it's hardly like he had a long leash; it came in just 145 plate appearances. So, while his latest sample size is just six games, we don't necessarily need to dismiss it, especially since it matches what we've seen from him in his career as a prospect. Everywhere he's gone except for the majors prior to this season, Calhoun has mashed. And now he's 10 for his first 21 this season, with three extra-base hits and just one strikeout. Chalk it up to a small-sample size fluke, but if Calhoun was going to thrive in the majors, this is what it would look like.
Boy, I really like the Rangers, huh? Santana wasn't even supposed to play Sunday after suffering an ankle injury, but he was called on as a pinch-hitter and came through in a big way, hitting a home run and scoring another run to help the Rangers get the win. Santana doesn't have a great track record, but he's got tons of tools, with above-average sprint speed and a hard-hit rate in the 87th percentile. His success this year might seem like a bit of a fluke, but with a .276 expected batting average and .456 expected slugging percentage, Santana may be a new man. The kind of man who might just give you 15 homers and 15 steals this season.
It's not clear where Kingery is going to get everyday at-bats even now that he's back from the injured list, but it might just all come down to whether he hits. If he does, there's an opportunity for him to play in center field or third base, where Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco have represented weak points for the Phillies this season. Kingery was obviously overmatched as a rookie, but he comes with a solid pedigree and has been excellent in 15 games so far this season. Bet on the talent if you have the roster space – he could give you a similar impact to the recent top prospect callups without the price.