Part 2 of promotapalooza is in full effect after word broke Thursday that three more prospects are on their way to the big leagues. And while they aren't exactly Austin Riley, Keston Hiura and Brendan Rodgers, they're of some interest to Fantasy owners.
The most significant is Cavan Biggio — yes, son of Craig Biggio — who joins Vladimir Guerrero to make the 2019 Blue Jays the first team ever with two sons of Hall of Famers. The 24-year-old is a divisive prospect mainly because he wasn't a prospect at all this time a year ago. But a power breakthrough put him on the map then, and continued refinement as a hitter (namely cutting down on his strikeouts and hitting more line drives) has only raised his stature now. Given that he has a .306 batting average, six homers, five steals, a .948 OPS and more walks (32) than strikeouts (28), whatever flaws exist for Biggio don't show up in his batting line.
Plus, he's second base-eligible, which is maybe the one position outside of catcher where the average Fantasy player might still have a need. More likely, he'll play a super utility role for the Blue Jays, having seen time at first base, third base and the outfield this season, but this promotion seems to come with genuine assurances of getting his bat in the lineup.
That is primarily what distinguishes him from the other two, Kevin Cron of the Diamondbacks and Josh Naylor of the Padres. The former is the minor league leader in home runs with 21, giving him five straight seasons with at least 20, but he's 26 and more or less limited to playing first base. Maybe he'll continue the trend of the overlooked big-bodied corner infielder finding late life in the majors, as Luke Voit and Daniel Vogelbach have done, but the Diamondbacks have already broken in one of those, Christian Walker, this year, and for now, Cron is expected to serve as a bench bat.
Naylor, meanwhile, seems to be arriving for the specific purpose of serving as the Padres' DH. They'll be playing back-to-back series in an AL park. He himself is a big-bodied slugger (one with 10 homers and a .916 OPS so far at Triple-A) who's hoping to avoid getting blocked at first base by trying his hand at the outfield, but even if that experiment was going well, the Padres are overcrowded there as it is.
Maybe Cron and Naylor work their way into bigger roles than expected, but it would take impeccable timing on their part. Not only would each have to seize his moment, limited though it may be, but he'd also need the incumbent to fall flat on his face. Given the unlikelihood of both events playing out that way simultaneously, Biggio is the only one of these three prospect call-ups who I'd look to add in a standard mixed league.
Four players to add from Thursday
Kevin Gausman, SP, ATL (69%) — Though he didn't set the world on fire Thursday at the Giants, Gausman did turn in his third straight quality start and upped his career high whiff rate with 18 swinging strikes. He's throwing his best pitch, a splitter, about 40 percent of the time now compared to 25 in previous years, and while his ERA is still over four, his FIP projects something closer to the mid-threes.
C.J. Cron, 1B, MIN (64%) — As if Cron's May wasn't already impressive enough, he collected five more hits, including his eighth home run for the month and 13th overall, Thursday at the Angels. First base is a crowded position, but in leagues that emphasize counting stats, surely there's room for a guy on pace for 43 homers and 99 RBI.
Nick Pivetta, SP, PHI (29%) — Pivetta hasn't exactly taken Triple-A Lehigh Valley by storm, which is a little discouraging since he was maybe the trendiest breakthrough candidate in all of Fantasy Baseball coming into the year. Hard to say he's back on that path when he walks 20 in 37 minor league innings, but the strikeouts have been there. Manager Gabe Kapler has said it'll be either Pivetta or Vince Velasquez rejoining the rotation Tuesday, and there's a growing feeling Velasquez's future is in the bullpen.
Ryan Yarbrough, SP/RP, TB (9%) — The Rays made heavy use of the opener whenever Yarbrough pitched for them last year, but he got a true start in his return to the majors Thursday and pitched 7 1/3 strong innings. He had only four strikeouts but on 16 swinging strikes — and this is after he put together a 2.14 ERA with 1.3 BB/9 compared to 12.9 K/9 at Triple-A.
Winners and Losers
Lucas Giolito, SP, CHW — If he hadn't already convinced you he was having a breakthrough season, a complete-game shutout is one way to drive the point home. Giolito has had control issues as well as some home run luck, so the 2.77 ERA and 1.06 WHIP are both probably too good to be true. But the bat-missing ability has increased so much with his improved secondary arsenal that, yeah, he's must-own.
Tommy La Stella, 2B/3B, LAA — Hard to say La Stella isn't must-own as well with the way everything has come together for him lately. While the unexpected power surge has yet to subside — he hit his 12th home run Thursday — a string of multi-hit games has his batting average up to around .300 despite a low BABIP.
Miguel Sano, 3B, MIN — With two home runs Thursday, Sano is up to four in six games after missing the start of the year with a heel laceration, but he also has 10 strikeouts in 25 at-bats. Hard to say yet which of those extreme tendencies will win out, but to this point in his career, it's been the latter more often than not.
Steven Matz, SP, NYM — Other than giving up 10 hits, Matz had a strong second start back from the IL after missing time with a flexor strain, but his seven strikeouts came on only five swinging strikes. Dating back to last year, he has had a tendency to deliver decent strikeouts totals despite lacking swing-and-miss stuff, but skepticism is warranted.
Jon Lester, SP, CHC — Just when you thought Lester had reinvented himself after a season in which his skills showed clear signs of erosion, the 35-year-old went and delivered back-to-back stinkers, most recently allowing four runs on seven hits in four innings Thursday. The strikeout rate is still good and maybe the cutter-heavy approach will serve him in the long run, but seeing as his ERA is still only 2.68, some regression was inevitable.
Jordan Lyles, SP/RP, PIT — Regression was inevitable for Lyles as well, whose ERA jumped from 1.97 to 2.81 with Thursday's six-run outing. He has done a fine job missing bats, even getting 12 swinging strikes in this one, but his xFIP and SIERA suggest his ERA should be closer to four.
Shane Greene, RP, DET — The season's most surprising closer blew his first save Thursday by allowing five runs, all unearned. Three of them came on a Garrett Cooper home run, and Greene also issued two walks in the outing. He was probably rusty after pitching just once in the past 10 days, but his 1.29 ERA seems misleading now.
Corbin Martin, SP, HOU — The 23-year-old may still have a bright future in the majors, but he appears less than equipped to deliver on it right now, sticking mostly with his fastball and changeup in his past two starts after flashing a three-pitch arsenal in his first. The result has been fewer missed bats and all-around ugliness.