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For all the recent hitter call-ups to be showered with praise in this space, one who hasn't is last year's minor-league home run champ, MJ Melendez.

It's not his fault he hasn't gotten to play every day. He's been blocked by last year's major-league home run champ, Salvador Perez.

But that changes today -- or, actually, yesterday, when Perez left Game 1 of a doubleheader against the White Sox with a sprained thumb. We don't know the extent of the injury or the length of his absence, but we do know that at least through the end of next week, Melendez will have top billing as Royals catcher. 

That could be all he needs to gain a foothold.

Possible waiver wire pickups
KC Kansas City • #1 • Age: 23
Rostered
30%
2022 Stats
AVG
.233
HR
1
2B
1
AB
30
BB
4
K
8
Melendez connected for his first home run in Game 2 of Tuesday's doubleheader, his first start following Perez's injury, and it came off a fellow left-hander. It was the biggest impact he's made since being called up, but everything under the hood hints of success. HIs average exit velocity is 92.5 mph, his hard-hit rate 47.1 percent. He's walked at a nice rate and kept his strikeouts in check. He just needs chances and is sure to get them now. Anyone with an inkling of potential is immediately a top-10 candidate at a position like catcher, and if Melendez makes good on his, he could remain a fixture even after Perez returns. The two could simply split time between catcher and DH.
ARI Arizona • #92 • Age: 22
Rostered
67%
2022 Stats
AVG
.323
HR
2
2B
3
OPS
.957
AB
31
K
5
Now that he went 3 for 8 in a doubleheader Tuesday, connecting for his second home run, will you please just pick up Alek Thomas already? He's one of the few rookies who has come in and lived up to expectations right away. Power remains the most questionable part of his profile, but he's delivered on it so far. The foundational bat skills are strong, and he's also platoon-proof, having performed better against lefties than righties in the minors. Maybe if he had stolen a couple bases by now, we'd be all over him, but with the way he runs, those should arrive in short order.
SF San Francisco • #5 • Age: 31
Rostered
67%
2022 Stats
AVG
.281
HR
3
OPS
.809
AB
89
BB
12
K
18
You may recall Mike Yastrzemski was a must-start player in 2020, batting .297 with a .968 OPS, before coming back down to earth last year. And you may have presumed we were done with him, his 2020 representing a blip during a weird pandemic-shortened season. But would you believe his average exit velocity this year is in the 96th percentile? It's never been better than 60th percentile previously. Also, his walk rate has improved, his strikeout rate even more so, and he's one of the few hitters the Giants don't platoon. His 3-for-4 performance Tuesday could be the start of something.
ARI Arizona • #53 • Age: 31
Rostered
27%
2022 Stats
AVG
.219
HR
9
OPS
.794
AB
128
BB
16
K
30
Christian Walker homered in both games of the Diamondbacks' doubleheader Tuesday, giving him a home run in three straight and a .321 batting average (17 for 53) so far in May. That last part is especially encouraging because he hit only .147 in April. He's been nailing the ball this whole time, placing in the 82nd percentile for average exit-velocity and 94th percentile for barrel rate, but I feared that his extreme fly tendencies might sink him in an environment where fly balls don't carry as well. If nothing else, you should add him as a hot-hand play and see where it goes. The underlying metrics are strong.
PIT Pittsburgh • #59 • Age: 22
Rostered
18%
2022 Stats
INN
7.2
H
4
ER
3
BB
3
K
10
Mitch Keller has been bumped to the bullpen, which not only spares those intent to give him chance after chance but also theoretically creates an opening for Roansy Contreras, whose turn lines up with Keller's. When last we saw Contreras in the majors, he delivered back-to-back outings with three innings and five strikeouts. Now more fully stretched out, we can hope he'll build on his success from last year, when he had a 2.64 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 12.7 K/9 between two minor-league stops. The spin rates on all his pitches are nothing short of elite, making him a potential bat-missing monster.
DET Detroit • #49 • Age: 26
Rostered
6%
Monday at Rays
INN
5.2
H
4
ER
1
BB
1
K
4
After a second strong showing, this time against a true major-league lineup, sounds like Alex Faedo will stick around for the time being. Though he had more strikeouts (seven) in his previous start against the Athletics, his bat-missing skills still stood out in this one. He had 14 swinging strikes on 83 pitches, including eight on a slider that's looking like a genuine world-beater. It's what got him drafted in the first round in 2017, and though injuries have delayed his arrival, he may finally be meeting his promise. In four minor-league appearances this year, Faedo has a 1.72 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 11.5 K/9.