He's a prospect in his own right, though the conventional rank lists may have overrated him for our purposes due to his defense and athleticism. Baseball America had the most favorable outlook coming into the year, placing him 38th among its top 100, but even MLB.com had him 53rd. I think of him more as a fringe top-100 guy than the fringe top-10 guy Adell is, but now that he's actually up, it's his performance that will count for more than any preseason ranking.
It was his performance at Triple-A, at least since returning from a bout with shoulder inflammation that ultimately propelled Marsh to the majors. In eight games, he hit .382 (13 for 34) with two homers, two triples, two doubles and a stolen base. That stretch followed a similar productive four-game rehab stint in Rookie ball, giving him a combined .417 batting average and 1.273 OPS in 12 games since recovering from the injury.
- We break down more key Mets injuries, Brandon Marsh and more on the Fantasy Baseball Today in 5 podcast. You can follow us to get the latest episodes on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
And given the Angels' inability to field a competitive outfield between injuries to Trout, Justin Upton and Dexter Fowler (who, it's worth noting, ain't coming back), Marsh should get a long, long first look.
Long enough that he should be an automatic pickup in Fantasy Baseball? Or would a better use of your free agent capital be Josiah Gray, a Dodgers pitching prospect rumored to be making his debut Tuesday Or is some other top performer from the first series of the second half screaming to be added?
Let's break it down ...
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PHI Philadelphia • #16 • Age: 24
The big question for Marsh is whether he can provide enough power. He has flashed it at times during his minor-league career but has never hit more than 10 home runs during a full season. The steals potential, likewise, was never fully realized in the minors, and it tends to get worse in the majors. In theory, there's a productive player here, but it's asking a lot for him to figure it out right away, especially at a time when prospects as a whole are struggling to adjust to the majors. He's wait-and-see for me outside of deeper five-outfielder leagues.
Josiah Gray SP
WAS Washington • #40 • Age: 24
Gray's debut Tuesday is to this point unconfirmed but hotly rumored and logical with Clayton Kershaw sidelined by a forearm issue. But as with Marsh, it's asking a lot for him to achieve peak form right away. He broke through with a 2.28 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 10.2 K/9 in 2019 but only recently returned from a shoulder impingement and has yet to stretch out to five innings. Kershaw's absence probably won't be a lengthy one, so it's unlikely the Dodgers push Gray hard enough to make him usable in his first major-league stint.
Willy Adames SS
MIL Milwaukee • #27 • Age: 26
Willy Adames' departure from Tropicana Field, where he hit .217 with a .616 OPS over the course of his career, has gone exactly as scripted. Apparently, he didn't like the batter's eye there -- which was always reflected in the home/away splits -- and you can see his numbers since joining the Brewers, the slugging percentage rising more than 200 points and the strikeout rate dropping from 35.9 percent to 24.6. He's also 8 for 13 with two home runs to begin the second half, as if you needed more reason to invest in him.
LAA L.A. Angels • #22 • Age: 28
David Fletcher just had a 26-game hitting streak snapped with an 0-for-5 performance Sunday, but during that streak, he hit an incredible .454 (49 for 108), raising his season batting average from .255 to .313. The latter is more in line with preseason expectations, him being one of the more reliable contact hitters in baseball, and now that he's back hitting leadoff for the Angels, he's able to get the most out of those contact skills again. He's startable in all formats despite the lack of power and speed.
Jon Gray SP
TEX Texas • #22 • Age: 30
Everything has played up for Jon Gray since he returned from a flexor strain. Not only does he have a 2.40 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 11.1 K/9 in five starts, including two at home in Coors Field, but he has a 15.1 percent swinging strike rate compared to 9.8 percent in his first 12 starts. He's always had the talent of a No. 3 overall pick, but this is the best he's looked in his seven years in the bigs. It might be enough to earn him a ticket out of Colorado at the trade deadline, in which case you'll be especially glad you invested in him now.
A.J. Pollock LF
CHW Chi. White Sox • #18 • Age: 34
Turns out the A.J. Pollock who homered 16 times in 55 games in 2020 wasn't a total fluke. With five home runs in his past seven games, the 33-year-old outfielder is up to 13 in 67 games this season with an OPS (.870) nearly as high as last year's (.881). His xBA and xSLG are both almost exactly the same as a year ago as well. The turnaround has coincided with an increase in playing time this month, and if he's cleared that hurdle as well, he may well be must-start, not to mention must-add.
J.D. Davis 3B
SF San Francisco • #7 • Age: 29
J.D. Davis' two-homer game Saturday continued the impressive display he put on during the final four games of his rehab assignment at Triple-A Syracuse, where he hit .571 (8 for 14) with three homers and three doubles. His major-league production so far hasn't been far off. The sample size is microscopic because of all the time he's missed with a nagging hand injury, but he's so far putting the ball in the air more like he did in 2019, when he hit .307 with an .895 OPS, than last year, when he hit .247 with a .761 OPS.
Alex Cobb SP
SF San Francisco • #38 • Age: 34
For most of this season, Alex Cobb has seemed like the same old nobody, his ERA hovering around 5.00, but the advanced numbers have painted a different picture from the get-go. He's missing more bats than ever before, averaging well more than a strikeout per inning, yet has maintained one of the league's best ground-ball rates, a trademark of his splitter. HIs xFIP, which is normally in the mid-fours, has been in the low threes for much of the year, currently residing at 3.18. And with four strong starts in his past five, including a one-run effort against the Mariners on Saturday, the ERA is beginning to match up.