Word came out Sunday night about two potential prospect call-ups -- one a yes and the other a maybe.
The one that's confirmed is MJ Melendez, last year's minor-league home run leader who'll be taking the place of backup catcher Cam Gallagher in Kansas City. It's a promotion that would be met with more fanfare if Melendez had done something to force the issue, but he's off to a miserable start at Triple-A Omaha, batting .167 (13 for 78) with four homers and two doubles.
The issue is less about Salvador Perez blocking him than the Royals' motivation to play him. Melendez has gotten some exposure to right field and third base in the minors, and of course, the DH spot is also in play. But do the Royals think he's ready to push for a job, or do they just need someone to back up Perez until Gallagher is recovered from a hamstring strain? Melendez was the only Triple-A catcher on the 40-man roster, for what it's worth.
Naturally, his performance and playing time bear watching in all leagues. The upside is there for him to be an impact player at a weak position. But considering the circumstances of his promotion, I'd only be looking to add him in two-catcher leagues.
I'm more hopeful of Jose Miranda sticking around for the long haul. His promotion is only a matter of speculation at this point, but the Twins have already stated their desire to keep Alex Kirilloff (wrist) on his rehab assignment and need another hitter with Kyle Garlick straining his calf Sunday.
Like Melendez, Miranda is off to a slow start at Triple-A. Unlike Melendez, he has begun to turn things around, batting .300 (15 for 50) with a homer, eight doubles and only three strikeouts in his past 13 games. He's eligible at third base in Fantasy, the position of greatest need, and while his defense has never earned high marks, the Twins have an opening at DH currently. Miranda would be an obvious asset offensively, given what he did between Double- and Triple-A a year ago:
Of course, maybe the Twins change their mind and bring back Kirilloff instead. Maybe they call up someone else entirely. Or maybe they call up Miranda but plant him on the bench and play someone like Nick Gordon instead. As hard a time as prospects like Bobby Witt and Julio Rodriguez have had breaking in, there are no guarantees for Miranda even if he does play.
I'd be looking to add him in leagues that use traditional Rotisserie lineups (with corner infield spots) or anywhere I need third base help, but there may be an even more attractive prospect pickup -- one who isn't rumored to be coming yet ... not yet.
He's featured among these eight players ..
MIL Milwaukee • #12 • Age: 30
Hunter Renfroe was the No. 19 outfielder in leagues that used 5x5 scoring last year, hitting 31 home runs, but it took him until May to get going. He struggled with the colder temperatures in April, batting .167 with just one of those home runs, and may be following the same pattern this year. The turnaround kicked in just a little before the calendar flipped to May this time, his three home runs this weekend putting him on a pace similar to last year. If you quit on him early, you might want to rethink your stance.
COL Colorado • #15 • Age: 30
This one is even more of a no-brainer than Renfroe. Randal Grichuk looks like a textbook Coors Field success. Normally a .240 hitter, he has taken advantage of the environment's BABIP-boosting qualities, sustaining a batting average over .300 since the first week of the season. It took him a couple weeks to hit his first home run, but his track record made power more of a certainty. He's up to three now after a 2-for-5 performance Sunday and should be rostered in all Fantasy leagues.
TB Tampa Bay • #57 • Age: 26
I gave the whole spiel for picking up Drew Rasmussen after his gem Wednesday, but what I failed to report then is that he's in line for two starts. Good matchups, too, at Oakland and Seattle. No guarantees he sticks with the approach that racked up 19 swinging strikes against the Mariners last time out, but the way his cutter and slider were darting all over the zone, he'd be wise not to go back to his typical fastball usage. His relief pitcher eligibility is just icing on the cake.
Jorge Soler LF
MIA Miami • #12 • Age: 30
April was a miserable month for offense, just like a year ago, and perhaps with increased humidor use, that's just going to be the norm. It's why, as with Renfroe, you should be on the lookout for any uptick in production from a player whose profile you generally believe in. Jorge Soler was on a 49-homer pace over his final 59 games last year and has been a 48-homer guy before. He's routinely among the leaders in average and peak exit velocity, giving him the sort of power that translates anywhere, and now he has two home runs in his past three games. Do you believe?
Nolan Gorman 2B
STL St. Louis • #16 • Age: 22
Here he is: the prospect who may be even more deserving of a pickup than either MJ Melendez or Jose Miranda. Nolan Gorman has been the standout hitter at Triple-A early on, homering seven times in seven games at one point and having a 16-game hitting streak snapped Sunday. Tommy Edman could shift to shortstop to accommodate him ... or maybe he'll just go on the IL. Edman left Sunday with hip flexor tightness, and though manager Oliver Marmol says he's not worried, it could be more than just a day-to-day thing. Gorman's strikeouts may give you pause, the power is as good as it gets from a middle infielder.
OAK Oakland • #26 • Age: 27
Sheldon Neuse (pronounced "noisy") has settled in at third base for the Athletics and is contributing on a variety of fronts, most obviously batting average. While regression is to be expected, his .285 xBA suggests some legitimacy. He's making hard contact, and while too much of it is on the ground, his minor-league track record suggests he's capable of elevating. It's hard to tell what kind of player he'll be when it all shakes out, but he's making the most of the opportunity so far and is eligible at both second and third base.
Ha-seong Kim SS
SD San Diego • #7 • Age: 26
I've been reluctant to recommend Ha-Seong Kim because his average exit velocity is just pitiful, and of course, it doesn't help that he was a total dud in his first major-league season last year. But he does seem to make good on the balls he hits squarely -- and that's coming from Statcast, not just my own observation. His .268 xBA and .549 xSLG are better than his actual marks. Plus, there's the potential for stolen bases and triple eligibility, including third base. The Padres seem to have settled on him as their primary shortstop, giving C.J. Abrams only occasional looks, which makes Kim worth taking seriously.
Ryan Helsley RP
STL St. Louis • #56 • Age: 27
Though he's the last player mentioned here, Ryan Helsley might be the most exciting pickup in this whole column, at least in leagues where saves are at a premium. His fastball is supercharged this year, peaking at 103 mph, and it's made him the best reliever in the Cardinals bullpen so far, if not all of baseball. He has allowed just one baserunner while striking out nearly two batters per inning, and on Sunday, he got his first save. It was of the two-inning variety, which isn't normally how you'd see a closer used, but presumed closer Giovanny Gallegos was available. He hadn't pitched since Monday, when he allowed four earned runs. Maybe the Cardinals are considering a change.