While high-end prospect call-ups like Spencer Torkelson and Adley Rutschman continue to let us down, some of the more obscure ones are quietly surging up the rankings. The Cubs' Christopher Morel and Reds' Graham Ashcraft have dominated, while the Marlins' Edward Cabrera and Nationals' Luis Garcia are making good on second and third opportunities in the majors.
Those four make up half of today's featured Waiver Wire pickups, a list that's also surprisingly littered with Reds. But we begin with a player who meets both criteria of being a rookie and being a Red. Unlike Ashcraft, he's one of those high-profile prospects who faltered at first, which is the only reason you might have a shot at him now.
CIN Cincinnati • #21 • Age: 23
The fact Hunter Green is so widely rostered already speaks to his potential because, even now, he's sporting a 5.40 ERA. But there were signs of progress beyond even his seven one-hit innings with eight strikeouts Monday -- signs that perhaps justify him being universally rostered. For one, his fastball actually played like a wipeout pitch, registering 12 of his 17 strikeouts and allowing him to throw his slider less than 50 percent of the time. It's noteworthy because, for all the focus on its triple-digit velocity, major-leaguers had teed off on the fastball. He actually took a little off velocity-wise Monday and got more movement with it. Meanwhile, he walked nobody and has issued a total of four walks in his past four starts.
SD San Diego • #17 • Age: 29
Brandon Drury homered again Tuesday, giving him three in his past four games and 11 overall. The real disappointment is that the Reds removed him with a nine-run lead, thus preventing him from collecting his sixth multi-hit game already in June. As it is, he's batting .444 (12 for 27) for the month. There's been a tendency toward skepticism with him because, well, where has he been the past couple years? But he was a solid contributor when he first broke into the league in 2016, and his expected stats (via Statcast) fully back up his actual ones. Mostly, I'm heartened by the way he's come back around after dropping off in mid-May, which would suggest actual staying power.
CHC Chi. Cubs • #5 • Age: 23
Christopher Morel is churning out big games faster than anyone can move to pick him up, so I'm running out of ways to sing his praises. Let's try this one: With his 2-for-5 performance Tuesday, which included a home run and a triple, he's now averaging 3.88 Head-to-Head points per game, roughly the same as Yordan Alvarez. Of course, that's in only 21 games, which means Morel's plate discipline may yet regress to something more like he had in the minors, but the power/speed combo is legit. For now, the Cubs are batting him leadoff, and he's already picked up eligibility at second base. He's looking too handy and too promising to pass up.
MIA Miami • #27 • Age: 24
Edward Cabrera's second start of 2022 went much like the first, and in a total of 12 innings, he has given up precisely three hits. He didn't deliver a big strikeout total this time, registering only four, but his changeup continued to play like a premium pitch, generating seven whiffs and once again topping out at 95 mph. Changeups aren't supposed to do that, folks. He'll still need to mind the walks, which may yet be his undoing in his second major-league stint, but he's already looking much more comfortable than in his seven starts last year and was, of course, a prolific strikeout pitcher in the minors.
Kyle Farmer SS
CIN Cincinnati • #17 • Age: 32
Kyle Farmer isn't the sexiest pickup, but for all the studs shortstop offers, it's a difficult position to fill off the waiver wire. For that reason, I liked drafting Farmer late as a bench option in some of my deeper leagues this spring. He plays in a favorable park, produces high line-drive rates, and hit .303 with 11 homers and an .847 OPS over his final 70 games. And now, just like last year, he's heating up with the weather, picking up another two hits Tuesday to make him 23 for 52 (.442) with four homers over his past 15 games.
CIN Cincinnati • #51 • Age: 24
OK, this is getting interesting. Graham Ashcraft has allowed just three runs in 23 2/3 innings and gone at least six innings in three of his past four starts. His 4.9 K/9 might normally steer me clear, but he also has a ground-ball rate in excess of 60 percent, which is about as good as it gets. One explanation for it is that his primary pitch is actually a cutter, one that peaks at 100 mph, which has proven difficult for major-league hitters to square up. He might continue to excel just by suppressing hard contact, but the stuff is good enough that I could see the strikeouts improving. He actually averaged 10.5 K/9 in the minors last year.
MIA Miami • #26 • Age: 31
Health has been an issue for Garrett Cooper over the years, but not his ability to hit. The dedicated at-bats he was promised this year made him something of a sleeper at the start, but as late as May 18, he was hitting .237 with a .679 OPS. That's about the time offense as a whole began to come around, and Cooper has followed suit, batting .446 (25 for 56) with two homers over his past 15 games. With a high line-drive rate and premium exit velocities, he should be of interest in five-outfielder leagues, where filling out those spots has proven to be a challenge.
Luis Garcia SS
WAS Washington • #2 • Age: 22
Luis Garcia has performed well in this latest stint in the majors and delivered his biggest blow yet Tuesday, connecting for a 442-foot home run off the Marlins' Edward Cabrera. He averaged 104.7 mph on his four batted balls for the day. He's made high-quality contact in all six games so far, going 9 for 23 (.391) -- this after hitting .314 with eight homers and an .899 OPS at Triple-A. If you're wondering why he wasn't regarded as a top prospect coming into the year, it's because the Nationals unadvisedly gave him more than 130 at-bats as a 20-year-old in 2020, making him ineligible for such lists. He was twice a top-100 prospect as teenager, though, and appears to be growing into his potential now.