Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Willy Adames, Francisco Mejia get the call
Top prospects worth getting excited about? We've got two for you to check out.
Two top prospects got the call to the majors Monday. One has worlds of Fantasy potential, but may not have a role; the other probably won't struggle to find playing time, but may not profile as a Fantasy star. Let's break both down to kick off Tuesday's look at the waiver wire.
Let's start with Willy Adames, Baseball America's No. 19 overall prospect coming into the season. He's the one who should have an everyday role for the rest of the season, but may not be the one Fantasy players are most excited about. He's a classic shortstop prospect, in that the glove does a lot of the lifting for his profile. That isn't to say Adames doesn't project as a good hitter, it just may not be a profile that plays up for Fantasy. In 184 career games at Triple-A, he's hit 14 homers and stolen 14 bases, while hitting .279 with a 23.4 percent strikeout rate. That's not terribly exciting, but we've seen plenty of top prospects hit for more power in the majors in the minors, and scouts like Adames' raw power more than the game results show. If Adames starts creeping into a 20-homer pace range while swiping 15 bags and hitting .280, that's more interesting. But the total Fantasy package probably looks more like peak Asdrubal Cabrera than Francisco Lindor. A starter, and one worth adding, but not a star.
The Triple-A numbers won't show it, but Francisco Mejia is the one who has Fantasy superstar potential. Part of that is because he's a catcher, and the bar for relevance is only about five inches off the ground. However, Mejia isn't just interesting by default; his bat could play anywhere on the diamond. He hit .297/.346/.490 with 14 homers as a 21-year-old at Double-A last season, while striking out just 13.8 percent of the time. He has stumbled at Triple-A, hitting just .214/.271/.333, but has fared better of late, going 10 for 28 to open June. It's not clear where he'll play in Cleveland, but he's logged time in the outfield and third base in the minors, so there's an opportunity for him to slug his way into the lineup. You don't need to play every day to be relevant at catcher, especially if you have the potential Mejia does. He's worth a speculative add in two-catcher leagues, at least.
He has limitations to his game, but Teoscar Hernandez looks legit to my eyes. I'll admit to some potential confirmation bias at play here, is only for this reason: Doesn't he fit the mold of the kind of player the Blue Jays have had success with in the past? Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are the obvious examples of players the Blue Jays have managed to get the most out of by helping them tap into their raw power in games. Hernandez doesn't have the potential Bautista and Encarnacion did because he's a much freer swinger, but he's big time athlete who is putting it into play in games. He has a 36.1 percent hard-contact rate this season and hits more fly balls than groundballs, and has hit .260/.304/.556 with 18 homers in 309 plate appearances since joining the Blue Jays. That's about half of a full season's worth of plate appearances and he's on nearly a 40-homer pace. Even in 2018, that's worth taking note of, even if Fantasy owners in shallower leagues have overlooked him.
I have trouble getting excited about knuckleballers. I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on evaluating pitchers, but knuckleballers render most of our best tools irrelevant. However, even accounting for that, Steven Wright is off to a great start, with a 3.57 FIP backing up his hot start. This is a former All-Star who is supported by one of the best offenses and defenses in baseball, which means we have to pay attention. Success in the past doesn't guarantee anything in the future, especially for knuckleballers, but we can't ignore what Wright is doing — even if I might want to.
It's hard to admit you're not really competing for anything one-third of the way through the season, but the Orioles are coming as close as any team can. Zach Britton's return from the DL put that in focus Monday, as manager Buck Showalter admitted the team is basically showcasing the veteran for trades:
"Zach's got a heck of a track record," Showalter told The Baltimore Sun. "I think anybody that got to that point, I'm not trying to be unrealistic here, but we're going to try to put him in situations and if there are not games to close, then he'll pitch, like we do with all of our guys. ... But I know what teams who would have interest in a guy like Zach, what they're looking for. I think he's got enough.
"In fact, I know there were scouts at every game he threw in rehab the last three or four outings. Multiple scouts, OK? There's no secrets. And believe me, there was enough there. I think they know what they could potentially get if we get to that point. He's arguably as good if not the best guy out there when he's right, and I think he's got a chance to be right."
Whether Britton can find his old form coming off a season ruined by forearm issues and then a ruptured Achilles remains to be seen, but it sounds like the Orioles are going to give him a chance to show it. Britton struck out six batters and walked none in his rehab assignment, and was a top-five finisher in AL Cy Young voting in 2016, so we know what the upside is. He should get some save chances in Baltimore, and could end up moving to a contender to work the ninth, so this might be your last chance to snag him before he's back to being owned in every league.
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Scott White is an award-winning Fantasy baseball analyst
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