Each week I will dig through the f/a pool to find the best potential free agents on waivers (under 50% ownership on ESPN and Yahoo). Some are good for a quick boost, others could be good long-term additions, and there will be a few speculative adds thrown in there as well. And just like in years past, I will be tracking previously recommended players and if they are still worthy of a roster spot. Now on to what you came here for.
- Christian Walker (1B)
Yes, I know his average is dipping. But we had to know that was going to happen, right? You know what’s not dipping? His Hard Hit%, Barrel%, and Exit Velocity. Walker is in the 97thpercentile for Hard Hit% (53.8) and Exit Velocity (93.3) and his Barrel% is in the 96thpercentile at 17.9%. All that barreling up the ball and hitting it hard hasn’t resulted in the amount of home runs we’d like to see from him yet, but I feel like he will soon be hitting them in bunches and you want to be on that ride when it comes.
- Willie Calhoun (OF)
This is the beginning of the “Let’s Gamble on Upside” section of this list, and I’m giving them to you in order. Besides Brendan Rodgers (who was on last week’s list to add) and Austin Riley (who is already 66% owned), I believe Calhoun has the most upside of the hitters recently brought up. The Rangers called him up last year and he struggled mightily and then got ticked off when they sent him down. I like that. Give me a guy with that kind of fire and confidence any day. He has something to prove and it looks like he’s setting out to do just that.
Small sample, I know, but he’s slashing .476/.476/.810 in his first 21 at bats and has 2 home runs. His average Exit Velocity is 95.4% and his average HR Distance is 421 feet. By comparison, he trails teammate, Joey Gallo, by 1.3% in Exit Velocity and leads him by a foot in average Home Run Distance. He’s going to hit for average, and if he can elevate some of these hard hit balls at a better clip than his current 5.1 degree launch angle, we’ll get the home runs from him that we’ve been waiting on from another of his teammates, Nomar Mazara.
- Keston Hiura (2B)
Hiura was getting it done in the PCL before the Brewers called him up after Travis Shaw went to the IL. He was slashing .333/.408/.698 with 11 home runs and 4 steals. Those numbers have the usual PCL boost, but he’s going to get a similar boost from playing his home games in Miller Park. Though Hiura is the more heralded prospect, I’m putting him after Calhoun on this list because I’m concerned about his playing time when Shaw gets back, and the fact that he appears to have decided this year to sell out for power.
Shaw hit 30+ home runs each of the last two years. Yes, he is struggling this year, but I can see the Brewers hoping his time on the IL helps clear his head and inserting him right back into the starting lineup when he’s ready. They’ll be able to find at bats for Hiura. They can give Moustakas a day off at 2B and they can also slide Moustakas over to 1B and give Aguilar a day off (instead of playing Thames now that he’s cooled off). Regarding his K%, prior to this season his high was 20.9%. In AAA this year it was 27.2% before they called him up, and since he’s been with the Brewers it’s 29.6%. Again, this is a small sample, but it’s a 43 game trend across two levels. I think he stays up with the Brewers the rest of the year, but I also think you might get more from Calhoun this year.
- Nicky Lopez (SS)
Let’s face it. Lopez isn’t a highly touted prospect – he’s only ranked 7thin the Royals organization according to Fangraphs. But the Royals think enough of Lopez to make room by moving Whit Merrified from second base to the outfield. Lopez has rewarded them with a .320/.393/.440 line in 25 at bats. No home runs or steals yet, but he hit 3 and stole 9 before getting the call to KC. He has been hitting second since he arrived, and if you’re looking for runs and stolen bases, Lopez could be your guy. He’s only 16% owned, so you can watch how he does for a few more games before you make your move, but if he continues to hit and swipes a couple bags, his price will rise.
- Oscar Mercado (OF)
I’m not a big fan of Mercado, but I feel obligated to mention him here. He’s 16% owned (like Lopez above) and even though Mercado hit more home runs (4) and stole more bases (14) in AAA this year than Lopez (in roughly the same amount of games, 30 for Mercado and 31 for Lopez), I just can’t shake the Billy Hamilton vibe I’m getting from him. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s hitting 9th in the Indians lineup and the Royals thrust Lopez right into the second slot in the order, but for what it’s worth my gut is telling me Lopez is the better play here. Mercado has also sat two of the five games since he has been up. If you need steals and the only move you can make is with an outfielder, then Mercado is your guy. If you have more flexibility, I’d go with Lopez.
Continue to ADD
- Alex Verdugo is slowed down this week, hitting just .269, but he did have a steal and played every game.
- Hunter Pence continues to hit the ball hard. He had a bit of a drop off last week in average, but he hit 2 home runs. Keep adding him where you can.
- Brendan Rodgers struggled his first week up. I might worry about his playing time if it weren’t for the fact that Daniel Murphy struggled more (including a 3 strikeout game against the Phillies on Sunday). Trevor Story is nicked up but started Sunday and Rodgers sat. If Murphy’s struggles continue, look for the Rockies to move Rodgers to 2B, McMahon to 1B
- Yordan Alvarez is still raking in AAA and his ownership percentage is up to 33% owned. He continues to make it difficult for the Astros to justify not calling him up. Get him while you can because he is going to pay off when he finally gets the call.
- Randall Grichuk is up to Randall Grichuk type things again… and not the good kind. He hit .167 last week with goose eggs in the home run and RBI categories. I never said it would be easy with him, but if you need power I still think he’s the best waiver wire option if you can take on his batting average.
- Gregory Polanco hit two more home runs this week. His average took a dip, but it’s nothing to worry about. He’s up to 48% owned so time is running out.
- Corbin Martin struggled Saturday against the Red Sox. He had zero strikeouts and 4 walks in 4 innings. It looked to me like Martin’s command was less of an issue than the home plate umpire’s coffee can sized strike zone. Better things are ahead for Martin, and he’s 43% owned.
- This week CC Sabathia finally made it through 6 innings. He gave up 6 hits, 1 run, and 2 walks in a no decision against Tamp Bay. He’s solid and under-owned.
HOLD (not good enough to add but maybe too good to drop)
- Sometimes Ryon Healy’s numbers make me wonder why I have him in the hold section of this article and Grichuk in the continue add section. The answer I’m going with is I believe Grichuk is going to give you 10+ more home runs than Healy with about the same average.
- Willians Astudillo only hit .208 this week, but the one thing we know about him is that he can hit. We might have to start questioning his playing time. Astudillio sat 2 of the 4 games that Sano has been back. If you added him, hold him and see how this story develops.
- Brian Goodwin had a nice run, but he sat against the last three lefties the Angels have faced. He’s not producing enough to be a rosterable platoon player.
- Nick Margevicius has given up 11 earned runs (6 home runs) in his last 9 innings. Time to let him go.
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