Carson Kelly will draw some attention in the high-stakes market this week after being called up to replace Yadier Molina. Kelly has come empty over his first 94 at-bats in the majors (.149 with no HR and seven RBI). He’s a career .252 hitter in the minors with 47 HRs and 254 RBI over 2032 at-bats. His success at AAA in 2017 (.283 with ten HRs and 41 RBI over 244 at-bats) gives him a chance at being productive over the short-term with everyday at-bats. Worth a look for sure, but I would temper my free agent bids. Carson will have a month to six weeks to prove his worth to Fantasy owners.
It’s been a long-term since Devin Mesoraco has been Fantasy relevant or even healthy. He crushed the ball in 2014 (.273 with 25 HRs and 80 RBI), but Mesoraco played in only 116 games over the last four seasons due to multiple injuries. Over his last 286 at-bats in the majors, Devin hit only .192 with eight HRs and 21 RBI. After a trade to the Mets, Mesoraco will get a bump in playing time. Only a low-end flier until Fantasy owners see more production on the field and him in the lineup at least four days a week when Kevin Plawecki returns from the DL.
Tucker Barnhart now has minimal competition for playing time with Devin Mesoraco shipped out of town. Over the last week, Barnhart has 12 hits in 24 at-bats with two runs and three RBI. Tucker is a low-grade C2 in deep leagues with double-digit HRs being the best season of his career in the majors.
Chris Davis killed Fantasy owners over his first 111 at-bats (.171 with two HRs and nine RBI) thanks to 41 Ks. His week started with a pair of HRs in eight at-bats with four RBI vs. the Royals, but he has eight Ks with no hits in his last 16 at-bats. Possible power out for a team struggling in HRs, but his swing is going to have plenty of risk in batting average.
Over his last 11 games, Lucas Duda has 14 hits in 37 at-bats with five runs, one HR, and eight RBI. He’ll sit against some lefties, but Duda will offer 30 HR upside in power, and the Royals hit him in a favorable part of the batting order. He should be owned in all 12-team leagues.
Maybe I’m sleeping at the wheel in my 12-team league in the high-stakes market. Alen Hansen remains in the free agent pool despite flashing a hot bat. Over his last nine games, Hansen hit .333 with six runs, three HRs, nine RBI, and one steal. Alen has 30+ stolen base upside while developing more power this year. He did leave Saturday night game with a tight hamstring, so a Fantasy owner needs more info before adding him to the roster this week.
Dustin Pedroia will begin a rehab assignment this week with the hopes of returning to the majors at the end of the month. His batting average tends to be an asset with short power. His days of stealing 20+ bags are over after his knee injury. I don’t expect him to hit in a favorable part of the batting order when he returns from the DL. Pedroia may need six-weeks in the majors before his bat rounds into form.
Neil Walker has been a much better hitter over his last 25 at-bats. He’s hitting .360 over his last nine games with nine runs and four RBI while showing improvement in his approach (eight walks and four Ks). Walker looks on the verge of a big week in power, but his long-term window for at-bats will be cloudy when Greg Bird returns from the DL. For now, Neil is an attractive injury cover at second base.
Over his last five starts, Matt Duffy has eight hits in 22 at-bats with one HR and three RBI. His batting average has been a plus over the last month (.325 over 83 at-bats), but a Fantasy owner needs more production in the counting categories to be a playable option in any format. Worth a look for a week to see if his power has any follow through.
Jedd Gyorko needs an injury to gain more playing time against RH pitching, but he did flash power over the last week (6-for-19 with four runs, two HRs, and two RBI). More of a buy and hold unless a Fantasy owner in daily lineup leagues wants to use him against lefties (.533 over 15 at-bats with three HRs and four RBI).
One disappointed Fantasy owner dumped Addison Russel into the free agent pool last week in one of my leagues. As expected, he played his best ball after being cut. Over his last seven games, Russell hit .346 with six runs, one HR, and four RBI. Excellent pickup in a 12-team league or larger with 20+ HR upside while chipping in with some steals.
The Royals gave Alcides Escobar one-quarter of the season to show he’s no longer worthy of being a viable starting option at shortstop in the majors. Escobar doesn’t steal bases anymore, and his batting average is only .232 over 138 at-bats this year with one HR, 11 RBI, and two SBs. Kansas City should call up Adalberto Mondesi over the next week. Over his first eight-games at AAA, Mondesi hit .278 with two HRs, three RBI, and five SBs. His batting average will have risk in the majors until he cleans up his Ks (ten in 36 at-bats at AAA in 2018). If your team is short speed, Adalberto could be one of the better speed outs at middle infield this season. I expect Mondesi to take over at shortstop for the Royals with Escobar downgraded to a utility man.
The Padres have turned to Travis Jankowski as their leadoff hitter over the last week. He responded with 11 hits in his last 26 at-bats with six runs, one HR, one RBI and one SB with a much better approach than 2017 (five walks and four Ks). Last year Jankowski hit his way out of the majors after 75 at-bats after striking out 28 times with no production (no HRs, one RBI, and four SBs). Travis has high upside in speed with minimal power. His batting average will eventually fade, but his minor league resume (.294) gives him a chance to hold ground if he keeps the strikeouts under control. Jankowski won’t have a job when Wil Myers returns from the DL unless Manuel Margot continues to struggle.
I have a tough time rostering Jon Jay based on his low upside in power and speed, but he’s been playing well. Over his last 12 games, Jay has 20 hits in 50 at-bats with nine runs and five RBI. I view him only as a bridge player for a Fantasy owner until a more attractive player emerges in the free agent pool.
The Indians placed Tyler Naquin on the DL this week, and Bradley Zimmer is banged up. This combination of injuries should be just enough of a window for Cleveland to call up Melky Cabrera from AAA. He’s been working on his swing in the minors after signing in late April. Over 26 at-bat in the minors, Melky has six hits with no HRs and no RBI. Cabrera has five hits in his last 14 at-bats with a pair of double. Once Melky gets to the majors, he’ll play almost every day.
Oakland called up Dustin Fowler just in time to play against his former team. Over 121 at-bats at AAA, Fowler hit .314 with 17 runs, three HRs, 15 RBI, and seven SBs. His swing looked great from April 16th to May 4th when he hit .377 with 12 runs, two HRs, eight RBI, and four SBs, but he did strikeout eight times over his last 12 at-bats at AAA. His skill set projects to a positive batting average with mid-teen HRs and 20+ SBs.
Just when Michael Kopech looked ready to be called up to the majors, he delivered a disaster outing at AAA. In his last start, Kopech allowed eight runs, nine baserunners, and two HRs over 3.1 innings with six Ks. Over his last two starts, Michel only 80 strikes out of 153 pitches. Over seven starts, Kopech no has a 4.86 ERA over 33.1 innings with 44 Ks with batters hitting .223 against him.
Joe Musgrove worked his way to 79 pitches in his last start at AAA when he threw 5.2 no-hit shutout innings with no walks and six Ks. Over three rehab starts in the minors, Musgrove has a 2.13 ERA with no walks and 12 Ks over 12.2 innings. He looks to be one start away from returning to the majors.
A big question Fantasy owners must answer this week is the value of Matt Harvey. Over his first 27 innings in 2018, Harvey allowed 33 hits, 21 runs, six HRs, and nine walks while striking out 20 batters. Somehow, he made it through four shutout innings in his first start with the Reds with one hit allowed and two Ks. He threw 32 strikes in 55 pitches with many hard-hit balls resulting in outs. Harvey topped out at 96 with while his average fastball came in at 94.3. A change of scenery should treat him well, but he will be tough to trust until Matt strings some strong starts together. Not quite ready to be called roadkill, so I would only place small bids if your Fantasy team needs a Hail Mary out in starting pitching.
Ervin Santana is about a week away from pitching in a minor league game, which puts him on track to pitch in the majors in early June. He threw a bullpen session on Saturday with more to follow next week. Possible buy and hold if he still in the free agent pool in shallow leagues.
The Padres may turn to Brett Kennedy in the next week or two after pitching well in his first seven starts at AAA. He’s 3-0 with a 3.16 ERA over 37 innings with 38 Ks. Brett pitched well at AA in 2017 (13-7 with a 3.70 ERA and 134 Ks in 141 innings.
If the Red Sox need to dip into the minors for starting pitching, Jalen Beeks will be an exciting option. Over his first six starts at AAA, Beeks has a 1.72 ERA with 52 Ks in 31.1 innings with batting hitting .191 against him. In his minor league career, Jalen averaged 8.3 Ks per nine. His step forward in command (2.3 walks per nine) led to his rise in Ks (14.9). His step forward in success is due to the development of a cutter while offering an upside changeup.