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With the calendar flipping to May, it’s time to take a look at a few players trending in different directions in dynasty formats.
It's true that we only have a few weeks of data to play with here, but sitting on your hands isn’t always the best decision in leagues like this. Your roster is under constant evaluation, with win-now and win-later moves often happening at the same time. There are tough cuts, roster crunches, and injuries all changing the calculus. If your veteran team had a rough April, you might decide that now is the time to start a rebuild. That's what makes the dynasty process so fun.
With that out of the way, here's the April rundown...
Major leaguers rising:
Logan Gilbert SP, Mariners
Let’s start with the American League Pitcher of the Month for April, as Gilbert reeled off an incredible 0.64 ERA through five starts. He allowed just two earned runs (both on home runs) in 28 innings to go along with 27 strikeouts and just eight walks. Gilbert has been throwing his slider harder than he did last year, but otherwise it’s hard to pinpoint if this is meant to last. The 24-year-old is on the rise by virtue of the results, but he’s actually missing fewer bats this year than he did last year. He needs to do more to start to find himself in any sort of fantasy ace discussion.
Seiya Suzuki OF, Cubs
There’s always a bit of an unknown quantity factor with position players who come over from Japan, which is why Suzuki could be selected in the middle rounds of early mixed league drafts. Heck, Suzuki went 98th overall in the dynasty start-up I discussed a couple of weeks ago. However, he almost certainly would have been selected a few rounds earlier if managers had a do-over. Even with some recent scuffles, the 27-year-old is slashing .278/.398/.528 with four homers and six doubles through his first 88 plate appearances in the majors. He’s making plenty of hard contact (his barrel rate is 96th percentile) and his sprint speed ranks in the 94th percentile.
Joe Ryan SP, Twins
We can’t discuss what we saw in April without mentioning Ryan, who compiled a 1.17 ERA across his first four starts. His season debut against the Mariners was a bit shaky (four runs with four walks in four innings), but he’s allowed just one run in 19 innings with a 21/2 K/BB ratio since then. Including the numbers from his initial call-up late last season, Ryan now has the lowest WHIP (0.74) through nine career starts since Christy Mathewson (0.70) in 1900-1901. Well, that’s something. Just a reminder that the Rays traded Ryan to the Twins last year for half of a season of Nelson Cruz. Ryan put up great numbers in the minors too, but there was some skepticism about his upside because he was fastball-reliant and didn’t have overwhelming velocity. However, he’s embraced the usage of a new slider to complement the deceptive fastball, so it’s high time to look at him differently than we did before.
Bohm’s defensive struggles blew up in a very public way on April 11, leaving some to question his future with the Phillies. However, it might end up being a turning point in his career for the better, as fans have embraced him for coming clean and keeping it real. It also helps that he’s been productive. Bohm owns a very healthy .309/.373/.455 batting line with two homers, 14 RBI, and a 10/7 K/BB ratio through 67 plate appearances this season. He’s greatly improved his strikeout rate and sits among the league’s elite in terms of average exit velocity and hard-hit percentage. If you acquired him while his value was low during the offseason, chances are you are very happy right now.
Taylor Ward OF, Angels
Many fantasy managers were hopeful that this would finally be the year for Jo Adell, but it’s actually Ward who is taking the leap forward in the Angels’ outfield. Through 16 games, the 28-year-old has put up an incredible .390/.493/.746 batting line with five homers and a 12/14 K/BB ratio in 71 plate appearances. He was just named the American League Player of the Week. We should also note that he’s sporting a .450 BABIP despite some underwhelming data in terms of his average exit velocity and hard-hit percentage. We’re probably not talking about a fantasy stud here, but he’s hitting leadoff for the Angels — a good place to be — and he should hit for a decent average with a good bit of power moving forward.
Major leaguers falling:
Akil Baddoo OF, Tigers
It makes me sad to put Baddoo here, it really does, but he’s taken a nosedive over the past month and the window could be closing for him to prove that he belongs. At least with the Tigers, that is. Baddoo owns a miserable .128/.190/.231 batting line with a 12/3 K/BB ratio through 42 plate appearances this season and has begun to lose playing time in recent days. In fact, he’s played since five times since April 16. Derek Hill is seeing more starts in center field and it’s fair to wonder where Baddoo fits once Riley Greene is deemed ready to return from his foot fracture. There was always a platoon risk with Baddoo’s profile in the first place, but now it’s even trickier.
Adalberto Mondesi INF, Royals
With these next three players, it’s about injuries. Mondesi still found himself as a top-100 pick in most mixed leagues this spring because of his elite speed potential, but many fantasy managers did that with the expectation that he would likely miss some time. Well, it didn’t take long to for the injury bug to strike, as Mondesi tore the ACL in his left knee while striding back to first base on a pickoff throw last week. He’s expected to miss the remainder of the season. This comes after he was limited to just 35 games last season and Dayton Moore openly questioned his ability to be a regular. Mondesi’s plate discipline hasn’t improved and he was struggling at the plate even prior to the ACL tear, so his future is legitimately in question.
Eloy Jiménez OF, White Sox
This might feel a bit unfair, but Jimenez’s injury history continues to grow. After missing about four months with a torn pectoral muscle last season, the 25-year-old tore a tendon in his right hamstring last week and had to be carted off the field. He required surgery and will likely be sidelined until around late June. There’s been various other bumps and bruises during his White Sox tenure, as well. It would be a surprise if Jimenez wasn’t a DH in the long run. Also adding to the difficulty of his profile is a shaky approach coupled with a ground ball rate that sits around 50 percent for his career. He’s also never stolen a base through 243 major league games, so a lot has to go right from a power perspective to deliver upon fantasy expectations.
Jack Flaherty RHP, Cardinals
Good luck trying to figure out what to expect from Flaherty moving forward. The Cardinals’ ace missed significant time with an oblique injury last season before suffering a right shoulder strain in late August. Those shoulder issues cropped again this spring, resulting in a platelet-rich plasma injection. He’s currently doing some long-tossing and a return isn’t likely before June even if he continues to progress as hoped. Still, Flaherty has thrown a grand total of 118 2/3 innings dating back to the start of the 2020 season.
Adael Amador SS, Rockies
If you weren’t familiar with Amador prior to the past couple of weeks, don’t feel bad. But we should probably get used to hearing his name. Signed in the July 2 period back in 2019, Amador has arguably been the biggest fantasy riser among prospects this season, batting .359/.463/.654 with six homers and three steals through 20 games with Class A Fresno. Perhaps most impressively, the 19-year-old has more walks (16) than strikeouts (12) in 95 plate appearances. He’s listed at 6-feet and 160 pounds, so there has been some question about the power upside, but he’s obviously making some massive strides in that area. Pick him up now if he’s still available in your league.
Pete Crow-Armstrong OF, Cubs
Selected 19th overall by the Mets in 2020, Crow-Armstrong only appeared in six games last season before requiring surgery to repair a torn labrum and injured cartilage in his right shoulder. He was swapped to the Cubs in the Javier Baez deal last July, immediately jumping near the top of the team’s prospect list. The 20-year-old has been known for his speed and defense in center field, but he overhauled his swing during the offseason and the early results are encouraging, as he’s hit .382/.482/.603 with three homers (one inside-the-park) and seven steals through 17 games with Class A Myrtle Beach. If the power continues to come, there’s some exciting five-category ability here.
Andrew Painter RHP, Phillies
The Phillies’ 2021 first-rounder made this an easy choice. After firing six scoreless frames in rookie ball last season, the 19-year-old has dominated out of the gate this season with 16 scoreless innings in four starts with Class A Clearwater. And the numbers behind it are eye-popping, as he’s allowed just six hits while walking five and striking out 36 out of the 59 batters he has faced. That’s 61 percent. And even if you include the small sample from last year, his strikeout percentage sits at 60 percent. What in the world? Painter is a big dude at 6-foot-7 and 210 pounds, with the high velocity to match. He’s been sitting comfortably in the high 90s with his fastball. He’s been throwing that pitch predominantly so far — and why not? — but if the arsenal comes together, Phillies fans and dynasty managers should be very excited indeed.
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I’m Watching You:
Oneil Cruz SS, Pirates
Hey, remember when fans and fantasy managers were all mad at the Pirates for not including Cruz on the Opening Day roster? I was one of those people, by the way. Well, Cruz might have some work to do, after all. The 23-year-old is hitting just .176/.282/.284 with one home run through 85 plate appearances in Triple-A so far this season. Making matters worse, he’s struck out 33 percent of the time. Should three weeks of plate appearances really change how we feel about Cruz? Probably not. Remember, when he makes contact, he’s put up exit velocities in the area of Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge. You don’t give up on that. But it’s probably safe to assume that the Pirates will want to see better results before bringing him back to the majors.