Take a chance on Spencer Strider

·8 min read

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We’re almost in the month of June, but it feels like the season just started a couple of weeks ago. Young and hungry prospects are continuing to receive opportunities to prove that they belong in the majors, players who started slow are starting to pick it up at the plate, and first-time fantasy managers are beginning to see just how long the fantasy season is. Fantasy baseball is a grind; don’t give up or get too cocky, there’s a lot more baseball to be played.

Now, in this week’s points leagues waiver wire piece, I talked about several players who are worth an add in all points leagues. Some are veterans, but others are young talents who could exceed expectations. Keep on adding free talent, you might just hit the jackpot.

Points League Options

(players rostered in under 50 percent of ESPN leagues)

Jesus Aguilar 1B/DH, Marlins (38 percent rostered)

Just a few seasons ago, Jesus Aguilar hit 35 home runs with a .274 batting average over 492 at-bats. And for those who were monitoring Aguilar’s development up to that point, they weren’t surprised by this power outburst at the major league level. In his lengthy minor league career (4,020 plate appearances), he had five 16+ home run seasons. And in his final minor league campaign – playing in Triple-A – he hit a career-best 30 home runs over 515 at-bats. He’s always been a hitter who possesses above-average raw power, as well as a slightly underappreciated hit tool and plate approach.

The implementation of the National League designated hitter has given him an easier path to playing regularly this season and over his first 178 plate appearances, he’s slashing .261/.326/.414 with six home runs. His quality of contract metrics don’t look as impressive as they did when he mashed 35 home runs, but the season’s still young. While he won’t blow you away with his production, Aguilar should be a solid corner infield option in all points leagues moving forward. Don’t overlook the value of rostering a player who has a limited ceiling, but also a reliable floor.

Andrew Vaughn OF, White Sox (37 percent rostered)

Andrew Vaughn is a true professional hitter who made his major league debut with just 254 minor league plate appearances under his belt. As a minor leaguer, he slashed .278/.386/.472 with eight home runs, a 12.6 percent walk rate, and a 15.4 percent strikeout rate. The White Sox needed an offensive boost following Eloy Jimenez’s devastating pectoral injury in Spring 2021 and on April 2nd, 2021, Vaughn made his MLB debut. In his rookie campaign, he finished with a .235/.309/.396 slash line, 15 home runs, a 8.7 percent walk rate, and a 21.5 percent strikeout rate. He demonstrated the ability to hit for power against left-handed and right-handed pitching, auguring well for his future in the big leagues. Additionally, his 115 mph maximum exit velocity, 10.9 percent barrel rate, and 46.4 percent hard-hit rate over the first 321 batted ball events of his career highlight the power he has in his bat.

To begin his 2022 campaign, his overall profile looks very similar to last season, except he’s been whiffing less against fastballs, breaking pitching, and off-speed pitches. Furthermore, he’s continued to make a lot of contact on pitches in the zone (career 90.2 percent zone contact rate) while also making more contact in general. All things considered, the 24-year-old’s adjustment to the majors has been going swimmingly. He could set career highs across the board this season; he’s a fine add if you’ve been looking for free upside at the outfield position.

Josh Rojas 3B, Diamondbacks (31 percent rostered)

Since 1922, there have been 338 occurrences of a player hitting at least three home runs in a game. The latest came on May 24th when Joc Pederson clubbed three home runs, and the versatile Josh Rojas accomplished the feat on May 20th at the Cubs. The super-utility man was selected 781st overall in the 2017 MLB Draft by the Houston Astros. He had a promising minor league career, slashing .289/.373/.503 slash line with 44 home runs, a 74.5 percent steal rate (73-of-98), a 11.7 percent walk rate, and a 16.2 percent strikeout rate over 1,293 plate appearances. Before making his major league debut in 2019, it was clear that he had the tools to potentially be an everyday player at the big league level.

Playing almost exclusively at third base to begin his 2022 campaign, Rojas is slashing .295/.375/.459 with three home runs and three stolen bases across 72 plate appearances. His sprint speed ranks in the 42nd percentile (26.7 feet per second), so it remains to be seen how many steals he attempts moving forward. In addition, his quality of contact metrics have been mediocre, but he does have a noticeably improved 19.6 percent chase rate. Because he’s been chasing less pitches, he’s been able to hone in on more hitter-friendly offerings. It’s still very early in the season and a lot could (will) change, but Rojas is worth a look if you need a utility bat.

Stephen Strasburg SP, Nationals (41 percent rostered)

I can’t help but feel like Stephen Strasburg would’ve been a surefire hall of fame candidate if injuries weren’t such a huge issue for him. In his career, the former first-overall pick has dealt with right shoulder inflammation, a cervical nerve impingement, a torn UCL that forced him to undergo Tommy John surgery, a back strain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and in 2021, he missed most of the season due to a neck strain and a neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome diagnosis. Don’t get it twisted, Strasburg has had several highly-fruitful campaigns, including his 209-inning, 3.32-ERA season in 2019. But because of the severity of the injuries that he’s dealt with, it’s fair to question just how much he has left in him.

Nonetheless, he’s reportedly on track for an early-June return. In his second rehab start, he fired five no-hit innings and struck out six. When healthy, he’s well worth a roster spot in your points leagues. His four-seam fastball velocity was down in his short 2021 sample size, but at 33-years-old, he could still have some fantasy value left in him. And based on his rostership percentage, a good amount of people agree with me. Stash him if you have the space.

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Deep Points League Options

(players rostered in under 10 percent of ESPN leagues)

Michael Harris OF, Braves (6 percent rostered)

Ranked as the number one prospect in the Braves’ farm system by MLB Pipeline, Michael Harris is worth an add in all points leagues. There’s a possibility that his playing time will be too inconsistent for him to be a viable mixed league asset to begin his major league career, but it’s worth noting that he’s started in two straight games since getting the call. With Adam Duvall struggling at the plate, he has the opportunity – and the tools – to be the everyday center fielder for the Braves moving forward.

Prior to his May 28th call-up, Harris was slashing .305/.372/.506 with five home runs and 11 stolen bases over 196 plate appearances. He’s been gradually improving as he’s ascended through the upper levels of the minors – a good sign. An adjustment period should be expected, but Harris is the type of player who could become extremely hard to acquire – in all fantasy formats – after just a couple of big games. Go grab him if he’s available in your league.

Spencer Strider RP, Braves (9 percent rostered)

It’s always fun to see a pitching prospect increase their fastball velocity, because now they can be – at least – an above-average middle relief arm at the major league level. Spencer Strider’s been throwing his four-seam fastball harder than ever, as it’s topped out at 100+ mph on multiple occasions to begin his MLB career. His slider is a solid putaway pitch and his changeup could be as well with further refinement.

He has yet to make a start this season, but he has seven multi-inning outings and he has struck out at least five batters in four of those seven appearances. It seems like the Braves have been preparing him to start and with Tucker Davidson back in the minors, he’s scheduled to make the first start of his career on May 30th against the Diamondbacks. The strikeout upside is tantalizing, it costs nothing to pick him up, and in points leagues, there are few things more exciting than grabbing a pitcher off of the waiver wire and watching them excel.