Franmil Reyes, OF, Padres
Even after homering Thursday, Reyes still sits with an ugly .167/.270/.400 line on the season, which is why he’s available in nearly 70% of leagues right now. But there’s a lot to like here when digging a little deeper, as Reyes has cut his K% from 28.1 last year down to 16.2 this season while showing similar improvements in BB% (8.4 to 13.5). Moreover, the Padres’ cleanup hitter has an expected batting average of .335, and his xwOBA ranks No. 12 among all hitters in baseball (sandwiched between Nelson Cruz and Ronald Acuña Jr. and just ahead of Bryce Harper and Christian Yelich). Reyes sure looks like a monster in the making, and it’s borderline criminal he’s still freely available in some leagues.
Mike Soroka, P, Braves
He fell off sleeper lists after experiencing shoulder soreness during spring, but Soroka is a former first-round pick with outstanding command who’s feeling healthier now, as he fired five perfect innings (with seven Ks) during his season-debut start in Triple-A earlier this week. Ranked as a top-25 prospect by MLB.com, Soroka owns a career 2.78 ERA across 366 1/3 innings in the minors despite being just 21 years old. He’s still available in more than 90% of Yahoo leagues, but that will change fast as soon as he rejoins Atlanta’s rotation, which shouldn’t be too far down the road if his shoulder cooperates. Teammate Max Fried is another Braves pitcher worth adding if he’s still out there in your league, as he’s off to an impressive start (scoreless over 13 2/3 innings), but his ownership (52%) is much higher.
Merrill Kelly, P, Diamondbacks
The 30-year-old rookie is something of an unknown but has impressed through two starts, posting a 2.57 ERA and a 0.79 WHIP with a 12:2 K:BB ratio over 14.0 innings, with the latest outing a strong showing against the Red Sox. Kelly is coming off a successful four-year stint in the Korea Baseball Organization, where he recorded a 3.60 ERA and a 189:45 K:BB ratio over 190.0 innings last season in a hitter-friendly environment (after having solid numbers in the Rays’ minor league system before that). Kelly is an interesting add right now and is still out there in nearly 80% of leagues.
Mike Minor, P, Rangers
He had a poor first start to the season, but it’s curious why Texas’ ace is still available in nearly 90% of leagues after he’s posted a 1.12 WHIP with a 3.4:1 K:BB ratio since reentering the starting rotation at the beginning of last year. He’s too much of a fly ball pitcher in a hitter’s park to produce a great ERA, but Minor should be a big help in WHIP, and his fastball continues to have better velocity the further he’s been removed from shoulder surgery (it increased nearly every month last season). The former top-10 pick is seemingly being overlooked for no good reason.
Shohei Ohtani, DH, Angels
He hit off a pitching machine Friday and is close to taking BP, which means Ohtani’s return to action is getting closer. He’ll sit against some lefties (and during some side throwing sessions later in the season), but Ohtani should be close to the Angels’ full-time DH over the final five months, and he posted a 182 wRC+ against right-handers last year as a rookie. Moreover, Angel Stadium was an extreme home run park for LHB after lowering the right field wall last season, when it essentially played like Yankee Stadium for lefty power. Ohtani shouldn’t still be sitting out there in half of leagues.
Mike Leake, P, Mariners
He doesn’t possess a ton of upside, but Leake is reliable and plenty useful in deeper formats, and he’s also readily available in many leagues after serving up five homers over his last two starts. Leake’s K% (21.5) is easily a career high in the early going, as he’s thrown his cutter and changeup more and his slider less, but obviously that’s a small sample. He throws in one of the best pitcher’s parks in baseball, is apparently going to receive better run support from Seattle’s offense than expected, and THE BAT projects a 4.06 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP rest of season, which is valuable in deep leagues, especially given this year’s hitting environment with the ball juiced yet again.