Kyle Tucker: Named Houston’s Minor League Player of the Year last season and considered the team’s top position prospect (and a top-20 MLB prospect throughout ranking systems), Tucker was called to the majors Saturday, playing left field and hitting seventh. After tearing up spring training, he clubbed 14 homers and stole 14 bases over 80 games in Triple-A, and it’s unlikely the Astros brought him up not to be an everyday player (at least against righties). Tucker is just 21 years old and will deal with a pitcher’s park, but the No. 5 pick in the 2015 draft carries a lot of upside and will soon see his ownership (33%) skyrocket. Fantasy owners need to be prepared to spend their FAAB aggressively.
Matt Adams: He’s back off the DL and might have been dropped in your league while he was out dealing with a fractured finger. Adams had four hits his first game back so hopefully the finger is healed, and it’s not often someone sporting a .290/.361/.580 line with 13 homers over 162 at bats is still available in more than two thirds of leagues. Adams may platoon, but he’s been hitting in between Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy against right-handers, whom he produced an .896 OPS with 17 homers over 278 ABs against last year. Adams should be owned in far more leagues.
Jordan Hicks: He’s filling in as St. Louis’ closer while Bud Norris is sidelined with a right index finger injury. An MRI revealed no structural damage, but last reports suggested Norris was still dealing with pain and swelling, and Hicks has the stuff to possibly run away with the job long term. Hicks’ average fastball velocity (100.1 mph) is the highest in baseball, and he has a 2.30 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and a 22:5 K:BB ratio over his last 15.2 innings and is owned in just 17 percent of leagues…Will Smith is another reliever pitching well (1.18 FIP) who’s widely available (just 32% owned) for those searching for saves. Smith is currently the Giants’ closer and very well may keep the job.
Shohei Ohtani (Hitter): He’s back playing DH against righties and should see more playing time now that he’s highly unlikely to pitch again this season. The length of this setup is uncertain (will he need TJ surgery?), and obviously the majority of Ohtani’s fantasy value was tied to his pitching, but he’s also quite an interesting hitter, as his 140 wRC+ would rank top-20 if he qualified. Ohtani stole his second bag of the year Friday, so maybe he’ll be more aggressive on the base paths (he has “60” speed) without worrying about pitching every fifth day now. It shouldn’t be long before the Angels move Ohtani up in their order, and he’s still available in more than 55 percent of leagues.
Daniel Palka, Andrew Suarez, Tyler Anderson, Neil Walker and Brad Miller: For those in deeper leagues, I covered these guys during a recent Closing Time. Moreover, Scott Pianowski recently advised picking up Jorge Polanco and also suggested adding Johan Camargo.
Jordan Zimmermann: He turned in a dominant performance Friday, striking out 11 and holding the Rangers to just one run (four baserunners) over eight innings. Zimmermann had a 6.08 ERA last season and pitches for a team with a poor offense in a hitter’s park, so it’s understandable fantasy owners remain skeptical (21% owned), but he’s worth mentioning after recording a 20:1 K:BB ratio over his last three starts (0.90 ERA, 0.70 WHIP). Zimmermann’s fastball has actually averaged a career-low 91.2 mph, but his slider has been dominant (17.5 SwStr%). He’s better suited for deeper leagues and without a doubt carries blowup risk, but this is now an 11-start sample of effective pitching (1.05 WHIP) this season, and Zimmermann gets a favorable matchup in Tropicana Field next time out.