Nolan Jones Worth a Look

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MIXED LEAGUES

(Players rostered in under 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)

Note: Percentages are from the morning of Thursday, July 14

Nolan Jones, 3B/OF, Guardians (Yahoo: 35 percent rostered)

Jones mostly struggled in his first taste of Triple-A in 2021, but he rebounded there this year to post a .917 OPS with three home runs and four stolen bases to earn his first big league promotion last week. The 24-year-old has hit the ground running, going 7-for-20 with one home run, two doubles and eight RBI over his first seven games. Jones’ early Statcast numbers also paint a rosy picture, as he boasts a robust 96.5 mph exit velocity and has already tallied four barrels. That Jones has eligibility at arguably the weakest infield position along with outfield certainly doesn’t hurt. He’s always struck out quite a bit and we’ll have to see how he fares against lefties, but the early returns are promising.

Brett Martin, RP, Rangers (Yahoo: 27 percent rostered)

Manager Chris Woodward somewhat surprisingly yanked Joe Barlow from the closer role last week. Perhaps even more surprisingly, he’s turned to Martin for three of the team’s four save chances since then, and the left-hander has been up to the task. Martin is a perfectly solid reliever, but lefties with career 18.8 percent strikeout rates typically aren’t entrusted with the ninth inning. The southpaw does produce a lot of ground balls and has generally been pretty good at limiting hard contact. I don’t trust him to hang on to the closing gig over the long haul, but he’s got it now and when it comes to saves when can’t be terribly picky. Martin also probably has a bit more leash now with Barlow going down with a blister issue.

Esteury Ruiz, 2B, Padres (Yahoo: 35 percent rostered)

Ruiz’s numbers in the minors prior to this season left a lot to be desired. However, to say that he has broken out in 2022 would be an understatement. Over 374 plate appearances between Double- and Triple-A, the 23-year-old has produced a .333/.467/.560 batting line with 13 home runs and 60 stolen bases. Yes, you read that correctly: 60 stolen bases. Now, keep in mind that there’s less distance between first and second base in the minors this year and they’re also limiting pickoff throws, so it’s never been easier to swipe bags on the farm. Ruiz’s exit velocities in the minors were lackluster and he benefitted from very favorable hitting conditions at Triple-A El Paso. Still, he should get to play and his steals potential is elite even if he’s not ready to hit yet.

Alex Wood, SP, Giants (Yahoo: 49 percent rostered)

I’d understand if you jettisoned Wood to the waiver wire during his rough stretch last month which resulted in his season ERA topping 5.00. He’s looked sharp in his two starts in July, though, giving up a total of one run with a 12/1 K/BB ratio over 12 innings. Wood produced his best start of the season his last time out, going seven shutout innings against the Padres while allowing just three hits and one walk while fanning a season-high eight. Also, while his surface numbers still don’t look great, Wood’s FIP (3.26) and xERA (3.64) have remained steady. Wood’s final first-half start will come against a Brewers team which ranks 22nd in wOBA (.303).

Reid Detmers, SP, Angels (Yahoo: 12 percent rostered)

It’s been an up-and-down season for Detmers, who threw a no-hitter back in mid-May before finding himself optioned to the minors barely more than a month later. The young left-hander is back with the Angels now and he tossed six scoreless innings while limiting the Orioles to just two hits and one walk while striking out seven in his first start since rejoining the rotation. Detmers hasn’t missed many bats to this point in the majors, but he missed plenty in the minors so hopefully there’s room to grow in that area. The southpaw’s next start is slated to come against the Astros, and he’s not a recommended play for that one. However, he’s well worth adding to your bench now in deeper leagues.

Aaron Hicks, OF, Yankees (Yahoo: 20 percent rostered)

Hicks had a solid April in his first regular season game action since he suffered a season-ending wrist injury last May. He then produced a lowly .563 OPS over 50 games in May and June, which sent him to the waiver wire in virtually any league where he had been picked up. Hicks might be worth another look again now, though, following a .370/.485/.889 start to July which has seen him pop three home runs and steal two bases. The 32-year-old did have to leave Tuesday’s contest after fouling a ball off his right shin, but he has managed to dodge serious injury and is expected to avoid the IL. Getting any part of that Yankees lineup isn’t a bad idea, and Hicks has certainly been useful in fantasy leagues in the past when healthy.

Deeper Dandies:

(Players rostered in under 10 percent of Yahoo leagues)

Akil Baddoo, OF, Tigers (Yahoo: 9 percent rostered)

I was in Baddoo’s corner coming into the season after a mostly unheard of jump from A-ball to the majors in 2021 resulted in plenty of success. What I didn’t foresee is his playing time being so sporadic and him batting at the bottom of the Tigers’ lineup when he did play. Granted, Baddoo didn’t play well enough to change manager A.J. Hinch’s mind, and he was eventually sent down to Triple-A Toledo in early May while sitting on a .438 OPS. Baddoo got going at Toledo, particularly recently when he posted a .438/.526/.750 batting line with three homers in his final 13 games there to earn a trip back to the majors. He then got two hits off lefties in his first game back, which was encouraging. The playing time should be there for the 23-year-old this time around.

Alexis Diaz, RP, Reds (Yahoo: 11 percent rostered – Yes, I’m cheating a little here, as his roster rate was 8 percent when I wrote this.)

The Reds have had an awful time finding a set closer since trading Raisel Iglesias. Their best option right now looks to be Diaz, who picked up his third save of the season with a scoreless frame on Tuesday versus the Yankees. Diaz has struck out 43 over 33 1/3 innings while giving up just 15 hits, helping him to a 2.16 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. He’s also walked 19, and free passes were a problem for him throughout the minors, as well. However, Diaz could have the ability to overcome his wildness thanks to two superb pitches. His fastball ranks in the 100th percentile in spin rate and has produced a 32.8 percent whiff rate, which is excellent for a fastball. Meanwhile, Diaz’s slider has garnered whiffs at a 43.9 percent rate.

Jake Meyers, OF, Astros (Yahoo: 4 percent rostered)

Chas McCormick and Jose Siri failed to take hold of the Astros’ center field job, leaving the door open for Meyers once he finally made it back since last November’s shoulder surgery. Meyers has started all but two games in center field since being activated on June 24 and has put up a decent .281/.311/.421 batting line with one home run and 10 RBI in 16 games. The 26-year-old posted a solid .761 OPS in the second half for Houston last year, too, and that was after he exploded for a 1.006 OPS, 16 home runs and 10 stolen bases in 68 games with Triple-A Sugar Land.

Weekend Warriors:

Dylan Bundy vs. CWS (Yahoo: 14 percent rostered)

Admittedly, it’s always risky in streaming Bundy since he’s been prone to blowup starts. However, the right-hander has generally been pretty effective when he’s managed to avoid the long ball. That’s been the case over his last five starts, during which time he’s surrendered just one home run while posting a 2.79 ERA. The White Sox have not been good against right-handed pitching this season, with only the Athletics and Tigers putting up a lower wOBA than their .290 mark.

Andre Pallante vs. CIN (Yahoo: 5 percent rostered)

Pallante has scuffled over his last two starts, giving up a total of 10 runs which has ballooned his ERA more than a full run from 2.10 to 3.18. He’s also not missing many bats at all in his rookie season, producing just 42 strikeouts across 65 innings of work. However, what Pallante lacks in swing-and-miss stuff he attempts to make up for it with an elite ground ball rate (63.2 percent) and the ability to avoid the opponent’s barrel (3.8 percent, 93rd percentile). Like the White Sox, the Reds can also be handled by right-handers, having posted a .299 wOBA against them which ranks 23rd in baseball.

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AL ONLY

Matt Brash, SP/RP, Mariners (Yahoo: 4 percent rostered)

Brash was all the buzz during spring training and won a spot in the Mariners’ Opening Day rotation. He looked good in his first outing of the season but quickly flamed out, in large part due to major control problems. The Mariners optioned him to Triple-A Tacoma in early May and made the surprising decision to move him to the bullpen. He struck out 41 over 26 relief innings with Tacoma and another three in 2 1/3 scoreless frames out of the bullpen for the Mariners since his recall. Brash’s control issues remain, but he’s going to miss a ton of bats while deployed as a reliever.

Michael Stefanic, 2B, Angels (Yahoo: 0 percent rostered)

The Angels’ infield this season has been a dumpster fire of injuries and lack of production, which is creating some opportunities to get looks at new guys. Stefanic is the latest, as he was promoted for his major league debut earlier this month after posting a .320/.410/.399 batting line with one homer and three steals across 210 plate appearances with Triple-A Salt Lake. An undrafted 26-year-old, Stefanic is a career .314 hitter in the minors and did slug 16 homers with Salt Lake last year (granted, it’s the only time he’s shown any semblance of home run pop). I’m honestly not sure there’s much here, but Stefanic has an opportunity and even batted leadoff his last game.

NL ONLY

Jonathan Davis, OF, Brewers (Yahoo: 0 percent rostered)

The Brewers’ center field job has been in flux this season with Lorenzo Cain struggling and eventually getting released and, more recently, Tyrone Taylor suffering a concussion. Andrew McCutchen has gotten a little run in center field and the recently activated Hunter Renfroe could be an option there at times, too. Of late, though, it’s been defensive specialist Davis at the position more times than not. The 30-year-old hasn’t hit much for the Brew Crew or at all during his time at the major league level, really. He is 5-for-5 in stolen base attempts, though, so perhaps Davis got offer a little speed in single-league formats.

Nick Fortes, C, Marlins (Yahoo: 1 percent rostered)

Speaking of speed, Fortes actually has a good amount of it for a catcher which has allowed him to go 3-for-3 in pilfering bags. He’s also clubbed three home runs for the Marlins in limited action and has now belted seven out of the yard while posting a .921 OPS in his first 105 big league plate appearances. The 25-year-old wasn’t nearly as productive in the minors and still figures to take a backseat to Jacob Stallings most of the time. Still, we’re talking about a catcher in an NL-only league here.