Reel in Rios

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·10 min read
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MIXED LEAGUES

(Players rostered in under 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)

Note: Percentages are from the morning of Thursday, June 2

Edwin Rios, 1B/3B, Dodgers (Yahoo: 14 percent rostered)

Rios slugged 35 home runs between Triple-A and the majors in 2019, and he followed that up with eight bombs over just 83 plate appearances with the Dodgers during the shortened 2020 campaign. Unfortunately, he got off to a dreadful start last season and then underwent season-ending labrum surgery on his right shoulder in mid-May. Between the recovery from major shoulder surgery and the difficulty of cracking the Dodgers’ loaded lineup, Rios was a bit of an afterthought in fantasy drafts this spring. He’s very much back on the radar now, though, having posted a .906 OPS with six homers over his last 17 games as the team’s primary designated hitter. Rios strikes out a ton, but his power is very real.

Michael Harris, OF, Braves (Yahoo: 32 percent rostered)

Harris just turned 21 in March, spent all of last season in A-ball and began this year at Double-A, so his major league ETA didn’t really seem to be 2022. However, the Braves had a need and they decided Harris was ready, letting him skip the Triple-A level and jump to the big leagues earlier this week. The youngster hit .305/.372/.506 with five homers and 11 steals at Double-A and is 46-for-55 in stolen base attempts across 197 minor league games. He also didn’t swing and miss much on the farm with a strikeout rate under 20 percent. Harris has held his own in the early going with the Braves, reaching base four times in five games while driving in a couple runs.

Matthew Liberatore, SP, Cardinals (Yahoo: 23 percent rostered)

The main piece in the return from the Rays in the Randy Arozarena trade, Liberatore has been a top-50 prospect basically from the moment he was taken in the first round of the 2018 Draft. The left-hander has generally posted good-not-great numbers in the minors, although he showed better velocity down the stretch last season at Triple-A Memphis where he held a 2.67 ERA and 57/17 K/BB ratio over his final 57 1/3 frames. Liberatore followed that up with a 46/12 K/BB ratio over his first 40 innings for Memphis this season to earn a promotion to St. Louis. The southpaw has put up one good and one bad start so far and will take a crack at the rival Cubs at Wrigley Field in his next time on the bump.

Edward Cabrera, SP, Marlins (Yahoo: 14 percent rostered)

Having a young pitcher make his first major league start of the season in Coors Field seems cruel, but Cabrera was unfazed. The 24-year-old dominated the Rockies on Wednesday in the first game of a doubleheader, striking out nine while yielding just one hit over six shutout innings. Cabrera did walk four batters and hit two others, so it wasn’t perfect, but he also had 17 swinging strikes and a very impressive 43 percent CSW rate. He struggled with his control last year with the Marlins and has at times in the minors, too. Injuries have also been an issue. That said, Cabrera throws hard and has four legitimate pitches. He probably has a higher ceiling than Liberatore and a lower floor.

Riley Greene, OF, Tigers (Yahoo: 21 percent rostered)

Have you stashed Greene yet? You might be running out of time. The top prospect was in line to make the Tigers’ Opening Day roster before he suffered a fractured right foot late in spring training. It took him about two months to be game-ready again, but he’s back in action now and has made his way up to Triple-A Toledo. The 21-year-old has a skill set which makes fantasy managers salivate, as he can hit for power, can run and draws plenty of walks. Greene has struck out quite a bit in the minors, but the left-handed hitter has had no trouble with lefty pitching, having posted a robust 1.039 OPS versus southpaws in 2021. The Tigers desperately need to inject some life into their lineup, and Greene could provide it.

Daniel Hudson, RP, Dodgers (Yahoo: 16 percent rostered)

Craig Kimbrel got off to a fine start this season but has really struggled lately, having been scored upon in five of his last seven appearances while suffering his first blown save. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts declared his closer unavailable on Wednesday as he worked on cleaning up his mechanics. Kimbrel undoubtedly will slide back into the closer role and could very well start mowing down hitters, but it’s not as if his recent track record has been consistent. Hudson would be next in line to close if the team does make a change at some point. He’s picked up three saves already this season while posting a 2.25 ERA and 18/3 K/BB ratio over 16 innings.

Deeper Dandies:

(Players rostered in under 10 percent of Yahoo leagues)

Luis Garcia, 2B/SS, Nationals (Yahoo: 2 percent rostered)

It really shouldn’t have taken an injury to Alcides Escobar (hamstring) for the Nationals to finally promote Garcia, but at least he’s now in the big leagues. The 22-year-old wasn’t nearly as good in May as he was in April at Triple-A Rochester, but overall he batted .314/.368/.531 with eight home runs and a stolen base. Garcia has struggled when pressed into duty before he was ready with the Nats the last two seasons, but he seems more prepared this time around. There’s real potential in his bat.

Elvis Andrus, SS, Athletics (Yahoo: 2 percent rostered)

Yeah, I’m surprised, too. Andrus has mostly been an afterthought for fantasy purposes since 2020, having put up a lowly .235/.287/.322 batting line the previous two seasons. He got off to a poor start in 2022, as well, but has suddenly kicked things into gear of late. Coming into action Wednesday, Andrus was batting .313/.362/.500 with two home runs and a stolen base over his last 20 games. He then broke up Justin Verlander’s no-hit bid with an RBI double in the seventh inning and added another RBI double off closer Ryan Pressly in the ninth. I’m certainly not expecting the recent extra-base pop to continue, but would it be totally surprising if Andrus hit for a decent average and stole some bases the rest of the way? He had 31 steals as recently as 2019.

Graham Ashcraft, SP, Reds (Yahoo: 4 percent rostered)

What you need to know about Ashcraft is that he throws hard. Like, really hard. The 24-year-old has sat comfortably in the upper-90s and topped triple digits on occasion in his first two major league starts. His fastball also has so much cutting action that Statcast has categorized some of them as cutters. After giving up two runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Blue Jays in his debut, Ashcraft tossed 6 1/3 shutout frames versus the Giants last week. Oddly, he had just one strikeout and five whiffs despite the aforementioned heat. Ultimately, missing bats seems less of a concern for Ashcraft than his control, which has been shaky throughout his pro career. He’s probably a reliever in the long run, but the Reds will let him start for now.

Weekend Warriors:

Tyler Wells vs. CLE (Yahoo: 3 percent rostered)

The Twins lost both Wells and Akil Baddoo in the Rule 5 Draft a couple offseasons ago. While Baddoo certainly looked last year like the one that got away, Wells has looked like the bigger loss so far this season. The 6-foot-8 right-hander has made a successful move into the Orioles’ rotation to this point, producing a 3.71 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 28/7 K/BB ratio over 43 2/3 innings covering 10 starts. That includes six frames of shutout ball against the Red Sox his last time out. Wells hasn’t been missing many bats and his extreme flyball tendencies can leave him vulnerable to the home run ball. The latter isn’t as big of an issue with the deadened ball, though, and Wells has done his best to make up for the lack of punchouts with elite control.

Matt Swarmer vs. STL (Yahoo: 0 percent rostered)

Swarmer is a 28-year-old who doesn’t really appear on prospect lists for the Cubs. He was off to an excellent start at Triple-A Iowa before his promotion, though, with a 2.08 ERA and 42/14 K/BB ratio over 39 innings. Swarmer then went out and had an impressive major league debut this week against the Brewers, allowing four runs – one earned – over six innings while striking out six and walking one. The righty barely cracks 90 mph with his fastball and has had major home run issues in the minors, but he used his slider as his primary pitch in his debut and it got whiffs at nearly a 40 percent rate.

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AL ONLY

Konnor Pilkington, SP/RP, Guardians (Yahoo: 1 percent rostered)

He might sound like a character in a Wes Anderson movie, but Pilkington is a pitching prospect with the Guardians who was acquired from the White Sox last season in the César Hernández deal. The left-hander held a 3.04 ERA and 120/39 K/BB ratio over 100 2/3 Double-A frames last season and so far in the majors this year has posted a 2.65 ERA and 23/10 K/BB ratio across 17 innings. He struck out eight and got 17 whiffs over five shutout frames versus the Royals on Wednesday.

Alex Lange, RP, Tigers (Yahoo: 3 percent rostered)

A former first-round pick, Lange disappointed in the minors as a starter but looks to have found his footing this year in a relief role. The right-hander has mostly junked his four-seam fastball in 2022 and gone curveball – and changeup-heavy. The results have been phenomenal, as he has a 50+ percent whiff rate on both pitches while accumulating a 1.83 ERA and 25/6 K/BB ratio over 19 2/3 innings of work. Lange is not only getting swings and misses, but he’s also suppressing hard contact and getting lots of grounders. Gregory Soto has pitched better lately, but he still looks shaky over the long haul and Lange has been finding himself in more and more high-leverage spots.

NL ONLY

Tucupita Marcano, 2B, Pirates (Yahoo: 1 percent rostered)

Acquired from the Padres in last season’s Adam Frazier trade, Marcano surprisingly made San Diego’s Opening Day roster in 2021 but looked overmatched during his time in the big leagues. The 22-year-old seems more ready to handle the task now, though, after hitting .312/.411/.495 with two home runs and two steals in his first 29 games at Double-A this season. That hot start earned him a callup to the majors this past weekend, and Marcano has gone 7-for-21 with two dingers, with those long balls coming in back-to-back games off Walker Buehler and Julio Urias. At-bats should be easy to find for the versatile youngster.

Nick Plummer, OF, Mets (Yahoo: 3 percent rostered)

Plummer caught on with the Mets over the offseason after the Cardinals surprisingly decided to let him walk rather than add him to their 40-man roster. The former first-round pick had a breakout 2021 season between Double- and Triple-A, batting .280/.415/.479 with 15 homers and 13 steals. He had put up a .824 OPS with six home runs and two stolen bases with Triple-A Syracuse when the Mets summoned him over the weekend, and Plummer has gone deep in both of his starts. The Mets essentially chose to keep him around over Dominic Smith, who was optioned Tuesday. Plummer wouldn’t seem to have a path to regular at-bats when everyone is healthy, but Brandon Nimmo and Jeff McNeil have both been banged up lately.