After a week feeling like the Pittsburgh Pirates, I had no power, yes, for almost a week, but I am back.
Most seasons, stars are going to win you a fantasy championship.
However, this is a season of attrition, and having a roster of players who can keep you competitive is necessary when injuries and uncertainty are around every corner.
We are nearing the halfway point of the season and the waiver wire is where we need to add players to build around our faltering foundations and secure depth that can help us be ready for anything.
Here are two rising stars, and two rookies who can make an impact on your team.
Pablo Lopez, SP, Marlins
He might be one of the dirtiest pitchers you’ve never seen.
According to Baseball Savant, Lopez is similar to 2019 Stephen Strasburg and Aaron Nola based on his velocity and movement. He’s performed like the ace of the staff while the Marlins’ top pitcher Caleb Smith deals with yet another injury hamstringing his fickle career. According to Roster Resource, Lopez is ranked 27th among starting pitchers so far this season. If you’ve read my articles in the past, you know I’m a sucker for a good changeup (see my weekly love letters to Dylan Bundy).
Lopez might have a changeup to rival Bundy’s, gasp! Lopez throws his changeup 30 percent of the time and when he throws it, batters are swinging. He has put away 50 percent of batters with his changeup and he’s induced whiffs 47 percent of the time. The reason he’s emerged this season has been a new reliance of the changeup to be his dominant pitch and leaning less on his fastball. Lopez has an even higher ceiling than Bundy just because his tools are better. Bundy tops out at low 90s on his fastball while Lopez can blow it past batters at 95 mph. The world knows about Bundy, owned in 96 percent of leagues on CBS, but if you are looking for the next best thing, Lopez is available in 43 percent of leagues.
Alec Bohm, 3B, Phillies
He’s still available in 50 percent of leagues somehow. Bohm made his debut this week, and he’s starting regularly at third base. Jean Segura is in more of a comfortable position now that he’s shifted over to second base, which leaves Bohm as the new everyday third baseman with no one to compete against him for playing time. He’s hitting .300 in 20 at-bats. He’s proving he can hit at the major league level, and what made him stand out as a prospect was his power. He hasn’t hit a home run since his callup, but all the numbers say it’s just a matter of time. He doesn’t have enough at-bats to qualify him for Baseball Savant’s percentiles, but he’s barreling the ball 13.3 percent of the time and his exit speed is solid at 93.5. Better yet, his hard-hit rate is at 60 percent. His line-drive rate is high at 40 percent, but his ground ball rate is also high at 46.7 percent. He only has a fly ball percent of about 13 percent, so once he starts turning some of these hard-hit grounders into fly balls, they are going to leave the yard with his size and speed power combo. Jump on him now while you still can because he’s a power bat who is about to unleash his middle of the order power potential.
Jake Cronenworth, 2B, Padres
Baseball is a crazy sport. Sometimes you see a name and you have no idea who that is or how he managed to get among the league leaders in anything. Jake Cronenworth is one of those stories. He was ranked 19 among the top 20 prospects in the Padres system to start the year, and it’s not like the Padres are loaded with prospects outside of pitching.
However, Cronenworth is somehow at the center of the race for rookie of the year. I’m not the only one who had this dude slip by him for so long. He’s only rostered in 17 percent of leagues on CBS. What this dude has done this year has been nothing short of being a must-add for fantasy. He’s among the top two percent of the league for expected batting average, and top three percent for expected slugging percentage.
He only has one stolen base, but Baseball Savant ranks him among the fastest players in the league. Less is an under the radar version of Nick Madrigal who can slap and dash his way to an on-base percentage that will allow him to score a lot of runs in a potent Padres offense. This is the low key add that wins you a fantasy championship or at least gets you close.
Garrett Hampson, OF/2B, Rockies
He’s a hot name right now, but I would urge more caution with Garrett Hampson than the rest of the players I’ve highlighted. However, he has an immense value at the top of the Rockies lineup. It all came down to finding a way to get him on the field for Colorado.
When Ian Desmond opted out, it seemed like Hampson was ready to take over the second base job with Ryan McMahon moving to first base. However, the Rockies believed that McMahon didn’t have the skill set to play first and moved him back to second blocking Hampson. Real quick, how can anyone be worse at first base than Daniel Murphy? Murphy moves like he has peg legs, and McMahon is considered to be worse?
So Hampson was on the bench waiting to find a way onto the field when struggling David Dahl found his way onto the injured list with lower back soreness. Hampson has made the most of his chances leading off behind two of the best hitters in baseball with three of the best hitters in baseball behind him (Trevor Story, Charlie Blackmon, and Nolan Arenado). He’s hitting .277 with one home run and three stolen bases. However, this is not a player who will be able to take advantage of the thin air of Coors Field. Hampson has a lowly six percent exit velocity, and a hard-hit rate of four percent.
He’s essentially Billy Hamilton from back when Hamilton’s legs were enough for him to try to beat out any ground ball. Despite his low power numbers, Hampson has a decent barrel rate of 65 percent, so if his power starts to climb his value will as well. Hampson is still available in 37 percent of leagues and he’s worth picking up for his speed alone. He only has three steals, but he has scored 13 runs on 18 hits and that can make a huge impact with his positional flexibility of outfield and second base.