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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Not Your Average Jo

As the calender flips to August, we’re already approaching the 1/4 mark of this crazy 2020 season. Wait, what? Yup, even though we’re only two weeks into the season, that 1/4 mark is about to fly by quicker than a Nate Pearson fastball. And guess what? In another two and a half weeks or so, we’ll be right around the halfway mark. Waisting time and waiting to make moves will bury you in the standings. That’s why it’s so damn important to remain active on the fantasy baseball waiver wire, whether that means in weekly FAAB or beating your leaguemates to the waiver wire for the next hot pickup.

Now, onto this week’s Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire targets!

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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Hitters

Jo Adell (OF – LAA)

Get ready to see some crazy FAAB bids this weekend. That tends to happen when a top-5 dynasty prospect gets called up to the show. If you already had Adell stashed, congratulations. If not, you’re going to need to open that wallet and let the greenbacks fly high to secure Adell’s services for the remainder of 2020. And for those not in weekly FAAB leagues, Jo Adell needs to be added immediately if he’s available on your waiver wire. Adell is still a bit raw and rough around the edges, but the upside is a fantasy monster.

As we said with Luis Robert before the season, Adell’s approach is still a work in progress. In his 27 Triple-A games to end the 2019 season, Adell struck out 32.8% of the time and didn’t leave the yard once. Although, he did  have 11 double. That inauspicious stint threw some cold water on Adell’s runaway hype train, but we can’t ignore the immene raw tools. While the approach is still a work in progress, Adell has displayed above-average contact skills, 70-grade raw power, and plus speed as well. How much he utilizes that speed remains to be seen though as Adell hasn’t run much the last two seasons.

Even if he’s more in the 10-15 SB range than 20-plus, Adell’s .280/40 upside at the plate makes him one of the more exciting young prospects in the game. Superstardom might now be in the cards right away, but the upside makes him worth a significant investment in re-draft leagues.

J.P. Crawford (SS – SEA)

If you’ve followed my work over the last few years, you’ll probably know that I’m the farthest thing from a J.P. Crawford supporter. Even when he was considered a top-5 prospect, I wasn’t buying any tickets to board the Crawford hype train. To this very second, I’m glad I didn’t. Crawford has vastly underwhelmed as a Major Leaguer with a career .227/.329/.369 slash line and has only accumlated 10 home runs and 11 steals over 178 games.

The one aspect of Crawford’s game that you can count on is his ability to work the count and draw walks at a high clip. Crawford has walked 12.1% of the time in the Majors and 13.2% in the minors which has salvaged his OBP despite the lower batting average. So why am I recommending him? Well, this season, Crawford’s contact, O-Contact, and Z-Contact have all jumped by more than 5% and his 87.9% contact rate actually ranks 9th best in all of baseball. On top of that, Crawford appears to be locked into the leadoff spot and already has three steals in 14 games this season.

Don’t go bonkers trying to get Crawford on your team, but there’s some solid late-round value here if the average can remain respectable. Those of you in OBP leagues should covet JPC a bit more.

Jon Berti (3B/SS/OF – MIA)

Remember him? Back in draft season 1.0, Jon Berti was a popular late-round selection due to his speed, multi-positional eligibility, and strong showing last season. In 73 games last season, Berti hit .273 with 52 runs and 17 steals, giving all the lucky owners that picked him up a big speed boost down the stretch. He’s never going to be a power threat, but that speed hasn’t gone anywhere (97th percentile sprint speed this season) and he’s started every game since Miami returned to action earlier this week. And not only is he starting, but Berti has also been slotting into the #2 spot in the order too.

If you need a boost in the speed department, Berti can provide just that while giving you a versatile player you can plug into multiple spots. With his questionable playing time entering the season and Miami missing over a week of action due to their COVID outbreak, Berti is still available in more than 75% of leagues.

Renato Nunez (1B/3B – BAL)

Show of hands, how many of you realized that Renato Nunez blasted 31 home runs last season with 90 RBI in 151 games? If he was on the Red Sox or Yankees, that type of production would get plenty of publicity. But Nunez plays in Baltimore where these sneaky-good campaigns often fly under the radar. While the 31 homers and 90 RBI were nice, they came with a lackluster .244 average and .311 OBP, rendering Nunez to merely being a two-category producer.

Now 12 games into 2020, that power has remained as Nunez has blasted four home runs to pair with eight RBI and 11 runs scored. He’s also walking more with six in 50 plate appearances this far while batting 3rd, 4th, or 5th in each of Baltimore’s last seven games. Another 30/90 pace is well within reach and the runs scored pace could exceed his 72 from last season if Nunez can maintain a solid walk rate and stay in the heart of Baltimore’s order. This is your textbook cheap power bat and one that can provide solid counting stats as well.

Deep League Target: Mike Tauchman (OF – NYY)

Don’t look now, but Mike Tauchman has started each of the last three games and in four of the last six games for the Bronx Bombers. You could say he’s making the most of his newfound playing time too, collecting seven hits, two runs, three RBI, and three steals in those four games. This is the same Tauchman that slashed .277/.361/.504 last season while pacing at around 90 runs, 90 RBI, 25 homers, and 10 steals. Whenever he’s been given the chance to play, Tauchman has produced, plain and simple. And guess what! With Miguel Andujar optioned off the active roster, there’s a good chance we continue to see Tauchman regularly moving forward.

While he’s not listed as a started but Tauchman is the top bench option for the Yankees right now and let’s not forget that the four players in front of him in the outfield and at DH are either old, fragile, or both. The Yankees could benefit from giving those guys regular days off to keep them fresh for the playoffs and can turn to Tauchman often. I’m not quite ready to recomended him in shallower leagues, but Tauchman needs to be rostered in deeper leagues for his all-around production and increasing playing time.

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Pitchers

Spencer Howard (SP – PHI)

While it hasn’t been officially confirmed, there’s a strong chance that Spencer Howard makes his MLB debut on Sunday against Max Fried and the Atlanta Braves. We’ve already been gifted with the debuts and/or first career starts of Nate Pearson, Luis Patino, Jesus Luzardo, and others early this season, and now another top-10 pitching prospect will join the ranks.

A 2nd round pick in 2017, Howard has steadily ascended prospect rankings to the lofty spot he’s now in. His 2019 campaign punched his ticket to the elite tier of pitching prospects, finishing with a 2.03 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 2.0 BB/9, and 11.9 K/9 across 15 starts. The arsenal runs four pitches deep with the fastball, changeup, and slider all grading as or flashing plus. Howard’s changeup is pure filth and that slider can be to at it’s best.

When you have three dynamic pitches like this and above-average command and control, you’re set up to do big things in this league. That could all begin on Sunday. You’re going to want Howard on your roster once he’s up as he has the potential to pitch as a top-40 SP the rest of the season.

Kyle Freeland (SP – COL)

Recommending a Rockies pitcher usually is a great way to get obscenities yelled at you. We all know the track record of pitchers at Coors Field and that’s why I’ve mostly shied away from including any in my waiver wire piece. But after a third straight quality start, it’s time to give Kyle Freeland some love. I’ll admit, I was even still skeptical after his second start and still don’t believe he’s a top-40 caliber fantasy arm the rest of the way, but we need all the help we can get this shortened season.

Freeland isn’t missing bats at a high rate so far (5.3 K/9), but the 6’4 southpaw has been limiting hard contact and flyballs quite well. He was on cruise control against the lowly Giants yesterday before allowing three runs in the 7th to take the no-decision and push his ERA up to 2.42 on the season. As mentioned, you won’t get any help from him in the strikeout department, but Freeland can help stabilize your ratios and provide some stability on the backend of your staff.

Rowan Wick (RP – CHC)

For those of you that picked Rowan Wick in the “Who will be closing games for the Chicago Cubs on August 7th) pool, I tip my cap to you. While I crack a joke here, honestly, I’m not surprised that Craig Kimbrel has already been moved out of the closer role. As a Red Sox fan, I had to endure countless save situations that ended in him blowing the save or tightroping out of danger. Regardless of the outcome, it was exhausting watching him pitch. But nough about Kimbrel, let’s talk about Wick and why he can be of use to you.

Well, to start, he’s currently getting save opportunities. That’a half the battle ladies and gentlemen. Wick operates primarily with a mid-90’s fastball and mid-70’s curveball, a duo he threw 94.1% of the time last season and 93.6% this year. That curveball has been especially lethal for Wick with a .170 wOBA and .238 xSLG last season. Many bullpens are in flux right now so you need to take saves anywhere you can get them. And right now, the Cubs appear to be letting him run with the role a little bit.

Deep League Target: Luis Patiño (SP/RP – SD)

If he was brought up to start right away, Luis Patiño would be an immediate mixed league target and not just a deep league option. But unfortunately, that’s not the case… yet. The “yet” part is Patiño is still being included this week. Outside of Chris Paddack and Dinelson Lamet, the rest of the Padres rotation is filled with inconsistencies and giant question marks with both performance and durability. It might not be long until we see Patiño called upon to start which would plant him squarely in the standard mixed league discussion.

Like with Spencer Howard, Patiño has ascended to the elite ranks of pitching prospects over the last couple of seasons on the strength of a dynamic arsenal that includes a mid-90’s heater, plus slider, and a changeup that flashes above-average to plus. For now, if you can afford to stash Patiño in deeper leagues, the potential reward could be sizable when/if he moves into the rotation later this season.

What do you know, there’s already an update here since I wrote this section. Late on Thursday, the Padres optioned Joey Lucchesi which opens up a rotation spot. Patiño isn’t a lock to grab Lucchesi’s spot, but it’s certainly a possibility.

Media/Link Credit: Mike Rosenbaum, Talkin’ Yanks, Baseball America, Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire

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