Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Top 10 Pickups for Week 10
Never permanently discard an MLB player who doesn't immediately offer fantasy baseball production.
One way or another, most waiver-wire recommendations are getting a second chance to meet previously higher expectations. This includes a player almost ditched before playing an official game.
Some former contributors on this list never met their potential, but they're currently reaching new heights. It may feel like they have been around forever, but none of these forgotten players has celebrated his 30th birthday yet.
Three players headlining the list formerly generated electric buzz as top-ranked prospects. Even though nobody from the trio has turned 24, they somehow became old news before recent resurgences. Yes, this 25-year-old writer is willing to give another shot to professional baseball players in their early 20s who didn't immediately mature into All-Stars.
The following players, all available in over 50 percent of Yahoo Sports leagues, can give fantasy gamers an extra jolt entering the second week of June.
Nick Hundley, C, Colorado Rockies
Dae-Ho Lee, 1B, Seattle Mariners
Aaron Hill, 2B/3B, Milwaukee Brewers
Domingo Santana, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
Robbie Grossman, OF, Minnesota Twins
Zachary Davies, SP, Milwaukee Brewers
Ken Giles, RP, Houston Astros
Michael Feliz, RP, Houston Astros
James Shields, SP, Chicago White Sox
Austin Romine, C, New York Yankees
Rob Refsnyder, 2B, New York Yankees
Tyler Saladino, 3B/SS, Chicago White Sox
Max Kepler, OF, Minnesota Twins
Edwin Diaz, RP, Seattle Mariners
Jimmy Paredes, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies
Tyler Goeddel, OF, Philadelphia Phillies
Jeff Francoeur, OF, Atlanta Braves
Mike Bolsinger, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Erik Johnson, SP, San Diego Padres
10. Seung Hwan Oh, RP, St. Louis Cardinals (12 Percent Owned)
Trevor Rosenthal's wildness reached new heights on Friday night, when he walked three straight batters without recording an out. A passed ball and two-run single off replacement reliever Dean Kiekhefer swelled the St. Louis Cardinals closer's ERA to 3.32.
In 19 innings, the 26-year-old Rosenthal has walked 16 batters, resulting in an alarming 1.68 WHIP. Seung Hwan Oh, meanwhile, sports a 1.76 ERA and 0.78 WHIP as an exceptional middle reliever.
The 33-year-old Korean rookie has collected 42 strikeouts and eight walks over 30.2 innings. His 18.2 swinging-strike percentage resides among the top five relievers, and opponents are slugging .210 against him.
St. Louis hasn't suggested a ninth-inning change brewing, and Kevin Siegrist could also emerge as a closing candidate if Rosenthal can't find the strike zone. Yet Oh is dominating enough to use without any saves. If The Final Boss gets to honor his nickname as the closer, he immediately becomes an elite option.
9. Danny Duffy, SP/RP, Kansas City Royals (12 Percent Owned)
As the Kansas Royals stretch him back into a starting role, Danny Duffy is showing promise as a mixed-league-worthy pitcher.
His overall numbers are a tad misleading, as he owns a 3.86 ERA in four starts compared to a 3.00 clip in relief duty. Yet his strikeouts have not waned in the rotation; he has amassed 19 over 18.2 innings. The 27-year-old also hasn't walked a batter since May 15.
Duffy has succeeded in Kansas City's rotation before. Two years ago, the southpaw authored a 2.53 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 25 starts. He's particularly lethal against fellow lefties, stymieing them to a .580 OPS against him throughout his career.
The strikeouts don't jive with his career 7.35 strikeouts per nine innings (K/9), a mark inflated by his bullpen work. But before writing off his recent success, consider his 16.4 swinging-strike percentage and 70.7 contact rate—both personal bests by a wide margin.
According to Brooks Baseball, his velocity hike hasn't regressed in the rotation, either. A possible two-start week makes this a week to invest as a streamer with possible long-term value.
8. Hyun Soo Kim, 1B/OF, Baltimore Orioles (8 Percent Owned)
Before Opening Day, rumors emerged of the Baltimore Orioles trying to send Hyun Soo Kim back to South Korea. They'll probably keep him now. Two months into the season, he's hitting .377/.449/.493.
After drawing more walks (597) than strikeouts (501) during his Korean Baseball Organization career, his stellar plate presence has translated to the United States. In 78 plate appearances, the 28-year-old left fielder has accrued eight walks to 10 strikeouts.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter has taken notice and bumped him up to the No. 2 spot. Yet like any good fantasy player, Baltimore's skipper understands the nature of small sample sizes.
“He doesn’t have 100 at-bats yet,” Showalter said, per ESPN.com's Eddie Matz. “But so far so good.”
He won't keep hitting .377, but he has the tools to bat .280-.290 with a high on-base percentage, which will create ample opportunities for Manny Machado, Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo to drive him home. Temper power expectations, but consider the emerging outfielder in deeper formats.
7. Jeremy Hellickson, SP, Philadelphia Phillies (34 Percent Owned)
Jeremy Hellickson has a higher strikeout-minus-walks percentage (K-BB%) than the following pitchers: Chris Sale, Zack Greinke, Jake Arrieta, Johnny Cueto and all but 18 qualified starters.
An overlooked member of a surprisingly stout Philadelphia Phillies rotation, the 29-year-old righty has notched 69 strikeouts and 17 walks over 68.2 innings. His 3.80 ERA needs some improvement, but his peripherals suggest it's possible.
Even if the long ball—he has already relinquished 11 home runs—continues to confound him, he is still proving an excellent source of strikeouts and the owner of a solid 1.21 WHIP. He has never thrown 200 innings in a season, but he lasted six or seven frames in four consecutive starts before Saturday's rough encounter against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Hellickson hasn't earned an ERA below 4.00 since 2012, so don't expect an ace. Still, any starter striking out over a batter per inning through a dozen starts deserves some recognition in all leagues, at least as a matchup play.
6. Will Smith, RP, Milwaukee Brewers (30 Percent Owned)
The Milwaukee Brewers wouldn't declare a closer in spring training, instead hinting at a committee between Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith. An injury to the latter, however, cleared up the competition before Opening Day.
Once again proving the foolishness of only targeting closers on winning teams, Jeffress has converted 15 of 16 save chances with a 2.36 ERA. Yet he could soon face some opposition with Smith back in the fold.
The sidelined lefty has hurled 2.1 scoreless innings since getting activated last week. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tom Haudricourt, Brewers manager Craig Counsell will consider reverting to the original plan once Smith dusts off the cobwebs.
"If for some reason this had happened to J.J. and not to Will, we'd be in the same spot right now, answering the same questions about the other guy," Counsell said. "That's how strong I feel about both of them. I don't think we should deviate from what we originally planned because of what we've seen so far."
Before injuring his knee in bizarre fashion, Smith was the more intriguing fantasy option. While Jeffress has pitched effectively due to great command and ground-ball rates, his teammate compiled a 2.70 ERA and 91 strikeouts last season.
Potential save opportunities lurk for a strikeout artist, so grab Smith and see how the situation unfolds.
5. Logan Morrison, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays (13 Percent Owned)
Logan Morrison stars in this week's installment of "Tampa Bay Rays Journeyman Who Is Too Scorching Hot to Ignore."
It's been a while since anyone eyed the first baseman as a sleeper, or even a post-hype breakout candidate. The career .247 hitter hasn't displayed much power since belting 23 home runs in 2011, back when Ike Davis was another star in the making. Anyone desperate enough to draft the Tampa Bay Rays infielder surely dropped him when he went 6-for-60 in April.
Then he took a sip of whatever secret stuff Steve Pearce and Brandon Guyer have gulped this season. Since May 1, Morrison is hitting .358 (34-for-95) with seven homers and three stolen bases. After leaving April with four walks and 25 strikeouts, he has drawn 15 walks while fanning 19 times.
“He’s just locked in and when a good hitter like he is gets locked on, you get that kind of production,’’ Rays manager Kevin Cash told Roy Cummings of Today's Knuckleball. “Believe me, we’ll ride it as long as we can.’’
Fantasy players should follow Cash's lead. Morrison hasn't maintained steady results since Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee dominated the sport, so don't expect four more months of this. How about a couple of weeks?
This is a dude hitting .415 since May 17 with four homers in the last three days. Take a shot—see how long it lasts.
4. Archie Bradley, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks (20 Percent Owned)
At the ripe old age of 23, Archie Bradley is reviving a career that has just begun.
The rookie pitcher started strong last year, allowing three runs through as many starts. Then on April 28, he got hit in the face by a line drive. After that incident, he surrendered 19 runs over 15.2 innings before the Arizona Diamondbacks shut him down with shoulder tendinitis.
Following two rocky outings opening this season, the righty has registered 19 strikeouts over his last two appearances. On Friday, he allowed one run in six innings against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. If combating a top-tier offense on the road doesn't garner attention for Bradley, what will?
Four starts into 2016, he wields a 3.50 fielding independent pitching (FIP) and 53.0 ground-ball rate. He submitted a 9.6 K/9 in his minor league career, so his latest uptick looks like natural progression rather than a blip. Control issues aside, the former first-round pick offers more promise than the typical waiver-wire arm.
Barring any changes to Arizona's rotation, Bradley will make his next start against the Rays, who strike out more than any other American League team against right-handed pitchers. If he piles up the punchouts again, he won't remain available in most leagues next week.
3. Will Harris, RP, Houston Astros (28 Percent Owned)
After blowing his last two save opportunities, Luke Gregerson's days as the Houston Astros closer look numbered.
On Saturday, the veteran reliever surrendered a game-tying home run to Jed Lowrie, his first of the season. On Sunday, Will Harris recorded a save without conflict.
The 31-year-old righty has allowed one run this season while tallying 29 strikeouts and four walks in 26.2 frames. Since joining the Astros last season, the underrated reliever has posted a sensational 1.47 ERA.
Had a save chance not popped up on Sunday, this would have proved a difficult situation to dissect. Ken Giles has bounced back from a brutal start, and Michael Feliz has allowed two walks over his last 11.2 scoreless innings, further inserting his dominance with 18 strikeouts.
Both of those guys still warrant attention. Per the Houston Chronicle's Angel Verdejo Jr., Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Giles and Feliz remain closing candidates. Yet Harris has established himself as the front-runner with a golden opportunity to run with the gig and stake his claim as a top-10 fantasy closer.
2. Jurickson Profar, 2B, Texas Rangers (29 Percent Owned)
Jurickson Profar would have received recognition last week, but his MLB promotion appeared a temporary stay to replace the suspended Rougned Odor. The middle infielder, however, hit too well to leave the Texas Rangers lineup.
In nine games atop Texas' batting order, the 23-year-old is batting .390 (16-for-41) with two homers and 10 runs scored. Once Odor returned, Profar usurped the struggling Prince Fielder as the designated hitter.
Is this the permanent arrangement? Fielder is a well-paid slugger with a sterling track record, but his minus-1.6 WAR has made him baseball's least valuable player. It's tough to play his .545 OPS over a bright young talent who has recorded a hit in every game and two hits in five straight contests.
Let's not forget Profar's pedigree. Back in 2013, Baseball America rated him the No. 1 prospect in a class featuring Nolan Arenado, Xander Bogaerts and Carlos Correa. Before injuries derailed his climb to stardom, he had fantasy phenom written all over him as a five-category contributor.
Whether or not he remains an everyday starter, Profar has put himself back on the map. Ride this out as long as Texas finds a place for him.
1. Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins (34 Percent Owned)
Byron Buxton can't coast on hype and upside forever. Eventually the premier prospect needs to earn all the attention directed his way.
The 22-year-outfielder compelled the Minnesota Twins to demote him by hitting .156/.208/.259 with 24 strikeouts in 49 plate appearances. He quickly earned his way back by batting .336/.403/.603 in 29 Triple-A games.
Since returning last week, Buxton has recorded 10 hits in six games. He displayed his blazing speed on Friday, legging out a triple in 10.69 seconds, per MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger. As long as he reaches base, those wheels will lead to plenty of steals.
For all his shortcomings, the elite talent represents the ultimate lottery ticket for fantasy managers. There are plenty of more productive free-agent outfielders, but none of them match Buxton's superstar ceiling.
While he has faltered too much to declare him a must-add in shallow mixed leagues, anyone working with meatier rosters should take the high-upside gamble. Worst-case scenario: He's back on the waiver wire in a few weeks. Best-case scenario: He's a catalyst to a championship.
Note: All advanced stats courtesy of FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.