Fantasy Baseball 2019: Waiver-Wire Players to Pick Up for Week 13

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJune 23, 2019

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JUNE 21:  Sonny Gray #54 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the fourth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on June 21, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Dylan Buell/Getty Images

At this point in the fantasy season, there are few surprises left to be found if your roster is in need of an upgrade or a replacement for an injured player.

Hope isn't lost, though. It just requires more diligence and some risk-taking, which are always crucial elements to success over the course of a long season. The waiver wire has churned out some gems in recent weeks, including Jay Bruce, Lance Lynn and Scott Kingery.

Looking at the upcoming week, here are names to keep in mind if your roster needs a boost as the calendar gets set to turn from June to July.

                   

Oscar Mercado, OF, Cleveland Indians

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - JUNE 18: Oscar Mercado #35 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring on a two-RBI single hot by Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians in top of the fourth inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington on J
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Since being recalled from Triple-A on May 14, Oscar Mercado has quickly established himself as the best outfielder on the Cleveland Indians roster.

The scouting report on Mercado coming up through the minors hyped up his defensive skills and above-average raw power, but there were questions about whether he would make enough solid contact to hit homers.

"Mercado walked more this year at the expense of some power, but the raw power and swing path for 20-plus homers are still there, and now it looks like his approach is good enough to get him there," ESPN.com's Keith Law wrote in February.

The sample size is only 31 games, but Mercado looks like he's developed into a solid hitter with power. The 24-year-old has hit .316/.362/.500 with four home runs and six stolen bases in 24 games from May 23 through June 21.

Mercado also adds value running because he's got enough speed and good instincts to steal bases.

Cleveland has essentially ensured Mercado is its centerfielder of the future after Leonys Martin was designated for assignment Saturday.

Another reason to be optimistic about Mercado's short-term upside is Cleveland's schedule. The Indians host the Tigers again Sunday, followed by nine games against the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles.

Mercado is still available in 51 percent of Yahoo leagues and 76 percent of ESPN leagues. He's worth a look as a backup or utility player on your roster heading into the All-Star break.

                

Carson Kelly, C, Arizona Diamondbacks

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - MAY 09: Carson Kelly #18 of the Arizona Diamondbacks in action during the MLB game against the Atlanta Braves at Chase Field on May 09, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Arizona Diamondbacks won 3-2 in the tenth inning of the MLB game. (Pho
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Catcher is one position to regularly highlight in fantasy because it's so difficult to find a star at the position. There is a clear top-tier—Gary Sanchez, J.T. Realmuto, Willson Contreras and James McCann—and everyone else is fighting to make an impact in fantasy.

One pleasant surprise is Carson Kelly of the Arizona Diamondbacks. A former second-round draft pick by the St. Louis Cardinals, Kelly was traded to Arizona in December as part of the package for Paul Goldschmidt.

Kelly struggled to receive consistent playing time in St. Louis because he was blocked by Yadier Molina. Now that he's been put in a prominent position with a new organization, the 24-year-old has thrived, with a .262/.337/.510 slash line with eight homers, 12 doubles and 24 RBI in 53 games.

Any concern about an early-season small sample size should be alleviated by the fact that Kelly was a well-regarded prospect who reached No. 39 on MLB.com's Top 100 prospect list before the 2017 season.

Kelly's power has been slow to develop—he had 52 homers in 622 career games in the minors—but he's tapped into it with a team that is going to put him in the lineup every day.

The fantasy market for Kelly has been slow to develop, with just 4 percent of owners in Yahoo leagues taking a flier on him.

                      

Sonny Gray, SP, Cincinnati Reds

John Minchillo/Associated Press

In the wake of Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Rich Hill's shutting down until at least August with a strained flexor tendon, owners in need of a starter to take his spot would do well to look at Sonny Gray.

With the exception of a significant difference in ERA, a strong case can be made that Gray has been the more valuable fantasy pitcher than Hill in 2019.

Hill's 2.55 ERA attracts a lot of attention, and he's striking out slightly more hitters per nine innings (10.4) than Gray (10.1). But Hill was also giving up a lot of homers (10 in 53 innings) despite playing his home games in the spacious Dodger Stadium.

Gray's 4.03 ERA doesn't immediately jump off the page, but he's quietly had an excellent rebound season after last year's disastrous turn with the New York Yankees.

The Cincinnati Reds starter is averaging a career-high 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings, and his 7.8 hits allowed per nine innings are in line with what he was allowing during his best seasons with the Oakland Athletics.

Gray has already thrown 23 more innings than Hill (76), and he's allowed two fewer homers (eight).

Fantasy owners haven't been keen to believe Gray's season is for real. He's only owned in 27 percent of ESPN leagues and 54 percent of Yahoo leagues. Now is a good time to grab the right-hander to see whether he can maintain this performance over the rest of the season.

                     

Fantasy availability via FantasyPros.

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