A couple of exciting prospects and breakout candidates highlight this weeks waiver wire.
Carter Kieboom (SS – Washington Nationals)
Ownership: Yahoo 32% ESPN 13% CBS 53%
Washington Nationals shortstop prospect Carter Kieboom got the call up to the major leagues on Friday after starting the year blazing in AAA hitting .379/.506/.636 with three home runs in 18 games. Even at 21 years old, he was showing that AAA was no match for him with an impressive 19.3% walk rate. The Nationals have shown that they are willing to be aggressive with their prospects after calling up a 19 year old Juan Soto last season. Kieboom had been impressive in spring training as well hitting .279 with three home runs with six walks to ten strikeouts. Kieboom hit a home run in his debut, one of many he will hit for the Nationals. Kieboom is up due to the broken finger suffered by Trea Turner, but a return for Turner may not necessarily mean Kieboom goes back down. If he hits well enough, I can see him taking over second base with Dozier off to a slow start hitting .176 and striking out 30% of the time. Pick up Kieboom everywhere as a flier as I think he has a chance to make a real impact this season, especially if he picks up second base eligibility at some point.
Eric Thames (1B/OF – Milwaukee Brewers)
Ownership: Yahoo 5% ESPN 5% CBS 16%
We’ve seen for the last two years now that when Thames is on, he’s on. And right now he seems to be locked in at the plate. On the year he has hit .277/.352/.617 with five home runs. In the last ten days he’s hit .333 with three of his home runs. With a strikeout rate over 30%, these runs don’t last long but they are sure helpful. Thames has gotten more and more playing time lately mostly due to the notable struggles of Jesus Aguilar, who is hitting .130 on the year and has yet to leave the park. If this has turned into a true platoon situation, this week may be a particularly good week to use Thames as the Brewers play seven games, all at home, and are scheduled to face five right handers in those games.
Renato Nunez (3B – Baltimore Orioles)
Ownership: Yahoo 38% ESPN 22% CBS 51%
Much like teammate Dwight Smith Jr., third baseman Renato Nunez was a prospect that couldn’t quite cut it in the majors with his former team. Now thriving in Baltimore to start the season, Nunez is hitting .289/.343/.515 with six home runs and 18 RBI. It seems as though half the league is putting up career high hard hit rates and exit velocities, and Nunez is no different. After a hard hit rate of 27% last season and 28% the year before, Nunez is hitting the ball at a 42.5% hard hit rate with a career high 92.3 mph average exit velocity. What I like about Nunez is the rest of the profile, with a 21% line drive rate and 45.2% fly ball rate, none of what he is currently doing seems unsustainable, especially with a manageable 22.9% strikeout rate. Hitting cleanup, in a good park, and only 25 years old, we might be seeing a breakout for Nunez aided by the current hitting environment. He should be picked up in just about all 12 team leagues and deeper, giving great value at a corner infield or utility position.
Jesse Winker (OF – Cincinnati Reds)
Ownership: Yahoo 45% ESPN 48% CBS 69%
Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jesse Winker was a popular sleeper pick coming into the season as he seemed to have tapped into some power before having season ending shoulder surgery last year. The injured shoulder was something Winker stated had bothered him for years, affecting his power numbers. He already had elite plate discipline and hit tool, much like teammate Joey Votto, so adding some power would make Winker very intriguing. He got off to a slow start, disappointing fantasy owners with a .103 average through the team’s first ten games. The profile didn’t look great either with only one walk to seven strikeouts and very little hard contact. But since then, he’s gotten going with a .292 average with six home runs and six walks to ten strikeouts in the last 15 games. The Reds have since moved Winker to third in the order, giving him a chance to drive in more runs. He’s beginning to look like the hitter fantasy owners were hoping for and if he was dropped in your league I suggest picking him up.
Michael Chavis (3B – Boston Red Sox)
Ownership: Yahoo 13% ESPN 7% CBS 34%
Boston Red Sox third baseman Michael Chavis is another rookie getting his shot at the majors. Chavis is up after Dustin Pedroia and Eduardo Nunez found themselves on the IL, neither of which were doing much of anything. 2018 was mostly a lost season for Chavis after getting hit with an 80 game suspension for PEDs. But in 2017, he hit 31 home runs across the minors. 27 plate appearances is too small of a sample to take anything away from what he’s done so far, but he has hit two home runs and Fenway Park is friendly to right handed hitters. Chavis could find himself as the everyday second baseman for the Red Sox, and given the second base landscape, a valuable pickup in just about all formats.
Matchups of the Week
Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox have by far the best matchups this week. They are one of thirteen teams with seven games on the schedule, with three games at home against Oakland to start the week, then a four game road series against the Chicago White Sox with their third worst team ERA in the majors. At least five of those games should be coming against right handed starters so Andrew Benintendi and Mitch Moreland should get a nice boost. All seven of Moreland’s home runs this season have come against right handed pitchers.
The Brewers are another team that will have a full slate of seven games on the schedule, and all seven will come at home where the Brewers are hitting .271 as a team with 34 home runs as opposed to .217 and 17 home runs on the road. Miller Park has become just about as dangerous as Coors Field. Speaking of which, this week they face the Colorado Rockies for four games before hosting the New York Mets. At least five of the seven games will come against right handed starters, so this could be a good week to use Eric Thames and his hot stretch if he is available.
Tampa Bay Rays
Another team with seven games this week, the Tampa Bay Rays go to Kansas City to face the Royals for four games before going to Baltimore for three games. Both teams are in the bottom six in the league in team ERA, with the Orioles having the worst ERA. Six of the game should come against right handed pitching. If you have Brandon Lowe on your roster, this would be the week to use him as he is hitting .299 against right handed pitchers.
New York Mets
To highlight another team benefiting from a full seven games this week, the Mets are at home for four games against the Cincinnati Reds before going to Miller Park for three games against the Brewers. Expect big numbers in Milwaukee. All seven games are scheduled to come against right handed pitching, much to the delight of Michael Conforto owners.