Nicky Lopez becomes the latest rookie call up highlighted in this week’s waiver wire column.
Nicky Lopez (2B/SS – Kansas City Royals)
Ownership: Yahoo 16% ESPN 8% CBS 40%
Kansas City Royals second baseman Nicky Lopez was a among a group of prospect callups last week. Lopez was one of the lesser known prospects not really on anyone’s radar, but the more I take a look at his profile the more I like him. Lopez exhibits elite plate discipline with a 14.5% walk rate and 3.6% strikeout rate and had been hitting .353 with three home runs and nine steals in AAA before getting called up. Lopez is playing second base full time and the Royals have hit him second in the order behind Whit Merrifield. The Royals have been the most aggressive team on the base paths, leading the league in steals, and Lopez should get plenty of opportunity with his on base skills. I would expect possibly 15 steals from here on out and with a good average and little pop. He should be added in all roto leagues and with his extra base speed would be a good add in points leagues as well, especially with his dual SS/2B eligibility.
Justin Smoak (1B – Toronto Blue Jays)
Ownership: Yahoo 43% ESPN 51% CBS 58%
After a breakout 2017 in which he hit .270 with 38 home runs, Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Justin Smoak returned to Earth last season with 25 home runs and a .242 average. On the surface, Smoak looks to be having another subpar season but a deeper look shows that he should be hitting much better than he has so far. And a week in which he’s hit four of his eight home runs shows his numbers getting on track with how well he’s hit the ball. Smoak currently has a .217 average, but with a .232 BABIP, low even for someone like Smoak who hits a lot of fly balls and doesn’t run very fast. Smoak has shown a better approach at the plate than ever with a 17.8% walk rate and a 19.3% strikeout rate, both career bests. With an expected slugging percentage of .546 and an actual slugging percentage of .425, expect more regression coming, especially with three games in Colorado this week. He’s a pickup in 12 teams leagues and could be streamed this week even in ten team leagues.
Jason Castro (C – Minnesota Twins)
Ownership: Yahoo 11% ESPN 3% CBS 21%
Another week, another catcher to pick up and stream. After Mitch Garver landed on the IL with a high ankle sprain, Castro has assumed the majority of the catching duties. Castro himself is having a decent season with seven home runs and gets on base with a .370 OBP, helped by a 15% walk rate. Streaming catchers could be tricky, but unless you have one of the top five or six guys, it is probably necessary. Castro should continue to be a decent play for as long as Garver is out.
Miguel Sano (3B/DH – Minnesota Twins)
Ownership: Yahoo 50% ESPN 27% CBS 64%
The Twins are becoming a popular team on these waiver columns. Third baseman Miguel Sano becomes the latest as he finally made his return to the team following a heel injury. He’s hit from fifth to seventh in the order following his return, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he continues to make his way up the lineup as he gets back into the swing of things. Sano has six hits in the week he’s been back, five of those hits have left the park. He’ll likely be among the league leaders in strikeouts but he’s got a ton of power potential, so if he’s out there in roto leagues or a possible CI in points leagues he’s good add.
Avisail Garcia (OF – Tampa Bay Rays)
Ownership: Yahoo 18% ESPN 10% CBS 42%
The Tampa Bay Rays are a team that seems to always know how to get the most out of their acquisitions with Avisail Garcia being an example this year, hitting .281 with nine home runs and four steals. Garcia has a sprint speed in the 91st percentile in the league so it is nice to see the Rays take advantage of that, bringing Garcia into relevancy in roto leagues. Nothing looks unsustainable when it comes to Garcia’s profile with a .327 BABIP, career high 42.9% hard hit rate, and a 15.1% barrel rate, good for top 9% in the league. Garcia has mostly hit forth in the order, putting him in a prime spot to drive in runs. Garcia is a good pickup in all formats 12 teams and deeper, and the added steals is a boost is roto leagues.
Matchups of the Week
Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals offense has performed better than expected this season thanks to a breakouts from Hunter Dozier and Adalberto Mondesi, consistent production from Whit Merrifield, and a resurgence from Alex Gordon. This week they get favorable matchups playing the Chicago White Sox on the road for a three game series followed by a four game series on the road against the Texas Rangers. Both the Rangers and White Sox are in the bottom five in the league in team ERA.
The Seattle Mariners also get the Rangers this week with a three game series at home in which they won’t face the Rangers lefty ace Mike Minor. The Mariners get a full slate of seven games as they get four more at home against the Los Angeles Angels.
The Arizona Diamondbacks get a full set of seven games this week with a four game series in Colorado to face the Rockies. Anytime a team gets four games in Colorado, you want as much exposure as you can get. After the Coors series, the Diamondbacks go home to Arizona for a three game series against the New York Mets.