10 Watchlist Guys: Vol. 9 by Paul Sporer May 28, 2021 Most platforms have a feature where you can click something by the player’s name to put them on a virtual watchlist. It is smart to use this feature before the season starts because once it starts you be sorting by stats and you could miss out on someone you really want about to get a new role because you sorted by PA and he just didn’t show very high. Previous Watchlists Danny Santana got the call quickly after the Wk. 8 Watchlist and already has 2 HR and 1 SB in 17 PA. SHALLOW LEAGUES (mixed leagues – 10 or fewer teams) Ji-Man Choi | 1B, TBR Choi returned on May 16th and has been on fire in his 10 games, hitting .355/.500/.645 with 2 HR in 40 PA and playing virtually every day. He bats top 3 against righties and he’s even drawing some starts against lefties, though his career .604 OPS against them still says this is more of a platoon bat. A strong side platoon bat is still mostly a streamer in shallower leagues but if you are piecing together your CI or DH spot, Choi can be part of the mix. The Rays have a seven-game week coming up with two against lefties so Choi could be a viable streaming option this week, but at the very least he merits Watchlist attention. Spencer Turnbull | SP, DET Man throws a no-hitter but gets no respect! Turnbull is rostered in just 33% of ESPN leagues and while his strikeout rate is pretty low for today’s standards (21%), his ratios have been fantastic with a 3.12 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. He has allowed more than 3 ER just once this year (4 at NYY) thanks in part to halving his walk rate down to 6%. Surely you can find enough strikeouts elsewhere to fit Turnbull into your roster. MEDIUM LEAGUES (mixed leagues – 12-14 teams) Akil Baddoo | OF, DET Remember Baddoo’s breakout? It feels like a long time ago at this point because he has been through three massive streaks. He opened with a 1.054 OPS in his first 14 games, then posted a .290 OPS in his next 12 which took his season mark down to .725 and it looked like he fast start was a complete mirage until his recent hot streak. Over his last 11 games, he has a 1.043 OPS that has included a new level of patience (29% BB) and contact (25% K). In his first 26 games that included both the extremely hot and cold streams, he had a 43% K rate and 5% BB rate. He doesn’t have any homers in the current hot streak, but I’ll take the .375 AVG and 3 SBs in 35 PA. Baddoo’s in-season improvement is putting him back on my radar. Daniel Hudson | P, WAS Brad Hand hasn’t been bad, but he also hasn’t been untouchable in the closer’s role (3.44 ERA/1.31 WHIP) and his May struggles (6.75 ERA/1.72 WHIP) could facilitate a change if he doesn’t tighten things up. Hudson was great in 2019 and looked like he would be a lockdown closer for them in 2020 only to drop a 6.10 ERA in 20.7 innings thanks in large part to the 6 homers he allowed (2.6 HR/9). He looks like the 2019 version again this year with a 1.00 ERA, 0.72 WHIP, and 24 strikeouts in 18 innings. If you are chasing saves, Hudson is someone to keep an eye on. DEEP LEAGUES (mixed leagues – 15+ teams) DJ Stewart | BAL, OF Summer is coming in Baltimore (and across the country since that’s how climate works) making their otherwise fringe bats a lot more intriguing for those June and July homestands. He has consistently delivered power against righties with a .232 ISO in 327 PA including 17 HR (31 HR per 600 PA). If you are in need of AVG, he’s not your guy (.206 vRH in that same time) but chase the power output when you can afford AVG sink. He might even be a pickup this week for a 6-game homestand with only a single lefty starter. Demarcus Evans | TEX, RP Evans could eventually supplant Clase as the Rangers closer–oh wait… sorry, Rangers fans! But for real, imagine if they still had Clase. Anyway, Evans could feasibly take over for Ian Kennedy once he is traded. He debuted last year with 4 strong innings of work, but… I mean, it was 4 innings. And it’s only been 2 more innings this year, but in that short time he has flashed his super interesting fastball that has fueled a 38% K rate. The 93-mph fastball isn’t a blazer like we typically see out of today’s bullpens, but the 99% active spin gives it “life” and makes it more of a problem for the opposition. He has mixed in an 87-mph cutter with the heater and his 80-mph slider giving him a trio of pitches of velocity levels. He has a 45% K rate in his last four minor league stops while also allowing just a 4.1 H/9. The 14% BB rate will need some improvement to be trusted with 9th inning, even on a bad team, but keep tabs on Evans as trade talks start in Texas. — With the minor leagues having started up, I’m changing the AL & NL-Only watchlisters into a Prospect Watchlist as the waiver wires are usually pretty tapped out in those formats and almost anyone with a pulse is instantly bid up. Plus, I am not playing in an AL- or NL-Only league this year so figuring out who is actually on the wire in those formats is a bit tough. I think listing four prospects each week will be a lot more useful in the long run. AL PROSPECTS Vidal Bruján | SS, TBR (currently in AAA) Taylor Walls was first up and Bruján might be next, even ahead of Wander Franco. Bruján has been absolutely on fire with a .325/.416/.636 line including 7 HR and 9 SB in 89 PA. He has a near 1:1 K/BB ratio, too, with a 16% K rate and 14% BB rate. He doesn’t have the glove of Walls which probably played a role in Walls being first up (he also had a 166 wRC+ at the time of call-up), but be ready to spend when Bruján arrives. Edward Olivares | OF, KCR (AAA) I went double hitter for the AL because Olivares is absolutely dominating in Triple-A with a .390/.472/.662 including 5 HR and 6 SB in 89 PA. Don’t forget that he went 18 HR/35 SB at Double-A back in 2019. I actually gave Olivares some love back in November as someone who could become a Top 150 hitter given his power-speed capability and what I thought would be a full-time opportunity in Kansas City. They went on to sign a couple OF, but Andrew Benintendi (107) is the only outfielder with a wRC+ north of 100. NL PROSPECTS Travis Swaggerty | OF, PIT (AAA) Swaggerty will almost certainly get an opportunity in Pittsburgh this summer. He has plus defense and speed that make him a true centerfielder while his raw power portends 20+ HR upside at peak. Eric comped him to Manuel Margot or a less-erratic Leonys Martin in the Pirates prospect piece back in February. Swaggerty is only hitting .220 thanks to a .200 BABIP, but he has 3 HR/SB and strong plate skills (17% K, 13% BB). If he’s up within a month, that should be enough time to deliver a double-double the rest of way. Edit: Swaggerty is hurt and currently on the IL. I missed that as I was only leaderboard scouting and didn’t do my due diligence to make sure he was still healthy! Bailey Falter | PHI, SP (AAA) Falter slotted 12th in Philly’s list and Eric thought there might be some breakout potential given his boosted velo and deceptive delivery. The 24-year-old lefty has been great in Triple-A thus far with a 2.41 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in 18.7 innings with a 36% K and 7% BB rate. He actually debuted back in late-April, but it was a one appearance, 2-inning stop before Triple-A started up. Capable pitching can always find a spot in Philadelphia so if he continues to throw like this, they will no doubt bring him back up with a real chance. Also keep an eye on Vladimir Gutierrez for Cincinnati. He debuts Friday afternoon and could be intriguing if his fast start at Triple-A is any indication (31% K, 2.65 ERA, 0.94 WHIP in 17 IP).