Big Kid Adds (8/9/22)

While the NFBC Main Event garners most of the attention, there are a handful of leagues with even a larger entry fee ($2.5K to $15K). They get originally named “High Stakes Leagues” and this year there are nine of them. With so much money on the line, these fantasy managers are going to try to gain any advantage. Most of the time, these managers will be a week or two ahead of everyone else on their adds. Here are the players and some information on the ones added in five or more of these leagues:

Bubba Thompson (9): Anytime someone gets 49 SB in AAA, he’ll draw attention. And two steals so far in the majors. The only issue is that Thompson has as many hits as stolen bases (.133 OBP in 15 PA).

Ryan Pepiot (9): Pepiot was a non-add for me with the unrosterable 6.6 BB/9. His walk rates have never been great in the minors:

Season, League, BB/9
2022, AAA, 3.8
2021, AAA, 4.5
2021, AA, 3.9

Additionally, he’s been a flyball pitcher (27% GB%) but the home runs haven’t come yet (0.6 HR/9).

The home runs along with a  .235 BABIP with runners on base will eventually regress, and the shiny 2.76 ERA will then balloon.

Elehuris Montero (9): All the weekly projection systems loved Montero if he started the whole week. Especially with St. Louis and San Francisco not throwing their aces. In 297 AAA PA, he hit .310 with 15 HR and 4 SB. So far he’s hitting .273/.298/.436 with 1 HR in the majors.

The key component with him will be playing time but he has started six straight games at first, third, and DH.

Nick Gordon (8): By moving all over the field (shortstop, left field, center field), he’s secured some playing time. Additionally, he’s been on fire over the past two weeks ( .424/.475/.697 with 1 HR and 2 SB with a .482 BABIP). The only underlying skill I could find improving was his power as he puts the ball in the air more.

I would buy more into the power sticking than the batting average.

Cole Ragans (8): The 24-year-old lefty made his major league debut and struggled with his command by walking four batters. He worked around them and three hits and didn’t allow any runs and got the Win. This week he is scheduled for a trip to Houston, but then next week it looks like two starts against Oakland and Minnesota.

The walks weren’t an issue in AAA where he posted a 3.32 ERA, 10.0 K/9, and 2.5 BB/9. He struggled with walks in the low minors and projections aren’t buying any improvement. They see his walk rate range from 3.4 BB/9 to 4.4 BB/9.

As for his pitches, he featured a four-seamer and change and here on the comps for those pitches:

Fastball

Changeup

He is simply a lefty with a respectable fastball and a great changeup. Strikeouts should not be a problem. One possible issue is that both pitches might allow quite a few balls in the air leading to home runs. Those homers when coupled with the walks could lead to a good number of runs scored.

Rowan Wick (7): A straight-up Saves play after the Cubs emptied their bullpen. He’ll be impossible to watch with the 4.1 BB/9.

C.J. Abrams (7): The 21-year-old Abrams is loaded with tools so he should draw interest once promoted. It seems like the major league club is preparing for Abrams’s promotion to be as the team’s shortstop.

Abrams, 21, made his Major League debut on April 8 and logged 32 games at shortstop in place of an injured Fernando Tatis Jr. The Nats assigned him to the Red Wings following the trade to get settled in, but he is not expected to be there long. Once he is deemed ready to return to the bigs, look for Abrams to get the nod at shortstop and García to slide over to second.

“He’s been taking ground balls over there [at second base],” manager Dave Martinez said of García. “All of our infielders have actually been taking ground balls throughout the infield now, so it’s kind of nice. I want them to move around and just get used to taking ground balls in different positions.”

As the Nationals look to develop players for their future middle infield, Hernández could see time at third base, where he has played 24 games and has been getting in reps during pregame drills. The Nats also plan for him to take fly balls in the outfield, where he has 190 1/3 frames of experience.

“I’ve talked to César,” Martinez said. “He understands that we’re going to get younger. … But until that time comes, he’s playing second base for us everyday.”

Maybe Abrams will be up in a week or two as long as there is no service time manipulation going on.

Michael Massey (7): Massey has hit so far (.348/.375/.391) and it’s all being driven by a .400 BABIP. He’s shown no power so far (.043 ISO) but did in the minors (.220 ISO, and 16 HR). There is a ton to like about him with decent plate disciple and some speed.

The one issue I have is that he puts everything in the air (26% GB% in AAA, 21% in the majors) and his power metrics so far don’t point to someone thriving with a launch angle that might work in the Pacific Coast League but not at Kauffman Stadium.

Mitch White (6): With the injury to Ross Stripling, White is now in Toronto’s rotation. So far this season, White has been serviceable as a starter (6.7 K/9, 1.29 WHIP, 3.68 ERA, 4.39 xFIP). His strikeouts have degraded since July 1st going from 7.9 K/9 to 5.5 K/9.

Ian Kennedy (6): Any closer with a pulse will be rostered in these leagues.

JP Sears (6): Sears has not allowed a run in 10 innings as a starter, but has had a 5.1 K/9 and 4.64 xFIP. The projections are kind to him with an 8.5 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, and 4.15 ERA. The problem right now is that he’s in the minors with no immediate plans of being called up. I’m interested if he’s in the majors but I don’t see him worth being a stash.

Jose Barrero (6): After hitting .209/.262/.377 with 9 HR, 5 SB, and a 38% K% in AAA, he was promoted to the majors and given the shortstop job. So far in 18 PA has 2 HR, 1 SB, and 9 K. At this point in the season, I hope most fantasy teams would have better middle infield options than an all-power, no-average bat.

Yadier Molina (6): Molina is back and has three games in Colorado. Savvy addition.

Wil Crowe (6): Temporarily the closer while David Bednar is on the IL (back).

Francisco Mejía (6): He is off the IL and has two of the last three catcher starts in Tampa.

Clarke Schmidt (6): Currently he is in AAA but the hope is that Schmidt will return to the majors as a starter. In 42 MLB IP, he’s been OK (3.59 ERA, 8.9 K/9, and 1.48 WHIP). The big red flag is the WHIP caused by a 5.3 BB/9 (4.5 BB/9 this season). Another problem is that he’s never reached five innings in any of his MLB starts. As with Sears, it’s not that point in the season to start stashing players (see Sears).

Aaron Civale (5): Civale is interesting because of his upcoming schedule for teams desperate for pitching. This week he’s scheduled to face the Tigers with two possible starts next week against the Tigers again and the White Sox.

Civale has been on the IL twice this season. The first time for a thigh injury and this last time for a sore wrist. While his ERA dropped from 7.48 before the first injury to 3.91 after it, his underlying stats (strikeouts, walks, velocity) remained constant.

In his minor league rehab start, he went 4 IP and threw 55 pitches. It might be tough for him to throw enough for the Win in the first game back.

Harold Castro (5): I picked up Castro in several leagues. He’s been playing every day (eight straight starts), qualified at four infield positions, and hitting .288/.317/.409 with 4 HR in 273 PA. A volume play.

Yonathan Daza (5): A week at Colorado means all regulars (started in seven of last eight games) will be rostered.





Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won four FSWA Awards including on for his Mining the News series. He's won Tout Wars three times, LABR once, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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