Cedric Mullins & Taylor Ward: Deep League Wire

Call-ups, call-ups, and call-ups! It’s an exciting time in the season, when teams with no shot at the playoffs begin giving their prospects an opportunity. Two of these prospects are highlighted today.

Cedric Mullins | OF BAL | CBS 8% Owned

Mullins made his MLB debut last Friday and figures to earn the majority, if not all, of the center field starts for the Orioles. With the worst record in baseball and a hilarious 49.5 games back in the division, the team has all the incentive in the world to test out their prospects.

Mullins entered the season as our sixth best Orioles prospect. The best thing Eric Longenhagen said about him was:

But he’s trending up, has tools and athleticism, and has performed, on paper, every year.

Give me a guy who has actually performed over the guy who scouts expect to eventually perform, every day. Since making his professional debut back in 2015, he has never struck out more than 18.1% of the time, and just once did his SwStk% reach double digits at an even 10% at Single-A in 2016. He has shown a bit of pop, socking 11 homers down on the farm this year, plus ISO marks over .190 during a stop at Single-A and two at Double-A.

His real potential contribution, though, comes from his speed. Graded as owning 60 speed, he stole 21 bases this year, while only being caught once. That’s someone who you actually want to run! He stole as many as 30 bases, achieved in 2016. Over his minor league career, his stolen base success rate sat at an excellent 81%.

The major flaw here is his modest BABIP marks. He has posted a sub-.300 mark three times, so even with ability to make contact, he has only managed to hit above .273 once. BABIP skills translate pretty well to MLB, so he could struggle with the Orioles in that department as well.

While he’s unlikely to be a real positive in batting average, the steals potential and the occasional homer means he needs to be picked up in deeper leagues.

Taylor Ward | C LAA | 15% Owned

Yeah, I’m breaking the column’s cap of 10% ownership for this public service announcement. ALERT! ALERT! CATCHER-ELIGIBLE HITTER WHO DOESN’T CATCH! Ward was just recalled by the Angels with the intention of giving Ward the next ride on their third base carousel.

That’s right, despite playing exclusively at catcher until this season, Ward will defend the hot corner in Los Angeles. This year, the team decided to move him from behind the plate and make him a full-time third baseman. That means a fantasy owner’s dream, the catcher-eligible non-catcher.

Heading into the season, Ward was ranked as the team’s 20th best prospect. Longenhagen had very few positives to share, but this was the key quote:

His peripherals were strong in 2017 — he walked a lot and barely struck out — which is especially interesting at catcher, and the physical demands of catching often take a toll on a prospect’s offensive output, but scouts unanimously pan Ward’s offensive tools.

And wouldn’t you know it, Ward no longer has to deal with the physical demands of catching, and boom, he breaks out offensively. And boy was this a breakout. While he continued to walk at a low teens clip and keep his SwStk% impressively low, his line drive rate and BABIP surged, his power suddenly appeared and HR/FB rate doubled, and he even became a speedster!

Overall, he posted a wOBA of at least .430 at his two stints, at Double-A and then Triple-A, batted at least .345, hit 14 homers, and stole 18 bases. The speed might be the biggest shocker, as he hadn’t even attempted a steal since 2015.

A catcher with some pop and speed? Sounds like J.T. Realmuto! The team still has Kaleb Cowart and Jefry Marte on their roster, so Ward’s playing time doesn’t appear as secure as Mullins’. But assuming he qualifies at catcher in your league, you gotta pick him up, even in mixed leagues.





Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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Nelson S.
Member
Nelson S.

Ward or danny jansen?

schloofy
Member
schloofy

Yes, I was wondering the same thing. In a dynasty league, does Jansen get the edge?