Christian Vazquez & Enrique Hernandez: Deep League Wire

Boy, it’s tough to do a deep league wire after returning from a week and a half vacation having looked at a total of zero box scores while being away! During my quick research for players to recommend, I was surprised at how much I missed. Unplugging does have its negatives.

Christian Vazquez | C BOS | CBS 9% Owned

Wait, A.J. Pierzynski was DFA’d?! Woah. That came out of nowhere. But it’s good news for all you Vazquez fans, as he’s in line to enjoy the biggest boost in fantasy value. The 23-year-old backstop was ranked as the Red Sox organization’s 10th best prospect by Marc Hulet over the preseason. However, his prospect status was primarily driven by his defense, as Hulet noted that Vazquez “has a chance to be one of the better defensive catchers in the American League”

That’s good news, as it means a longer leash if he slumps at the plate. He’s not a complete zero offensively though. He’s generally posted around league average walk and strikeout rates, but at times has shown strong patience and a much improved ability to make contact. That could suggest his ultimate upside or just represent a total fluke at a lower level. He’s shown decent pop at times, most notably when he smacked 18 homers with a .222 ISO at Single-A in 2011. It was at a low level and several years ago, so it doesn’t mean a whole lot, especially since he has failed to exceed a .130 ISO since.

As is the case for most deep league options, the deal here is a playing time thing without killing your batting average. The Red Sox obviously have an excellent offense — okay, I should restate that by saying they should have an excellent offense — and he should garner the majority of the at-bats behind the plate. In a deep league, that’s all you need to warrant an add.

Enrique Hernandez | 2B HOU | 7% Owned

Recalled by the Astros at the beginning of July, the jack of all trades has already started at second base, shortstop, left field, center field and designated hitter. With no one standing out and running away with the every day left field job, Hernandez has gotten the opportunity to ply his trade there, starting at the position in seven of his first 12 games. He was a second baseman for the majority of the time in the minors, but he’s obviously blocked there at the big league level by Jose Altuve. So it looks like as long as Hernandez hits, he’ll continue to play all over.

But will he hit? Hernandez posted a .387 wOBA at Triple-A this year, which represented a major breakout for him. Prior, his career best wOBA was just .347, which came during his Rookie league debut back in 2009. Although the Astros’ Triple-A affiliate does play in the offense friendly Pacific Coast League, the park has actually played as a pitcher friendly one. Its home run factor for right-handers is just 79 and its overall runs factor is 93. So we can’t say that his offensive environment necessarily aided his offensive production.

His power looks like it is following a natural aging curve, while his BABIP was slightly inflated. The real driver though was his fantasy strikeout rate. He kept it below 10% for the first time, which let to a .337 batting average without needing an outrageously high BABIP, just a slightly high one. He has a bit of speed as well, but you shouldn’t count on more than a couple of steals. With the expectation of qualifying at multiple positions and some contribution in both homers and steals, he should be a solid addition to deep league teams.

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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8 years ago

The really low K rate for Fernandez and close to 1:1 eye ratio in AAA really suggests he’s blossomed. Still only 22 but he’s never been near this good.