New Everyday Players — Aug 15, 2022

There’s never a day where there isn’t a new everyday player, so let’s continue on discussing them for eternity!

Cal Stevenson | OF OAK

The rebuilding Athletics have seemingly given up on Skye Bolt, who continues to intrigue with his minor league performance, but simply hasn’t hit at the big league level. At age 28, it’s possible his chances have run out. So the team has now turned to the former Rays 52nd best prospect from 2021 in Stevenson, who the team acquired in early/mid July for Christian Bethancourt 베탄코트. Clearly this is a team that is intent on giving their minor leaguers a short window for success and if they fail over a small sample, they try the next player. Not my idea of a good strategy, but hey, I’m not running an MLB team.

Stevenson was recalled last Wednesday and has started four straight games in center field. He had shown limited power for the majority of his minor league career, but suddenly burst out over a small sample after being traded to the A’s. HIs HR/FB rate spiked to 18.8% and ISO over .200 for the first time. Since the sample is tiny, it probably means nothing, but perhaps it does mean something! So while he isn’t known for his power, fantasy owners can look forward to his speed. He was on a 30+ steal pace over a full season in the minors this year, so at least the speed could make him fantasy relevant.

The real baseball skills that made him enticing to the A’s is his plate discipline. He walked at a double digit clip every minor league stop of his career, while never posting a SwStk% above 9.4%, with generally strong strikeout rates. A high walk rate and middling power? That’s the Moneyball Athletics in a nutshell!

He’s a definite consideration in OBP leagues, but batting average leagues won’t find him as appealing. He’ll probably be given like 50 PAs before the Athletics demote him and find someone else to give a short-term trial to, so he likely doesn’t have a whole lot of job security, and will need to hit to stay with the team.

Michael Massey | 2B KC

The Royals 19th best prospect was promoted to become the team’s starting second baseman on most days after Whit Merrifield was traded to the Blue Jays. He looks like one of those guys who does a little of everything, but without a standout skill. It’s a mix that typically results in undervaluation in fantasy leagues.

While it hasn’t been a straight line, his power has increased as he has risen the minor league ranks. That’s always a great sign. While his HR/FB rates have remained in the low-to-mid teens, his ISO settled well above .200 at two different stops over the last two years, including a .270 mark at Triple-A before his recall. He also makes the most of his power by hitting a ton of fly balls. His FB% jumped as high as 51.6% at Triple-A, and sat in the mid-to-high 40% range at both High-A and Double-A. In a pitcher friendly park in Kansas City, there’s risk that this batted ball profile will result in lots of fly ball outs, which will hurt his BABIP and fail to result in a respectable home run total.

He owns some speed and has swiped 13 bases in the minors this year, good for a mid-20 steal pace. He has also been a darn good basestealer, as he has swiped 29 bases in 33 attempts in the minors. It bodes well for him continuing to steal in the Majors.

Massey should have pretty good job security the rest of the season and could contribute a bit everywhere, with his batting average most questionable due to his extreme fly ball nature. I wouldn’t bother with him in a shallow mixed league, but a deeper ones, yes, and obviously AL-Only formats.

Lenyn Sosa | 2B/SS CHW

With incumbent shortstop Tim Anderson possibly out for the rest of the season, the White Sox recalled their third ranked prospect in Sosa, who could finish the season as the starter at the position. Sosa’s scouting grades don’t scream top prospect, but I guess he does enough everywhere to boost his future potential.

The 22-year-old had shown limited power for most of his minor league career, but broke out at Double-A this year by posting a 16.9% HR/FB rate and .218 ISO. Unfortunately, that didn’t last after he was promoted to Triple-A, as his power fell right back to where it sat previously. It’s anyone’s guess if his Double-A performance was a small sample fluke or the type of power he is capable of producing again in the future.

Unlike Massey, who offsets his mediocre power with his speed, Sosa doesn’t steal much. He has swiped just 16 bases over his entire minor league career since 2017, meaning he’s not going to be much of a contributor in either home runs or steals. He also rarely walks, so getting on base is an issue and would limit his stolen base opportunities anyway.

Overall, I don’t see much to get excited about from a fantasy perspective. I would even prefer to save my FAAB in deep leagues for someone more interesting to come along.

Vaughn Grissom | 2B ATL

The Braves’ search for an Ozzie Albies replacement may have come to an end as their top prospect has been recalled and started six straight games at second base. Like a lot of teams in recent years, the Braves violated my own thinking that a hitter needs some Triple-A experience before reaching the Majors, or his chances of success at the plate are severely reduced. Grissom actually opened the season at High-A this year, and then recorded just 98 PAs in Double-A before his promotion. He clearly earned it though, as he posted a .400+ wOBA at both levels this year, which followed a .396 wOBA at Single-A in 2021.

The 21-year-old has shown averageish power, with HR/FB rates that have slowly increased as he has climbed the minor league ladder, but still settled in the low double digits. Meanwhile, his ISO generally sat in the mid-.100 range, which is acceptable, but doesn’t yet give hope of a big power contributor.

From a fantasy perspective, his speed is exciting. He stole 27 bases this year, putting him on a mid-30 steal pace over a full season. He’s pretty quite good at stealing bases too, swiping 46 bases over his career in 54 attempts. Surprisingly Steamer is actually forecasting more home runs (2) over the rest of the season than steals (1), which is opposite of what I would expect.

Aside from the speed and improving power, I love his low strikeout rate. However, his SwStk% is higher than I would expect and doesn’t exactly match the low strikeout rate, so I think he could have a difficult time posting a strikeout rate in the low-to-mid teens in the Majors given his propensity to swing and miss.

While the skills here are intriguing over the long-term, I’m quite skeptical of a 21-year-old who skipped Triple-A to have success at the plate over the short-term, which means over the rest of this season. Obviously, there are numerous examples of hitters skipping the level and mashing in the Majors. It happens, of course, but it’s not the norm, and many more have failed after flying through the minors. Grissom is a worthy speculation given that his upside is likely better than your free agent alternatives, but personally I wouldn’t expect a whole lot, despite him already hitting two home runs.

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.

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
3 months ago

Would you be stashing Henderson yet? Picked him up in my 14 team keeper hoping he gets the call soon as his SS/3B eligibility would fit my team perfectly. Also trying to secure a playoff spot with 2 weeks to go, so can’t be wasting a roster spot for too long.