New Everyday Players — Aug 29, 2022

What’s better than a Morning morning roundup highlighting four of the most recent new everyday players? Nothing!

Drew Waters | OF KC

Waters was ranked as the 10th best prospect in the Braves system this year before he was traded to the Royals in mid-July. Since the team still seems disinterested in handing Kyle Isbel a starting job, Waters was recalled a week ago and has started all six games since. Water is an interesting fantasy prospect, but with some flaws that make him no slam dunk.

Let’s start with his power. Since reaching Triple-A in 2019, he has posted double digit HR/FB rates, but a low-to-mediocre FB% has capped his ISO and home run totals. The good news is that at age 23 this year, something ay have clicked at Triple-A upon joining the Royals. His HR/FB rate shot up to 28%, his FB% increased to above 30% for the first time since 2018 and his ISO hit a professional high of .246. That’s not elite, but exciting to see, despite his extended experience now at the level.

While his power increase is exciting, he also steals bases. He swiped as many as 28 last year, and had stolen 18 before his recall this year. Those 18 swipes this year came with just one caught stealing, so he may have become a better base-stealer too.

Aside from the power and speed, I love his batted ball distribution. While he hasn’t typically hit a high rate of fly balls, he has hit a ton of line drives and avoided popping up. That type of profile easily explains his consistently strong BABIP marks. That’s going to help him overcome a potentially high strikeout rate.

With nothing to play for, the Royals should be playing Waters every day for the rest of the year. He could be a nice little contributor in the power and speed categories, especially if he moves up in the order, and should get a bit of a boost in OBP leagues.

Gilberto Celestino | OF MIN

Byron Buxton is back on the IL?! I don’t believe it. Since he landed there, Celestino has started every game in center field. Since he wasn’t just recalled and has gotten playing time throughout the season, he’s already recorded over 200 PAs this year and has accumulated about a half season’s worth of PAs throughout his short career.

Celestino has shown middling power throughout his professional career, but has stolen as many as 22 bases in the minors. Of course, those steals came back in 2018, and his willingness to run has seemingly declined as he has aged. Still, a little of this, and a little of that should be expected.

So far during his short MLB career, he has put on a beating on those poor worms. His career GB% stands at 56%, while he’s at an extreme 59% this year. So whatever ability he has to knock fly balls over the fence is mitigated by so few balls being hit in the air.

As a desperate owner who just needs a warm body who is playing every day for the moment, you could do worse than Celestino. But I don’t see the counting stat upside here to speculate on him.

Romy Gonzalez | CHW 2B

The White Sox are without their typical middle infield, so its Gonzalez who has started at second base the last three games after Yoan Moncada hit the IL. Gonzalez is the sixth ranked White Sox prospect, with even raw power and speed grades.

His power looks quite intriguing, as he posted a 30.3% HR/FB rate at Double-A last year and followed that up with a 20% mark during his short time at Triple-A this year. But like Waters, he could afford to increase his FB%, especially this season, as it sat at just 26.7%. That won’t allow him to fully take advantage of his over-the-fence power. He steals bases too! He swiped 21 in 2021 and five this season, for a pace of about 25 over a full season. Gosh I love the power/speed guys.

The problem here is high strikeout rates, which jumped over 30% at Triple-A this season. What’s odd is he hasn’t posted high SwStk%, which would suggest he has been striking out looking often, but that typically results from extreme plate patience and pairs with a high walk rate. Gonzalez hasn’t exactly posted high walk rates, though they have typically been a bit above the average. It’s a strange combination, so we’ll see how it translates to MLB rates.

He seems like a perfect speculation, given that he owns both power and speed, but could easily kill your batting average and then get demoted in two weeks. If you’re in need of middle infield help, might as well take a shot here.

Oswaldo Cabrera | OF NYY

I feel like it’s rare to see a Yankees minor leaguer get recalled and immediately jump into the starting lineup. This is especially true when said minor leaguer wasn’t a top prospect. Cabrera was ranked 10th best among Yankees prospects, but has started 11 straight games since his recall in mid-August. He has proven quite the flexible fielder, as he has started at four different positions.

Cabrera’s power first spiked in 2021, as his HR/FB rate tripled and ISO exactly doubled. That’s a big step forward, as his power was quite limited previously. He has managed to hold onto most of those gains, as his HR/FB rate stood at 13.3% and ISO at .230 at Triple-A this year, which earned him a promotion. That’s not great power, but he has two things going for him. First, he has been an extreme fly ball hitter, as he has posted FB% marks over 40% every season since 2019. Second, he’s a switch-hitter, meaning about two-thirds of his plate appearances will come as a left-handed hitter. That’s important because he plays in a home park that was tied for the fourth best for left-handed home runs. Power potential isn’t all that Cabrera offers though! He also swiped 10 bases before his recall this year and has stolen as many as 21 in a season.

Finally, he may struggle to hit for average given his extreme fly ball tendency. He has managed to post acceptable and even some above average BABIP marks since 2019, but I don’t see that lasting in the Majors. Since he hasn’t been much of a walker (though did increase his mark at Triple-A this year), I don’t think his value changes much in OBP leagues. While he’s starting for the Yankees, he’s certainly worthy of gambling on, but I don’t see him being a significant counting stat contributor and he could potentially hurt your batting average.

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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