New Everyday Players — Jul 5, 2022 by Mike Podhorzer July 5, 2022 We’re going to continue the rundown of new everyday players, as these are your deeper league targets, and sometimes even shallower leagues. With so many players suddenly finding themselves with regular playing time, or being recalled from the minors and handed a starting job, it’s easy to miss someone. Josh H. Smith | 3B TEX Smith was first recalled at the end of May, but then injury struck and he missed a couple of weeks. He’s back now and has started 10 of 12 games since coming off the IL. Though he’s a lefty, he doesn’t seem to be in a strict platoon, which is a good sign. Even better, he has become the Rangers’ leadoff guy against right-handers. That’s pretty shocking considering they could easily move more established players up in the lineup to give the rookie a chance to prove he can actually hit at the MLB level. Rather than question management lineup decisions, I’ll just take advantage. Smith was the team’s sixth ranked prospect, but has no real standout fantasy contribution. He’s another one of those all-around guys who has a touch of power and some speed. Perhaps a full season could yield low teen home runs, and mid-teen steals. That seems boring, but it’s more valuable than you think. Since one steal is worth more than one home run, think of it as more valuable than 25 homers and 0 steals, and you would definitely be interested if that was his forecast. Perhaps his best real baseball skill is his plate discipline. He’s posted double digit walk rates everywhere he’s played, and has kept his SwStk% marks in single digits. It gives him a significant boost in OBP leagues, as a result. He has posted above average BABIP marks, but nothing too excited, so he might end up being neutral in batting average. Overall, he’ll do a little of this and a little of that, but batting leadoff really boosts his value. He’s a must add in a deeper leagues and an acceptable replacement option in shallower leagues. Isaac Paredes | 2B/3B TB WOAH, where did this come from?! Injuries have given Paredes another opportunity and the 23-year-old who had only shown middling power, is suddenly posting a 27.9% HR/FB rate and absurd .354 ISO! Neither his history, prospect reports, or any manner of optimism could have predicted this. His maxEV has notched a new career high at 110.4, so his power has likely improved, but that doesn’t seem high enough to typically match that HR/FB rate, and especially not that ISO. Statcast, in particular, is extremely bearish, believing what Paredes has done is a complete fluke. His xSLG sits at just .443 versus a .606 actual mark, which is a massive gap. Obviously, no one expects this pace to continue, but such a decline would likely push him back into the free agent pool in most leagues. With no speed and a history of weak BABIP marks, Paredes absolutely needs above average power to be worthy of a shallow league roster spot. Overall, his skill set does intrigue me as he’s typically walked at a league average clip and done better at times in the minors. He also rarely swings and misses, which I love. It would seem like he was an excellent hitter and only a matter of time when his power would blossom. Unfortunately, Statcast doesn’t believe in it, so it’s hard to take what he’s done so far too seriously. You might as well speculate here, though I’m sure he’s been gobbled up already in the majority of leagues. But once Brandon Lowe is ready to return, Paredes could be headed back to the bench if he does indeed hit the slump Statcast is calling for. Josh Lowe | OF TB He’s back! Lowe, the team’s 10th ranked prospect, has been up and down with the team and hasn’t hit over a small sample of 116 PAs. His skill set is intriguing for fantasy owners, as he owns both power and speed. With mid-teen HR/FB rates and ISO marks over .200 recently, combined with as many as 30 steals in a season, we dream of a potential 20/30 season. However, strikeouts have been an issue in the Majors, and he also struck out over 30% of the time at Triple-A this year. That’s odds considering his low double digit SwStk%. He must have been caught looking pretty often. Luckily to offset the high strikeout rate, he has often posted high BABIP marks, though it’s hard to imagine that carrying over to the Majors given his fly ball tendency with a FB% over 40%. I have real mixed feelings here. On the one hand, he’s left-handed, which means he’s never going to earn full-time at-bats on the platoon-happy Rays. Second, his projections make him borderline startable on the Rays, and it’s risky to bet on him with forecasts hovering around a .300 OBP. Obviously, I love the power/speed potential. I’m just not confident he will be able to hold a strong-side platoon role. He has started against some lefties though, but with a .178 wOBA since being recalled over 43 PAs, he’s going to need to start hitting soon or he’ll once again find himself back in the minors. Jarren Duran | OF BOS Are the Red Sox going to actually allow him to remain the starter, even when Enrique Hernandez returns? That’s the big question. Duran has been a top prospect for a while and an exciting fantasy one as well. His power exploded in 2021, and it has been maintained in 2022, which is a great sign. That means he’s no longer just a speed guy who might hit the occasional home run. Now he’s a legit power/speed threat with 20/30 potential like Lowe above. Unlike Lowe, he’s kept his strikeout rates at acceptable levels and has posted strong BABIP marks and batted ball profiles. That should lend itself to a better than average BABIP in the Majors and result in at least a neutral batting average, with a real chance of some positive value there. With a .396 wOBA so far, it would be pretty embarrassing if Duran lost his job. I’m kicking myself for having not held onto him in my shallow mixed leagues, as I proactively added him weeks ago expecting a recall soon. I needed the roster spot and eventually had to drop him and didn’t even attempt to pick him up when he was recalled again, as I expected him to be demoted rather quickly, which I was wrong about. He’s an easy add in all leagues with the hope he keeps his starting job. Vinnie Pasquantino | 1B KC Finally, the Royals traded Carlos Santana, paving the way for Pasquantino’s debut. He has rocketed up the ranks, coming in as the 96th best prospect in baseball, but if the ranks were done again, he would likely be even higher now. Pasquantino owns a very interesting skill set for a first baseman. While he’s posted excellent ISO marks, it hasn’t all been driven by home runs. In fact, he hasn’t even reached a 20% HR/FB rate yet. He has also hit lots of doubles as well, and has been a fly ball hitter to take advantage of his power. What’s possibly most exciting here is his plate discipline. He has posted double digit walk rates everywhere he has played, and since 2021, hasn’t posted a strikeout rate above 13.8%! It’s rare to find that combination of contact ability and power. You know who else possessed that? Albert Pujols. Now, I’m not called Pasquantino the next Pujols, just pointing out what kind of upside a low strikeout, high power skill set can produce. The one flaw I see right now is a short history or mediocre to poor BABIP marks. That’s surprising though, as he has posted strong line drive rates and mostly low IFFB% marks. Yeah, he’s a fly ball hitter, but I would have expected better BABIPs based on the liners and pop-up avoidance. As a left-handed hitter, my guess is that he has been a serious pull hitter and perhaps faces an infield shift that he grounds into often. We’ll get a better idea of what may be causing the low BABIP at the end of the season. For now, his low strikeout rate and power could still result in a positive batting average, but it could be even better with some better BABIP luck. He’s a pickup in all leagues.