New Everyday Players — Jun 1, 2022

Let’s continue running down another collection of new everyday players and decide if they are worth rostering depending on your league format.

Christopher Morel | CHC

Since his recall in mid-May, Morel has now started eight straight games, batting leadoff seven times in a row. It’s pretty surprising that he has become the Cubs leadoff hitter after barely spending time at Triple-A and only being ranked the team’s 16th best prospect! But hey, as much as we might question lineup decisions, we might as well take advantage of it as fantasy owners.

Morel’s power rose in 2021 and then spiked again this season at Double-A, as his HR/FB rate jumped above 20% for the first time and his ISO hit a new professional high. With 55/60 grade Raw Power, it’s possible this is a true power surge, but it’s never easy to determine when it comes over a small sample of just 108 at-bats. To go along with his budding power, he has some speed, stealing as many as 23 bases back in 2017, then 18 in 2021. He’s already stolen five bases with the Cubs in just 57 PAs, which puts him on a pace of over 50 over a full season’s worth of PAs!

He doesn’t strike out a ton, despite a worse than average SwStk%, and is willing to take a walk. It looks like he could potentially be an all-around contributor, though I worry all the swings and misses will lead to an uptick in strikeout rate. That said, he’s more than worth rostering in most leagues, especially for as long as he remains the team’s leadoff guy.

Jake McCarthy | ARI

After his recall on May 20, McCarthy has started nine of 10 games, and despite being left-handed, hasn’t been platooned. He isn’t exactly a top prospect, as he was ranked just 26th on the team, but he has become the team’s regular right fielder. He certainly earned his promotion this year, as he had been enjoying a monstrous start to his Triple-A season, where he posted an absurd .511 wOBA, 38.5% HR/FB rate, and more walks than strikeouts. He even stolen seven bases! That would put him on a 30+ home run and 50+ steal pace over a full season!

The only quibble is that his FB% fell to just 20.6% at Triple-A, limiting his home run potential, but that was because he was too busy hitting line drives, as he posted an elite 33.3% rate. It’s far too small a sample to make any definitive conclusions, but the possibility of any bit of this breakout being real makes him a must add in the majority of league formats. It’s not like the Diamondbacks have any exciting alternatives, so McCarthy’s playing time should continue to be there. Finally, he has struck out a lot with in the Majors this year, but it’s come with just a 10.5% SwStk%, which is actually a professional best. In other words, the strikeout rate doesn’t match the low SwStk% at all, so I would expect that strikeout rate to improve markedly moving forward.

Edwin Ríos | LAD

With Max Muncy on the IL, Ríos is finally getting an extended look in the starting lineup. As usual, he has shown massive power with a .275 ISO and crazy 41.2% HR/FB rate. Oddly, his maxEV is at a career low of just 107.9, but he’s made up for it by increasing his Barrel%, so while he may not be hitting the ball as hard as usual, he’s been squaring it up more often.

There are big red flags, however. His walk rate sits at just 4.8%, which might not be a significant concern with his power. However, he has struck out an insane 40.5% of the time, thanks to an 18.4% SwStk% rate. Fantasy owners probably haven’t realized it because of his .359 BABIP and huge HR/FB rate, so his batting average sits at a respectable .263. But there’s little chance the BABIP sticks, the HR/FB rate is going to decline, and then you’re left with a guy who rarely walks and is now just another generic low average slugger. That’s essentially Adam Duvall.

He’s the type that likely gets picked up and dropped multiple times during the season, corresponding with his home run binges. Pick him up at the tail end of his hot streak to endure his cold streak, get impatient and drop him, then watch him heat up again and get picked up by another owner who will probably mistime the hot and cold streak as well.

It couldn’t hurt to speculate and cross your fingers if you need power, but given the weak batting average, he’s not as interesting to me as Morel or McCarthy.

Luis González | SF

To be honest, I had no idea that González has been starting for a while now. When you don’t own any Giants, you tend to scroll quickly through their box score and notice lineup changes! González isn’t a top prospect, as he ranked just 30th in last year’s report and is already 26 years old. But his power took off in 2021 with the White Sox Triple-A squad and then surged again over a tiny sample at Triple-A with the Giants.

He also upped his walk rate into the teens, and while his strikeout rate sits a bit higher than it had in previous years, he has kept his SwStk% below 10%, which is pretty impressive. He has also stolen three bases already and can probably be counted on for a handful more. This is another interesting skill set in the same mold as Morel and McCarthy who have enjoyed power spikes and also might chip in some steals. The only concern here is that he plays in the worst home park for left-handed home runs.

Finally, the Giants have endured a bunch of injuries to outfielders, so depending on how González is performing when the incumbents get healthy, he could be demoted back to the minors.

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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2 months ago

I noticed Morel’s FG present/future grade in speed improved from a 40/40 in 2019 to 60/60 from the most recent list. I was wondering if that is extremely rare or if the jump is more explainable as scouts/evaluators get more looks at higher levels/similar competition. He’s certainly run a bunch since coming to Chicago.

The thing I can’t square are his power grades and overall stats, particularly SLG% vs his listed 6’0 140lbs. I know it’s possible when considering a player like Altuve, and SLG gets a boost with higher doubles and triples, but those statistics seem rare for a player his size. Can he be a 10+ HR guy or is that asking too much?

The total package seems like at least a fantasy contributor, but if stats are legit, he could be one of the best free agent finds this season.

Mario Mendozamember
2 months ago
Reply to  Salty

CHC do not update height and weight of their minor leaguers even years after draft. He is NOT 140 lbs, much bigger now.

But a word of caution in Morel, as I almost bid heavy on him… he has a 70% zone contact rate. Given that poor contact, his scouting report, and the fact that he’s never been very good in the minors until this year, it’s highly likely this all evaporates soon. I think he’s simply on a back to back hot streaks… one in the minors this year, and one in the majors to start his career. I don’t think there is a real breakout happening.