Today’s deep league waiver wire features a Triple-A breakout stud and a closer speculation.
Ty France | 3B SD | CBS 8% Owned
With rookie sensation Fernando Tatis Jr. likely out for the season, the Padres called up France who figured to play every day at 2nd base. After starting the first three games since his recall, he has been on the bench for the last two for some odd reason. Nevertheless, France enjoyed an incredible Triple-A performance over his 348 plate appearance stay there this year. It was so unexpected because he was ranked just 29th among Padres prospects heading into the season.
Before the year, his solid strikeout rate sitting in the mid-teens was intriguing, as more contact gives him more opportunities for hits and homers. But during his second tour of Triple-A duty, not only did he maintain an excellent strikeout rate, his HR/FB rate more than doubled to an elite 30.7%, driving a ridiculous .372 ISO. If that wasn’t enough, he posted an absurd 33.6% LD% en route to a .410 BABIP. Add it all up and his wOBA stood at a not-a-typo .501. Power plus a sub-20% strikeout rate? SIGN ME UP!
He doesn’t steal bases and hasn’t been much of a walker during his minor league days, so you’re hoping the strikeout rate sticks and he could manage at least a high teen HR/FB rate. In 119 MLB plate appearances so far, he hasn’t been able to do either of those things. But now he has a real opportunity over the rest of the season to prove his Triple-A performance was no fluke…that is if the Padres don’t keep starting Greg Garcia over him.
Hunter Harvey | P BAL | 3% Owned
It’s hard to find words to describe the disaster known as the Orioles bullpen this year. Their group of relievers own by far the worst relief ERA in baseball at a ghastly 6.39 and the lowest ERA of any of their relievers who has recorded at least 10 innings is 4.53. That guy is Mychal Givens, who opened the season as the team’s closer, but too many blown saves thanks to an inflated 22.2% HR/FB rate has cost him his job. Every time it looked like he would regain it, he would blow another save. So now it looks like the next save opportunity is completely up for grabs.
Enter Hunter Harvey. The one-time top prospect has dealt with injury after injury and this is finally the first season he has recorded more than 33 innings since 2014. The funny thing is with a 5.19 Double-A ERA, followed by a 4.32 mark in Triple-A, it’s arguable whether he even deserved a promotion to the Majors to begin with. But here he is and I’m actually kind of excited. All it took was one inning to speculate that Harvey earns at least one save for the Orioles this year.
In his prospect blurb, it was noted that he sits 93-96 with his fastball, topping out at 97 MPH. It’s only been 15 four-seamers so far, but he’s already making that velocity range look ridiculous. He averaged 98.9 MPH with the pitch and maxed out at 99.7 MPH. Did we know he could do that?! The pitch generated four swinging strikes, suggesting if this new velocity level sticks, we need to reevaluate his potential as a reliever. Since his curve was graded a 60, a high octane fastball and strong curve could make him quite effective.
With no one else in the Orioles bullpen stepping up, and incumbent Givens given so many chances already, there’s a good chance Harvey sees a save chance sooner, rather than later, so he’s worth speculating on now before everyone else realizes it.
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.