Teoscar Hernandez (10-15% FAAB Budget) is a player that screams fantasy upside. Teoscar Hernandez is a coveted combination of power and speed that does not come along on the waiver wire often. Past seasons of 20-30 steals in the minors with a double-digit home run ceiling are tools to look towards when planning to bid some FAAB budget this week. Teoscar is also a Statcast darling who pops up on the top of the 2017 Brls/PA leaderboards surrounded by players like Nelson Cruz, Khris Davis, and teammate Justin Smoak. The approach could still improve, but the potential for gaudy fantasy stats is evident with this call-up. Hernandez could have made the opening day lineup in a desolate Blue Jays outfield. The team opted to give Randal Grichuk a chance to fulfill his trade. However, faith in the former Cardinal is fleeting. Hernandez could be a player that sticks on fantasy rosters all season providing double-digit steals and home runs with the potential to surpass 20 in both categories.
Franchy Cordero (10-15%)
Franchy is a must-add in all fantasy formats where available. When the only worry about a player is where they will fit in the lineup, it is usually someone you want on your roster. Cordero has power and speed upside that is greater than even Teoscar Hernandez who I mentioned earlier. Last season he was able to accumulate 17 HR and 15 SB in only 93 minor league games. Another thing creating hype for the 23-year-old outfielder is the average exit velocity he posted on FB/LD last season. In limited playing time, Cordero was able to achieve the 11th highest MPH on these batted balls. This statistic merely means that he can hit baseballs in the air hard. It may seem simple, but this is what the launch angle revolution is all about. Franchy Cordero has inherent skills of hitting hard and running fast. He could improve the approach just as Teoscar Hernandez, but the upside is similar and playing time could be even more open in San Diego.
Zack Wheeler (10-15%)
If Zack Wheeler is pitching, own him in fantasy. The Mets have him slated to pitch again on Tuesday against the Nationals. Washington is a tough matchup, but Wheeler has the talent to neutralize the best MLB lineups. The highly touted 1st round draft pick from 2009 hasn’t had fantastic results outside of one exceptional 2014 season. He showed upside in every category from his 23.6% K% to his near 2.00 GB/FB and lack of home runs allowed. The pairing with new coach Mickey Callaway is one that of which I am particularly excited. Wheeler has fastball velocity that can sit around to 95 MPH with a slider that should be able to generate more whiffs. Given the success of Callaway in Cleveland, it is reasonable to assume that Wheeler can tap into some of this unfound upside in the secondary offerings and find even more strikeout ceiling in the profile. It’s only one game, but Wheeler threw the slider at a higher rate than ever, and it is the calling card of his new manager. If he can stay healthy, the upside is apparent.
Nick Tropeano (5-7.5%)
Tropeano is another tragic tale of a potential hero riddled with injury and heartbreak. Only 27-years-old, he looks to put together his first full season in the bigs. He didn’t pitch in 2017 and threw just 68 innings in 2016, so the volume ceiling is shallow. However, the ability to achieve a 20%+ K% while limiting walks is within the profile. The delivery is herky and jerky with all kinds of goodness. His tools include a low 90s fastball with a nasty splitter/slider combo to keep the hitters off balance in every way imaginable. Tropeano can be hittable at times and does allow a lot of flyballs, but the Angels outfield defense is very talented, and it is one of the better parks for pitchers with this profile. Los Angeles’ rotation is in need of anyone with an arm at this point, and Tropeano is someone I am looking at to get the job done with definite fantasy upside.
Tyson Ross (1-5%)
The first sentence of Nick Tropeano’s profile above is also applicable to Tyson Ross. Ross was once widely regarded as a top young arm within the game of baseball. The reasons for this hype were his ability to strike people out with a deadly fastball/slider combination and elite ground-ball numbers. Only having two pitches was worrisome in the past, but now if he can control both and use them deceptively, he can fit in with a league that is moving away from being fastball dominant. Ross has always possessed that fantastic slider and was ahead of the curve by throwing it 30-40% of the time during his success. Coming back after several injuries is a worry, but the talent is undeniable. Tyson Ross always finds himself into some sleeper article so here is my obligatory addition for 2018. Buy him where you need a pitcher and if he provides the upside he was always capable of; you found yourself a starter for the rest of the season.
LONELY-ONLY TARGET: Niko Goodrum
Goodrum was way off the radar coming into this season. He is on a barren roster that has no upside whatsoever, but he still was overlooked by everyone in the industry. Last season in AAA, Goodrum piled up 13 home runs and 11 steals in 500 PA. There is no reason this stat-line should have pushed him up any top prospect lists. However, in the past, Niko was able to accumulate 30+ steals in multiple seasons. So far in 2018 Goodrum has been on base 7 times and already has 3 swipes. The Tigers don’t have anything to lose by letting him loose on the basepaths, which could bring significant upside to fantasy rosters desperate for speed. Goodrum is an AL-Only target right now that could play his way into mixed league relevancy with stolen base opportunities and a continuation of the power increase from last season’s minor league sample.