In my house, we watch a lot of Sesame Street, even the animated shorts like Elmo Gets a Puppy and The Monster at the End. I’m not sure you’ve lived until you’ve heard Cookie Monster sing the following:
“Me talk to me self.
Me talk to me seeelllfff.
Me talk to me self and then me knew that me could have courage.”
All Sesame Street songs are earworms but perhaps none more so than the Number of the Day, which features the Martians popping up from their Martian-holes and saying “Yep” for each digit each day: One. Yep. Two. Yep. Three. Yep. And so on.
St. Louis 1B OF Juan Yepez celebrates his home runs the same way, blasting the song and then shouting out “Yep” in the clubhouse for each home run he’s hit on the season. He was up to nine in just 22 games when the club decided they needed that song in the major league clubhouse and called him up Tuesday night. He’s in the lineup today, playing right field, which suggests he’ll probably bounce around between the outfield and infield, providing some days off here and there for lineup regulars. Might be the DH against right-handed pitchers if he’s not on the field somewhere. He got hot early last season and never stopped mashing. A lot of rookies are struggling to make the leap from AAA to MLB pitching, but few have been in their groove for as long as Juan has, so I’m optimistic he’ll find his rhythm if given the chance to do so.
What seemed like a short-term, back-up catching window for Kansas City C MJ Melendez opened a little wider on Wednesday when 1B Carlos Santana went on the Injured List. Melendez was a little lost in AAA, and KC also recalled 3B Emmanuel Rivera, so it remains to be seen what kind of role the club envisions for MJ on a day-to-day basis, but the minor league home run leader from 2021 could quickly force himself into a few time-shares around the diamond a little like Yepez with the added bonus of giving Salvador Perez a day or two at DH each week.
San Diego OF Esteury Ruiz can’t be allowed to stay in Double-A much longer. He’s slashing .380/.524/.696 with five home runs and 15 stolen bases. He’s also walking more than he’s striking out: 15.5%/14.6%. He’s always had loud tools, and moving to the outfield seems to have helped him relax on offense. He’s repeating the level after playing 84 AA games last season, but he hit ten home runs and stole 36 bases with a .328 OBP, so it’s not like he struggled so badly he had to be held back. He’s now played 106 AA games and has 15 HR and 51 SB. He doesn’t turn 24 until February. Pick him up if you still can.
Colorado SS Ezequiel Tovar is almost as hot in Double-A as Ruiz and he won’t turn 21 until August. He’s got five home runs and seven stolen bases in 21 games, slashing .338/.430/.638 with an 18.3 percent strikeout rate. He’s also walking more than he has in years, posting an 11.8% BB rate after recording a 2.1% in High-A last year and 4.3% in Low-A. Rockies prospects can of course be extremely frustrating, but Tovar is probably the organization’s best defensive shortstop already, which gives him an advantage a lot of their forever-blocked types haven’t had.
A fifth round pick in 2021, smooth-talking St. Louis RHP Gordon Graceffo might’ve just made his final start in High-A. He’s thrown 27.2 innings with 38 strikeouts, two walks, a 0.65 ERA and 0.51 WHIP. He’s another instant-add wherever he’s available. Doesn’t turn 23 until March. Might be on the precipice of a big league call-up by this time next year.
The Tampa Rays scouting and development team seems to have scored again with 2021 fourth round pick Dru Baker. The versatile 5’11” 205 lb infielder/outfielder has 11 walks and seven strikeouts in 13 Low-A games along with three home runs, two triples and eight stolen bases. Baker never displayed this kind of power or plate discipline in three years as a regular at Texas Tech, but plus contact skills have always been part of his game. He hit .343 with four home runs across 51 games in his final season as a 21-year-old junior.
Angels SS Werner Blakely was among my favorite high school bats heading into the 2020 draft and landed in LA with a fourth round pick. He struck out 37.1 percent of the time in the complex league last year but still walked at a 17.7 percent clip and produced a .339 on base percentage despite a .182 batting average. He’s a new man this year in Low A, slashing .319/.450/.532 with two home runs and six stolen bases in 14 games. He’s still striking out 26.7 percent of the time, but that’ll play for a guy with power and speed who’s walking at an 18.3 percent clip.
If White Sox 3B Bryan Ramos is still available in your dynasty leagues, now is the time to remedy that. He’s slashing .388/.437/.625 with four home runs in 19 games as a 20-year-old in High-A, good for a 185 wRC+. He’s been young for his level his whole career and should keep reaping the rewards of those reps as he climbs the ladder.
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