As we head into Memorial Day weekend, this week has once again reminded me of the occasional agony that ensues due to the myriad of options available to fantasy owners in shallow leagues, options which simply aren’t there for those of us in the deep league world. On Wednesday, I managed to have both Joc Pederson and Frank Schwindel on my bench in a 12-team league… 5 homers and 11 RBI just sitting there unclaimed, in a league where I really needed some power no less. That one is going to haunt me for a while. That simply wouldn’t have happened in my deepest NL-only league, because basically every hitter who might get so much as a handful of at bats is locked into an active lineup. The downside, of course, as we discuss weekly here at RITD, is that there’s not always anyone who actually does get more than a handful of at bats available when we need replacements and reinforcements. That won’t stop us from trying, though, as we once again look at a handful of names — this week, we’ve got an all-outfielders edition — that may be of interest in NL-only, AL-only, and other particularly deep leagues.
Cal Mitchell. Mitchell may have been grabbed already in your deep NL-only leagues; after all, he was promoted this week and is getting a chance to play outfield almost every day on a major league team. We’re not exactly talking Nolan Gorman/Adley Rutchsman vibes here though, as Mitchell is still owned in just 4% of CBS leagues… even Mitchell’s former triple A teammate Oneil Cruz is 57% owned after his (so far) disappointing start to 2022. Anyhow, Mitchell may not have the hype and pedigree that Cruz does, but for now, he has the most important thing that Cruz does not yet, namely those major league ABs. And it’s not like he came out of nowhere; he was a second round pick in 2017 who made huge strides in double A last year, most notably cutting his strikeout rate way down. He did well at the end of the year after being promoted to triple A, and this year was hitting .306/.362 OBP, with an enticing 5 HR/6 SB power/speed combo. He hasn’t turned my head in mixed leagues yet and may never do so, but I’m definitely contemplating a decent-sized bid for him in my deepest NL-only league when our waivers go through this weekend.
Tyrone Taylor. Like Mitchell, Taylor is likely not available in your garden variety deep NL-only league, but he’s still just 7% owned overall and I may be looking his way in a 15-team mixed league or two. With Hunter Renfroe down for who knows how long due to a bad hamstring, and Lorenzo Cain struggling in the un-winnable fight against Father Time, it seems likely that Taylor will see regular at bats in the Brewers outfield for the foreseeable future. He’s only hitting .238 (in 101 ABs, .284 OBP) but he’s producing enough (he has 4 homers, 18 RBI, and one SB), to be in the fantasy conversation, particularly given how many offensive disappointments most of us are struggling within our hitting lineups. If it seems like you heard his name in prospect conversations about a decade ago, it’s because that is just how long ago Milwaukee drafted him in the second round. He’s 28 now, but we’ve all heard of late bloomers, and let’s take a moment to appreciate what he’s done with his 2,927 minor league at bats, or at least the 70 home runs and 89 stolen bases he’s racked up with them.
Aristides Aquino. He’s hitting all of .113, but when “The Punisher” does manage to make contact, the ball goes really, really far. He had a two-homer game for the Reds earlier this week and may continue to see at bats — as you may have noticed, the Reds don’t exactly have a lineup stacked full of stars at the moment. If you need power in a deep league and he’s available, don’t be embarrassed to give him a look-see.
A couple injured outfielders that may be worth keeping a deep-league eye on:
Mickey Moniak. Post-hype prospect Moniak looked like he might finally have a shot at regular playing time with the Phillies, until he fractured his hand on the very last day of spring training, leaving the door open for Odubel Herrera. Herrera hasn’t been great but has been holding his own, and Moniak and Herrera are both left handed, so it’s not like they match up together in a platoon situation. But with Bryce Harper unable to play the outfield, and Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos both looking like they could use a day off or two, who knows how this situation could play out. Moniak is currently on a minor league rehab assignment (during which he’s played all three outfield positions) and may be close to returning — the fact that the Phillies would love for him to return and establish himself as an every day center fielder doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, but it could.
Greg Allen. We’re moving down to a 0% owned player who is still around 10 days away from even potentially being able to return from the IL, but one thing Allen has in common with Moniak is that he too had a solid spring (remember the olden days, when Allen was competing with Anthony Alford, who’s now headed for Korea, for ABs?) and looked like he’d open the season with at least semi-regular playing time in a Pennsylvania outfield (Pittsburgh, in this case). The Pirates’ outfield is a continual work in progress after Bryan Reynolds. Jack Suwinski may have established himself there for the time being, and we’ll see if the above-mentioned Cal Mitchell can produce, but in the very deepest leagues Allen may be a name to have in the back of your mind as a potential source for runs and steals if he can get healthy and find his way back to some major league at bats.
Gilberto Celestino. Celestino has planted himself on the Twins’ depth chart as their fourth outfielder of late, and while he’s not exactly flashing power or speed (given that he has neither a homer nor a steal in 2022), he is holding his own, hitting .319 with 10 runs scored. A fourth outfielder may not be exciting, but this column is rarely about excitement, it’s about finding whatever resources we can and using them to the best of our advantage. Also, with starting outfielders like Buxton, Larnach, and Kepler, an injury replacement or day of rest could come into play at just about any time. Celestino is only 23 but has just over 1400 minor league at bats under his belt, and he’s done quite well with them: .273 average, .351 OBP, 28 homers, and 66 stolen bases.
Miguel Andujar. Andujar has a grand total of 4 games played for the Yankees this year, but at least hasn’t been horrible in them, going 4 for 13 with a run, and RBI, and a steal. Andujar’s service time with the big club may continue to be sporadic at best, but at least we know they’ll turn to him when they need reinforcements, and with Giancarlo Stanton hitting the IL, reinforcements may be needed. Plus, remember a few years ago when he was a solid offensive player? Or did I dream that? Nope, it happened: .297 with 27 bombs in 2018. Good times. I’ll probably be throwing a FAAB dollar or two his way this weekend in my AL-only league where I need every single at bat I can get my hands on.
Taylor Trammell. Even those in deep AL-only league may not have realized that Trammell was recalled to the Mariners, and in a very weird tiny stat line, he’s gone 0 for 3 with 3 strikeouts, 3 walks, and 2 runs scored. I don’t think there’s anything to get excited about here even in those deep AL-only leagues I mentioned, but I may stash him in one of mine just in case. Even with Kyle Lewis seemingly relegated to DHing for the time being, Trammell’s path to playing time is iffy at best, and that’s without Jarred Kelenic waiting in the wings in the minors. Trammell simply wasn’t able to make the successful jump to the big leagues last year and now functions basically as organizational depth… but the Mariners saw something in him that led them to acquire him from the Padres a couple years ago. He’s also still just 24, so it’s not completely out of the question that he puts things together just enough to earn some playing time at some point during the current season.
Oscar Gonzalez. Gonzalez is a last-minute addition this week, having been called up by the Guardians (after everyone’s favorite Franimal was placed on the IL, and Yu Chang was DFA’d) and is starting in right field and batting 7th Thursday in what will be his MLB debut. You won’t find him on many top prospect lists, but he had a great 2021 between double A and triple A, hitting .293 with 31 homers in 121 total games. He continued to hit for both power and a solid average this year (.282 with 9 homers in 174 triple A at bats) so we’ll see if he can take advantage of his opportunity now that he’s been promoted.
Always looking at deep league talents. Can make or break a fantasy team. Typically need about 3 or so per season who breakout, surprise or are undar the radar.
Had to grab Mitchell and Gonzalez in rcl 39.The injuries have been brutal. Bryant, ward, Acuna Lowe Kitterage Renfroe( who she picked up ha!) Still fighting it out for first though. It’s a battle for the ages. Had to drop some speculators because of all the Injuries.
I keep forgetting it’s still May… I am already exhausted from all the streaming! I have a similar situation in Perts league… Brandon Lowe, Adames, Tatis, Renfroe taking up more IL spots than we have… I may have to drop Renfroe in that league after picking him up in 39! Anyway, I least I gave you all a very nice gift in that league by streaming Steele yesterday… what a dumpster fire!
You sure did! I’m not starting anyone but an ace in Cinci this year. That offense is better than people think especially once India gets back. It certainly feels longer than it’s been. Nice pickup with La Stella btw cinci is starting a rookie against sf. I stacked Flores , gonzalez and La Stella in 21