Last week we chatted about players whose ADP has been rising over the last few weeks and months as more drafts take place while we (hopefully?) inch closer to the start of the season. This week it’s time to look at guys who I think could have big jumps up the ADP ranks once we finally are released from our collective news-free bubble where we don’t get to hear about free agent signings, trades, or even so much as a “reported to spring in the best shape of his life” declaration to help guide our draft preparation. We’ll keep it on the deep side as I’ll only be talking about players whose current NFBC ADP over the last two weeks is outside of the top 300. Everyone wants a late bargain or three in their drafts and auctions – and it’s possible that the next few weeks could be the last chance we have to feel like we’ve gotten a bargain on some of the following players.
Jesus Aguilar (#297, so I’m cheating on that ‘outside the top 300’ thing a smidge here) and Rowdy Tellez (#308). Look, I didn’t say all of the guys on this list were going to be exciting or fun to draft, in fact, I haven’t drafted either Aguilar or Tellez myself yet. I do think once folks start paying attention though, whenever that may be, they will realize that – assuming baseball returns with a universal DH – both of these fellows could be fairly valuable sources of cheap power on a deep league or NL-only team. I don’t think we’ll see a season from Aguilar like his .274/35 HR 2018 again, but let’s remember that he’s not quite over the hill yet (30) and last year was quite solid (22 HRS and 93 RBI in 146 games). Tellez, meanwhile, actually had a rather disappointing power output last year in my opinion (11 HR/36 RBI in 297 at bats over 106 games. It’s also perhaps worth pointing out that he didn’t hit a homer in 10 games in September… maybe hit a wall early even in part-time duty after the shortened 2020?) At any rate, I suspect that if A) the NL gets the DH, B) the Brewers don’t get another player who fits that bill as well as Tellez does so that C) it looks like Tellez will basically hit every day without having to field a position, then D) we could see an ADP bump.
Rowan Wick (#333) and Codi Heuer (#555). Most were surprised by the Cubs’ pre-lockout signing of Marcus Stroman, expecting more selling and less buying, and now there have been reports that they were or are considering bringing Rizzo back as well. I mention this to underline just how muddy a view we currently have of what’s going on with the Cubs, including their bullpen – is Wick the closer to open 2022? Will Heuer ultimately end up with the job? Will they both even be on the team? Will the Cubs sign one or more experienced relievers and push them both back down the closer depth chart? Well, muddy waters make it harder to find hidden flecks of gold, and many will want to avoid this dirty pond altogether and not even speculate. I, on the other hand, have grabbed Wick a few times and have a share or two of Heuer already as well, because why the heck not? At their current cheap ADPs, even in deep leagues they can either be easily jettisoned if they don’t end up in a high leverage situation (or kept as roster-filling middle relievers if they pitch well but aren’t getting saves). Wick was pretty bad the last month of 2021 but had four saves; Heuer didn’t pitch well either and had just one save. But… the Cubs liked Heuer (and his solid strikeout and ground ball numbers) enough to target him along with headliner Nick Madrigal in the Craig Kimbrel deal, so I don’t see a downside to at least keeping an eye on him.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa (#361). He’s being treated basically as a fantasy afterthought with the Rangers having acquired both Marcus Semien and Corey Seager, and with the assumption many drafters are making that Josh Jung is not only the third baseman of the Rangers future but their third baseman of the very, very near future. Even if Jung opens the year at third for the big club, though, I’m not ready to completely forget about IKF. He may deserve his ‘light-hitting’ tag, but for deep-league fantasy purposes, the speed alone is a commodity we shouldn’t ignore. In addition to the 20 steals he had last year, he was sneakily valuable in that he turned in a .271 average over what proved to be the 5th largest number of at bats (635) of anyone in baseball. If he ends up a utility guy, that AB volume may not be there, but added positional flexibility (he only qualifies at short in most leagues going into the season) would be a nice deep-league or draft and hold asset. And if he somehow ends up with a starting shortstop gig on a team like the Yankees or Reds, I’m pretty sure his draft value will take a big leap in a short amount of time.
Vidal Brujan (#363). Yes, last year’s cup of coffee was atrociously ugly (2 for 26 without a walk), but I’m still a little surprised to see Brujan this late off the board. If there’s even a small chance that the Rays have room for him at or near the beginning of the season plus even a small chance that Brujan has a spring that warrants the opportunity – and I do think there’s at least a small chance of both – he could be a game-changer even in standard leagues. Yes, it’s the minors, but in Brujan’s MILB career he’s not only rocking a .288 average and .371 OBP, he’s averaging almost exactly one steal every 10 at bats, which as far as I’m concerned is the definition of crazy speed upside. If it looks like it’s not gonna happen for him early in 2022 you’ve risked basically nothing, and if it does look like it’s gonna happen then I think he could be one of the biggst ADP risers of the season.