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Fantasy: FAAB Targets For Week 14

Sometimes it’s best to just keep it simple. While I love getting into the nitty gritty of each player's metrics, sometimes the K.I.S.S. Method is the best approach. Simply put, this week we’re going to keep it simple, stupid. This week we’re going to look at some of the most productive players in the month of June and see if these late spring/early summer standouts pass the smell test.

This is a great time of year to identify potential rest-of-season breakouts as many of the colder regions of the country begin to warm up, which has normalized conditions in circuits like the Midwest League, Eastern League and Northwest League. Long story short, it’s important to not get too caught up on the performance over the first two months and instead look for hitters and pitchers that have made adjustments. 

Brayan Bello, RHP Red Sox  

League Size: 12+ Team Redraft Leagues 

I don’t know when it will happen, but with the way Bello has dominated at Triple-A and the fact he's on the 40-man roster tell me a promotion could be coming at any time this month, as Bello looks ready for primetime. With a high-90s fastball he can sink or ride, a tight mid-to-high-80s slider he knows how to command and a good changeup, Bello has the tools to develop into a mid-rotation starter or better. Beyond his big stuff, Bello knows how to pitch, and has used the pitch clock in the minor leagues this season to his advantage, as he’s an extremely fast worker keeping hitters off balance. With the challenge of the minor leagues' highest level posing no threat Bello is ready to help the Red Sox now.

Tyler Freeman, SS Guardians

League Type: 16+ Team Redraft Leagues

Before I ever consider recommending a prospect as a redraft add, I ask myself two questions. First, is he on the 40-man roster? Second, is he producing at an above-average rate in the upper minors? When it comes to Freeman the answer to the first question is yes, the answer to the second depends on how you view his production.

Overall entering play on Saturday Freeman was hitting .275/.375/.367 on the season with Triple-A Columbus. Good numbers, but not great, right? Freeman was somewhat of a slow starter this season, hitting .227 over the first month after getting a late start to his season and playing his first game on April 29. However, from June 1 to July 1 Freeman hit .327/.417/.404. This is more in-line with the plus hit tool often associated with Freeman. This also shows the potential limitations to his game as he had just four extra-base hits over that span of time.

This makes Freeman somewhat of a need-based add, as he really only provides a boost in batting average and on-base percentage. There’s also the infield depth for Cleveland at the major league level to worry about. All this makes Freeman a tricky stash. He’s best for a manager who’s struggling to make up points in batting average and has a replacement level player at their middle infield or utility spot. You’ll have to see how things shake out over the next month, but Freeman could find some playing time in the latter half of July.

Grant McCray, OF Giants

League Type: 12 Team Dynasty Leagues with 100+ Prospects Rostered

This is the second time I’ve put out this call but if you’re in a league where 10-12 prospects per team are rostered and McCray is available I’d likely put down some FAAB cash to acquire the outfielder’s services. While a tough opening dozen or so games in April may have softened the overall statistical line, he’s been on fire since the calendar turned to May. From May 1 to July 1 McCray has hit .313/.390/.554 with 15 doubles, six triples, nine home runs and 20 stolen bases. There’s certainly swing and miss, as McCray has struck out in 29.1% of his at-bats over this torrid stretch.

Contact could be an issue, as his contact rate is firmly on the line between fringe-average and below-average (65-69%). His saving grace at the plate is above-average power and above-average swing decisions. With a center field profile, power, speed and on-base ability, you can tolerate the strikeouts. McCray is a high upside add with the ability to develop into a fantasy star.

Colton Cowser, OF Orioles

League Type: 12 Team Leagues with 100+ Prospects Rostered

Cowser has started to turn a corner the last month as he’s hit .306/.433/.529 since June 1, showing some power with 10 doubles and three home runs. The 2021 first-rounder saw a promotion to Double-A Bowie earlier this week and immediately hit in his debut, going 3-for-3 with a home run and getting on base all five times he stepped to the plate. It’s Cowser’s ability to get on base that drives his profile and covers up some of his flaws. While he’s continued to flash more power, backed by solid exit velocity data, it's mostly materialized in the form of doubles. He has the strength to hit home runs, but his swing is fairly linear and more contact-oriented. He’s also struggled to hit lefthanded pitching, hitting just .170/.306/.254 against lefties.

The questions you have to ask yourself with Cowser are two-fold: Do you think he can improve against lefthanders? Do you believe he can continue to adjust his swing to get to more of his game power? If you believe he can improve in both areas, Cowser is absolutely a buy-in candidate. Some managers might be lukewarm on Cowser and could be looking to move him after the recent upswing. I’d personally see what the price was if I was a rebuilding squad in a points or on-base percentage-based scoring league.

Griff McGarry, RHP Phillies

League Type: 14 Team Dynasty Leagues or 150+ Prospects Rostered

Despite having some of the biggest stuff in college baseball over the last few seasons, McGarry was as inconsistent as they come, never being able to harness his big stuff for long stretches. After entering professional ball the righthander has turned a corner, particularly over the last month. Over his last five starts McGarry has gone 28.1 innings, allowing nine earned runs, 18 hits and 14 walks to 48 strikeouts. McGarry has simply been excellent over the month, and his recent promotion is a testament to the Phillies' internal belief in the 2021 fifth-round pick. With a plus fastball that sits mid 90s with heavy vertical and horizontal break from a low release height, McGarry mixes in three variations of a breaking ball in high-spin cutters, sliders and curveballs. He’s begun to show feel for a parachuting changeup but it’s still touch and go. Overall McGarry may have one of the nastiest pitch mixes in baseball.

Will Benson, OF Guardians

League Type: 14+ Team Redraft Leagues and all Dynasty Leagues with 150+ prospects rostered.

When digging into players for my most improved minor league hitters article, Benson was a name that just missed my cutoff. He has, however, shown one of the most drastic skill transformations in recent memory. Benson entered 2022 as a notoriously poor contact hitter whose game was predicated on his plus on-base skills and plus raw power. His .244 batting average may not explain it, but Benson’s bat-to-ball skills have transformed into at minimum an average skill in 2022.

His strikeout rate is down over 30% year over year as his contact rate has jumped from below 63% in 2021 to above 70% in 2022. Benson has traded some power as his slugging percentage sits at .461 but his ability to impact the ball is still present as his max exit velocity this season is 114-plus mph. If Benson gets to an average hit tool he's an everyday player. He has elite on-base ability as he’s walked in 15.4% of his nearly 1,800 minor league plate appearances, shows plus power in games and is a good outfielder with an excellent throwing arm.

At 24 years old, Benson is ready for his first taste of the major leagues. With the crowded 40-man roster in Cleveland Benson might be a potential trade candidate in the coming weeks. He’s also a candidate to be added to the Guardians 40-man should an injury open an opportunity in the major league outfield. It’s hard to predict when or where Benson makes his major league debut but there’s been rapid development worth taking notice of.

Vinnie Pasquantino (Tracy Proffitt/Four Seam Images)

10 Noteworthy Prospect Breakthroughs In 2022

Breaking down 10 prospects who took a step forward during the 2022 minor league season, nine of whom cemented themselves as Top 100 Prospects in our June update.

Jose Ramos, OF Dodgers

League Type: 12 Team Dynasty Leagues or Leagues where 125+ Prospects are rostered.

Over Ramos’ first 18 games at High-A he hit just .224 while striking out in more than 30% of his at-bats. Over the 21 games since Ramos has turned a corner, hitting .293/.389/.561 with a 12.6% walk rate and an improved strikeout rate. While his numbers have dipped year over year there’s still legitimate power and hitterish qualities to bank on. Ramos has shown more swing and miss this season, but his swing decisions have turned a corner as he’s chasing far less year over year. He’s a dead fastball hitter at the moment and has had mixed results against changeups. His difficulties come against spin, as he’s had little success against it this season. At just 21 and showing plus power it’s worth gambling on the Dodgers player development and Ramos figuring it out enough to be competent against breaking stuff.

Will Brennan, OF Guardians

League Type: 14+ Team Dynasty Leagues or 150+ Prospects Rostered

This is the second time I’ve recommended Brennan this season, but if you were unable to pick up the outfielder the first time there’s likely still time in many leagues. Since his promotion to Triple-A in late May, Brennan has hit a gaudy .374/.450/.534 with three home runs and five stolen bases over 31 games with Columbus. While Brennan’s power and speed may not excite you, his hit tool and on-base skills boost his overall profile offensively. Defensively he has the ability to play center field or either corner. One of the most underrated prospects in the minor leagues, Brennan has the look of an everyday player with upside in his bat. With his high minors' performance I’d be willing to gamble that Brennan sees the major leagues at some point in 2022.

Quincy Hamilton, OF Astros

League Type: 16+ Team Dynasty Leagues or Leagues where 200+ Prospects are rostered.

Across two levels of Class A Hamilton has been excellent, hitting .291/.400/.485 in 36 games with Low-A Asheville and has kept it up with High-A Fayetteville, hitting .328/.410/.504. Hamilton has nine home runs and 16 stolen bases on 17 attempts combined between both Class A stops and is showing contact, on-base ability and average or better power. His contact rate is hovering around 80% with a chase rate in the low 20s. He is showing the makings of a true above-average hitter. With the ability to play center field or fit in either corner it gives him some supporting skills to go along with the strong offensive performance. He's a name to add in dynasty leagues of moderate depth or deeper.

Matt Wallner, OF Twins

League Type: 16+ Team On-Base Percentage and OPS Dynasty Leagues with 200+ Prospects Rostered 

Do you like power? Big loud gunshot barrel power? Well, Wallner has that, as he’s already hit 18 home runs this season with a max exit velocity above 115 mph. The power is nothing new for Wallner, but what is new is Wallner’s improved on-base skills, as his walk rate has jumped from 9.5% in 2021 to 18.2% in 2022. With elite power and his newfound on-base skills, Wallner has the big arm to handle a corner and has seen 59 games in right field this season. There’s still significant swing and miss as Wallner strikes out over 30% of the time, but his three true outcome profile makes him interesting in on-base percentage or OPS-focused leagues. Of course power moves the needle in all formats but Wallner has a chance to be the sort of slugger that hits below .230 with a solid on-base percentage and plus power production.

Wenceel Perez, SS Tigers

League Type: 16+ Team Dynasty Leagues or Leagues with 200+ Prospects Rostered.

While 2021 was an encouraging season for the switch-hitting Perez, 2022 has seen the infielder take a giant leap forward in terms of in-game power production as his slugging percentage jumped by 170-plus percentage points year over year. Perez is hitting the ball harder and at a steeper launch angle with greater frequency. Most impressively Perez has managed to add power and launch without sacrificing contact or approach as both his contact and chase rate have improved year over year when compared to 2021. Recently promoted to Double-A, Perez was left unprotected for the canceled 2021 Rule 5 Draft and could be playing his way onto the Tigers' 40-man roster.

Spencer Horwitz, OF Blue Jays

League Type: 16+ Team Dynasty Leagues  or Leagues with 200+ Prospects Rostered. 

Over the last two seasons Horwitz has displayed a nice balance of contact, on-base ability and power. He hit .294/.400/.462 last season and has shown increased power without a loss of approach or substantial bat-to-ball skills. His underlying exit velocity data backs the jump in power as well, as Horwitz is hitting the ball harder and with far greater frequency. His chase rate remains the same as last season while he’s hitting for less contact but not in a meaningful way. He’s still making contact at a 76% rate, which is above-average, while flashing above-average power in games with elite on-base skills. He’s a lefty bat with power and a somewhat limited defensive profile. Horwitz has seen a majority of his time this year at first base for New Hampshire, while getting some reps in left field. Due to his profile, Horwitz will always need to hit, but with his well-balanced skill set at the plate he has a chance to stick at the big league level as a strong-side platoon bat or better.

Oscar Colas, OF White Sox

League Type: 20+ Team Leagues with 300+ Prospects Rostered

I’m always leery of older Cuban sluggers when they first come over. Colas, however, was perhaps unfairly categorized as such by myself, as he’s still just 23 and actually spent parts of four seasons with SoftBank in Japan. So far Colas’ performance has been stellar over the last 30 days, as he hit .384/.421/.556 over 25 games in June. While Colas certainly has power in his bat, his exit velocity data is just average. It’s actually his ability to make contact that’s stood out. Colas has a 74% contact rate and despite an aggressive approach has kept strikeouts at a minimum. It’s reasonable to think with a few years off from competitive baseball that Colas is shaking off the rust. He’s likely to be challenged as he moves up the ladder but in deeper dynasty leagues he may be worth a buy.

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