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2B and SS Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 9

Like last week, this weeks story-line was plastered with news about prospect call-ups (and some of them weren't even middle infielders). Some guys have arrived with plenty of fanfare (and a HOF last name), some guys have quietly received the call of duty to fill in a gap in their club's starting lineup, and others are currently proving their metal in battles to keep their spot in the order. In the midst of all of these bright and shiny superstar-hopefuls arriving in the MLB, there are plenty of guys that have been calmly and efficiently going about their business all season long to little attention or acclaim, and we mustn't forget them as we prepare to roll into late-May with an eye on the summer months. With so many highly-touted prospects entering the mix and so many players down with injuries, it is an interesting and high-leverage time to be shopping for a middle infielder.

As always, the second base and shortstop positions are notoriously lacking in waiver wire depth and are therefore quite fickle to navigate. Each week of the season, we are going to be taking a look at a slew middle infielders who are worthy of acquisition (or strong consideration at the very least) and are owned in less than 50% of Yahoo Leagues. Staying on top of the injury, roster, and statistical trends regarding the middle infield positions will ensure that your team has year-long robust depth and is ready if a crisis situation were to arise.

With that, let's have at it and take a look at a fresh batch of second base and shortstop waiver wire targets for Week 9.

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Pickups for Most Leagues

Brendan Rodgers (SS, COL)

33% Owned

Since receiving the highly-anticipated call-up, Brendan Rodgers has still been engaged in a roster battle with Ryan McMahon at second base. Rodgers has started off a bit slow, though he's still hitting with a .318 BA, and has managed just one XBH and zero walks across his first 22 AB. Even with McMahon's two-HR night this week, Rodgers has still gotten the start at second in four out of Colorado's last five games, and it is clear that the organization would like to see their prized prospect occupying the MLB level. With his big league sample size still extremely limited, we look to his minor league track record for a semblance of what can be expected, and what kind of potent infield compliment Rodgers can be alongside Trevor Story at his best.

In 1,518 minor league AB (five seasons), Rodgers has hit for 66 home runs, stolen 24 bases, and produced an OPS of .857. More recently in 204 AB across two seasons for Triple-A Albuquerque, he knocked nine pitches into the stands while tearing pitchers up with a slash of .314/.371/.525. Even with his awkward first footing in the MLB, it is quite promising to see that he has continued to get better on offense with each promotion he's received. He has been striking out at an uncharacteristically high rate, even for him, with a 40.9% clip at the moment for the Rockies. On the likely chance that his early struggles subside, Rodgers is an asset highly worth acquiring. With his power-hitting pedigree, he can do some serious destruction inside Coors Field.

Cavan Biggio (2B, TOR)

19% Owned

You may or may not have heard, but yet another Hall of Fame offspring has made it to the MLB, and this time it is 24-year old Cavan Biggio. By the way, if you didn't piece together the context clues, he's the son of Craig Biggio. The Toronto Blue Jays have been driven to call up the somehow unranked prospect due to injuries and issues in the middle infield and outfield, and with guys like Eric Sogard faltering, the organization has already shown that they're more than willing to bring in young blood to start developing for the future. Famous bloodline aside, there are a few reasons to believe that the Notre Dame product is capable of delivering immediate and measurable results with his major league call-up.

Everything about Biggio's minor league track record suggests that he as an ever improving young prospect with high-volume power/speed potential. In 1,287 minor league AB across four seasons, he has notched 43 home runs and 47 stolen bases with a .798 OPS. More recently, Biggio accomplished an impressive feat at Double-A New Hampshire with 26 knocks and 20 swipes with a .252/.388/.499 slash in 449 AB in 2018. He also prompted his promotion with a cool six dingers and five steals (in six tries) with a .307/.445/.504 slash in 137 AB this year at Triple-A Buffalo.

Biggio can drum up plenty of home runs and stolen bases when on, and he has consistently been able to hit and reach base at an even higher clip by taking frequent walks to first. An added pinch of excitement in the already titillating mixture: Biggio slapped his first major league home run today in a home contest against the San Diego Padres. He wasted little time in putting his strengths on display, and is already well on his way to making his own name in the MLB.

Nicky Lopez (SS/2B, KC)

17% Owned

It appears to be more than official that Nicky Lopez has arrived as evidenced by the fact that he has started at second base for the Kansas City Royals in eleven-straight games. The 24-year old rookie has gotten off to a pretty solid start to say the least, going for a .293/.370/.366 slash through 41 AB. Although he has failed to record a home run or stolen bag so far, he has hit for three doubles off of 34.3% hard contact and just 11.4% soft contact, while displaying excellent plate discipline with a 10.9% walk rate and 13% strikeout rate. While Lopez showcased the ability to hit for modest power at Triple-A Omaha with ten homers and a .445 slugging percentage in 339 AB, his real talent lies in reaching base via walk or hit and being an active force on the base-paths.

He has stolen 69 bases in 1,368 minor league AB while he was able to convert 15 of his 20 stolen base attempts in his time at Triple-A. He possesses the physical talent to be a dangerous base-runner at the major league level as well. On a Royals team stocked full of lightning-fast fielders and high-volume base-stealers, Lopez ranks sixth in sprinting speed (right behind Whit Merrifield) at 28.3 feet per second. Throughout all of his time in professional baseball, the former Creighton Blue Jay has continually made his living at the plate by maintaining a laser-focused balance of walks and infrequent strikeouts while utilizing his natural speed to keep up with his BABIP which is routinely north of .300. With this same skill set being applied at the big league level combined with his propensity for base stealing and sneaky ability to find the stands, Nicky Lopez is an exciting ride to be a part of with his spot in the starting lineup.

Danny Santana (1B/2B/OF, TEX)

16% Owned

There have been several veteran players having resurgent seasons for the Texas Rangers, and defensively versatile Danny Santana has been no exception. The 28-year old has had particularly potent power/speed season thus far with four bombs, six stolen bases (in seven attempts), and a slash of .314/.360/.514. Not only that but he has stayed red-hot at the plate, putting up an OPS of 1.006 over the past two weeks. While his playing time of late has been a bit unpredictable, much like teammate Logan Forsythe, he has managed to find plate appearances by having the skills to start at multiple positions on any given evening. Santana has managed to sustain this level of performance amidst skepticism, and he has done it behind a cavalcade of encouraging peripherals.

While his plate discipline has remained suspect with a 27.8% strikeout rate and 4.3% walk rate, meaning much of his success has come from work stemming from his .414 BABIP, his hard contact rate has been at a career-best 41.9% with just 16.2% soft contact. That quality of contact on batted-balls has translated into an ISO of .200, which has proven quite effective on a GB/FB ratio of 1.00. Santana has also put above-average metrics on exhibition such as his 90.1 MPH exit velocity and 405-foot average HR distance, while his 28.2 feet in sprinting speed per second makes it easy to understand how he could thrive in thievery if he found himself on base with regularity.

While on the spot on the field may be more challenging to come by moving forward, the way Danny Santana has been playing makes it well worth it to deploy him when the time calls. If you go for the type who can go for some power and speed at the corner infield, middle infield, and outfield, he is a widely available option.


For the Sneaky and Savvy

Luis Urias (2B, SD)

8% Owned

Much-awaited prospect Luis Urias didn't have a great first stint of 2019 for the San Diego Padres, putting up zero home runs, zero stolen bases, and a .366 OPS in 24 AB. Even with that ugly early stat line, there's plenty of substance to warrant continued excitement, namely the fact that Urias has been absolutely murdering pitches at Triple-A El Paso. In 134 AB this year he has smacked 12 HR, stolen two bases, and produced a Herculean slash of .351/.442/.731. Ian Kinsler has been playing better lately, but he has still produced a mediocre body of work this season for the Padres (six HR and .620 OPS), and the prior call-up of Urias tells us that the club would like to see him start working things out in the big leagues. For the havoc he is wreaking in El Paso and the possibility of a promotion very soon, a stash of Urias right now feels wise.

Luis Arraez (2B, MIN)

2% Owned

With the Minnesota Twins dealing with injuries at some positions and platoon situations at others, it is nice when a 22-year old prospect can come in and immediately start playing the role of several different positions in the starting lineup. Luis Arraez has already filled in at second and third base as well as the DH slot with Nelson Cruz still on the IL, and he has gotten off to a fast start with a dinger and a 1.283 OPS in his first 20 PA.

Though he doesn't project as a power-hitter, as his true path to success lies in his high BA/OBP skill set and ability to run the bases. In six seasons (1,376 AB) in the minor leagues he finished with a .331 BA, .385 OBP, and 28 steals; while he has produced a .344 BA, .413 OBP, and three stolen bases in 160 AB for Rochester and Pensacola. With a knack for trying his luck on the base-paths and an Urshela-like ability to reach base through contact, Arraez is an interesting asset to roll the dice on while his defensive versatility scores him time on the field.

Hanser Alberto (2B/3B, BAL)

2% Owned

The upside about a player being on a last-place roster is that most spots in the batting order are up for grabs and available to be locked down by any guy that starts to show some heat. Hanser Alberto is now finding himself in the starting lineup for the Orioles on most nights at second or third base, and he has rewarded them handsomely with a home run, two steals, and a .378/.385/.541 slash over the past two weeks. He is striking out very little this year (10.9%) and is hitting batted-balls at an improved rate (though extremely modest) 25.8% with a truly effective soft contact rate of 15%. While he isn't a power guy, he also has tested as a speed-capable option with the ability to add a few complimentary bombs, and he holds a Triple-A average of .309 for BA and .330 for OBP. He doesn't even have the impending return of an injured player to contend with, the path ahead is clear if he continues to hit with accuracy. With that consistent playing time, he can be expected to add a handful of power/speed numbers.


Just Checking In...

  • Since receiving his call-up, Keston Hiura has wasted little time in delivering on the lofty promise that on-lookers have place on him, smacking a pair of home runs and stealing a base in the five games since May 19th. As a result, his ownership percentage has shot up to 47%, so take advantage of his highly-valued skill set if you're one of the lucky few who still can.
  • Marwin Gonzalez has continued to roll following his season-beginning slump, producing effectively at the plate for the offensively powerful Minnesota Twins. His ownership percentage has also appropriately risen to 47% and, while he doesn't typically produce a high volume of power/speed numbers, he is still an asset of interest while he works as a moving piece in the Minnesota machine.
  • By comparison, utility-man Niko Goodrum has faltered heavily since his solid start. While he is capable of hitting for decent power for a guy with such speed, he has hit just .195 with zero HR and a steal over the last two weeks, while owners are losing faith quickly (his ownership rate dropped to 17%). It seems like Detroit utility players like to take turns with success on offense.

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