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Digging Deeper: NL-Only Waiver Report for Week 16 (Triple-A Edition)

Every week in baseball, a significant player will hit the disabled list, slip into a slump, or get traded out of a good spot. How fantasy owners adapt to these situations can make or break the season as a whole. One lousy add might not hurt the long-term standing of a team, but failing to take advantage of breakouts or impact bats before others sure can.

The primary challenge of playing in an NL or AL-only league is often the lack of options regarding adding and subtracting players when needed. In mixed leagues, the players on the waiver wire are usually starting for an NL-only staff. So then how does one wade through the names of players that even regular fantasy players have never heard of, and that often will not even start for their teams, to begin with? That is where this series comes in.

This week is a bit of a different take on the usual list. For one, at this point in the year, we are down to the bare minimum in terms of players to add. Injuries have kicked out the first wave of reserves, and owners now have clear needs to target with less time. Even more, with smaller FAAB budgets, owners might not have the extra bucks to throw at some of the names hovering at 4% ownership rates. To help kick off the trade season, this week's players are all stuck at Triple-A, and owned in at most 1% of leagues. With that, come along to the island of fantasy misfit toys.

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C - Deivy Grullon (C, PHI)

0% owned

Catcher is a dumpster fire in Triple-A this year, mirroring some of the issues for fantasy owners generally in 2019. In fact, only one other catcher who qualifies based on playing time this year has an OPS over .700 as of the time of writing this, and that player, David Frietas, has already has a shot at the Bigs. Still, looking to the International League, Grullon was a surprising pick, mostly due to the lack of any prospect pedigree. Baseball America, for example, did not have Grullon in the Philadelphia top 30 prospects entering the year, and in fact, had three players ahead of him on the depth chart.

Even without the name value, Grullon has paced the International League at the position with a .305/.366/.504 slash so far. Add in 12 homers and 37 runs, and Grullon has been one of Lehigh Valley’s best offensive players after 85 games. The rub for owners will be the playing time, as even if they can sneak Grullon through, J.T. Realmuto is not going anywhere. Still, adding a catcher who can play twice a week with some offensive upside seems to be a solid choice this week. If the Phillies can solidify a playoff spot, expect them to look for a catcher to keep their star healthy for the playoffs. At the very least, with the state of catcher this year, why not add the best offensive catcher in the minors this year?


1B - Brian O’Grady (1B, CIN)

0% owned

With Cincinnati's resurgence and sudden entrance into the playoff race, this team might have some moves up its sleeve as the league approaches the trading deadline. O’Grady fits into the equation as either a trade chip or a piece that plug gaps left by other deals. At 27, O’Grady is not a young player by any means but has been a solid player at first throughout this career. With a career .253/.354/.456 slash, the bat has been league-average, with 73 homers in 554 games limiting his value prior to 2019.

The difference this year has been the power, with 25 homers in 82 games. When Triple-A leagues are now using the MLB-ball, this power surge should be sustainable with a promotion. While the pitching will be better across the board, the batting line shows that O’Grady has been a solid bat-to-ball player to date, and now is starting to see the ball leave the yard. While Joey Votto is holding down first, O’Grady can play in the outfield if needed looking at his game log. Either as an older trade chip or as a replacement, O’Grady is a player who can hit and will be landing in a great park helping continue the power break-out.


2B - Isan Diaz (2B, MIA)

1% owned 

Diaz has been a controversial prospect, with some projecting him as the next elite bat at second, and others wondering if he will hit above the Mendoza line. While he has always been a raw, projectable player, Diaz was a disappointment after moving to Miami in a deal with the Brewers. Even for owners who have been out on Diaz, it is hard to ignore his production this year. While Pacific Coast Leagues stats are notorious for their offensive skew, when Diaz has been a top-10 bat in the league to date, it is hard to ignore the relative value of his season.

Through 87 games this campaign, Diaz is slashing .302/.396/.571 with 21 homers and four steals. After hitting only .204 in 36 games after a promotion to New Orleans to end 2018, the turn-around has been stark. When Diaz is starting to find his power stroke, while also gaining with the rate numbers, this is a player figuring out how to hit professional pitchers. While the impact might be low this year with the park and team, Diaz offers the best dart at second for National League owners the rest of the way. And he is back on the personal draft board for 2020.


3B - Wyatt Mathisen (3B, AZ)

0% owned 

While Kevin Cron has appeared on this list a few times already this year, and is the impact prospect for fantasy owners the rest of the way, it has been hard to ignore Mathisen's season. Perhaps putting together the best first-half at the plate among all PCL batters, Mathisen is another player with little to no prospect stock entering the year. Not appearing in Arizona’s top prospects for Baseball America, Mathisen is still only 25 and warrants a shot this season. A slow mover, this is his first full season at Triple-A, and the result have been good.

In 81 games, Mathisen is slashing .293/.411/.616 with 22 homers and 68 runs scored. A good hitter over his career in the minors, Mathisen is still outperforming his career .272/.358/.395 slash line. The power is also emerging this year, with 24 total career homers entering the year, Mathisen is already close to doubling his career mark in half of a season. While the PCL numbers will hint at regression with a move to neutral parks, the power is real, and when the ball is the same, it is easier to project that this swing will play in the bigs. Owners in need of help at the corner should be willing to wait out this player for the upside.


SS - Eduardo Sosa (3B, STL)

0% owned 

With the Cardinals needing to make some moves in the next few weeks to solidify a playoff run, Sosa offers an in-house shortstop with some batting upside. While Paul DeJong will hold down the job, unless there is an injury, expect Sosa to push both Tommy Edman and Yairo Munoz is he can keep hitting at his current clip. Entering the year as the 22nd ranked prospect in the Cardinal's system according to Baseball America, Sosa has improved from a utility-only profile to a second-division starter. Still only 23, Sosa will be a name shooting up prospect lists in the 2019 offseason.

To date, in 83 games, Sosa is slashing .252/.304/.424 with 10 homers. All of those numbers are right at, or above career marks, meaning that Sosa has adapted with the promotion well this year. While he does have more offensive upside than most multi-positional options, Sosa will be a real contender to start at short for this team in 2021 and beyond. When the shortstop prospects are reasonably weak at Triple-A right now, add the player jumping to a good team, with the tools to dream on for more.


OF - Yadiel Hernandez (OF, WAS)

0% owned 

At 31, Hernandez is a bit old to be considered a prospect, but with his season at Triple-A so far, might need to be owned. Through 85 games, the outfielder is slashing .342/.420/.607 with 19 homers and 64 runs. The interesting note is that since he signed with the Nationals out of Cuba, Hernandez has not stopped hitting. For his minor league career, spanning 329 total games, he is slashing .303/.386/.491. A good player, who might be putting in his best season, Hernandez seems assured to at least get a look this year.

In terms of what owners can expect, like most other players, it comes down to playing time. While not reading internal Nationals memos, it seems that Hernandez would be at least as productive as Gerardo Parra or others on that bench. The context is also useful, with the Nationals needing a spark to jump back into contention. The one real limit on Hernandez’s defensive profile is that he should not play much in center, so he does not fit the typical OF4 mold. Still, the bat can be an impact option and will be an upgrade over current bench bats. While he might not play all that much, the value is there even in short bursts.


OF - Yonathan Daza (OF, COL)

0% owned 

Daza fits into a grouping of recent Colorado outfielders, such as Raimel Tapia and Mike Tuachman, who never seemed to earn and hold down a spot on the roster. This is due, in part, to the team’s slow-baking of prospects, but also, the unique needs of playing in Colorado. While Tapia has earned more of a regular role this year, Daza has only played in six total games with the Rockies. What makes Daza different than Tauchman is the glove and speed, with the ability to play center even in the cavern that is Coors Field. This that he can fill a role on the bench for Bud Black, and is needed with a team trying to carry Mark Reynolds as a bench bat.

What also carries Daza is the hit tool, with some prospect reports grading him at a 60 or 70. While he lacks real power, with 29 homers in 668 career games, like others, Daza has seen a spike this year. With 10 bombs through 74 games, Daza has already set a new career-high and can pace his number entering the yeat at this rate. While a lower ceiling than others on the list, the hit tool can offer a batting average floor at the very least. If he gets the call, expect him to play a bit more often than others due to the glove and be worth a dart. At the very least, his speed will create doubles at Coors.


OF - Travis Demeritte (OF, ATL)

0% owned 

While the Atlanta outfield is full right now, as rumors circulate that Ender Inciarte might not have a place with this team leads to some needed speculation. Right now, Ronald Acuna Jr. is set, and Austin Riley does not seem to have any reason to leave the team. Unseating Nick Markakis might be the best shot that Demeritte has at regular playing time, but he also has value even in a bench role. At the very least, Demeritte appears to be a definite upgrade on Matt Joyce, and owners can talk his way onto the roster.

To date, Demeritte is slashing .297/.397/.587 with 18 homers and four steals. While the speed is key to his fantasy profile, with his being caught on three of his attempts, owners might not be able to rely on those stats. Still, a .984 OPS places him in the top-five in the league, showing how much better he has been even in the International League. All of this means that Demeritte has power that is easy to dream on, and while not ranked entering the year, might be the second impact prospect to take the outfield for the Braves this year.


SP - Lucas Sims (SP, CIN)

1% owned 

Added to the Reds in the Adam Duvall deal, Sims has already been up with the team this year. In his only start, versus the Pirates in May, Sims allowed four earned runs over 7.1 innings. While not great, Sims has been useful in his 80.2 total Major League innings with a 1.51 WHIP and 5.91 ERA. While both numbers need to come down for Sims to be a capable fantasy arm, some of this is noise from rocky bullpen appearances. While he might fit in the pen again this year, the Reds are going to need starters to sustain this run, and he has been starting at Triple-A.

The main selling point for Sims is the raw stuff. He is currently leading all pitchers in the International League with 102 Ks in 79 total innings. While he flashes four pitches, the main offerings are fastball and curveball. During Sims' time in the Majors, these two pitches have accounted for 89% of his total offerings. This means that the development of his changeup is critical as a third out pitch. While the park is not a great fit, for fantasy owners willing to sell out for gross Ks, this is the target.


RP - Ryan O’Rourke (RP, NYM)

0% owned

With 48.1 Big League innings under his belt, O’Rourke finally seems to have found a stable role with the Syracuse Mets. Operating as the primary set-up arm so far this year, he has racked up five holds and finished 10 games with two saves. While O'Rourke has blown one save and lacks the elite stuff to the project as a closer in the Bigs, the Mets seem to think that he is one of their better options. At the age of 31, the only reason he has a role is due to team need. If the teams had a younger arm with upside, they would be in this role. Still, owners can also read into this that the Mets are high on O'Rourke, even as organizational filler.

Owners should also like the 3.12 ERA, and three total homers in 34.1 innings. This means that even with the juiced ball, and the overall power numbers, O’Rourke has posted better numbers than his career norm. For example, opposing hitters have dropped 10 points from their batting line versus the righty, and he is generating more outs on the ground this year than previously. Last year, O’Rourke had a 0.5 GO/AO ratio, and this year that has jumped to 1.17 this year. Expect O'Rourke to get a shot this year, and if the Mets hang around, adding needing fortification to one of the worst pens in the game right now.

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