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We’ve basically reached the quarter-pole of the 2018 season which means it’s time to start settling in for the summer months. The shine of the new season is starting to wear off and it’s getting a bit easier to assess player performances to-date.

This week’s watch list contains some intriguing names, from hyped prospects like Austin Riley to forgotten-about first rounders like Deck McGuire. There’s definitely something here for everyone.

As usual, here are this week’s watch list adds, plus an update on a few notable performances from last week’s list.

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Players to watch in 10-team leagues

Jedd Gyorko (1B/2B/3B, STL) - 19% owned
Just when you thought Jedd was dead (dedd?), he rises again. Gyorko was pencilled into the lineup Sunday for the third straight game, and with Matt Carpenter struggling and potentially not 100% healthy, Gyorko could continue to see at-bats at the hot corner if he keeps swinging it well. He’s doing just that right now with two homers, four runs and a 1.093 OPS over the last seven days heading into Sunday’s action.

Chad Kuhl (SP, PIT) - 16% owned
The strikeouts are trending up for Kuhl which is a welcome sign considering only once in his four minor league seasons did he eclipse 7.00 K/9, a pedestrian number for fantasy purposes. Alas, he’s raised that to a more palatable 8.34 K/9 through his first 45.1 IP. He’s managed more than a strikeout per inning over his last two starts, which included a stellar seven innings of shutout ball with 8 K versus the Brewers back on May 6th. Of note is that Kuhl has failed to throw five innings only once in eight starts this season and has not allowed more than four earned runs in any outing.

Kyle Freeland (SP/RP, COL) - 15% owned
Can you really trust a Rockies pitcher? The jury is still out, but Freeland is making an interesting case to become a full time option for fantasy owners with his recent performance. Freeland has pitched into the seventh inning in each of his last four starts, striking out 27 batters in 28.1 innings and allowing a grand total of just five earned runs. Two of those starts came at Coors Field and he amazingly did not allow a run in either outing. He’s brought his ERA all the way down from 6.75 after his first start to a more than serviceable 3.42, with a reasonable 3.74 FIP and 4.06 xFIP. It may soon be time to jump on board.

Vince Velasquez (SP, PHI) - 12% owned
Velasquez has teased us before with his strikeout potential and after a rough 2017 it looks like he may be starting to turn a corner. In 41 IP, he’s struck out 50 and walked just 14; his 10.98 K/9 and 3.07 BB/9 are both slightly better than his 2016 numbers. His unsightly 5.05 ERA is more than a full run higher than his 3.84 xFIP and has been affected by a 15.7% HR/FB rate and a 67.0% strand rate. Starters with strikeout rates north of 10 don’t grow on trees.

 

Players to watch in 12-team leagues

Dustin Fowler (OF, OAK) - 6% owned
After beginning the season in Triple-A and putting up some solid numbers (3 HR, 8 SB, .310 AVG) Fowler finally got the call this past week. His speed has been neutralized thus far - he’s reached base just once through his first 11 PA - but once he starts getting opportunities to run he should be an asset in the steals department. Don’t sleep on his pop, either; he’s hit double digit home runs each of his last two seasons in the minor leagues. He’s likely a little forgotten about after many assumed he would begin the year as Oakland’s starting centre fielder.

Andrew Heaney (SP, LAA) - 6% owned
On the surface Heaney doesn’t appear to be worthy of roster consideration with his 4.78 ERA, but there’s a lot to like under the hood. Heaney has fanned 9.91 batters per nine innings and his 64.0% strand rate is due for some positive regression, which is reflected in his 3.34 xFIP. The time is now to start monitoring.

Austin Riley (3B, ATL) - 1% owned
The Braves haven’t hesitated in bringing up their top young talent so far in 2018 and it might not be long before another big bat joins their lineup. Riley was just recently promoted to Triple-A after having his way with Double-A pitching and though he’s struggled so far with a .599 OPS in 26 PA, his walk and strikeout rates are virtually the same. With Jose Bautista no sure thing to rebound, all it may take from Riley is to get hot at the right time. Make sure to keep an eye on the minor league box scores.

 

Players to watch in deeper leagues (14-team or AL/NL only)

Freddy Peralta (SP, MIL) - 0% owned
Well, what a debut that was! Peralta was summoned to start Sunday and replace the injured Chase Anderson and he did just that, striking out 13 while allowing just one hit and two walks in 5.2 electric innings. He wasn’t expected to stick around too long in Milwaukee but after a start like that the Brewers will have to think twice before sending him back down right away. Make sure you watch this guy closely, as he’s posted some gaudy strikeout numbers in the minor leagues - albeit with some control problems as well. He doesn’t throw hard but he’s got a funky delivery that will keep hitters off balance.

Travis Jankowski (OF, SD) - 2% owned
The outfield situation in San Diego is crowded when everyone is healthy, but that’s certainly not the case right now. Jankowski has been a lineup fixture since being recalled on April 29th with a .941 OPS in 50 plate appearances with a homer and three steals. More encouraging is his 0.86 BB/K ratio and his 13.6% walk rate. It’ll be tough for him to see regular at-bats once everyone is healthy but he’s doing everything he can to earn it at the moment.

Danny Valencia (1B/3B/OF, BAL) - 1% owned
Valencia is currently a bench bat for the Orioles but he’s produced when called upon and has posted a 1.224 OPS in the last seven days. He could be helpful in deep leagues if injuries strike for the O’s, especially with his multi-position eligibility.

Deck McGuire (RP, TOR) - 0% owned
Originally a first round draft pick of the Blue Jays back in 2011, the 28-year-old McGuire bounced all over the place before signing back with Toronto in the offseason to provide organizational pitching depth. McGuire finally got the call this past weekend, and who knows how long he’ll be up for, but the results so far in Triple-A have been somewhat encouraging: 2.70 ERA (4.00 xFIP), 8.10 K/9. Last season with the Reds Double-A affiliate he posted a 2.79 ERA (3.21 xFIP) in 27 starts with a strikeout rate of 25.4% and a tidy 1.08 WHIP. He’s one to monitor in deep leagues only.

 

Notable updates from last week's list:

Matt Adams (1B/LF, WAS) - It would have been impossible for Adams to rake the way he had the previous week, but it was a great showing nonetheless. Heading into the Sunday nighter, Adams had clubbed another three homers with eight RBI in the past seven days. With Ryan Zimmerman back on the DL, you should feel confident rolling Adams out there while he’s hot.

Alen Hanson (2B/OF, SF) - Hanson was humming right along with a pair of homers and a steal in his last seven days but was removed from Saturday’s game with a hamstring injury. It doesn’t look serious but it is something to monitor, as a large portion of Hanson’s value is tied to his legs.

Ryon Healy (1B/3B, SEA) - Healy just keeps hitting, as he’s 10 for his last 27 with 3 HR, 6 RBI, 9 R and a .370 AVG. He’s also managed a 3:4 BB/K ratio during that span.

 

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