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Deep Pickups 4/13: Hitters

by Nick Nelson
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Joey Gallo - 3B, TEX

Owned in 11% of Yahoo leagues

Adrian Beltre has been a reliable ironman throughout his incredible career, so the hope was that his disabled list stint to open the 2017 season would be a short one. Unfortunately, that is not going to be the case. The veteran third baseman felt renewed tightness in his calf over the weekend and was diagnosed with a Grade 1 strain.  

The expectation is that Beltre will restart his rehab and miss at least a couple more weeks. Texas might play it cautious and take extra time to ensure he doesn't aggravate the injury. In the meantime, Gallo will get an extended look at the hot corner.

One of the most powerful hitters you will find in the game, Gallo established himself as an elite prospect while climbing through the Texas system. In 485 minor-league games he has blasted 152 homers with a .587 slugging percentage, topping 40 bombs in both 2013 and 2014.

His big-league time, however, has been defined by an absurd strikeout rate (49 percent in 2015 and 2016) leading to a .173 average. Through those struggles, he did manage to show hints of the strengths that carried him to the majors, drawing 20 walks and hitting seven homers, but his contact issues have been so dauntingly extreme they've deprived him of any chance to succeed at the plate.

Now, he's looking to take advantage of a fortuitous situation and gain some traction. His K-rate is down a bit in a small sample this month (35 percent) and for whatever it's worth he hasn't struck out multiple times in a game since doing it in each of his first three. Gallo will obviously always be strikeout-prone, but if he can make contact with any semblance of regularity he'll punish the ball. His potential in this strong lineup was on display when he plated five runs against Oakland on Sunday. He added two more RBI on Wednesday to tie for the league lead with nine.

Gallo possesses the ability to play first base or the outfield, so if he can continue to show improvement during Beltre's absence, there's a chance he could stick around after the vet returns to action.

Geovany Soto - C, CWS

Owned in 10% of Yahoo leagues

So, you drafted Gary Sanchez as your catcher, hoping to get a full season of the tremendously promising production he put forth as a rookie. Now, Sanchez is out for a month due to a bicep strain and you're scrambling for a replacement. Or maybe you don't own the Yankees backstop but you're in need of an early pickup at the position for other reasons.

It's slim pickings right now. Catchers that can hit are always in short supply and there certainly aren't many sitting out there for the taking. However, Soto is a guy who's available in 90 percent of leagues and carries a distinctly higher ceiling than almost anyone else you'll find widely available.

Clearly, the current Soto is a far cry from the 25-year-old version who earned Rookie of the Year honors as a Cub back in 2008. He has never really fulfilled the potential that showed through in that 23-homer campaign. However, his troubles in the intervening years have tied more to staying on the field than swinging the bat.

Granted, Soto's production in the eight years since his rookie splash (.233/.321/.414) is nothing to write home. But for a catcher, it's not bad at all. In fact, his .735 OPS over that span is 50 points higher than where the average American League backstop finished in 2016. Soto, for his part, had an .809 OPS with the Angels last season, but he made only 86 plate appearances and hasn't reached 300 since 2012.

Injuries have been an inescapable hindrance for Soto throughout his career, but he can hit, and he's been showing it early on for the White Sox. Already the 34-year-old has gone deep three times, including a two-homer four-RBI outburst in the season opener against Detroit. He's also showing good discipline, with three walks and two strikeouts through 14 plate appearances.

Another thing working in Soto's favor? For the time being, he is operating as the clear starter, without a timeshare partner. His backup, Omar Narvaez, is no real threat to siphon significant playing time. So as long as Soto can enjoy a relatively healthy summer, he should have a chance to stay in the lineup regularly. Obviously that is far from a given, especially with him landing on the 10-day disabled list Thursday with elbow inflammation. But presuming it's a short stay, this might be the best time to grab him.

Nick Nelson

Nick Nelson is a frequent contributor to NBC Sports Edge's baseball coverage and regularly blogs about the Minnesota Twins at Twins Daily. Follow him on Twitter @NickNelsonMN.