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Deep Pickups 4/27: Hitters

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

Devin Mesoraco - OF, CIN

Owned in 6% of Yahoo leagues


In 2014, Mesoraco had the makings of a breakout fantasy star. He blasted 25 homers with 80 RBI and an .893 OPS in just 114 games for the Reds, and as a 26-year-old former top prospect the All Star appeared to be just entering a fruitful prime. He inked a four-year extension with Cincinnati in the ensuing offseason, but unfortunately has been unable to provide the team with much since signing the deal.


In 2015 Mesoraco made it through only 23 games before succumbing to a hip injury that required surgery and ended his season. In 2016 he played 16 games before surgery on a torn labrum in his left shoulder wiped out the rest of his campaign. Just a brutal series of a events for a young player Cincy was rightfully viewing as a centerpiece.


A lingering rehab cycle delayed the start of his 2017 season, but now he's about ready to go. Mesoraco went through a light spring training regimen and opened the year on the disabled list, but after completing a minor-league ramp-up he is set to join the Reds on Friday. The assumption is that he'll be eased in, likely splitting time evenly with Tucker Barnhart behind the plate initially, but Mesoraco is the vastly more talented player and should become the primary guy quickly if he proves strong and healthy.


Of course that is no given, in light of the catcher's injury-plagued recent track record. But this is the same former first-round draft pick who was ranked as a top 20 prospect in the game by Baseball America and MLB.com before emerging two years ago as an intimidating power bat for the Reds.


There's no doubting his ability, and given the state of catching in the NL he has a chance to quickly regain his status as one of the league's best bats at the position. In shallower leagues, a wait-and-see approach is understandable. But in deeper leagues, it might mean missing out on your chance.


We're expecting a fairly slow start from the 28-year-old after he batted just .159 during a Double-A rehab stint, but once he gets back up to speed he ought to be at the very least a mid-tier fantasy catcher, with plenty of potential to go well beyond that.


Jose Osuna - OF, PIT

Owned in 1% of Yahoo leagues


The suspension of Starling Marte hit the Pirates hard, particularly since they lack any kind of legitimate option to replace him in the outfield. With Andrew McCutchen shifting to center and Adam Frazier sidelined indefinitely, they've been compelled to use John Jaso in right field for three of the last seven games.


Jaso, a former catcher turned plodding first baseman, had made a total of seven career starts in the outfield, all in Tampa back in 2015, and really has no business being out there now at age 33. He's also hitting .114 with a .348 OPS. Possibly the Pirates will go out and acquire an external option, but for the time being their best option would seem to be Osuna.


He's made better use of his opportunities, highlighted by a big Monday night performance in which he tallied three hits including a double and triple. He certainly raised some eyebrows in spring training, when he raked to the tune of .407/492/.759 with a team-leading five home runs, making a strong bid for a roster spot before becoming one of the final cuts.


Osuna's minor-league numbers and hitting profile don't suggest huge fantasy upside. He slashed .278/.330/.439 while coming up through the Pittsburgh system, never flashing exceptional plate discipline or speed (he's 15-for-26 on steals since 2014). But he does have a good bit of pop, and there have been some signs this spring that his gap power may be translating more into home run power as he matures into his mid-20s. At 6'3" and 240 lbs, he certainly has the frame for it.


In light of the circumstances, the Pirates have little to lose by giving Osuna an extended look. If they do, there's some definite fantasy relevance here.

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.