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Pickups of the Day: Let The Kids Play

AJ Smith-Shawver

AJ Smith-Shawver

Joseph Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

Rotoworld’s brand-new Pickups of the Day column is designed to help fantasy managers uncover a handful of widely-available targets over the course of the season. It could be a breakout candidate, a prospect stash, an injury replacement, a pitcher with a favorable matchup or week, a player who is due some better luck, or any other number of scenarios. If there’s value to be found on the waiver wire, we will find it and bring it your way. Today’s edition features an up-and-coming pitcher in Atlanta and the reliever raking up strikeouts in Texas.

AJ Smith-Shawver, SP, Braves

Available in 90 percent of Yahoo leagues

AJ Smith-Shawver‘s ascent to the major leagues seems like a plot of a 1990s era baseball movie.

Recent high school graduate debuts in the majors less than two years after he was drafted.

Smith-Shawver was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the seventh round of the 2021 draft out of a high school in Texas. He was assigned to the Florida Complex League where he tossed 8 ⅓ innings. He spent the 2022 season at Low-A Augusta, but that is where the story changes. He was assigned to High-A at the beginning of this year and was quickly promoted to Double-A. If you blinked, you missed his time at Triple-A before his surprising promotion to the majors at the end of May. He followed Michael Soroka on Sunday and tossed 2 ⅓ innings of shutout ball against one of the better offenses in the National League. On Monday, the Braves, in a surprising move (they sure are full of surprises) sent Soroka back to Triple-A Gwinnett and it appears that Smith-Shawver will start Friday against the Nationals. Live comes at you fast, kid. Prior to Monday’s announcement, I was planning on recommending that you should pick up Smith-Shawver as he was an excellent reliever that would pitch more than an inning per appearance and wouldn’t destroy your ratios. While the Braves have not officially announced if the 20-year-old will make the start, you should jump at the chance to add this talented righty to your roster.

Grant Anderson, RP, Rangers

Available in 96% of Yahoo leagues

Quick question. What is the one thing the Texas Rangers need to take from the Mighty Rangers to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers?

Bullpen help.

Granted, Will Smith has been fine. However, the keyword there is fine. The Rangers need to have a GUY at closer to put their team over the top. Sure, they could trade for Aroldis Chapman or Kendall Graveman, but they might not have to as Grant Anderson could be just what the doctor ordered.

Anderson was a 21st round selection of the Mariners in 2018 but was traded to the Rangers in 2019 for a major league relief arm. The world came to a screeching halt in 2020 and his 2021-2022 numbers were dreadful. Then the calendar flipped to 2022. Anderson began the season in Double-A where he posted a 28 percent K/BB ratio over four appearances and was quickly added to the Triple-A roster, where he improved that mark to a 32 percent K/BB ratio across 11 appearances. The Rangers quickly saw what they had here and promoted him to their active roster on May 29th. Since the promotion, Anderson has faced 13 batters and struck out eight of them while walking none. While I am surely not implying that he will have a 61 percent strikeout rate for the rest of the season, Anderson has the chance to become the Rangers’ closer.

I’m sure that fantasy managers in saves only leagues are wondering … How much of a chance are we talking here? Will Smith and Rangers manager Bruce Bochy have a connection all the way back to San Francisco.

I would say that you are correct! Plus, Smith hasn’t had many meltdowns so far, however, if Anderson does not achieve closer status, he has shown the ability to go multiple innings while striking out everyone in sight (figuratively speaking of course). If you are frantically combing the waiver wire for saves, and I sure am, you could do much worse than giving Anderson a few weeks to see what happens in Arlington.