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Mashing Melendez

MJ Melendez

MJ Melendez

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

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(Players rostered in under 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)

Note: Percentages are from the morning of Thursday, May 19

MJ Melendez, C, Royals (Yahoo: 26 percent rostered)

Melendez took probably the biggest jump of any prospect in baseball last season, going from a .571 OPS in 2020 at High-A to a 1.011 OPS with a minor league-leading 41 home runs between Double- and Triple-A in 2021. The catcher was blocked by Salvador Perez at the big league level, but that has at least temporarily been removed with Perez landing on the injured list with a sprained thumb. Melendez hit his first homer Tuesday and followed it up Wednesday with another dinger as part of his first two-hit game. The youngster also boasts a robust 94.7 mph exit velocity in the early going. It’s unclear at this point how long Perez will be out, but Melendez is startable in fantasy for however long it is.

Mike Yastrzemski, OF, Giants (Yahoo: 31 percent rostered)

He got off to a slow start this season, but Yastrzemski has found his stroke at the plate over the last month, going 22-for-63 (.349) with three home runs and three long balls across his last 18 contests. Additionally, the outfielder is sporting an exit velocity for the whole season which ranks in the 94th percentile. Carl’s grandson had a so-so 2021 with a .768 OPS, but he did pop 25 home runs. He also batted .281/.358/.535 with 31 dingers over the equivalent of a full season from 2019-20. Yastrzemski is also one of the Giants’ players who is not being platooned.

Adam Cimber, RP, Blue Jays (Yahoo: 22 percent rostered)

Jays closer Jordan Romano has been unavailable the last few days while dealing with a gastrointestinal infection. Because of that, Cimber picked up saves on Monday and Tuesday, retiring the only two batters he faced in the first outing and then all three he faced in the second. The sidearmer has picked up three saves in total this season, along with four wins and a 2.20 ERA. It doesn’t appear at this point that Romano will need an injured list stint, but Cimber isn’t a bad guy to have on your roster, anyway.

Chase Silseth, SP, Angels (Yahoo: 17 percent rostered)

It’s been quite a rise for Silseth, an 11th-round pick in the 2021 Draft who entered this season with just 5 1/3 professional innings under his belt. He got off to a fantastic start at Double-A with a 1.73 ERA and 37/7 K/BB ratio over 26 frames, which earned him a promotion last week. Silseth was able to carry things over into a brilliant major league debut as he held the Athletics to just one hit and two walks over six shutout innings. That earned him another start on Friday against the same A’s. The track record with Silseth is very short and he had been a middling prospect, but on paper it certainly looks like a spot where fantasy managers can take advantage.

Christian Walker, 1B, Diamondbacks (Yahoo: 23 percent rostered)

Walker was a late bloomer who broke out in 2019 as a 28-year-old with 29 home runs for the Diamondbacks. He’s fallen off since then, though, particularly last year when he bottomed out with a lowly .696 OPS. Walker’s .772 OPS this season has been better, and he’s belted nine home runs while putting up a barrel rate which ranks in the 96th percentile. Most of that production has come this month, as Walker has put up an OPS over 1.000 while hitting five dingers, which includes long balls in three straight contests earlier this week. He could certainly cool off at any time, but Walker has proven capable of providing a power boost when he’s in a groove.

Alexis Diaz, RP, Reds (Yahoo: 5 percent rostered)

Is Edwin’s younger brother following in his footsteps in becoming a major league closer? Diaz picked up his first major league save for the Reds on Tuesday, walking two but striking out three in the 10th inning of a win over the Guardians. The 25-year-old has been Cincinnati’s best reliever this season, boasting a 0.52 ERA and 21/9 K/BB ratio over 17 1/3 innings covering 16 appearances. Control is a problem for Diaz, but he posted big strikeout totals in the minors, too. Whether manager David Bell entrusts him with more save chances remains to be seen, and it should be noted that Bell went with Art Warren initially for the save in the ninth Tuesday (Warren allowed a two-run homer to blow the save). The Reds also stink, so whoever closes for them probably isn’t going to be overloaded with save opportunities. Diaz should at least be on your radar, though.

Deeper Dandies:

(Players rostered in under 10 percent of Yahoo leagues)

Brendan Donovan, 2B/SS, Cardinals (Yahoo: 10 percent rostered)

The immediate assumption when Paul DeJong was optioned to Triple-A Memphis was that Nolan Gorman would come up and receive regular playing time. Instead, Gorman is still at Memphis and Donovan has become a regular, starting eight of nine since DeJong’s demotion. Donovan has been fantastic during that stretch, going 8-for-21 (.381) with one home run, four doubles and an 8/10 K/BB ratio. The 25-year-old hit .304/.399/.455 with 12 homers and 19 steals in the minors last season and has made starts at all four infield spots while also seeing a little time in the outfield.

Bryan De La Cruz, OF, Marlins (Yahoo: 1 percent rostered)

De La Cruz had to leave Tuesday’s game after being hit on the right forearm by a pitch and didn’t play Wednesday, but he managed to escape with just a bruise. Before that the 25-year-old had been playing his way into regular duty, as he boasts a .325/.417/.475 batting line with one homer across 48 plate appearances this season. That’s after he hit .296/.356/.427 with five dingers in 58 games for the Marlins last season following a breakout year in the minors. De la Cruz might not have much upside, but all he’s done is hit the last two years and he deserves regular at-bats.

Will Vest, RP, Tigers (Yahoo: 2 percent rostered)

He’s managed to avoid a full-on blowup to this point, but Gregory Soto has been shaky this season with a walk rate (6.4 BB/9) even worse than normal and strikeout rate that’s way down (8.7 K/9 in 2022, 10.9 K/9 from 2020-21). Michael Fulmer had been the presumed next in line, but he’s yet to find his velocity and has allowed five runs in his last four appearances. Meanwhile, Vest has been the Tigers’ best reliever with a 2.12 ERA, 0.65 WHIP and 22/4 K/BB ratio over 17 innings. He picked up his first career save last week, rescuing Soto.

Weekend Warriors:

Zach Thompson, SP, Pirates (Yahoo: 2 percent rostered)

Thompson showed some flashes of upside last year with the Marlins as a starter after being used exclusively in relief in the minors from 2018-19. He was dealt to the Pirates over the offseason in the Jacob Stallings trade and got off to a slow start, but in his last two times out Thompson has yielded just three hits and three walks over 11 shutout innings. This weekend Thompson gets a Cardinals team which has feasted on lefties but hasn’t been great against righties.

Justin Steele, SP, Cubs (Yahoo: 4 percent rostered)

Steele is coming off his best outing of the season, having struck out 10 while allowing three runs – two earned – over six innings against the Diamondbacks. He garnered 13 whiffs in that outing and put up an impressive CSW rate of 38 percent. Steele doesn’t throw overly hard, but he has a great slider with a 33.3 percent whiff rate and has allowed just one barrel all season. The left-hander gets to face the D-backs again this weekend.

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Mauricio Dubon, 2B/3B/SS/OF, Astros (Yahoo: 2 percent rostered)

Dubon had gone 8-for-24 with two home runs and six RBI over his last nine games for the Giants, but a roster crunch resulted in a trade of him to the Astros last week. He’s made just one start so far with his new club, but Dubon has going 2-for-6 at the dish in the opportunities he’s been given. It’s fair to wonder where the playing time will come now that Jeremy Pena is back healthy, but Dubon’s versatility could make him useful both for Houston and for fantasy managers in deep leagues.

Steven Souza Jr., OF, Mariners (Yahoo: 0 percent rostered)

The Mariners called up Souza Jr. last Friday after deciding to send the struggling Jarred Kelenic back to the minors. Souza Jr. made five straight starts after the promotion before taking a seat on Wednesday. He’s just 3-for-15 with six strikeouts so far, but it sounds like the plan is to play him regularly for now, at least until the M’s decide Kyle Lewis (knee) is ready. Souza has the potential to provide a little thump for those in single-league formats, and he can run a little, too.


Cody Poteet, SP/RP, Marlins (Yahoo: 3 percent rostered)

It wasn’t top prospect Max Meyer who was summoned to fill the rotation spot vacated by the injured Jesus Luzardo (forearm), but rather Poteet who had been brilliant for the club in long relief. That fine work out of the bullpen carried over to Poteet’s first start on Tuesday against the Nationals, as he fired 4 2/3 shutout innings while yielding just one infield hit and one walk with four punchouts. Poteet has used his changeup as his primary pitch this season and it’s produced a ridiculous 43.3 percent whiff rate while limiting the opposition to just a .069 average.

Christopher Morel, 3B, Cubs (Yahoo: 3 percent rostered)

Morel made some headlines on Tuesday when he, in his first major league plate appearance, launched a 417-foot home run which was measured at 111.3 mph off the bat. The 22-year-old is a prospect who has shown more tools than results in the minors, although he did hit 18 homers and stole 18 bases in 2021 between Double- and Triple-A and in 2022 had posted a .945 OPS at Double-A. Morel is capable of playing all over the diamond, which could help him find more at-bats.