Fantasy Baseball Pickups: Walker Buehler and others to add

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Walker Buehler is proving why he’s considered one of baseball’s best pitching prospects (AP Photo).
Walker Buehler is proving why he’s considered one of baseball’s best pitching prospects (AP Photo).

Walker Buehler: He combined with three relievers to no-hit the Padres on Friday night, so Buehler is hardly a secret. The Dodgers’ top prospect may have a workload restriction (both on pitch counts and innings), but he’s now a fixture in Los Angeles’ rotation with Hyun-Jin Ryu sidelined indefinitely. He’s allowed just two runs with 19 strikeouts over three starts this year, and it’s safe to assume the Dodgers play better moving forward, so the rookie should be a help in wins even if he doesn’t last deep into games. Buehler’s best pitch is a four-seam fastball (he’s averaged 96.1 mph this year), yet he also induces a high groundball rate, which is a nice combination. He should be owned in 100 percent of leagues, yet it’s barely half right now.

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Nick Markakis: He lacks upside compared to his young teammates, but the boring veteran has homered in back-to-back games and is up to .333/.424/.545 on the year. He’ll surely regress, but Markakis’ K% and GB% are both way down, and his BB% is way up, and his BABIP (.330) isn’t that far off his career mark (.317). He’s increased his launch angle, and Markakis’ xwOBA (.407) ranks top-35 in MLB, so his hot start doesn’t appear to be a total fluke. He hits cleanup in a lineup that leads baseball in wRC+ (teams No. 2-7 are all in the American League), and SunTrust Park is helping hitters. Markakis is still available in more than 35 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Logan Morrison: He hit 38 homers last season over just 512 at-bats and is now playing in a much better park for hitters in Minnesota. Morrison is off to a dreadful start, batting just .187, but that’s why he’s so widely available. He’s still just 30 years old and has homered in consecutive games, so expect Morrison’s ownership to start to climb soon. His average exit velocity (90.0 mph) is actually higher this season compared to last (88.6).

Mitch Moreland: Like Morrison, Moreland is another first baseman with power upside (who’s also homered in back-to-back contests) readily available on most wavier wires, only he’s actually off to a hot start this season (.323/.384/.600). Moreland platoons, so he’s more valuable in daily transaction leagues, but he’s often hitting cleanup in arguably MLB’s best lineup when he does play.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.: He’s just 19 years old, so this seems absurd in redraft formats, but it’s becoming clear Guerrero could successfully hit major league pitching if he were called up today. It remains unclear when he’ll get the opportunity, but Guerrero Jr. is going to be one of the most fun fantasy players to own over the next decade. He currently sports a 199 wRC+ in Double-A as a teenager.

Jorge Soler: Fantasy owners hoping for the long-awaited breakout after an encouraging spring were left disappointed yet again after Soler struggled mightily over the first few weeks of the season, but he’s turned it around in a big way since. The 26-year-old is hitting .357/.493/.696 with four homers over his last 56 at bats, and while he still strikes out too much, at least he’s back hitting the ball hard like he did when he first debuted. Soler is an intriguing flier with upside unowned in 70 percent of leagues.

Fernando Romero: He’s the Twins’ best pitching prospect who flashes a strong fastball but control that needs work. Romero could get a chance to stick in Minnesota’s rotation, so give him a look if you need pitching help.

Jose Bautista: It’s possible he’s finished as a productive major leaguer, but Atlanta is going to give him an opportunity to act as their starting third baseman, and Bautista did manage 23 homers last season even in a down campaign. Especially given the situation in Atlanta, where Bautista will be hitting in the middle of a lineup that’s scored nearly 20 more runs than any other in the NL, he’s worth grabbing in deeper leagues.

Alen Hanson: It looks like he’s going to get a chance to be San Francisco’s new starting second baseman with Joe Panik out the next 6-8 weeks, as Kelby Tomlinson is better suited for a utility role. Hanson hit leadoff Friday, was raking in Triple-A and has good speed, so he’s an option for those in need of middle infield help.

Nick Kingham: After bringing a perfect game into the seventh inning during his debut, Kingham posted a 7:1 K:BB ratio in Milwaukee in his second start, so he’s going to get a chance to stay in Pittsburgh’s rotation. He’s worked on a new slider that could really be a game changer for him.

Matt Adams: He’s not guaranteed regular playing time when the Nationals get fully healthy, but who knows when/if that will happen, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to remove Adams from the lineup regardless. He has four homers over the past five games and has been hitting third or cleanup. Adams sports a .333/.441/.754 line over 57 at-bats against righties this season, while his xwOBA (.460) ranks No. 7, and both his average exit velocity (93.1 mph) and Brls/PA (10.4) rank top-30. Adams is eligible at 1B and OF and is barely owned in a third of leagues.

Follow the Yahoo fantasy baseball crew on Twitter: Andy BehrensDalton Del Don, and Scott Pianowski

 

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