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The Wire Troll: Another Cubs Prospect Is Ready

May 20, 2023 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Nelson Velazquez is doing great at Triple-A for the Chicago Cubs.
Nelson Velazquez is trying to force his way back to the bigs. (Marquee Sports Network)

Welcome back to another week of Fantasy baseball. The end of May is in sight, so it’s not early anymore, but it’s certainly not too late for you to make huge gains using the waiver wire.

This week, Nolan Arenado keeps raking; the Mets have recalled recently signed two-time All-Star catcher Gary Sanchez; Liam Hendricks (cancer) could make his triumphant return early next week; and the Cardinals sure have turned things around after an awful start, suddenly making them a more intriguing wager option at FanDuel.

And now, let’s get to this week’s…

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Picks

Nelson Velazquez, OF, Chicago Cubs (ESPN: 0.4 per cent; CBS: 2 per cent): The Cubs have yet another prospect that’s knocking on the door, awaiting a call to move up to Wrigley. Velazquez struggled in his MLB debut last year, but did much better when he was up with the club for a couple of weeks in late-April/early-May, even smacking a grand salami. And the way he’s been mashing at Triple-A (with five homers in just 85 at-bats), he should be the first option for recall when an injury opens up a spot. The Cubs are loaded at outfield, so a trade could be coming this summer to give some of the youngsters a look, and given the power Velazquez has flashed, he really intrigues us as someone that could provide second-half value if he gets regular PT. He’s also got a pretty good arm, but with an uncertain role in the Show, he’s a gamble.

Ben Rortvedt, C, New York Yankees (ESPN: unowned; CBS: unowned): Just over a year ago, we identified Rortvedt as someone to track, but he never did get a look in the bigs last year. Now, he’s been recalled with Jose Trevino (hamstring) landing on the IL. While Rortvedt has dealt with his own fair share of injuries, he’s been very productive at Triple-A this year, and let’s face it: neither Trevino nor Kyle Higashioka have done much to help the Yankee offense, so who knows? Rortvedt could get enough PT to provide some value in deeper AL-only leagues.

Quick Hits

  • If you’ve been stashing Yankee starter Luis Severino, you’re about to be rewarded for your patience as he’s expected to come off the IL and start on Sunday. He’s generally always posted a great record with very strong ratios, and flashed superb command last year. But with Severino, you’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop in the form of another injury. For his debut, keep expectations in check as he’s unlikely to throw much more than 70-75 pitches.
  • The Mets are actually starting to win some games, and a big reason why is Pete Alonso. The Polar Bear has gone yard in four straight, hit safely in five in a row, and is really starting to turn it around after an awful start to the month. The durable Alonso is on pace for a new career high in runs.
  • Before going 0-for-1 as a pinch hitter on Thursday and then delivering an RBI single on Friday, Gavin Sheets had smacked homers in back-to-back games and produced hits in four straight, rebounding from a very slow start to May. After struggling in his sophomore season last year, he’s bounced back nicely and is walking more often than ever, so is no longer a liability in OBP leagues.
  • Cleveland may not be winning much so far, but that hasn’t stopped Emmanuel Clase from racking up the saves, earning an MLB-leading 15 already even though the Guardians have only won 20 games. He’s had a few rough outings this week, badly skewing his May numbers after a stellar April and, like most closers, his record is poor. Clase has given back all the gains he made in control last year, yet it doesn’t look like his save total from 2022 isn’t well within reach again; in fact, he could easily top that at this rate.
  • With Zach Jackson (flexor tendon strain) hitting the IL and Trevor May (anxiety) still working his way back at Triple-A, closing duties in Oakland (such as they are) have likely fallen to Sam Moll. Moll had actually been on a nice roll before taking a beatdown on Sunday, but bounced back with a solid effort on Wednesday. He’s been a real workhorse so far, and is enjoying the lowest WHIP of his career, so give him a look if you’re desperate for saves.
  • Willson Contreras bashed a pair of three-run bombs on Thursday, giving him a modest three-game hit streak that was snapped on Friday. He’s not hitting great so far in May, but you’ve got to love the power. Overall, his hitting has improved again this year, and he’s got a chance for a third straight 20-homer campaign.
  • He’s still not exactly tearing it up, but Josh Bell does have hits in seven straight games, putting a sluggish start to May behind him. His first season in Cleveland has been a mixed bag; he hasn’t looked anywhere near as good as he did during his year and a half with the Nats, but definitely better than he did in the second half for the Padres last year. Of concern here is that Bell is usually a better first half player, so we’re not super bullish on seeing his Washington form returning any time soon.

RotoRob Tune of the Day

The Black Crowes originally formed in 1984, remaining active until 2002, reforming in 2005 until 2015, and then again in 2019 to present day. In 1994, they released their third album, Amorica, which included the track “Ballard in Urgency.”

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