Manzardo and other shiny new toys on the way - 6 minutes read

May 6, 2024, 01:54 PM ET

Youngsters -- especially top minor league prospects who are getting big league promotions -- tend to make the most popular pickups in fantasy baseball leagues.

Part of that is the appeal of the "shiny new toy" factor, but as any manager who has played this game for even the past half-decade can attest, it's these prospects whose skills often can end up producing the best bang for your buck right off the free-agent list.

Another touted prospect is reportedly set to make his MLB debut this week, as the Cleveland Guardians adjust their lineup in the wake of leadoff man Steven Kwan's hamstring injury. But that's not all, as there's another recent prospect arrival who still places high on the list of top pickups, as well as a third still in the minors who might not be far away from a promotion of his own.

Editor's Picks1 Related

Kyle Manzardo, 1B, Cleveland Guardians (6.4% rostered in ESPN leagues): He's the expected roster replacement for Kwan, scheduled to arrive Monday in advance of the team's three-game series against the Detroit Tigers. Manzardo should take over as the starting first baseman (with Josh Naylor shifting back to DH) after batting .303/.375/.642 with nine home runs in 29 games for Triple-A Columbus.

Manzardo's underlying metrics while with Columbus were outstanding. Statcast had him with a 19.8% Barrel rate, sixth-best among Triple-A hitters with at least 250 batted balls, a .410 expected wOBA (seventh-best among that same group) and a 46.2% hard-hit rate. To put those into perspective, among qualified major leaguers, only Shohei Ohtani has a greater Barrel rate (24.3%), only eight hitters have a greater xwOBA, and Manzardo's hard-hit rate would place in the 74th percentile.

Considering that Manzardo has a professional career .383 OBP, with 13.4% walk and 79.1% contact rates, he's a perfect fit for ESPN's standard scoring system, making him well worth the add in all formats.

Andy Pages, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (29.4% rostered): He has settled in nicely with the Dodgers through his first three weeks in the majors, starting every one of his team's 17 games while scoring the fifth-most fantasy points (47) among what is the game's most loaded lineup. Meanwhile, 2023 rookie sensation James Outman is mired in a terrible slump, batting a team-worst .129 with 11 K's in 35 trips to the plate over that same time span. Pages' status as a regular seems firm, especially with him delivering quality defense between right and center field.

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Pages' underlying metrics are also strong. If he qualified, he'd have a Barrel rate near the 65th percentile and a hard-hit rate near 75th, not to mention he'd rank among the game's upper half in terms of making contact. To return to the point about the Dodgers having baseball's most loaded lineup, should Pages emerge as a regular No. 6 hitter against both-handed pitchers, that would mean a lot of RBI opportunities.

Junior Caminero, 3B/SS, Tampa Bay Rays (17.7%): Now for the prospect who hasn't yet been recalled, although that decision might be rapidly approaching. Caminero's year in Triple-A Durham had been stalled by a quadriceps injury in early April but, since his return, he's been a .321/.367/.679 hitter with five home runs in 14 games. Take his full-year Statcast stats and he looks comparable from a power perspective to the aforementioned Manzardo -- and, for the record, this columnist prefers Caminero's raw power to Manzardo's -- as Caminero has a 17.3% Barrel rate, a 48.1% hard-hit rate and a .403 xwOBA.

The Rays might be doing fine by piecing together the left side of their infield with Jose Caballero, Curtis Mead, Richie Palacios, Isaac Paredes and Amed Rosario, but Mead has been the most disappointing of the bunch. Tampa Bay could surely use an upgrade at the hot corner in the coming days.

Deeper league adds

Jacob Young, OF, Washington Nationals (12.5%): One of the quickest players in baseball, Young is well worth the add in any larger-than-standard league as well as any rotisserie format. Though he's not much of a walker, he snuck in a pair of starts in the leadoff spot over the weekend, and it seems likely that he'll hold down the starting center field role for the foreseeable future. Young has 97th percentile Statcast sprint speed, is tied for second in the majors in bunt hits (3), and he has been caught only once in 26 career SB attempts.

Cooper Criswell, SP, Boston Red Sox (4.8%): A long-term rotation spot is hardly guaranteed as the Red Sox do have Nick Pivetta returning on Wednesday, Brayan Bello perhaps next weekend and Garrett Whitlock resuming to throw. Still, Criswell has proved himself plenty capable as a big league starter during his fill-in stint. His command has taken a big step forward, exemplified by 68.3% first-pitch strike and 4.9% walk rates that would rank among the league's leaders if he had the requisite innings. Criswell should get at least two more starts, both of them home assignments (Washington, Tampa Bay) and it's possible the Red Sox would move to a six-man rotation if he keeps up this pace.

Two-start streamer

Triston McKenzie, SP, Cleveland Guardians (25.6%): He's brilliantly aligned for the week, drawing a home start against the Tigers and a road assignment at the Chicago White Sox, and is graded as the Forecaster's third-best two-start pitcher for the week. We all know about the White Sox's struggles, but the Tigers have struggled of late, averaging just 3.56 runs per game over their past nine and 3.91 for the season, 10th-fewest overall.

McKenzie is coming off his best start of 2024, a 90-pitch, 7-inning, 2-run outing against the Houston Astros. In that game, he showed his best average fastball velocity (91.6 mph, still about a tick behind his previous norms), his most swings and misses (13) and his most swings outside the strike zone (18). There still aren't yet signals here that McKenzie has recaptured his 2022 form, but these are two soft matchups worth grabbing for your lineups, while evaluating him for possible skills improvements.

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Aaron Civale (27.3%); Adbert Alzolay (45.7%); Tanner Scott (53.1%); Michael Conforto (35.6%); Wyatt Langford (44.7%).

Source: ESPN

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Alfred Mack commented on Manzardo and other shiny new toys on the way about 7 hours ago

@online games Young prospects, especially those making their MLB debut, tend to be popular pickups due to their potential and excitement they bring.

Kathy Barrera commented on Manzardo and other shiny new toys on the way 2 months ago

@geometry dash This battle is really impressive, I really want to watch more