Braves’ Preston Tucker Atop Early Season Waiver Wire
Waiver Wire Features Preston Tucker and Tyler Mahle
While my heart feels for unfortunate rims recently victimized by a Russell Westbrook dunk, I step out of the hardcourt and onto the diamond as I begin my fifth season of covering the waiver wire for RotoExperts.com. The first few weeks are sort of a (basketball word coming) layup as Fantasy owners scramble to grab the obvious hitters and pitchers off the market. While there will be some obvious waiver wire suggestions, those who have read me long enough can expect a deep league gem here and there.
Well, shall we?
Preston Tucker, OF, Braves: Sometimes, you have to leave your past to find yourself. Tucker, a former Astros prospect, has remembered why he was the seventh overall pick in the 2012 draft by batting .429 with a pair of homers and eight ribbies in his first six games. While younger brother Kyle is a phone call away from launching a can’t miss career in Houston, older bro is a fly ball hitter (41.2 percent thus far) who may have found a home in hitter-friendly SunTrust Park. He’s owned in 22 percent of CBSSports.com leagues and if the lefty can tweak his walk rate just a smidge, you’re looking at a potential 20-homer, 80-RBI hitter that’s sitting on the cheap.
Kevin Pillar, OF, Blue Jays: He’s always reminded me of a poor man’s Jacoby Ellsbury, albeit one who couldn’t find first base with military-grade GPS. Owned in 44 percent of CBSSports.com leagues, Pillar’s .346 OBP, combined with his ability to steal bases (3-for-3 entering the weekend) make him an attractive player in deeper leagues. The one trouble spot for Pillar is his 3.8 percent walk rate, which means his production could dip once he cools off from his strong start, but if you’re thin on steals, he’s worth the risk.
Tyler Austin, 1B, Yankees: A bit player in New York’s modern day Murderer’s Row, Austin has the power to emerge in a larger role, as he will get the the bulk of the starts while Greg Bird is sidelined until mid-to-late May. Despite batting .188 entering the weekend, Austin’s .903 OPS is a clear sign of what he’s capable of doing. He doesn’t need to contend for the batting title to be a Fantasy asset, but if Austin can reach the .240-.250 range in batting average, his ownership will take a steady climb from the current 20 percent in CBSSports.com leagues.
Jacob Barnes, P, Brewers: Corey Knebel’s hammy did a bad thing on Thursday night and he was placed on the DL. Although Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell hasn’t officially named a closer, the bet is that hard-throwing (as in 96.2 MPH) Barnes will get first dibs at shutting it down in the ninth. Barnes’ high octane led to a 10 K/9 rate last season and is one reason why he’s seen his ownership increase to 15 percent in CBSSports.com leagues. Although his potential stint could be brief, keep in mind that hamstrings are a tricky thing and it never hurts to have a pitcher with high K/9 rates stashed off on your roster just in case.
Tyler Mahle, P, Reds: Cincinnati isn’t going to slag away in the NL Central basement for long, and Mahle will be a big reason why another Big Red Machine isn’t too far off. Mahle opened his season with a one-hit gem over six-plus innings against the Cubs on Monday while adding seven strikeouts in the process. The fourth-best prospect in the Reds’ farm system, Mahle is owned in 50 percent of CBSSports.com leagues and shows the potential to be a solid number 2-3 starter as he continues to harness his three-pitch arsenal. He doesn’t project to be a strikeout artist but will make enough bats swing and miss to make him viable in any Fantasy league.
Brian Anderson, 3B, Marlins: Martin Prado may find himself either on the bench or at another position once he returns from the DL because it looks like Anderson isn’t letting go of the starting job at the hot corner. Anderson has a strong walk rate (17.1 percent thus far) and while he’s been more of a groundball hitter, he’s showing the upside of a 15-18 home run hitter. Currently owned in 29 percent of CBSSports.com leagues, Anderson is more of a deeper league/NL-only acquisition at this point, yet, I wouldn’t be shocked if develops into the type of hitter who approaches all-formats status.
Brandon Drury, 3B, Yankees: I think he’ll become a super sub that can also play second and either outfield corner. For now, Drury is sharing third base with top prospect Miguel Andujar, yet has earned the bulk of the plate appearances. He’s owned in 59 percent of CBSSports.com leagues and has displayed enough pop to suggest 18-20 home run potential, especially considering Drury is in a homer-friendly home park and should benefit from pitchers looking to avoid the heavier lumber in the Yanks’ lineup.
Reynaldo Lopez, P, White Sox: His tools were on display on Monday when he allowed just two hits and fanned six over six innings at the Blue Jays. Because he plays in the launching pad known as Guaranteed Rate Field, Lopez’s 1.50 HR/9 will always be a concern. Lopez is not too far from being a reliable Fantasy option every five days, especially if he can curve a career 3.50 BB/9 rate. He’s also a better strikeout artist than the 5.00 K/9 rate that he had in eight starts last season, so the 45 percent of CBSSports.com owners can expect him to add a boost to their overall strikeout totals.
Chris Owings, OF, Diamondbacks: Injuries and poor plate discipline have hampered Owings, who has always been a favorite of mine. Off to a great start, Owings has flashed the speed and power that once had him compared to Hall of Famer, Paul Molitor. That’s a huge comp to live up to yet Owings’ ability to draw walks in the early going is enough to make him an intriguing play in most leagues. He’s owned in 34 percent of CBSSports.com leagues and if he can stay healthy, Owings could finally put up the season many have envisioned him capable of, meaning 10-15 homers and 20-plus steals.
Preston Tucker Photo Credit: AP Photo/John Raoux
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