Two tickets to the Gunnar show

Gunnar Henderson (BALL): 2-4, HR, R, RBI.

It feels like every week Baltimore promotes new prospects and turns heads. Last night was no exception to this rule in 2022 as Gunnar Henderson took Triston McKenzie’s slider to the fence at center right. Plus, he wasn’t done there and added a first single in the 9th inning. At the end of his first MLB game, Henderson finished by going 2-4, HR, R, and RBI.

He’ll likely force his way into the lineup at the hot corner, which will signal a decrease in playing time for Ramón Urías unless Henderson falters. And while each prospect’s growth isn’t linear, Henderson has been outstanding in the minor leagues. He started in Double-A, where he showed off his power + speed skills by hitting eight HRs and swiping 12 sacks in 157 ABs. Then, after a promotion to Triple-A level, he crashed 11 HR and stole ten more sacks. Both while maintaining a double-digit walk rate.

Now, if there is a flaw in his armor, it will be in the rate of withdrawal. The chart below illustrates Henderson’s strikeout rates throughout his recent minor league stints.

Year Level (Games) K%
2021 One (35) 29.3%
2021 A+ (65) 30.1%
2021 AA (5) 58.8%
2022 AA (47) 18.3%
2022 AAA (65) 26.4%

As I mentioned, lead growth isn’t linear, and we could see Henderson coming in and filling out the stat sheets every night. Or we could see his struggles and feel his way out of the range. Still, he has elite-level talent and upsides like very few players currently on your waiver feed. You have fought for over 20 weeks so far; this is no time to be shy. Do me a favor, check your waiver thread and hit the ADD button before your teammates.

Let’s see how the other hitters did on Wednesday

Lars Nootbaar (STL): 1-1, HR, R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, SB.

If you’re looking for a fun place, look no further than Nootbaar. The St Louis outfield didn’t even start the game but ended with a combo meal (HR + RBI) of its own. Moreover, he didn’t even come into play until the 9th inning. After a pair of steps, he smashed a 1-0 cutter over the fences into right field in the 13th inning. If you’re looking for lightning in a bottle for your playoffs, since Aug. 18 Nootbaar has cut .302/.439/.670 with a 209 wRC+. Oh yeah, and it’s still available in almost half of Yahoo’s leagues.

Brandon Marsh (ISP): 3-6, 3B, 2 R, 3 RBI.

The Philadelphia Phillies scored D-backs for 18 carries last night, and while a LOT of Phillies deserve a highlight; Mr. Marsh gets the green light. His 5th-inning triple netted two runs, and he then scored via a wild pitch. He later added a pair of singles to help put that play so far out of reach that Carson Kelly pitched for Arizona. Unfortunately, even after being traded to Philadelphia, Marsh continues to hit more than a 30% clip and bat towards the back half of the roster. Until discipline at home plate improves, batting average will always suffer.

Xander Bogaerts (BOS): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 5 RBI, BB, SB.

Even if the power is down (12 HR in 2022 against 23 HR in 2021), Bogaerts is having an extremely productive season. Part of that is the re-emergence of his defense, but also, he managed to slip in a few more sacks. However, last night, Bogaerts did everything! In the 3rd inning, he started Boston’s scoring by hitting a grand slam to center field. Three innings later, he added a two-out RBI double and swept third base soon after.

Jose Altuve (HU): 2-3, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB.

Houston’s first batter did it precisely what it’s supposed to do, mount on the base. In fact, of all the qualified 2nd basemen, only Luis Arraez’s .383 OBP beats Altuve’s .374 OBP. Additionally, Altuve racked up hits in clusters as it was his 7th multi-hit affair in his last 11 games. During this period, it is Actually touting a .420 OBP with a 200 wRC+. Finally, he ranks in the top five in points (76), HR (22) and batting average (.278).

Jon Berti (MIA): 2-4, HR, R, RBI, SB.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before; Jon Berti stole a base. Although, I’m pretty sure you’ve got it since last night’s volley on base paths was his league-leading 32nd. However, if you look through the leaderboards, his name might not be there, and that’s because he’s not a skilled hitter. In fact, Berti only appeared in 75 games (292 plate appearances). If you’re looking for speed in a hurry, it’s still available in 42% of Yahoo leagues.

Michael Toglia (COLLAR): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.

Although the Rockies aren’t known for developing prospects, Toglia did their part to rebrand that moniker. In just his eighth MLB board appearance, he started the comeback by parking Kenley Jansen’s first offer in the right field bleachers for a pair of runs. Unfortunately, that would be the only score of the inning. Also, power is one of the aspects of his skills that shines when he presented a .231 ISO (23 HR in 363 AB) in Double-A, and transferred it to Triple-A with a .424 ISO (7 HR in 66 AB).

Franmil Reyes (CHC): 1-4, HR, 2R, RBI.

Franmil’s HR in the 5th inning pushed the team four runs, and Chicago never looked back. Since joining the Cubs on Aug. 9, he’s been a much better hitter. In 92 AP, he cuts .276/.304/.517 with a 124 wRC+ while reducing the strikeout rate to a respectable 26%. For reference, in his 280 PA with Cleveland, the strikeout rate was nearly 38% and wRC+ suggested he was 40% worse than the league average. Few MLB players have 70 Raw Power, and Franmil can crush them in bunches, so take him off the wire (if possible) since he’s available in over half of the Yahoo leagues.

Elvis Andrus (CFS): 1-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.

Fathers time may have caught up with the 34-year-old veteran shortstop, but an injury to Tim Anderson opened up playing time. Andrus, who was recently released by Oakland, was looking for a point landing. Since joining the White Sox, he has started almost every game. Indeed, the full-time role will end when Anderson returns, but until then he will do what he usually does: provide solid defense and slip the occasional sack while spraying the ball all over the court.

Abraham Torro (SEA): 2-3, HR, R, 2 RBI.

Playing time opened up for Toro after JP Crawford and Dylan Moore were injured. Additionally, since his return from the minors, he has enjoyed rapid success in both outings; especially last night as he crushed a two-run outburst in the 7th inning to put the team up by one run. Unfortunately, it’s been a lackluster season for Toro, which has seen a drop in hard-hit rate (29.6%) and a plummeting batting average below the Mendoza line.

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

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