John Means (SP - BAL) - Means made his third start of the year on Wednesday and was very effective, allowing just 4 hits and a run to the White Sox over 5 innings, walking 1 and fanning 6. Means has added some velo this season and increased the delta between his fastball and revamped changeup significantly, making both pitches much more effective....he's deep league viable right now with the improved swinging strike rate, and he's moving in on standard league-worthy. If the GB rate improvement holds as well, we could be looking at the rarest of creatures: an Oriole pitcher worth owning across the board. His velo actually peaked at almost 95 in Wednesday's outing, so there may even be upside from here. I'm very intrigued.
Renato Nunez (3B - BAL) - Nunez singled and doubled on Wednesday, and he's now hitting 301/356/538 through 25 games this year. He's still just 25 years old with well above average power (30th currently in average exit velo), and through his first 100 PAs this season his contact rate has jumped almost 4% up to 75%. There's no speed here and the AVG floor is fairly low, but his hard contact rate is well into the 40's and he could easily hit 25-30 homers. He's a borderline CI in standard leagues, but in deeper leagues I absolutely believe that he should be rostered (and likely starting in many).
Marcus Semien (SS - OAK) - Semien continues to rake, collecting a single and a homer (his 4th) on Wednesday to bump his line back up to 311/379/505 for the season. Semien is posting a second straight massive jump in contact rate this season, and unlike last year's 4% improvement, this year's 3.5% jump has helped push his AVG up significantly. Semien has a little power and a little speed, but the hurting AVG has kept his value fairly low even at SS....if this contact improvement sticks he could suddenly be a viable option at the position, possibly pushing his way into the top-15.
Danny Santana (2B - TEX) - I'm intrigued just a tiny bit by Danny Santana right now, as he has continued to play just about every day with Rougned Odor on the shelf, and he's hit well, posting a 325/341/575 line. The hard contact rate continues to climb and he's hitting more balls in the air, and for a guy that really never showed much power in the past, he hit 16 homers in 82 games at AAA last season with Atlanta. There's been a bit of contact rate improvement here in the early going as well....if that sticks, with his speed and positional flexibility he actually could be a valuable commodity. I don't think I'm quite to the point of recommending a pickup, but I'm getting close.....the sticking point here will be potential playing time, as Odor is scheduled to return within a week or so. Santana can play all over, so I expect that they'll find time for him somehow, but it's a bit of a potential negative.
Brandon Lowe (2B - TB) - Lowe has put up some excellent numbers in the first month of the season, hitting 291/347/581 with 6 homers after another pair of singles on Wednesday. The hard contact of 49% is fantastic, and is enabling him to maintain a solid AVG despite some huge contact issues (63% contact rate, swinging strike rate of nearly 20%). I don't believe this type of average is sustainable for him, although the power seems legitimate. I think he can be a 25/10 guy for Tampa this season, and if he can maintain a hard contact rate in the mid-40's or better, the AVG shouldn't end up being a sink. The floor is probably not as good as the minor league numbers make it seem though, so I'd be a bit cautious here.
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