Jake Bauers: Bauers went 2-5 with his fifth home run of the season and collected 4 RBIs against the Twins on Saturday. Bauers hasn't posted the flashiest slash line so far this season, but there's a lot to like out of the top prospect and he appears poised for a big second half. Bauers' plate discipline has been impressive in 2018, and the 22-year-old has demonstrated an advanced plate approach with a 23.2% o-swing rate and 16.4% walk rate compared to a 22.4% strikeout rate. In addition to his plate discipline, Bauers has displayed strong power. A 2.2% home run rate may not look great, but Bauers' home run numbers are deceiving as he's posted an elite 45.7% hard hit rate and above average 11.2% extra base hit rate but owns a relatively low 7.9% HR/FB ratio that should rise over the rest of the season. Additionally, Bauers appears to have been the victim of some bad luck on balls in play so far this season as he owns a .295 BABIP despite his excellent hard hit rate and solid 26% line drive rate (though his lack of speed does limit his upside in that category). Look for Bauers to improve over the second half of the season, and get him while you still can (especially in keeper leagues).
Andrew Heaney: Heaney went 6.1 strong innings against the Dodgers on Saturday as he allowed two earned runs with six strikeouts. Heaney has been in the midst of a solid 2018 season during which he's posted a 3.84 ERA. Heaney appears to have taken a major step forward this season as he's increased his curveball usage to nearly 26% (making it his second most used pitch) and has developed it into his most effective pitch based on whiffs, batting average against, and slugging percentage against. In addition to (and perhaps because of) his increased reliance on his impressive curveball, Heaney has posted a career best 21.2% soft contact rate (and decent 34.6% hard hit rate) while keeping the ball on the ground at a solid 0.73 GB/FB ratio. Heaney doesn't appear to have benefited from a substantial amount of bad luck in 2018 (his .277 BABIP and 9.1% HR/FB ratio are both within reason), so expect him to continue pitching well throughout rest of the 2018 season.
Mitch Haniger: Haniger went 0-4 with a strikeout against the Rockies on Saturday. Haniger has ridden a .274/.359/.502 slash line to his first career All-Star game, and the 27-year-old should enjoy a productive second half of the season as well. Haniger offers good power as evidenced by his 37.7% hard hit rate (15.8% soft contact rate) and puts the ball in the air at a solid rate with a 0.74 GB/FB ratio. Those numbers (plus his 8% IF/FB ratio) support his 13.8% HR/FB ratio and .314 BABIP, so Haniger doesn't appear to have benefited from a significant amount of luck so far this season. Haniger appears to have adjusted his plate approach in an effort to become more selective, and while his strikeout rate hasn't changed from last season and sits at a slightly worse than average 22.7% rate, Hangier's walk rate has improved and has risen to a strong 11.1%. Expect Haniger to continue producing at the plate over the rest of the season, and he should finish the year as one of the better breakout players in the league.
Gerrit Cole: Cole pitched well on Saturday and allowed just one run over 5.2 innings while striking out eight Tigers batters. Cole has been fantastic so far in 2018, and the 27-year-old took a 2.57 ERA into Saturday's start. A lot has been written about Cole's increased spin rate in 2018, and in addition to his increased velocity, Cole's improved spin rate has certainly helped elevate him to ace status this season. On top owning more effective individual pitches in 2018, Cole has tweaked his pitch usage and used his very effective fastball more frequently than ever this season (Cole has also increased his curveball and slider usage at the expense of changeup and sinker, but all of his pitches have been strong this year). Cole's upgraded pitches and adjusted pitch mix have fueled an impressive and career best 71.4% contact rate, and he's generated a solid 19.3% soft contact rate as well. Cole's .258 BABIP does suggest that he's been lucky this season, but even with expected regression he should finish among the best starting pitchers in the league in 2018.
Joey Gallo: Gallo went 0-3 with a walk and a pair of strikeouts against the Orioles on Saturday. Gallo has posted a paltry .189 batting average so far in 2018 but has managed to maintain a decent .745 OPS on the back of a 6% home run rate and 19.8% HR/FB ratio. There's a lot to be optimistic about from Gallo though, and fantasy owners (especially in deep leagues) should keep an eye on Gallo for the rest of this season and in the future. One factor of Gallo's poor season has likely been bad luck; the 24-year-old has ridden his trademark power to an elite 47.5% hard hit rate that fuels his high HR/FB ratio and home run rate, but he has posted an unlucky .231 BABIP that is likely to rise substantially over the rest of the season. The more significant issue (as usual) with Gallo is his lofty 35.8% strikeout rate, but he's brought it down from 36.8% last season and 46.3% in his rookie year. Encouragingly, Gallo's contact rate is up this season as well and now sits at (a still not very good) 62.4% (59.1% career average). Gallo still has a long way to go with his strikeout rate before he can become a valuable fantasy player, but he's trending in the right direction and is worth a look from owners looking for cheap power.
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