Andrew Heaney entered the 2013 season as a top prospect, reaching a high watermark of No. 43 in Baseball Amercia’s rankings. Heaney entered the 2014 season still as a top prospect, with all three of the major rating services slotting him no worse than No. 37. This time, MLB.com was most bullish, rating him the 29th-best prospect in baseball. Heaney entered the 2015 season as a top prospect, climbing up to No. 25 in MLB.com’s rankings.
On the one hand, it’s nice to be a top prospect. On the other, you don’t necessarily want to be one three years in a row. After all, it’s nice to shed that prospect status and rise up to the majors. That never happened for Heaney, though. He went the other way, with injuries costing him essentially all of the 2016 and ’17 seasons. By time he was ready to return this season, prospect status was the furthest thing from his mind. He likely just wanted to be done being injured and get his first real shot in three years to show what he could do.
Heaney is getting his wish and finally following through on the potential he has had for his entire professional career. Heaney has made eight starts this season, pitching to a 3.09 ERA, 3.19 FIP and 1.20 WHIP with 51 strikeouts in 46 2/3 innings. He was great in his last outing, holding the mighty Yankees to one run on four hits and three walks, striking out five in 6 1/3 innings.
There are always plenty of pitchers worth taking a shot on at this point of the year, but Heaney is one of the few who can really move the needle over the four months remaining in the regular season. He should be an absolute priority, even if you feel you’re set at starting pitcher.
With that, let’s get to the rest of this week’s Waiver Wire.
Brandon Crawford, SS, Giants
Crawford continues to hit everything in sight, going 7-for-16 with two homers since appearing in this space last week. He has been one of the hottest hitters in the league in May, racking up a .438/.472/.650 slash line with three homers and 18 RBI. When he’s going like this, he’s one of the most reliable fantasy shortstops in the game. Even if this proves to be the tail end of a hot run, he’s worth grabbing off the wire.
Aaron Hicks, OF, Yankees
Like Crawford, Hicks has been better this month than he was to start the season. He’s slashing .265/.325/.444 with three homers, two doubles and eight RBI in the month while playing a capable center field. He gets opportunities to lead off against lefties, and appears a better fit for the job consistently than Brett Gardner. He may, however, have to take a backseat to Gleyber Torres, who is also commanding a higher spot in the order. No matter what, though, Hicks delivers across-the-board value for fantasy owners.
Josh Harrison, 2B/3B/OF, Pirates
Harrison returned from the DL last Sunday, and has gone 10-for-24 in five games since getting back on the field. He was too good to be dropped in as many leagues as he was, but that happens every so often. His fantasy value essentially speaks for itself, but it’s worth noting that he’s hitting .309/.356/.420 in 90 plate appearances on the year. It certainly doesn’t hurt that he gives you eligibility at three positions, either.
Shin-soo Choo, OF, Rangers
Choo has been on a tear the last three weeks, going 17-for-54 with two homers, eight RBI and as many walks as strikeouts (13) in 67 plate appearances since May 7. In that time, he has raised his batting average 21 points, his OBP 37 points, and his slugging percentage 12 points. His season-long slash line is now .259/.358/.411, which is much more in line with his career norms than where he was for the first six weeks of the season. Choo remains wildly underappreciated in fantasy leagues.
Austin Meadows, OF, Pirates
The Pirates promoted Meadows last week after he hit .294/.336/.397 with a homer, 10 doulbes and eight steals in 136 plate appearances with Triple A Indianapolis. The 23-year-old is off to a great start in the majors, going 13-for-29 with three in his first 29 plate appearances. This could be a short-term situation with Starling Marte expected back from the DL before long, but Meadows is doing his part to prove he belongs in the majors. Take a shot on him now in case he sticks with the big league club.
Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Red Sox
Pedroia, who his missed the entire season to date after undergoing knee surgery in the offseason, returned to the Red Sox active roster on Friday, and will get his first start of the season Saturday. Manager Alex Cora said that he’d be eased back into the lineup, but he’ll eventually be out there mostly every day, and likely hitting toward the top of one of the most potent lineups in baseball. It’ll be interesting to see how Cora fits all the pieces together, with Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi seemingly locked into the top two spots in the order, but Pedroia will certainly find his way. He hit .293/.369/.392 with seven homers in 463 plate appearances last season.
Mark Reynolds, 1B, Nationals
With Ryan Zimmerman on the DL, the Nationals added Reynolds to the active roster two Sundays ago. He had a two-homer game in his debut with the team, and essentially hasn’t looked back, going 11-for-23 with two more homers and six RBI. Matt Adams is still in the mix at first, especially with Juan Soto taking up a spot in the outfield, and Zimmerman will be back eventually. Still, Reynolds is worth a shot in fantasy leauges so long as he has a line on regular playing time.
Tyson Ross, SP, Padres
Ross was excellent again in his last start, allowing one run with nine strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings in a win over the Nationals. Ross’ resurgence is one of the best stories in the league this year. The 31-year-old has a 3.13 ERA, 3.35 FIP, 1.16 WHIP and 64 strikeouts in 60 1/3 innings. He he’s still so widely available is a shock. If he’s on your league’s wire, you need to get him right now. Pitchers this good should not be available during the final weekend of May.
Joe Musgrove, SP, Pirates
Musgrove made his season and Pirates debut on Friday, and proved he was worth the wait. The 25-year-old righty shut out the Cardinals for seven innings, allowing five hits while striking out seven and walking none. Musgrove was the centerpiece in the deal that sent Gerrit Cole to Houston, and while the Astros certainly don't have any regrets, the Pirates had to be happy with what they saw out of their prize from the trade in his first outing. Musgrove needs to be added in all fantasy formats.
Ross Stripling, SP, Dodgers
The Dodgers moved Stripling to the rotation earlier this month out of necessity, and after his last two starts it's unlikely he'll go back to the bullpen. Last weekend, he allowed just one run on four hits to the Nationals, striking out nine in six innings. He followed that up on Friday but surrendering an unearned run to the Padres in 6 2/3 innings, fanning 10 and walking none. He built up his arm strength over his first two starts, but pitched pretty well in those, as well, allowing two runs and striking out 12 in 9 1/3 innings. Stripling had been one of the team's more reliable relievers before joining the rotation, but he does much more for the team, as well as fantasy owners, as a starter.
Jeremy Hellickson, SP, Nationals
Hellickson has done enough to earn a look from owners in most fantasy formats. He has made seven starts and thrown 38 innings, pitching to a 2.13 ERA, 2.97 FIP and 0.90 WHIP with 31 strikeouts against six walks. He left his last start with a blister, but it doesn’t sound like it will force him to miss any time. There isn’t a ton of strikeout upside here, but Hellickson has been doing everything well this year, and has a strong offense at his back.
Reynaldo Lopez, SP, White Sox
Lopez bounced back earlier this week from his worst starting of the season, tossing eight shutout innings while allowing two hits and two walks, striking out eight in a win over the Rangers. He now sports a 2.98 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in 54 1/3 innings this season. He has just 39 strikeouts, and that partially explains his FIP being nearly two runs higher than his ERA, but he has still produced consistently enough to be worth a look in most leagues. Lopez has allowed two or fewer runs in seven of his nine starts on the year.
Vince Velasquez, SP, Phillies
Velasquez has made 10 starts this season, four of which have come against the Braves. In those four outings, he has a 7.41 ERA and 2.18 WHIP in 17 innings. In his other six, he has a 2.86 ERA and 0.95 WHIP with 40 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings. Basically, if he can just avoid the Braves the rest of the season, he could be a top-30 starter. Combine his performance against all teams other than the Braves with his strikeout upside, and you get a pitcher who needs to be owned in more leagues.
Caleb Smith, SP/RP, Marlins
Smith cruised to his third win of the season earlier this week, holding the Mets to one run on three hits, striking out eight while walking two. He now has a 3.83 ERA, 3.04 FIP and 1.22 WHIP with 65 strikeouts in 49 1/3 innings on the season. Either the rates or the strikeout upside would make him worth a gamble in most fantasy leagues. Package them together, and it’s a mystery why he remains so widely available.
Jordan Lyles, SP/RP, Padres
Lyles got knocked around a bit in his last start, his first outing since taking a perfect game into the eighth inning against the Rockies. This time around, he gave up four runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings against the Pirates, escaping with a no-decision. Despite the minor setback, he owns a 3.11 ERA, 3.87 FIP and 1.01 WHIP in 37 2/3 innings this season. He, too, is a capable backend rotation guy in all but the shallowest of fantasy leagues.
Trevor Cahill, SP/RP, A’s
Cahill held the Mariners earlier this week to two runs on four hits in seven innings. He struck out three and walked two in the start, and has just four strikeouts in his last 12 innings, after fanning 12 Orioles in six innings in his first start of May. Still, Cahill is doing enough right to warrant a look in nearly all fantasy leagues. He has a 2.75 ERA, 3.44 FIP and 0.97 WHIP in 36 innings on the season.
Mike Soroka, SP, Braves
The Braves still don’t have a timetable for Soroka’s return, but his talent makes him a worthy DL stash for fantasy owners who have an available spot. The 20-year-old hit the DL with a shoulder injury about 10 days ago. XXX UPDATE AFTER FRIDAY