Granted, homering in your first ever at-bat is attention-grabbing in its own right, but it was actually this unassuming groundout that caught my eye:
In his third at-bat, Brett Baty fights off a 95-mph fastball from left-hander Tyler Matzek and hits it 113 mph the other way, though the result is a fielder's choice.— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) August 18, 2022
Baty can hit lefties. He OPS'd .800 against them in the upper minors this year. pic.twitter.com/IYxmCS2YmF
Believe it or not, that's batted ball that offers the most insight into Baty's potential and the chances of him living up to it in his first stint with the big club.
Brett Baty 3B
NYM N.Y. Mets • #22 • Age: 24
Yes, yes, the latest high-profile call-up homered in his first big-league at-bat, and what a moment it was. But perhaps even more notable from an evaluation standpoint is that he hit a ball 113 mph -- against a fellow lefty, no less. It was hit on the ground and resulted in an out, but it's the hardest a Mets left-handed batter has impacted the ball since 2020. Already, it puts Baty in the 90th percentile for maximum exit velocity, and that's the purest indicator of a player's power potential. His minor-league numbers may have been enough to wow you, and as long as he keeps the strikeouts under control, which is plausible, I think they'll end up translating well. The Mets figure to give him all the starts he can handle at third base.
MIA Miami • #27 • Age: 25
Cabrera wasn't at his most efficient in his latest start Tuesday, lasting only four innings, which could cause it to go overlooked. But it was still a good start. He didn't allow a run. He struck out seven. He continued to bolster what's becoming one of the most imposing profiles of any big-league pitcher. Not only is his 13.9 percent swinging-strike rate equal to Gerrit Cole's but he also has at least a 30 percent whiff rate on four different pitches, all of which he throws at least 15 percent of the time. Factor in a ground-ball rate even higher than Sandy Alcantara's, and control is about the only thing that could bring Cabrera down. He's managed well enough even with it being as shaky as it's been so far.
Nick Lodolo SP
CIN Cincinnati • #40 • Age: 26
Consistency has been an issue for the rookie, but just when you're about ready to write off Lodolo, he turns in a start that reminds you just how good he can be. His latest success Wednesday came against a Phillies offense that generally throttles lefties, but he shut them out over seven innings, notching eight strikeouts on 16 swinging strikes. The curveball was responsible for 11 of those swinging strikes, and he leaned on it more in this start, throwing it one-third of the time instead of the usual one-fourth. It's a majestic pitch and worth sticking with Lodolo through his occasional control lapses. Few pitchers as widely available as him offer his sort of impact potential.
Mike Soroka SP
CHW Chi. White Sox • #40 • Age: 26
In maybe the most surprising and inspiring development of the season, Soroka could be just a couple of weeks from returning to the Braves rotation. He's had three surgeries on his right Achilles tendon since we last saw him, rupturing it twice. Even once would make for an injury without much precedent in baseball. The prognosis has been dire in other sports. Just a week ago, it seemed like a long shot he'd return in any capacity this year, but his first rehab start on Tuesday went so well, with him striking out eight over four shutout innings, that it seems possible he could reclaim a rotation spot by the start of September. Still only 25, the ground-ball specialist has 15 wins, a 2.86 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP in 37 career starts.
ARI Arizona • #57 • Age: 30
Drafted among the top 50 starting pitchers and expected to take a step forward with a move to a more pitcher-friendly venue, Rodriguez sputtered out of the gate before straining his ribcage in late May and then stepping away from the team for several months to attend to a personal matter. He's all built up again, though, after a dominant three-start rehab assignment that ended with him striking out 11 over six one-run innings at Triple-A. If he's indeed back on track, he could be a clutch pickup this time of year. Best to move in on him now before his return becomes official this weekend.
NYM N.Y. Mets • #23 • Age: 28
Once a casualty of the Mets' rotation surplus, Peterson now finds himself the beneficiary of their sudden rotation deficit, presumably taking the place of Carlos Carrasco when his spot in the rotation comes up again Sunday. The 26-year-old was enjoying the best stretch of his big-league career prior to getting bumped from the rotation when Jacob deGrom returned, delivering a 3.00 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and 12.9 K/9 in his final nine appearances. His improvement coincided with a commitment to using his slider more, and it's genuinely been an elite pitch this year, generating whiffs at a near 50 percent rate. Chances are Peterson will stick this time if he picks up where he left off.
Jason Adam RP
TB Tampa Bay • #47 • Age: 32
The Rays are notorious for closer fakeouts, but it feels like Adam's rise to the role has been a long time coming given his 1.13 ERA, 0.63 WHIP and 10.6 K/9 on the year. The Rays have mostly mixed and matched since losing Andrew Kittredge to Tommy John surgery and will always do so more than the average club, but as long as Adam is getting at least a 50 percent share, he'll be a solid play in Fantasy. His past three appearances, all on consecutive days, saw him work the ninth inning, twice for the save and once with a four-run lead. He has three of the Rays' four saves in August.
OAK Oakland • #23 • Age: 26
Langeliers may be the Athletics' catcher of the future, but he's started back-to-back games at DH after getting the call Tuesday, going 2 for 8 with a home run, a double and five strikeouts. For Fantasy, we don't so much care where he plays as long as he's playing, and if the Athletics see him as a viable option for their DH spot, it may even mean he plays more regularly than the average catcher-eligible player. It doesn't take much production to matter at that position, and Langeliers certainly has the capacity for it, namely by hitting for power. The hit tool may be a bit lacking, with the early strikeout surplus perhaps serving as a warning sign, but at least in two-catcher leagues, the prize of the Matt Olson trade is already worth a flier.