I'm a sucker for a post-hype sleeper in Fantasy Baseball. Nolan Gorman is probably the best example of one this season, having emerged as a must-start Fantasy player this season after struggling with contact issues as a rookie, but there are usually a few every season.
Maybe Jake McCarthy can be the next one. McCarthy lost his spot on the Diamondbacks roster by hitting .143/.229/.238 through the first 22 games, but he went down to Triple-A and did exactly what you want a major-league caliber hitter to do against minor-leaguers – he dominated. McCarthy hit .333/.419/.533 with a minuscule 12.4% strikeout rate.
Sure, it was the PCL, the most inflationary offensive environment in baseball outside of Denver, so take those numbers with a grain of salt. But McCarthy doesn't have to put up a .900 OPS to regain his spot in the Diamondbacks everyday lineup, nor to be a viable Fantasy option – he just needs to hit more like last year's .284/.342/.427 line, With his speed, McCarthy can be a useful Fantasy option if he just does that.
There's no guarantee he will, given how overmatched he looked in his first stint in the majors this season. But I'm going to add him in a few leagues just in case.
ARI Arizona • #15 • Age: 32
When Grichuk got traded to the Rockies, we were pretty excited. The biggest hole in Grichuk's game has long been batting average, and Coors Field's biggest impact is still the boost it gives to batting average on balls in play. We didn't see it last season, as he hit just .259, but Grichuk has been tremendous in the early going so far, hitting .342 through his first 19 games so far this season. That's come with just one home run, but given his 92.1 mph average exit velocity and 46.3% hard-hit rate – both his best marks since 2015 – and his career-best 19.5% strikeout rate, it's not unreasonable to think he might be on the verge of breaking out. Grichuk isn't going to win a batting title, or anything, but the way he's hitting right now makes him an intriguing add, and a start when the Rockies are at home.
Darick Hall 1B
PHI Philadelphia • #24 • Age: 28
Coming back from surgery to repair a torn ligament in his thumb, Hall looks close to beginning a minor-league rehab assignment. That means he could be back from the IL within the next couple of weeks, and he's worth a look if you've got an IL spot to play with. He didn't do much before suffering the injury, but he hit nine homers with a .250 average in 41 games last season. I have my concerns about whether he'll be able to hit lefties at all – he had a .556 OPS and struck out 28% of the time against them in 2022, including the minors – but he's going to get an opportunity to hit in the heart of that Phillies lineup and could be a very good source of power if he proves last season wasn't a fluke.
Nolan Jones LF
COL Colorado • #22 • Age: 25
I was a bit disappointed that the Rockies didn't give Jones an opportunity out of Spring Training, but they're expected to promote him from Triple-A Friday, and I'm kind of excited to see what he can do. Jones flopped in a limited sample size with the Guardians last season, striking out 33% of the time and sporting a .244/.309/.372, but there were some bright spots even amid the struggles. Most notably with his .461 expected wOBA on contact, a sign that, when he put the ball in play, he tended to hit it hard. He's continued that in Triple-A this season, hitting .356/481/.711 with 12 homers in 39 games. Yes, he's also struck out 43 times in those 39 games, and that's probably always going to be a part of his game. But with Coors Field's BABIP-inflating effects, he could hit well enough to overcome it. I'm looking for Jones in any league 14 teams or deeper, just in case he figures this out.
Alex Faedo SP
DET Detroit • #49 • Age: 28
Faedo showed some flashes of potential last season, but ultimately fell apart after a hot start thanks to a hip injury that ultimately required surgery. Prior to Thursday, he hadn't given us too much reason to be excited about him this season, but that changed in a big way with a 10-strikeout showing against the White Sox. Faedo's fastball velocity was actually down a tick in this game, but it didn't matter, as he carved up the White Sox with his three-pitch mix, headlined by an overwhelming slider that garnered 11 whiffs on 17 swings. He picked up a couple more whiffs with his changeup and had five on his fastball, despite the velocity dip, a pretty good sign. That slider has looked like a legitimate plus pitch in the majors, and his fastball has played up well enough so far, with a .324 expected wOBA allowed so far. Faeda is probably just a deep-league flier, especially against a tough Rangers matchup next week, but he's worth a look if you're desperate.
CLE Cleveland • #59 • Age: 36
Carrasco still carries some name brand value, and he went out Thursday and put together his best start in a long time, limiting the Cubs to just one run over 6.2 innings of work. Carrasco's velocity was up 0.8 mph from where it had been prior to this, and he got four whiffs with his curveball and five with his changeup, solid numbers. It wasn't an ace performance – Carrasco had just four strikeouts and a 10% swinging strike rate overall – but it was a step in the right direction for a guy who hasn't given us much to be optimistic about recently.