We’ll try to avoid breaking any unwritten rules by jumping right into the waiver wire post. Be nice to us Dallas Braden – we know little about this nebulous code of conduct.
Edwin Encarnacion | 3B | Blue Jays (5% owned)
There are plenty of flaws in double-E’s game, starting with the most problematic of the bunch (and source of his nickname) – his defense. He owns a -20.7 career UZR/150 at his position, and there’s little doubt he’s limited with the leather. It may end up costing him time with the Jays as they see him boot more soft grounders. Even with the bat, he’s pretty average. His career walk rate (9.1%), strikeout rate (20.6%), reach rate (24%), and contact percentage (80%) are all pretty right on the major league averages in those categories. But the reason you’d pick up double-E is his power, as he’s hit 26 home runs in a season before. You may then be surprised to hear that his career ISO (.188) is not far above average either (.155 most years). Then again, there are plenty of leagues where an average bat at an infield position is very valuable. So there’s that.
Kris Medlen | SP/RP | Braves (3% owned)
It’s not too often that a prospect follows Medlen’s career path. He debuted in pro ball with the Braves as a reliever and immediately blew the doors off the first three levels he encountered with a strikeout rate over twelve and a walk rate below two. Even in only 69 innings, an FIP around two is impressive. I guess the Braves wanted to see if they could get a few more innings out of their nice arm, and they began starting him. He responded with a 9.0 K/9 and a 2.0 BB/9 in double-A. So of course the Braves then called him up as a reliever and the resulting 3.67 xFIP in his first 89.2 innings is major league history. Now the Braves are calling on him to start again with Jair Jurrjens out longer than expected, and if history is to be believed, Medlen can handle the challenge. If he pitches like he has before, he may even hold onto the job when JJj comes back – it’s not like Kenshin Kawakami is using all those K’s on the league. Most deep leagues could use a flier like Medlen, especially since he pitches in the weaker league. Guess that makes me a little more optimistic about his future than Mike Axisa was just yesterday.
Michael Saunders | OF | Mariners (0% owned)
Like with Encarnacion before, Saunders comes with warts despite being named the Mariners’ number one prospect by Marc Hulet this offseason. His 27.8% strikeout percentage in the minor leagues leaps off the page. Also, if you adjust his career minor league line for park and luck using MinorLeagueSplits.com, you get an unispiring .273/.358/.430 line. His .165 ISO in the minors is not very impressive either (the major league average is usually around .155). Last but not least, Saunders showed a platoon split most years in the minor leagues. Excited yet? The good news is that Saunders has shown some incremental improvement in his strikeout rate in 2009 and 2010. He’s also still young-ish (23) and his power is trending upwards. He should play against righties with Milton Bradley out indefinitely and Ken Griffey caught napping in the clubhouse during games, who knows. He will probably get at-bats all year.