|Name||Position||Team||ESPN Own %|
|Jake Fraley||OF||Seattle Mariners||27.1|
|Jonathan India||2B, 3B||Cincinnati Reds||36.9|
|Jesús Sánchez||OF||Miami Marlins||7.4|
|Bobby Bradley||DH||Cleveland Indians||10.4|
|J.P. Crawford||SS||Seattle Mariners||19.3|
1. Jake Fraley | OF | Seattle Mariners
No, this isn’t Jarred Kelenic or Julio Rodríguez. It’s not even Taylor Trammell. It’s Jake Fraley, Seattle’s 26-year-old twenty-first overall prospect. While by no means does Fraley share the prospect pedigree that any of these other three share, he’s made the absolute most of his opportunity in 2021. Having debuted back in 2019, and appearing in 2020 as well, Fraley was rather underwhelming thus far in his brief major league appearances. So far in 82 plate appearances this season however, Fraley is slashing .254/.463/.492 with four home runs, 16 RBIs, four stolen bases, and 13 runs. Perhaps most encouraging is the 19-to-22 strikeout-to-walk ratio. 22 walks in 82 plate appearances! This isn’t completely out of nowhere, either, as his four-year-plus minor league career suggests his plate discipline is real. For his professional career, he has a strikeout percentage less than 20 and a walk percentage close to 10. He was never a big power hitter, but a spike in homers in 2019 was a hopeful sign that he’d developed that part of his game. So far in 2021, he’s hit four dingers in just 82 plate appearances. Fraley was already expected to contribute in some other categories, such as average and steals, but adding home runs to his profile could certainly make him a valuable fantasy player moving forward.
2. Jonathan India | 2B, 3B | Cincinnati Reds
This isn’t the first time Jonathan India found himself as a popular waiver wire option in 2021, and it probably won’t be the last. Cincinnati’s 24-year-old number-four overall prospect has made his debut in 2021 and it appears he is here to stay. In 57 games, over 216 plate appearances, India is slashing .257/.367/.413 with six home runs, 29 RBIs, four stolen bases, and 25 runs. He’s not elite, but he’s at least providing something in all five categories. Even in points leagues, his combination of runs and RBIs have made him a valuable player as well. Perhaps most encouraging from India is his stellar eye at the plate, as he sports a 47-to-25 strikeout-to-walk ratio. If you’re waiting around for the power surge however, I wouldn’t hold your breath. In 696 minor league plate appearances between 2018 and 2019, India hit just 17 home runs. So far in 2021, his six homers in 216 plate appearances is right on par with his career home run rate of around two percent. If you’re okay without the home runs, India can be a solid contributor going forward. Note, he cranked a two-run home run last night to tie the game in the 9th innings before the Padres spoiled that in the bottom half of the inning with their own home runs. So far in June, India is slashing .321/.446/.566 with three home runs, eight RBIs, 12 runs, two stolen bases, and a 14-to-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
3. Jesús Sánchez | OF | Miami Marlins
Miami’s sixth-overall prospect, Jesús Sánchez, got called up and has made his 2021 debut. After just 29 plate appearances in the majors in 2020, Sanchez began this season in the minors and put up great numbers before getting called up to the bigs for his second stint with the Marlins. In 140 plate appearances at AAA this year, Sánchez slashed .349/.400/.643 with nine home runs, 28 RBIs, one stolen base, 19 runs, and his solid 18-percent strikeout rate was in line with his career numbers. In six minor league seasons dating back to turning pro out of the Dominican Republic at the age of 17, Sánchez has slashed .299/.345/.471 with a 385-to-135 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 2099 plate appearances. Perhaps the most disappointing thing thus far with Jesús Sánchez is the lack of power development. In 2017, Sánchez hit just 15 home runs in 512 plate appearances. That number dropped to 11 in 488 plate appearances in 2018, and then rose a smidge to 13 in 465 plate appearances in 2019. While his plate discipline and batting average might play at the major league level, we’ll want to see a little more pop in his bat before we start trusting him as a must-own fantasy option. That being said, there’s enough excitement around Sánchez to take a flyer on him in five-outfielder leagues to see how it plays out.
4. Bobby Bradley | DH | Cleveland Indians
He might not be Franmil Reyes, but Bobby Bradley has begun his 2021 stint with the Cleveland Indians on an absolute tear. Desperate for some sort of offensive production at first base, Cleveland called up Bradley who has mashed four homers and driven in 11 runs in his first 35 plate appearances. In addition to the home runs and RBIs, he’s slashing .375/.429/.813 with eight runs and an eight-to-three strikeout-to-walk ratio. Starting with 2015 in the minors, here are his season-long home run and RBI totals: 27/92, 29/102, 23/89, 27/83, 33/74. Make no mistake about it, Bradley can smash the ball. Although it’s a small sample (just 49 batted balls), his career Average Exit Velocity in the MLB is a whopping 92.2 miles per hour. His biggest issue has been, and will likely continue to be, the strikeouts. In 49 plate appearances in 2019, his only other appearance in the majors, Bradley hit just one home run with a 20-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In 2865 career minor league plate appearances, Bradley has struck out in nearly 30 percent of them. If he can manage these numbers, the plus power will make him valuable. With such a hot start, he’s likely to get a chance in Cleveland’s lineup for the foreseeable future. Keep in mind, just two more appearances at first base puts his total at 10, making him 1B eligible in ESPN leagues.
5. J.P. Crawford | SS | Seattle Mariners
He’s not likely to win you your league, but J.P. Crawford is quietly putting together a solid season. In 274 plate appearances, Crawford is slashing .279/.343/.393 with four home runs, 25 RBIs, two stolen bases, 31 runs, and a 48-to-24 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Like I said, not mind-blowing. However, he’s been a decent three-stat contributor and is heating up at the plate. His plate discipline alone will continue to make him a solid contributor in batting average, and leading off every day should result in a solid contribution in runs as well. Even if you don’t hang on to him, you can ride out this incredible hot streak he’s on. In June, Crawford is slashing .375/.432/.578 with two home runs, nine RBIs, 10 runs, one stolen base, and a 14-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio. With the return of Haniger, and the contributions of Jake Fraley and Ty France towards the top of the Mariners’ lineup, Crawford should be able to continue his production for the time being.