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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Hunter Brown bounces back, Drew Thorpe debuts, Shane Baz looms



The latest Rotoworld Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire column sifts through the flotsam and jetsam littering the waiver wire in search of potential impact contributors. This week’s selections highlights Hunter Brown returning to fantasy relevance, Drew Thorpe set to make his big-league debut, Shane Baz reverting to form in the final stages of his rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery, and Tyler Locklear finally arriving in Seattle.

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Hunter Brown, SP, Astros
Available in 47 percent of Yahoo! leagues

There’s a strong possibility Brown was jettisoned by fantasy managers, especially in shallow leagues, especially after struggling to a bloated 9.78 ERA, 2.22 WHIP and 20.9 percent strikeout rate across 23 innings (six starts) in the opening month of the year. The 25-year-old former top prospect has righted the metaphorical ship in the last few weeks, which was a bit predictable considering his expected stats suggested he was getting extremely unlucky back in April. He’s leaning more on his cutter again in recent outings, which is a positive development since it pairs well with his existing bullet slider, and was getting solid results before he began desperately tinkering with his arsenal in late April. It’s no coincidence that Brown has turned things around since the start of May, allowing three earned runs or fewer in five consecutive starts since May 17, recording a sparkling 3.10 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 31/11 K/BB ratio across 29 innings during that span. He’s in line for a pair of favorable matchup against struggling AL Central foes in the Tigers and White Sox in his next couple outings and should be rostered in all fantasy formats. He’s merely the latest example why fantasy managers shouldn’t completely bail on a talented young starter after a couple rocky outings, especially at the start of a season-long marathon.

Drew Thorpe, SP, White Sox
Available in 82 percent of Yahoo! leagues

Thorpe will make his highly-anticipated major-league debut on Tuesday against the Mariners at T-Mobile Park in Seattle after a stellar 11-start run for Double-A Birmingham to open the year where he compiled a microscopic 1.35 ERA, 0.87 WHIP and 56/17 K/BB ratio across 60 innings. The 23-year-old righty, who was at the epicenter of the high-profile Juan Soto and Dylan Cease trades last offseason, doesn’t boast an overpowering fastball as he’s leaned heavily on a near-elite changeup to drive his strikeout totals in the minors over the last few years. It’s a borderline double-plus offering that will generate plenty of whiffs in the majors upon arrival and figures to make him at least a mid-rotation above-average big-league starter. His appeal for fantasy managers is based on the fact that the rebuilding White Sox basically don’t have another quality alternative in the starting rotation at this juncture and they’re likely going to give Thorpe some extended runway to iron things out at the highest level. Given his stellar changeup alone, Thorpe is at least worthy of a speculative roster spot as a low-upside ratio booster in all fantasy formats.

Shane Baz, SP, Rays
Available in 75 percent of Yahoo! leagues

Baz remains without a definitive timetable to return to the majors as the Rays have been extremely cautious with his workload in the final stages of his rehabilitation process from Tommy John surgery. The 24-year-old top pitching prospect looked like a potential front-of-the-rotation starter in his latest rehab outing for Triple-A Durham last Saturday, recording a season-high 10 strikeouts over five innings. Not only did he average 96.1 mph on his electric fastball in that outing, but he generated nine swinging strikes with the offering as well, which is exactly what made him an elite pitching prospect a couple years ago. No word yet on when exactly Tampa Bay will summon him back to the majors, but he’s going to make an instant impact for fantasy managers as one of the pitching prospects with the highest ceiling in the game. He’s worthy of a roster spot in all fantasy formats as a speculative stash with immense upside. Don’t let him languish on the waiver wire until the buzz kicks up another notch.

Tyler Locklear, 1B, Mariners
Available in 96 percent of Yahoo! leagues

While Rockies infielder Adael Amador was the highest-profile prospect to receive the call to the majors last weekend, Locklear probably has a chance to make the biggest impact for fantasy managers over the remainder of the current season. The 23-year-old got the call to the majors with Ty France (heel) landing on the injured list and figures to play regularly at first base for the next few weeks. He put up some really strong numbers this season in the upper minors with a robust .293/.404/.520 triple-slash line with nine homers and four steals across 51 games between Double-A Arkansas and Triple-A Tacoma. There’s some thunder in his bat and he doesn’t strike out too much for a power-hitter, which is especially appealing for fantasy managers, especially if he’s going to settle in as a lefty-mashing platoon bat. The metaphorical bar is exceptionally high at the cold corner for prospects to make an impact for fantasy purposes, but Locklear has a shot if his quality plate skills translate to the highest level right away. There are no sure things in fantasy baseball, but Locklear is one of the safer bets to hit at the highest level given his minor-league track record. Fantasy managers in deeper mixed leagues should roll the dice and hope Seattle’s front office keeps him around for their second-half playoff push.

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