Week 7 Persons of Interest: Remo Williams Edition
Welcome back to Fighting Chance Fantasy’s Fantasy Baseball Persons of Interest. We’ve certainly had an influx of new talent the past few weeks, haven’t we? Like the last wave of NXT callups, a number of prominent prospects (alliteration aside) have recently made their MLB debuts. Hopefully these guys fare better than the folks from NXT.
With all these debuts bunched together, it’s almost seems as if MLB teams were waiting on something before calling up their top prospects. I am just imagining this, or has anyone else noticed? It’s probably just a coincidence, even though it happens every year. In case you haven’t noticed the sarcasm, I’m laying it on pretty thick.
At any rate, now that the latest group of standout prospects have finished working on their defense (cough, service time, cough), have gotten enough AAA ABs under their belt (cough, collective bargaining agreement manipulation, cough), or have sufficiently acclimated themselves to higher-level competition (cough, all about that extra year of team control, cough), those late-round prospect draft flyers might start paying some serious dividends. Sorry, I think I had something in my throat there.
Since a new group of rookies is beginning their MLB adventure, I figured Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins would be a good choice to introduce this week’s persons of interest. Ok, maybe it’s a stretch. Work with me here; I really like this movie and I’ve been looking for an excuse to write about it.
Released in 1985, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins is about a police officer who is recruited into a secret organization by having his death faked and getting a new name and face. This organization is so secret there’s only three people in it, along with the 1980s version of a supercomputer.
After getting his new identity, Remo is sent to train with Chiun, the master of Sinanju. What is Sinanju? It’s the original martial art upon which all other fighting styles are based, of course. And why is Remo being trained to become a human weapon? An actual line from the movie sums it up best: “You're going to be the Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt not get away with it.” That’s just awesome. Cheesy 80s movie lines are an art form, and don’t let anyone tell you different. Adventures then ensue.
There’s also a bonus for the sci fi crowd. The movie features Kate Mulgrew before she was Captain Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager as a military officer. When Remo first meets her, he says “nice uniform. Great buttons.” I’m not kidding; that’s a real line from the movie. How can you not love dialogue like that?
As you can tell from the movie’s title, this was an attempt to start a franchise. Didn’t happen. I guess they were just ahead of their time. If this was pitched a hero origin story today, wouldn’t this movie get made (with multiple sequels planned) in a heartbeat? Between this and no Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League, I feel cheated. Hopefully I didn’t just cause a remake.
If you’ve never seen Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, you should definitely check it out. If you’re looking to give your Fantasy Baseball teams a jolt, you should definitely check out the players below. I’ll be providing their career minor league stats as well as my usual commentary. Let’s get to it.
2019 Week 7 Persons of Interest
Person of Interest No. 1: “The trained mind does not need a watch. Watches are a confidence trick invented by the Swiss.”
Keston Hiura, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers
Career Minor League Totals (2017-2019): .316 AVG/129 R/28 HR/102 RBI/21 SB (202 games)
You have to love Chiun’s introspective wisdom. For Remo’s training (like all good action movie/origin stories, of course there’s an extended training sequence), Chiun basically kicks the shit out of Remo and tells him how pathetic he is while doing it. Try to imagine Mr. Tanaka from Bloodsport with a sense of humor.
As you can tell from the numbers, Keston Hiura is a trained hitter. He was the Brewers’ 2017 first-round pick in the MLB draft, and was their top prospect heading into this season.
After being named MVP of the 2018 Arizona Fall League, Keston Hiura started this season in AAA and put up a .333 AVG/23 R/11 HR/26 RBI/4 SB stat line in 37 games before getting the call on May 14. In his first game, he went 2-3 with a BB and demonstrated why he’s considered one of the best pure hitting prospects in MLB.
It’s not all sunshine and chocolates, however. On May 16, Keston Hiura went 0-5 with a sombrero and an error. He doesn’t walk a ton, and he can come down with the occasional case of the whiffs (40 Ks in 37 games at AAA in 2019), but he makes solid contact and the power has started to show up. He might even kick in a few SBs while giving you a solid AVG.
With Travis Shaw landing on the IL after starting the year like the second season of Lost, Keston Hiura should get an extended look at 2B for the Brewers. You have to like someone hitting in that Brewers lineup and playing their home games in Miller Park.
Keston Hiura is currently owned in 24 % of ESPN leagues and 46% of Yahoo leagues. If you need MI help, you should be giving him some thought.
Person of Interest No. 2: “Do you know why people call it fast food? Because it speeds them on the way to the grave. As I feared; you have no sense of humor.”
Nicky Lopez, SS, Kansas City Royals
Career Minor League Totals (2016-2019): .296 AVG/224 R/20 HR/133 RBI/69 SB (352 games)
Here’s some more of Chiun’s singular sense of humor. This works for Nicky Lopez because he has speed (I have no idea if he actually likes fast food), and you need a sense of humor this season if you’re a Royals fan. As someone who drafted Salvador Perez prior to his injury, I can safely say I’m not laughing.
If you’re looking for power, Nicky Lopez isn’t going to do much for you. He’s never had a double-digit HR season, and his groundball rate is over 50%. There’s nothing wrong with that, however. Like Lou Brown said: “With your speed, you should be hitting the ball on the ground and be legging them out. Every time I see you hit one in the air, you owe me twenty push-ups.”
Nicky Lopez has speed, and he also gets on base. He’s posted a contact rate near 90% in the minors to go along with a double-digit BB rate. To start 2019, he had a 5/20 K:BB ratio at AAA. He’s going to get on base, and he can run. Although he’s a natural SS, he’s starting at 2B for the Royals and should have eligibility at both MI positions.
Nicky Lopez is currently owned in 7% of ESPN leagues and 15% of Yahoo leagues. He should provide a decent AVG along with solid R and SB production. Although he may not have the ceiling of some of the other players in this column, he should be a solid hitter and it’s not like the Royals are really playing for anything this year. They have no reason not to give him an extended look, even if he struggles. If you feel the need for speed at your infield spots, Nicky Lopez might be your guy.
Person of Interest No. 3: “You must run very fast.”
Oscar Mercado, OF, Cleveland Indians
Career Minor League Totals (2013-2019): .254 AVG/364 R/33 HR/218 RBI/210 SB (626 games)
This is a line from Chiun after he runs across a lake. You read that right. If you weren’t interested in seeing Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins before this, you have to be now. This actually happens in the movie.
Like Chiun, Oscar Mercado runs very fast. Although he’s considered a “defense-first” player, he’s had three 30+ SB seasons and one 50+ SB season in the minors. He also had 14 SBs in 30 games at AAA this season before the Indians promoted him on May 14. That’s some serious thievery. Not quite as impressive as Anthony Rizzo for Andrew Cashner, but still not bad.
While the speed is undeniable, Oscar Mercado might be a “better in real life than fantasy” player. His contact and BB rates are solid, but his career numbers in the minors indicate the AVG will never be spectacular, and there’s no power surge coming.
There’s a reason you should be looking at Oscar Mercado, however. Did I mention the speed? He can provide SBs, and those are harder to find in MLB right now than websites that don’t have Endgame and/or Game of Thrones spoilers.
Oscar Mercado is currently owned in 9% of ESPN leagues and 14% of Yahoo leagues. If you need SBs, look no further. The Indians are looking for someone to do something in their OF. If Oscar Mercado can produce anything, he should get a chance to stick.
Person of Interest No. 4: “Chiun, you’re incredible! No! I am better than that.”
Austin Riley, 3B, Atlanta Braves
Career Minor League Totals (2015-2019): .284 AVG/268 R/86 HR/303 RBI/8 SB (463 games)
The quote above describes how good Austin Riley has looked in the minors this year. When he got the call on May 15, he was a sporting a .299 AVG/32 R/15 HR/39 RBI/0 SB stat line in 37 games at AAA. Those are Bo Jackson Tecmo Bowl numbers. In case you didn’t know, Nintendo Switch Online features old school NES games, including Tecmo Bowl. Even though the game doesn’t have player names, you can still pick the Raiders and call the play for #34. It’s him. TECMO BOWL JACKSON LIVES! If you don’t know about Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson, you have no business playing video games. Ever.
As for Austin Riley, he’s been looked at as a potential 30+ HR player since he was drafted in 2015. Like most power hitters, however, there’s some swing-and-miss to his game, which delayed his promotion. His contact rate in the minors has hovered around 70%, and he had 31 Ks in 37 games to start 2019 at AAA.
Considering that the overall MLB AVG was .248 last season and there were more Ks than hits, who cares? Austin Riley can hit for power, and that Braves lineup can put up some big numbers. As Fry wisely said in Futurama, “just shut up and take my money.” If the Braves hadn’t signed Josh Donaldson at 3B, Austin Riley would’ve been a lot more popular during draft season.
The only concern, however, is that the Braves may not have a roster spot for him. Before being promoted, Austin Riley had played less than a week in the OF. And while Ender Inciarte may have looked like one of the walking dead offensively before landing on the IL, he still plays great defense.
In his first four MLB games, however, Austin Riley has hit .533 with two HRs. If he keeps hitting like that, Ender Inciarte is going to get Wally Pipp’d. Austin Riley might get removed for defensive purposes (this has already happened), but if Kyle Schwarber can play OF, so can he. Look on the bright side – he’ll get additional OF eligibility this year.
Austin Riley is currently owned in 36% of ESPN leagues and 58% of Yahoo leagues. This isn’t going to last. If you’re looking for the prospect who’s most likely to make the biggest impact, you should be looking at Austin Riley first. If he’s still available in your league and you’re ready to make a move, you should be sprinting to the waiver wire.
Person of Interest No. 5: “Wait, is this the kind of training where we sit around for 10 years and you tell me I’m big enough to break a brick with my big toe?”
Brendan Rodgers, SS, Colorado Rockies
Career Minor League Totals (2015-2019): .296 AVG/247 R/66 HR/245 RBI/24 SB (385 games)
This is probably how Brendan Rodgers feels about his time in the minors. He’s been talked about as the next big thing for the Rockies for the last few years, but it always seems like someone else got the shot. Whether it was Trevor Story, Ryan McMahon, or Garrett Hampson, Brendan Rodgers just kept getting passed over.
After being drafted with the third overall pick in the 2015 MLB draft, Brendan Rodgers struggled with consistency and couldn’t stay healthy. He makes decent contact, but he’s allergic to BBs. The power is legit, however, and he should post a decent AVG. He also had 12 SBs in 2018.
Of course, there is one fundamental and undeniable reason why you should be thinking about Brendan Rodgers. He’s a hitter and he’ll play half his games in Coors Field. Do you really need to know more?
Brendan Rodgers is currently owned in 20% of ESPN leagues and 40% of Yahoo leagues. With Ryan McMahon struggling and Garrett Hampson demoted, he should get his shot. If you’re looking for some offense, you can’t go wrong with Coors Field.
There are your Fantasy Baseball 2019 Week 7 Persons of Interest. Even though it’s still way too early to panic, you have enough of a sample size to identify some draft mistakes. It sucks to admit, but it happens to us all every year. With prospects being promoted, however, you have an opportunity to make up for those mistakes with fresh talent. That’s one of the great things about Fantasy Baseball.
If you’re getting ready to cut bait on some underperforming players, you should be checking your league’s waiver wire to see if any of the above players are available. Unlike Remo Williams, you can give your teams a fresh start without needing a fake death and a new identity. Although that’s still badass.
Until next time, it’s all in the reflexes.