The start of the 2021 MLB season is finally underway which means a new fantasy baseball season is as well. There have been a few surprises after the first weekend of games and here’s a few players to keep your eye on as you make your first roster changes.
Akil Baddoo, Detroit Tigers
With the Tigers once again looking like a bad team heading into the year it seemed clear that there may be a few players on the roster that fans have never heard of.
Baddoo may have been one of them as he bounced around different minor league clubs before landing with the Tigers via the Rule 5 Draft. The rookie has since gone on to hit two home runs in his first two games.
He hit a solo shot against the Indians in the final game of that series before hitting a grand slam the next day against the Twins. It may be early but fantasy owners better pounce on him while they have the chance as he is only rostered in 14.9% of ESPN leagues.
Yermin Mercedes, Chicago White Sox
Let’s talk about another rookie that plays in the AL Central. Mercedes came to Chicacgo via the Rule 5 Draft after a few years in the Orioles farm system.
He played briefly in 2020 before assuming a starting role at the start of this season with James McCann leaving in free agency and Eloy Jiménez out for a few months. Mercedes wasn't disappointed as he started out the season with eight straight hits, this included a five hit game against the Angels as he became the first player in White Sox history to hit that mark in his first career start.
He hasn’t cooled down yet as Mercedes currently leads the MLB in batting average at .667. In ESPN leagues, Mercedes isn’t as widely available as Baddoo but he is still only rostered in 64.3% of leagues.
Steven Matz, Toronto Blue Jays
Let’s move to the pitching side of things where Steven Matz made his first start as a Blue Jay this past weekend. It was his first start on a team not named the New York Mets in his MLB career after he was traded over the offseason.
Matz was coming off a horrendous 2020 season last year where he didn’t pick up a win and recorded a 9.68 ERA. However, Matz already picked up his first win in a new uniform.
Matz went 6.1 innings against the Texas Rangers and struck out nine batters in the process. Maybe a change of scenery was all the Long Island native needed as he is now on a Blue Jays team that needs all the pitching help they can get.
Matz is only rostered in 12.2% of ESPN leagues so he could be worth that early pickup.
Logan Bourandas is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.