Fantasy baseball players are always taking stock of their roster – at least the smart players do. Doing so is often the difference between winning the league title and finishing short of making the playoffs.
With the MLB season now more than two weeks old, everyone is scouring the wave wire to see who they should add to the roster. Depending on the size of your league and rosters, there is either a lot of talent or a lot of players who are hanging on for their baseball survival.
There are two players who appear on a lot of waiver wires who I want to talk about this week – Andrew Vaughn of the Chicago White Sox and Jo Adell of the Los Angeles Angels of Orange County of Anaheim of California of the United States of America.
Right now, Vaughn is rostered on 62 percent of Yahoo leagues and only 52% of ESPN leagues. Meanwhile, Adell is currently rostered in only 44 percent of Yahoo leagues and 13% of ESPN leagues.
Snag or pass?
If you follow baseball, and if you are reading this I assume you do, then you know of both players. They have not snuck up on anyone as both are former first round draft picks. But unlike other top prospects like Spencer Torkelson or Julio Rodriguez, they have not received the same amount of fan attention.
Perhaps it is because they didn’t burst onto the scene and put up crazy numbers in the majors. But now is the time to ask – should I snatch Vaughn or Adell – or both?
Let’s dive into the numbers and find out.
Andrew Vaughn – White Sox
Vaughn was a stud at Cal. He won the Golden Spikes Award after his sophomore season and hit a home run once every 11.4 at-bats while slashing .374/.495/.688 during his career. In addition to his power and outstanding slash line, Vaughn walked 123 times during his career while striking out only 75 times.
The White Sox selected Vaughn with the third overall pick in the 2019 draft and pushed him his first year as a professional as he played on three different levels – Rookie, A and High-A. While he didn’t show off his power at the three levels, he still had a solid slash line and had 30 walks compared to 38 strikeouts in 245 plate appearances.
Entering the 2020 season, Baseball America (BA) ranked Vaughn as the 30th best prospect, while MLB ranked him 16th and Baseball Prospectus (BP) ranked him 31st. Thanks to COVID, the minor league season was wiped out, forcing Vaughn to work out at the team’s satellite camp.
The lack of a 2020 season didn’t prevent Vaughn from moving up the prospects rankings to 21, 14 and 14, respectively, by BA, MLB and BP. Meanwhile, MLB had the following scouting grades for Vaughn – Hit: 60 | Power: 60 | Run: 30 | Arm: 50 | Field: 45 | Overall: 60
The 2021 Season
Vaughn spent all of last season with the White Sox and experienced an up-and-down season as a rookie. Getting sporadic playing time in April, he slashed .255/.364/.362 with zero homers and one RBI in 47 at-bats. But Vaughn got a chance to get more at-bats in May and he responded with 4 homers and 11 RBI and added three homers and eight RBI in June.
July showed what kind of player he can be with him slashing .308/.347/.517 with four homers that looked like this shot with 12 RBI while posting a 15% strikeout rate. August was a mixed bag as he again slugged four homers and drive in 12, but he slashed .225/.340/.375 and then the roof caved in during September. Vaughn spent time on the injured list with lower back inflammation and for the month he slashed only .095/.156/.095 and drove in only four runs.
What’s He Doing Now?
The White Sox should be starting Vaughn every day. Entering Friday, Vaughn was slashing..310/.375/.552 with a double, two homers and six RBI. Yes, it is early, but that blows away the production the Sox are getting from Gavin Sheets at DH.
Vaughn’s EV is 92.2 mph and his hard hit percentage is 63.2% – both above league average as the EV ranks in the 79th percentile and his hard hit percentage ranks in the 97th percentile. Meanwhile, his xwOBA, xBA and xSLG are all in the 98th or 99th percentile. Basically, Vaughn can hit.
Jo Adel – Angels
|162 GM AVG||17||71||6||30||204||.209||.254||.354|
Adell has teased scouts with his talent for years. Selected with the 10th overall pick in the 2017 draft by the Angels, Adele possesses the tools scouts love – power and speed. The following are the grades MLB had for Adell while still in the minors: Hit: 55 | Power: 60 | Run: 65 | Arm: 60 | Field: 60 | Overall: 65.
Starting his pro career in Rookie Ball in 2017, Adell slashed .325/.376/.532 with five homers, 30 RBI and eight steals in 49 games. He followed that up with a .290/.355/.543 season in 2018 at A, High-A and Double-A with 20 homers, 77 RBI and 15 steals in 99 games. Adell was limited to 76 games in 2019 but still slashed .289/.359/.475 and then made his debut with the Angels in 2020 after entering the season as the #3 prospect per Baseball America, #6 by MLB and #2 by Baseball Prospectus.
The 2021 Season
After posting a slash line of .161/.212/.266 in 38 games, Adell started the 2021 season at Triple-A Salt Lake and terrorized pitchers to the tune of 23 homers and 69 RBI in 73 games with a slash line of . 389.342/.592, leading to a promotion to the Angels. While the numbers improved from what he did in 2020 with the club, Adell didn’t set the league on fire with his hitting last season as he slashed .246/.295/.408.
Adell did improve on his ability to make contact in 2021 compared to his showing with the Angels in 2020, striking out 22.9% of the time compared to a ghastly 41.7% strikeout rate in 2020. But when it came to drawing a walk, Adell really didn’t improve, going from a 5.3% walk rate to 5.7% last season.
What’s He Doing Now?
In his first 12 games of the season, Adell is again not having a lot of success, slashing .246/.295/.408 with two homers and four RBI with two steals. Additionally, he still has a horrible strikeout to walk rate, whiffing 45.5% of the time with a measly 2.3% walk rate.
The good news, however, is the fact his BABIP is .381 and his average EV is 92.8, an increase of 7.0 mph from last season. He also has a hard hit percentage of 47.8% and line drive percentage of 39.1%
Vaughn can play both corner spots in the outfield, first base and can play third base in a pinch, allowing the White Sox to plug him into several spots to get him into the lineup while resting players. Considering he played only one season of minor league ball and COVID took away a whole season of development, Vaughn is showing why he was the third overall pick only three years ago.
For his brief career, his EV is 91.1 and hard hit% is 48.2%, way above league average. Meanwhile, his walk percentage is on par with the league average while his strikeout percentage is below league average. Vaughn has a good eye and hits the ball. Through the first two weeks of this season, his hard hit% ranks in the 97th percentile and his wxOBA, xBA and xSLG are all in the 98th percentile or higher.
If he is available in your league, I’d snag him. It is only a matter of time before the Sox realize Vaughn’s bat needs to be in the lineup every day.
As for Adell, there is a lot to love and a lot to hate. What is there to love? His EV ranks in the 87th percentile, barrel% ranks at the 97th percentile, hard hit% ranks in the 73rd percentile, xSLG ranks at the 76th percentile and his sprint speed ranks in the 98th percentile, though he doesn’t use his speed to steal a lot of bases yet.
What is there to hate? His strikeout rates in the first percentile, and with this stat, you don’t want to be first. His whiff% is in the first percentile while his walk rate ranks at the 8th percentile and his chase percentage ranks in the 44th percentile. When you watch Adele play, you see a lot of swing and miss like this.
Adell has great raw power, but the swing and miss is something I can’t get past and it was an issue in the minors as well. His strikeout rate is way above the MLB average while his walk rate is way below. While hitting the ball hard this season, his career EV is league average and hard hit% is below league average.
If you play in a league with 40-man rosters or a league with 16 to 20 teams, then I’d quickly add Adell, let him sit, and hope he develops the ability to not swing at every pitch. If you are in a 12-team league with only a 25- or 30-man roster, it is a tougher decision to add him or not. But with his tools, I think it is worth the risk to add him, especially if your offense is strong enough to put up with his slumps.