Fantasy baseball waiver wire: This week's top pickups and cuts

Jo Adell has been rolling in May -- and hitting them deep. Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

A pair of West Coast, sneaky power sources lead this week's top pickup recommendations for fantasy baseball. One is a catcher, since upper-tier options are often tough to find at that position, while the other one graduates from "deeper-league add" to someone worth adding in all ESPN formats.

Jo Adell, OF, Los Angeles Angels (14.1% rostered): He's putting forth his best raw power metrics at the MLB level in his fifth year in the majors. After what is approaching the one-third mark of the 2024 season, his production should be more widely regarded as legit. Adell, the No. 10 pick of the 2017 amateur draft, and Kiley McDaniel's No. 10 overall prospect entering his 2020 debut season, has the 23rd-best (out of 266 Statcast qualifiers) 15.0% Barrel rate, and 13th-best expected wOBA (.400), the latter signaling that his raw numbers haven't even reflected his true performance.

Yes, his awful numbers from 2020-23 (.214/.259/.366 with a 35.4% strikeout rate) are a legitimate criticism, but Adell's naysayers might also point out that he has cooled considerably since his prior inclusion in this space on April 29. That's not entirely so:

  • Through April 28: 3 HR, 23.6 K%, 5.5 BB%, 88.0 mph average exit velocity, 13.5% Barrel rate

  • April 29 forward: 5 HR, 25.0 K%, 9.7 BB%, 91.7 mph average EV, 15.6% Barrel rate

Adell's .175 BABIP in the latter time span has a lot to do with his "declining" .194/.282/.468 rates over this stretch, but he's exhibiting more discipline and still generating similar power metrics. With his Angels starving for offense since Mike Trout was lost to knee surgery, Adell could find himself as a fixture in the upper half of their lineup once those numbers even out.

Shea Langeliers, C, Oakland Athletics (20.9%): Who would have guessed that, seven-plus weeks into the season, he'd be in a three-way tie (with Ryan Jeffers and Cal Raleigh) for the most home runs by a catcher? After all, Langeliers has one of the most pitcher-friendly environments in baseball as his home, and he struggled to make contact during his first two MLB campaigns, his strikeout rate being 30.5% over that time.

Those who noticed the subtle adjustment he made to his stance around the midpoint of last season, however, might have caught on to Langeliers' improved power potential. Over his final 32 games of 2023, he hit 11 home runs, slugged .600 and had a 50% Statcast hard-hit rate. So far this season, in addition to his 10 homers (in 43 games), he has an eighth-best 17.8% Barrel rate and a 38th-best .372 xwOBA.

With those improvements, Langeliers has elevated himself to the cleanup spot in the Oakland lineup, boosting both his run and RBI potential while adding a handful of plate appearances over the course of the year. The team should also continue considering him for DH starts on his nights off from catching, as is the case for fellow backstoppers William Contreras, Yainer Diaz and Adley Rutschman.

Deeper-league adds

Alek Manoah, SP, Toronto Blue Jays (13.2%): He's a tough pitcher to trust after having delivered a ghastly 5.87 ERA over 19 starts last season, which resulted in a fourth-worst 3.3 fantasy points per start (among those with at least as many starts). While two solid starts since May 12 hardly cement Manoah's rebound case, they do make him a definite stash (including in ESPN standard leagues if you have a free bench spot). Bear in mind that his average fastball velocity in those outings was 93.5%, within range of his 2022 number (93.9), his slider generated a 38% miss rate (again close to 2022's 32%) and his sinker had both 29% ground ball and hard-hit rates. There might be something here.

Joey Ortiz, 2B/3B, Milwaukee Brewers (13.2%): He finally seems to be settling into a regular role, shuffling between second and third base, for the Brewers after having been a significant piece of the winter's Corbin Burnes trade. Ortiz is batting .333/.391/.738 with four home runs over 13 May games, but more importantly, he's showing a similarly strong plate approach compared to what he did in the minors. His 13.3% walk, 21.5% chase and 18.3% whiff rates are all 84th percentile or better, which should help keep him consistent in both batting average and OBP. Ortiz is an especially useful plug-in for his games at hitter-friendly American Family Field, where he's batting .333 with three home runs.

Luke Raley, OF/1B, Seattle Mariners (4.3%): Although he got off to a miserable start to 2024, batting just .174/.192/.239 through his first 18 games, he has since picked up the pace to re-emerge as a 15-team mixed-league option. Raley has hit safely in six straight games and is batting .390/.432/.683 with three home runs over his past 12 contests, during which time he has shown better patience (4.5% walk and 29.1% chase rates). He'll next need to elevate his 17.6% fly ball rate in order to recapture the power potential he displayed with the Tampa Bay Rays last season, but at least this is a step in the right direction. Scoop Raley up now if he was cut in your league.

Feel free to cut

Evan Carter (64.4% rostered); Justin Turner (38.0%); Ronel Blanco (71.0%); Frankie Montas (9.7%).