Fantasy Baseball Daily Hitting Recap: 4/14/23

Breaking down notable hitting performances from yesterday's games

That’s A Volpe!

Anthony Volpe (NYY): 1-3, HR, R, RBI, BB.

One of the big surprises this spring, Anthony Volpe emerged from the Grapefruit League as the Yankees’ starting shortstop. Initially, it had looked like Oswald Peraza would open the season as the team’s shortstop. But he struggled some which opened the door for Volpe, who hit .314 with three home runs and five stolen bases during the spring.

He entered last night’s game hitting .158 with just two extra-base hits. So the struggles were real. But at the same time, the Yankees showed faith in him by installing him as the leadoff hitter with DJ LeMahieu on the bench with a strained quad.

In his first at-bat, Volpe swatted a 1-0 fastball into the seats in left. It wasn’t the most impressive shot by any means. In fact, it was anything but as it landed 394 feet from home with an EV of 99 mph. For Yankee fans gathered at the stadium in the Bronx, the moment became almost too good to be true when Aaron Judge followed with a shot of his own in what actually ended up being a tough 4-3 loss.

Volpe also picked up a walk. And his upside is easy to spot. Across 132 games with the Somerset Patriots and the Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, he became the first minor leaguer since Andruw Jones in 1996 to total 20 home runs and 50 stolen bases.

But he also struck out two more times bringing his K rate to 34.8%. And as much as I’d like to proclaim that Louie Varland will someday become the answer to a trivia question, Volpe has to prove he can adjust to big-league pitching. So far, Aaron Boone and the Yankees seem confident in his ability to adjust. Part of the reason, I think, is that he’s shown a good eye at the plate. Last year, he walked at an 11.5% clip in Double-A. And he showed a good eye this past spring too.

Most projections have his K rate settling down in the 23% range. But, again, he’s gonna have to prove it. If he adjusts to the level like he did last summer in Double-A, and really starts clicking, then there’s at least a chance, given his ability to draw a walk, that he settles in as the team’s leadoff hitter. I said a chance, that’s all!

Admittedly, the more likely scenario is that LeMahieu comes back as the leadoff man. Although, Gleyber Torres might be an even better candidate at this point. But we shall see. In the meantime, let’s see what the 21-year-old does in the next couple of weeks as that will prove telling.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Friday:

Josh Bell (CLE): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, RBI.

Bell came into last night’s game in rough shape hitting .109 with one extra-base hit. With the Guardians trailing 3-2 in the seventh, Bell belted a 98 mph fastball from Hunter Harvey and sent it 410 feet over the center field fence (106.8 EV). Bell has usually been a fairly patient hitter, but this year he’s been swinging a bit more. PLV has his swing aggression rate at 11.7% compared to -1.3% last season. You can see it in his chase rate which has risen from 26.8% to 36.6%. Swing aggression tends to stabilize quickly, so this approach might be a new norm for him.

Rowdy Tellez (MIL): 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.

His first shot came in the fifth on a hanging curveball from Michael Wacha, which was pelted when he belted it 398 feet to right (104.4 EV). In the seventh, the big lefty put the game far out of a reach with a three-run shot to right off Nabil Crismatt. That pitch was a fastball well above the letters so that was impressive to see him get on top of it. Home run numbers four and five push his OPS to .916.

Jarred Kelenic (SEA): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

In the bottom of the second, Austin Gomber went to Jarred and hung a slider that Kelenic thwacked 414 feet to straightaway center (107.4 EV). Kelenic had been in a platoon of sorts, so it was good to see him not only get the start but produce too. He’s now got home runs in four straight games and has cut his K rate from 33.7% to 26.8%. PLV has also tracked him with positive gains across the board, including 80-grade power reflected by a .780 slugging percentage, second only to Matt Chapman (.800). There’s a fierce breakout percolating.

Kris Bryant (COL): 2-4, HR, R, RBI.

On the other side of the game at T-Mobile Park, Kris Bryant got off the deck with his first home run of the year, a 383-foot solo shot (103 EV) to left field off veteran southpaw Tommy MiloneThe power hadn’t been there before last night, but he’s otherwise off to a reasonable start hitting .333 with a .844 OPS.

Ian Happ (CHC): 4-4, 2 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB, SB.

With the Cubs ahead 3-2 in the eighth, Happ blasted a 363-foot shot to right (103.1 EV). All four knocks were of the hard-hit variety as the perfect night lifts the switch-hitter to a 1.109 OPS. He also picked up his second stolen base of the year as the Cubs surprised the Dodgers with an 8-2 win.

Meanwhile, Dansby Swanson is still waiting for his first home run as a Cub and served as Happ’s foil last night as he ended 0-for-5 with five strikeouts. Nico Hoerner stole two more bases and is now tied with Jorge Mateo and Cedric Mullins for the most in baseball. The Cubs were also backed by two home runs from catcher Yan Gomes

Josh Lowe (TB): 1-4, HR, R, RBI.

Similar to Kelenic, Josh Lowe is the other post-hype breakout catching eyes right now. Lowe’s third of the year came on a 97 mph fastball from Yimi García to straightaway center (104.5 EV) that flew just over the outstretched glove of Kevin Kiermaier. After striking out at a 33.3% clip last year, Lowe’s K rate sits at 15.6%. That will almost certainly come up. The question is, how much? He’s an interesting player to monitor with power and speed upside, but the Rays love to platoon so it’ll make him tough to roster in standard-sized leagues, at least early on.

Bryson Stott (PHI): 1-5, 2B.

Stott hasn’t shown much power with a barrel rate in the 23rd percentile. But, hey the hits keep coming. His streak is at fourteen games and he’s now been the Phillies’ leadoff man for three in a row. He’s hitting .400 on the nose.

J.T. Realmuto picked up two knocks last night, both hard-hit as he looks to dig out of an early hole. His strikeout rate is way up this year at 37.8% and his batted-ball metrics are down across the board, including a hard-hit rate in the 18th percentile. Could just be small sample noise, but something seems a little off.

Francisco Lindor (NYM): 2-3, 2B, HR, R, 7 RBI.

Not often do you see a touchdown in the RBI column. This game got out of hand as James Kaprielian surrendered seven walks and was chased from the game in the fourth. He served up a grand slam (106.6 EV) to the Mets’ shortstop in the second on a floating changeup out over the middle of the plate. Lindor later added a bases-clearing double that tied his career-high with seven RBIs.

Garrett Cooper (MIA): 3-4, RBI.

Cooper doesn’t get much love as an older player in a Marlins lineup that doesn’t have a ton of firepower. But, the man can hit with a career slash of .278/.350/.447. Through 12 games, he’s hitting .370, tied with Thairo Estrada for eighth in baseball. Speaking of Estrada, he also had a big night last night and went 3-for-5 with a home run in the Giants’ 7-5 loss to the Tigers.

Bo Bichette (TOR): 5-5, 2 2B, R, RBI.

After a single off Drew Rasmussen in his first at-bat, Bichette lined a double down the line in right. It was the 500th hit of his career. And having reached the total in 407 games, he bested the franchise record of 432 games held by Vernon Wells. More importantly, the big night helped the Jays do what we all thought was impossible, beat the Rays.

Image courtesy of Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis and Aaron Polcare

Ryan Amore

A proprietor of the Ketel Marte Fan Club, Ryan Amore has been writing things at Pitcher List since 2019. He grew up watching the Yankees and fondly remembers Charlie Hayes catching the final out of the '96 WS. He appreciates walks but only of the base on ball variety.

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