I should first acknowledge the awkwardness of analyzing a move that I don't know will actually happen.
As of now, it's merely a rumor that prospect Tanner Bibee will be called up to start Wednesday. The Guardians don't have a listed starter for that day, and the right-hander was pulled from his Tuesday start at Triple-A, possibly in anticipation of a move up to the big leagues. By the time you actually read this, you'll likely know one way or another, which might render everything I say here moot.
So let me put it this way: where there's smoke, there's fire. Even if this isn't Bibee's opportunity, it's going to come soon. Peyton Battenfield I think showed his true colors (i.e., ugly ones) in his latest start Tuesday. Zac Plesac is long overdue for a removal. Bibee, 24, is looking ready for prime time at Triple-A, and I had him among in last week's Prospects Report.
Regardless of what happens Wednesday, he's a prime waiver wire target.
Tanner Bibee SP
CLE Cleveland • #61 • Age: 24
Let's say Tanner Bibee is called up Wednesday, as rumored, and dominates. Well, there's still no certainty he sticks around for the Guardians given that they have five healthy starters already. But they could stand to upgrade from both Peyton Battenfield and Zac Plesac, and it's even possible Bibee overtakes Logan Taylor Allen, who himself had a strong debut. He's considered the better prospect of the two, after all, taking off last year with a 2.17 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 11.3 K/9 between two levels. Most impressive were his 1.8 walks per nine innings. There are a lot of unknowns here, but there won't be many pitching prospects called up in 2023 with a higher stature than Bibee, making him worth a flier in the hope you strike gold.
LAA L.A. Angels • #23 • Age: 31
I wouldn't consider Brandon Drury to be a high-priority pickup yet, but it's worth pointing out that he seems to be coming around after a dreadful 12-for-67 (.179) start, going 5 for 8 with two homers and a triple in his past two games. His triple Tuesday was hit 110 mph, which is a threshold unreached by 75 percent of the league so far. The power is legitimate, in other words, even though he no doubt benefited from his time in Cincinnati last year. The favorable venue was largely credited for his breakthrough 28-homer campaign, which is why so many probably bailed on him already. It remains to be seen how he fares in this follow-up season, but with eligibility at third, second and first base, he remains awfully interesting.
Josiah Gray SP
WAS Washington • #40 • Age: 25
Josiah Gray's latest start Tuesday at the Mets was by far his best of the season. He struck out nine over seven shutout innings, piling up 20 swinging strikes. What's odd about the performance is he went back to using his fastball prominently (45 percent of the time) after treating it like a secondary pitch in his first few turns. Historically, it's been hit hard, and so turning to it again is a dangerous move for a pitcher who allowed a league-high 38 homers last year. It yielded just an 83.5 mph average exit velocity Tuesday, though, and Gray has now allowed just one home run in his past four starts. If he can keep it going, whether relying on the fastball or not, there's clearly upside to dream on.
Jarren Duran CF
BOS Boston • #16 • Age: 27
Jarren Duran's third try at sticking in the majors is so far going as well as it possibly could. The latest triumph came Tuesday, when he went 3 for 4 with his fifth double and first home run, which just so happened to be a grand slam. The exit velocities have been more impressive than those we've seen in the past (with all four of Tuesday's batted balls exceeding 96 mph and two exceeding 106), and yet Duran's best attribute remains his speed. His strikeout rate is a bit bloated, and he has yet to start against a left-hander, both of which keep him out of the discussion in three-outfielder leagues. But in five-outfielder leagues, there may be something to see here.
LAA L.A. Angels • #47 • Age: 27
You'd be forgiven for not knowing much about Griffin Canning after he missed most of the last two years with back issues, but he showed good bat-missing skills when he was first breaking in for the Angels in 2019. And now he's showing them again through three starts this year. The overall results have been so-so, mostly because he has yet to go six innings, but after collecting his first win Tuesday with five solid innings against the Athletics, his swinging-strike rate now sits at 16.7 percent. That's like Gerrit Cole-level, a mark that would put Canning in rare company if he can sustain it. And he probably can't, but again, he's shown big swing-and-miss ability before, with his slider and hard changeup standing out in particular. It's time to take him seriously again.
Sam Hilliard CF
ATL Atlanta • #14 • Age: 29
It's not surprising Sam Hilliard is rostered in only 5 percent of CBS Sports leagues given that he's viewed as just a fill-in for the injured Michael Harris -- and a part-time one at that. But he's also clobbered the ball, his exit velocities ranking among the top 10 percent in baseball. He's a premium athlete, too, and after seeing him deliver two home runs along with a stolen base Monday, I was reminded of how he had 42 homers and 24 steals between the majors and minors for the Rockies in 2019. And guess what? With Marcell Ozuna continuing to do Marcell Ozuna things, there's room for Hilliard to continue as the better half of a platoon even after Acuna returns. Of course, his strikeout rate could derail it all still, which is why he remains more of a deeper league pickup.