Drew Waters

Drew Waters

25-Year-Old OutfielderOF
Kansas City Royals
2024 Fantasy Outlook
Known far more for his defense than his offense, Waters probably won't carry much fantasy value this year in standard mixed leagues. Even in AL-only formats, you might have to squint to find the appeal. He stole 16 bases in 98 games last season and also popped eight home runs, but the .228 batting average and .300 on-base percentage left a lot to be desired, especially for a player with above-average speed and excellent defensive range. Waters is a switch-hitter but tends to struggle against lefties and hasn't yet shown enough offensively to be trusted with an everyday major-league gig. A second-round pick in the 2017 MLB Draft out of a high school in Georgia, the now 25-year-old projects to open the 2024 campaign as a glove-first fourth outfielder for the Royals. Read Past Outlooks
RANKSFrom Preseason
#558
ADP
$Signed a one-year contract with the Royals in February of 2024.
Doesn't make Opening Day roster
OFKansas City Royals  AAA
March 22, 2024
The Royals optioned Waters to Triple-A Omaha on Friday, Anne Rogers of MLB.com reports.
ANALYSIS
Waters had a solid spring, but Kyle Isbel was better and already had the perceived leg up for the center field job due to his defense. The switch-hitting Waters should still spend ample time in the majors this season but will begin the year at Omaha.
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Batting Stats
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2023
2022
2020
2023 MLB Game Log
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2022 MLB Game Log
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2020 MLB Game Log
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Left/Right Batting Splits
Since 2022
 
 
+15%
OPS vs RHP
2024
No Stats
2023
 
 
+20%
OPS vs RHP
2022
 
 
+6%
OPS vs RHP
OPS PA R HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
Since 2022vs Left .637 114 12 2 18 3 .212 .272 .365
Since 2022vs Right .732 331 42 11 32 13 .238 .317 .415
2024vs Left 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2024vs Right 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2023vs Left .591 86 7 0 10 3 .208 .279 .312
2023vs Right .707 251 33 8 22 13 .236 .307 .400
2022vs Left .769 28 5 2 8 0 .222 .250 .519
2022vs Right .814 80 9 3 10 0 .246 .350 .464
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Home/Away Batting Splits
Since 2022
 
 
+55%
OPS at Home
2024
No Stats
2023
 
 
+66%
OPS at Home
2022
 
 
+31%
OPS at Home
OPS PA R HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
Since 2022Home .868 217 35 6 29 7 .289 .373 .495
Since 2022Away .559 228 19 7 21 9 .178 .241 .317
2024Home 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2024Away 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2023Home .852 165 28 4 20 7 .290 .370 .483
2023Away .513 172 12 4 12 9 .172 .233 .280
2022Home .918 52 7 2 9 0 .289 .385 .533
2022Away .699 56 7 3 9 0 .196 .268 .431
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Prospect Rankings History
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Defensive Stats
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Stats Vs Upcoming Pitchers
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Latest Fantasy Rumors
Debut coming?
OFKansas City Royals  AAA
July 28, 2022
With Andrew Benintendi traded, Waters may make his big-league debut sooner rather than later.
ANALYSIS
Waters was recently acquired by the Royals from Atlanta in exchange for the 35th overall pick in the 2022 first-year player draft. The 23-year-old was a consensus top-100 prospect from 2019 to 2021 but fell off those lists before this season after producing a .240/.329/.381 line with 11 homers in 103 games for Triple-A Gwinnett last season. Since being traded, he's been on fire at the plate, posting a .326/.420/.535 line with two homers and seven stolen bases in 50 plate appearances. Kansas City has received little production from Ryan O'Hearn and Kyle Isbel in the corner outfield positions, and Whit Merrifield is likely to be suiting up for another team after the trade deadline. With Waters having over 800 plate appearances at the Triple-A level and the Royals out of contention, it would seem a promotion is likely coming soon.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
2023
2021
2020
2019
2018
Atlanta dealt Waters to Kansas City for the 35th-overall pick in the 2022 draft and two low-probability prospects. At the time of the mid-July trade, Waters' stock had slipped so much that many prospectors thought the Royals overpaid. Prior to the trade, the 23-year-old switch hitter had an 83 wRC+ in 49 games at Triple-A after registering a 94 wRC+ in 103 games at that level in 2021. Something clicked after the change of scenery, as Waters hit .295/.399/.541 with seven home runs and 13 steals in 31 games for the Royals' Triple-A affiliate while almost doubling his walk rate (14.0 BB%, up from 7.6%). He got a well-deserved promotion to the majors in late-August and hit .240/.324/.479 with five home runs, an 11.0 BB% and a 36.7 K% in 109 plate appearances while playing all three outfield spots. There is no projection or expected statistic that supports that level of play for Waters heading into 2023, but the Royals' depth chart portends that he will get plenty of work. His combination of power, speed and opportunity makes him a worthwhile consideration in deeper formats.
Still blessed with plus speed, above-average power and exit velocities that suggest he could eventually develop plus power, Waters has exciting fantasy-relevant tools and just turned 22 in December. He finished 2019 with a 36.1 K% over 26 games in his first exposure to Triple-A pitching as a 20-year-old and also had 14 strikeouts in 28 at-bats during big-league spring training in 2020, so it's been a while since he had sustained success in official games. Waters excelled at Double-A in 2019 (144 wRC+) despite playing half his games in a very pitcher-friendly park (Mississippi). The switch hitter reportedly focused on his right-handed swing (.664 OPS vs. LHP in 2019) along with improving his plate discipline while at the alternate training site. Waters projects as a plus defender in an outfield corner and should make his MLB debut this summer whenever a spot opens up.
An athletic switch hitter who laces line drives to all fields and utilizes plus speed on the bases, Waters established himself as a top-10 prospect in his age-20 season. The ballpark at Double-A Mississippi is extremely pitcher-friendly, so while he hit just five home runs, his 35 doubles and nine triples in 108 games tell a more complete story. He was the youngest qualified Southern League hitter yet ranked third on the circuit with a 144 wRC+. It was a mixed bag after his late-season promotion to Triple-A (good: walks, line drives; bad: strikeouts, lack of power) but he was also the youngest hitter in the International League. It was impressive that he made it there at all. The Braves don't need him in Atlanta early on, so his 2020 could mirror Austin Riley's 2019. If he makes the necessary adjustments, he will get the call and has the tools (20-20 upside) to be a difference maker once he is up.
It was known before the 2017 draft and heading into last season that Waters had the potential to be a plus runner with plus raw power, but his ability to hit for a high average was a complete unknown. That aspect of his game is still a bit of an unknown, as he has not yet faced upper-level pitching, but after hitting .293 with a manageable 21.1 K% across stops at Low-A and High-A, he looks much more likely to be a five-category contributor in time. A switch hitter, Waters was much more effective against righties last season (.883 OPS as LHB, .657 OPS as RHB), although those splits flipped in a tiny sample in 2017. He walked just 29 times in 498 PA (5.8 BB%), operating with an aggressive approach early in the count. While he can survive with his current approach, increased selectivity would up his ceiling, especially as he faces more advanced pitching. Waters can handle all three outfield spots, has 20/20 potential and could reach the majors in 2020.
A switch-hitter who should remain so as he moves up the ladder, Waters is a toolshed who is one of the top-15 prep position players from the 2017 draft class. The Braves were able to keep the Georgia product in state with a $1.5 million signing bonus after selecting him with the 41st overall pick. He does damage from both sides of the plate, thanks to plus bat speed that should allow him to eventually tap into 25-plus homer power as he grows into his 6-foot-2, 183-pound frame. Waters is a plus runner, but it remains to be seen how long he holds that speed. After dominating in a brief run in the Gulf Coast League (189 wRC+, .224 ISO), Waters received a promotion to the Appalachian League, where pitchers were able to routinely exploit him with breaking balls (35.5 percent strikeout rate). Improving his pitch recognition will be crucial in order for him to hit for a high enough average to profile as an everyday player.
More Fantasy News
No lock to make big-league roster
OFKansas City Royals  AAA
March 2, 2024
Waters could be assigned to Triple-A Omaha if he doesn't win a starting job in spring training, Anne Rogers of MLB.com reports.
ANALYSIS
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Out with quad injury
OFKansas City Royals  AAA
Quadriceps
October 1, 2023
Waters (quad) is not in Sunday's lineup against the Yankees.
ANALYSIS
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Exits with quad injury
OFKansas City Royals  AAA
Quadriceps
September 30, 2023
Waters was removed from Saturday's game against the Yankees with left quadriceps tightness, Anne Rogers of MLB.com reports.
ANALYSIS
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Sitting versus lefty
OFKansas City Royals  AAA
September 29, 2023
Waters is not in the lineup Friday against the Yankees.
ANALYSIS
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Picks up 16th steal
OFKansas City Royals  AAA
September 24, 2023
Waters went 0-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base in Sunday's 6-5 win over the Astros.
ANALYSIS
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