Rookie Ladder – 2021 Hitters Update (5/5)

Here is a prospect question that applies to those of us who play in redraft, keeper, and dynasty leagues: Which rookie hitter will be the most valuable fantasy player in 2021?

We are now one month into the season now and will continue to see plenty of movement on the ladder in the coming months as players move around and new players hop on the bottom rungs. I’ll break down all the debutants as well as updates on the rookie ladder below!

PlayerTeamPos
Randy ArozarenaTBROF
Ke'Bryan HayesPIT3B
Dylan CarlsonSTLOF
Nick MadrigalCWS2B
Jazz ChisholmMIASS
Pavin SmithARI1B
Yermin MercedesCWS1B/DH
Andrew VaughnCWS1B/LF
Bobby DalbecBOS1B
Taylor TrammellSEAOF
Zack McKinstryLAD2B/OF
Ryan MountcastleBAL1B
Wander FrancoTBRSS
Jarred KelenicSEAOF
Alex KirilloffMIN1B
Jonathan IndiaCIN3B
Kyle IsbelKCROF
Akil BaddooDETOF
Tyler StephensonCINC
Cristian PacheATLOF
Ha-seong KimSDPSS
Luis CampusanoSDPC
Geraldo PerdomoARISS
Tucupita MarcanoSDPSS
Julio RodriguezSEAOF
Nolan JonesCLE3B
Joey BartSFGC
Vidal BrujanTBR2B
Ka'ai TomOAKOF
Oneil CruzPITSS
Miguel AmayaCHCC
Lewin DiazMIA1B
Seth BeerARI1B
William ContrerasATLC
Drew WatersATLOF
Luke RaleyLADOF
Bobby BradleyCLE1B
Adley RutschmanBALC
Josh JungTEX3B
JJ BledayMIAOF
Bobby Witt Jr.KCRSS
Josh PalaciosTOROF
Alan TrejoCOLSS
Nick MatonPHISS
Jose DeversMIA2B/3B

News and Notes

 

Randy Arozarena has been just fine for fantasy, contributing three home runs, four stolen bases, and 28 Runs+RBI so far in 2021. For real-life purposes, he’s struggling a bit relative to his 2020 performance, especially in driving the ball for extra bases. One thing sticking out is that he’s really having difficulty making contact in the zone, with a 65.2% zone contact rate which is well below the MLB average (82.1%). He also swings at stuff over the plate a little less frequently than your average MLBer. Generally speaking, his patient approach at the dish is fine. If he can fix his timing and get after the pitches he’s seeing in the zone, his power numbers should rebound some more as well.

Ke’Bryan Hayes should be nearing a return over the next couple of weeks. He faced off against live pitching earlier this week and the team said that his injured wrist was looking strong.

Dylan Carlson continues to have a nice season. His OPS through one month sits above .800, and he’s been playing some solid defense in centerfield. Look for him to chip in a handful of stolen bases this season as well, as he’s getting on base plenty and has the speed to be able to swipe a few (75th percentile sprint speed in 2021).

Nick Madrigal is a .330 hitter through 200 MLB PAs. He’s a great batting average buddy for your fantasy squad, and has chipped in 28 Runs+RBI so far this year. Similar to Carlson, look for him to start chipping in a few more stolen bases as the season wears on as well.

Jazz Chisholm landed on the IL with a hamstring injury. He’s just now getting back to “light baseball activities”, so it might be some time still before he’s fully back with the Marlins. He should still be held in all formats as he bounces back from his hamstring injury.

Bobby Dalbec continues to struggle to make contact, but the contact he is making is solid (.507 xwOBAcon). Howeve, he is hitless in his last five games, so Dalbec owners have to hope that his “off days” don’t morph into a stint at the alternate site to “work on some things”.

Pavin Smith keeps batting leadoff for the D’backs. He’s hit the ball hard this season (88th percentile hard-hit rate) while also making a good amount of contact (17.6% strikeout rate), and he’s even stolen a base this year. He’s sliding above Dalbec for the time being.

Taylor Trammell has really struggled to make contact both inside and outside of the zone. He’ll take his walks, hit some dingers, and steal some bags, but it seems increasingly likely that he’s going to have a stint down at Triple-A Tacoma this summer.

Yermin Mercedes was the AL Rookie of the Month in April. He’s bound to cool off some (.426 BABIP from a dude built like a NFL fullback), but his 15% K-rate and .230 ISO so far in 2021 are some real skills that you can bank on. He’s moving up above Dalbec and Trammell this week.

Zack McKinstry is still rehabbing from his oblique injury, and the Dodgers’ offense is kind of missing his bat at the moment. Look for him to regain a starting role when healthy.

Ryan Mountcastle has stolen three bags despite his .241 OBP.

Andrew Vaughn should be in line for more playing time with Luis Robert’s unfortunate injury. It’s not exactly certain how Tony La Russa will handle the outfield hole caused by Robert being out for multiple months, but Vaughn should at least see some extra PAs, even if he’s not moved into a full-time starting role.

Wander Franco went 3-for-5 and stole a bag in his Triple-A debut. If Willy Adames continues to scuffle, there’s a shot we see Franco up with the Rays relatively soon.

Jarred Kelenic is starting at Triple-A while Sam Haggerty is getting outfield looks for Seattle. The team just doesn’t appear to be in a rush to call him up.

Jonathan India has crashed back to earth after his hot start. Kyle Isbel has as well, getting sent back down to the alternate site as the Kansas City Royals look unexpectedly competitive early on this year. Akil Baddoo is hitless in his last five games.

Cristian Pache hit a grand slam against the Blue Jays over the weekend. He’s still struggling to identify MLB pitching, chasing a lot of pitches out of the zone and failing at making contact on them. This isn’t planned aggression, this is a young hitter that’s just a little lost at the dish right now.

Alex Kirilloff has had an eventful couple of weeks. He finally got a shot as an everyday player for the struggling Twins, splitting time between 1B and LF. He hit four homers over the course of three games against the Royals, flashing the high-upside potential his bat has as a four-category contributor. Then, Kirilloff re-aggravated an old wrist injury and is scheduled to see a hand specialist this week. If he can come back healthy, he’s got Top-5 rookie ladder potential. However, if he has to undergo surgery for the wrist issue, then he’s going to miss an extended period of time.

New Debuts

 

Jose Devers – 2B/3B – Miami Marlins

This 21-year-old utility infielder was unexpectedly called up by Miami to give the team some infield depth while Jazz Chisholm is out. He’s still very young and lacks professional experience above High-A ball. The team is showing some faith in his ability to tread water against MLB pitching while playing solid defense at a couple of positions of need for the club. He’s likely ticketed back to Triple-A once the team’s health situation is sorted out, however.

Devers profiles primarily as a slash-and-dash utility infielder. He’s always made a lot of contact but also shows a patient approach at the dish. The two skills should combine to give him a good OBP floor, and should also make him a batting average buoy in traditional leagues. Devers has the ability to steal bags as well, but has seemed to already slow down a step since his rookie-ball days where he posted several elite-level speed scores (7.0+).

 

Corey Ray – OF – Milwaukee Brewers

Corey Ray made a brief three-plate appearance cameo with the Brewers on April 24 before he was sent back down to the alternate site. There’s a chance he sees some playing time again with the big club this summer though, especially if Christian Yelich is out for an extended period of time.

Ray has the range and defensive ability to cover all three outfield spots, so that gives the team some versatility in the event they want to carry him as an extra outfielder. He’s also displayed some fantastic power+speed upside in the minor leagues, making him a name that dynasty owners at least want to keep their eye on. In 2018, he hit 27 home runs and stole 37 bags at Double-A Biloxi. Those are impact-level fantasy tools in the event he gets the chance to showcase them.

Jason Vosler – 3B/1B – San Francisco Giants

A former notable prospect in the Chicago Cubs system, Jason Vosler has been riding the alternate site shuttle back and forth early on in 2021. He’s appeared in five games for the Giants so far, as the team has dealt with a number of injuries to left-handed bats so far this year. Vosler is a lefty with some defensive versatility, so having him on the bench in a pinch provides the club with some cover.

Skills-wise, this is a 27-year-old utility man and is probably not much to get excited about for fantasy. He slugged .523 at Triple-A in 2019, but then again everyone was pounding the MLB ball in the hitter-friendly environs of the Pacific Coast League that year. He will work the count and draw walks, and flash some occasional pop from the left-hand side, maybe making him a platoon bat option in very deep leagues.

 

 

Rookie Ladder: Pitchers Update (4/28)

Here is a prospect question that applies to those of us who play in redraft, keeper, and dynasty leagues: Which rookie hitter will be the most valuable fantasy player in 2021?

Trevor Rogers is the big story so far. I’ll break down where he fits in this year’s rookie landscape, along with news and notes from a number of top rookie hurlers. Also, we’ve had a number of exciting hitter debuts in 2021 already. So I’ll break down all the debutants as well as updates on the rookie ladder below!

PlayerTeamRole
Ian AndersonATLRotation
Trevor RogersMIARotation
Casey MizeDETRotation
Sixto SanchezMIAIL
Michael KopechCWSSwingman
Triston McKenzieCLERotation
Dane DunningTEXRotation
Tarik SkubalDETBullpen
Nate PearsonTORIL
Adbert AlzolayCHCRotation
Brent Honeywell Jr.TBRAlternate Site
Dean KramerBALRotation
Kohei AriharaTEXRotation
Garret CrochetCWSBullpen
Josh FlemingTBRBulk guy
Chris RodriguezLAABullpen
Luis PatinoTBROpener
J.B. BukauskasARIBullpen
Deivi GarciaNYYAlternate Site
Sam HentgesCLEBullpen
Spencer HowardPHIAlternate Site
Zac LowtherBALAlternate Site
Nick LodoloCINAA
Daulton JeffriesOAKAAA
Mackenzie GoreSDPAAA
Matt ManningDETAAA
Josiah GrayLADAAA
Brendan McKayTBRIL
Brailyn MarquezCHCAA
Adonis MedinaPHIAAA
Alex LangeDETRP
Wil CrowePITSP5

 

News and Notes

 

Ian Anderson hasn’t quite been shredding the competition like he was in his 2020 debut, but I’m still confident that he’s the top rookie pitcher in this class. He’s struggled with location, and Kevin Goldstein of FanGraphs recently posited that it might be related to a mechanical issue. If that’s the case, it’s even less cause for panic as there’s no reason that Anderson can’t get back to his release point that helped him dominate in 2020. And his HR/FB% isn’t going to remain at 25% either, so we might have seen the worst of his outings in 2021 already. He just needs to quit leaving his fastball belt-high so frequently:

Despite his fastball velocity jumping up two ticks this season, Casey Mize still isn’t striking anyone out. And it doesn’t matter if he’s touching 96 with his four-seamer if it’s coming in flat and high in the strike zone. His K-BB% of 7.7% is borderline unusable. His vaunted split-finger changeup hasn’t been an out pitch (a paltry 3.4% put-away rate). He’s got the talent to work through these issues, but this might continue to be a bumpy ride for him until he gets workable command of his pitch mix.

 

Sixto Sanchez is throwing from 60 feet without issue. Still going to be some time before he returns to action.

 

Trevor Rogers is moving above Mize this week. He’s just doing the damn thing! He squared off against Corbin Burnes in a head-to-head duel between the two most surprising arms of 2021, and he came out victorious. Milwaukee had been pummeling left-handers too. It matters not to Trevor Rogers, who is going to win some people some leagues this year.

 

The good news on Triston McKenzie is that he’s struck out 31.1% of batters he’s faced this year. The bad news is that he’s walked 18.9% of them.

 

Tarik Skubal has been moved to the bullpen. Dane Dunning got beat up by his old club the White Sox last week. But Dunning’s peripherals are still solid and he’s going to keep starting games for the Rangers. He’s moving ahead of Skubal.

 

Nate Pearson made a start against the Marlins at the alternate site over the weekend. He’s close to returning, and if Hyun-Jin Ryu misses some time with his glute strain there’s a rotation spot available for Pearson now.

 

Adbert Alzolay has been a bit unlucky, as his 3.32 xFIP is two runs below his 5.40 ERA. The peripherals still look good as well. He should be able to remain in the Cubs rotation.

 

Michael Kopech makes a big leap. The team has needed him with Lance Lynn and Lucas Giolito dealing with minor injury issues. And Kopech has responded wonderfully. He has front-line starter’s stuff if he can stay healthy.

 

Brent Honeywell made a second start for Tampa and then was shuttled back down to the alternate site right after to make room for Luis Patino. I think anything over 50 MLB innings for Honeywell this year will be a good outcome.

 

Dean Kremer was recalled from the alternate site and will start against the Yankees today.

 

Kohei Arihara remains in the rotation for Texas. He’s going to have to cut down the free passes as he just doesn’t have the stuff to dominate MLB hitters with.

 

Garrett Crochet is dealing with a blister.

 

Josh Fleming has racked up 14.2 innings with a 1.23 ERA, but he’s also had some great luck (4.44 xFIP). A sneaky bulk inning guy for those of you playing in very deep leagues though.

 

Spencer Howard made three appearances out of the bullpen and then got shuttled back down to the alternate site.

 

Luis Patino got called up for the first time this season by the Rays. He was employed as an opener in front of Josh Fleming. Patino definitely has the stuff to flourish in an opener’s role right now. He’s moving up a few rungs on the ladder this week. The slider was particularly effective:

 

Deivi Garcia was recalled from the alternate site to make a spot start on Monday and then was immediately shuttled back down. He gave up two runs over four innings in the start. I’m still sliding Deivi up past Spencer Howard as the Yankees seem committed to letting him start games when he does get the call-up.

New debuts

 

Sam Hentges – RP – Cleveland

Hentges is a big (6-6, 245) imposing left-hander that Cleveland drafted in the 4th round in the 2014 draft. Cleveland has called him up to fill in out of the bullpen, and so far he’s performed well in limited appearances. He’s probably ticketed to remain in the bullpen this year but don’t be surprised if he makes a spot start at some point.

Unlike recent Cleveland homegrown pitching talent, Hentges is more of a power pitcher than a command and control guy. He’s really a two-pitch pitcher, throwing a fastball 60% of the time and a breaking ball the other 40% of the time so far this year. The fastball has good velocity, sitting around 96 mph, and Hentges is able to control it to his glove side, which makes it tough on both RH and LH bats. The curveball is his out pitch, and it’s displayed great depth and vertical drop so far.

 

J.B. Bukauskas – RP – Arizona

The “Lithuanian Assassin”, J.B. Bukauskas was a former first-round draft choice of the Houston Astros. He came over to Arizona in the trade deadline deal that sent Zack Greinke to Houston. He never quite lived up to his promise as a potential starting pitcher in his professional career so far, so the D’backs are going to try him out of the bullpen to see how he performs in short stints.

Based on Bukauskas’s stuff and delivery, using him in short bursts might pay real dividends. His delivery has always been a high-effort, funky affair. It’s a look that will make hitters uncomfortable but will also lead to control issues. The stuff can be very good though. His fastball is a four-seamer that sits 94 mph. It tunnels well with both his slider and changeup. The secondaries both have the potential to be above-average offerings at the MLB level. Look for him to work his way into some holds over the next few weeks.

 

Zac Lowther – SP – Baltimore

Zac Lowther was a comp round pick by the Orioles back in the 2017 MLB draft out of Xavier University. He’s performed very well for Baltimore as a starting pitcher in the minor leagues and was called up for some bullpen work this week. However, he was shipped back down to the alternate site after a single appearance.

Lowther is a left-handed command and control artist. He survives on a funky delivery, great extension down the mound, and a fastball that rides well at the top of the zone. Pairing with the fastball are his changeup and curveball, neither of which are above-average offerings on their own. However, his command and approach to pitching allow the whole package to play up enough to work in the back-end of an MLB rotation.

Rookie Ladder – 2021 Hitters Update (4/21)

Here is a prospect question that applies to those of us who play in redraft, keeper, and dynasty leagues: Which rookie hitter will be the most valuable fantasy player in 2021?

We are over three weeks into the season now and will continue to see plenty of movement on the ladder in the coming months as players move around and new players hop on the bottom rungs. I’ll break down all the debutants as well as updates on the rookie ladder below!

PlayerTeamPos
Randy ArozarenaTBROF
Ke'Bryan HayesPIT3B
Dylan CarlsonSTLOF
Nick MadrigalCWS2B
Jazz ChisholmMIASS
Bobby DalbecBOS1B
Pavin SmithARI1B
Taylor TrammellSEAOF
Yermin MercedesCWS1B/DH
Zack McKinstryLAD2B/OF
Ryan MountcastleBAL1B
Andrew VaughnCWS1B/LF
Wander FrancoTBRSS
Jarred KelenicSEAOF
Jonathan IndiaCIN3B
Kyle IsbelKCROF
Akil BaddooDETOF
Tyler StephensonCINC
Cristian PacheATLOF
Ha-seong KimSDPSS
Luis CampusanoSDPC
Alex KirilloffMIN1B
Geraldo PerdomoARISS
Tucupita MarcanoSDPSS
Julio RodriguezSEAOF
Nolan JonesCLE3B
Joey BartSFGC
Vidal BrujanTBR2B
Ka'ai TomOAKOF
Oneil CruzPITSS
Miguel AmayaCHCC
Lewin DiazMIA1B
Seth BeerARI1B
William ContrerasATLC
Drew WatersATLOF
Luke RaleyLADOF
Bobby BradleyCLE1B
Adley RutschmanBALC
Josh JungTEX3B
JJ BledayMIAOF
Bobby Witt Jr.KCRSS
Josh PalaciosTOROF
Alan TrejoCOLSS
Nick MatonPHISS

News and Notes

 

Randy Arozarena has come out of the gate a bit slow, and a lot of his struggles I think can be boiled down to his difficulties making contact in the zone. His 66.3% zone contact rate is well below both his prior levels and the MLB average (82.2%). It could be something as simple as Randy working on his timing early in the year. His average launch angle is also below career norms, down to 1.2 degrees, so he might just not be locked in yet. Look for both of these underlying metrics to improve.

Ke’Bryan Hayes is still out with a left wrist injury, but he was swinging a bat this week. According to Pirates’ GM Ben Cherington, he will need “a game or two” at the alternate site before rejoining the club.

Dylan Carlson has been really good, sporting a 147 wRC+ and playing some usable defense in center field. He’s not jumping above Arozarena or Hayes yet, but don’t be surprised if he eventually does.

Nick Madrigal has only struck out twice and is sporting a .350 OBP. He’s likely going to spend the season mired in the bottom third of the batting order though, so I think this ladder position is his peak.

Bobby Dalbec has been a bit unlucky. His contact rate has improved some over his 2020 performance, and his xSLG is currently .618 while his actual slugging percentage is only .378. A power breakout could be on its way.

Pavin Smith moved into the leadoff spot for a banged-up Diamondbacks lineup. His 54.8% hard-hit rate is in the top 10% of the MLB right now.

Taylor Trammell has improved his zone contract rate recently, but his Whiff% is still an unruly 38.7% (MLB average is 24.4%). He did take a 99mph Dustin May sinker yard to deep center this week though. The Mariners’ outfield situation is getting cloudier with Kyle Lewis returning to the team and Jarred Kelenic punishing baseballs at the alternate site.

Ryan Mountcastle is struggling to make contact and still chasing a lot. He’s also sporting a 12.2% barrel rate early on in the season, so he’s punishing the ball when he connects. He could go either way.

Andrew Vaughn simply can’t get regular playing time right now, as Tony LaRussa is trying to press every combination of buttons with the White Sox lineup at the moment. It’s too early to say much about his performance, and it’s going to be hard for him to get going if he’s sitting every other day.

The Mariners still haven’t called up Jarred Kelenic, and Kyle Lewis is back from the IL. The team has gone past the “extra year of control” date with Kelenic, so he could theoretically be called up at any time. But the playing time situation in front of him is a mess right now.

Jazz Chisholm vaults into the top 5. He’s been a revelation this year while holding down the regular 2B job for the Marlins. The big scouting concern with Jazz was that his free-swinging approach would prevent him from hitting for average and getting on base. But when you dig into the numbers he’s actually been quite selective at the MLB level, with below-average swing and chase rates. While you can expect some clawback on the batting average and OBP, his xBA is still .280, so his all-around floor might be much higher than I was giving him credit for.

Jonathan India is playing every day and putting the ball in play, but he’s struggling to hit it very hard (26th percentile Hard Hit rate so far this season). The defense at second base hasn’t been very good yet either. I slid him above Isbel but I’d still be more interested in rostering Kelenic and Franco as stashes ahead of India for this season.

Yermin Mercedes continues to rake and his 89th percentile xwOBA agrees that it’s probably not a fluke. Moving him into the top 10 ahead of teammate Andrew Vaughn, as I think Mercedes is the better bet for regular playing time at the moment.

Akil Baddoo is moving up into the top 20 but I’m hesitant to go much further. He’s really struggling to make contact (58.6% zone contact, 31.8% chase contact, 46.3% whiff rate), and rarely takes walks, so while he’s hitting it hard, there’s a potential OBP landmine waiting here.

Alex Kirilloff got called up as the extra man for the double-header on April 14th, but hasn’t been back up on the active roster since.

Zack McKinstry was an omission on the initial ladder, and he’s punishing me for that mistake, posting a 142 OPS+ so far this season. The Dodgers seem to just will these productive left-handed bats that can cover multiple defensive positions into existence. The Dodgers are using him in 2B, LF, and RF, and he’s appeared in 17 games for the club in 2021.

Ka’ai Tom was DFA’d by Oakland and re-claimed by Cleveland.

 

NEW DEBUTS

 

Josh Palacios – OF – Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays called up Josh Palacios to cover in the OF while Teoscar Hernandez and George Springer deal with injuries. Palacios, 25, was a 4th round pick out of Auburn University in the 2016 MLB draft. He’s been a serviceable stopgap for the club but I don’t think he’s in for much playing time when the rest of the Toronto outfield comes back online.

Palacios profiles more as a slash-and-dash 4th outfielder than a run producer. He’s shown above-average speed at the MLB level in his debut, logging an 80th percentile sprint speed. His power metrics have lagged, however, and he’s only posted a 4.8% barrel rate in his brief debut. My Estimated Barrels metric for Palacios in his time in Double-A in 2019 puts his barrel rate at 7.8%, so I just don’t think there’s much pop in the bat here to look forward to.

 

Luke Raley – OF – Los Angeles Dodgers

Would you look at that, it’s another Bull Durham left-handed-hitting prospect that the Dodgers have produced! The Dodgers drafted Luke Raley in the 7th round of the 2016 draft out of Division II Lake Erie College, which sounds like a made-up school in a low-budget horror film. He was traded to Minnesota in 2018 as part of the Brian Dozier deal. Then, he was traded back to the Dodgers in 2020 as part of the Kenta Maeda deal.

He’s appeared in eight games for the Dodgers since being called up on April 9th. Raley is a player that my Estimated Barrels metric really liked in 2019. He posted a 13.5% estimated barrel rate in the International League in 2019, 23rd best among all hitters with at least 100 PAs. So there’s some pop here. He’s more of a journeyman than an impact bat, but he could still get some opportunities to figure it out at the MLB level as the Dodgers continue to deal with injury issues.

 

Alan Trejo – SS – Colorado Rockies

Alan Trejo was called up by the Rockies on April 10 to cover shortstop for an injured Trevor Story. This San Diego State University product grew up not far from Dodger Stadium, which was also the scene of his first major league hit:

Trejo is unlikely to have relevance for fantasy baseball. He can do a little bit of everything at an average level and probably has just enough glove to cover shortstop in a pinch. Basically the definition of a Quad-A guy that every real-life organization needs, but can do very little for you unless you play in an extremely deep format.

 

 

Nick Maton – SS – Philadelphia Phillies

Nick Maton was a 7th round selection by the Phillies out of Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, IL. Maton’s a glove-first prospect who can probably play an average shortstop at the MLB level. He has two hits and has driven in a run in two games so far for the Phillies.

His best OPS in the minor leagues was a .738 mark in the Florida State League while being old for the level in 2019. His speed scores aren’t off the charts either, so he’s not going to be a big stolen base threat. He’s very unlikely to be fantasy relevant except in the deepest of dynasty formats.

Rookie Ladder – 2021 Pitchers Update (4/14)

Here is a prospect question that applies to those of us who play in redraft, keeper, and dynasty leagues: Which rookie hitter will be the most valuable fantasy player in 2021?

The season isn’t even two weeks old, and already there’s going to be some movement on the pitcher side of the rookie ladder. Also, we’ve had a number of exciting pitcher debuts in 2021 already. I’ll break down all the debutants as well as updates on the rookie ladder below!

PlayerTeamRole
Ian AndersonATLSP3
Casey MizeDETSP5
Sixto SanchezMIASP5
Trevor RogersMIASP4
Triston McKenzieCLESP4
Tarik SkubalDETSP3
Dane DunningTEXSP5
Nate PearsonTORIL
Adbert AlzolayCHCSP5
Michael KopechCWSLR
Brent Honeywell Jr.TBROpener
Dean KramerBALSP3
Kohei AriharaTEXSP2
Garret CrochetCWSMR
Josh FlemingTBROpener
Chris RodriguezLAAMR
Spencer HowardPHIAAA
Nick LodoloCINAA
Daulton JeffriesOAKAAA
Luis PatinoTBRAAA
Mackenzie GoreSDPAAA
Deivi GarciaNYYAAA
Matt ManningDETAAA
Josiah GrayLADAAA
Brendan McKayTBRIL
Brailyn MarquezCHCAA
Adonis MedinaPHIAAA
Alex LangeDETRP
Wil CrowePITSP5

 

News and Notes

 

Ian Anderson has made two starts and his strikeout rate is 31.0%. Statcast initially read a number of sinkers in Anderson’s first start, but they’ve since re-coded to four-seam fastballs. I went thru the video of several and they appear to me to be four-seam fastballs where Anderson is actually missing his spot low in the zone. Fastball command is probably going to be the story of his season.

Casey Mize climbs to number two on the list. His four-seam fastball is up two ticks to 95.5 mph on average. The pitch also appears to be dropping less and carrying better up in the zone than in 2020 (16.4 inches of drop in 2020 vs 13.3 inches of drop thus far in 2021). And the split-finger is just a nasty pitch that is effective against both RHB and LHB. Buy if you still can.

Mize leapfrogs Sixto Sanchez, who has yet to resume full throwing following a shoulder issue. The Marlins reported this week he had progressed to throwing from 45 feet. He already had health concerns coming into the season as well. Early May is probably an optimistic timetable for his return to action.

Tarik Skubal has really struggled with command through two starts, and I worry about him getting shuttled to the bullpen. Dane Dunning is right behind Skubal on the ladder and Dunning has turned in two usable starts (identical Game Scores of 61). However, I’ll need to see Dunning work deeper into games if he’s going to climb higher than his present rank.

Garret Crochet is sliding down. I am concerned about his decreased fastball velocity early in the season and what it portends for his arm health:

 

We got some good news on Nate Pearson’s health this week. It sounds like he’s back to full health and is just working to build up innings to resume a starter’s workload. He should be back up soon.

Trevor Rogers is the darling of this list so far, and with good reason. He’s even making FaBIO wonder if Rogers should be ranked above Sixto among rookie hurlers:

I was a coward and was concerned about being a little too reactionary on that front. However, I’m totally comfortable moving Rogers above Skubal based on early returns.

Dean Kremer has been rough through two 3-inning outings. Daulton Jeffries didn’t make the rotation. Adbert Alzolay went at least five innings in both of his starts and boasts a K% of 25.6%. So Alzolay leapfrog both Kremer and Jeffries, with upside to move further up the list.

Kohei Arihara has shown little in terms of strikeout stuff thus far. The good news is that Statcast has tracked seven unique pitches from him thus far this season. The bad news is that he’s going to have to figure out which combination of them works against MLB hitters.

Michael Kopech already looks like a buzzsaw again. The team is going to let him work multi-inning relief appearances until he’s built back up to start. If the health remains, I think Kopech is in the rotation by the second half of the season. He could really be a difference-maker for this White Sox team if that happens.

The Yankees optioned Domingo German back to the minors and have yet to name a fifth starter. Deivi Garcia is a name that could pop up soon.

The Rays have recalled Josh Fleming from the alternate site. I had him on the initial ladder as I figured the team would use him to plug holes in a Ryan Yarborough-type role. He’s moving up the ladder as I have confidence that Fleming could succeed in medium-length stints.

Wil Crowe got optioned to the Pirates alternate site after 0.2 innings of work and an ERA of 13.50.

 

New debuts

 

I’m not going to make note of every relief pitching prospect that gets called up this season (there are going to be PLENTY of those guys). However, I will highlight some notable ones:

 

Ben Bowden and Jordan Sheffield RP – Colorado Rockies

 

I’ve got Bowden and Sheffield lumped together because their story is really fascinating. Both hurlers were part of the same incoming freshman class at Vanderbilt University. Both were drafted on the first day of the 2016 MLB draft. And both made their MLB debut on April 2, 2021 for the same team. How’s that for serendipity?

 

Brent Honeywell Jr. – SP – Tampa Bay Rays

 

An incredible story of perseverance, former top pitching prospect Brent Honeywell Jr. made his MLB debut in a start for the Tampa Bay Rays this past week. Honeywell hadn’t pitched in a competitive game for over three years and has undergone four surgeries on his throwing elbow. The fact that he was able to pitch competitively at all after that is a testament to his fortitude.

As far as the stuff goes, Honeywell looked really good in his brief debut against a tough Yankees lineup. His fastball averaged 94 mph in the outing and he commanded it well. He also mixed in a changeup which could be a perfect complement alongside his devastating screwball. The team sent him back to the alternate site following his debut and is sure to be cautious with him given his health history. But don’t be surprised if Honeywell is a factor in the team’s playoff push in the second half of the season. I’ve got him slotted in right behind Michael Kopech on the rookie ladder now.

 

Alex Lange – RP – Detroit Tigers

 

Alex Lange came over to Detroit in the trade which sent Nick Castellanos (briefly) to the Chicago Cubs. Lange was the Cubs’ first-round pick in the 2017 MLB draft out of Louisiana State University.

He’s a reliever, but Lange has the stuff to one day be an elite high leverage guy or closer. His four-seam fastball averaged 97.1 mph in his big league debut, and he posted a 62.5% whiff rate on the twelve sliders he threw. He might not be closing games yet, but I can foresee it happening for Lange sometime in the future.

 

Chris Rodriguez – RP – Los Angeles Angels

 

Similar to Brent Honeywell and Michael Kopech, Chris Rodriguez is another talented young arm that has dealt with a myriad of health issues throughout his professional career thus far. Rodriguez’s issue has been his back, but he has seemed to be able to keep it healthy in 2021 thus far.

Similar to Kopech, Rodriguez is likely to be deployed in a multi-inning relief role until the team figures out his best use in 2021. Unlike Kopech, there’s a very good chance that Rodriguez fits best in a multi-inning fireman role this season. This might also be the best fit for Rodriguez’s health as well, as hopefully lower reps of his high-intensity delivery will allow his back to hold up for a full season.

Rodriguez’s stuff has proven to be really good so far. Still only 22 years old, his fastball sits around 97 mph and touches 100 mph. He backs up the fastball with a wipeout curveball which comes in around 84 mph and features nasty two-plane break (vertical break 8 percentage points above MLB average, horizontal break 26 percentage points above). It’s the kind of stuff that could easily excel in high leverage spots right now. Hopefully, with good health, we can one day see how it plays out in an MLB rotation too.

Top 300 Dynasty Prospects

The weather is beginning to turn for the better and a renewed sense of hope is in the air. Fantasy baseball is back and those of us who love the game couldn’t be more excited about it! The game has gone through many transformations over the years. We currently find ourselves in the early stages of unlocking the secrets behind advanced analytics. There are some intelligent people out there doing incredible work in the baseball community. Their innovation and willingness to share their gifts and support each other only continue to grow the game.

A difference between now and when I played my first league is the introduction of prospects to the game. It brought an entirely new element to fantasy baseball and opened the door for some intriguing dynasty leagues. To this day, there are mixed feelings about how to best utilize prospects in fantasy leagues. Some people see them as essential for long-term success. Others see them as nothing more than trade pieces to help them win right now. Regardless of what side of the fence you are on, there’s little doubt that prospects have become a big part of the fantasy experience. Becoming familiar with them can help you either way.

Like building a team through the draft, several different approaches can work with prospects. If your league values pitching, then consider bumping them up. If you value players that are closer but may not have as much upside, pay attention to ages and ETA. Prospects are mostly about projecting the future and figuring out how their skillsets could play a role in fantasy baseball down the line. It’s important to factor in your specific league categories as well. Certain prospects rise and fall depending on the categories being used. There are so many different ways to evaluate players making it such an interesting puzzle to try and put together.

I will be writing articles throughout the season discussing this list and the movement of players as more data becomes available. As a general guideline, here are some of the factors that go into this list…

1. I weigh upside over proximity to the Major Leagues. My approach is more tilted towards discovering future game-changing players. Someone who is on the verge of a promotion, or already has a job secured definitely gets a boost up the rankings. But the players with special skillsets get a lot of respect from me, even if their track record isn’t yet established.

2. While Minor League stats do have value, they are just a part of the process. There is so much development happening at this stage of their career that I don’t always find it to be an accurate way to gauge future fantasy value. Different leagues and parks also increase or suppress production, so it’s important to know the difference between legitimate improvements and being aided by offensive-heavy parks.

3. Age vs. Level is something I have used for many years to discover potential gems or avoid landmines. Simply put, a 19-year-old who is tearing through Double-A carries significantly more weight than a 23-year-old at the same level. Prospects who are much younger than their competition tend to have a lot of potential and upside, even if the statistics don’t necessarily look appealing.

4. Projecting positions for prospects can be tricky, as a lot of them end up moving to a different spot once they’ve been promoted. It is important to understand the general defensive skill set of the players. As we all know, there are certain positions that have more depth in the Majors. Prospects who can fill one of those spots have a higher floor and less pressure to reach certain statistical thresholds.

5. There is a long track record showing that hitting prospects are less risky than pitching prospects. While I’m not dismissing pitching as an important element of the game, I do take a more conservative approach with them relative to hitters. If you see pitchers ranked aggressively on this list, that should be taken as a sign I am particularly high on them.

Without further ado, I am pleased and honored to reveal the Top 300 dynasty prospects for RotoFanatic. I will be updating the list throughout the season, and we will expand it further and add more features. I appreciate your time and we hope you will bookmark this list and reference it for all of your dynasty needs.

 

Player NameRankTeamPositionAgeETALevel
Jarred Kelenic1SEAOF212021MLB
Wander Franco2TBSS202021AAA
Julio Rodriguez3SEAOF202021A+
CJ Abrams4SDSS202022AA
Bobby Witt Jr.5KCSS202021AA
Jazz Chisholm Jr.6MIA2B232020MLB
Andrew Vaughn7CHW1B232021MLB
Marco Luciano8SFSS192022A
Spencer Torkelson9DET1B212022A+
Adley Rutschman10BALC232021AA
Ke'Bryan Hayes11PIT3B242020MLB
Alex Kirilloff12MINOF232021MLB
Riley Greene13DETOF202022AA
Austin Martin14TOROF222022AA
Vidal Brujan15TB2B232021AAA
Triston Casas16BOS1B212022AA
Noelvi Marte17SEASS192023A
Brennen Davis18CHCOF212022A+
Heliot Ramos19SFOF212021AAA
Sixto Sanchez20MIARHP222020AAA
JJ Bleday21MIAOF232021AA
Jeter Downs22BOS2B222021AAA
Jordan Groshans23TOR3B212022AA
Nick Gonzales24PIT2B212022A+
Corbin Carroll25ARIOF202022A+
MacKenzie Gore26SDLHP222021AAA
Logan Gilbert27SEARHP242021AAA
Jasson Dominguez28NYYOF182023Rookie
Matt Manning29DETRHP232021AAA
Max Meyer30MIARHP222022AA
George Kirby31SEARHP232022A+
Trevor Larnach32MINOF242021MLB
Brandon Marsh33LAAOF232021AAA
Alek Manoah34TORRHP232021AAA
Nate Pearson35TORRHP242020MLB
Luis Matos36SFOF192023A
Zac Veen37COLOF192024A
Kristian Robinson38ARIOF202023A
Matthew Liberatore39STLLHP212022AAA
Simeon Woods-Richardson40TORRHP202021AA
Royce Lewis41MINSS212022AAA
Geraldo Perdomo42ARISS212021AA
Edward Cabrera43MIARHP222021AAA
Hunter Greene44CINRHP212022AA
Garrett Mitchell45MILOF222023A+
Alek Thomas46ARIOF212022AA
Jordyn Adams47LAAOF212023A+
Jarren Duran48BOSOF242021AAA
George Valera49CLEOF202023A+
Oneil Cruz50PITOF222022AA
Michael Busch51LAD2B232022AA
Shane McClanahan52TBLHP232020MLB
Josiah Gray53LADRHP232021AAA
Tyler Freeman54CLE2B212022AA
Hunter Bishop55SFOF222023A+
Grayson Rodriguez56BALRHP212023A+
Emerson Hancock57SEARHP212022A+
Josh Jung58TEX3B232021AAA
Nolan Jones59CLEOF232021AAA
Asa Lacy60KCLHP212023A+
Nolan Gorman61STL2B202022AA
Aaron Bracho62CLE2B202023A+
Orelvis Martinez63TOR3B192023A
Drew Waters64ATLOF222021AAA
Spencer Howard65PHIRHP242020MLB
Hedbert Perez66MILOF182024Rookie
Wilman Diaz67LADSS172024Rookie
Robert Hassell III68SDOF192024A
Pete Crow-Armstrong69NYMOF192024A
Francisco Alvarez70NYMC192023A+
Josh Lowe71TBOF232021AAA
Michael Harris72ATLOF202023A+
Liover Peguero73PITSS202023A+
Gilberto Jimenez74BOSOF202023A+
Nick Lodolo75CINLHP232022AA
DL Hall76BALLHP222021AA
Ryan Weathers77SDLHP212020MLB
Daniel Lynch78KCLHP242021MLB
Luisangel Acuna79TEX2B192024A
Austin Hendrick80CINOF192024A
Ed Howard81CHCSS192024A
Tyler Soderstrom82OAKC192023A
Cristian Hernandez83CHCSS172025Rookie
Erick Peña84KCOF182025Rookie
Maximo Acosta85TEXSS182024Rookie
Carlos Colmenarez86TBSS172025Rookie
Robert Puason87OAKSS182024A
Xavier Edwards88TB2B212022AA
Shane Baz89TBRHP212022AA
Brailyn Marquez90CHCLHP222021AA
Pedro Leon91HOUOF222022AA
Kody Hoese92LAD3B232022AA
Gunnar Henderson93BALSS192023A
Mick Abel94PHIRHP192024A
Quinn Priester95PITRHP202023A+
Ethan Hankins96CLERHP202023A+
Brayan Rocchio97CLESS202023A+
Austin Wells98NYYC212022A+
Hudson Head99PITOF202023A
Daniel Espino100CLERHP202023A
Sherten Apostel101TEX3B212020AA
Brett Baty102NYM3B212023A+
Michael Toglia103COL1B222022A+
Heston Kjerstad104BALOF222023A
Jackson Rutledge105WSHRHP222022A+
Alexander Canario106SFOF202023A
Rece Hinds107CIN3B202023A
Luis Toribio108SF3B202023A
Heriberto Hernandez109TBOF212023A
Akil Baddoo110DETOF222021MLB
Taylor Trammell111SEAOF232021MLB
Peyton Burdick112MIAOF242022AA
Bobby Dalbec113BOS1B252020MLB
Zach McKinstry114LADOF252020MLB
Jonathan India115CIN3B242021MLB
Daulton Jeffries116OAKRHP252020AAA
Clarke Schmidt117NYYRHP252020MLB
Alejandro Kirk118TORC222020MLB
Luis Campusano119SDC222020AAA
Greg Jones120TBSS232022A+
Reid Detmers121LAALHP212022AA
Garrett Crochet122CHWLHP212020MLB
Cade Cavalli123WSHRHP222023A+
Forrest Whitley124HOURHP232022AAA
Pavin Smith125ARI1B252020MLB
Seth Beer126ARIOF242021AAA
Lewin Diaz127MIA1B242020AAA
Jesus Sanchez128MIAOF232020AAA
Joey Bart129SFC242020AAA
Caanan Smith-Njigba130PITOF222022AA
Yoelqui Cespedes131CHWOF232023AA
Tanner Burns132CLERHP222022A+
Matt Allan133NYMRHP202023A+
Adam Kloffenstein134TORLHP202023A+
Jordan Walker135STL3B182025A
Misael Urbina136MINOF182024A
Blake Walston137ARILHP192023A
Jared Kelley138CHWRHP192025A
Pedro Pineda139OAKOF172025Rookie
Jonatan Clase140SEAOF182024Rookie
Jake Vogel141LADOF192024A
Angel Martinez142CLESS192024A
Oswald Peraza143NYYSS202023A+
Khalil Lee144NYMOF222021MLB
Cristian Pache145ATLOF222020MLB
Jordan Balazovic146MINRHP222022AA
Luis Frias147ARIRHP222023AA
Slade Cecconi148ARIRHP212023A
Cole Wilcox149TBRHP212023A
Seth Johnson150TBRHP222022A
Alexander Mojica151PIT3B182024A
Benyamin Bailey152CHWOF192024A
Wilderd Patino153ARIOF192024A
Andy Pages154LADOF202024A+
Tahnaj Thomas155PITRHP212023A+
Bobby Miller156LADRHP212023A+
Reggie Preciado157CHCSS172025Rookie
Isaiah Greene158CLEOF192025Rookie
Luis Rodriguez159LADOF182024Rookie
Brendan McKay160TBLHP252019AAA
Jackson Kowar161KCRHP242021AAA
Bryce Jarvis162ARIRHP232023A+
Jared Shuster163ATLLHP222023A+
Chris Rodriguez164LAARHP222022MLB
A.J. Puk165OAKLHP252019MLB
Gabriel Arias166CLESS212023AAA
Brice Turang167MILSS212022AA
Dillon Dingler168DETC222023A+
Aaron Sabato169MIN1B212023A
Jordan Nwogu170CHCOF222023A
Travis Swaggerty171PITOF232021AAA
Kyle Isbel172KCOF242021AAA
Miguel Vargas173LAD3B212023A+
Jose Garcia174CINSS222020AA
Yasel Antuna175WSHSS212022A+
Aaron Ashby176MILLHP222022AAA
Joey Cantillo177CLELHP212023AA
Ismael Mena178CHCOF182024Rookie
Manuel Beltre179TORSS172025Rookie
Jeferson Espinal180ARIOF182024Rookie
Masyn Winn181STLSS192025A
Alex De Jesus182LAD3B192024A
Nick Bitsko183TBRHP182025Rookie
Dak Fulton184MIALHP192025A
Jose De La Cruz185DETOF182025A
Maikol Escotto186PIT2B182025A
Brayan Buelvas187OAKOF182025A
Jhoan Duran188MINRHP232021AAA
Hunter Brown189HOURHP222022AA
Kohl Franklin190CHCRHP212023A
Luis Medina191NYYRHP222022A+
Bryce Ball192ATL1B222023A+
Justin Foscue193TEX2B222023A+
Keoni Cavaco194MINSS192025A
Kyren Paris185LAASS192024A
Kameron Misner196MIAOF232022A+
Aaron Schunk197COL3B232022A+
Daniel Cabrera198DETOF222023A+
Mason Martin199PIT1B212022AA
Johan Rojas200PHIOF202024A
Miguel Hiraldo201TOR3B202024A
Alex Santos202HOURHP192024A
Brennan Malone203PITRHP202024A
Ivan Herrera204STLC202022AA
Maikol Hernandez205BAL3B172026Rookie
Daniel Vazquez206KCSS172026Rookie
Alexander Ramirez207NYMOF182025Rookie
Deivi Garcia208NYYRHP212020AAA
Francisco Morales209PHIRHP212022AA
Joe Ryan210TBRHP242022AAA
Matt Canterino211MINRHP232021A+
Lyon Richardson212CINRHP212023A+
William Contreras213ATLC232021MLB
Bo Naylor214CLEC212022AA
Miguel Amaya215CHCC212022AA
Richi Gonzalez216HOUOF182025Rookie
Bayron Lora217TEXOF182025Rookie
Kevin Alcantara218NYYOF182024Rookie
Blaze Jordan219BOS3B182024Rookie
Taj Bradley220TBRHP202023A
Kendall Williams221LADRHP202024A
Lenny Torres222CLERHP202024A
Jeremy De La Rosa223WSHOF192024Rookie
Adael Amador224COLSS182025Rookie
J.T. Ginn225NYMRHP212023Rookie
Brenton Doyle226COLOF222023A+
Zach DeLoach227SEAOF222023A+
Tucupita Marcano228SD2B212021AAA
Jeremy Pena229HOUSS232022AA
Braden Shewmake230ATLSS232022AA
Ambioris Tavarez231ATL3B172026Rookie
Jhonny Piron232TBOF172026Rookie
Cristian Santana233DETSS172026Rookie
Andry Lara234WSHRHP182024Rookie
Robert Dominguez235NYMRHP192025Rookie
Kyle Harrison236SFLHP192024Rookie
Freudis Nova237HOUSS212023A+
Parker Meadows238DETOF212022A+
Jhon Torres239STLOF212023A+
Carson Tucker240CLESS192024Rookie
Alejandro Pie241TBSS192024Rookie
Colt Keith242DET3B192024Rookie
JJ Goss243TBRHP202023Rookie
Norge Vera244CHWRHP202024Rookie
Junior Perez245OAKOF192024A
Taylor Walls246TBSS242021AAA
Roberto Campos247DETOF182025Rookie
Arol Vera248LAA3B182025Rookie
Javier Francisco249SFSS182025Rookie
Nick Yorke250BOS2B182025A
Jeremiah Jackson251LAA2B202023A
Yeison Santana252CHCSS202024A
Rafael Morel253CHC3B192024Rookie
Alexfri Planez254CLEOF192024A
Joshua Mears255SDOF202023A
Zack Thompson256STLRHP232022AAA
Patrick Bailey257SFC212023A+
Adbert Alzolay258CHCRHP262019MLB
Brent Honeywell Jr.259TBRHP262021AAA
Freddy Zamora260MILSS222023A
Will Wilson261SF2B222022A+
Bryson Stott262PHISS232022A+
Tanner Houck263BOSRHP242020AAA
Jared Oliva264PITOF252020AAA
Bobby Bradley265CLE1B242021AAA
Tyler Stephenson266CINC242020MLB
Ryan Jeffers267MINC232020MLB
Sam Huff268TEXC232020MLB
Jairo Solis269HOURHP212023A+
Antoine Kelly270MILLHP212022A
Bryan Mata271BOSRHP212021AA
Yiddi Cappe272MIASS172026Rookie
Malvin Valdez273CINOF172026Rookie
Petey Halpin274CLEOF182025Rookie
Victor Acosta275SDSS172026Rookie
Brainer Bonanci276BOSSS182024Rookie
Samuel Zavala277SDOF162026Rookie
Denzer Guzman278LAA3B172026Rookie
Miguel Bleis279BOSOF172026Rookie
Ricky Vanasco280TEXRHP222023A+
Logan Allen281CLELHP222022A+
Shalin Polanco282PITOF172026Rookie
Carlos Jorge283CIN2B172026Rookie
Jose Salas284MIA3B172026Rookie
Oslevis Basabe285TBSS202024Rookie
Alexander Vargas286NYYSS202023Rookie
David Calabrese287LAAOF182025Rookie
Noah Song288BOSRHP242023A
Ethan Small289MILLHP242022AA
Seth Corry290SFRHP222023A+
291
292
293
294
295
296
297
298
299
300

Rookie Ladder – 2021 Hitters Update (4/7)

Here is a prospect question that applies to those of us who play in redraft, keeper, and dynasty leagues: Which rookie hitter will be the most valuable fantasy player in 2021?

The season isn’t yet a week old, and already there’s going to be some movement on the hitter side of the rookie ladder. Also, we’ve had a number of exciting hitter debuts in 2021 already. I’ll break down all the debutants as well as updates on the rookie ladder:

PlayerTeamPos
Randy ArozarenaTBROF
Ke'Bryan HayesPIT3B
Dylan CarlsonSTLOF
Nick MadrigalCWS2B
Bobby DalbecBOS1B
Pavin SmithARI1B
Taylor TrammellSEAOF
Ryan MountcastleBAL1B
Andrew VaughnCWS1B/LF
Wander FrancoTBRSS
Jarred KelenicSEAOF
Jazz ChisholmMIASS
Kyle IsbelKCROF
Jonathan IndiaCIN3B
Tyler StephensonCINC
Cristian PacheATLOF
Yermin MercedesCWS1B/DH
Ha-seong KimSDPSS
Luis CampusanoSDPC
Alex KirilloffMIN1B
Geraldo PerdomoARISS
Tucupita MarcanoSDPSS
Julio RodriguezSEAOF
Nolan JonesCLE3B
Joey BartSFGC
Vidal BrujanTBR2B
Akil BaddooDETOF
Ka'ai TomOAKOF
Oneil CruzPITSS
Miguel AmayaCHCC
Lewin DiazMIA1B
Seth BeerARI1B
William ContrerasATLC
Drew WatersATLOF
Bobby BradleyCLE1B
Adley RutschmanBALC
Josh JungTEX3B
JJ BledayMIAOF
Bobby Witt Jr.KCRSS

 

News and Notes

 

Ke’Bryan Hayes started the year off with a bang, homering in his first at-bat. Then, he suffered a wrist injury swinging the bat. Fortunately, the team has reported that his wrist x-ray came back negative and that he only suffered a sprain. Hayes is currently on the 10-day IL but is unlikely to miss much more time.

Alex Kirilloff didn’t make the cut for the Twins opening day roster. Gotta admit that this one surprised me, I thought he would definitely make the cut and possibly feature as the team’s starting left fielder all season. The team has been using Jake Cave and Brent Rooker in LF thus far, but neither hitter has done much yet. And Kirilloff can really hit. Keep him on your radar.

Nick Madrigal has made a couple of costly errors and baserunning blunders already this season. Is he just pressing too much to make things happen instead of letting the game come to him? Madrigal won a minor league Gold Glove at 2B in 2019 and posted one of the highest range factors in all of the minors that year, so he can play at a plus defensive level in MLB.

Bobby Dalbec is 0-for-10 with 5 Ks so far. He got a day off yesterday.

Pavin Smith has appeared in every game and made a pretty nice defensive play in RF over the weekend. He should continue to get opportunities.

My initial hitter piece came out before Eloy Jimenez’s injury, so I had Andrew Vaughn buried pretty low down the list. He jumps up into the Top-10 now with an increased chance at playing time with the team’s commitment to at least trying Vaughn out in left field. But his playing time has been spotty thus far and there’s a good chance that Tony La Russa just isn’t going to trust him to play every day.

Why is Vaughn not getting as much playing time? Well, fellow White Sox corner bat Yermin Mercedes has looked like the second coming of Ted Williams so far. “The Yerminator” started the season with eight consecutive hits and grabbed the first AL Player of the Week award of the season. White Sox fans are rooting for this cult hero to continue this form, but you have to believe some regression is coming, possibly soon.

Cristian Pache was the Braves opening day centerfielder, but we’re still waiting for something to click for him at the plate. He’s 1-for-10 with a 40% K-rate so far.

Ha-seong Kim could be in line for more playing time after Fernando Tatis Jr.’s unfortunate shoulder injury swinging the bat last night. The team is calling Tatis’s injury a shoulder subluxation at the moment, and that’s just an injury with a wide range of outcomes. He’s a special athlete, so hopefully, it will be a short time on the shelf for Fernando. Kim has only garnered one start thus far, but look for that to change this week.

Jazz Chisholm is the Marlins starting 2B and getting regular PAs early on. He’s been electric:

Padres catcher Luis Campusano has already made two starts this season. With Austin Nola injured, look for Campusano to split time with Victor Caratini behind the dish. Campusano also got some good news this week as prosecutors in Georgia dropped pending felony marijuana possession charges against him. I didn’t realize we were charging people with that in 2021, but then again Georgia seems to be stuck in 1951.

 

NEW DEBUTS

 

Akil Baddoo – OF – Detroit Tigers

 

Akil Baddoo was a Rule 5 selection by the Tigers this offseason. This means he really has a solid path to playing time as the Tigers have to keep Baddoo on the active roster for the duration of the 2020 season if they intend to keep him. And based on his performance thus far, they might intend to!

Baddo had an excellent 50 PAs this spring (.325/.460/.750). Then on Monday, he hit a grand slam and stole a base while starting in left field for the Tigers in their 15-6 blowout loss to Minnesota:

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Baddoo can handle centerfield defensively, so look for him to get his fare share of chances in the Tigers outfield this year. He’s probably just a 4th OF at the moment, but in the event that JaCoby Jones or Victor Reyes really struggle, Baddoo could easily work his way into additional playing time.

 

Jonathan India – 2B – Cincinnati Reds

 

Cincinnati’s roster crunch early this season has opened up a starting 2B job for Jonathan India. He’s responded well, picking up five hits over the course of three games. I would not be surprised to see India hold onto a near-everyday role for the Reds going forward.

India skyrocketed up draft boards following a strong junior season at the University of Florida in 2018. He’s a player who does a little bit of everything well. He carries a good enough glove to play multiple positions, has a patient approach at the plate, makes a lot of contact, and can drive mistakes with good pull-side flyball power.

 

Kyle Isbel – OF – Kansas City Royals

 

Kyle Isbel was a shock addition to the Royals Opening Day roster, and it looks like he might have the inside track on the team’s right field job for 2021. Isbel has picked up five hits and stolen a bag in three games so far this season.

Isbel is a smart, instinctual, and hard-working ballplayer. He was a popular sleeper prospect coming out of the 2018 draft from UNLV. His glove and arm can play all over the field, but the Royals have been grooming him for an OF spot since the draft. He’s already pushed Whit Merrifield back to second base.

No particular tool stands out for Isbel, but they all play up given his instincts and athleticism. He presents a real power/speed combo that could be a fantastic find for fantasy owners in deeper leagues in 2021.

 

Tucupita Marcano – 3B – San Diego Padres

 

Tucupita Marcano was a surprise addition to the Padres Opening Day roster. With the potential that Fernando Tatis Jr. could be sidelined for some time with a shoulder injury, there’s now a chance that Marcano gets some extra run beyond pinch-hitting and defensive replacement duties.

Marcano was excellent in the Cactus League this year. He’s a lefty bat with a high-contact, high-walk, high-OBP approach. He’s got way more slash and dash than pop in his swing, but he can still drive the ball to the gaps and take advantage of his speed to stretch hits for extra bases. His glove is good enough for MLB-level utility man, and he has the arm to be able to make the necessary throws from third base at the big league level.

 

Geraldo Perdomo – SS – Arizona Diamondbacks

 

With Nick Ahmed on the IL, Arizona called up their shortstop of the future, Geraldo Perdomo. While his call-up is likely to be temporary (for now), Perdomo has already shown us what he can do with the glove at the Big League level:

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Because of his ability to add value with the leather, there’s a non-zero chance that Perdomo sticks around long enough to let his bat heat up. He’s a switch hitter with an immensely patient approach. He also displays great hand-eye coordination, making contact and spoiling pitches late in counts. While he might lack the power to be an all-around offensive force, you can see his overall offensive approach is by far a net positive if you look at his minor league wRC+ by each stop in his career: 122, 198, 145, 149, 128, 128.

He might be a better “real life” player than fantasy one, but guys like Perdomo have a great ability to work their way into lineups and become compilers. He’s also still very young (21 years old) and has a frame that could continue to add strength. He’s a guy to keep your eyeballs on, especially if he earns an everyday gig.

 

Ka’ai Tom – OF/DH – Oakland Athletics

 

A Rule 5 selection by Oakland this offseason, Ka’ai Tom might find his way into some additional playing time in Oakland’s lineup with Chad Pinder’s left knee injury. Tom provides Oakland with left-handed hitting depth and is able to cover every outfield spot. Heck, he can even pitch a little bit:

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Don’t be fooled by his 5’9” frame, Tom packs some pop in his bat. He found the barrel at a solid clip in the Cleveland system in 2019, slugging .532 between Double-A and Triple-A. He’s probably only relevant in the deepest of leagues, but he’s worth keeping an eye on depending on how Oakland’s roster crunch develops during the season.