Fantasy owners are always looking for the next flavor of the month. They always want to be a step ahead of their league mates and look like a genius. But, at times they can get too ahead of themselves and waste a roster spot stashing a minor leaguer.
We have seen a number of prospects get the call up so far this year, but are they worth owning? What about those that are still in the minors and waiting for the call? I will take a look at prospects that should be on Fantasy owner’s radars.
Archie Bradley, Arizona Diamondbacks
Bradley has turned heads in his past two outings, and it is time for Fantasy owners to take notice. In those
starts, he has pitched to a 2.70 ERA, 2.15 FIP, allowing just four runs while striking out 19 in just 13.1 innings. Yes, one on those starts came against the Padres. However, the other was against one of the best offenses in baseball, the Cubs. Bradley once again was picking up strikeouts at a high rate in Triple-A, averaging 10.40 K/9, along with a 1.99 ERA before being called up. The former top prospect is still just 23 years old. Fantasy owners may not have another chance to pick him up if they pass on the opportunity now. Take a gamble on his upside.
Jurickson Profar, Texas Rangers
There are lots of questions about Profar’s playing time now that Rougned Odor is back from suspension. However, we have seen Profar receive playing time the past three days since Odor returned. Twice he had DH’d in place of Prince Fielder. The other, Odor DH’d and Fielder played first, forcing Mitch Moreland to the bench. Profar led off each game. Why is this relevant? Well it shows that the Rangers want to find ways to get Profar into their lineup. With Fielder and Moreland struggling, the two could continue to see decreased playing time. Profar is batting .370/.383/.630 with two homers and 11 runs in 10 games. While his .405 BABIP is unsustainable, Fantasy owners should expect around a .300 average and a high OBP going forward. Owners should take a flier on him, as they could always cut bait if he loses playing time or gets sent back down.
Tyler Naquin, Cleveland Indians
Naquin got called back up following the Marlon Byrd suspension. He has played well this season, batting .338/.378/.545 with three homers, seven RBIs and 14 runs. While he has no stolen bases on the season, he has always showed the ability to swipe a handful of bags in the minors. While he could be a nice waiver option in deeper formats, he should be left on waivers in the majority of leagues. He has always hit for a high BABIP in the minors, but his .469 BABIP is off the charts. His .208 ISO is also higher than he’s posted at any level throughout the minors. Maybe it’s me, but I don’t trust a rookie to post the best marks of his career once he reaches the bigs. Add that in with the fact that he strikes out 30.5 percent of the time, and you see that regression is coming.
Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins
Buxton started the year with the Twins, but was demoted after an awful April. Well, he has crushed the ball since coming back, batting .435 with a .217 ISO, two triples, a double, and a stolen base. He has 10 hits in 24 plate appearances. Yes, that pace is unsustainable. But this is very encouraging for a kid that just looked completely lost at the plate earlier this season. Buxton was crushing the ball in the minors, batting .336 with six homers and four steals. We all know the potential this top prospect has and these are encouraging signs. He should be owned in all dynasty formats and even in keeper leagues. If owners have an open roster spot, he is worth adding to see how this plays out.
Julio Urias, Los Angeles Dodgers
Urias’ major league career has not started as he and all Fantasy owners hoped. He’s made two starts and currently has a 9.39 ERA and 8.34 FIP. It is not a good sign when a pitchers ERA is higher than their K/9 (8.22). However, it is important to remember he is just 19 years old and has dominated his way through the minors. It is worth noting he struggled early on in Triple-A, before posting a 1.10 ERA in eight games this year (seven starts). If he struggles in his next outing, those in redraft leagues could drop him. However, those in dynasty formats should be looking to buy low.
Trea Turner, Washington Nationals
I know, who am I to question the moves of an organization, but man, what are the Nats doing? They finally call Turner up, let him play one game, before sitting him on the bench and sending him down. All the while, Danny Espinosa bats .196. Yes, Espinosa is a veteran and has yet to make an error. But the advanced metrics show that his defense is far from elite. It does not warrant keeping his bat in the lineup, and hopefully the Nats and Dusty Baker soon realize that. Turner has the ability to bat around .290 and steal 15-plus bases down the stretch if he is called up soon. The fact that they called him up over the weekend show that they are not concerned with service time. I would advise owners who picked him up to hold tight a little longer, unless they desperately need the roster spot.
A.J. Reed, Houston Astros
Reed has been a stash favorite for Fantasy owners all season. There was even speculation that the Astros would use Evan Gattis at catcher to open up the DH role for Reed. The only issue? Reed has been underperforming at Triple-A. So far this season, he has batted .239/.339/.452 with seven homers and 26 RBIs. While Tyler White has been disappointing at the bigs, don’t expect the Astros to call up Reed unless he starts hitting himself. Those in redraft leagues should not continue to use a bench spot on him. He is only worth stashing in those formats if you have a minor league spot.
Clint Frazier, Cleveland Indians
Above I stated that regression was coming Naquin’s way. Well, if and when it does, it could open a path for Frazier. The 21-year-old is batting .309/.404/.522 with six homers and six steals in Triple-A. Perhaps the best sign about Frazier is his plate discipline. Frazier has cut his strikeout rate to just 19.4 percent, while increasing his walk rate to 13.3 percent this season. While his call up is not imminent, he is a name that Fantasy owners, especially those in deeper leagues and AL-only should put on their watch list.
Peter O’Brien, Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks survived the David Peralta injury without receiving production from O’Brien, but they do currently have Michael Bourn starting in center field. While he has played well so far, if he tails off they could look to get creative and slide Peralta into CF, while having O’Brien play either left or right field. That is all speculation on my part. However, what is not speculation is the fact that O’Brien is hitting .325 with 16 homers and 50 RBIs in 48 Triple-A games. Yeah, this kid can mash. Fantasy owners should keep him on their radar going forward.
Wilson Contreras, Chicago Cubs
Things have got ugly for the Cubs at the catcher position since Kyle Schwarber went down. David Ross leads all Cubs catchers with a .226 average. Meanwhile they have got just six home runs out of the position. Contreras has the ability to change that. He is currently batting .339/.431/.588 with nine homers, 39 RBIs and even four stolen bases in Triple-A. While the Cubs have not hesitated to call up their top prospects in the past, they may be hesitant to call up a new catcher, given how well their pitching staff is performing. Still, this is a name Fantasy owners should keep a close eye on. Even if the Cubs opt not to call him up, there is always the chance he is moved in a trade.
All stats entering Tuesday, June 7.
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