Quick Takes on Rookie Call Ups

Most of my articles are based off myself wanting to know about a subject and just hoping some readers want similar information. I’ve been overwhelmed over the last week with various names and roles for several prospects. Today, I am going to try to wade through these recent promotions to see which players are rosterable and which are just fluff. They are generally listed in my order of preference but each owner will need to see if a player (e.g. Greg Allen for steals) is usable depending on their own team needs.

Hitters

Jeimer Candelario: His value comes down to he can hit for some power and is playing regularly for the Tigers. Additionally, he’s been red hot since joining the Tigers (.400/.478/.500). He should be a .250 hitter with double digit home runs, and no stolen bases over a full. While boring, he is the only hitter featured playing every day.

Greg Allen: In daily lineup leagues, I see him as a must own for owners needing steals. Allen has one usable fantasy trait and that’s stealing bases. Like many of the rookies called up, he’s not getting regular playing time. He’s only started two games but has been in three others as a pinch hitter or runner. Because of his pinch running skills, steal deprived owners can start him if they have another player taking the day off hoping Allen gets used as a pinch runner. Owners shouldn’t count on him for any other production besides the steals.

J.P. Crawford: I’m not a fan. I think he’s better in real life than fantasy. He grades to be an above average defender with a decent arm. Originally scouting reports put his Bat grade above average and his Power below average. He’s lived up to the Bat grades if an owner includes his 10%+ BB% because his batting average hovers around .250. This season in AAA, he’s shown decent pop with 15 HR but the lack of steals (5) limits his value. His projected line of .241/.322/.361. Owners need to decide if these numbers are playable (close to Dansby Swanson’s 2017 line of .237/.318/.341). In the first two games, he’s started at third base which shows some of his versatility.

Teoscar Hernandez: Hernandez seems usable in deep leagues where every starter is playing (started in four of the last six games). Hernandez has a nice speed/power game going with 12 of each in AAA this season. He has a little swing-and-miss in his game (projected 25% K%) so his batting average suffers some. Overall, he’s pretty bland but is a warm body who is starting.

Austin Hays: He’s gone from a very fringy prospect to a candidate for the minor league player of the year. Most of the improvement has been from unexpected power. Strangely, he has put similar lines at both High-A (16 HR, .328/.364/.592) and AA (16 HR, .330/.367/.594). Reports say he is serviceable at any outfield position and the only “hole” the Orioles have is Rickard in right field. The biggest question will be if he gets time in the field. Owners may need to buy now and evaluate as he either plays or rides the pine for nine.

Last-minute addition: Victor Robles: A huge talent, especially for teams needing steals. I’m just not sure where the playing time comes from. I would treat him like Greg Allen. Pick up in daily lineup leagues and use him when starting. I pretty much see him as a pinch running option going forward.

Franklin Barreto: Of the hitters, he may have the most fantasy talent. Between the minor and the majors, he has both 17 home runs and stolen bases. Additionally, he has been nearly a .300 hitter while in the minors. Even though he has struggled in the majors (.163/.226/.327), I would bet on his minor-league track record. While Barreto got regular playing time in late June with Semien was out, he’s only played twice since being called up. Owners could possibly use him in daily lineup leagues if they have the bench space.

Alex Verdugo: I don’t see any reason to roster the 21-year-old this season unless an owner needs a warm body in a NL-only league. I think he is a couple years away from peaking and most prospectors have him at as an average major leaguer, not a star. He has a good eye and can put the bat on the ball. These traits will allow him to have a decent batting average and on-base percentage. The problem is that his current skills end there. He’s hit only 6 HR in the PCL. He did steal nine bases after only swiping two last season. Additionally, he may have issues finding playing time on a Dodgers team with their other 37 outfielders.

Francisco Mejia: For a catcher, Mejia will be a nice bat in the future but it looks like the Indians have determined not to play him this year. I wonder if he was called up to familiarize himself with the pitching staff. Since being up seven days, he’s got 6 PA and started in only one game as the DH. He profiles to have an above average Hit and Speed tools for a catcher. His power is coming around after hitting 14 HR in AA. Even with the dearth of catcher talent, owners should use a catcher who is playing.

Pitchers

Jack Flaherty: He’s getting a little buzz after his start yesterday allowing just one run over five innings of work. Before the season, Eric Longenhagen gave him 45 to 60 grades on his four pitches and command with most grading as a 50. He projects to be average and in most leagues, average is useful. Projections put his ERA near 4.30 with 8.0 K/9. If I’m an owner needing help with Strikeout and Wins, I’d look to stream him depending on the match up like yesterday against the Padres.

Luiz Gohara: If an owner only needs just strikeouts and feels fine ruining his ratios, Gohara fits the bill. The strikeouts exist with him averaging over 10 K/9 almost at every minor league stop. He just posted a 12.2 K/9 in AAA. His problem has been walks which have gone up each level after starting the season in High-A. It’s not a good progression: 2.5 to 3.1 to 4.1 to 9.0 BB/9. I’d like to see a good start or two before buying in which may take us to the season’s end.

Walker Buehler: He’s great. He’s awesome. He’s and budding star. And he’s useless this season as he heads to the Dodgers bullpen. He might be ownable in a NL-only league. Maybe.

Others

The A’s recalled Renato Nunez, Daniel Mengden, Raul Alcantara, and Joey Wendle. I don’t see any of these four getting major playing time or making an impact.

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Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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Mario Mendoza
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Mario Mendoza

aaaaaaaant then Robles gets called up. 😛

I love Mejia, think he’s the most talented out of all these guys, but passing on him even in a keeper league. Don’t think he’ll be a regular until late next year and maybe not really productive until 2019.

Should I keep a cheap Crawford or a bloated-salary Addison Russell? Hate to cut Russell after waiting on him for 3 years… and he was finally on a nice little run before his injury… but I’m no longer dreamy-eyed on him.