This time last week I recommended stashing Astros prospect Yordan Alvarez and Rockies prospect Brendan Rodgers in anticipation of potential call-ups to the majors. I was half-right while also missing the boat on some big names. Projecting prospect call-ups is a fruitless exercise, so I guess I’m just going to say stash everyone from now on? Let's go with that.
Keston Hiura (Yahoo: 52 percent rostered) has already eked over the 50 percent mark since his call-up, and rightfully so. Between Travis Shaw’s struggles and his wrist injury, there’s a real chance Hiura can run away with the second base job. His strikeout rate was up a bit in Triple-A this year, but so was the power. I love the lineup and situation, so it’s not crazy to see him as a potential top-12 second baseman the rest of the way.
As I noted last week, Rodgers is another name to be excited about. Obviously a big reason for that is having Coors Field on his side, but the 22-year-old has also shown some good progress with his approach while batting .356/.421/.644 with nine homers over 35 games in Triple-A this year. He actually hasn’t attempted a steal this year, but he had 12 last year between Double- and Triple-A. Garrett Hampson was demoted earlier this week and Ryan McMahon hasn’t done much this season, so there’s opportunity at second base. Rodgers was still available in 78 percent of Yahoo leagues as of Thursday morning. You know what to do.
Don’t worry, we have much more prospect talk below. I'll also dive into all of the recent call-ups in the newest episode of the Rotoworld Baseball Podcast, which comes out Friday morning. Subscribe if you don't already.
Have specific questions about your roster? Ask @djshort on Twitter.
(Players rostered in under 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Note: Percentages are from the morning of Thursday, May 16th.
Corbin Martin SP, Astros (Yahoo: 41 percent rostered)
Collin McHugh was a favorite of mine in drafts this year, but he was moved to the bullpen after posting a disappointing 6.37 ERA through eight starts. Win some, lose some. Martin was called up to replace him and boy did he impress in his major league debut against the Rangers on Sunday, allowing two runs over 5 1/3 innings while striking out nine and walking just one. The 23-year-old hasn’t gotten as much hype as top prospect Forrest Whitley, but he’s pretty promising in his own right. After posting a 2.51 ERA and 122/35 K/BB ratio between High-A and Double-A last year, Martin had a 1.48 ERA in four starts and one relief appearance in Triple-A prior to the promotion. In his debut, he sat comfortably in the mid-90s with his fastball — often working up in the zone to good effect — and also flashed a wicked curveball and a changeup. It’s understandable if you think twice about using him against the Red Sox this week, but he gets the White Sox after that and should be stashed away sooner rather than later.
Willians Astudillo C/3B, Twins (Yahoo: 33 percent rostered)
Mitch Garver has unexpectedly emerged as one of the top fantasy catchers so far this season, but he’s now facing an extended absence due to a high left ankle sprain. Astudillo, who returned this week after a stint on the injured list with a hamstring strain, figures to benefit during his absence while sharing time with Jason Castro behind the plate. The 27-year-old Astudillo has shown a serious knack for making contact while batting .323/.335/.494 with five homers and 29 RBI through 49 major league games. The bonus, of course, is that he’s just fun as hell to watch. The bar is pretty low at catcher right now, so Astudillo is worthy of consideration in most formats.
Austin Riley 3B, Braves (Yahoo: 43 percent rostered)
Okay, so get the prospect madness started with Riley, who received the call on Wednesday after Ender Inciarte went down with a lumbar strain in his back. Riley didn’t waste any time showing off his power potential, slugging a home run in his second major league at-bat. It was a no-doubter which traveled 438 feet with an exit velocity of 109 mph. Riley made the start in left field, a position he’s only just learning at this point in time, but the Braves are hoping that he does enough with the bat to make up for his inexperience. The 22-year-old was off to a monster start in Triple-A this year, with a .299/.377/.681 batting line and 15 homers over 37 games. This includes 14 homers in his last 19 games. Approach has been an issue for Riley in the past, but he made some noticeable strides in that area this year, cutting 10 percent of his strikeout rate and upping his walk rate. Maybe the outfield experiment will be a flop and Inciarte gets his job back when he’s healthy, but Riley should be scooped up everywhere on the chance that he sticks.
Aledmys Diaz 1B/2B/SS/3B, Astros (Yahoo: 14 percent rostered)
Another injury fill-in, Diaz is getting an opportunity at second base with the Astros while Jose Altuve nurses a left hamstring strain. This is strictly a short-term move in fantasy leagues, but the former AL MVP hasn’t even started running yet, so we could be looking another week or two. The 28-year-old Diaz has taken advantage of his opportunity by smacking three homers with 10 RBI and six runs scored over his last five games. While he hasn’t been able to equal the impressive numbers he posted a rookie with the Cardinals in 2016, he slugged 18 homers in 130 games last year with the Blue Jays. Diaz is in a great situation with the Astros and also qualifies all over the place, so he’s a fine plug-and-play option in deeper leagues at the very least.
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Lucas Giolito SP, White Sox (Yahoo: 44 percent rostered)
I almost put Giolito in my column last week and now I’m wishing I did, because he’s looking more than a streamer these days. On the strength of brilliant back-to-back starts while facing the Indians and Blue Jays, the former top prospect is sporting a 3.55 ERA and 46/16 K/BB ratio in 38 innings through his first seven starts this season. He had some issues with his control early on in the year, but he’s walked three or fewer batters in all three of his starts since returning from a hamstring strain. Giolito’s average fastball velocity is up a tick this year, but he’s also relying more often on his changeup. As a result, he has posted the highest swinging strike percentage of his career. With another start against the Blue Jays on tap for Saturday, Giolito should be started in most formats.
Oscar Mercado OF, Indians (Yahoo: 22 percent rostered)
The prospect roll-out continues here with Mercado, who replaced the injured Tyler Naquin on the active roster. Mercado, a former shortstop, came over from the Cardinals in an under-the-radar trade at last year’s deadline. As bad as the Indians’ outfield has looked, it’s surprising that it has taken this long for him to get a chance. Mercado was off to a great start in Triple-A this year, hitting .294/.396/.496 with 15 extra-base hits (including four homers) over 30 games. Most importantly for fantasy owners, he was 14-for-17 in stolen base attempts. He’s not going to be a zero in the power department, but speed is why you want him. Mercado has swiped 210 bases over 626 games in the minors. If you are playing catch-up, go crazy here.
Tommy La Stella 2B/3B, Angels (Yahoo: 46 percent rostered)
I know, I’m confused too. La Stella hit another homer on Wednesday night against the bringing his total to 11 in just 133 plate appearances so far this season. He actually leads the Angels in home runs, even hitting more than that Mike Trout fellow. Keep in mind that La Stella had just 10 homers in 947 career plate appearances coming into 2019. What is going on here? Well, La Stella has always been excellent at making contact. He hasn’t given that up in search of power this year. In fact, he has more walks (13) than he does strikeouts (eight) so far this season. Among players with at least 70 plate appearances, only teammate David Fletcher and Willians Astudillo have struck out less often. One thing we can definitively say is that La Stella is hitting the ball in the air more often. And according to Fangraphs’ hard-hit percentage metric, he ranks higher than every before. There’s still all sorts of reason to be skeptical, so it’s very possible we’ve already seen the best from him, but I can’t see leaving him on the wire in any format right now.
Nicky Lopez SS, Royals (Yahoo: 13 percent rostered)
For a team who is sitting in last place in the AL Central, the Royals certainly have some interesting position players. Let’s add Lopez to the list. The 24-year-old received his first call-up to the majors this week after posting an impressive .353/.457/.500 batting line with three homers and nine steals over 31 games with Triple-A Omaha. He struck out just five times in 138 plate appearances while drawing 20 walks, so we’re talking about a very polished approach. He also had more walks (167) than strikeouts (139) if we include his entire minor league resume. He’s hit second in each of his first two games in the majors, which is quite the early vote of confidence. The expectation is that he’ll function as the regular second baseman, with Whit Merrifield making the full-time move to the outfield. I see Lopez hitting for average and scoring runs while at least contributing in terms of pop and speed. If you need a middle infielder in a deeper format, go for it.
Andrew Heaney SP, Angels (Yahoo: 34 percent rostered)
Who doesn’t need pitching help right now? Here’s an IL stash if you have room. Heaney has been out all season after coming down with elbow soreness during spring training, but he’s inching closer to a return to the Angels. After weather forced the Angels to change their plans on an official rehab assignment, the southpaw threw 58 pitches over four innings in extended spring training. He figures to move to a minor league affiliate from here for at least one more start, but we’re likely looking at a return by the end of the month if all goes well. Heaney posted a 4.15 ERA over 30 starts last year, which doesn’t standing out on the surface, but he struck out 180 batters in 180 innings while walking just 45 batters. Obviously the injury history makes him a huge wild card, but he should be a competent starter to fill out mixed league staffs once he arrives.
Jarrod Dyson OF, Diamondbacks (Yahoo: 13 percent rostered)
Dyson’s first season with the Diamondbacks was a dud, mostly due to continued groin issues, but he’s off to a great start so far this year. Serving as the regular center fielder and leadoff man against right-handers of late, the 34-year-old speedster is batting .290/.391/.419 with three homers over 33 games while leading the National League with 11 steals. He has four two-steal games in his last eight, which is noteworthy given that only six players have stolen more than eight bases so far this season. His speed carries the way, as always, but he’s even more interesting because of his lineup placement and ability to get on base.