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Prospect Debuts - Fantasy Stock Watch for Week 5

Well, the Major League season is already 15% of the way done. Some owners think that they are on their way to victory while others are patiently waiting for things to turn around. Still, while all the victory laps are being taken, the smart owner is looking forward to the rest of the year and finding what value can still be had. While the season always seems to move quickly, the dog days of summer are still upon us.

Now that we are rolling along, so too are the call-ups. This week, the Rotoballer team keeps tabs on all the new names and faces, with insight into their fantasy value to help any team. For owners looking for a cheap spark, look no further.

For redraft, dynasty, or general fantasy players knowing the new prospects is key to begin to plan out FAAB bids and waiver claims. Target or avoid these players to helps teams keep their competitive windows open.

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Rookie Debuts - Stock Up

These players helped their fantasy value with solid debut weeks for their respective team. If not on owners's radars, these players need to be.


Carter Kieboom (SS, WAS)

Only debuting at Triple-A this year, Kieboom was called up earlier than expected by the Nationals. While always listed as one of the top prospects in baseball, it is only due to the Trea Turner injury that the playing time door is open for the next month or so. Expect some swings in terms of production, but Kieboom will score runs even with a projected .240 batting average. Even more, Kieboom is a player to own for next year, but this year he will be worth the FAAB bids it took to grab him.

While not known for his power production in the minors, Kieboom does have two knocks through his first four games in the Bigs. If he can keep this up, the rest of the skills are there to turn this into a strong debut season. And yet, the jump might be just what fantasy owners need as Kieboom has always graded out with plus in-game power. His best season was 16 homers over 120 games in 2018. Expect the power to come before a consistent batting average, but either will be welcome on fantasy rosters.

The stock is up for this rookie with the early call, and owners should add Kieboom before he gets even more expensive.


Ty France (3B, SD)

While he has been up for a week and played in four games, France only has five total plate appearances. And yet, after a hot start to Triple-A this year, France should be slotted into a bench role, who can play first and third. While Eric Hosmer and Manny Machado are not going anywhere, with playing time spells, France will help the team not lose too much pop at the corners. Even more, with the National League needing more pinch hitters due to the pitchers alone, France, if he hangs with the team, can be the power option late in games.

In 19 games at Triple-A, France was slashing .423/.500/.885 with nine homers. Petco is admittedly not a great hitters park but does not hurt right-handed power as much as expected. With a full run, France does have 25 plus homer power potential over an entire season. The key to early season success will be keeping the K rate under 20%, as has been the case so far in his professional career. The walk rate was well down this year in the minors, but chalk that up to small sample noise. For a player that was not on most fantasy prospect lists to start the year, France is a must own on the cheap, if he keeps getting at least pinch-hitting chances.

Stock is up with the early call, and the hot start to the campaign, even with those numbers coming in the minors.


Stock Neutral

These players neither helped nor hurt their fantasy value in the first week of play.


Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3B, TOR)

Well, Guerrero Jr. is a bust. No homers through his first three games, and a lowly .250 batting line. All joking aside, there was nothing in the first series that made owners doubt that Guerrero can make a significant impact this year. Even in his ABs that ended with a punch-out, the slugger laid off close pitches and is seeing the ball well. Even more, with the hype and pressure of the opening wee, Guerrero looked comfortable. While this might not count in the fantasy scores, it only points to a fun next few months watching more Toronto games than most owners expected.

In terms of his production in the minors, over eight games at Triple-A, Guerrero was slashing .367/.424/.700 with three homers and a steal. This is just a continuation from last year’s raking, and all signs point to an elite hitter starting his jounrey. In dynasty leagues, play him while you can, or stash him if there are contact rules. In redraft league, this writer is still a bit concerned that he will not return the third round value that it took to add him, so there might be a chance to sell high. Even if he plays like an All-Star the rest of the year, flipping him for established stars would not be the worst idea.

Stock is neutral since the hype could not even be any higher.


Stock Down

These players hurt their fantasy value with disappointing debuts. Not down for the count, but a red flag to keep watching.


Luis Rengifo (2B/SS, LAA)

A .231 batting average through his first four games should be an accurate depiction of what fantasy owners can expect this year. The batting floor will hover around .250, but the steals are what will push up his value this year. Multiple 60 steal seasons in the minors show the speed upside that Rengifo can bring. The downturn in batting average from .290 to .260 was a bit alarming when he jumped to Triple-A, so expect some bumps during his first season.

In terms of value this year, owners should be willing to stay away even with the track record of speed early in his career. Rengifo should only should only be up for a week or two until Zack Cozart is back and playing. When the Angels, as a whole, are struggling to start the year, there is a chance that owners start to see more rookie debuts in Los Angeles. Until then, sell shares high with the hype, and target Rengifo in mid-rounds next year, as this year’s Garrett Hampson.

Stock is down for now as playing time will not help fantasy owners with their ratios and rate stats.


Taylor Hearn (SP, TEX)

Not the debut to remember for Hearn with five runs, and four earned, over only one out. The main issue was four walks and no Ks in that inning as well. After the game, it was announced that Hearn would be shut down for three weeks due to elbow inflammation. The downside is that the Rangers are so desperate for starting pitching that Hearn would have had an excellent chance to earn some key innings this year. This means that if he does get back to the mound, expect him to be pitching out the pen to keep the wear off the elbow.

Coming into 2019, Hearn was a close to the majors arms, but who lacked the real skills to hang in the starting rotation. Many saw him as an SP4/5 or a bullpen arm. While only one appearance, the control that has plagued him continue to be his Achilles Heel. With the run factors also hurting him in Texas, Hearn is off the list the rest of the way. In dynasty leagues, this is a sell, but not right now, as the injury will kill all of his value.

Stock is down with the injury, and the less than stellar debut.

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