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Hot Fantasy Prospects To Watch For Week 1

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Due to the timing of the recent owners lockout, the start of the 2022 MLB season coincided with the first week of minor league action. Now that fantasy baseball teams have been drafted and the season is underway, it's imperative to monitor the top prospects who have turned heads thus far.

At this point in the season, excellent prospect performances shouldn't be taken too seriously. Sure, there's no denying that short sample sizes can correspond to long-term success, but we'll need to see a bit more out of the players listed below before we go into a deep dive.

Regardless, keep an eye on these names over the long haul as they may prove to be excellent waiver wire adds soon.

Be sure to check all of our fantasy baseball lineup tools and weekly lineup resources:

 

Franchy Cordero - OF, Boston Red Sox

Level: Triple-A
2022 stats: 6 G, .385/.429/.808, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 6 R

Cordero has become one of the most interesting minor league players. Perhaps a perfect summary of what it means to be a Four-A player, the outfielder has raked in the upper levels of the minors. However, he slashed .189/.237/.260 with a 37.5 percent strikeout rate and 5.9 percent walk rate in the majors last year. He did post 99th-percentile exit velocity and 87th-percentile sprint speed, but his general struggles at the plate while playing for Boston have kept him in the minors for quite a while.

If Cordero continues to demolish the upper echelon of Minor League Baseball, he'll give Boston no choice. They'll have to call him up. The team is reportedly interested in signing Michael Conforto, but they could find a much cheaper option in Cordero. He, too, hits left-handed, throws right-handed, plays right field, and boasts a similar frame.

If there are any stats that stand out in fantasy baseball, they're home runs and stolen bases. Fortunately, Cordero has good power and speed. A promotion to the majors wouldn't make him an immediate must-add in fantasy leagues, but he would become a must-watch at the very least. Fantasy managers should keep their eyes on Cordero considering he could become an MLB starter within a mere month or two.

 

Johan Rojas - OF, Philadelphia Phillies

Level: High-A
2022 stats: 3 G, .308/.357/.308, 3 R, 1 RBI, 5 SB

Rojas, 21, is a former international signee who signed for a bargain of $10,000 back in 2018. Since then, he has slashed .281/.339/.420 with 72 stolen bases through three-plus seasons in the minors. He opened 2021 in Rookie ball, currently resides in High-A, and very well could see a promotion to Double-A by the middle of the season. The Phillies' outfield prospect posted a 10.8 percent strikeout rate and 9.5 percent walk rate through 20 games at High-A last season while also stealing bases at an impressive clip.

Rojas doesn't offer much in the way of power, but he makes up for it with blazing speed. The Dominican Republic product also makes contact, avoids strikeouts, and has refined his approach at the plate in order to increase his launch angle. Although Rojas is still at least a year or two away from the majors, he has consistently turned heads and continues to do so through three games in 2022. Don't be surprised if Rojas becomes a legitimate fantasy weapon by 2024.

 

Nick Allgeyer - SP, Toronto Blue Jays

Level: Triple-A
2022 stats: 2 GS, 1-0, 11.0 IP, 0.82 ERA, 0.45 WHIP, 10.64 K/9, 1.64 BB/9

Allgeyer, 26, was a 12th-round draft selection of the 2018 MLB Draft. He made his way to the majors last season, retiring all three batters he faced while pitching for the Jays. However, Toronto subsequently returned him to Triple-A, where he's been pitching ever since. He doesn't have the best numbers in the minors; his 2021 campaign included 8.06 K/9 and 5.24 BB/9 rates. However, he's certainly off to a good start so far in 2022.

Allgeyer boasts a mid-90s fastball, strong curveball, and impressive control. However, his most dominant offering is the changeup, which keeps hitters off-balance and helps him set the tone in at-bats. This repertoire should translate nicely to his next trip to the majors, whenever that might come. Although the Jays will likely use him in a relief role, his young, left-handed delivery can allow Allgeyer to warrant fantasy consideration in the future.

 

Christian Encarnacion-Strand - 1B/3B, Minnesota Twins

Level: High-A
2022 stats: 3 G, .714/.714/.1500, 3 HR, 5 R, 15 RBI, 1 SB

In college, all that Encarnacion-Strand could do was hit. Fittingly, that trend translated to his time in the minors. Through 25 games since being drafted last year, the corner infielder has slashed .436/.462/.723 with seven home runs. The fact that he's currently in High-A at the age of 22 suggests he could see MLB action as soon as late 2023.

In addition to being a strong contact hitter, Encarnacion-Strand has posted solid fielding metrics and mediocre baserunning abilities (three stolen bases on four attempts). The biggest concern with his game is the high strikeout-to-walk ratio of 33-to-five. He has shown an occasional tendency to attack pitches outside of the zone, leaving a weak spot in his approach and at the plate while giving pitchers a way to attack and beat him. Still, these things can be improved as he continues to develop in the minors. Watching Encarnacion-Strand constantly hit the ball in the lower levels of the minors offers a glimpse of the impact (both for the Twins and your fantasy team) that he could offer by 2024.

 

Ryne Nelson - SP, Arizona Diamondbacks

Level: Triple-A
2022 stats: 2 GS, 8.0 IP, 2.15 xFIP, 1.13 WHIP, 14.63 K/9, 1.13 BB/9

The Diamondbacks' second-round pick in 2019, Nelson has made his presence felt in the Arizona pipeline and could be closing in on his MLB debut. Through 22 starts at High- and Double-A last season, Nelson went 7-4 with a 3.17 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 12.64 K/9, 3.10 BB/9, and 1.24 HR/9. He pitched well enough to open 2022 in Triple-A, and he might find that his stay in Reno will be relatively short.

Nelson's best pitch is an upper-90s fastball that is capable of hitting triple-digits. He also has a lethal curveball and an equally lethal slider that is almost done being developed. Both his repertoire and command have improved since he was drafted, too. Once Nelson is promoted to the majors, it's hard to imagine that he'll ever be sent back down. He should debut as a starting pitcher, and his ability to blow pitches by hitters while limiting run damage bodes very well for his future fantasy stock.



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