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Fantasy Baseball Rookie Risers/Fallers (Week 14)

Well, the Major League season is already 47% 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.


Brendan McKay (SP, TB)

One of the better-known prospects in the game due to his two-way profile, McKay is getting the call after shooting through the Ray’s minor league system. With the two-way work early in his career, there were some concerns that McKay could take longer to get to the Majors, with a split of his focus slowing down the skill development. With a shift to pitching as the primary focus over the past year, the progression has been quicker. Still, with the Rays, the call-up is surprising, as they tend to broil their prospects until the last possible moment.

In his debut McKay made it through six scoreless innings, allowing one hit and walking one batter. While he only had three Ks, the stuff is not the selling point with McKay, while the ability to limit contact is. With a 0.83 career WHIP in the minors, McKay can mix and command four 50-grade pitches. The cutter will flash plus, and with the fastball, will be McKay’s best offerings. While he will be a pitcher first during his time with the team, McKay does have four appearances at the plate since his call. While the offensive upside is middling for now, the whole package is one that is worth a dart with the remaining FAAB dollars.


Robel Garcia (2B, CHC)

Garcia was a minor league free agent signing by the Cubs this offseason after his release from Cleveland's system. While starting the year with a short stint at Double-A, he has spent most of the season at Triple-A Iowa for the Cubs. After posting a career batting line of .233, Garcia looks to be a gamble that has worked off for the team with a .281/.352/.596 slash line at Triple-A so far. While the break-out is still only 52 games long, when looking to his playing time in Cleveland, Garcia is getting his first chance to hold down a spot at any level.

How the Cubs use him remains to be seen, but he did play second in his debut. In six total chances so far, Garcia has three hits with one homer. If he does stick with the team expect him to be a reserve option at second but also could be a replacement to Daniel Descalso if the latter continues to struggle. Entering the year off most top-400 lists, Garcia might emerge as a top-100 talent if the changes this year carry over.


Rookie Debuts - Stock Down

These players hurt their fantasy value during their first week of play.

Dylan Cease (SP, CWS)

Cease joined the White Sox Eloy Jimenez in the Jose Quintana deal, and the Sox has ridden that deal to the top two prospects in their system. One of the top arms in the game, and to date, perhaps the best starting pitching prospect to debut, Cease will be an expensive target in FAAB leagues this week. While the appearance itself was not all that great, with three earned runs in five innings, the prospect shine is hard to ignore. Cease did add six Ks to the line, and limited Tiger hitters to only four total hits.

No matter the early results, Cease has the best arm in the White Sox system in terms of his raw stuff. With a plus-plus fastball and curveball combination to lead the line, Cease can also offer a 50-grade slider or change-up late in counts. Control will be the concern, with 167 totals BBs in 354 total minor-league innings. The question for Cease is not if he will be a fantasy arm, but rather, when. For now, owners should stay away from the substantial FAAB bids due to concern around the command and team context. Entering 2020, Cease will be a young arm to bid on, but for now, there is too much risk based on his 2019 season in the minors and Majors.


LaMonte Wade Jr. (OF, MIN)

According to, Wade Jr. is the 22nd-best prospect in the Twins system, with other sites having him slotted even lower. In a deep system, Wade Jr. has found it hard to stick out, especially with a 50 hit tool grade. Add in that he lacks the elite speed or power to hold his own as a light-hitting outfielder, and Wade has not been of much interest until his call. Still, Wade has been a steady mover through the system and appears to have the profile to fit into the speed and glove focus that the Twins like. While he lacks the elite skills at either, Wade brings an MLB-ready glove with his developing hit tool.

Still, there are questions surrounding this call. For example, Wade Jr. was having his worst minor league season to date before the call. With a career .278 batting average, Wade is only hitting .244 this year. The power is also middling with five homers this campaign, and four in the same amount of games last year. While he seems to have a limited shelf life, Wade Jr. does look to be the first outfielder that the team will go to when they need a bat. While owners cannot expect much when he does arrive for good, for those in need of outfield depth, Wade Jr. will be a cheap addition to slip through this week.


Tom Eshelman (SP, BAL)

An Astros draftee, a Phillies prospect, and now an Orioles starter, Eschelman has taken a long road to make it to his debut. In five innings of two-run baseball in that game, Eshelman did not record a K, but only walked one opposing batter. A pitcher with ordinary stuff, Eshleman relies on contact to generate outs. This is not the type of profile that owners will want based on who he will pitch against, and what park will house most of those games. Still, with a team in need of help, Eshelman might be up for good, even middling returns.

The minor league numbers paint a similar picture to the shaky projections with a 1.34 WHIP, and only 393 Ks in 496 total innings. He does not walk many hitters with 113 total free passes over his time in the Phillies organization, so there is some floor to the skills. With the lack of quality starting pitching this year, Eshelman makes the list because he is a body on the mound. For owners in need of any stable production, avoid Eshleman, and protect those ratios. For owners who can afford to stream pitchers who give up contact in a small ballpark, Eshelman should be yours for $1.

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