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Fantasy Baseball Rookie Risers/Fallers (Week 20)

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.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off, with exclusive access to our season-long articles, 15 in-season lineup tools and over 200 days of expert DFS research/tools. Sign Up Now!


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.

Dom Nunez (C, COL)

With the sudden release of Chris Iannetta, the Rockies are clearly forcing the issue with Nunez. While Tony Wolters is still able to provide a plus glove with some athleticism behind the plate, Nunez is the better hitter of the two. Only one game so far up in the bigs, but the team context makes him worthy of a review this week. With the Rockies out of the race, look for Bud Black to try out his catcher of the future. In his first game, Nunez had only one hit, but when that hit is a homer, owners can breathe easier. With 71 homers in 521 career minor league games, the power is there is factor in for fantasy value. 

The main reason the stock is up with this backstop is the improving defense behind the dish. Questions earlier in his career focused on the big frame, and while able to block balls in the dirt with the best of them, Nunez had a hard time being accurate on the throw to second. Still, the arm is a plus tool, and he has improved his caught stealing numbers with every step up the ladder. While there is still some development left, as of now, Nunez is a starting option in NL-only leagues from the start.


Josh Rojas (3B, ARI)

A former 26th-round draft selection by the Houston Astros, Rojas was dealt to Arizona in the Zach Greinke deal. Entering most formats with only third base eligibility, owners should expect to see Rojas play at second and short as well. Projecting as a utility fielder, Rojas flashes the glove to make him a playable asset on most teams. Even more, over his first four games, Rojas collected four hits and scored two runs. He was caught stealing on his only attempt, but the speed will be there if he can keep getting on base. For comparison, in 291 career minor league games, Rojas swiped 71 bases. 

Rojas has been one of the better minor-league bats, and still seemingly was a complementary piece in the trade. Nevertheless, in his first eight games at Reno, Rojas slashed .514/.575/.943. While only a week of play, he had been batting .310 with Round Rock prior to the move as well. For fantasy owners, Rojas is a player with playing time potential on a team looking to find a starter at second for next year. The fact that he has been mashing this year should only make it easier to add him. 


Randy Dobnak (RP, MIN)

Entering the game for his debut after Devin Smeltzer allowed six runs in 4.1 innings, Dobnak was thrown right into the fire versus Cleveland. And yet, with four scoreless innings against one of the hottest offenses in the game, the stock could only be moving up. While he was demoted after the game due to the extended outing, Dobnak could be a vital arm on a team in need of bullpen help. At the very least he will be back up soon. While the Twins went and added some pieces at the deadline, with Sam Dyson already on the Injured List, they are back to where they started. Hence, the increased usage that Dobnak can expect to see. 

While he has four pitches, Dobnak used fastballs and sinkers on 67% of his offerings against Cleveland. Both register at 91 on the radar and might be a bit risky without much separation. Add in the launching pad that is Target Field, and Donbak will need to go to his changeup to have sustained success. And yet, Dobnak did post a 23% Whiff rate with his pitches. While part of this has to be down to the new team seeing a new arm, the stuff was there in the minors as well. With a career 1.10 WHIP to show the command, and a 2.70 ERA for the run suppression, the track record is there. Long relief seems to be his role for now, but with another injury or two, expect Dobnak to be a follower yet this year. 

Rookie Debuts - Stock Down

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

Chandler Shepherd (SP/RP, BAL)

A 13th-round selection by the Boston Red Sox back in 2014, Shepherd was claimed off waivers via the Cubs last year, This came after only a week with the team, as he had been waived by the Sox a week earlier. Mixing in four pitches, Shepherd tops out at 93 on the fastball but has decent control with all of his offerings. The fastball is the best pitch and while the velocity might be an issue in the bigs the curveball and cutter offer excellent alternatives. Shepherd will be a pitcher who pounds the zone but has been active at generating ground ball outs at each step up the ladder.

To start his career, Shepherd projects as a reliever. This explains why the Sox and Cub moved on so quickly, and why with Baltimore needing to fill inning, there is a real shot for continued work. Still, in his first four innings against the Yankees, he only allowed one earned run and struck out two. The concern will be the walks, as he dished out three free passes over his first outing. For now, the limit is the team around him, and with a lack of wins, there is not much of value here. For owners in leagues that count innings, Shepherd might be a good stash. And yet, the WHIP numbers will be high for that role owners are better suited to pass on this low-ceiling arm.

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