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Fantasy Baseball Rookie Risers/Fallers (Week 7)


Well, the Major League season is already 23% 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. Exclusive access to our Draft Kit, premium rankings, projections, player outlooks, top sleepers, dynasty and prospect rankings, 15 in-season lineup tools, and over 200 days of expert DFS research. 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.

 

Nicky Lopez (2B, KC)

A fifth-round pick back in 2016 by the Royals, Lopez has moved through the system quickly due to a polished hit tool. Through 353 career games in professional ball, Lopez has a .296.378/.403 slash with 20 homers and 69 steals. Stepping into what looks to be a starting gig with Kansas City, Lopez has been hitting second and playing second base every day since the call. This means that Whit Merrifield will move to the outfield, and will hint at future moves with the roster. Whatever the case, Lopez seems to be a factor for the team this year with the early call.

Fantasy owners are happy with five hits in 11 ABs so far, but the lack of any counting stats is telling. Lopez will be a good batting average option but will offer little to no power, and perhaps, a handful of steals. The glove will keep him in the team, but when the Royals are competitive, if he is around, expect him to be hitting in the bottom third of the lineup. Stock is up with the early call, but expect D.J. LeMahieu without the power upside. In dynasty, owners can sell while there is some hype for surplus value.

 

Corbin Martin (SP, HOU)

The Houston native and boyhood Astros fan lit up the league in his first start. While only going 5.1 innings, he managed to rack up nine Ks, and only walked one. Getting the call before fellow top pitching prospect Forrest Whitley, Martin was posting a 1.48 ERA over 24.1 innings before the move. While Whitley still has the higher floor of the pair, Martin took a jump to start this year, and now looks to be a key piece in this rotation. With Colin McHugh heading to the bullpen, the spot is there even with some concerns on length.

Martin offers four pitchers, with a plus fastball being the main out pitch. In his one start he tended to sit with this pitch up in the zone but liked to throw the change-up down and away to righties. While the grouping will need to move a bit more to stay ahead of the hitters, the vertical approach can keep getting him Ks without an elite breaking option. Martin is my top FAAB bid this week and owners should break the bank to add a top arm, on a top team. If Whitley is still out there, wait, but if not, this is the target.

 

Cole Irvin (SP, PHI)

In his debut start of the campaign, Irvin worked effectively and posted seven strong innings versus the Royals. Ranked as a mid-teens  prospect within the Phillies organization by most sites, Irvin projects as an SP4 type over the rest of his career. With a fastball that tops out in the high-80s, Irvin will need to use his command to keep batters off his offerings. In his debut, that was the case, with one walks and five Ks. While he did give up five hits, he did not give up a single barrel.

The stock is up since Irvin could be an innings source for desperate fantasy owners. Not only are the Phillies looking to be on pace to win 90 games this year, a start, with length, can add eight or more victories the rest of the way. While he might only be around until Vince Velasquez is back, that still means three starts to show what he has. Expect the K numbers to be down, but the WHIP will make up for that. Irvin could be an SP3 in fantasy with the wins, and an easy, cheap add this week.

Rookie Debuts - Stock Neutral

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

Austin Riley (3B/OF, ATL)

Even with the early hot start to his career, Riley’s stock is neutral due to playing time concerns. For the time being, it looks like he will have a chance to play in left, or at least, fill in the outfield with Ronald Acuna Jr. moving to center. Not only does Reilley lack real experience in the outfield, but might only be up for the next week or so. Obviously if he keeps hitting, the Braves will make other moves, but for now, watch the injury news on Ender Inciarte for a clear read on how to roster Riley.

In terms of his fantasy value, Riley might be one pf the top hitting options the rest of the way. A plus hit tool coupled with plus plus power makes Riley an offensive threat in all formats. There is a ton of swing-and-miss, with 1.36 Ks per game in the minors. And yet, the potential is there to make up for it, and if owners can settle for a .240 batting line, Riley can be a crucial option this week. Long-term he is still one of the top prospects in fantasy baseball, and for this year, the only real limit is playing time.

 

Rookie Debuts - Stock Down

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

Shed Long (2B, SEA)

After the trade to New York and then to Seattle, Long’s stock is down with the move away from Great American. When the hit tool is the key, even something like the park might be key to what options he offers moving forward. After a hot start to the year at Triple-A, Long found himself in the mix due to some roster needs, and got the call sooner than expected. After slashing .295/.364/.535 with four homers over 33 games, Long was putting together his best showing in the upper minors, and peaked interest in the front office. From there he went hitless in 11 ABs with Seattle and is already back down in the minors, so no dice on that FAAB bid.

Long will be a frustrating prospect to own, as the hit tool shows enough promise to profile as a fantasy bat, but also, he lacks the glove to hold down a spot. After starting as a catcher, he has moved to the outfield, and second. If he can stay at second, he profiles as a .260/15/8 option which will be rosterbable in most formats. And yet, returning to the power limits at his home park, the batting average along might not be there to play. Still, with a spot to play on a team entering a rebuild, there might be playing time to boost the line.

 

Oscar Mercado (OF, CLE)

After being added in an intriguing trade with St. Louis last deadline by Cleveland, Mercado been a lingering option to play in the outfield. With any Cleveland outfielder, the context is critical, as there are no firm starts in the team as out now. Jordan Luplow might be the most apparent option, as the only right-handed bat hitting as of now. With left field, Jake Bauers will be rotated through, but also will take some time at first and designated hitter. Center and Mercado’s best spot is held down by Leonys Martin, but when he has not been hitting, there is a change coming soon.

This all means that Mercado will find playing time, but might be too raw for impact as of now. While he was hitting .294 at Triple-A, owners should expect something closer to the .254 career mark in the minors. With minimal power, the speed and glove are the carrying tools. The issue will be the batting line, as he will struggle early, causing the playing time to drop, and therefore limit the steals. For now let others break the bank, but in dynasty try to buy while the stock is down. With playing time he does have value, but the hype is a bit much for the no floor prospect in Cleveland.

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