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Fantasy Baseball Rookie Risers/Fallers (Week 9)

Well, the Major League season is already 34% 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.


Will Smith (C, LAD)

Perhaps the safest of the catching prospects on fantasy radars right now, Smith is getting the call sooner than expected. With Austin Barnes looking to be out for a bit, and Russell Martin not able to play more than three times a week, Smith has entered an active role from the start. On depth charts he is even listed as the starter, so the role is set for now. With two hits in his first seven plate appearances, Smith is off the mark. No power so far, but owners will take singles in the first week and run with it.

The hit tool has always been the question with sub-.240 batting line in the minors. Smith does flash good power, allowing him to stick at the position without elite defense. Expect 20 or more homers over a full year once he acclimates. That alone will make Smith playable at catcher over the next few weeks. Moving forward there has been talk around moving him to third or second while keeping a rotation at catcher. This means he could be playing a bit more, and the key will be the batting line. If he can hit .240, then Smith will be worth the add.


Devin Smeltzer (SP/RP, MIN)

A fifth-round pick back in 2016, Smeltzer had been a slow mover but has taken off since moving to the Twins organization. Currently set in the rotation, long term, owners should expect him to move to the bullpen. Still, in his first game, against the Brewers, Smeltzer threw six scoreless innings. Along the way, he struck out seven and walked no batters. An ideal start to a career, and with good opposition, this bodes well moving forward.

There will be questions on how long he sticks around with the Twins, but as Michael Pineda is set to miss some time, Smeltzer has earned at least one more start. Besides, when Cleveland offers a lefty-heavy approach, the handedness will benefit fantasy owners against the only other threat in the division. For now, buy into the 302 KS over 303 innings in the minors, and hope that the 1.09 WHIP from Triple-A continues. Stock is up with the hot start, and with another, this will be the next fantasy prospect to target in mixed leagues.


Rookie Debuts - Stock Neutral

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


Zach Plesac (SP, CLE)

As Cleveland cycles through pitchers attempting to fill-in for Corey Kluber, the rookie reports will look much the same. Most of the Triple-A pitching for Cleveland will be effective on the mound but lack the stuff to put hitters away with regularity. This has been the case with Jefry Rodriguez, and now, Zac Plesac. Add in that the Cleveland offense is still slumping, and the margins for wins are quite small. This means that owners should expect five inning outings, with two runs and 2 Ks on average.

In terms of Plesac more specifically, the debut start versus Boston could not have gone much better. He allowed one run over 5.1 innings and struck out two. Ignore the lone run as well, as the bullpen gave up a runner on a cheap hit. What also makes Plesac unique is the sudden change in form. Until he made it to Double-A, Plesac was fairly padrestrain on the mound. Since, he has looked like an ace, with a sub-one WHIP, and 1.47 ERA. For now, enjoy the first start, and expect him to make a second. Plesac has a chance to break-out, but the track record might put a lid on anything more than an SP3/4 ceiling in fantasy.


Garrett Stubbs (C, HOU)

With Max Stassi hitting the Injured List due to some knee discomfort, Stubbs is up to fill the gap. While a clear second to Robinson Chirinos in Houston, Stubbs will get two or three games a week due to natural rotation. With two hits in his first chances, Stubbs has looked comfortable but is getting better grades on his glove. With the overall profile to stick as a reserve catcher, Stubbs will be a low impact stock, but one with some stability.

To date, at Triple-A, he was slashing .250/.370/.440 with four homers and five steals. The speed might be the selling point, with eight or more over full seasons in the minors. If he can add four or five in a part-time role, with the batting floor, Stubbs will be playable in two-catcher leagues. The stock is up with the call and team context, meaning owners should try to add him in leagues with an extra catcher slot.


Rookie Debuts - Stock Down

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


Mitch Keller (SP, PIT)

While long thought of as Pittsburgh’s top pitching prospect, Keller’s stock is down from a year or two ago. Quickly demoted after allowing six runs in four innings in his debut, Keller is clearly in the Pirates plans, so a name to keep an eye on. Keller has always been a bit low on my lists due concerns around his command. This has resulted in three BB/9 lines during his time in the minors. Add in a 1.5 WHIP, and Keller has not pitched like an elite prospect to date.

The other downside is that PNC is playing like a hitters park to date, with 1.098 run factor. While not the detriment of a Coors Field, PNC has been safe for pitchers until the last few seasons. This means that the landing will be a bit rocky if the homer numbers keep up with Keller. For now, the stock is down for impact this year, and owners should be looking to sell while there is some hype left.

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