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Hot Fantasy Prospects To Watch For Week 8

And the injuries just keep on piling up. As I'm wrapping this article up on Monday night, we've seen today alone Mike Trout exit with a calf strain, Taijuan Walker exit with side tightness, Kevin Pillar was hit in the face by a pitch, and Danny Duffy, Giancarlo Stanton, Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto and Huascar Ynoa all landed on the injured list.

But while it's rough watching your fantasy roster slowly turn into the All-IL squad, injuries can oftentimes lead to opportunities for prospects to shine. We've already seen some big name prospects get called up early this year, with Jarred Kelenic highlighting the latest round of notable call-ups. And while it's hard to predict just who is going to get called up and when it will happen, managers can get a jump on the competition by watching for hot starts in the minors. All four of the guys on this week's list have gotten off to great starts just a couple weeks into the minor league season. Three of them in particular I see as making an impact in fantasy at some point this summer.

Unless you have a super deep bench you shouldn't be stashing these guys just yet, but make sure to watch them closely and be prepared to pounce once they get the call to the show.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received five total writing awards and 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, tops in the industry! Congrats to all the award winners and nominees including Best MLB Series, NFL Series, NBA Writer, PGA Writer and Player Notes writer of the year. Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!

 

Alek Manoah - SP, Toronto Blue Jays

Level: Triple-A
2021 stats: 2 GS, 12 IP, 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.417 WHIP, 17 K

In just his second year in the minors, Manoah has made the jump from Low-A in 2019 all the way to Triple-A in 2021, and he seems to be thriving early this season. Having allowed just three hits and two walks over his first two starts, Manoah is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA while striking out 17 in 12 innings of work. Most of that total came in his first start of the year, in which he struck out 12 while allowing two hits in six innings against the Worcester Red Sox.

His ability to get strikeouts doesn't come as too much of a surprise after he posted a 39.7 percent strikeout rate in 2019, but what is impressive is that despite making the jump several levels up to Triple-A and with the missed season in 2020, he's still managed to record a 39.5 percent strikeout rate to start this year.

Manoah could be close to a potential call up to Toronto, especially if he continues to pitch like this, but at the same time he might still be a ways away as the Blue Jays will want to manage his workload. Including this year, Manoah has a grand total of 29 innings of professional baseball under his belt, so it seems that his best case scenario for 2021 could be that he gets a few spot starts later in the year, or he could get called up to pitch out of the bullpen at some point.

Whenever he does get the call he will have value in one format or another depending on his role, but managers shouldn't expect to see him as an impact player until likely 2022. Still, keep an eye out for if he gets called up, and be prepared to use him as a potential streaming option this year depending on his matchups.

 

DL Hall - SP, Baltimore Orioles

Level: Double-A
2021 stats: 3 GS, 12 IP, 1-0, 3.75 ERA, 1.167 WHIP, 23 K

The Orioles' first round pick in the 2017 draft, Hall is off to a hot start this season and could find his way onto the mound in Baltimore very soon. Through his first three starts, Hall has posted an absurd 44.2 percent strikeout rate while dropping his walk rate to 11.5 percent from 15.6 percent in 2019. He has had an elevated walk rate throughout his career, but it's somewhat promising early on to see his walk rate down from his 13.4 percent career mark.

Most of the damage to Hall's line early on this year came in his latest start against the Reading Fightin Phils, where he was chased after allowing five runs on four hits and four walks over 2 2/3 innings. Before that however, he had allowed just four hits and two walks while striking out 19 in 9 1/3 scoreless innings.

At the very least, Hall is a guy fantasy managers have to keep an eye on based on his career 30 percent strikeout rate over four years in the minors. The other thing to keep in mind is that although he has had some issues with walks in his career, he's still put up solid results at every stop in the minors despite consistently being two to three years younger than the average age at each level he's pitched.

The Orioles have not had much luck with their starting rotation this year, as Baltimore starters currently own the third-worst ERA in the majors at 4.94. While Baltimore will still be rebuilding this year and are in no rush to promote their prospects, it's still possible that we could see Hall get called up later this summer for a few starts. When that happens, managers should look at him as a potential sneaky streaming play — especially if he gets a good matchup against a high-strikeout team like the Tigers or Rays.

 

Vidal Brujan - 2B/SS, Tampa Bay Rays

Level: Triple-A
2021 stats: 12 G, .319/.429/.660, 5 HR, 3 SB, 12 RBI, 12 R

Wander Franco may be the top Rays prospect whose debut fantasy managers are eagerly awaiting for, but smart managers should not overlook Brujan, who not only should make an impact in fantasy upon his call-up, but is far closer to the majors than Franco. Brujan is a guy who is going to be a potential game-changer when it comes to his speed, having averaged over 30 steals a year through his first five seasons in the minors, including 55 steals in 2018 and 48 steals in 2019.

Besides the speed, Brujan has also done a great job of getting on base with a career .295 average and .379 on-base percentage — thanks in part to a career 10.7 percent walk rate. He has also shown the potential to touch double-digit home runs, and this year Brujan has seen a huge power surge at the plate with five homers in his first 12 games.

Aside from the uptick in home runs, Brujan's numbers across the board through his first 12 games at Triple-A are lining up nicely with his career marks, as it appears the missed 2020 campaign has done little to slow him down. At this point it looks like Brujan could be just one injury or underwhelming performance away from getting the call to Tampa Bay.

Once he gets that call, he's going to be a near-instant impact player in fantasy. Managers with deep enough benches may want to consider stashing him early, but once he does get called up, he should be targeted immediately in all formats of 12-teams or deeper.

 

Zac Veen - OF, Colorado Rockies

Level: Low-A
2021 stats: 11 G, .216/.380/.324, 10 SB, 7 RBI, 8 R

The No. 9 overall pick in the 2020 draft, Veen is getting his first taste of pro ball right now and he is showing that he has some wheels on the base paths. Just through his first 11 games, he already has 10 stolen bases and has been caught running just three times.

He is 8-for-37 at the plate with four doubles to start his career, and he has shown some decent plate discipline for a 19-year-old just starting out as he sports a 16:9 K:BB ratio through 50 plate appearances. Ranked as the No. 43 overall prospect by MLB Pipeline, their report on Veen says:

Long and lean, Veen has already shown off plus hitting ability and plus raw power, with much more to come as he fills out his projectable 6-foot-4 frame. The left-handed hitter has a pretty swing with plus bat speed and can create leverage and loft when he stands more upright, drawing some Cody Bellinger comps along the way.

Veen is still several years away from making an impact in fantasy, but managers should take note of this start to his career — especially as he's putting up these numbers while being just over two years younger than the average batter's age at Low-A. This is a guy for dynasty managers to start looking into stashing for the future.



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