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Hot Prospects To Watch - Riley Rising, Dalbec Raking, Pearson Impressing


If you missed it, the Brewers called up their top prospect Tuesday morning -- hitting prodigy and second baseman Keston Hiura -- to make his major league debut this week. The ninth overall pick of the 2017 draft was hitting .333 with a .408 on-base percentage, 1.106 OPS, 11 homers and 26 RBI in 37 games with Triple-A San Antonio.

It looks like Travis Shaw (wrist) will head to the injured list, and he's also hitting a mere .163 in 135 at-bats, which is the lowest among qualified hitters in the National League. That means that Mike Moustakas can move back to third base to make room for Kiura, who should play regularly in his first taste of big league action.

We've warned you before and you've even seen evidence (Nick Senzel most recently) that top prospects can produce immediately for fantasy owners in mixed leagues upon their call-up. Not only is Hiura Milwaukee's top prospect, but he's also ranked as the No. 15 overall prospect and the No. 2 second base prospect, per MLB Pipeline.

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Prospects Galore

In a more under-the-radar prospect move, the Indians called up Oscar Mercado, their No. 19 prospect. He hit .294/.396/.496 with four home runs and 14 stolen bases in over 140 plate appearances at Triple-A. With Cleveland in need of outfield help, Mercado could also factor in right away. Don't ignore him in deeper leagues.

And finally, the Royals called up their No. 8 prospect, middle infielder Nicky Lopez. He's the lesser of the three prospect call-ups, but he's expected to see regular playing time at the keystone with Whit Merrifield moving to the outfield.

The 24-year-old was hitting .353/.457/.500 with three homers, 13 RBI and nine steals in 31 games for Triple-A Omaha. With regular playing time, he could definitely be worth a pickup in deep mixed and AL-only leagues, mainly for his speed.

Who might get the call next?

 

Riley Ready To Show His Face In Majors?

Austin Riley - 3B, Atlanta Braves

It was announced a week ago that the Braves would work Riley into the outfield a few times a week at Triple-A Gwinnett. Josh Donaldson is blocking Riley at third base in 2019, so the Braves may be considering bringing Riley up soon and giving him some looks in the outfield to keep his bat in the lineup.

Riley had only two homers going into April 25, but he's had 12 homers, including three two-homer games, in the 17 games since then. In his last 23 at-bats, he's slashing .348/.464/.913 with a double, four homers, eight RBI, five walks and four strikeouts.

The 22-year-old was named the International League Player of the Week from May 6-12 for hitting .296/.406/.778 (8-for-32). In 36 games for Gwinnett on the season, Riley has a slash line of .300/.376/.671 with 14 home runs and 35 RBI in his 157 plate appearances. You can see why Atlanta might potentially be thinking of promoting him.

If you can't tell, Riley has impressive raw power, as evidenced by two 20-homer seasons in the minors already. He's on pace for much more this year as well. He has a solid plate approach, but Riley will need to improve his contact rate in order to be an asset in batting average at the next level.

Either way, he needs to be owned in all dynasty leagues and is even worth a stash in deeper leagues right now in case he's promoted soon.

 

Dalbec Destroying Baseballs

Bobby Dalbec - 3B, Boston Red Sox

Like Riley, Dalbec got off to a similar cold start to begin his 2019 season -- .190 average through the first 21 games for Double-A Portland -- but he's quickly turned it around and was just recently named the Player of the Week in the Eastern League after going 8-for-16 (.500) with four homers, a triple, a double, two walks, seven RBI and five runs scored in four games from May 6-12.

The 23-year-old is ranked as the team's No. 3 prospect and has the most raw power of any player in their minor league system. While he's still hitting only .250/.391/.519, Dalbec is now up to seven home runs and 22 RBI in 31 games on the year for Portland.

The University of Arizona alumni has been compared to Kris Bryant in the past and ranked second in the minors in extra-base hits (70) and RBI (109) and fourth in home runs (32) in 2018. You won't find many other prospects with more power than Dalbec, but he also struck out 32 percent of the time last season.

His swing-and-miss ways are concerning, but he's worth buying into in dynasty/keeper leagues for the power. Dalbec is currently blocked in Boston by Rafael Devers and his best path to the big leagues might be at first base, potentially in 2020.

 

Rotation Help Could Be On The Way For Jays

Nate Pearson - SP, Toronto Blue Jays

This 6-foot-6, 245-pound right-hander is the team's No. 3 prospect and their top pitching prospect for a reason. He was already promoted from High-A Dunedin after going 3-0 with a 0.86 ERA (two runs in 21 innings), 0.62 WHIP and career-high 15.0 K/9 in his six starts.

In his first start at Double-A New Hampshire, Pearson didn't miss a beat, allowing two hits in five scoreless innings while walking none and striking out eight for a win. He's now whiffed 43 hitters and walked only three in 26 innings to start the year. After blowing triple-digit cheddar in the Arizona Fall League last year, Pearson is looking like the real deal.

The 22-year-old was a first-round pick in 2017 but fractured his arm on a line drive in his first professional season. Pearson has the best fastball and slider in the organization and possesses front-of-the-rotation stuff. Along with his fastball and slider, the righty is developing a curveball and changeup.

Few pitching prospects around the league have as much upside as Pearson does, but he'll need to stay healthy in order to be a rotation option for Toronto in 2020. If he keeps it up this year, it seems as though Pearson would almost be a lock for the rotation out of spring training next season.

More MLB Prospects Analysis