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We're coming up on the end of the third month of the season, and some of the top prospects in the game are putting on big displays that could see them earning a promotion sometime soon.

Right now is a good time to start looking at trading for prospects that could have a fantasy impact later this season. With the trade deadline looming at the end of July, spots could open up for many high-end prospects to get regular playing time. Two of the three prospects on this week's list fit into that category of players who could potentially have an impact late in the season. Pirates' top prospect Mitch Keller could make a few starts near the end of the season, and Dodgers' top prospect Alex Verdugo could become a regular member of the starting lineup if a trade or injury opens up a spot on the roster. While Keller and Verdugo won't be acquired for cheap, it's still worth it for owners to attempt to trade for them before they make it to the majors for good.

We've got two high-strikeout pitchers and an outfielder with nothing left to prove, so let's take a look at this week's hot prospects.

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Hello, Hello. I'm at a Place Called Verdugo.

SP Mitch Keller — Altoona Curve (Double-A: Pittsburgh Pirates)

Projected starts: at Akron 6/29, vs Trenton 7/4

The Pirates' top pitching prospect has been on fire over his last four starts, allowing just two runs over his last 26 innings while striking out 21. In his last start, Keller threw eight shutout innings against the Harrisburg Senators, allowing only one hit and two walks while striking out six. While he has been on a roll in his last few starts and has had a good season at Double-A so far, his numbers are slightly down from 2017. His 8.1 K/9, while still very good, is in fact the lowest of his career and with 30 walks over 78 innings Keller is two walks away from tying last season's total in 38 fewer innings. Despite this slight dip in his numbers, Keller still has the potential to be a high-end fantasy pitcher once he gets called up, but maybe not the potential top-tier, elite level fantasy pitcher he had been looking like over the past couple seasons. Keller will have a tough matchup in his next start at Akron, with the RubberDucks having the third-most walks in the Eastern League and the second-most runs scored.

OF Alex Verdugo — Oklahoma City Dodgers (Triple-A: Los Angeles Dodgers)

Upcoming games: vs Nashville 6/26-28, at New Orleans 6/29-7/3

At this point in Verdugo's career, it's just a matter of time until he can get a permanent spot on the Dodgers' roster. His .340 average and .889 OPS are the best marks of his career since his first season in the minors, and he has already gotten called up briefly this season where he hit .265 with four doubles and a .688 OPS over nine games. Verdugo has been on a very hot streak over his last 10 games, hitting .410 with sevend doubles, two home runs, two steals and a 1.209 OPS. All Verdugo needs at this point is the opportunity for regular playing time, as he has nothing left to prove at the minor league level. With the trade deadline looming at the end of next month, it's possible a spot could open up for Verdugo to play. Verdugo won't be had for cheap in dynasty leagues, but now is a good time to try and acquire him before he gets the call to the show for good.

SP Jimmy Lambert — Winston-Salem Dash (Single-A Advanced: Chicago White Sox)

Projected starts: at Frederick 6/28, at Wilmington 7/3

A relatively unknown top prospect in the loaded White Sox system, Lambert has thrown three straight quality starts for the Dash while striking out 22 in 22 innings of work. In his most recent start, Lambert allowed three runs over eight innings while striking out a career-high 11 batters. Lambert has proven to be a strikeout machine in his career, posting at least a 10.0 K/9 in two of his three seasons. What has hurt him though is he has been very hittable at the lower levels of the minors, posting a combined 9.9 H/9 rate over his first two seasons. This season though Lambert has lowered his hit rate, as he currently owns a career-low 7.3 H/9 over 70 2/3 innings of work. There's a fair amount of risk in owning Lambert, as he is a somewhat lower upside prospect with a fair amount of risk of him not making it to the majors. A good comparison for Lambert's potential is Jon Gray — a high strikeout pitcher who will hurt your WHIP and ERA.

 

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