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Hot Prospects to Watch Week 21: Kopech, Santana, Urias

Arguably the most exciting pitching prospect in baseball gets the call today, as Michael Kopech will start for the Chicago White Sox tonight against the Minnesota Twins.

Kopech appeared in last week's column, where we looked at his long term value going forward. We're going to take a look at him again this week, but we're going to look at his immediate value and whether or not he should be used tonight as a streaming option. Along with Kopech, we'll take a look at a couple other prospects on hot streaks, and we'll talk about their potential future value

Enough with the intro, let's talk about Michael Kopech and how many strikeouts he'll get tonight.

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Why so s-Urias?

Michael Kopech - SP, Chicago White Sox

Projected starts: vs Minnesota 8/21

Alright, we've spoken twice this season now about Kopech's potential future value. Now it's time to look at the impact he will have tonight. Kopech is coming off four straight starts at Triple-A of at least six innings and eight strikeouts, and he has recorded those same numbers in eight of his last 10 starts. He'll be facing off against the Twins, who are currently 19th in batting average (.246) and 16th in strikeout rate (22.1 percent). Over their last 10 games, the Twins are averaging 7.5 strikeouts per game after striking out 12 times on Monday against the White Sox. They are also averaging 5.5 runs per game in that span, and have scored at least five runs in each of their last seven games. While the White Sox have been averaging 5.1 runs per game over their last 10 games, Kopech might not get the run support he needs to earn the win as Twins' starter Jose Berrios has held the White Sox to a .183 average with 54 strikeouts over seven career starts.

The bottom line is Kopech is a must start in AL-only leagues, and he's worth starting in 12-team and deeper leagues. Fantasy owners can likely expect at least five innings and at least six strikeouts from Kopech, along with three or four earned runs. That being said, Kopech can absolutely far surpass those numbers, but there is just as good a chance that he puts up worse numbers than what I've predicted. He definitely looks like a superstar in the making, but the key phrase there is "in the making". Fantasy owners should not be surprised by any potential struggles Kopech may experience in making his major league debut.


Cristian Santana - 1B, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Single-A Advanced: Los Angeles Dodgers)

Upcoming games: vs Lancaster 8/21-23, at Inland Empire 8/24-27

In what has already been a career year for home runs for the 21-year-old, Santana has been on a power surge over his last 10 games with four home runs and two doubles over 42 at bats. With 11 doubles and a California League-leading 23 home runs so far this season, Santana has been able to show off the power in his bat, but he has also been showing some major swing-and-miss issues in his approach. He is currently sporting a career-worst 26.2 percent strikeout rate, and over his last 103 plate appearances he has a 25:4 K:BB ratio. Owners shouldn't be rushing to add him in dynasty leagues just yet, but his power is intriguing and if he can improve his plate discipline even moderately his fantasy stock could quickly be on the rise.


Luis Urias - 2B, El Paso Chihuahuas (Triple-A: San Diego Padres)

Upcoming games: vs Albuquerque 8/21-23, at Tacoma 8/24-27

All eyes have been on Vladimir Guerrero Jr. this season for his eye-popping numbers, but what some people may be missing out on is the almost equally as impressive numbers Urias has been putting up this month. Over 18 games in August, Urias is hitting .424 with eight doubles, four triples, one home run and a 1.185 OPS. This is on top of what has been a career-year for Urias, who has set career-highs with 28 doubles, seven triples and eight home runs in 19 fewer plate appearances than last season. The one slight downside to Urias' success is that he is striking out at a career-high 21.1 percent — surpassing his previous career-high of 12.4 percent and marking the second year in a row where his strikeout rate has increased. But that being said, he is still maintaining a walk rate of over 12 percent for the second year in a row after back-to-back seasons with a walk rate of less than eight percent. Urias is one of the top second base prospects out there, and while he won't win you any one single category, his all around numbers will be a boost to most fantasy teams at second base.


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