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Prospects Stock Watch for Week 1 of Fantasy Baseball

The first week of baseball has seen disappointments and surprises abound, but none more than looking to early rookie performances. From players not expected to make the team playing key roles, to players not being held down due to service time, this is a great time to jump into the waiver wire to grab those players that were not drafted to start the year and might be free now. Or, on the other side, what players are hyped but should be sold while their stock is high?

For the first week of this article, the primary focus is one some of the big names, as the season goes along, check back to learn about names that are not even on the baseball community's radar as of yet. Even more, with only four or so games on the books for most teams, seasons can change on a dime, meaning that the hot starts might be flukes, and the slow starts the opposite. Small sample size warning, but any sample size is better than nothing for fantasy owners.

With that, keep an eye on these players to see where they might be able to help your fantasy team. Jump on now, and look back when they indeed take off.

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Rookie Debuts - Stock Up

These rookies hit the ground running in their 2019 debuts and have matched the preseason hype so far. The question is whether this provides a sell-high opportunity or if the fantasy owner should hold tight.

Chris Paddack (SP, SD)

Sunday was dubbed “Paddack Day” on Twitter, and the starter lived up the billing. While only pitching five innings, he did tally seven Ks with only one walk. The change-up was nasty, and while it will be seen if he can keep hitters off the pitch, it offered the perfect compliment to his fastball. Going forward there is little doubt that he will stay with the club, but there will be an innings cap coming off a short season. Expect five innings to be the norm, but only two hits in those debut innings is only a good sign. This means that five innings might be enough to produce fantasy-worthy value for lucky owners.

The other concern with fantasy value will be wins, as the team does not seem to be scoring much early, meaning he will need to keep runs off the board to be in line to rack up those stats. All in all, Paddack looked just as good as the scouting reports said, and current owners have to be pleased with what they have.

Peter Alonso (1B, NYM)

Alonso looks to be just as billed through his first five games, with one homer and six RBI in 20 ABs. The slash also looks good, even for a small sample, at .389/.450/.722. The other good note is that Alonso only went hitless in one game, so this stat line is not just one stong game, but rather a good trend to follow. He also walked in two games, to balance out the Ks in four of his five games to date. There will be swing and miss, but the contact is real, and owners can expect the power to carry most teams.

A good line-up only means that he will get more pitches to hit, and with Alonso hitting second in every game so far this should continue to boost his value. If owners want Alonso, they need to buy now, as the price will only jump.

Trent Thornton (SP, TOR)

Confession time. Thorton was not on my radar to start the year. And yet, with five strong innings in his debut, now he is. Added in an offseason trade with Houston for Aledmys Diaz, Thornton is a pitcher that is more than just a throw-in and will be given at least a few more starts based on early returns. For a pitcher not known for his stuff, Thornton did post eight Ks over this five innings and did not walk anyone.

Offering a plus fastball and curveball, owners will need to see if the changeup can keep with the grades. Scouts still see this as an average at best offering, but if he added something over the winter, this could be what unlocks his season. While I would not be buying just yet, as there are still question mark, and better teams than Detroit to face, the stock is on the way up.


Stock Neutral

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

Victor Robles (OF, WAS)

The top re-draft fantasy prospect on this writer’s list to the start the season, Robles has done nothing but flash his upside so far this year. Over four games he is slashing .357/.357/.786 with one homer and three runs. Of his five hits, three have been doubles, and this will be key as he lacks real power to set himself apart. Robles is a speed threat, and that is his best fantasy asset.

So far, he has not attempted a save yet, so something to watch, but not indicative of future options based on the small sample. The only downside so far is that Robles looks to be hitting ninth, but this also is better than hitting in front of the pitcher. So far so good for the young National, and owners will be happy to stay patient as he finds his stride.

Yusei Kikuchi (SP, SEA)

Two starts into his career with the Mariners, Kikuchi looks to be a solid, but not elite, starting option. He looks polished for a first-year starter, and yet, still shows some signs of potential growth. So far, Kikuchi has kept the runs off the board, with one earned in his first 4.2 innings, and two in his next six. Add in that he has walked a total of one batter in 10.2 innings, and the command is there to be seen. What will hold Kikuchi back from fantasy production will the K-rate, with a 19.5 K% mark so far.

While small sample size is a thing, no one expected him to carry that category in fantasy leagues. The other limiting factor will be the Seattle offense, and whether the early season success is for real. While he will keep runs off the board, with the state of that bullpen, runs will be needed to earn him wins. Still, Kikuchi has adjusted well, and even with some sad news about his father, looks to be locked in for a strong debut campaign. If the stuff can improve his stock will be up, but for now, he is performing as expected.


Stock Down

These players didn't get off to the kind of start fantasy owners would have liked but it's too early to discount them too much.

Kyle Wright (SP, ATL)

Wright did not have as strong a start as Paddack, and in fact, more questions on his staying power have emerged. With a deep prospect and pitching base to compete with in Atlanta, Wright will need to perform better to stick around. Long term, this writer still likes Wright, but for 2019 the stock might be down just a tad. Taking a loss versus the Phillies, Wright only went 4.1 innings, giving up three earned runs and one homer. The stuff was also a question mark, with five walks compared to four Ks.

The other concern was that all of this offense happened with only two total hits, so Wright can match-up with hitters, but the control will need to be there. For current owners, stash him for now, but Wright might be droppable if this keeps up. Even if he comes out with a strong second start, owners in redraft leagues can move him to the bench until he shows the polished arm that scouts are raving about.

Eloy Jimenez (OF, CWS)

Jimenez has yet to take off to start his career, and there are some worrying signs from the first few games. Looking forward, no one doubts the skills, but 2019 might be a slow burn for the top prospect. With a 35 K% so far, the swing looks long and will need to tighten up with the lack of fastballs that he has seen so far. Breaking stuff will be the concern this year, as with most rookies, and also means that the raw power might not be there until he starts to lay off and wait for his pitch.

While only four games into the season, when three of those were versus Kansas City, this is something to watch already. The other concern is that he has hit fifth to start the year, in what is not a potent offense at this point. Chicago will start to hit, but Jimenez needs Daniel Palka to get going to have a real shot at fantasy production.. Until then, cool a bit on the price if adding him in a trade.  

Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS, SD)

Well, the first few days of Tatis Jr. have been fun, and his early season debut has killed most FAAB budgets already. And yet, slow down on anointing him the MVP just yet, as there are some warning signs on what this season could look like when all is said and done. While only 25 PAs to date, Tatis is batting .217 and has a 12.2 SwStr%. The concerns with him have always been the swing and miss, and so far, those fears are still there. The K line in the minors was always close to 30%, so this should be an accurate mark to project over a full season.

Tatis does have a homer and a steal so far, so there will be fantasy value here. For current owners in redraft formats, sell while the hype is high. Get that $1.25 on the dollar, and be happy with replacements. If owners are looking to add Tatis, wait a few weeks for the stats to iron out just what you are buying.

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