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Prospect Stock Watch with Fantasy Implications - Week 2

Well, the Major League season is already 6% of the way done. Some owners think that they are on their way to victory while others are patiently waiting for things to turn around. Still, while all the victory laps are being taken, the smart owner is looking forward to the rest of the year and finding what value can still be had. While the season always seems to move quickly, the dog days of summer are still upon us.

Now that we are rolling along, so too are the call-ups. This week, the Rotoballer team keeps tabs on all the new names and faces, with insight into their fantasy value to help any team. For owners looking for a cheap spark, look no further.

This week’s list is not as deep as the opening to the year, but expect this to pick up with new injuries and deals bound to happen. And yet, the lack of name value is only good for careful owners. Take a look at the list today and grab names than many others in your leagues have yet to discover.

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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.

Jon Duplantier (SP/RP, ARI)

While he was already sent back down to the minors on Monday night, Duplantier is a player to know and own moving forward. While he projects as a starter, he debuted in the bullpen which might lead to some hints on his usage over the rest of the season. And yet, being sent down seems to mean that the Diamondbacks either want him to throw more often or that they still view him as a starter long-term. Whatever the case, Duplantier has good stuff, with a fastball and slider that grade out at 60, according to Fangraphs, and a curveball/changeup mix that could be plus offerings as well.

While only having four innings under his belt, Duplantier held his fastball velocity at 93.5 MPH and flashed a sinker that did not appear on other scouting reports. This could show either a new pitch, or a slider that is moving a bit differently, but either way, the stuff is there for Duplantier to be successful. In his first four innings, he allowed two walks and two hits, but also struck three batters out. While owners might need to wait a bit, Duplantier has been one of the top pitching prospects in the system and is clearly part of the D-backs' long term plans. The stock is up, even with the demotion, for the fact that the team has shown that he will play a role this year.

Josh Fuentes (3B, COL)

Fuentes raked at Triple-A Albuquerque last year, with a .327/.354/.517 slash with 14 homers. The one reason to hold back a bit is that the slugger had the benefit of both a hitter’s park and leagues. This means that owners should expect some regression even when he gets regular playing time with the Rockies. Still, the hit tool is there. The main issue for Fuentes right now is that he plays the same position as the Rockies' most expensive player in Nolan Arenado. Since the team locked up their star, Fuentes has been getting more time at first, and with the injuries to Ryan McMahon and Daniel Murphy, there seems to be a bit of a path to playing time.

With the Coors factor alone, if he is playing regularly, Fuentes will be a bat to own. Through his first four games, he has two hits and two runs scored, so he is already flashing production. The power will not be much but should be a double-digit option with the Rockies, so not an empty batting average at a critical spot. The other thing to watch will be walk rate, as while he struck out less than 20% of the time in the minors, he also did not walk more than 5% of the time. Something to watch for sure, but Fuentes will be one to stash for real upside.


Stock Neutral

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

Jason Martin (OF, PIT)

With Corey Dickerson out for a bit, Martin looks to be getting his chance to impress early this year. After starting off hot at Double-A in 2018, he struggled a bit in Triple-A. Over a similar amount of games, the batting average dropped from .325 to .211, but the power and speed were still there. Over the full year, across both levels, Martin slugged 13 homers and stole 12 bases. With a glove that grades out as average, Martin looks to be the right profile to earn owners steady production out of a rookie call-up.

Currently slotted in on the long side of the platoon in left field, Martin will get his chance to earn staying power with the Pirates. And yet, owners should not expect him to be up all year unless he mashes. When the second half struggles kept him down a level, there is still some seasoning needed before a full-time gig. Still, Martin looks like the poor man’s Austin Meadows, with 12/12 potential a decent batting line. In deep leagues, Martin is worth a small FAAB bid, but do not be breaking the bank to add him.

Ryne Harper (RP, MIN)

At 30 years of age, Harper is old for a rookie, but not old enough for a Disney movie. This is a fun story to root for this year, and Harper has the skills to be a real impact for the Twins. So far, in 3.1 innings, Harper is yet to allow a run and has only given up two total hits. The upside for fantasy value comes from the stuff. Last year, between Double-A and Triple-A, Harper struck out 32.6% of the batters that he faced. The walk rate was even better, with a career line under 5%. If this can translate to the Twins, Harper will be a great match-up option late in the game. While not in line for any saves, this is a bullpen in flux, so there might be a chance with more struggles late in games. Holding the stock neutral now, but he is on the radar with the call and playing time.


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.

Richie Martin (SS, BAL)

While he has been with the Orioles since the beginning of the year, Martin appears on this week’s list due to the need for a more significant sample. Unlike other rookies who made their teams out of the spring, Martin was a Rule-5 pick, and therefore no one expected him to hit the ground running. While he was well regarded in the Athletic's system, there were fewer data points to use for projections than others who broke camp. For all of that, Martin was on the radar, but two weeks of batting data seemed to make the call a bit cleaner.

Through 11 games, Martin is slashing .179/.281/.250 with four runs and one steal. Nothing so far seems to hint that Martin will be that valuable in fantasy this year, as even if he does begin to hit, there is nothing around him to support the counting stats. While Baltimore might have made an excellent pick in the draft, this is not one that fantasy owners should be giving much thought for now. And yet, for owners needing ABs more than anything, it would be a shock to see Martin not stick with the team all year. Hard pass for now, but in those draft and holds, Martin might be a player that will offer valuable August and beyond? Even that is a stretch though. 

Frank Schwindel (1B, KC)

Schwindel making the roster to open the year was a massive boon for deep leaguers. An older prospect, with the bat skills in the minors to attract interest, this was the type of profile that was going to be given a shot at some point. And yet, the production so far has been underwhelming. Through five games he is slashing .083/.083/.083 with a single hit and two punch-outs. While, as usual, small sample size warning, if this prospect cannot make more contact against the likes of Chicago, Detroit, and Seattle there is not much to go on at this point.

The stock is down since this was a player who needs the contact skills to carry his playing time, especially when there are players like Ryan O’Hearn competing with him for time. The Royals clearly would like all their players to hit, but would not be disappointed to see O’Hearn run away with the job. That being said, the power is there, with a 20 plus floor in the minors for Schwindel. If he begins to hit, there is definite upside, but without some production, expect him to not be with the Royals for long this year.  

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