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Fortunately, there are plenty of rookies and recent call-ups to analyze because the season just started. Unfortunately, barring Shohei Ohtani, there have not been a handful of true impact performances from youngsters. With that being said, the MLBers with little experience can be valuable in deeper leagues until we see the bulk of the blue-chip prospects make their debuts later this year.

This list will come out each week and will likely contain a mix of the biggest names and hottest non-names in baseball among prospects. That means that Shohei Ohtani will likely be a mainstay, but Christian Villanueva might be gone come next week.

Note: the Braves are holding Ronald Acuna, who might possibly have the most impact of any rookie this year, in the minors until they can secure an extra year of service time for him. This, once again, means this week's list is going to be relatively devoid of big names.

 

Recent Call-Up and Rookie Performances

Shohei Ohtani (P/DH, LAA)

There's nothing to say about Ohtani except that he has handsomely rewarded fantasy owners who play on platforms where he is just one player. And on platforms where he is two players (looking at you, Yahoo...) he hasn't been half bad either. In his inaugural MLB start on the mound, he went six innings with 3 ER, 6 K, 3 H, and 1 BB. Ohtani is next scheduled to start on the mound on Sunday, April 8th.

On the other side of the ball, Ohtani has been nothing short of stellar. Through Wednesday's games, he is 6/14 with two HR, three R, and five RBI. He has yet to draw a walk, but if he keeps mashing like this his walk rate will be irrelevant. As of right now, manager Mike Scioscia is going to hold off on starting Ohtani at DH on the days leading up to his starts but it looks as though Ohtani might force his hand. This is a situation to monitor because if Ohtani starts getting 5 games a week at DH, he instantly becomes one of the top players in all of fantasy baseball.

Christian Villanueva (3B, SD) 

Villanueva, unlike Ohtani, came out of nowhere. He had one monster game on Tuesday night, though: 3/4 with three HR, four R, and five RBI. He now has seven HR in 44 MLB PA (through Wednesday night). Is this pace going to keep up? Probably not, but if you have the roster space Villanueva is certainly worth a stash.

Scott Kingery (2B/3B/SS/OF, PHI)

Kingery was not expected to start the year in the majors but on the heels of a six-year extension with three team options, the Phillies added him to the Opening Day roster and he may now be in Philadelphia for good. After manager Gabe Kapler gave the youngster a day off on Opening Day, the 23-year-old collected two hits in each of his first two contests, two of which went for extra bases. He has yet to pick up a hit since those back-to-back two-hit jobs, but given his versatility (he has already appeared at three different spots around the diamond), he will see 5+ starts a week and will be a valuable fantasy utility player this year.

Jordan Hicks (RP, STL)

Hicks, like Kingery, was a surprise addition to his team's Opening Day roster. Hicks has shown everyone why he deserves to be in the Show despite not throwing a pitch above A-ball prior to this year. So far the fireballing 21-year-old has thrown 3.1 innings of scoreless baseball with three strikeouts, one walk, and one hit allowed. He's been nothing short of dominant and should continue to see high-leverage work throughout the season.

Tyler Mahle (SP, CIN)

Mahle, after a pitiful debut last season, made a lights-out first start in 2018. He picked up the win in a six-inning, seven-strikeout effort that saw him allow just three baserunners (one hit, two walks). I don't think the strikeout upside is real, but an innings eater who can maintain a K/9 around 7.0 and a BB/9 around 2.5 or 3 is valuable in nearly every format. Mahle is trending in the right direction.

Jack Flaherty (SP, STL)

It's a good sign for the Cards that they have two names on this list. Flaherty took Adam Wainwright's turn in the rotation the first time through (Wainwright was on the shelf with a hamstring injury), and it went swimmingly. Flaherty threw five innings against the Brewers on Tuesday, allowing just six hits, one walk, and ringing up nine opposing batters. Flaherty has shown that he can succeed at the highest level, so it is only a matter of time before he returns to the big leagues and continues to demonstrate his brilliance.

Dillon Peters (SP, MIA) 

Peters, whose stuff is extremely underwhelming, managed to stymy the Cubs in his first start of the season. He struck just two batters out in six innings, but the fact that he was even able to get through two-thirds of the contest was very impressive. He allowed no runs on six hits and one walk in his win against the Cubs on Sunday. His performance Sunday may end up being his best of the year, but given that the Marlins do not exactly have a litany of starting pitchers from which to choose from, Peters should have ample opportunities to best himself.

Brian Anderson (3B, MIA) 

Anderson was mostly a light-hitter during his tenure in the minor leagues. Don't get me wrong, .264/.341/.417 through 1,742 MiLB PA is not bad, it just doesn't scream "MLB star." To be sure, Anderson hasn't been a stud, but he has quietly collected a hit in each of the Marlins' first six contest. He's also added six runs, six RBI, and one HR on the young season. Anderson isn't a guy to run and grab in leagues of 12 teams or less, especially given the state of corner infielders in the big leagues, but if you're in a deeper league or a dynasty league, he might be a guy to go scoop if you have space. This could be the last time you have the chance to buy cheap before the breakout comes. After all, Anderson is just 24 and should get plenty of AB for the rebuilding Marlins.

 

More 2018 MLB Prospects Analysis