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Ronald Acuna. That's all you need to read.

No, seriously. I could just end the column there because that's probably what everyone will be talking about for the next week at the very least. The 20-year-old finally made his highly-anticipated MLB debut on Wednesday night, but I'll get to more on that below. In addition to Acuna, we've seen some other rookies who haven't been on the list in weeks past show up. And Shohei Ohtani will not be featured in this column for the first time all season. Don't worry, though. Ohtani is still a firm hold in all leagues of all different settings and sizes.

Players on the list last week but not this week include Shohei Ohtani, J.P. Crawford, and Joey Lucchesi.

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Recent Call-Ups and Rookie Performances

Ronald Acuna (OF, ATL)

Acuna's debut was relatively uninspiring considering all the fanfare it received. The 20-year-old outfielder went 1-5 with a run scored, two strikeouts, and five runners left in scoring position on the day. Granted, three of those five were with two outs, but with runners on second and third and one out in the top of the ninth, Acuna struck out. Any hit to the outfield probably would have scored an insurance run for the Braves. That strikeout was not his only one of the day, either; the righty struck out twice in his debut.

The silver lining in Acuna's lackluster debut is that it will probably get better. He will need to figure out how to stay disciplined at the plate and not strike out 40% of the time (yes, it is a small sample size, but still) in order to be an effective big leaguer. We'll see how Acuna continues to develop and if he begins to produce at the elite level that is expected of him.

Miguel Andujar (3B, NYY)

Miguel Andujar came out of nowhere (to a degree) and just started mashing. It wasn't entirely out of nowhere; the 23-year-old third baseman triple-slashed .571/.625/.857 in a minuscule 8-PA sample last September. However, he looked overmatched when he returned to the bigs earlier this year, hitting .107 with 6 strikeouts in his first 7 games. Since then, though, he has turned it around. The third baseman has his season line all the way up to .292/.309/.600 with 13 XBH (3 HR) in 16 games. Andujar, much like the rest of the Yankees lineup, is simply terrifying to pitch against right now and should be owned in all leagues.

Tyler Austin (1B, NYY)

This is Tyler Austin's third shot at the big leagues; the righty got a handful of ABs in both 2016 and 2017 but did not do a lot with them. Prior to 2018, Austin had a career triple-slash of .236/.294/.447 with 7 HR in 51 games. This season, Austin is triple-slashing .305/.379/.661 with 5 HR in 16 games. Austin's 33.3% strikeout rate is unsightly, but he has homered in three of the last four games for the Yankees, and if he keeps hitting like he has been recently, it will be very easy to ignore the strikeout rate.

Walker Buehler (SP, LAD)

Buehler was tabbed as the Monday starter for the Dodgers and impressed. Granted, it was against the Marlins, but five scoreless innings from any rookie starter is impressive. Buehler also struck out five, walked three, and scattered four hits in the outing. The 23-year-old right-hander was optioned back to the minor leagues following his start, but he should be next in line when the Dodgers need a spot starter, and if he continues to produce at the MLB level, he may force the Dodgers to keep him in the rotation for good.

Josh Hader (RP, MIL)

Until Hader is owned in every league, I'm going to start all my write-ups of him the same way: Hader is a name that needs to be owned in every league. He's up over 70% in ESPN leagues which means he's trending in the right direction, but that mark is still not reflective of just how great Hader has been. Since the last rookie report, here's what Hader has done: 3.2 IP, 6 SO, 1 BB, 0 ER, 1 SV. Just an average week for the flamethrowing righty.

A.J. Minter (RP, ATL)

I originally was not going to include Minter in this week's Rookie Report, but the 24-year-old picked up the save on Wednesday night and now has to be talked about. Minter is the owner of a 2.19 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 8.0 K/9 on the season. That K/9 is a far cry from the 15,6 mark the lefty posted in 2017 (it was just 15 innings, though) but the season is still young and the sample size limited. Minter has been pitching well enough to warrant ownership even when not in the mix for saves, so if he's getting save opportunities in the future, which Braves' skipper Brian Snitker mentioned as a possibility in his postgame presser, he is a must-add.

Gleyber Torres (3B/2B, NYY)

Torres hasn't been spectacular since coming to the big leagues, but because he is such a big prospect it's worth mentioning that he got the call to the bigs. The 21-year-old  is triple-slashing .313/.313/.375 thanks to a 2-for-4 performance on Wednesday night against the Twins. Torres has yet to swipe any bags or hit any homers and has been hitting at the bottom of the Yankees lineup, so the RBI and run production may be sparse in the early going.

Christian Villanueva (3B, SD)

Villanueva entered play on Wednesday as the National League leader in batting average. Chase Headley started at the hot corner on Wednesday and Villanueva did not pick up any pinch-hitting appearances, so his triple-slash remained at a robust .355/.444/.774. The young infielder has his strikeout rate below 30% which is not anything to be especially proud of, but is a step in the right direction. Villanueva got off to a hot start this season before cooling down but now that he is hot once again, it's time to ride the Villanueva Wave (VillaWAVE-a?) until he stops producing and starts fanning a whole lot more.

Jesse Winker (OF, CIN)

Here's what I wrote last week about Winker:

Yes, Winker's average leaves a little to be desired. He hasn't flashed any of the power that we saw from him in his brief stint in the majors last season. But none of that matters because he is taking after Joey Votto in the plate discipline department. Entering play on Wednesday, Winker owns a walk rate higher than his strikeout rate (22% walk rate versus 18% strikeout rate), and his OBP is a ridiculous .420, especially considering that his batting average sits below .250. Scoop Winker if you still can or try to pry him from owners panicking about his lack of power, especially in OBP leagues.

He made me look good by heating up even more over the past week. Winker has hit safely in each of the games since the last rookie report, going 7/19 with three walks and three strikeouts. The power really hasn't shown up (Winker has yet to hit one out this year), but the run and RBI production is impressive for a rookie, especially one on a team as bad as the Reds. Winker is currently riding a seven-game hit streak and has his OBP all the way up to a ridiculous .441 on the season. If you still have the chance to grab the future NL Rookie of the Year, run to your wire to get him.

Jack Flaherty (SP, STL)

Flaherty did not do anything particularly noteworthy this past week in the majors, but he is going to start for the Cardinals on Saturday and that is worth mentioning. Go grab him in your leagues for the start if you have not already. It would probably also serve you well to keep him past that point because Flaherty is going to be a stud.

 

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