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Rookie Report: Recent MLB Prospect Call-Ups (Week 5)

So much for a slow start for the rookies. For the first few weeks, it felt as though there was very little to write about in the rookie department but recently the youngsters have taken the league by storm. Particularly in this past week, guys like Ronald Acuna, Nick Kingham, Mike Soroka, and Fernando Romero all showed everyone that the prospect hype was deserved.

The best part of all of this is that some of the biggest names in the high minors still have yet to be recalled. Willie Calhoun is still playing for the Round Rock Express (and struggling, his triple slash was a measly .240/.315/.370 prior to Wednesday's game in which he went 0-2 after entering as a pinch hitter), Nick Senzel is still toiling away for the Reds Triple-A affiliate in Louisville, Orioles' OF Austin Hays has not made his 2018 MLB debut, and fireballer Michael Kopech is also awaiting the call-up. If the rookies we are seeing now are not even the top of the line, we're going to be in for a very fun summer.

Players on the list last week but not this week include Tyler Austin, Christian Villanueva, Jack Flaherty, and A.J. Minter.

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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." That was the opening sentence of my Acuna blurb last week. Man, did he make me look silly.

The 20-year-old outfielder blasted an absolute moonshot for his first career homer in his second career game, and after starting out 1-5 in his debut has his season line all the way up to .345/.406/.621 with a homer, a steal, five doubles, four runs, and four RBI. And he's only been in the big leagues for a week! This is a special talent that we are getting to witness, so sit back, relax, and enjoying watching Acuna if you have him on your team.

If you don't...good luck. You'll need it.

Miguel Andujar (3B, NYY)

Andujar has continued to rake over the past week. The 23-year-old is tied for second in the big leagues with 12 doubles and over the past week he has gone 6/23 with three doubles and a run scored. Just some more of the same for the young Yankee third baseman.

Walker Buehler (SP, LAD)

Buehler threw yet another studly game in his second start of the year: 94 pitches thrown, 5 innings, 1 BB, 6 SO, 6 H, 2 ER. His season ERA is currently at 1.80 though he has yet to pitch into the sixth inning of a start in the bigs. Buehler is penciled in as the Friday starter in Monterrey, Mexico against the Padres. The good news for Buehler is that the game in Mexico is not in Mexico City, so he has nothing to be worried about on that front. The bad news is that it still does not seem as though there is a rotation spot locked up for the young lefty. If he keeps pitching how he's pitching, though, the Dodgers will make space. You should make space in your rotation too, if he's somehow still available in your league.

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 80% ownership now which means he's trending in the right direction, but that mark is still not reflective of just how great Hader has been. And if 80% is not reflective of how good a guy has been, that's saying a lot.

Since the last rookie report, Hader set an MLB record by being the first pitcher to pitch fewer than three innings and record eight strikeouts. On Monday, Craig Counsell handed Hader the ball with one out in the seventh inning. Hader then went on to strike out each of the eight hitters he faced en route to a 2.2 inning save. Eight up, eight rung up. Hader is not human.

Gleyber Torres (3B/2B, NYY)

Torres has yet to prove that he can hit for extra bases, but he's producing at the bottom of the Yankees lineup. On the season, the 21-year-old is triple-slashing .316/.366/.395 with 3 doubles, 2 RBI, and 4 runs in 11 games. Not stellar, but not too shabby either. I don't think that a Torres breakout is necessarily coming this year, but he should be a good depth piece in 10 and 12-team leagues for the remainder of the season.

Jesse Winker (OF, CIN)

I featured Winker on this list last week and, unsurprisingly, he's here again. Winker has just flat-out hit (and get on base!) since coming to the big leagues. It appears that he is learning from the best of the best (Joey Votto) at getting on base, because his OBP now sits at .413 and he sports a .302 batting average. The power has yet to come in (Winker has just 7 XBH in 28 games this season) but in OBP leagues Winker is more than worthy of starting lineup consideration, even without the power.

Nick Kingham (SP, PIT)

Nick Kingham is going to be the first name on nearly every single waiver wire adds article this week because he made his long-awaited MLB debut on Sunday and absolutely dominated: 98 pitches (14 swinging strikes and 72 total strikes!), 7 IP, 9 strikeouts, 1 hit, and no walks. His swinging strike rate of 14.3 would be 10th in all of baseball if he qualified (which Kingham has obviously not done yet).

Kingham was on Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects prior to the 2014 and 2015 seasons but underwent Tommy John surgery during the 2015 season and has been working his way back since then. Once considered a top prospect, Kingham is now seen as more of a lottery ticket. Despite that, the Pirates hurler has flat-out dominated at AAA and has nothing left to prove in the minor leagues. The Pirates are giving him another turn through the rotation Friday, as he'll take on the Brewers, and if he dazzles again he will likely stick in the rotation for good.

Mike Soroka (SP, ATL)

Soroka, much like Kingham came up to the bigs and dominated in his first start. He didn't nearly throw a perfect game, but his performances was nonetheless impressive: 80 pitches, 6 IP, 6H, 1 ER, 5 SO, 0 BB. The only run he surrendered was a homer to Yoenis Cespedes on a slider that he simply hung. All-in-all, Soroka's outing indicated that the 20-year-old righty has a lot of promise; he featured three different types of fastballs and mixed in good off-speed stuff to keep the Mets hitters off balance all night. He was also very efficient, throwing just eighty pitches, but the Braves did not want to push him in his debut, so they sent him to the showers despite the fact that he likely could have gone one more inning. Soroka is a must-add in all formats.

Fernando Romero (SP, MIN)

Romero got the win in his first MLB start by throwing 5.2 scoreless innings against the Toronto Blue Jays. It took him 97 pitches to get through 23 hitters, which is not terribly efficient but also not bad. The righty fanned five, walked three, and allowed four hits on the afternoon. Romero, unlike the aforementioned Soroka and Kingham, did not feature excellent control or command of his stuff in his debut, though there were clear signs that the 23-year-old has a lot of upside. Romero interspersed stretches of brilliance with bouts of trouble controlling his fastball. Overall, it was a mixed bag from Romero, but given his pedigree and upside, you should probably grab him, too, before it's too late.


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