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Rookie Report: Recent MLB Prospect Call-Ups (Week 6)

Over the past two weeks we have seen three rookie pitchers throw no-hitters through six innings (one of them was a perfect game), and flat-out dominance from some other rookie arms. There was not much to talk about over the first few weeks but now that the season is in full swing and the rookies are seeing significant time, we have a chance to buy into the hype that the new wave of prospects bring each year.

Like I said last week, the best part of all of this is that some of the biggest names in the high minors still have yet to be recalled. Of MLB Pipeline's top 10 prospects with a 2018 ETA, just four (Ohtani, Acuna, Torres, Buehler), have reached the majors this year. In a way, that means the best is yet to come which is extremely exciting considering some of the rookie performances we have already been lucky enough to watch.

Players on the list last week but not this week include Jesse Winker and Miguel Andujar. Players joining (or re-joining) the list are Shohei Ohtani, Caleb Smith, and Domingo German, and Dustin Fowler.

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Recent Call-Ups and Rookie Performances

Ronald Acuna (OF, ATL)

It's been more of the same for the 20-year-old outfielder over the past week. Acuna is one of the three youngest players in all of baseball (along with teammates Albies and Soroka) but is not letting that get in the way of producing at the MLB level. Acuna has jacked two dingers since the last edition of the rookie rundown, so look for him to continue hitting in the bigs.

Shohei Ohtani (SP/DH, LAA) 

Nothing especially noteworthy happened with Shohei Ohtani over the past week; he went six innings, striking out six and allowing two earned runs against the Mariners on Sunday. He also has gone 5-11 with three runs and two RBI since the last iteration of the rookie rundown. Nothing spectacular but he's still hitting and pitching very well. Go Shohei.

Walker Buehler (SP, LAD)

Buehler spearheaded the Dodgers combined no-hitter in Monterrey, Mexico, this past week. It's certainly too late to grab Buehler off of waivers/free agency in any league at this point, but if you have him you're reaping the benefits. Buehler finally went deep enough to get a quality start in his no-hit effort: 6 IP, 0 H, 3BB, 8 SO, 0 ER. Despite having only thrown 16 MLB innings this year, Buehler is firmly in the conversation for NL Rookie of the Year and will remain there so long as he does not completely fall apart. The righty should also keep getting chances if the Dodger pitchers continue to be injury-prone.

Josh Hader (RP, MIL)

Hader should be owned in every league in existence, but now that he's nearly at 90% owernship I can stop recommending that he be picked up because he's not available. He's also not going to be getting saves now that Corey Knebel has been activated off the DL. Neither of those matter because Hader is still an absolute monster. He finally looked human over this past week, allowing more than one earned run in an outing for the first time all year, but bounced back by striking out three in a scoreless, two-inning appearance three days later. Hader's ERA now sits at an unsightly (that's a joke, people) 1.64 on the season with a 0.50 WHIP and 18.8 K/9. Not. Human.

Gleyber Torres (2B/3B, NYY)

In the previous rookie report, I wrote that "Torres has yet to prove that he can hit for extra bases." He proved it.

Over the past week Torres has hit two homers, including a walk-off against the Indians, and is riding a seven-game hitting streak. His teammate, Miguel Andujar, has cooled down considerably, but regardless I hate the fact that Yankees rookies are having so much success because it means the team is going to be very good for years to come. Torres, at age 22, is just getting his footing in the major leagues but already has the makings of a productive regular.

Nick Kingham (SP, PIT)

Kingham, after going seven nearly-perfect innings in his first outing did not have as much success his second time out. That is not to say he was awful but it is generally very hard to follow up sheer dominance with more sheer dominance. Against the Brewers in Miller Park last Friday, Kingham's line was as follows: 5.1 innings, 4 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 7 SO. The good thing is that the strikeouts were still there and that the young righty has walked just two batters through 12.1 MLB innings. The bad thing is that Kingham unraveled in the sixth inning and was not able to get to either the innings or runs threshold for a quality start. The Pirates responded to this outing by sending him down but it is most likely because they do not really need a fifth starter for another ten days. Once the team needs a fifth, expect Kingham to be back.

Mike Soroka (SP, ATL)

I dubbed Soroka a must-add in all formats after his debut and I am sticking with that, despite his four-inning, four-run job on Sunday against the Giants. Soroka's outing Sunday wasn't pretty, 4 IP, 4 ER, 7 H, 4 BB, 3 SO, but these are the type of outings that are to be somewhat expected with a 20-year-old pitcher. Soroka is going to be doing a lot of learning on the job and for a pitcher who is not reliant on overpowering stuff, if the control isn't there it is going to be a tougher day. Sunday against the Giants was one of those tougher days and it still wasn't an absolute disaster. Don't panic on Soroka; hold the young arm if you have him or look to nab him for cheap if his owner is panicking.

Fernando Romero (SP, MIN)

Romero still has yet to give up a run at the MLB level. The young righty churned out a quality start on Monday against the Cardinals: 6 scoreless IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 9 SO. If he continues to pitch at this level (obviously he will give up runs at some point, but still), the Twins should make a lot of noise as we head into the AL wild card race. Pitching was not the team's strong suit last year so if he can pick up the slack along with other youngsters Jose Berrios and impending call-up Stephen Gonsalves, this can be a very scary rotation. Romero is in line to face Trout, Ohtani, and the rest of the Angels on Sunday.

Caleb Smith (SP, Mia)

Smith was acquired from the Yankees in the Giancarlo Stanton trade and has done nothing but dominate since heading south. Perhaps "nothing but dominate" is not the proper categorization of Smith's performance so far, but the 26-year-old southpaw has rattled off three straight quality starts. Over his last three starts, Smith is 2-1 with a 0.96 ERA, .113 BAA, 0.49 WHIP, and 12.5 K/9 in 18.1 innings. On the season, Smith has a 3.67 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and 12.6 K/9. Smith's K% of 33.8 this season would be sixth in the major leagues sandwiched between two guys named James Paxton and Chris Sale if Smith had pitched enough innings to qualify (he's about two innings short). Smith takes on the Braves tonight and should be in your lineup if you have space.

Domingo German (SP, NYY) 

German took over Jordan Montgomery's rotation spot when Monty went on the DL with an elbow flexor strain and has dazzled since getting a turn in the rotation. He has only made one start but what a start it was: 6 IP, 2 BB, 0 H, 0 R, 9 SO. Light work for German. He was removed after 84 pitches, likely because he is still just 25 years old and the organization does not want to put excess stress on his young arm, but if German can turn into a middle-of-the-rotation arm, the Yankees will be overjoyed. German is not a must-add at this point due to his home park and his division, but keep an eye on his next few starts and pick him up if he gets hot.

Dustin Fowler (OF, OAK) 

There is not a whole lot to say about Fowler aside from the fact that he has been called up to the Athletics and it seems to be permanent. He went 0/1 and played a good CF in his Athletics debut on Wednesday (he pinch hit for starting CF Mark Canha and remained in the game) and I'm excited to see what he will be able to do in the big leagues, especially after missing so much time due to the scary injury he suffered with the Yankees last year. The Athletics got Fowler as the headlining piece of the Sonny Gray trade, so clearly they think the youngster is capable of big things. He's not worthy of an add just yet in 10- and 12-teamers, but he's certainly worth a spot on the watch list.


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