Week 14 Rookie Roundup: Recently Promoted Prospects

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Welcome to the 2017 edition of the Recently Promoted Prospects! Here I discuss some recently promoted prospects and what to make of their production for fantasy owners.

Just before the All-Star break, it was a busy week for prospect promotions. Several top outfield prospects were promoted, as were a few respectable pitching prospects. For owners who stay on top of these prospects, they can help provide a serious edge in fantasy leagues, and can often prove to be the difference maker in whether your team makes it to the playoffs or not. And when impact prospects like Clint Frazier and Nick Williams are involved, grabbing the prospects early can be super important.

So without any further ado, let’s get right into talking about the recently promoted prospects for week 14!

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Hitters:

Clint Frazier (OF, NYY) - 10% owned
The obvious top prospect promoted this past week, Frazier is viewed almost unanimously as a top-20 prospect in baseball, and one of the most explosive bats in the minors. Don’t let the .257 batting average at Triple-A fool you, Frazier was putting together one of his best professional seasons in the minors before his promotion. He had already mustered 12 home runs and nine stolen bases in 73 games — his career-high in homers and stolen bases is 16 and 15, respectively in 133 games. He also was striking out at a career-low 21.3 percent and a career-high 11.6 percent. Not to mention, he was still rocking his 80-grade hair the entire time. And upon his arrival, Frazier immediately made a splash, launching his first MLB home run in his first game, and putting together a .286/.375/.857 slash line over his first two games.

The obvious concern with Frazier is the current glut of Yankee outfielders. With Jacoby Ellsbury now returning, the Bronx Bombers feature an outfield of Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and rookie phenom Aaron Judge with Matt Holliday manning the DH spot once he returns from the DL. Frazier is most definitely a great longterm piece for the Yankees, but it is a bit unclear how he fits into their 2017 picture at the moment. It is likely unless he really heats up at the plate that he will be ticketed for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre once Holliday returns, but owners should enjoy the top prospect while he lasts.

Nick Williams (OF, PHI) - 2% owned
I’m actually fairly surprised the ownership rate on Williams isn’t higher. Once considered a consensus top-100 prospect in baseball, Williams’ stock plummeted after a disastrous 2016 campaign where he seemingly swung at everything, lost a bit of power and mustered only a .258 batting average. But boy oh boy has he rebounded in 2017. Though the walk-to-strikeout ratio remains abhorrent (0.18 BB/K), he has compiled a .280/.328/.511 slash line and already exceeded last season’s home run total of 13 with 15 longballs despite 47 fewer games.

Once considered a possible power/speed threat at the plate, Williams’ speed has dissipated dramatically lately, and it no longer looks to be a plus tool for him (at least on the bases). But the power is legit (especially with the juiced ball) and if he can get enough hits to balance out the high strikeout rate, he could still be at least a contributor in home runs and batting average. The Phillies are likely going to give their youngster ample opportunities to prove himself in the majors with the team well out of the playoff picture in 2017, so owners in 14+ teams could already purchase some Williams stock. If he proves his 2017 Triple-A numbers are for real, 12-team GMs will soon join their 14-team counterparts in picking him up.

Boog Powell (OF, SEA) - 0% owned
A near-identical profile to teammate Ben Gamel, Powell was Ben Gamel before Ben Gamel was cool. Powell has only middling power and slightly above-average speed, but is best known for being a pure hitter who will rack up the hits and limit the strikeouts. Gamel probably has a bit more pop and a little more speed, but Powell could be valuable in his own right if he had playing time. But therein lies the problem. Powell is going to have to fight a major uphill battle, competing with Gamel, Nelson Cruz, Mitch Haniger and Jarrod Dyson for playing time. His best chance to see regular time is to be traded. Until that happens, that ownership is just fine at 0 percent.

Alex Mejia (SS, STL) - 0% owned
Called up in the wake of Aledmys Diaz’s demotion to the minors, Mejia was promoted to be his temporary replacement in the majors while Diaz works out some kinks in his game at Triple-A. For those of you thinking Mejia is the next Diaz, think again. He has never posted a season batting average above .284, and neither his season-high home run total or stolen base total exceeds six. Sure, he doesn’t strikeout a lot, but he offers very little in the way of fantasy production. Unless he really heats up at the plate and shocks the world, leave the 26-year-old Quad-A bench player on the waivers.

Dustin Fowler (OF, NYY) - 0% owned
Fowler had been shooting up prospect boards all year with a stellar season at Triple-A, so it was not surprising to see him receive a promotion to the big leagues. Unfortunately, the young Yankee injured his knee in the first inning of his first MLB game. He will now require season-ending surgery, eliminating all fantasy potential for 2017. Dynasty owners can hold onto him, but if you added him in your redraft league, he will need to be dropped.

 

Pitchers:

Andrew Moore (SP, SEA) - 8% owned
One of the only prospects to make the list in back-to-back weeks, Moore was promoted, demoted and then promoted again. However, if he keeps pitching like he has so far, he may not see the minors again this season. Moore has pitched back-to-back quality starts in his only two MLB starts and has pitched through the seventh and eighth innings in his first and second start, respectively. Though he only struck out four batters in each game, he still has pitched 15 total innings without a walk and only 11 hits allowed. The problem is that three of those 11 hits have been home runs.

And that about sums up Moore’s career to this point. Though the strikeouts have been a bit more common for him in the past (his K% sat around 23 percent in the minors), he has always maintained a sub-6.5 percent walk rate. His achilles heel has always been allowing a few too many home runs, where he has allowed about 0.9 home runs per nine innings in the minors this past season and 0.75 a year ago. But he pitchers in a very pitcher-friendly ballpark, which should help him keep the home runs in check. Many are believers in Moore to at least become a No. 4 or 5 starter for the Mariners and eat up some innings from the back of their rotation. If the strikeouts carry over to the majors, he could be a decent No. 3 starter and solid add in 12+ team leagues.

Luke Weaver (SP, STL) - 3% owned
Everyone was likely excited to see Weaver promoted after a truly spectacular start to his Triple-A campaign, but it was also likely incredibly disappointing (although not surprising) when it was revealed he would be more of a long-relief option. Weaver had posted a 1.93 ERA and 3.00 FIP with Memphis this season to accompany a sterling 27.8 percent strikeout rate and 6.0 percent walk rate.

If he were with nearly any other team, Weaver would probably be a starter in the majors. But the Cardinals’ pitching staff has been outstanding while their bullpen could seriously benefit from some help. Should St. Louis decide to sell at the deadline, some have speculated Lance Lynn could go, which would open up a spot for Weaver. But until his name is in the starting five, he can remain only as a starter in deep/NL leagues. However, he is talented enough that he might not be a bad stash in some leagues for those confident the Cardinals will free up a rotation spot for him soon.

Paul Blackburn (SP, OAK) - 2% owned
Making his MLB debut on July 1, Blackburn dazzled against the Atlanta Braves, holding his opponents to just one run (unearned) on three hits and one walk with four strikeouts. And while that was an impressive outing for a rookie, it was a start against the Braves (22nd in wRC+ in baseball) without their best hitter. Blackburn has always been a solid pitcher in the minors, but never a truly outstanding arm. He has generally maintained an ERA and FIP in the mid-3.00 range, relying more on pinpoint control rather than overpowering stuff. He figures to remain in the Athletics’ rotation for now, and could be a solid innings-eater in really deep leagues or possible streamer candidate against weaker lineups, but he should be generally avoided in any league with fewer than 16-teams until he proves he can carry over his minor league success to the majors.

Jackson Stephens (SP, CIN) - 1% owned
The latest Reds’ pitching prospect to get a taste at the big league level, Stephens held his own in his MLB debut on July 1 against the Chicago Cubs, allowing three runs over five innings on six hits (two homers) and one walk. He struck out eight in that game. After impressing some, he may see more starts in Cincinnati following the All-Star Break. Does that mean you should go out and own him? I would say no for now. He was far from spectacular at Triple-A, posting a 4.97 ERA and 4.65 FIP with a 1.07 HR/9 proving to be the chief source of his problems. And he has never been much of a strikeout artist in the minors as he has only twice struck out more than 20 percent of opposing batters. He could prove a lot of people wrong and become a solid backend-of-the-rotation piece for the Reds, but until he gets a few more solid outings under his belt, he should just be watched from afar and well off fantasy rosters.

Luke Farrell (SP, KC) - 0% owned
Farrell was promoted to make a spot start, lasted just 2.2 innings after allowing five runs and then was optioned back to Omaha on Sunday. He had been posting respectable numbers at Triple-A prior to his promotion, with an ERA sitting at 3.83 and FIP at 4.36 thanks in large part to a solid 22.8 percent strikeout rate and 8.0 percent walk rate. But the 26-year-old is not considered to be a top prospect, and may only be an occasional spot starter this season for the Royals. He should not be owned in any format.

 

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