Welcome to the 2017 edition of the Recently Promoted Prospects! You all may remember this series from last year where I discuss some recently promoted prospects and what to make of their production for fantasy owners.
Being that this is the first week we are starting this series up, and there are half a million rookies in the majors right now, I’m going to be splitting up the early season prospects a tad. I will provide notes about three stud prospects (Benintendi, Margot, etc.) per week and two of the lesser known prospects who could be solid sleepers. Once I have gone through all the many guys who were promoted earlier this season, I will go back to normal and just talk about prospects promoted each week. I will, however, be going through all the top promoted pitchers, just because there are far fewer high-impact pitching prospects currently in the majors.
So without any further ado, let’s get right into talking about the recently promoted prospects for week two!Editor's note: Get 50% off any MLB Premium Pass. Draft guide, cheat sheets, 200 days of DFS access, and over 20 premium tools. Dominate your leagues all year long! Sign Up Now!
Aaron Judge (OF, NYY) - 19% owned
Judge entered this season with mixed anticipation, some believing he would crush big-league pitching after showing off tremendous power in his debut last season, others believing he will strike out too much and inevitably return to the minors. Well thus far, he is proving his skeptics wrong as he has posted an extraordinary .308/.379/.692 slash line with three homers and has begun to run away with the right field job.
Most impressive thus far would probably be the respectable 20.7 percent strikeout rate. In the minors, Judge typically whiffed around 25 percent of the time, and he has clearly made some improvements and is making more consistent contact this season. Also impressive on the year has been has been his pure force when he makes contact with the ball. He owns three of the MLB’s six hardest hit balls thus far and looks like a pure power bat.
It will be important to monitor him to make sure his strikeouts don’t creep back up on him as the season wears on, but as of right now, he might be worth owning in 10+ team leagues at least while he is hot. If he is able to keep the strikeouts down and make enough contact, he could be a .260 hitter with 30+ homers on the season and provide Benintendi with a serious challenger for AL Rookie of the Year.
Andrew Benintendi (OF, BOS) - 85% owned
One cannot talk about stud prospects without discussing the Red Sox left fielder. Benintendi may not be off to the blazing hot start most expected out of him, but his peripherals suggest he will be just fine. Though he is currently slashing just .233/.351/.333 through his first 37 plate appearances, he is walking 10.8 percent of the time (compared to a meager 8.1 percent strikeout rate) and his batting average has been largely held back by a brutal .222 BABIP.
Owners of Benintendi already understand at this point that the 22-year-old outfielder possesses the best power/speed combination of any rookie in the majors today and could potentially be a 15/15 outfielder. He may only have one homer and one steal thus far, but owners will be rewarded if they remain patient. His combination of plate discipline, power and speed make him an uber-prospect and one who should be owned in all leagues.
Manny Margot (OF, SD) - 72% owned
I think everyone expected someone like Benintendi to bring the house down to open the season, but thus far it has really been Manuel Margot. The 22-year-old Padres center fielder is off to a blazing start, batting .325/.372/.650 with three home runs and a stolen base. All of this while batting atop San Diego’s lineup.
Margot should be expected to maintain a high batting average and continue to steal bases, but the power will likely regress. He may reach 10 home runs, but he has done that just once before in the minors and owners should hopefully not be expecting much in the power category from him, although it is certainly an added bonus. Margot will continue to score a ton of runs and seems a solid bet to reach 100 runs scored this season (he is already at eight over his first 10 games played) and could bat .280+ with 30 steals. Like Benintendi, he warrants ownership in all leagues.
Matt Davidson (3B/DH, CWS) - 2% owned
Now here is a name you all probably have not seen in quite some time. You may remember Davidson as the guy who was traded to Chicago when Addison Reed was shipped over to Arizona. Davidson has been in the minors now for eight years, flashing power promise but striking out far too much for his own good. Now, he seems to have put it all together.
Through 14 plate appearances, the 26-year-old third baseman is slashing .385/.429/.846 with a home run. Now he has struck out 50 percent of the time and has an unsustainable .800 BABIP, but scouts saw something different in Davidson’s swing and believe he is now capable of becoming a major-league regular. Strikeouts will likely continue to be a problem for him, but owners in 14+ team leagues should be more than happy to have the possible 25-30 home runs, even at the cost of a .240 batting average.
Wilmer Difo (SS, WAS) - 1% owned
Earlier in the year, Difo looked like little more than a bench player for Washington, but injuries to Trea Turner and Stephen Drew have flung Difo into the spotlight as the new shortstop for Washington. Difo is a solid contact hitter, capable of posting a .260 batting average, and has a ton of speed, which means he could likely steal 30+ bases in given a regular job for a full season. Difo is not a guy who mandates owning in all leagues just yet, but owners of Turner who need a fill-in shortstop could benefit from snagging the speedy middle-infielder as insurance until Turner returns.
Amir Garrett (SP, CIN) - 19% owned
Garrett has thus far made two starts, and dazzled in each of them. Against St. Louis, he held the Cardinals scoreless for six innings with only two walks and four strikeouts. He also allowed just two hits. Then against Pittsburgh, he allowed only five hits and two earned runs over 6.2 innings of work with five strikeouts and no walks. In total on the year, Garrett has a 1.42 ERA and 3.30 FIP over 12.2 innings of work.
At some point, the Reds southpaw will come back down to Earth just as his team will (7-2 start for Cincinnati is pretty remarkable), but he has a minor-league track record of being a well-above-average pitcher with strikeout potential and steadily improving command. He faces the Orioles and the Cubs in his next two starts, so he will certainly receive some real tests. But owners in 12+ team leagues looking for a sleeper pitching prospect who could emerge as a solid No. 3 starter this season should definitely consider making the investment in Garrett.
Jharel Cotton (SP, OAK) - 32% owned
A popular sleeper heading into the season, Cotton probably lost some support after a brutal first outing in which the Angels tagged him up for five runs, all earned, over 4.1 innings of work. Over that start, he allowed eight hits and walked two with four strikeouts. But he bounced back well his next time out, delivering seven innings of two-hit, shutout baseball against the Royals with only three walks allowed and six strikeouts.
Cotton has a long track record of generating insane strikeout numbers, and with his elite changeup, it’s not all that surprising. Scouts have viewed that change as one of the best in the business and many believe it will help him at least remain as a solid No. 3 starter in the majors. Expect high strikeout totals and a respectable ERA around 3.50 this season out of the A’s right-hander, and consider him worth owning in most 12+ team leagues.
Robert Gsellman (SP, NYM) - 19% owned
Gsellman looked fine in his first start. Nothing more, nothing less. He went five innings against Miami, giving up three runs on five hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. It wasn’t inspiring, but it wasn’t awful either. He was kicked around for eight runs and five hits over 5.2 innings of work against Miami the second time around, but it is still too early to panic given how much he dominated the majors last season.
The Mets’ fifth starter is not going to be an overwhelming star like he may have been hyped to be last season after a dominating MLB-debut, but he should still be a solid pitcher for owners. He should be worth owning in 12+ team leagues given his strikeout upside and could provide owners with a respectable ERA.
Tyler Glasnow (SP, PIT) - 13% owned
The chief concern with Glasnow heading into this season was whether or not he would command his pitches well enough to not walk himself out of games. Safe to say, he really disappointed in his first start. He walked five batters in 1.2 innings, and literally walked in two runs in the first inning. Glasnow has an elite pitching coach in Ray Searage and dominating stuff, but there is no doubt his control is going to be a major concern moving forward. If he can right the ship, he’s got the potential to be a true ace for Pittsburgh, and he may be worth owning in leagues as a stash option in case he figures things out. But I would avoid starting him in any format until he proves he can reign in his command.
Antonio Senzatela (SP, COL) - 11% owned
It is always a little nerve-wracking to expect big things out of a Rockies’ pitcher. So make it easier and don’t expect much from Senzatela. He has a track record of success in the minors, generated mostly through pinpoint command, a lively fastball and average secondary stuff. But he has barely any experience above High Class-A with just 34.2 innings of work at Double-A. He will probably be a fine pitcher in the majors at some point, but I would not want to bank on him too much this season given Coors Field’s track record of drastically affecting pitcher success, as well as the short leash on Senzatela given the presence of Jeff Hoffman and German Marquez. I would avoid Senzatela in all but the deepest dynasty and NL-only leagues unless he continues to dominate big-league batters.