Hello Fantasy friends and foes. Welcome back to the SCFE’s weekly Rookie Report.
As we head into the Week 18 Rookie Report, Fantasy owners should be paying close attention to the seemingly never-ending trade rumors. Prospects will get traded. As MLB teams try to unload over-priced veterans, prospects will potentially move into an enviable position of having more playing time.
Contending teams are willing to give up the future for what they believe is the chance to win this season. In addition, every season we will see an influx of prospects playing in the bigs especially after the rosters expand in September.
Which prospects that were just called up are making a Fantasy impact? Who will be the next prospect that you need to add now? Find out the answers to those questions and a whole lot more in the Week 18 Rookie Report.
Week 18 Rookie Report
In The Show
Orlando Arcia, SS, Brewers
Orlando Arcia is back with the Milwaukee Brewers! He got off to an awful start to his 2018 season. Arcia was slashing .197/.231/.251 with two home runs, 15 RBI, and three steals in 66 games. His rough start got him a ticket to Triple-A, but that only lasted four games before recalled due to Tyler Saladino (ankle) being placed on the disabled list. However, Arcia was optioned back to Triple-A Colorado Springs on July 1 after he continued to struggle.
Arcia hit in 15 of 18 games for Colorado Springs and was on an eight-game hitting streak before his recall on July 26. He raised his average from .267 to .341 on a .397 BABIP along with hitting two homers, eight RBI, and two steals.
The Brewers were linked to Asdrubal Cabrera and Eduardo Escobar to take over at shortstop but failed to acquire either of them. Arcia has hopefully figured out his hitting woes and looks to be entrenched back as the everyday shortstop. It makes no sense to bring up Arcia to the bigs if he’s not going to play every day. The Brewers and Fantasy owners are hoping that his minor league numbers translate to the big leagues so he can continue to see regular starts at shortstop.
Daniel Poncedeleon, SP, Cardinals
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) July 24, 2018
Daniel Poncedeleon was very impressive in his big league debut. He threw seven no-hit innings, surrendering just three walks and striking out three before he was taken out of the game following the seventh inning. Poncedeleon became the fifth pitcher to carry a no-hitter through seven innings of his major league debut. He would have earned the win but the Cardinals bullpen failed again in giving up five hits and two runs as the Reds pulled ahead in the bottom of the ninth.
His impressive debut took place just 14 months after the right-hander suffered a severe head injury. Poncedeleon took a line drive to his right temple in a Triple-A game in May of 2017 and spent a week in intensive care (USA Today). He was required to have brain surgery and was struggling for his life. His perseverance and determination should be admired by everyone.
After his outstanding debut on Monday, rookie Daniel Poncedeleon was optioned on Tuesday and sent to Triple-A Memphis. He has made 18 appearances at Memphis, posting a 9-3 record with a 2.15 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and striking out 103 batters in 92 innings pitched.
Recently, the Cardinals have made wholesale changes. They fired manager Mike Matheny. In addition, the Cardinals have made changes to a bullpen that is one of the worst bullpens in baseball, ranking 24th out of the entire league. Gone are veterans Greg Holland and Tyler Lyons. One of the pitchers that they decided to promote was Daniel Poncedeleon. He will pitch out of the bullpen for the Cardinals, at least in the short term. He looks to rejoin the rotation as the need arises in the coming weeks. Fantasy owners should keep an eye on Poncedeleon has a great streaming option down the stretch.
Alex Verdugo, OF, Dodgers
#Dodgers No. 1 prospect Alex Verdugo hit his first @MLB homer of the season and it was an absolute blast — 404 feet out to straightaway center. Watch live: https://t.co/7KEC7h0W0h pic.twitter.com/Ko878KkpM8
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 28, 2018
The Dodgers No.1 prospect has been in high demand among rival clubs for the majority of discussed deals over the last few seasons. The 22-year-old outfielder has accomplished everything possible at the minor league levels.
The left-handed hitting outfielder Alex Verdugo has been called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City this past week when Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner was placed on the 10-day disabled list for his recurring right adductor issue. Verdugo is hitting .336/.381/.491 at OKC after spending a little over a week on the big league roster earlier this season. Additionally, his 91 hits and 17 doubles lead the team in both categories while also hitting eight homers with 37 RBI.
Unfortunately, Verdugo is blocked with the Dodgers. There are a number of outfielders restricting Verdugo from a spot in the everyday lineup. While Verdugo might not gather much playing time this season, the outlook for the 2019 season and beyond looks like to be Fantasy gold for dynasty owners.
On The Brink
Francisco Mejia, C, Padres
— San Diego eDeals (@SanDiegoEdeals) July 27, 2018
Every baseball fan knows of the trade; relief pitchers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber were sent to the Cleveland Indians for top catching prospect Francisco Mejia. Mejia was ranked No.15 overall on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 list. Across six minor league seasons, Mejia has a slashing line that reads, .291/.345/.444. This season, Mejia is hitting .279/.328/.426 for Triple-A Columbus.
Mejia has a potential double-plus hit tool with excellent bat to ball skills and good bat speed. He also projects to have at least average power in the big leagues. His hitting tools far outclass his fielding tools. The only caveat to Mejia’s offensive toolset is that he might be too aggressive and doesn’t walk often. His defense has, is and will always be the biggest question in his profile.
Mejia will challenge Austin Hedges for the everyday catcher’s position. Hedges is a defensive-minded catcher that struggles with the bat. Hedges is batting a mere .205 in 673 at-bats at the major league level. Mejia is the opposite of Hedges as he has almost nothing left to prove in the minor leagues from an offensive standpoint. If Meija can develop into just an average defender than his offense could make him one of the best catchers in the game.
It is very likely that there will be a platoon when Meija arrives in the majors. Mejia will take the bigger volume of the starts due to his offense. On the other hand, Hedges will substitute in during late innings of a game. The two catchers could become one of the strongest catching platoons. However, it will diminish Mejia’s Fantasy value when he finally does arrive in the big leagues.
Tyler O’Neill, OF, Cardinals
Tyler O'Neill continues to soar for @memphisredbirds with another multi-home run effort. #STLCards No. 2 ranked prospect has gone deep five times in his last two games. https://t.co/ryHBmyxOY1 pic.twitter.com/HmbBwpsxBo
— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) July 25, 2018
There is a lot of potential with Tyler O’Neill, but a stacked Cardinals outfield has prevented O’Neill from securing a full-time role. The 23-year-old outfielder did experience trouble at the MLB level after a loud start. He struck out 20 times in 44 total at-bats while walking only once.
O’Neill was hitting just .227 with three home runs and seven RBI this season when he was placed on the disabled list due to a hamstring strain. He spent 10 days on the disabled list before being optioned to Triple-A Memphis after his rehab assignment.
Since the minor league All-Star break, he is hitting 12-for-25 for a .343 average. He is slugging .943 with six homers, including three in one game. On the season, he has a 1.028 OPS and leads the Pacific Coast League with 25 homers.
Unless the Cardinals decide to trade one of their current outfielders, O’Neill still has nowhere to play in a crowded outfield. He does deserve another opportunity in the bigs. Dynasty owners need to hold on to O’Neill as he should be an everyday outfielder in the 2019 season. Whether it’s for the Cardinals or in another MLB outfield.
Victor Robles, OF, Nationals
Victor Robles is officially back. The 21-year-old has homered, walked & stolen a base in his first 2 PAs with the @SyracuseChiefs since he hyperextended his elbow in April. No. 1 on the #Nats Top 30: https://t.co/bxIpqDams5 pic.twitter.com/uLl2hc2DsT
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 28, 2018
Do you remember Victor Robles? Robles has been somewhat overshadowed this season by his organizational mate Juan Soto and his outstanding success in the big leagues. Soto is on his way to snag the 2018 Rookie of the Year award, while Victor Robles hyperextended his left elbow earlier in the year.
Robles has played in just four games this season. After spending three months on the disabled list, he was just activated and reassigned to Triple-A Syracuse. The Nationals’ top prospect is a true five-tool talent, and his athleticism is off the charts. An outstanding contact tool married with perhaps the best speed in the minors makes him a threat in every at-bat.
MLB.com’s No. 5 overall prospect has mashed at every minor-league stop and appeared ready to be a valuable contributor for the Nationals. His career MILB triple slash is .305/.396/.469 and for as impressive as he is on offense, he is just as impressive defensively. He is an exceptional center fielder with a great arm.
Robles may well already be on the big league roster were it not for the injury. However, the Nationals already have an outfield logjam with five major league quality players already on their roster. It’s unlikely that Robles will come up to the bigs before roster expands in September to allow Robles to get healthy. His success in the Nationals’ 2017 postseason run provides Fantasy owners a view for the foreseeable future this season and beyond. With Bryce Harper likely playing elsewhere next season, Robles will be a starting outfielder for the Nationals in 2019.
Before You Go
In case you missed it, please visit last week’s Rookie Report Week 17 Rookie Report: Ready to Play! Also, 2018 Week 17 Hot Topics: Pain Don’t Hurt Edition provides you with what the buzz is around Fantasy Baseball. Getting ready for Fantasy Football? Find out who we believe are the running back sleepers 5 Running Back Sleepers You Must Own For The 2018 Season and don’t forget to find out which wide receivers to select in the 7 Wide Receiver Sleepers That You Must Own in 2018.