Hello and Welcome Back to the Rookie Report, where I take a look at the current rookies making noise and players in the minors on the brink looking to make the jump to the big leagues.
The phenom is here. Ronald Acuna finally arrived in the bigs! The wait is over! The hype is real! So far, he has proven that all the hype is real. What does the rest of the season hold?
How will the Yankees’ rookie duo impact that already lethal lineup?
Which two minor league pitchers have proven that they are ready for the majors?
Find out the answers to those questions and more in the Week 4 Rookie Report!
Week 4 Rookie Report
In The Show
Ronald Acuna, OF, Braves
By now, everyone knows about Ronald Acuna. He entered the season as the No.1 prospect in baseball and the 20-year-old looked every bit the player everyone was raving about. The Ronald Acuna who climbed last season from High-A to Double-A to Triple-A and his OPS increased at each level. The same Ronald Acuna who hit — in ascending order — .287, then .326, then .344 at three minor-league levels last summer. He hit .325 in the Arizona Fall League. He slashed .432/.519/.727 along with four homers and a 1.247 OPS in 16 spring games.
Acuna was stashed at Triple-A for the first weeks of the season to delay the start of this major league service time clock. The Braves recalled Ronald Acuna last week to the delight of every Fantasy owner who believed the hype. The 20-year-old wraps up his first week in the majors with a .421/.500/.789 slash line with four doubles, three walks, one home run and one stolen base. He did all of that in his first 22 plate appearances as a major-league player.
Per Statcast, his average exit velocity sits at 93.1 miles per hour, a top-30 mark in the majors among players with at least 10 batted balls. Five of his batted-ball events have eclipsed the triple-digit mark, and more than half have surpassed Statcast’s threshold for “hard hits” at 95-plus miles per hour.
Acuna is now hitting second in the Braves lineup, following fellow rookie Ozzie Albies. The duo along with first baseman Freddie Freeman will be creating havoc for pitchers for several seasons. Welcome to the next Fantasy superstar!
Miguel Andujar, 3B, Yankees
Miguel Andujar has seized the opportunity when Brandon Drury went on the DL with blurry vision and migraines. He has recorded at least one extra-base hit in 10 of his previous 12 games, going 21-for-49 (.429) with three homers, one triple, and an MLB-leading 12 doubles.
He is playing well enough in the field and producing phenomenal numbers at the plate. Even with Drury making progress in rehab at Triple-A, hitting .571 over his past two games, it will be difficult to sit Andujar now. Overall, Andujar is hitting .312 with three homers and 12 RBI in 19 games. Additionally, he ranks fourth in MLB history with 18 extra-base hits thru 24 career games.
Miguel Andujar is showing exactly why the Yankees management always believed he could hit at the big league level. The Yankees are hoping that Andujar continues to blossom and leaves no doubt that he is their every day third baseman this season for the foreseeable future. He is paying dividends to those owners who drafted and did not give up on him after he was sent down at the onset of this season. He should be owned and started in all Fantasy formats.
Gleyber Torres, 2B, Yankees
According to MLB.com, Gleyber Torres is New York’s top prospect and the No. 5 prospect in all of baseball. He is a career .285/.362/.420 hitter in five seasons in the minors. Although the right-handed hitter owns a .329 average over four spring training camps, he went just 7-for-32 (.219) this spring. This spring was different due to his recovering from his left elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. The Yankees decided to have the 21-year-old start the season at Triple-A.
Torres was knocking the cover off the ball in Triple-A this season, hitting .370/.415/.543 with one home run, three doubles, one triple and 11 RBI. And with Neil Walker (.183), Brandon Drury (.217) and Tyler Wade (.086) struggling at the plate, it was time to call up the highly touted prospect. With service time no longer a concern for the organization, Torres can be called up at any time and not accrue a full season in the majors this year. He made his big-league debut on April 22 and is now hitting .310/.375/.379 with two doubles and two RBI in his first eight games.
Meanwhile, Torres is playing slick defense at second base even though he’s a natural shortstop who is still learning the position. Torres continues to solidify his hold on the second base position while adding another bat to an already potent Yankees lineup. He is not a major power guy, but he will contribute in all of the Fantasy categories.
On The Brink
Mike Soroka, SP, Braves
Soroka, who MLB.com ranks as the 31st best prospect in baseball, had an 11-8 record with a 2.75 ERA (3.19 FIP) in 153.2 Double-A innings last season, and he’s dominated Triple-A in his first taste of the league. The 20-year-old right-hander is six and a half years younger than the average age of players in the Triple-A International League this season.
His record with the Stripers now stands at 2-0 with a 1.99 ERA. He has struck out 24 while allowing five earned runs and five walks in 22.2 innings this season. Even with his solid mix of pitches, he is not projected to be a prolific strikeout artist in the majors.
Mike Soroka is ready to show what he can do in Atlanta. It will be tough for the Braves to keep this type of talent in the minors for too much longer. If you have room on your bench, grab and stash him. Soroka seems destined to have a long and highly productive career.
Michael Kopech SP, White Sox
Michael Kopech has the potential to be the most impactful pitching prospect in the minors. He is dominating Triple-A as evidenced by striking out 29 batters while walking only seven in 21 innings. Opposing batters are batting just .189 against him and his ERA sits at a minuscule 2.14 ERA.
So why isn’t the No. 2 White Sox prospect pitching for the White Sox? Well, it’s the dreaded service time. I won’t bore you with all of the details, however, the bottom line is that if the White Sox can hold off bringing up Kopech until the first week of June, they will retain him for an extra year. In addition, they will gain an arbitration year and save a load of money.
Baseball’s No. 10 overall prospect should be in the White Sox rotation right now. The White Sox are dreadful and they only have one starter with a sub-6.00 ERA. Fantasy owners should look to see if Michael Kopech is available now and stash him. If you wait until he becomes part of their rotation, it will be too late.
Willy Adames, SS, Rays
Willy Adams has built up plenty of experience at the top level of the minors. He played 130 games for Triple-A last season, batting .277/.360/415 with 10 homers, five triples, 30 doubles and 11 steals. He came into the season rated as the No. 19 prospect in the minors, according to Baseball America. He is known as an excellent defender, but his bat has really started to shine.
He is hitting .545 with two homers, 12 RBI, and six runs along with a .577 OBP in last six games. This has boosted his International League average to .300 (15-for-50) and has 11 RBI in 15 games so far this season.
Adames doesn’t have much more to prove at the minor league level. However, current Rays’ shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria is playing too well right now for them to even consider in bringing up Adames. Hechavarria is a slick-fielding shortstop who is batting .273/.306/.364 with two homers and 12 RBI on the season. He will hit free agency after the 2018 season, so look for the Rays to unload him and get something for him. This will make room for Adames to take over the rest of this season and be the starting shortstop heading into the 2019 season. Willy Adames is a great stash candidate in dynasty leagues. Take a look if he is still available in your league.