Hello, Fantasy friends and foes and Welcome Back to the SCFE’s Rookie Report.
Were you lucky enough to grab any of the hot fantasy rookies for this season? Ozzie Albies? Ronald Acuna? Gleyber Torres?
If so, you were ahead of the curve, congrats! You were smart enough to read our content here at SCFE to give you the fantasy edge. Well, here we go again. There are still more rookies and prospects that fantasy owners need to be aware of.
Who are these rookies and prospects? Let’s find out in the Week 8 Rookie Report.
Week 8 Rookie Report
In The Show
Juan Soto, OF, Nationals
The 19-year-old outfielder is the latest highly regarded player to make headlines in his arrival to the big leagues. The Nationals called up Juan Soto from Double-A Harrisburg one day after Howie Kendrick tore his Achilles tendon, an injury that ended his season. Along with Kendrick, the Nationals also have outfielders Adam Eaton and Brian Goodwin on the disabled list, which necessitated the move.
Soto, who became the second Nationals players to debut at 19 years old, became the youngest player in the major leagues. He needed just 16 games in A-ball before moving up to Double-A. He batted .373 with five homers and 24 RBI for Low-A Hagerstown. Once promoted to Double-A, he hit .371 with seven homers and 18 RBI across 15 games. Overall, he played for three teams in the minor leagues this season, and hit .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBI.
Of course, his first hit was a homer on the first pitch of his first MLB start. He reached base in six of his first nine appearances. However, he is now hitting only .231/.412/.462 with one homer and has the same number of strikeouts and walks (four). Soto began hitting out of the six hole to start his career but now has moved up to the two hole. This move and the fact that the youngster is a heck of a hitter make him a must-own in all formats. He is probably already owned in your leagues, or at least he should be.
Jack Flaherty, SP, Cardinals
Jack Flaherty has been up and down from the big leagues in St. Louis to the minors in Triple-A Memphis. He has been dominant while in Memphis, going 4-1 with a 2.27 ERA in five starts this season. Flaherty voiced his displeasure to the Cardinals’ management regarding this continued shuttle. I think he has proved his point. He is currently 2-1 with a 2.15 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in five starts with the Cardinals along with an outstanding 31:9 K:BB ratio in 29.1 innings.
The only issue with Flaherty is the Cardinals’ rotation. Alex Reyes is slated to make his return Wednesday and Carlos Martinez is expected to come off the disabled list shortly. They are joined by the surprising Miles Mikolas, Michael Wacha, and Luke Weaver. The Cardinals have enviable depth in their rotation and looked to be in the right situation for a six-man rotation.
If the rotation does indeed shape up to go six deep, it looks like Martinez (when healthy), Wacha, and Mikolas will go every fifth day. The remainder of the rotation will consist of Flaherty, Alex Reyes, and Luke Weaver. With those three starters, each will skip their turn weekly to help save their young and fragile arms. Not exactly a recipe for Fantasy success. What a great problem for the Cardinals to have. A frustrating scenario for Fantasy owners in picking their rotations. This is definitely a situation that needs to be keyed on for the rest of the season.
Austin Meadows, OF, Pirates
Highly regarded OF Austin Meadows was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis to take the roster spot once Starling Marte (oblique) was placed on the disabled list. He was hitting .294/.336/.397 with one homer and eight steals for Indianapolis. He’s playing extremely well through seven games in the big leagues, hitting .448/.448/.897 with three home runs, and two stolen bases.
The big question with Meadows is what will happen now that Marte has returned from the disabled list. Meadows is looking worthy of staying in the bigs and is making it hard for the Pirates to demote him.
The injury potential of the three current outfielders (Marte, Corey Dickerson, and Gregory Polanco) lends itself to the belief that Meadows will find at-bats in this crowded scenario. Once the Pirates are out of contention, look for one or more of these outfielders to be traded, opening the door for Meadows to produce in the Pirates’ lineup. Until then, owners need to ride the hot bat. Meadows is a nice stash in all formats.
On The Brink
Alex Reyes, SP, Cardinals
Alex Reyes has not pitched in the majors since 2016, due to blowing out his elbow in February 2017 which forced him to undergo Tommy John surgery, ending his 2017 season before it started. Reyes was ranked as the club’s best prospect two years running by both Baseball America and MLB.com. In 12 games during the 2016 season, he went 4-1 with a 1.57 ERA, striking out 52 batters in just 46 innings.
He is scheduled to start on Wednesday after spending a year in recovery. Reyes, St. Louis’ No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline, threw 23 scoreless innings across four rehab starts at four different levels. He struck out 44 and walked seven, going 3-0, while allowing just 14 baserunners.
It was just announced by Cardinals’ management that Reyes will not have an innings cap this season. If he is still somehow available in your league, please stop reading this article and go pick him up ASAP! He could be a #1 SP the rest of this season and should be owned in every single Fantasy format.
Austin Riley, 3B, Braves
Riley, 21, hit .333 with 19 extra-base hits including six homers and 20 RBI in 27 games this season at Double-A Mississippi, posting a .394 OBP and .677 slugging percentage in 109 plate appearances. He earned an early-season promotion and continues to rake for Triple-A Gwinnett. He is slashing .290/.351/.449 with three homers and a .800 OPS in 69 at-bats for Gwinnett.
There is a good chance that Austin Riley will finish this season as the Braves’ everyday third baseman. He will be another high-achieving Braves prospect who looks to be the Braves’ third baseman of the future. The success of Albies and Acuna should provide enough of a leap of faith for Fantasy owners to hop on the Fantasy bandwagon of Austin Riley this season. Dynasty owners should already have Riley rostered while seasonal formats should look for Austin Riley to be called up sometime this summer. Once he arrives, he will be a fixture as the Braves’ third baseman.
Willy Adames, SS, Rays
Willy Adames made a cameo appearance for the Rays while filling in for new father Joey Wendle (Congrats Joey!). Adames went 2-for-12 in his three games, striking out six times, making several impressive plays at shortstop with his glove and his arm. He was optioned back to Triple-A Durham after Wendle returned from being on the paternity list.
Adames has compiled a .311/.387/.466 slash line with four homers through 40 games in Triple-A this season. That was after hitting .277/.360/.415 with 10 homers over 130 games at that level last season. Willy Adames has nothing left to prove in the minors and should be receiving regular time at shortstop with the Rays. It is just a matter of the Rays finding a place for him in the lineup.
The Rays’ plans are not very clear. With current shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria on the 10-day DL, the team should reassess their options once he returns. Hechavarria is slated to be a free agent after this season, making $5.9 million this season. He is currently hitting .261/.296/.330 and continues to be a stalwart defensively at shortstop. However, as the Rays continue to slide down the standings, they should look to move Hechavarria at the trade deadline. A contending team looking for a middle infielder with a good glove should be a target at the deadline.
Once Hechavarria returns from the DL and proves he is healthy, watch for the Rays to move on from the veteran and bring up one of their top prospects to the majors. Willy Adames should provide a spark with his solid all-around game. If you picked him up already, hold on to Adames, he will be back and provide production from your MI slot in your lineup for rest of the season.