Welcome Fantasy friends and foes to the Weekly Rookie Report.
There has been a significant impact made by rookies this season so far, yet there are still several prospects that will make contributions to their MLB teams, and of course, to your fantasy rosters.
I came up with three rookies which fantasy owners need to keep on their fantasy radars. In addition, I listed two batters that need to be up hitting in the big leagues, along with a pitcher who made a cameo appearance already this season.
Who are these rookies and prospects? Let’s find out in the Week 9 Rookie Report.
Week 9 Rookie Report
In The Show
Ryan McMahon, INF, Rockies
Ryan McMahon, the club’s second-ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline, was recalled this past week to play second base in DJ LeMahieu’s absence. McMahon made the Opening Day roster but struggled in 28 games. He hit only .180/.317/.200 with a double and three RBI in 60 plate appearances. He was subsequently optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque on May 1.
McMahon hit .253 with three home runs, five doubles, one triple and 16 RBI in 22 games after being optioned. More importantly, he has hit .333 (8-for-24) with hits in five of last his six games before being recalled.
McMahon has looked more confident since returning, he has four hits and has exhibited better plate discipline. LeMahieu just returned to the lineup which returns McMahon back to the bench. He could be used to spell Ian Desmond, who is hitting a dismal .191 at first base. Can McMahon be much worse? While Desmond is owed a lot of money, he is definitely not producing enough to stay in the lineup. His financial burden is the only reason that he is still in the lineup.
There have been rumblings about trades involving McMahon, which I think will deflate his fantasy value. As long as he stays with the Rockies, he might have worth in dynasty leagues, otherwise, he has yet to prove that he is fantasy relevant.
Yairo Munoz, SS, Cardinals
The Cardinals suffered a major blow when shortstop Paul DeJong fractured his left hand. After rotating players at shortstop, the Cardinals decided to take a second look at rookie Yairo Munoz. Munoz was a surprise star of spring training who made the 25-man roster to open the season. However, in his first 20 MLB plate appearances, he had two hits in 18 at-bats and struck out 11 times. He was sent down to Triple-A Memphis on April 16.
With Triple-A Memphis, Munoz played most of the games at shortstop but his versatility took him to third base, second base, and the outfield. His versatility made him such an exciting prospect.
Munoz is making the most of his opportunity after being called up on May 19. He has gone 14 -or-33 for a .424 average while slugging.636 with a pair of homers, including a walk-off, three-run shot in the bottom of the ninth to give the Cardinals a 10-8 victory over the Pirates Thursday night.
While DeJong hopes to return in early July, Munoz has provided a huge offensive jolt for the Cardinals. DeJong will get his shortstop spot back when he returns, but the Cardinals need to find Munoz a spot in their lineup. Fantasy owners need to ride the hot hand with Munoz until DeJong comes back. There is no certainty on his playing time, so owners need to be aware of what the Cardinals plan to do with Munoz after DeJong returns.
Max Stassi, C, Astros
Max Stassi was provided an opportunity to showcase his talents with Brian McCann being placed on the 10-day disabled list with knee soreness. He is currently batting .293/.363/.543 along with a .906 OPS. He has hit five homers, eight doubles along with 17 RBI, however, he has struck out 32 times in 32 games. Additionally, his 1.3 fWAR is tied for the fourth-best in baseball among catchers with at least 90 plate appearances.
Stassi has never really been considered one of the Astros elite prospects, he was hampered by injuries and inconsistent offense production throughout his minor league career. He did break spring training with the Astros this season for the first time in his career. He earned a look after hitting .266/.383/.473 with 12 homers in 287 plate appearances at Triple-A Fresno last season.
Stassi started this season splitting catching duties with McCann, but now he has a prime opportunity in front of him. There have been rumblings that the Astros may look to attempt to improve the position via a trade but Stassi continues to perform well. With the catcher position being a fantasy wasteland this season (every season?), fantasy owners should pick up Stassi immediately and ride the hot hand!
On The Brink
Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., 3B, Blue Jays
This is the obligatory Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. mention for players that should be in the majors. Guerrero is smashing Double-A pitching and is the premier hitter in the minors. Just take a look at the video game numbers he produced in May:
444/.787/.483 with 10-2B, 9-HR, 28-RBI, 3-SB, 8-BB, and 11-K
The 19-year-old has nothing left to prove and is not being challenged at Double-A. With the recent news that the Blue Jays placed third baseman Josh Donaldson (calf) on the 10-day disabled list, the hope was that the Jays would possibly bring up Guerrero. However, he remains to slaughter Double-A pitching.
If the Jays are concerned about the Super Two cut-off, that might be understandable. What’s wrong with promoting him to Triple-A? He needs the challenge and his defense at third base is adequate. Maybe they can place him at first base or even DH. The experience would be invaluable and it will also prove that his hit tool should be hitting homers at the Rogers Centre. Come on Jays, make it happen already!
Shane Beiber, SP, Indians
The Cleveland Indians seems to have another future dominant arm in the minor league system. You may be thinking of top prospect Triston McKenzie, but there is another pitcher that fantasy owners should have on their radar. Shane Bieber is a 22-year-old starting pitcher in the Indians farm system. In 40 career starts, the young right-handed starter has compiled an impressive stat line. He has gone 13-5 with a 2.38 ERA with 211 strikeouts.
In four starts in Double-A Akron, he was 3-0 with 26 IP, 28 strikeouts, a 1.04 ERA and a 0.77 WHIP. That domination led to his promotion to Triple-A Columbus, where he has a 1.16 ERA through five starts. When the Indians needed a spot start this past week, they brought up Bieber to make his MLB debut. He tossed 5.2 innings, allowed four earned runs on eight hits with one walk and strikeouts against the Twins. There were some highs and lows with the start but he demonstrated composure and control.
Bieber has command of four pitches combined with the ability to hit the mid-90s with his fastball. He had a 61/3 K/BB ratio over 65 innings across his 10 minor league starts this season. His stay in Cleveland was short-lived as expected as he was sent down after the start. However, look for Bieber to be back in Cleveland again this season. The Indians have no need for a fifth starter currently but as the season progresses, the need will be there and I believe Bieber will get the call again. Bieber is someone that owners should stash on their rosters.
Eloy Jimenez, OF, White Sox
The 21-year-old Eloy Jimenez is making up for lost time after a season-opening DL stint. He is currently slashing .333/.376/.613 with nine homers, 36 RBI with a .989 OPS in 37 games at Double-A Birmingham. The most impressive aspect of his performance is that he’s displayed a quality all-around method at the plate, showing that he can use the entire field and be patient.
Jimenez, the team’s top hitting prospect, has been mashing Southern League pitching at Double-A and is showing that he is worthy of a mid-summer promotion. The question is whether Jimenez needs to make a stop at Triple-A or if he’ll go directly from Double-A to the big leagues. However, the Sox don’t want to bring him up before the Super Two cut-off date because that would grant him an extra year of salary arbitration. As soon as the arbitration date passes, the Sox have to bring up Eloy Jimenez.
Jimenez will continue to destroy Double-A pitching. He can hit for power, for average and will be a bona-fine prolific run producer in the Sox lineup for years. He is still learning to be less than a free swinger as he still strikes out at about a 20% clip while still walking about 7% of the time. Jimenez will be hitting homers at Guaranteed Rate Field this season, it is just a matter of when not if. He projects to be a .280-.300 hitter with power to hit 30-plus homers and 100 RBI.