2015 has become the Year of the Prospect, as it appears teams are calling up their top prospects left and right. This past weekend, the Minnesota Twins and the Cleveland Indians called up Byron Buxton and Francisco Lindor, respectively, to add to the already impressive list of rookie of the year candidates that includes the likes of Carlos Correa, Kris Bryant, Joey Gallo, and Carlos Rodon (just to name a few). Just like last week’s edition, the theme for the Week 10 Fantasy Baseball Stock Report is youth.
WEEK 10 FANTASY BASEBALL STOCK REPORT
WEEK TEN PLAYERS’ STOCK ON THE RISE:
Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians
Lindor’s glove at shortstop has been ready for the big leagues for a couple of years now, but it is his bat that has kept him from breaking through so far. He had decent numbers in Triple-A Columbus (.281/.348/.399) but he has never really been much of an offensive threat. Despite only being 21-years-old with plenty of room for growth, according to scouts, he only profiles as someone who will slash somewhere around .265/.320/.390 at his peak with the speed to steal 20+ bases.
Still, all of that being said, he plays a premium position, and if he can be competent at the plate, he can be relevant in deep (think 16+ teams) mixed leagues or AL-only leagues. Expect something like .250/.295/.340 with 4-5 HRs, 30 R, 30 RBI, and 8-12 SBs rest of season, provided he sticks in the lineup.
Carlos Rodon, SP, Chicago White Sox
Since joining the White Sox rotation, Rodon has flashed the immense upside that makes him one of the top pitching prospects in the game, but he has also flashed some volatility that shows that he is an unfinished product. He has a devastating slider and two good fastballs, but his changeup is still under development, and he has struggled with command early on in his young career. His electric stuff has gotten him 40 Ks in 40.2 IP (8.85 K/9, 22.0 K%), but has walked an alarming 24 batters in the same span (5.31 BB/9, 13.2 BB%).
Until he shows that he can get the walks under control, it might be best to play matchups with Rodon for the time being. He should still be owned in virtually all formats (especially keeper and dynasty), however.
Joe Panik, 2B, San Francisco Giants
After a pretty good rookie season of 2014 in which he slashed .305/.343/.368 over 287 PAs, most people thought Joe Panik would probably, at best, replicate those numbers with little-to-no power or speed and good R+RBI totals. 260 PAs into 2015, and he has already surpassed all of his numbers from 2014. He is currently slashing .316/.380/.476 with 6 homers, 2 stolen bases, 34 runs scored, and 25 RBI while hitting near the top of the underrated Giants lineup.
His peripherals suggest that it’s not all entirely fluky, either. His K% is exactly the same as last year (11.5%), and he has almost doubled his BB% from 2014 (5.6% to 8.5%) to get more in line with his minor league numbers. He is hitting less ground balls and pop ups and more fly balls, which has led to the recent power surge (2014 HR/FB% = 1.6%, 2015 HR/FB% = 8.5%). A .340 BABIP may seem a bit high, but it’s actually a few ticks lower than his 2014 BABIP (.343), so it’s possible that he may have a high baseline BABIP, meaning he could consistently hit above .300.
Panik has been a pleasant surprise for the owners lucky enough to swipe him up before his hot streak (he’s hit safely in 32 out of his last 34 games), and his improvements appear to be sustainable. The power might come down a bit to finish around 12 or so homers, but Joe Panik has solidified himself a spot in the top 10 fantasy second basemen, thanks in part to some disappointing performances from others at the position.
Jaime Garcia, SP, St. Louis Cardinals
Skills and potential have never been the question with Cardinals lefty Jaime Garcia, the problem has always been his inability to stay on the field. After starting off 2015 with yet another injury, Garcia made his season debut on May 21 in New York against the Mets, and has looked fantastic since then. He is five-for-five in quality starts, and through 35 IP, has struck out 24 while only walking 5 (all in his first start) and allowing just 23 hits, posting a sparkling 2.06 ERA and 0.89 WHIP. Go get him if he’s available in your league, but don’t count on having him for the rest of the year. Also, be wary of his next start on Thursday at Minnesota. The Twins are a sneaky good team and usually crush lefties.
Also keep an eye on:
Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins
Cameron Maybin, OF, Atlanta Braves
Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies
Joey Butler, OF/DH, Tampa Bay Rays
Dan Haren, SP, Miami Marlins
Chi Chi Gonzalez, SP, Texas Rangers
Vincent Velasquez, SP, Houston Astros
WEEK TEN PLAYERS’ STOCK ON THE FALL:
Alex Rios, OF, Kansas City Royals
Rios looked like he was on his way to a comeback year in the brief period before going on the DL with a broken left hand in mid-April. He was 9-for-28 with a homer and two steals before suffering the injury. After missing about 8 weeks, he returned on May 30, and hasn’t quite picked it up where he left off. Since his return, he is batting just .105/.150/.132 over 40 PAs, and has just one extra base hit in that span. Whether the hand is still bothering him, or age is taking its toll on him is hard to say, but if he keeps failing to produce, manager Ned Yost is going to find it hard to keep him in the lineup consistently. Rios has already been finding himself benched regularly for Jarrod Dyson, who provides better defense and is much more fleet of foot than Rios at this point in their respective careers.
Aaron Harang, SP, Philadelphia Phillies
Harang started 2015 with a surprising hot start, eating up plenty of quality innings for a terrible Phillies team. He recorded quality starts in 10 of his first 11 outings, and after those first 11 outings, his ERA and WHIP stood at the pristine averages of 2.02 and 1.00, respectively. However, over his last three starts (including the one I, for some reason, am watching as I write this on Monday night), he has failed to record a quality start, and has watched his ERA balloon to 3.24.
Frankly, this was expected, as Harang’s xFIP stood at 4.21 over that span. The time to sell on Harang has long since passed, but he can still be used as a streaming option if you play the matchups right, and in deeper leagues he will eat up some innings that won’t all suck.
Alex Guerrero, 2B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Guerrero has gotten a lot of attention because he has flashed a good bat while mostly being used as a pinch hitter. The simple truth is, the Dodgers just don’t have a defensive spot they can put him in, especially with Yasiel Puig’s return from the DL. It would be nice if manager Don Mattingly could find a way to consistently get Guerrero’s bat in the lineup because it appears that he can really hit, but unless a trade or an injury of some sort happens, Guerrero’s not worth a roster spot in any but the deepest of leagues.
Felix Hernandez, SP, Seattle Mariners
Now, there is no way you are going to go out and drop King Felix in any situation in any league whatsoever, but I bring him up here because I am somewhat concerned. It’s not just the fact that he has gotten absolutely shelled in 2 of his last 3 outings, it’s that his velocity and strikeouts are down and his walks are up. Granted, it is only 1 MPH of his fastball, and the K% is only down 2%, but he is issuing 2.2% more walks than last year, which equals about 1 more walk per 9 innings.
I have no idea whether he is pitching through an injury, or he’s lost a little something, or what is going on, but Hernandez doesn’t quite look like himself this year so far. Like I said, it’s too early to do anything drastic, but I would be keeping a close watch on him from this point on. I might even entertain trade offers on him.
Also keep an eye on:
Jung-Ho Kang, SS/3B, Pittsburgh Pirates
Addison Russell, 2B/SS, Chicago Cubs
Mike Napoli, 1B, Boston Red Sox
Ryan Vogelsong, SP, San Francisco Giants
Shane Greene, SP, Detroit Tigers (demoted)
Collin McHugh, SP, Houston Astros