Hello Fantasy Baseball Fans, and welcome to the Week 6 Rookie Report.
In my last Rookie Report, I highlighted three rookie hitters In The Show making significant Fantasy impacts. In my latest installment, I will focus on three pitchers who will make their Fantasy owners feel smart for having them on their rosters.
Additionally, I will highlight three players On The Brink of making an impact on their teams and Fantasy rosters.
Who are these rookies that will make a Fantasy impact? Let’s take a look in the Week 6 Rookie Report.
Week 6 Rookie Report
In The Show
Walker Buehler, SP/RP, Dodgers
The Dodgers continue to besieged by injuries. The latest victim is southpaw starter, Hyun-Jim Ryu. Ryu was placed on the disabled list after suffering left groin strain. In fact, he actually tore the muscle completely off the bone! OUCH! Ryu will be sidelined until the second half of the season.
To take Ryu’s spot in the rotation, the Dodgers have installed Walker Buehler as a member of their starting rotation. The Dodgers’ top prospect holds a 2.08 ERA and a 16/4 K/BB ratio over 13 innings this season for Triple-A Oklahoma City. The 23-year-old right-hander has pitched well in his two spot starts for the Dodgers this season. He has gone 10 innings in those starts with a 1.80 ERA and 11 strikeouts.
In his last start, Buehler dominated the Padres to the tune of striking out eight batters while issuing only three walks. Buehler combined with three relievers to no-hit the Padres on Friday night. He was removed after 93 pitches. He will operate under similar restraints for most of the season.
Buehler underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 and the Dodgers prizes his health. The organization is not expected to have Buehler throw more than 150 innings this season. Buehler will be the team’s fifth starter and will be on a pitch count and innings restrictions. Regardless, he should be owned in all leagues!
Mike Soroka, SP, Braves
Mike Soroka entered this season as the Braves’ top pitching prospect, as well as a consensus Top-35 prospect in all of baseball, reaching a high point of No. 27 in Baseball America’s rankings. He dominated in his first four starts at Gwinnett this season, totaling a 1.99 ERA, .097 WHIP and 24 strikeouts against five walks in 22 2/3 innings. In 61 minor league games (59 starts), Soroka has a 2.91 ERA and 287 strikeouts in 330 2/3 innings.
Injuries to starters Julio Tehran and Anibal Sanchez created an opening in the rotation. Soroka was assigned to make a spot start for Sanchez, who was on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. In his first MLB start, the 20-year-old faced New York and outdueled Mets ace Noah Syndergaard. He went six innings, allowing six hits, zero walks, and one run on his way to a 3-2 win. He needed just 80 pitches to get through six innings and piled up 13 whiffs.
It’s decision time in Atlanta. Tehran and Sanchez are both due back this week. At this point, it seems very difficult for the Braves to send Soroka back to the minors. The Braves are among the most exciting young teams in baseball. They may be closer to continue to contend for the NL East title than anyone thought.
Fantasy owners are always looking for the next big thing. We have already seen the massive production of Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna, and Soroka should provide the onset of the pitching breakouts for the Braves. Soroka needs to be owned in all Fantasy formats. If Soroka somehow does get sent back down, don’t give up on him making a Fantasy impact as the season unfolds.
Nick Kingham, SP, Pirates
Nick Kingham is the Pirates’ No. 12 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He was called up to simply make his big league debut in a spot start against the Cardinals last Sunday. What he did was make history and place himself on everyone’s Fantasy radar.
He took a perfect game into the seventh inning. The 20 batters that Kingham retired prior to giving up the single is an expansion-era record for a pitcher making his Major League debut. Kingham ended up going seven innings while striking out nine and walking zero while throwing 98 pitches with a whopping 72 of them being strikes.
The Pirates were not planning to keep Kingham in the majors after his spot start. However, he was given another opportunity to start again on Friday at Milwaukee. Kingham did not dominate as he did in his first outing but still got the win. He allowed one run on three hits through five innings. After his first two big league starts, Kingham has posted a 2-0 record with a 2.92 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, and an excellent 16/1 K/BB ratio.
Kingham was once widely regarded as one of the game’s top 100 overall prospects back in 2014-15 and looked to be on the fast track to the Major Leagues. Unfortunately, he tore his ulnar collateral ligament and underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015.
In four Triple-A starts this season, Kingham is 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 27-to-7 K/BB ratio, and a 49.1 grounder rate in 22.2 innings. He’s yet to allow a home run this year and allowed only eight in 2017. Nick Kingham is worth an immediate add in NL-only leagues and speculative add in mixed and deeper leagues due to the increased probability of making additional starts.
On The Brink
Eloy Jimenez, OF, White Sox
The top White Sox prospect and No. 4 overall prospect per MLB Pipeline missed the start of the 2018 season as he was recovering from a strained left pectoral that he suffered at the end of March. Eloy Jimenez didn’t start his season until April 19 with Double-A Birmingham. He got off to a listless start, going hitless in his first 10 at-bats which should have been expected after a lengthy layoff.
Jimenez is showing why he has amassed so much hype, slugging .652 with a .999 OPS on the season entering Monday. He has more home runs (six) than doubles (five) and walks (four) and finished a triple shy of the cycle last Friday. Despite missing the first 11 games of the season, he is now tied for the league with six homers and has also driven in 19 runs in 69 plate appearances this season.
He owns a six-game multi-hit streak, a stretch in which he has posted a .481/.500/.852 slash line with two homers. Jimenez owns a 10-game overall hit streak and has a hit in 13 of his last 14 games. He’s also cut his strikeout rate to 16.9 percent.
Eloy Jimenez was the key piece the White Sox got in return in the Jose Quintana trade with the Chicago Cubs last summer. Jimenez is on the quick track to being promoted to Triple-A very soon with his domination of Double-A. At this rate, we should see Eloy Jimenez in the White Sox outfield sometime later this summer. Jimenez should already be owned in all dynasty formats.
Austin Riley, 3B, Braves
Austin Riley’s stock continues to climb. The Braves just promoted the 21-year-old 3B prospect to Triple-A. Riley is currently slashing .333/.394/.677 in 27 games with six homers and 20 RBI. Additionally, he ranks among the league leaders in most offensive categories despite being the youngest hitter in Double-A.
His promotion coincided with the Braves bringing up veteran Jose Bautista from Triple-A to the majors on Friday. The third base position in Atlanta is so desolate that they are hoping that Bautista has something left and can hold off the likes of Ryan Flaherty and Johan Camargo.
Austin Riley is a step closer to the majors with this promotion. He will see enough at-bats at Triple-A that a 2018 debut in the majors may not be so surprising. At a minimum, Riley will be competing for the starting job as soon as next spring training.
Brendan Rodgers, INF, Rockies
Brendan Rodger has been on the dynasty Fantasy radar since he was drafted by the Rockies in 2015. In 2017, between class A+ and Double-A, Rodgers hit .336/.373/.567 with 18 HR, 64 R and 64 RBI in just 89 games. The scouts and national prospect writers think that Rodgers is the best prospect in the Rockies’ system, a future All-Start shortstop or second baseman and a middle of the order bat. According to Baseball America, Rodgers is the best hitter for average and best infield arm in the system.
He struggled to start the season, hitting .143/.167/.343 during the first few weeks of this season. Rodgers has finally started to heat up, recording hits in 16 of his subsequent 18 starts, contributing a 1.024 OPS over that span. He has hit six homers which places him in a tie for third in the league.
What position he’ll play when he gets to the majors is up for debate. However, I am thinking that the offensive impact will force his way onto the big league roster. He will need to work on his plate discipline, but with the Coors Field factor, a 30-homer season is not out of the question for Brendan Rodgers. Rodgers is another player who should already be owned in all dynasty formats.