We all know there have been a slew of callups recently, with varying degrees of success. Let’s take a look at a few of these arrivals and determine what to make of their initial debut and if they could make an impact in 2019:
Oscar Mercado –
He may have been among the more unheralded recalls, but he also could make the biggest impact. Over his first 10 games (36 PA) he’s shown the total package, hitting .323 with 1 HR, 4 RBI, 9 R and 2 SB as he’s quickly risen to hitting second in the lineup. There was never a question about his speed, as well as the potential to chip in 10-12 HR (he’s added 3 doubles), and his approach in his first taste of the Majors has been impressive:
- SwStr% – 10.3%
- O-Swing% – 29.1%
It’s a small sample size, but his worst Whiff% has been 16.67% (against offspeed pitches), while he’s hit the ball extremely hard (56.0% Hard%). Obviously things can change quickly, especially as opposing pitchers adjust, but he has the potential to be a difference maker (especially with how hard it is to find stolen bases). He’s entrenched himself in Cleveland’s outfield and it would appear like he’s going to be there all season long.
Consider Mercado a must own, and one that could help lead you to a fantasy title.
Austin Riley – Atlanta Braves
He continues to show off power, with 5 HR in 51 PA since being promoted to the Majors. When you pair that with a .333 AVG it would appear to be that we should be all in on him moving forward. At the same time there are some warning signs that can’t be ignored:
- BABIP – .440
- Strikeout Rate – 35.3%
- SwStr% – 26.6%
- O-Swing% – 41.0%
That approach is horrific, and while it’s extreme he did own a 12.9% SwStr% at Triple-A prior to his recall. He also has shown an inability to make contact against any type of pitch, with a 23.64% Whiff% against “hard” pitches. With the mark being even worse against breaking balls and offspeed pitches, and opposing pitchers already throwing him fastballs 57.29% of the time, how long until a lengthy slump comes?
Throw in a slowdown in his power, considering a 41.7% HR/FB, and it’s easy to see where this is headed. Obviously we wouldn’t drop him in any format today, but would selling high make sense? Absolutely, especially in redraft formats.
Keston Hiura –
There was a lot of hype surrounding Hiura’s promotion, but 12 games in the impression hasn’t been great. He’s now hitting .256 with 2 HR and 1 SB, but his plate discipline has been abysmal with a 41.3% strikeout rate and 2.2% walk rate. He’s benefited from a .409 BABIP and a 23.1% SwStr% is a significant red flag (and considering a 25.25% Whiff% on “hard” pitches the concern only grows).
Let’s not forget that strikeouts were always going to be a concern, and while this is extreme he did post a 13.3% SwStr% over 147 PA at Triple-A. We also have to remember that he wasn’t going to maintain his home run pace from Triple-A (35.5% HR/FB), and he even may not be able to maintain his current 22.2% mark. Throw in a 29.2% Hard% and it seems like his first taste of the Majors isn’t going to end up as planned.
With Travis Shaw working towards his return, could Hiura be ticketed back to Triple-A? In redraft formats moving on does make sense, though those in dynasty formats will want to sit tight and not let some struggles deter you.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, MILB.com