by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
There have been a flurry of youngsters recalled of late (the biggest, of course, was Juan Soto who we covered on the Prospect Page which you can read by clicking here), though the question is going to be if they will get enough playing time to garner our attention. Let’s take a quick look at three of them and try to decide if they are worth grabbing in most formats (keep in mind, in dynasty/keeper, outside of short-term keeper, formats all three of these players hold definite appeal and most likely should be owned):
Tyler O’Neill – St. Louis Cardinals – Outfielder
He’s homered in back-to-back games and is helping to give the Cardinals a needed boost from their outfield. The question is if the team is ready to routinely bench their veterans in Dexter Fowler (.160, 5 HR, 3 SB) or Marcell Ozuna (.234 with 3 HR, including 0-20 in his past five games). The team has proven willing to sit veterans down for an extended period already (they’ve done it with Fowler and Matt Carpenter), but that’ll only mean a few days. They could utilize a rotation, but with Tommy Pham joining Fowler and Ozuna it’s hard to imagine.
For the next few days O’Neill should find his way into the lineup, and deservedly so, but we have to also remember that he’s all power and little else. While at Triple-A this season he managed a meager 2.5% walk rate, as he’s posted a 16.4% and 15.8% SwStr% at the level over the past two seasons. He also was fly ball-centric this season (52.3%), and that further will call his average into question. Strikeouts are going to be an issue, and playing time should definitely be a question. Think of him as a short-term fix, but for most of this season he’s not going to hold much value.
Verdict – Barring an injury, he’s a short-term option
J.D. Davis – Houston Astros – First Baseman/Third Baseman
He’s been raking at Triple-A, hitting .415 with 4 HR over 130 AB. There’s no question that there’s more power (17 doubles and 1 triple), and he’s been hitting the ball hard, but he obviously has benefited from a .510 BABIP and there’s a good chance his strikeout rate balloons (19.9% strikeout rate despite a 12.2% SwStr%). Those numbers alone call the numbers into question, but then we have the playing time concerns.
The thinking here is that Davis could take over as the DH over Evan Gattis (though he also will see time in LF), and there’s no question that he’s struggled overall, but he’s also hitting .278 with 3 HR over his past seven games so he’s showing signs of turning things around. Would sitting him down now really make sense?
Verdict – Major regression risk + Playing time questions = hard to invest in
Tony Kemp – Houston Astros – Outfielder
We’ve been talking about a potential bridge to Kyle Tucker, and it looks like we’ve found our answer. He was hitting .335 with 13 SB while at Triple-A, while he’s shown tremendous plate discipline (15 K vs. 19 BB). We also may want to dub him a platoon player, look at the slashes he’s put up against southpaws the past two years at Triple-A:
- 2017 – .397/.415/.534
- 2018 – .444/.522/.500
He could easily settle in to every day AB, a role he’s been filling already, and provide a boost in stolen bases while potentially also kicking in a little bit of power (10 HR at Triple-A in ’17). If he’s keeping the seat warm until Tucker is deemed ready, or potentially even pushing the slumping Josh Reddick out of the picture, there’s enough potential to give Kemp a look.
Verdict – Worth owning, especially if you need SB
Sources – MLB.com, Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
Missed our Top 100 prospect rankings? Make sure to check it out by clicking here.