While most of the fantasy community was busy digesting the flurry of recent trade activity, a handful of Major League clubs promoted players who have plenty of potential. But even the most effective fantasy gamers often struggle to project the rest-of-season statistics for those who come from Triple-A.
Let’s use some advanced stats to gain a better understanding of four rookies and one veteran who recently made their 2019 debut.
Bo Bichette, SS, Blue Jays
My eyes nearly popped out of my head when I noticed that Bichette remains available in more than half of Yahoo leagues. After all, the youngster is off to a great start (.407/.467/.667 slash line) after generally profiling as a .300 hitter with plus speed and acceptable power during his Minor League career. Whiffs shouldn’t be a big problem for Bichette, who had maintained a strikeout rate under 20 percent in each of his minor league seasons. And he gives himself plenty of chances to get on base and swipe bags by logging line-drive rates above 20 percent. His pre-2019 fly ball rates were all above 35%, but he dropped to a mark of 26.7% with Triple-A Buffalo. Across a full season, Bichette can be expected to produce 10-15 homers, 20-25 steals and an average close to .300, which makes him someone to roster everywhere.
Travis Demeritte, OF, Tigers
Demeritte went from buried in the Braves system to a part of the Tigers big league roster immediately upon being traded for closer Shane Greene. The 24 year old was part of the Triple-A power surge this season (20 homers in 339 at-bats), but he had amassed just 57 long balls across the previous three seasons. Strikeouts are going to be a huge problem for someone who regularly logs a whiff rate above 30%, and he can be counted on for a low batting average. The slugger has little speed to offer, and he should sit on waivers in mixed formats while he attempts to assert his power profile in the American League’s worst lineup.
Trent Grisham, OF, Brewers
Unlike Demeritte, Grisham has generated a bit of Yahoo buzz (10% rostered). The 22 year old is one of Milwaukee’s top position-player prospects, and his skills have been superb this season. He accumulated nearly as many walks (67) as whiffs (72) in the Minors this year, which is typically a great sign for future success. And his eye-popping .381 average across 158 Triple-A at-bats came with a .384 BABIP that is a little high but not completely absurd. Grisham hits plenty of fly balls (typically over 40%), and we all know that Miller Park is a great venue to showcase power skills. Overall, Grisham is definitely someone to monitor while we wait to find out how regularly he will be used on a crowded Brewers roster.
Adam Duvall, OF, Braves
With veteran Nick Markakis on the IL for several weeks and rookie Austin Riley enduring some struggles, Duvall is getting a chance to put himself back on the mixed-league radar. The 30 year old was beating up on Triple-A hurlers to the tune to 29 homers and 84 RBI across 347 at-bats, which will surely remind gamers of the version of Duvall who collected 64 long balls and 202 RBI across 2016-17. Duvall cut his strikeout rate to 20.4% in Triple-A (career 27.2 strikeout rate in the Majors), and he had logged a lofty 51.7% fly ball rate. Overall, Duvall seems to be what he has always been: A potent power source who offers no speed and could hurt your batting average. I’ll leave it up to the individual gamer to look at their standings and decide if he meets their stretch-run needs.
Dustin May, SP, Dodgers
First off, “Gingergaard” is instantly one of the best nicknames in baseball. But beyond a cool moniker, there is a lot to like about May. The first thing I noticed is solid control, which includes a 2.3 BB/9 rate in Double-A this season and a 2.7 mark in Triple-A. And although his swing-and-miss skills won’t remind anyone of Syndergaard, May managed to accumulate enough Minor League whiffs this year (110 SO, 106.2 IP) to suggest that he can produce a K/9 rate of 8.0 or better as a rookie. Fantasy gamers should be stoked to know that May is an extreme ground ball pitcher, and we need to give Dodgers hurlers the benefit of the doubt. After all, any starter who is fortunate enough to join this rotation gets to enjoy a pitcher-friendly home park and the support of the best team in the National League. While May is certainly no lock to remain in the rotation, he is a must-roster player for the moment.
Without accounting for the needs of individual fantasy rosters, my priority order for this five-some is: Bichette, May, Duvall, Grisham, and Demeritte.