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1. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates
2021 stats: 2 G, .200/.429/.800, 1 HR, 0 SB, 2 BB, 1 SO at Pittsburgh; 7 G, .250/.308/.583, 2 HR, 0 SB, 2 BB, 7 SO at Triple-A Indianapolis.
So, let’s go inside the process of this article a little bit. I told myself that I would only include Hayes if he was rostered in fewer than 80 percent of Yahoo baseball leagues. He’s rostered in 77 percent of those leagues, so, here we go. Hayes is working his way back after missing 50-plus games while recovering from a wrist injury that occurred in the second game of the season, and is currently on a rehab assignment. Still, the 24-year-old is still very much a prospect, and the fact he’s available in (nearly) a quarter of leagues is a mistake. He should be back soon, and if you can add him to your roster right now? By all means.
2. Wander Franco, SS, Tampa Bay Rays
2021 stats: 22 G, .272/.340/.511, 4 HR, 3 SB, 9 BB, 11 SO at Triple-A Durham.
Really, we should be updating the Taylor Walls stats in this section. If you’re curious — and you should be — Walls has hit .227 with an OPS of .664 in seven games. Keep in mind that he’s mostly there for his defense, but, yeah, those are not numbers that are going to hold Franco back. Tampa Bay is going to think long-term more than short-term because (points at history of franchise), but it’s hard to not see someone of his talent — and his readiness — not spending more of the season in the majors than not.
3. Vidal Brujan, INF/OF, Tampa Bay Rays
2021 stats: 22 G, .315/.408/.584, 7 HR, 9 SB, 14 BB, 17 SO at Triple-A Durham.
Yep, the Rays have two of the top three prospects for the rest of the 2021 season. They had the top prospect on the list to begin the year in Randy Arozarena. They are currently on pace to win 102 games. Anywho. Brujan has slowed down slightly with the bat as of late, but that is just natural regression to prove that baseball is hard and that he’s human. The 23-year-old continues to split time between the outfield and infield, and that versatility will serve him well in the long-term as well as give him a great chance of being in the lineup often for Tampa Bay when he gets that call.
4. Jarren Duran, OF, Boston Red Sox
2021 stats: 18 G, .278/.366/.625, 7 HR, 4 SB, 10 BB, 21 SO at Triple-A Worcester.
If you’re paying close attention, you might note that Duran’s stats are the same as they were last week. It’s not injury-related, but due to the fact that Duran is currently on Team USA’s baseball roster while trying to qualify for the Olympics. Now, the question I get asked all the time is how this affects his chances of getting a promotion, and while the answer isn’t clear, it’s fair to say that it doesn’t help. Still, because of Duran’s ability to hit for average, power and steal bases, he still belongs in this third spot — even if you may have to wait a little longer for him to help your fantasy roster.
5. Sixto Sanchez, RHP, Miami Marlins
2020 stats: 7 G, 39 IP, 3.46 ERA, 3 HR, 11 BB, 33 SO at Miami.
We’re getting closer. Sánchez threw a 20-pitch bullpen session on Friday, and there’s been no report of setbacks, which is obviously a great sign. The right-hander will need to build his arm strength up over the next coming weeks, but it still seems likely that the 22-year-old will be able to make his debut in June — closer to the end of the month than the beginning, of course, but still June. Anyone who watched Sánchez pitch in 2020 understands why he’s worth waiting for or adding when he gets that promotion.
6. Nate Pearson, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
2021 stats: 3 G, 9.2 IP, 5.59 ERA, 4 BB 19 SO at Triple-A Buffalo
Pearson has made two starts since dealing with his shoulder injury, and in them he’s allowed five runs over six innings. Not great, but a small sample and it’s just nice to see the right-hander healthy. We saw what Alek Manoah can do in his dazzling debut on Thursday, and with all due respect to Manoah — and there’s a lot of due respect, he’s very good — Pearson has better stuff. Toronto still can use help in the rotation, and Pearson can still help fantasy teams despite the below-average results thus far.
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7. Taylor Trammell, OF, Seattle Mariners
2021 stats: 16 G, .382/.405/.750, 6 HR, 2 SB, 2 BB, 17 SO at Triple-A Tacoma; 27 G, .157/.255/.337, 4 HR, 2 SB, 10 BB, 41 SO at Seattle.
Trammell has slowed down in his third week with the Rainiers, but it’d be hard for things to speed up, he was hitting over .500 in this last update. Let’s also just talk about Jarred Kelenic for a second. Kelenic has been awful, but do not give up on him; there’s way too much talent and we’ve seen plenty — plenty — of prospects succeed after bad starts to their MLB career. The same can be said of Trammell’s time with Seattle to begin the year, but the talent is there for him to make an impact when the Mariners bring him back up.
8. Jackson Kowar, RHP, Kansas City Royals
2021 stats: 5 G, 26.2 IP, 1.01 ERA, 9 BB, 36 SO at Triple-A Omaha.
We’ve got four new names to this week’s list, and Kowar’s spot is probably overdue. In five starts with the Storm Chasers, the right-hander has allowed no more than a run in any of them, and that includes five scoreless frames in his outing on Thursday. The 24-year-old was the 33rd pick out of Vanderbilt in 2018, and he has two pitches that have a chance to miss bats in a mid-to-high 90s fastball and a change that comes from the same arm speed and late fade that can make hitters look foolish. His breaking-ball has also improved, and he throws those pitches for strikes — for the most part. Daniel Lynch is the better long-term prospect, but the one who has the best chance for fantasy help right now is Kowar.
9. Cal Raleigh, C, Seattle Mariners
2021 stats: 19 G, .351/.411/.688, 5 HR, 2 SB, 7 BB, 13 SO at Triple-A Tacoma.
Another newbie. Raleigh has destroyed Triple-A pitching in his first taste of that level, and this is one of the best — and certainly one of the most underrated — catching prospects in baseball. He has power from both sides of the plate, and while you shouldn’t expect him to hit at near the average he has with the Rainiers, he makes enough hard contact to project a decent mark there, as well. Seattle has gotten absolutely nothing out of their catching this year, and Raleigh should get the call in the next few weeks. The positional value here helps, but the 24-year-old would be worth a look from fantasy managers, anyway.
10. Drew Waters, OF, Atlanta Braves
2021 stats: 20 G, .253/.359/.418, 3 HR, 6 SB, 8 BB, 26 SO at Triple-A Gwinnett.
Our final newcomer. It probably goes without saying, but Waters’ placement is at least partially due to the horrific and heinous charges that were brought against Marcell Ozuna this year. Waters has issues with contact, but he could be that rare hitter who has a chance to hit for average despite the strikeouts, and he’s a plus runner who can make an impact in the steals category while also hitting a few roundtrippers. He should make his debut with Atlanta this summer.
Next in line: MacKenzie Gore, LHP, San Diego Padres; Jeter Downs, INF, Boston Red Sox; Bobby Witt Jr., INF, Kansas City Royals; Deivi Garcia, RHP, New York Yankees; Daniel Lynch, LHP, Kansas City Royals