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Weekly Top-10: Trust the Young Guns

In last week’s top 10, we took a look at some of the top closers in waiting. This week we turn our attention to some rookies that can make a big difference for your fantasy squad down the stretch.

Let me start by saying this list is for recent and future call-ups only that are still available in fantasy leagues. You won’t find Aaron Judge or Cody Bellinger on this list, so don’t get mad. I’m warning you ahead of time.

I honestly could have done a top-20 list here instead of just top-10. That’s how many good prospects there are waiting in the minors for their shot to produce this season. MLB is getting younger and that’s a great thing for the game of baseball. Most of the top dogs in the game are only in their early to mid-twenties. So if you happen to miss out on a top prospect, don’t you worry. There’s plenty more to come.

The below 10 players have recently been called up or have a good chance of being summoned in the next month or so.

10. Walker Buehler (SP – LAD)

The one, and possibly only, downside to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ rotation is durability. Brandon McCarthy seems to be on the DL more than the pitching mound, and Clayton Kershaw’s back is about as durable as a wet paper bag. And don’t even get me started on the mile-long injury histories for Hyun-jin Ryu and Rich Hill.

This is where Buehler comes into the mix. Ever since returning from Tommy John surgery, he’s been a force to be reckoned with in the minors. His mid-90s heater and two plus breaking pitches have helped Buehler post a shiny 3.33 ERA and 12.8 K/9. His arrival will all depend on if the Dodgers trade for another starter, but even if they do, how confidently can we say that the current rotation will stay healthy the rest of the season? Somebody else is bound to get hurt. Rich Hill will pull a Sammy Sosa and sneeze and throw his back out or something.

9. Ozzie Albies (2B – ATL)

It’s been another long summer in Atlanta. But don’t worry, Braves fans, you have the best farm system in the majors if we ignore the Chicago White Sox. Albies might not have as high of a fantasy ceiling as Ronald Acuna, but his speed alone can be a weapon for fantasy teams.

A natural shortstop, Albies has transitioned over to second base due to the presence of Dansby Swanson, who recently found himself demoted back to Triple-A. Albies should be up by September at the latest and could provide a big speed boost from a premium position.

8. Willie Calhoun (2B – LAD)

The Logan Forsythe signing has not worked out as expected so far for the NL West-leading Dodgers. Luckily, they have one of the best pound-for-pound prospects waiting in Triple-A. Yes, that might have been hinting at his small frame. But hey, little guys can hit, too. “You must be this tall to ride this ride” simply doesn’t apply hitting. There’s no height requirement for being a great hitter. Just ask Mookie Betts and Jose Altuve.

The Dodgers have been playing Calhoun at second base in the minors, but he figures to move to either third or the outfield long-term. That might even happen as soon as this season. That added flexibility should help Calhoun’s powerful bat get to the majors quicker. He’s currently hitting .296 with 23 home runs at Triple-A.

7. Rhys Hoskins (1B – PHI)

[the_ad id=”384″]Any time now, Philadelphia. It’s not like you’re in playoff contention or anything. There are rumors that a platoon situation is coming soon at first base between Hoskins and Tommy Joseph, but I’ll believe it when I see it. The first baseman of the future in Philly isn’t Joseph; it’s Hoskins.

He’s been raking to the tune of a .283 average with 24 home runs and 78 RBI in 358 Triple-A at-bats. His above average plate discipline will help him keep his average relatively high as well. Once Hoskins FINALLY gets the call, expect a solid average and home runs in bunches.

6. Clint Frazier (OF – NYY)

The Yankees are reluctant to include Frazier in trade talks for a starting pitcher, and I don’t blame them. He has blossoming power and Yankee stadium should only elevate that and make him a 30-plus home run hitter. Through his first 82 major league at-bats, Frazier is already displaying that power by slugging four home runs.

His wheels aren’t the greatest, but he runs well enough to be a 10-15 steal guy annually. Throw in his 50-grade hit tool, and I think we’re looking at the next Adam Jones-type fantasy player. Frazier has been hitting well enough to stay in the New York lineup almost every day. The return of Aaron Hicks will make the playing time situation a little murkier, but until Frazier stops hitting, he should be owned in fantasy.

5. Lewis Brinson (OF – MIL)

His first two brief stints in the majors have not gone as planned, but Brinson finally looks to have found his stride after his third call-up earlier this week. He hit a home run in each of his first two games since being recalled and should remain in the everyday lineup if he continues to hit well. In 267 minor league at-bats, Brinson has hit a scorching .345 with 10 home runs and 11 steals. That just shows what he’s capable of in the majors, minus 50 to 60 points of average. If you’re looking for a comparison, think Carlos Gomez before his average started to suck.

4. Amed Rosario (SS – NYM)

With the Mets falling out of playoff contention, rumors have begun to strengthen about Rosario’s impending call-up. This call-up probably should have happened a month or two ago, but the Mets for some reason still thought Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera was a worthwhile left side of the infield. There’s a good chance that one of those aforementioned two gets dealt before the trade deadline, and Rosario should get the call once they do.

Rosario isn’t the type of player that will be the reason why you win your league title, but he’s a very polished hitter that should be a solid contributor the rest of the way. I’d expect a solid average near .300 plus a handful of home runs and maybe even double-digit steals.

3. Derek Fisher (OF – HOU)

Regardless of what city it’s in, Derek Fisher is going to get playing time from here on out. The Astros are rumored to be looking for another top-of-the-rotation arm, and Fisher is a player that could end up being involved in the package heading out of town. If that’s not the case and he stays in Houston, Fisher should still receive ample at-bats in the outfield while Marwin Gonzalez fills in at short for the injured Carlos Correa.

With Correa scheduled to be out for at least the next month, that gives Fisher plenty of time to prove his worth to both Houston and to fantasy owners. He has 30/25 upside with a good enough hit tool to keep his average in the .280 range. The eventual return of Correa will make playing time harder to come by, but for now Fisher should be owned in all formats.

2. Rafael Devers (3B – BOS)

The third base position has been a revolving door in Boston ever since Mike Lowell retired following the 2010 season. However, that comes to an end right now. Boston’s new 20-year-old rookie phenom, Rafael Devers, is here to slam that door firmly shut. He has all the makings of a future four-category fantasy monster, and we could witness the beginning of that path over the last two months of this season.

The calling card for Devers is massive raw power. He slugged 20 home runs and 20 doubles in just 322 combined at-bats between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket. It didn’t take long for him to showcase that raw power in the majors either, slugging a blast to dead center field in only his second big league game.

Devers isn’t just a slugger, either, as he struck out in only 17.6% of his minor league plate appearances this season. Assuming the Red Sox don’t make a stupid decision and start recently acquired Eduardo Nunez over him, Devers should be a major power asset for the fantasy stretch run.

1. Yoan Moncada (2B – CHW)

I know he hasn’t quite set the league on fire yet, and frankly, he’s been downright horrible, but this might actually be a good thing. Hear me out. Moncada has been a beast at every level since he defected from Cuba and came to the United States. He’s an uber-talented five-category fantasy monster waiting to happen and plays a premium position.

So what if he’s 4-for-36 this season and hitting only .145 (8-for-55) in his brief career. I could give two bleeps about that. Do I need to remind everyone about Trout’s .220 average over 123 at-bats in 2011? The bottom line is that Moncada is plus in every area that helps us in fantasy. If there’s any buy-low window, take advantage of it because it’s going to vanish very quickly.

Thank you for reading another edition of the Fantrax weekly top-10. I hope you can use this article to your advantage and get a leg up on your fellow league members. Check back next Saturday for another list. Got a question about a player not covered here? Ask in the comments below or follow me on Twitter @EricCross04 and ask there.

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