It’s a good thing the MLB Draft was this week because that’s got Matt Selz’ attention right now as you can see in his latest Prospect Report. That gives me the chance to piggyback his piece from last week in which he looked at some players of interest following the passing of the Super-Two deadline. Selz served up the appetizer with regard to names like Jacob Faria and Derek Fisher, so now with both in the majors, along with some other youngsters, I can offer you up the main course. I’ve already given my thoughts on Lewis Brinson and Mallex Smith, so here’s a look at a few more kids fantasy baseball owners should watch:
Derek Fisher, OF HOU – With Josh Reddick hitting the 7-day concussion DL, the Astros brought up Fisher after he posted a .335/.401/.608 slash line with 16 home runs, 45 RBI and 13 stolen bases over just 275 plate appearances at Triple-A Fresno this season. Usually, my first instinct for any player slugging away in the Pacific Coast League (PCL) is to be skeptical of the power but after looking through his isolated power numbers through each level in the majors, it’s obvious there is legit raw power here. He may not post a .200-plus ISO in the majors, but you should see some solid production during this call-up. His plate discipline is decent and he’s shown some improvements in his batter’s eye during his ascension through the system, so as long as he doesn’t let the adrenaline get to him, he should maintain his walk and strikeout rates from Triple-A. The real difference-maker here could be the speed. That’s what has everyone on Brinson and Fisher should be no different. If he can throw down a few stolen bases to go with that power, you’ve got quite the outfielder on your hands. Of course, keep in mind that we did see George Springer fly around the bases in the minors and we’re not seeing any of that here. As for Fisher’s length of stay, it’s entirely up to him. If he can prove to be a strong asset during Reddick’s stint on the DL, there’s a great chance he supplants Nori Aoki in left field. If you have the space to grab him and can do it now, he’s definitely worth a speculative add. If you have to wait until waivers are processed Sunday, the price tag could get pretty steep.
Francis Martes, SP HOU – I’m actually sitting and watching his first start right now and his seven-pitch first inning certainly provided some hope that his 3.2 innings of relief work were not representative of who he is as a pitcher. I actually wrote this about him in the 2017 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide:
“The 21-year old power arm has made some very positive strides in recent seasons, including some added velocity which now pushes his fastball into the mid-to-upper 90's. His curve is considered a plus offering and he has been doing well with the development of his change as well. Though it still needs some work, one of his biggest assets has been his command which is a bit unusual for a power-pitcher his age, and scouts love his aggressive mound presence, often referring to him as a bulldog on the hill. After an impressive 125.1 innings at Double-A last season in which he posted a 3.31 ERA with a 9.41 K/9, Martes carried that momentum into the Arizona Fall League and continued to dominate. The Astros will likely open him up in Triple-A this season, but with continued improvement, a promotion at some point this season seems very likely.”
Despite his struggles through his first 32.1 innings at Triple-A, I still believe in what Martes can bring to the table. The fastball is tight, the curve (which actually looks more like a slider) is powerful and he is still making improvements on his changeup. Obviously the 1.34 HR/9 in the minors can be taken with a grain of salt given the PCL environment, but the walk rate is really what needs to be fixed. This first inning tonight, he just came at the Rangers head-on and just pounded the strike zone. If he continues to do that, we should see a massive improvement in the walk rate while benefitting from his high-strikeout potential. I feel he should be treated in the same fashion as Fisher with regard to your waiver wire pick-ups.
Jacob Faria, SP TB – This is a big kid here, standing 6-foot-4 and weighing in at 235 pounds, and he absolutely dominated with the strikeouts during the time leading up to his promotion. We’re talking a ridiculous 12.89 K/9 over 58.2 innings and, so far, through his first two starts in the majors, he’s maintained most of it, as evidenced by his 9.24 K/9 over 12.2 innings. The interesting thing is that, despite all the strikeouts, he’s not even remotely a power pitcher. In fact, his fastball hovered in the low-90s while in the minors, though it’s worth noting that he’s averaged closer to 93 mph so far in the bigs. In any event, he’s been able to rack up the Ks thanks to strong command over his secondary offerings. His changeup looks really good for a kid who’s just 23 years old, his curve is solid and he throws a slider/cutter that has proven to be a nice out-pitch. He also does a great job of mixing it up on hitters which obviously keeps them guessing at the plate more often than not. He’s going to have the usual ups and downs of any young starter, but if he can truly maintain his command, he should prove to be a solid asset moving forward. Just be aware of the obvious innings-cap he’ll see. He threw 151 innings between Double and Triple-A last year and he’s already thrown more than 70 innings this season. Still, with the number of injuries to starting pitchers this year, you may as well ride the wave until it breaks.