Whether you’re in a keeper league or a redraft, prospects are important to your team’s success. For keeper leagues, the rewards are obvious, but people can forget the impact a quality call up can have on a redraft team. When Mike Trout was called up for good in 2012, anyone quick enough to snatch him off the wires got a massive leg up for the remainder of the season. While we’re unlikely to see another call up like Trout in our lifetimes, the point remains, a quality prospect can change the tide for a team that may be middle of the pack. As we approach the end of May, teams are more likely to promote prospects that have opened the season in AAA (or even AA) and look ready for MLB. With that in mind, here are a few guys to keep an eye on.
Derek Fisher – Outfielder – Houston Astros – Fisher is off to a hot start this season, as he currently has a .955 OPS through 47 games in AAA. This continues a trend from last season, where Fisher was promoted to AAA late and ended the year with an .852 OPS in 27 games. The Astros are built to win now, with a 36-16 record, and with only Norichika Aoki blocking Fisher there’s a good chance he gets the call to see if he can continue his hot streak. While Fisher does have power (23 HRs combined in 2016), he also runs well, stealing 28 bases last year. This season, he has already stolen nine bases in only 47 games and has hit 11 HRs in the same time span.
Dominic Smith – First Baseman – New York Mets – The Mets are in a strange place right now, with a losing record (22-27) and playoff aspirations. Between the injuries to the core of their roster (Yoenis Cespedes and Noah Syndergaard) and the dysfunction that surrounds the team, a lot has to break right for the Mets to end up competing for a playoff berth. Thankfully, some of their prospects are beginning to pan out. Since being drafted in 2013, Dominic Smith has slowly climbed up through the Mets’ farm system and opened this season in AAA. He’s currently off to a good start, with an OPS of .889 through 51 games. Lucas Duda currently has the starting first base job, and is playing well but he’s already been injured in the early going and only appeared in 47 games in 2016. Without much impact depth on their roster, Smith is likely in line for a call-up if Duda goes down again. His numbers from AAA suggest that he should make the transition smoothly.
Luke Weaver – Starting Pitcher – St. Louis Cardinals – This one is cheating a bit since Weaver started eight games for the Cardinals in 2016, but he still retained his rookie status heading into this season. Weaver also entered spring training with a chance to take a role in the Cardinals rotation, but an injury knocked him out of the running. Weaver has since returned and is sporting a 1.97 ERA in six games so far. Going back to last year, Weaver held a 3.48 ERA through his first six starts upon being called up before fading down the stretch (ending with a 5.70 ERA). However, he still ended the season with a BB/9 of just 2.97 and his FIP/xFIP (4.33/3.34) suggest that he was unlucky. While the Cardinals rotation is currently pitching well, Weaver is almost certainly in line as the first call up if an injury occurs.
Brandon Woodruff – Starting Pitcher – Milwaukee Brewers – The Brewers are currently sitting on a 25-18 record, good for first in the NL Central. Nobody expected the Brewers to open the season this well, but they are in a good spot as the season continues. However, one of their glaring weaknesses is their starting rotation. As a whole, the Brewers’ starters have an ERA of 4.45 and their FIP/xFIP (4.19/4.32) suggest that the results are right in line with expectations. Woodruff has started ten games in AAA with an ERA of 3.04 and K-BB% of 16.2%. This lines up with his results in AA a season ago, where he ended with a 3.01 ERA and K-BB% of 20.6% over 113 2/3 IP. If the Brewers want to continue to compete, they’ll need to find some better starting pitching and as long as Woodruff continues to produce, he’s likely to get a chance sooner rather than later.
Brent Honeywell – Starting Pitcher – Tampa Bay Rays – Honeywell opened the season in AA and was promoted to AAA after just two starts. Though his ERA is currently sitting at 4.93, his FIP/xFIP (3.69/2.90) show that he’s pitching much better than his results. Honeywell hasn’t had a BB/9 over 3.00 since being drafted by the Rays back in 2014 and currently has a 1.50 BB/9 in AAA. While the Rays aren’t playing to expectations, Honeywell is showing that he doesn’t have much left to prove in the minors and is likely to be get his shot at some point this season.