Prospect Avalanche: Deciding Whom To Spend Your FAAB On

Thanks to a multitude of attractive prospect call ups these last few days, we’re headed for the most expensive FAAB week in recent time in NFBC formats. The intention of this post is to serve as a guide on how much to spend on a player, but more importantly, what to expect in terms of 2019 impact which in itself affects a player’s price. I will be using The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational (TGFBI) as my basis. For those unaware, it is a 15-team mixed NFBC league where all managers started with $1000. My FAAB percent recommendations assume no one has $1000 left, but more in the $600-700 range. Adjust accordingly for your budget.

If you wish to read in depth articles on the promotions of each of the names below, head to our general section.

Keston Hiura
Steamer ROS Projection: 12 HR, 7 SB .259/.313/431 in 367 PA

The biggest name of the week is undoubtedly Hiura, a universal top 15 prospect at worst whose hit tool is considered one of the best in the minors. He got the call after a slumping — and now injured — Travis Shaw failed to replicate his numbers from the previous two years. I’m taking the slight over in all his slash line projections and ticking up his home runs to 15. Steamer doesn’t properly account for the new hitting environment and Miller Park has the third-best HR factor for RHH according to Baseball Prospectus and is top 10 in runs factor.

The big question for every prospect in this article is: What are the odds they stay up the rest of the year and get full playing time? For Hiura, Shaw remains the big wild card. For now, I think it’s safe to assume he should accrue at least 50 PA. If he slashes .270/.340/.420 in that span, Hiura is staying in the bigs. Because of his talent, I like his chances of doing that. I don’t have an answer for what happens if Hiura is doing well when Shaw returns. My guess is he returns as a bench bat and steals a start here and there at 3B and 2B. For now, Hiura should rightfully be the most expensive addition this week because he has the most upside.
FAAB Percent to Spend: Aggressive (You really want him): 40%
Median (Solid bid, but chance you don’t land him): 30%
Just In Case (You won’t win him, but juuuuust in case): 15%

Nicky Lopez
Steamer ROS Projection: 5 HR, 11 SB .274/.340/.379 in 414 PA

If I had to place money on which batter accrues the most plate appearances this season from this post, I’d bet on Lopez. It all comes back to the Royals’ decision to uproot Whit Merrifield, one of the team’s best players. Second base has been Merrifield’s primary position since making his debut in 2016. He’s not unfamiliar with centerfield — he played 30 games there last year — but to me at least, it speaks volumes that they’re bumping him to the outfield for good to make room for Lopez. That doesn’t seem like the move you make for a two-week trial of a prospect.

Lopez’s skills are the safest of anyone here. He rarely strikes out and he consistently walks at above league average rates. His wheels aren’t of the true burner variety, but at a time when steals are bone-dry in the fantasy world, he’s still a valuable commodity. It’s the steals that will make him a bit more expensive than his overall counting stats could dictate. He’s off to a quick start thus far and I’m taking a shine to him, perhaps more than most.
FAAB Percent: Aggressive (23%), Median (15%), Just In Case (10%)

Brendan Rodgers
Steamer ROS Projection: 3 HR, 1 SB .287/.334/.473 in 84 PA

Rodgers is the shiniest toy to get the call thanks to a collision Wednesday night that left Trevor Story a little bruised up. Rodgers’ numbers in Albuquerque have been great (1.066 OPS) but it does come with a .382 BABIP. However he has made significant strides in his approach, upping his walk rate to nine percent (highest since 2015 Rookie ball) and lowering his strikeouts to 16 percent. The former third overall pick has long had the drool worthy upside of a 60 hit/60 power player in Coors but I’m extremely cautious of his impact right now.

Simply put, the infield is very clogged. If so, that makes the call up a little perplexing. Daniel Murphy has been slumping and thus has been benched the last few days, appearing only later in games. Mark Reynolds has been starting at first base with Ryan McMahon appearing on and off at second base. Rodgers has started games at second base thus far, bumping McMahon. We’ve been burned too many times with Rockies prospects and for this reason, I’d avoid bidding big, despite Rodgers’ numbers and pedigree. It’s still unclear if a platoon is the plan. My FAAB suggestion has my thinking in mind, so be sure to uptick from my numbers if you disagree.
FAAB Percent: Aggressive (12%), Median (10%), Just In Case (5%)

Austin Riley
Steamer ROS Projection: 9 HR, 1 SB .258/.315/.472

An Ender Inciarte injury (lumbar strain) landed him in the 10-day IL and it made too much sense to call up Austin Riley, who at the time was tied for the lead in minor league home runs with 15. It was clear early in the season that Riley wasn’t going to supplant Josh Donaldson, even if he got injured (shout out to Johan Camargo). But once he began playing some left field, the Braves signaled their intent.

Riley easily has the most power of anyone in this group, possessing the ability to hit 20 home runs from here on out if given everyday at-bats. The Braves are in the midst of a very winnable NL East division, giving me the impression that if he performs well early on, Riley is a mainstay. Braves manager Brian Snitker said Inciarte had been dealing with the back pain for a while, which leads me to believe this is going to go beyond a 10-day stint to get him fully healthy. Even with a return from Inciarte, there’s a chance he’s moved in a trade thanks to a team-friendly contract that could be big ammo to bolster their bullpen.

Last year I would have said Riley would have trouble hitting major league pitching consistently, but it seems a tweak in his swing plane could be the key. Like Lopez he’s off to a quick start which may seem insignificant, but is big for how the organization views him in the short term. Be wary of a potential hit to average, but enjoy the big power.
FAAB Percent: Aggressive (35%), Median (23%), Just In Case (13%)

Corbin Martin
Steamer ROS Projection: 8.1 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 4.63 ERA in 68 IP (13 GS)

Martin was downright impressive in his debut, showing a clear three-pitch mix led by a fastball that would be in the top 7% of average velocity among starters if he qualified. Here were Matt Thompson’s takeaways after logging his start:

I’m in love with the changeup and the breaking ball. The breaking ball was better today but he worked the changeup in even against right-handers. He took control of both sides of the plate, which is something we haven’t seen recent call-ups do. I’m bullish on Martin going forward. If he sticks in the rotation he’s worth an add wherever you can grab him at. I’m a little concerned about his value in quality start formats, but the ratios will be strong.

The stuff looked near elite in his first start and in his career he didn’t exhibit any platoon issues. There aren’t a ton of arms that will debut this year that can have a strong impact from the get go. I know the thinking is that the Astros rotation is near impenetrable for prospects. But I think Martin can outperform Wade Miley and can be on par with Brad Peacock. Rogelio Armenteros and Forrest Whitley are struggling in Triple-A so for the time being, Martin shouldn’t have to watch his back. Don’t be dissuaded by a poor outing at Fenway Park against a team that’s fourth in wOBA in the last week. If you need pitching help, now’s the time to go in.
FAAB Percent: Aggressive (25%), Median (20%), Just In Case (15%)

Oscar Mercado
Steamer ROS Projection: 4 HR, 11 SB .233/.296/.342

Mercado has been one of the most unheralded speed demons in the minors, stealing at least 31 bags since 2015 and already having 14 in 2019. Like Lopez though, he’s not a plus plus runner. He’s improved his previously poor baserunning instincts to about average. Boiling it down, Mercado doesn’t have one standout tool. He’s a second-division player with the upside of a true everyday regular if he can tap into more power than just his pull side.

Right now he got the call because Tyler Naquin went on the 10-day IL. Naquin wasn’t setting the world on fire, but he wasn’t slumping either. The Indians will play the hot hand (see Jordan Luplow) if the results demand it, signaling that Mercado has a chance to stick with a role if he performs well enough. If Cleveland really wants Naquin back in the lineup for some odd reason, Mercado has played plenty of centerfield and supplant a struggling Leonys Martin.

This is a profile worth going after for the steals, but the problem is he sat in his second and third game and in the early going looks like he’s on the short side of a platoon (despite hitting RHP better). This is death in weekly leagues and unfortunately dings his value significantly for tonight’s FAAB wave. As a result, all my bids will be modest.
FAAB Percent: Aggressive (13%), Median (9%), Just In Case (3%)

Willie Calhoun
Steamer ROS Projection: 6 HR, 1 SB .265/.324/.438 in 174 PA

Hey look who’s back! Once a no doubt top 100 prospect, Calhoun got the call after the Rangers placed Elvis Andrus on the 10-day IL with a hamstring strain. I admit that I hadn’t thought about Calhoun in quite a while. But the bat-first bopper has exactly the kind of profile to take advantage of the new ball and it looks like he was doing just that. In 32 games he was hitting .304/.416/.557 with eight home runs, 22/19 BB/K and a standard .307 BABIP.

So the numbers were good, but how does he fit into the lineup? The Rangers seem intent on playing him at DH and left field. On Wednesday, a red-hot Hunter Pence rode the bench for Calhoun’s debut. On Thursday, Shin-Soo Choo rode the pine against a right-hander which was interesting. And he was back in there on Friday. It seems the Rangers want to get Calhoun in there at the expense of a start a week of a regular and thus far, he’s lighting it up (8-for-16) and hitting second. If you need some power and perhaps some average help, Calhoun might be someone to snag on if Hiura is too rich for you. I’m growing increasingly confident that he will see at minimum five games a week.
FAAB Percent: Aggressive (17%), Median (12%), Just In Case (6%)

Shaun Anderson
Steamer ROS Projection: 7.3 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 4.08 ERA in 98 IP (17 GS)

Anderson is a typical SP5/6 righty, relying on sequencing and pitchability to get by rather than dominant stuff. Ranking eighth in the Giant’s preseason top 30, I like his chances of sticking in the Giants rotation and becoming a mildly attractive streamer in home starts.
FAAB Percent: Aggressive (4%), Median (2%), Just In Case (1%)

Luis Arraez
Steamer ROS Projection: 0 HR, 0 SB .291/.334/.376 in 19 PA

Called up after Nelson Cruz went on the IL, Luis Arraez is a 22-year-old hit-first infielder not unlike Lopez, though Arraez lacks any speed making his overall profile pretty boring. Though he’s played 2B/3B/SS this year in Double-A and Triple-A, he’s not expected to receive any substantial playing time.
FAAB Percent: Don’t.

Austin Allen
Steamer ROS Projection: 1 HR, 0 SB .234/.290/.382 in 43 PA

A catcher in the Padres organization, he was called up after Francisco Mejia went on the DL. Like Mejia, he’ll catch a couple of games a week and lacks any fantasy value.
FAAB Percent: Don’t.