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Hot Prospects To Watch: Promising Debuts and Red-Hot Rookies

Perhaps there's nothing more tantalizing in fantasy baseball than drafting an up-and-coming prospect or rushing to the waiver wire to bid on a Triple-A call-up. With no minor leagues this year, our favorite prospects are now playing on taxi squads, making it difficult for us to fantasize about since we can't get eyes on their progress. However, that doesn't mean we don't know who's on the cusp of making the big leagues.

Last week we saw several big-name prospects get the call to the bigs with the Giants, Braves, and Rockies all promoting their top prospects to help them out as we approach the midway point to this shortened season. Our attention this week won't revolve around Joey Bart, Cristian Pache, and Brendan Rodgers, however, as we saw two pitchers turn some heads during their major-league debuts over the weekend.

We'll also analyze some hot-hitting rookies who still have low ownership despite starting their careers off on the right foot. We shouldn't sleep on any caliber of prospect this season since 2020 is providing us with a plethora of rookie call-ups, and many of them are already proving to be difference-makers for fantasy teams.

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Promising Debuts

Sixto Sanchez - SP, Miami Marlins

Acquired as the central piece in the J.T. Realmuto trade, Sixto Sanchez made his debut over the weekend and flashed his potential of becoming the ace of the Marlins staff for many years to come. The 22-year-old opened his career off with a bang by throwing a 98.4 MPH heater on his first delivery while hitting triple-digits on the gun five times during his 66-pitch effort. Sanchez ended up striking out four over five frames, earning himself his first win in the majors after allowing three runs on six hits.

Although the right-hander features a fastball in the upper-90s, he's stayed just under a strikeout per inning over his last two minor-league campaigns, but there's still a lot to love about his arm. Sanchez pounds the strike zone, which has kept his career walk rate in the minors at a sparkling 4.8%. He also keeps the ball in the park and on the ground with a lifetime HR/9 of 0.24 and a groundball rate just north of 50%. While he did serve up a pair of dingers in his major-league debut, his lengthy track history will prevail, especially in his pitcher-friendly home park. The Marlins would be wise to keep Sanchez in the rotation where he has a chance to take over ace status immediately.

Triston McKenzie - SP, Cleveland Indians

Triston McKenzie dazzled in his big-league debut, whiffing 10 batters and allowing one run over his six-inning gem. Utilizing a fastball/curveball combo primarily, the 6'5" righty got his opponents to whiff 13 times on 30 swings against these pitches (43.3% Whiff%), with nine of his punchouts coming on his four-seamer. McKenzie's only blemish on the night came against fellow rookie and ex-teammate Willi Castro, who took him deep on a changeup in the fourth inning.

With Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac still in the team's bad books, McKenzie will make another start for the Tribe this week. If he impresses again, it'll be difficult to send him back to the team's alternate site if the club needs to make room for either of these hurler's return. However, they will take caution with their top-10 prospect since he missed the entire 2019 campaign due to a back injury. McKenzie posted a terrific 29.4% K-rate, 3.16 ERA, and 1.03 WHIP over his previous two seasons combined in the minors, but he seems to be picking up where he left off despite the lengthy absence. As long as McKenzie is on the Indians roster, he should be owned in all formats.


Red-Hot Rookies

Alec Bohm - 3B, Philadelphia Phillies

It took 10 games for Alec Bohm to crush his first bomb in a big-league uniform this past Sunday, but the 24-year-old has otherwise taken the league by storm. The Phillies top prospect is slashing .344/.462/.531 with six runs and four RBI, all while maintaining a keen eye at the plate with more walks (seven) than strikeouts (six). His 18.1% chase rate is over 10% lower than the league average, and when with his innate selectiveness, he's crushing the ball to an even more impressive 57.7% Hard Hit% and 15.4% Barrel%. Bohm looks like the real deal so far into his young career and would look good on any fantasy squad.

Jake Cronenworth - 1B/2B/SS, San Diego Padres

Since filling in for an injured Eric Hosmer in late-July, all Jake Cronenworth has done is hit in his versatile infielder role. The left-handed swinger has played every position on the dirt for the Friars while slashing a cool .347/.410/.627 with three long balls and a sharp 3.7% K%-BB%. Cronenworth has been an extra-base hit machine with eight doubles and a pair of triples, providing sturdy results with 13 runs and 12 RBI through 24 contests. Although he wasn't a highly-touted prospect, he's certainly playing like one and is (Cronen)worth investing in all fantasy setups.

Jose Trevino - C, Texas Rangers

The Texas Rangers are enjoying the hot bat of Jose Trevino since Robinson Chirinos landed on the injured list earlier this month. The 27-year-old has four multi-hit games over his last five games, upping his batting average to .324 on the year with five of his 11 hits going for extra bases. Trevino hasn't typically hit for much power over his minor-league tenure, but he rarely strikes out thanks to a high-contact approach. If he can keep finding holes in the defense, he can undoubtedly help out fantasy teams in two-catcher formats.

Jonathan Hernandez - RP, Texas Rangers

Jonathan Hernandez has established himself as a high-leverage reliever as a member of the Rangers bullpen so far this season. The 24-year-old has been lights-out with five holds, a 1.56 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, and 22 strikeouts in 17 1/3 IP, numbers resemblant of a future closer. With a 97.4 MPH sinker to keep the ball on the ground and a wipeout slide piece that has generated a tantalizing 55.6% whiff rate, Hernandez has the stuff that any manager would want in their ninth-inning arm. Although Rafael Montero still stands in his way from getting the job this season, Hernandez can still impact fantasy rosters with his ratios and strikeout numbers.

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