MLB Stock Watch: Will Yordan Alvarez be the next big prospect to make the jump?

STOCK UP

Mike Soroka, Atlanta Braves

His season debut was delayed after missing most of spring training with shoulder soreness, but Soroka has been a fantasy goldmine since returning, as he’s yet to allow more than one earned run in any of his eight starts. He has a 1.07 ERA with a 0.89 WHIP and a 46:15 K:BB ratio over 50.2 innings, with four of his last five starts coming on the road. Like all pitchers with an ERA so low, Soroka is pitching over his head (.213 BABIP, 3.6 HR/FB%), and he brings added durability concerns, but he was cheap at draft tables (or often just a waiver wire add) thanks to the spring injury and yet has somehow been a top-15 fantasy asset despite missing the first three weeks of the season.

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Soroka doesn’t possess an overpowering fastball but has terrific command, and his exit velocity (84.9 mph) and Barrel% (2.9) are both in the top 7% of the league, so his amazing start to the year has hardly been all luck. The 21-year-old also boasts a solid 10.5 SwStr% and should continue his run of strong starts with a home outing against the Tigers (who are tied with the Giants with the third-worst wRC+ in MLB) his next time out.

Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros

The PCL is putting up crazy-high offensive numbers this year, but Alvarez’s still look positively video-game like in comparison, as the prospect is batting .372 with 19 homers and 58 RBI in 167 at bats in Triple-A. He’s slugging .802! Even with George Springer on the IL and facing a southpaw in three of four games recently, Houston didn’t summon Alvarez, as the team is sticking to its plan of being sure he plays every day once he’s up. The Astros also want him to work on his defense. In reality, the Super 2 is the real deadline here, which is sometime in mid-June. Alvarez will continue to require patience, but the 21-year-old also continues to hit the cover off the ball and is available in nearly 65% of Yahoo leagues. His time is coming soon, and the rich will get richer in Houston. The Dodgers traded him straight up for Josh Fields a few years back, which looks regrettable in hindsight.

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Alex Reyes, St. Louis Cardinals

He recently returned to action after missing time with a fractured pinkie, which he injured punching a wall after a poor start in Triple-A. The injury was to his non-throwing hand, and Reyes looked strong during his rehab start, regularly working at 97 mph and touching 99. With Reyes getting used as a starter, it sure seems like St. Louis is going to give him a real shot in its rotation as soon as he’s ready, with the thinking his rust in spring can partially be blamed on an undefined role coming off perpetual injuries over the last 2.5 seasons. Reyes has the stuff to be an immediate dominant pitcher if and when he gets another opportunity to start for the Cardinals. He’s just 21% owned but could have a major fantasy impact for owners willing to wait.

Mitch Keller, Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates’ top pitching prospect is expected to be called up to make his MLB debut Monday, and while he’s needed for a double-header, GM Neil Huntington admitted he could get an extended look if he pitches well. A second rounder after a velocity jump as a senior in high school back in 2014, Keller has good stuff but wasn’t exactly dominating Triple-A hitters (3.83 BB/9, 4.13 FIP). Still, the Ks were there (10.72 K/9), and Keller is a legit top-25 prospect in baseball, so he’s certainly now on the fantasy radar. The Pirates’ rotation could use help with Jameson Taillon and Trevor Williams injured.

Nick Pivetta, Philadelphia Phillies

He’s getting recalled and will be given another chance to start Tuesday versus the Cardinals. Pivetta was one of the bigger early season busts, as he failed to build off last year’s momentum and instead posted an 8.35 ERA that led to a demotion to the minors. He did a much better job preventing runs in Triple-A, and he recorded a 12.16 K/9 rate, but realize that came with 20 walks over 37.0 innings, as control remains a huge issue. One area pointing in Pivetta’s favor (other than him finally getting recalled to the majors after fantasy owners fought over him at draft tables) is that he’s struggled with high BABIPs throughout his career, and after fielding poor defenses over the last few seasons, Philadelphia’s has been strong in 2019. With that, hopefully his hit rate normalizes some moving forward. He’s an option if you’re looking for strikeouts.

Marcus Walden, Boston Red Sox

He worked a perfect ninth inning Sunday, recording his first save of the season. Walden has remarkably returned top-50 fantasy value as a middle reliever even beforehand with a 1.53 ERA and a 0.82 WHIP and a whopping six wins out of the pen. He’s quietly been one of the more valuable relievers this season (and sports a 1.4 Barrel% that’s in the top 1% of the league).

Ultimately, the Red Sox will likely address their closing situation via a trade (or Craig Kimbrel). The team is using a committee now, but Ryan Brasier and Matt Barnes have both recently went through rough patches, with the latter used in a setup role Sunday for Walden.

Atlanta Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies has struggled to live up to expectations this season. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Atlanta Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies has struggled to live up to expectations this season. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

STOCK DOWN

Ozzie Albies, Atlanta Braves

He hasn’t been a bust or anything, but Albies has taken a small step back instead of forward this season. The switch-hitter is now hitting .241/.300/.411 over 764 career at bats against right-handers. He’s batting .244 with just one homer in May (78 ABs). Albies is 22 years old and obviously has a ton of time to improve, but he’s not running much (just one SB attempt since April 14) and most concerning, he’s recently been moved to the bottom of Atlanta’s order after hitting leadoff most of the season. His chase rate ranks in the bottom-10 in MLB, so Albies’ path to stardom has hit some bumps.

Mychal Givens, Baltimore Orioles

He finished 0-7 last year but that came with a WAR that ranked 16th among relievers, just behind Aroldis Chapman. His 2019 hasn’t gone as well, as Givens has surrendered eight earned runs over his last four appearances (3.0 innings and three losses), giving him a 5.64 ERA on the year. He was already going to struggle to rack up saves on a bad Baltimore team using a committee to close, but now he’s really making it difficult. Givens has yielded five homers over 22.1 innings, as the Orioles are on pace to allow 345 home runs this season, which would be 87 more than any team ever has in baseball history.

Jerad Eickhoff, Philadelphia Phillies

His ERA sat at 1.50 with a 0.97 WHIP after four starts to open the year, but he’s been obliterated over three outings since, when he’s somehow given up seven home runs over 12.0 innings (increasing his ERA all the way to 3.86). One of those starts came at home against a Rockies offense that struggles mightily away from home, so it’s fair to see Eickhoff being dropped in many fantasy leagues. His velocity is a career-low (89.6 mph) and has been down even more so during the recent ugly stretch.

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