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Fantasy Baseball Rookie Report: Week 6 Highlights

The 2024 Fantasy Baseball season is in full swing, which means a whole new crop of rookies and first-year players are making their debuts across Major League Baseball. Each week this Fantasy Baseball Rookie Report will look at the recent production of these players and what it means in a fantasy baseball context.

Rookies are among the most volatile assets in the fantasy baseball game, with the opportunity both to boom or bust right in front of us. Rookies and first-year players are a part of teams’ plans more than ever before; just take the surging Baltimore Orioles, for example. Rookies Colton Cowser, Heston Kjerstad, and Jackson Holliday have all come up to the big team this year. While Kjerstad and Holliday struggled, it’s clear they are part of this team’s playoff hopes this year.

This weekly piece will track some of the notable performances from rookies during the 2024 season with an eye toward actionable advice for each one. In dynasty and keeper formats, most of these players will be long gone, but in seasonal leagues, is it worth clogging up a roster spot with a rookie? Diving into their performance this season will hopefully help us look into a little bit of their future.

Fantasy Baseball Rookie Report: Hitters

Jackson Chourio (OF, Milwaukee Brewers)

  • .229/.265/.352, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 6 SB, 14 R

Things finally started to turn around for Chourio after getting four hits in his last 10 plate appearances. The home runs continue to elude him after he hit four in his first few weeks, but the steals and runs are helping both the Brewers and fantasy managers alike.

Pete Crow-Armstrong (OF, Chicago Cubs)

  • .242/.257/.394, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 1 SB, 3 R

After coming out of the minor league gates with five hits in a four-game span, Crow-Armstrong has only two hits in his last six games. He is still playing just about every day since he got the call-up from AAA, but it’s his defense and the fact that Cody Bellinger and Seiya Suzuki are hurt that’s keeping him in there for the Cubs. This smells like a demotion when one or both of those outfielders are back on the roster.

Wyatt Langford (OF, Texas Rangers)

  • .224/.295/.293, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 1 SB, 13 R

Add injury to insult for Wyatt Langford as he will now miss three to four weeks with a hamstring injury. It’s been a horrific rookie season for Langford, with no power and very little opportunity to drive in runs. Perhaps as he works his way back the Rangers can get him on a minor league rehab assignment to build some confidence before he is back with the big club.

Evan Carter (OF, Texas Rangers)

  • .227/.317/.455, 5 HR, 14 RBI, 2 SB, 21 R

Things aren’t much better for Evan Carter this year for Texas, although he has one significant part of his offense that is dragging him down. Carter is now slashing .118/.211/.118 against left-handers this year and strikes out 36% of the time against them. This could be trending towards a platoon situation for Carter with Ezequiel Duran or Davis Wendzel getting some of those plate appearances.

Heston Kjerstad (OF, Baltimore Orioles)

  • .222/.417/.222, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB, 0 R

Heston Kjerstad did finally get his first couple of Major League hits, but he is not playing consistently enough to matter in fantasy baseball or in real life. He has only started three of the 12 games he has been with the Orioles, with Colton Cowser and Anthony Santander taking up the bulk of the left field and right field slots each day.

Colton Cowser (OF, Baltimore Orioles)

  • .276/.354/.575, 6 HR, 19 RBI, 3 SB, 13 R

After a phenomenal April (.303/.372/.632), Cowser has done a 180 and has been absolutely awful in May. He is hitting .000/.111/.000 this month which looks like a line of computer code, but is actually Cowser’s slash line through five days. Just like Kjerstad, Cowser has been benched for Ryan McKenna in recent days to give his head a break and try to get his hitting back on track.

Wenceel Pérez (OF, Detroit Tigers)

  • .302/.383/.566, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 2 SB, 9 R

Wenceel Perez has been one of the best offensive players around since making his debut on April 13. Now playing regular center field for the Tigers, Perez has become a power-speed force in the third spot in Detroit’s lineup. Over the last seven days, he is the 12th-most valuable fantasy batter. He is still widely available in many fantasy leagues and is a player to pick up immediately.

Andy Pages (OF, Los Angeles Dodgers)

  • .319/.338/.565, 4 HR, 12 RBI, 0 SB, 14 R

In just 16 short games, Andy Pages has forced the Los Angeles Dodgers to abandon the Chris Taylor-Kike Hernandez experiment in the outfield. That old duo isn’t working out this year, but fortunately, Los Angeles found Pages and his .600 slugging percentage ready to come up from the minors. He has not drawn a walk yet, which is concerning for his long-term outlook, but he is delivering the power for now.

Wilyer Abreu (OF, Boston Red Sox)

  • .297/.381/.473, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 5 SB, 16 R

How good has Wilyer Abreu been to start his Major League career with Boston? Boston Sports Info on X found that in the last 50 years, players in their first 50 games with Boston that had at least a .315 average, .390 on-base percentage, and a .500 slugging percentage were Wilyer Abreu and Fred Lynn. If you don’t know Fred Lynn, that’s the guy who won Rookie of the Year and AL MVP in the same season in 1975.

Blaze Alexander (SS, Arizona Diamondbacks)

  • .286/.375/.486, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 1 SB, 12 R

There has been some cold water poured on Blaze lately as he has one hit in his last five games for Arizona. Pitchers are starting to learn his weaknesses and exploit them, resulting in no home runs or RBI since April 20. It’s a tough reality check for the 24-year-old shortstop, but he will get plenty of chances to play through it with Geraldo Perdomo out for an extended period of time.

Fantasy Baseball Rookie Report: Pitchers

Jared Jones (SP, Pittsburgh Pirates)

  • 7 Starts, 41.0 IP, 2 W, 2.63 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 52 Ks

Jared Jones now is tied for second in Major League Baseball with 52 strikeouts after 10 more in his latest outing. He continues to generate more than 15 whiffs every game and is the league leader in that category. He looks like a serious contender for Rookie of the Year (especially since the Pirates refuse to call up Paul Skenes). Jones’ only competition for the awards this season might be…

Shota Imanaga (SP, Chicago Cubs)

  • 6 Starts, 34.2 IP, 5 W, 0.78 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 35 Ks

I think the only debate now for Shota Imanaga is who his best challenger might be for the National League Cy Young award. Imanaga is flat-out unhittable this season and he isn’t walking guys either (1.04 walks per nine innings). At some point, he will get hit around this season, but for now, Imanaga looks like the best rookie among anyone else in his class.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto (SP, Los Angeles Dodgers)

  • 7 Starts, 34.0 IP, 3 W, 2.91 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 42 Ks

It continues to get better and better for “Yoshi” this season after the Opening Day debacle in Korea. Yamamoto has not allowed an earned run in four of his last six starts and has 21 strikeouts his last three games. With three straight games under his belt now with at least six innings, Yamamoto might be on the verge of a full-blown breakout where he takes over the league.

Mason Miller (RP, Oakland Athletics)

  • 8 Saves, 12.1 IP, 0 W, 1.26 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 29 Ks

Considering he is on the Oakland Athletics, the only real thing we have to worry about with Mason Miller the rest of the way is, will he be traded to a contender and used as a high-leverage, non-closer pitcher. I don’t even think Oakland would trade away someone this young and this good, but it’s clear they have uncovered one of the nastiest and most effective closers in baseball this year.

Cooper Criswell (SP, Boston Red Sox)

  • 4 Starts, 20.2 IP, 2 W, 1.74 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 16 Ks

Cooper Criswell is not a big strikeout pitcher (barely 9.0 strikeouts per nine innings throughout the minor leagues), but he induces a ton of ground balls and weak contact and allows only a 28% hard-hit rate this season. He has been a savior for the Boston Red Sox as they now deal with Brayan Bello, Nick Pivetta, and Garrett Whitlock on the injured list.

Christian Scott (SP, New York Mets)

  • 1 Start, 6.2 IP, 0 W, 0.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 6 Ks

Christian Scott was the major waiver wire prize in fantasy leagues on Sunday night after he came in and dominated in his first-ever MLB start. Scott was downright nasty in AAA this year, striking out 36 batters in 25 innings while holding opponents to a 0.71 WHIP in five starts. He is competing for a rotation spot when Kodai Senga returns, but a few more turns like his first one, and the Mets will simply not be able to send him back down again.

Fantasy Baseball Rookie Report: Who’s Next?

This section will look at any noteworthy rookies who have just debuted, are on the verge of debuting, or might be on their way up soon, and whether they are worth the roster position on your fantasy squads.

Junior Caminero (SS/3B, Tampa Bay Rays) – The Tampa Bay Rays offense is scuffling right now, even though they just pulled off a sweep of the New York Mets. Can prized prospect Junior Caminero be the answer? Caminero is hitting .324 with a .378 on-base percentage including six home runs and 16 RBI in just 68 at-bats in the minor leagues this season. Tampa Bay is now 22nd in the MLB with a .298 wOBA and Caminero could easily come in and replace Jose Caballero or Amed Rosario right now. He has the type of power their lineup desperately needs.

Kyle Manzardo  (1B, Cleveland Guardians) – The injury to Steven Kwan is apparently going to open the door for Kyle Manzardo to make his big league debut after destroying AAA lately. He is hitting .303 with a .375 OBP and a .642 slugging percentage with nine bombs and 20 RBI this season. He should step into the DH role and occasionally spell Josh Naylor at first base. With Manzardo in the Guardians’ lineup, he has a chance to make a very good team even better. Manzardo is a high-on-base, high-power hitter who can immediately help Cleveland who enters this week with just a .392 team slugging percentage.

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