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Fantasy Baseball Rookie Report: Week 9 Highlights

Rookies are clearly the hardest thing to predict for fantasy baseball. Even the most hyped, promising rookies can come up and absolutely bomb. Look at Jordan Walker last year. Or look at any number of players like Kyle Manzardo, Jackson Holliday, Heston Kjerstad, or Pete Crow-Armstrong this year. Leagues that have a keeper or dynasty format are easier to stomach these slumps, but our redraft teams often suffer because of the opportunity cost of holding rookies or bidding high for them on waivers.

Many of these names will eventually pan out but fantasy baseball managers have to exercise patience even when every analyst and scout has described a prospect as “can’t miss,” or a “sure thing.”

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)

  • .211/.258/.329, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 7 SB, 20 R

It continues to be a struggle at the plate for Jackson Chourio as he is just 2-for-20 over his last five games with one run and no RBI. He has just one home run and one steal since May 4th. Will it finally lead to more time on the bench? Chourio has not started the last two games as Christian Yelich started in left field and Gary Sanchez and William Contreras swapped days as the DH.

Marco Luciano (SS, San Francisco Giants)

  • .391/.462/.565, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0 SB, 6 R

In his first 26 plate appearances for the Giants this year Marco Luciano has been absolutely superb. He already has eight hits and six runs while posting a strong 11% walk rate. Luciano is one of the Giants’ most prized prospects and Nick Ahmed might not get his old job back when he comes back from injury at this rate.

Otto Lopez (2B, Miami Marlins)

  • .284/.319/.463, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 2 SB, 9 R

Otto Lopez is a new addition to the report this week after he has started to emerge in his first 75 plate appearances this year. He is striking out just 15% of the time and has proved to be a valuable power and speed combo who is now filling in full-time at second base. After replacing Vidal Brujan, Lopez has started 13 of the Marlins’ last 14 games.

Luis Matos (OF, San Francisco Giants)

  • .278/.304/.444, 2 HR, 19 RBI, 0 SB, 7 R

Luis Matos is another Giants’ rookie who has been performing well and has also recently been promoted to the leadoff spot for San Francisco over their last five games. Matos has improved hard-hit rate by 12 percentage points over his debut last year and his expected batting average (.313) is 35 points higher than his actual number so far this year.

Joey Ortiz (3B, Milwaukee Brewers)

  • .285/.379/.504, 5 HR, 18 RBI, 1 SB, 16 R

On Saturday and Sunday, Joey Ortiz found himself out of the starting lineup for the first time since May 11, in hopes that he can clear his head and find his power stroke again. After home runs on both May 15th and May 17th, Ortiz has just six hits and no homers since that time as he is one of many to run into the rookie wall over the last couple of weeks. His strikeout rate and walk rate both remain elite, so he is still seeing the ball well.

Colton Cowser (OF, Baltimore Orioles)

  • .248/.341/.475, 7 HR, 24 RBI, 3 SB, 17 R

Colton Cowser busted out of a 1-for-20 slump in a big way on Sunday with a home run to send the Orioles to a win over the White Sox. Cowser was dropped from sixth in the order to ninth before the homer on Sunday, so it remains to be seen if he stays that low in the order. He still is suiting up every day, and has only missed one game since May 4.

Wenceel Pérez (OF, Detroit Tigers)

  • .276/.346/.457, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 4 SB, 18 R

Against right-handed pitchers, Perez seems to have overtaken Riley Greene for the leadoff spot in Detroit. His performance lately has been solid and he has avoided any major slumps, while still keeping a walk rate around 10%. That kind of power-speed-patience combo is exactly What Detroit wants at the top of the lineup, and Perez seems to have found a place among the young Tigers stars for the foreseeable future.

Jackson Merrill (SS/OF, San Diego Padres)

  • .276/.317/.362, 3 HR, 21 RBI, 7 SB, 21 R

The power continues to elude Jackson Merrill as he has just one extra-base hit since May 6 and has gone almost two weeks without stealing a base. The Brewers are keeping the faith and Merrill is put in the seventh spot in the lineup almost every day. Apart from a few singles, it has largely been an empty spot in the lineup for a couple of weeks. In redraft formats, he is OK to drop if there are better options on the wire.

Wilyer Abreu (OF, Boston Red Sox)

  • .284/.359/.500, 5 HR, 21 RBI, 7 SB, 24 R

Wilyer Abreu knocked through his own rookie wall recently. In his last six games, he is hitting .333/.364/.619 with a home run and three doubles and six RBI and he continues to bat near the top of the Red Sox order even as the team tries to sort out some of the rest of its roster. He had a 1-for-17 slump before this stretch, so he seems to be readjusting to what pitches he is seeing at the Major League level.

Masyn Winn (SS, St. Louis Cardinals)

  • .301/.352/.441, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 7 SB, 16 R

If not for a whole slew of pitchers in the National League, Masyn Winn might have a strong case for the NL Rookie of the Year award. He has taken over the shortstop role in St. Louis and has parlayed that into becoming the 26th-best fantasy hitter over the last seven days. All he’s done in his last four games is go 7-for-15 with four doubles, a homer, and five RBI.

Fantasy Baseball Rookie Report: Pitchers

Jared Jones (SP, Pittsburgh Pirates)

  • 10 Starts, 59.0 IP, 3 W, 3.05 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 68 Ks

Through his first 10 starts, Jared Jones has still never allowed more than three earned runs in a game and his strikeout rate is now just a shade under 30%. He has allowed six home runs in his last six starts, so that is something he will have to work on down the stretch. But hitters haven’t been able to solve him yet.

Shota Imanaga (SP, Chicago Cubs)

  • 9 Starts, 53.2 IP, 5 W, 0.84 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 58 Ks

After some rainouts over the weekend, Shota Imanaga got his weekend start pushed back to Wednesday which was smart for two reasons. First, as an older rookie facing MLB-caliber players for the first time, it’s probably good to get him some extra rest. Second, it lines him up to face the Brewers who will be the most direct competition the Cubs have for winning the division.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto (SP, Los Angeles Dodgers)

  • 9 Starts, 59.o IP, 5 W, 3.51 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 69 Ks

Yamamoto struggled against the Reds on Sunday, allowing four runs over five innings. He has settled into more of a decent starter instead of the shut-down pitcher we saw for a brief stretch in early May. Still, with how the Dodgers are playing, he is piling up wins and striking out more than one batter per inning. People forget that in addition to this being his first year in the States, Yamamoto is still just 25 years old.

Mason Miller (RP, Oakland Athletics)

  • 10 Saves, 23.0 IP, 0 W, 1.96 ERA, 0.74 WHIP, 45 Ks

Mason Miller remains in the pole position for AL Rookie of the Year (+160 odds), but he did finally look human when he gave up five runs to the Rockies last week. We can forgive him one hiccup since it was the first runs he allowed since March 30th and he continues to strikeout batters at a historic clip. His strikeout rate is an astounding 53.6% heading into the new week.

Paul Skenes (SP, Pittsburgh Pirates)

  • 3 Starts, 16.0 IP, 1 W, 2.25 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 21 Ks

In his third MLB start, Paul Skenes looked simply great instead of superhuman. He went six innings, striking out three and not allowing a run to the Cubs. He has been as advertised through his first handful of starts, routinely fooling hitters and hitting 101 miles per hour with ease on his fastball.

Christian Scott (SP, New York Mets)

  • 4 Starts, 22.2 IP, 0 W, 3.97 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 21 Ks

Christian Scott got back on track against the San Francisco Giants this week, going six innings and allowing just two runs while striking out four. Three of his four starts have come against the Rays, Giants, and Marlins however, so it will be interesting to see what happens when the competition Scott sees starts to get much tougher.

Luis Gil (SP, New York Yankees)

  • 10 Starts, 55.1 IP, 6 W, 2.11 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 70 Ks

After Luis Gil’s last two weeks, he has catapulted himself into the AL Rookie of the Year conversation, now with the third best odds (+380) behind just Mason Miller and Colton Cowser. Gil has 22 strikeouts and just one earned run allowed in his last two starts, lowering his season ERA to just 2.11. He is single-handedly carrying the Yankees’ rotation right now and will make a formidable #2 starter when Gerrit Cole returns.

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) – Another week has gone by with Junior Caminero in AAA without getting called up by the Tampa Bay Rays. But this time, it might be more justified because Caminero has started struggling at the plate this month. He is hitting only .244/.316/.407 in May with 22 strikeouts. He still has hit four home runs this month, but the Rays have decided to let him marinate in the minors a bit longer, even with a recent rash of injuries. Caminero held his own in his seven-game cameo last season, but it’s clear the Rays are going to wait this out and make sure he is 100% ready for the big leagues.

James Wood (OF, Washington Nationals) – The fact that James Wood is still in AAA after what he has done this year is quite comical. It’s downright ludicrous when you compare his .355/.465/.596 with nine bombs and 10 steals to the production of the other Washing outfielders. As a team, the Nationals have the eighth-lowest batting average among team outfielders and the sixth-lowest slugging percentage. None of Eddie Rosario, Jesse Winker, Jacob Young, or Victor Robles should be playing over James Wood right now. His ETA is sometime in 2024, but hopefully, the Nationals bring him up sooner rather than later.

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