August Call-Ups and Their Impact
With the announcement that Dansby Swanson, the first overall pick in the 2015 draft, will be called up today for the Braves, I figured it would be useful to project Swanson's fantasy potential in the majors. Swanson isn't the only recent call-up that will affect their current MLB squad, with players such as Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin for the Yankees, Luke Weaver and Alex Reyes for the Cardinals, as well as several others around the league. These players are likely to see immediate playing time and could have an impact on the DFS landscape for weeks to come. In order to project their MLB success, let's take a look at what they've done in the minor leagues along the way to potentially identify their strengths and weaknesses as an MLB Player.
Dansby Swanson – SS – Atlanta Braves
Swanson gets called up on Wednesday after the Braves traded their starting shortstop, Erick Aybar, to the Detroit Tigers. After starting the year in High A ball with the Braves, Swanson quickly moved up to AA after hitting .333 with and OBP of .441 in just 21 games. Since being promoted, Swanson's numbers have taken a definite plunge, now with a slash line of .261/.342/.402 (AVG/OBP/SLG). He's clearly struggled at the higher level this year offensively. Swanson's strikeout and walk percentage have also suffered in AA, as he's dropped his walk % from 16% to 9%, and his strikeout rate has increased from 14% to 19%. With Swanson's struggles in AA, it's hard to believe he'll have much fantasy impact facing major league pitching.
Aaron Judge – RF – New York Yankees
Judge has had a good first week with the Yankees after being called up on August 13th
. He's hit two home runs and a double in his first four games so far. Judge was promoted from AAA batting .270/.366/489 so far in 89 games, including 19 homers and 65 RBIs. In his final 10 games before being promoted, Judge hit .353 with three home runs, 11 RBIs, and 12 strikeouts. Judge has been strikeout prone through his stint in the minors, usually whiffing about 25% of the time, but his extreme raw power offers some fantasy upside. Keep an eye on him to see whether he finds his power stroke for New York or if he struggles to make contact against MLB pitching.
Tyler Austin – 1B – New York Yankees
Austin reaches the major league squad after being in the Yankees' minor league system since 2010. Austin has had middling success in the minors until he landed in AAA this year. In 57 games with the AAA team, he's hit .323/.415/.637 with 13 home runs and 24 doubles. Austin seems to have figured something out offensively, as his slash line in AA this year was .260/.367/.395. His power numbers have really taken a leap in AAA, so it will be interesting to see if he can transfer that success to the majors. It's also unclear how much Austin will play with Mark Teixeira in front of him, but with Teixeira's struggles and Austin's ability to play the corner positions, Austin will likely get a healthy amount of ABs down the home stretch.
Luke Weaver – RHP – St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals called up Luke Weaver to replace the injured Michael Wacha in their rotation. Weaver was drafted in the first round of the 2014 draft by the Cardinals, and 2016 is his first year in AA or higher. Weaver started 12 games in AA this season and started just one game in AAA before being called up. Weaver has dazzled in the minors this year, going 7-3 with a 1.30 ERA. He's controlled hitters all season long, only allowing a .206 average to opposing batters, and has struck out batters 28% of the time while only walking them 3.6% of the time. Weaver didn't fare nearly as well in his MLB debut, but I'm sure the Cubs have a much more formidable lineup than any he's seen in the minor leagues this year. He was able to get through four innings allowing only two runs on 85 pitches against Chicago, but walked three and struck out three. I expect Weaver to find his command in the majors as time goes on, but he may only receive a few more starts before the Cardinals' rotation is healthy. In the meantime, if he can find his strikeout stuff in the majors, he could be a valuable stream in DFS over his next few starts.
Jake Thompson – RHP – Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies' call-up has already made two starts for the major league club, one bad and one good enough to get a win. Thompson struggled in his debut, allowing six earned runs over only 4.1 innings pitched. He settled down a little in his second start, able to go five innings and allow only three runs. Thompson got promoted after having a stellar year in AAA, going 11-5 with a 2.50 ERA in 21 games. He had displayed great consistency, going at least seven innings in seven of his last ten starts in the minors, and only going below six innings once in those ten starts. Thompson hasn't been a high strikeout guy in the minors, only fanning 87 batters in 130 innings pitched, but he was still successful nonetheless. The key for Thompson's success in the majors will be continuing to induce weak contact, but without the strikeout numbers, he's unlikely to have any sort of daily fantasy impact over the following weeks.
Minor league numbers aren't always an indication of major league success, but without much major league action for any of these players, it's the best we can do. There will continue to be top prospects called up in August, as well as when rosters expand in September, so make sure to take a look at each new guy as they're promoted to potentially determine their success as a major leaguer.