Potential Prospect Call-Ups, Josh Jung, Injury Replacements & More MLB Spotlights

by Corey Pieper
Delayed Season Debuts

The MLB season is not even a full week underway, and we already have so many things to watch already. This includes potential prospect call-ups, injuries and their replacements, unexpected hot starts and more.

Whether you're at the top of the standings or find yourself marred in the basement, take a deep breath. The season is still incredibly early. For perspective, if this were the fantasy football season, we wouldn't even be through the first half of the first game.

With that in mind, don't overreact and make a move that you'll regret later. Players without a hit yet include Nolan Arenado and Bryce Harper. It's doubtful that you were considering dropping those players, but don't fall for the buy-low trade offer. For example, while Christian Yelich and Jackson Chourio are off to hot starts, there is a reason that you prioritized Harper in the draft room. Just wait.

One thing you should do though, even if it is early is keep track of the news and what to what for in MLB. That's what this article is for. Read to see what to find out what MLB things watch for the next few weeks.

Potential Prospect Call-Ups, Josh Jung, Injury Replacements & More MLB Spotlights

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Prospect Watch

Many exciting rookies are starting the season with their major league clubs. Texas Rangers outfielder Wyatt Langford, Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Jackson Chourio, and Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto headline the group. However, two of the top three prospects in Fantasy Six Pack's Dynasty Baseball Prospect Rankings are starting the season at Triple-A.

Baltimore Orioles infielder Jackson Holiday and Tampa Bay Rays' infielder Junior Caminero are each starting their seasons at the Triple-A level.

Holiday is off to a hot start. He started 5-9 with a home run and four RBI. If you drafted him, keep rostering him. He should be up in the next month and be an impact producer from the outset.

Caminero was off to a good start himself. However, he may be missing some time now with an apparent quadriceps injury.

Holding him on your bench could be difficult depending on the timeline we get from the MRI results.

Injury Replacements

An unfortunate part of our game is the inevitable injuries that accompany the start of the season. This article's focus is not to estimate when the injured players are coming back. It's a fool's errand to try to predict injury timelines.

Instead, the focus will be on who the Major League team will call upon to help replace the injured player, and whether or not the replacement is fantasy viable.  Injuries are always depressing, but they also create new opportunities for others.

Josh Jung, 3B, Texas Rangers

Josh Jung was hit by a pitch in a game against the Tampa Bay Rays. The pitch fractured his wrist. He was placed on the 10-day injured list, but the timeline has already been set at closer to a month and a half. The Rangers will need a replacement in the meantime.

The team recalled prospect Justin Foscue. Foscue is a utility infield player who could provide some interesting fantasy value if he were to find himself with full-time at-bats. At this time though that is unlikely to happen with the Rangers. The primary beneficiary of more playing time is likely to be Ezequiel Duran. As a player with triple-eligibility in most leagues (third base, shortstop, and outfield), he could be a valuable asset in daily lineup change leagues.

Royce Lewis, 3B, Minnesota Twins

Royce Lewis injured his quadriceps muscle on Opening Day while rounding second base. It was yet another injury for the talented young slugger. He will miss the first month at minimum.

In his absence, switch-hitting utility man Willi Castro should be the main beneficiary. Castro quietly had 33 stolen bases last season in just over 400 plate appearances. He was likely already owned in any category leagues. If he is available, he should be added for the boost he can offer in the stolen base category.

Justin Steele, SP, Chicago Cubs

Justin Steele injured his hamstring fielding a ground ball against the Rangers. His absence will likely extend into May. His injury leaves the Chicago Cubs' rotation very thin.

In the interim, the club recalled Fantasy Six Pack Top-100 prospect Ben Brown. Brown made his MLB debut already on Sunday pitching relief against the Texas Rangers. It didn't go well. Brown gave up six earned runs in only 1.2 innings pitched. He is more of a watch at this point than an add.

Sean Murphy, C, Atlanta Braves

Sean Murphy was pulled in the 7th inning of his first game with a left oblique injury. He was in visible pain as he walked off the field.

The Braves have one of the best backup catchers in baseball with Travis d'Arnaud. In the last two seasons, he has hit 29 home runs total in 663 at-bats. While Murphy misses, d'Arnaud has to be in a lineup in all two two catcher leagues. He's borderline in one-catcher leagues but is a good option if you are looking for power at the catcher position.

Late Signings Debut

Three key free agents waited until the last week before the Opening Day to sign their contracts. First, reigning Cy Young award winner Blake Snell signed a contract with the San Francisco Giants. Then, designated hitter J.D. Martinez signed a contract with the New York Mets. Finally, starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks. After missing their spring training, each player looks at a delayed start to their regular season.

Blake Snell was unable to pitch so far. Indications are that he will be able to pitch this week against his old team, the San Diego Padres.

The  Mets decided that J.D. Martinez needed more at-bats to prepare for the regular season. To do that, he was optioned to the minor leagues. That means he can't return with the Mets for at least 10 days. For what he can offer fantasy teams when healthy, he needs to be on a roster. Just realize that you won't be getting initial production from him.

Jordan Montgomery was the latest to sign. He had been pitching batting practice sessions before signing, but that isn't the same as live action. The Diamondbacks have enough options to monitor his innings for a while. Montgomery himself said in his introductory press conference that he is targeting April 19 to make his debut.

One-Hit Wonder or Start of a Star?

This small of a sample size is too small to make conclusions. That doesn't mean that there weren't performances in the first few days that will lead to a closer examination.

Garrett Crochet, SP, Chicago White Sox

Crochet was dominant in his first-ever major league start.  He worked six innings, striking out eight, walking none, and allowed only one earned run against the Detroit Tigers.

He has only pitched 79 total innings since his 2020 debut. Because of that, later in the season, the White Sox will have to manage his innings somehow.

Crochet struck out eight Braves while walking one and allowed just three hits in seven innings, surrendering just one earned run against Atlanta. An impressive second start for the 24-year-old.

Shane Bieber, SP, Cleveland Guardians

This may be my first L of the season. I wrote the 2024 Fantasy Baseball Busts-Pitchers article for Fantasy Six Pack this offseason. In the article, Shane Bieber's drop in velocity was referenced which led to a scary low strikeout rate.

Then, in the off-season he went to Driveline and gained more velocity. The results were apparent in his first start against Oakland where he struck out eleven over six innings.

One of the more important MLB things to watch is whether or not he can maintain that velocity going forward.

Jared Jones, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates

Jared Jones made his major league debut this weekend for the Pirates. He allowed three earned runs over 5.2 innings but struck out 10 batters. With his near triple-digit fastball and his high spin rate slider, the strikeout potential is immense. He demonstrated that upside 22 whiffs on only 89 pitches.

The upside that he offers makes him a priority addition over Crochet. Plus, there are far fewer innings concerns with Jones who has pitched over 120 innings each of the last two seasons.

Jack Flaherty, SP, Detroit Tigers

Earlier in his career, we saw Jack Flaherty deliver high-end fantasy production while a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. It has been a few years but after a strong spring training, the success carried over to his first start of the season.

Flaherty pitched six innings with four hits, one earned run, and seven strikeouts against the White Sox. He has changed his pitch mix from his earlier career success. He still relies primarily on his fastball and slider, but instead of the sinker, he has changed to a more traditional curveball as the third offering. Because of his recent struggles, be cautious before fulling buying back-in.

Thanks for reading 2024 Fantasy Baseball Week 1 Stock Up/Stock Down. Check out the rest of the in-season Fantasy Baseball content.

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