MLB Debuts: June 20 – 25

NOTE: We will be switching the format of this article from daily to weekly following the publication of the June 20th – June 25th article. Moving forward, MLB Debuts will be published every Friday throughout the season.

Hundreds of baseball players make their debut over the course of a season. However, for every Ronald Acuña and Scott Kingery, there are dozens of lesser-known prospects making their debuts who aren’t as frequently discussed. To remedy that, Alex Fast, Adam Garland, Ben Palmer and I will be doing a write-up on every single player making their MLB Debut. Inspired by the Effectively Wild podcast and Andrew Perpetua, we’ll discuss each debut’s skill set, how long they will likely remain in the majors and any other pertinent information you need to know. Each player will also be stored in a spreadsheet featuring further information (bio, D.O.B, player ID’s, etc) that can be accessed at the bottom of the article.

Here are the debuts between June 20th – 25th:

Steve Wilkerson (SS, Baltimore Orioles, 26 years old) 
Debut Date: 6/20/2018
Role: Utility Infielder
Organization Ranking: N/A
Overall Ranking: N/A
Grades: N/A
Fantasy Relevance: None

Wilkerson’s debut for the Orioles organization came last Wednesday thanks to a few things: a .290/.362/.500 slash line and the Orioles constant need for utility infielders. You may have heard of Wilkerson last year when he was suspended 50 games for amphetamines. While he’s been effective in the minors since his return, there is no present value for Wilkerson as he’s already been sent back down after going 1-5 with a run scored and an RBI. The Orioles will certainly be giving Wilkerson a deeper look as the summer progresses and as they begin to – hopefully – trade away some pieces. His brief debut didn’t stop him from making this stellar defensive stop to rob Michael A. Taylor of a hit:

Austin Davis (RP, Philadelphia Phillies, 23 years old) 
Debut Date: 6/20/2018
Role: Bullpen Depth
Organization Ranking: N/A
Overall Ranking: N/A
Grades: N/A
Fantasy Relevance: Deeper, Holds leagues

Hector Neris’s poor fortune last week was Austin Davis’s opportunity. When the struggling former closer for the Phillies was sent down, Austin Davis took his place and – so far – hasn’t disappointed. He’s appeared in 4 games, working a total of 3.1 IP with 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K and 1 hold. Davis has been fairing very well in the minors so far this year as he’d worked 36.2 IP with a nice 48/10 K/BB ratio between double and triple A. Davis has an above average slider that should get him a good amount of strikeouts. The Phillies bullpen has been hit by injuries and ineffectiveness recently which should mean Davis will continue to see opportunities. If you’re in a holds league and the waiver wire has already been ravished of quality guys, Davis isn’t a bad option.

Yency Almonte (RP, Colorado Rockies, 24 years old) 
Debut Date: 6/20/1994
Role: Bullpen Depth
Organization Ranking: 9th
Overall Ranking: N/A
Grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45
Fantasy Relevance: None

If you weren’t already convinced that the Rockies bullpen is struggling, Yency Almonte is proof. Over 33 IP in AAA this year he has a 6.27 ERA, a 1.91 HR/9, a 6.00 K/9 and a 6.85 FIP. Pacific Coast League or no, those are some pretty bad numbers. However, the Rockies desperately need fresh bullpen arms so enter Yency. In the two appearances he made, he induced a lot of contact and 2 runs. While they weren’t earned, Almonte still wasn’t missing many bats. The Rockies optioned him back to AAA but recalled him back to the Bigs a few hours later as Bryan Shaw went down. As of now, it looks like Almonte just doesn’t have the consistency and command to be a big league starter. His control has regressed for the past two years and until he gets that control back I don’t see him adding any value to fantasy squads.

Drew Smith (RP, New York Mets, 24 years old) 
Debut Date: 6/23/2018
Role: Bullpen Depth
Organization Ranking: 30th
Overall Ranking: N/A
Grades: Fastball: 65 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 40 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45
Fantasy Relevance: None

Most people might not remember his name, but Drew Smith was actually the player the Mets traded for last year in the Lucas Duda move. So far this year, Smith has worked 34.1 IP across AAA and AA (with most of that coming in AAA) with a 2.88 ERA. He sports a fastball that can hit the mid 90’s with an above-average curveball that lacks in consistency but has good movement. It appears that Smith’s upside is that of set-up guy and if the Mets do end up moving some of their bullpen arms, he could be a good sneaky add for some holds in the future. Until he begins to see some of those hold opportunities however, Drew Smith is best left on the waiver wire.

Heath Fillmyer (RP, Kansas City Royals, 24 years old) 
Debut Date: 6/24/2018
Role: Bullpen Depth
Organization Ranking: 22nd
Overall Ranking: N/A
Grades: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 55 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45
Fantasy Relevance: None

Much like the Rockies, the Royals bullpen is struggling. Despite having a 5.75 ERA in AAA this year over 67.1 IP, Heath Fillmyer was called up to – hopefully – provide some relief. Fillmyer is a strange sort of prospect. He doesn’t really have a go-to pitch but instead mixes four average pitches. He has a sinker that sits in the low 90’s and a low 80’s curveball. The Royals utilized him as a long reliever and I expect that they will continue to use him as such moving forward though he could get a spot start here or there if needed. Either way, I don’t see Fillmyer as a prospect who will add value to any fantasy team in the near or distant future.

Robert Stock (RP, San Diego Padres, 28 years old) 
Debut Date: 6/24/2018
Role: Bullpen Depth
Organization Ranking: N/A
Overall Ranking: N/A
Grades: N/A
Fantasy Relevance: None

Robert Stock has a really interesting story. He was first drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2009 Amateur Draft as a catching prospect. He then played a little independent ball before signing with the Padres in 2017 where he was hitting 100 mph in spring training. His success carried over to the minors as over 32.1 IP of minor league ball he’s posted a sub 2 ERA with a high 9 K/9. Aside from his high 90’s fastball, Stock also has a slider that sits in the low 80’s and while it can be an effective K pitch, he definitely relies on his heat. Stock’s issue is two-fold: age and consistency. Stock made his minor league debut way back in 2012 and 2018 was the first time he even reached AAA. Until Stock gets more consistent and starts to be used in higher leverage situations, I don’t see him having much fantasy value.

Kevin Kaczmarski (OF, New York Mets, 26 years old) 
Debut Date: 6/24/2018
Role: Bench Depth
Organization Ranking: N/A
Overall Ranking: N/A
Grades: Hit: 45/50 | Power: 40/45 | Run: 50/50 | Field: 50/50 | Throw: 45/45 | Overall: 40/45
Fantasy Relevance: None

Kevin Kaczmarski gave the Mets every reason to call him up this year as the 26 year old was slashing .363/.413/.450 over 92 PA in AAA. While the average is certainly impressive, Kaczmarski has absolutely no power. Over 3 years of minor league ball he has 11 HR on 1,400+ plate appearances. He is also a sub par defender making him a virtually one-tool prospect. Though Kaczmarski has been up since June 22nd, he is yet (as of June 26th) to be slotted into a daily lineup. As a matter of fact he has only been utilized once: as a pinch hitter on the 24th of June (he hit a weak grounder that didn’t leave the infield). Moving forward, I don’t see Kaczmarski getting many opportunities and even when he does, it’s tough to roster a guy who gives you zero power or speed and a slight upside in average.

Tyler Bashlor (RP, New York Mets, 23 years old) 
Debut Date: 6/25/2018
Role: Bullpen
Organization Ranking: N/A
Overall Ranking: N/A
Grades: N/A
Fantasy Relevance: Deeper, Holds Leagues

Bashlor is a pretty intriguing relief pitcher that may be among the candidates for future closer within the Mets organization. Bashlor throws in the upper 90’s and has generated lots of strikeouts throughout his minor league career thanks to a power curveball. An 11th round pick for the Mets in 2013, Bashlor is having a pretty solid first full season in Double-A. Over 24 innings, he has 30 strikeouts to 12 walks and a 2.63 ERA. Last year he was even more impressive at the level posting a ridiculous 0.00 ERA with 23 K’s against 4 walks in 14.2 innings pitched. 18.5% swinging-strike rate, 0.91 FIP, 1.80 xFIP. He may be worth a spot in deeper leagues that count holds as he has the stuff to be a high-leverage guy and the Mets bullpen isn’t terribly deep, but until he earns that high-leverage hole he’s likely best left on the wire. Monitor him though if you’re chasing saves and or holds.

Duane Underwood Jr. (SP, Chicago Cubs, 23 years old) 
Debut Date: 6/25/2018
Role: Spot Starter
Organization Ranking: 29th
Overall Ranking: N/A
Grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 50 | Cutter: 45 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
Fantasy Relevance: None

Duane Underwood Jr. has had a very up and down minor league career, being considered a top 100 prospect as recently as 2015, and now hanging on a barely top 30 prospect in a shallow Chicago Cubs prospect pool today. Underwood Jr. has long been known for high-end velocity as he sits in the mid-90’s comfortably and has reached 98 in the past, but his fastball plays down to a lack of movement and he’s often been more hittable than desired. He currently has a 4.27 ERA at AAA with 60 strikeouts against 20 walks in 71.2 innings pitched and is supporting that with a 9.7% swinging-strike rate along with a 3.63 FIP and 4.42 xFIP. He likely doesn’t have the ability to miss enough bats to be relevant a relevant starter in most fantasy leagues, but perhaps he’s skillset is more viable in the back of a bullpen. This is just a spot start as Tyler Chatwood was unable to start on Saturday due to wife going into labour. Underwood is likely best left on the wire in all but the deepest of leagues.

Missed a player’s debut? Read detailed reports on all 2018 MLB debuts in this spreadsheet.

Alex Fast

Alex Fast is Head of Operations at Pitcher List. Co-host of On The Corner, and host of the weekend edition of First Pitch, Alex received his masters in interactive telecommunications from NYU's ITP. He dedicated his time there on bringing new, interactive tech to the game of baseball and created a thesis about how the sport is under-utilizing data visualization. All opinions are Alex's and Alex's alone. A die-hard Orioles fan, Alex is well versed in futility and broken pitching prospects.

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