MLB Debuts – May 31st

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.

We had two players debut on May 31, including a Top 100 prospect:

Ronny Rodriguez (3B, Detroit Tigers, 26 years old) 
Call Up Date: May 31st
Role: Bench Depth
Organization Ranking: N/A
Overall Ranking: N/A
Grades: N/A
Fantasy Relevance: Deep Leagues only

A 26-year-old that has played all over the diamond and has some interesting fantasy skills in that he put up a .291 batting average last year with 17 HRs and 15 SBs at AAA. So far this season has continued to put up very impressive numbers and he’s getting a shot to prove himself in the majors now as a utility player for the Tigers. It should be noted that Rodriguez is very aggressive at the plate and walks very infrequently. Add in contact skills that aren’t the greatest with a 17.2% K rate that’s being supported by a slightly below average 11.3% swinging-strike rate (MLB average this year is 10.6%) and the result is he carries a fair bit of risk in his profile as a guy who likely struggles to get on base much. He may have some sneaky value though in deeper leagues because of the power/speed combo, but I think he’s best left on the wire in most leagues.

Shane Bieber (SP, Cleveland Indians, 23 years old) 
Call Up Date: May 31st
Role: Spot Starter
Organization Ranking: 3rd
Overall Ranking: 99th
Grades: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 55 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 70 | Overall: 55
Fantasy Relevance: Deep leagues or bench stash

Bieber has quickly risen up the Indians organization to the majors on the back of elite command and a solid 4 pitch mix that all play up because of said elite command. Bieber was a 4th round pick in 2016 but has performed like an elite prospect as he has posted a career 2.19 ERA in the minors with an incredible 244/15 strikeout to walk ratio in 262.2 innings. That incredibly low walk rate really highlights Bieber’s skillset as a command specialist in the mold of a Kyle Hendricks, except Bieber has shown slightly better swinging-strike rate in the minors at the same levels while being a year younger. That makes Bieber an interesting fantasy option that could contribute with good ratios and the ability to go deep into games and rack up QS as well as potential wins on what should be a good Indians team. His start last night is only supposed to be a spot-start, but the only guy in front of Bieber in the pecking order for a rotation spot is Adam Plutko who has shown to be the inferior talent numbers wise so it seems likely that Bieber will get a more permanent chance to prove himself in the majors again soon. If you can afford to carry him on your bench, he may be a worthwhile stash in deeper leagues but he doesn’t have much fantasy relevance until he gets a more permanent role.

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

Austin Bristow II

Raised as an Atlanta Braves fan in central Illinois, Austin Bristow II attended Eureka College. Since cofounding his home league at age 16, Austin has been obsessed with fantasy baseball, always intent to stay ahead of the changes in player value. Austin serves as the Staff Manager for Pitcher List.

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