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Fantasy Baseball: Prospect Watch Week 11

Kyle breaks down four prospects who could impact fantasy baseball soon!

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 21: Tim Elko of the Chicago White Sox poses for a portrait during Photo Day at Camelback Ranch on February 21, 2024 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
1B Tim Elko, Chicago White Sox

You can call it what you want, but the White Sox are going nowhere fast. 2019 1st-round pick Andrew Vaughn has not lived up to expectations, which can be said for several players on the roster. Now is the time for the White Sox to evaluate their minor league system and give players a call like first baseman Tim Elko. The 2022 10th-round pick is coming off his best minor league season, where he slashed .295/.347/.527 with 28 home runs and 106 RBI across A and AA. The right-handed hitter hasn’t skipped a beat in 2024, slashing .294/.337/.461 with six home runs and 25 RBI for AA Birmingham. The 25-year-old is ready for AAA and has shown power throughout his minor league career. Having spent time at third base, I believe this is an option for the White Sox, and multiple-position eligibility would make Elko an intriguing addition in fantasy leagues. Again, the White Sox are on their way to setting an all-time loss record, but who’s to say a player like Elko cannot make an impact for the White Sox and fantasy teams?

INF E.J. Exposito, Atlanta Braves

A 16th-round pick in the 2022 draft, E.J. Exposito will crack the Braves top-30 prospect rankings following the 2024 season. After finishing the 2023 season with eight home runs, 55 RBI, and 23 stolen bases, the natural shortstop has positioned himself to surpass last season’s numbers, currently slashing .294/.355/.562 with ten home runs, 26 RBI, and 15 stolen bases for A+ Rome. The young infielder’s glaring adjustment is that he cut his 2023 strikeouts (36%) to 26% early into the 2024 season. Exposito’s developed power and combining power with speed will make him an attractive fantasy player when he reaches the Majors. He has yet to play above Single-A but will undoubtedly be in AA by season’s end. The Braves have done well in developing talent, and Exposito could be the next young star for Atlanta.

RHP Jairo Iriarte, Chicago White Sox

Part of the return in the deal that sent Dylan Cease to San Diego, Jairo Iriarte possesses one of the most explosive arms in the minor leagues. A true high-90s fastball that touches 100 MPH, he pairs his fastball with a very good slider. Through 10 appearances (9 GS), Iriarte has 65 strikeouts in 53.2 innings. Walks have been an issue, having surrendered 27, but there is time for the 22-year-old to work on control and develop into a solid number-two starting pitcher. In the worst-case scenario, Iriarte possesses the tools to become an electric reliever, especially in a closer role. Any fantasy baseball player who loves electric arms needs to watch the development of Jairo Iriarte.

RHP Yilber Diaz, Arizona Diamondbacks

At 23 years old, Diaz possesses two highlight pitches: a 98 MPH fastball and an elite curve. Currently starting for AA Amarillo, the righty posts a 3.10 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 75 strikeouts in 52.1 innings. A season ago, Diaz surrendered 58 walks in 102.2 innings but managed 140 strikeouts. He has lowered his walk rate to 24 in 52.1 innings this season, and this is the key to him sticking in the rotation when he gets his call to Arizona. Another area of focus will be developing a third pitch. His changeup, if you can call it that, is a work-in-progress and should he ascent in the minor ranks with only two pitches, he will ultimately be a reliever with the makings of a closer. Another elite arm, Diaz, is one to watch as he could become a must-have closer when he reaches the Majors.