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Fantasy Baseball Prospect Watch: Should You Add Joey Loperfido In Fantasy Baseball?

Kyle gives an update on four prospects you need to know for your fantasy baseball teams.

JUPITER, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 28: Joey Loperfido #83 of the Houston Astros at bat against the Miami Marlins during the second inning in a spring training game at Roger Dean Stadium on February 28, 2024 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

Welcome to Fantasy Baseball Prospect Watch! This weekly feature will list and give updates on the best minor-league prospects who are trending up with a chance to make an impact in the MLB – and for your fantasy baseball teams – sooner rather than later.

Fantasy Baseball Prospect Watch

OF/2B Joey Loperfido, Houston Astros

The former seventh-round pick (2021) has come into his own the past two seasons and has gotten off to a hot start at AAA Sugar Land in 2024. 2023 was a career-year for Loperfido, as he slashed .278/.370/.510 with 25 home runs and 27 stolen bases at A+, AA, and AAA. Through 24 games this season, the left-handed hitting outfielder is slashing .276/.376/.684 with 12 home runs and four stolen bases. His athleticism and speed have aided in his development since 2021, and while he has yet to tap into his full power potential, a few more months in the minors could help the outfield prospect continue to find more consistency in hitting the ball in the air. The Astros are off to a brutal start, and offense production from the outfield positions has come from only Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker. Should the mix of Chas McCormick, Mauricio Dubon, and Jake Meyers continue to produce mediocre results, Loperfido can expect a call sooner rather than later. Fantasy owners should look at the Astros’ outfield prospect as an under-the-radar name for an upgrade in stolen bases, especially if he receives everyday at-bats once called to Houston.

Update: Loperfido has been called to the Astros and is definitely worth considering for your fantasy baseball rosters!

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2B/OF Brooks Baldwin, Chicago White Sox

Another under-the-radar prospect, Brooks Baldwin should make the leap to AAA soon if he continues to build off his hot start to the 2024 season, slashing .425/.475/.589 with one home run, 15 RBIs, and three stolen bases. Power was never part of his game while coming out of Clemson, but Baldwin has developed unexpected power, slashing .269/.349/.460 with 15 home runs and 22 RBIs in the 2023 season. The White Sox entered last weekend with the worst record in MLB and on pace for 26 wins throughout the season. They managed to sweep the Rays over the weekend, and while they should win more than 26 games, they will likely finish with one of the worst records by season’s end. It won’t be long before Chicago decides to move on from older and journeymen veterans and give their young prospects a shot in the Majors. Baldwin has the chance to reach Chicago before the All-Star Break, and he could be a waiver wire add that produces great for fantasy managers who add him, just like Oakland’s Zack Gelof did during the 2023 season.

RHP Chayce McDermott, Baltimore Orioles

Elite arms with elite fastballs will always be desirable; McDermott has both and consistently racks up strikeouts, but he also owns one of the highest walk rates in the minors. McDermott finished the 2023 season with a 3.10 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP, and 152 strikeouts in 119 innings. His peripherals look outstanding, but the glaring issue was the 68 walks he surrendered to opposing batters. If he limits his walks, he has the makings of a No. starter with high upside. This season, in six appearances (five starts), McDermott has posted a 3.80 ERA, a 1.92 WHIP, and 23 strikeouts in 21.1 innings. He has gotten away with free passes due to batters having issues making hard contact against him. This is evident in the one home run he’s surrendered early into this season. But this number of walks allowed will not be sustainable at the Major League level, as MLB hitters will cause damage with runners on base. At 25 years old, the clock is ticking for McDermott to stick in the Orioles’ rotation, but if he is destined for the bullpen, he could be one of the most electric relievers in MLB, although walks will remain his Achilles heel. Fantasy managers looking for an electric arm should already be watching McDermott’s movement, but they must have a strong stomach because he will have nightmare outings due to the high number of walks he allows.

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LHP Matt Wilkinson, Cleveland Guardians

If you’re a fantasy baseball player who focuses on MLB and team-specific top prospect rankings, you’ve probably never heard of Matt Wilkinson. However, if you’re someone who enjoys finding hidden gems no one has heard of, then let me introduce you to Cleveland’s Matt Wilkson. A 10th-round pick a season ago, Wilkinson will never be on a list of high-velocity pitchers, but he possesses something many high-velocity arms do not: control. The southpaw prospect’s fastball sits at 90 MPH, but his high spin rate makes it seem faster. He pairs his fastball with a changeup/slider combination that he has great control over. At 6’1” and 270 lbs, Wilkinson does not have anywhere close to an athletic build, but he has dissected hitters with the precise location of his pitches. He is a few days removed from an April 25th start that saw him throw six innings and strike out 15 hitters while surrendering no hits and one walk for A Lynchburg. Through four starts, Wilkinson has posted a 0.44 ERA, 0.58 WHIP, and 41 strikeouts in 20.2 innings. Fantasy managers who worry that Wilkinson’s lack of velocity could cause struggles as he reaches higher levels in the minors should think of Chicago Cubs pitchers Drew Smyly and Kyle Hendricks. Neither is a high-velocity pitcher, but their location, especially Hendricks’ pinpoint precision, has seen both have solid MLB careers. Wilkinson could be on a similar path.