The next batch of top prospects has arrived and the big question is if they will deliver. Over the past week or so, Juan Yepez and Alek Thomas have been called up to the big leagues. This week we were going to dig in to see what their current and future prospects look like to help your 2022 fantasy baseball season. Will they be up for good? Will they deliver the goods? It is our task to check the facts and the theories. Join us on the journey with today’s version of prospect roulette.
Yepez was signed as an international free agent in the summer of 2014 and then made his way to the Cardinals in exchange for Matt Adams in 2017. Entering the season Yepez was the Cardinals 6th highest rated prospect but still was not on many top 100 lists. While he has some challenges defensively, there is no denying his offensive potential. In just 114 games at AAA since 2021, Juan mashed over 30 homers, 90 RBI with a .280+ average.
So far Cardinals fans are moving from yelling ‘Noot’ for Lars Nootbar to ‘Yep’ for Yepez! With five multi-hit games in his first eight starts, the early returns are exactly what folks want to see. Five of his early hits have gone for extra bases with two going over the fence. The numbers are very thin, but the arrows are pointing in the right direction for barrels, exit velocities, and a number of other stats. Yes, it is early but we have to be pleased with this start.
What to Expect
With the Cardinals offense scuttling a bit and a few expected contributors in the minors (Nootbar and Dejong), there should be playing time. Yepez has played four different positions in the early going and found a spot in the middle of the lineup. I like him for 20 homers and a solid .270 average with decent counting stats the rest of the way. He will be jumping into the top 100 next week and will be here to stay.
Drafted out of the Chicago suburbs in the second round of the 2018 draft by the Diamondbacks, Thomas checks in as a top 20 prospect with MLB Pipeline. In 130 minor league games over the past two seasons, we have a profile with 22 homers, 16 steals and a .280+ average. He is a decent fielder, who likely fits in the corner long term but has the makings of an above average contributor based on pedigree alone.
Crushing to the tune of .385 with a homer and a few counting stats across a large four game sample size, Alek has hit the ground running. Well, he doesn’t actually have a steal yet so that analogy is not worth continuing to pursue. Thomas started in four straight games to start the season, but he did sit on Friday night. He looks comfortable and not overwhelmed which is impressive for a player that just turned 22 years old.
What to Expect
His playing path is made possible right now thanks in part to Carson Kelly moving to the IL and Daulton Varsho taking over the catching duties. The most likely path to longer time playing time is taking a spot from Seth Beer, but that is far from guaranteed. I expect that the playing time will be a bit more sporadic in the early going than managers may like. He can take that into his own hands and carve out a role or another injury might open a spot. Daily leagues will get more use than weekly leagues until he firmly grasps a full-time role which I expect by mid-summer. We should be happy with a .270 average and middling counting stats this season.