Fantasy Baseball: Carter Kieboom's callup gives us another exciting prospect to add
He's not quite Vladimir Guerrero, but Carter Kieboom brings plenty of exciting skills to the table. Should Fantasy players look to add him now that he's joining the Nationals?
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Kieboom began the year hitting .298 with 11 homers and an .880 OPS in his half-season at Class A, so his final numbers would be splashier if he Nationals didn't promote him so aggressively. There's definite power here, along with sound strike-zone judgement.
Scott's 2019 Fantasy impact: midseason hopeful
The Nationals continued to be aggressive with Kieboom, as they are promoting him to the majors Friday, according to reports. Kieboom logged just 62 games at Double-A last season and 18 at Triple-A in 2019, sticking with the Nationals' general principle of calling their best prospects up as soon as they seem ready.
And Kieboom seems ready, having hit .379/.506/.636 to open his Triple-A career. Kieboom isn't on the level of a Vladimir Guerrero, obviously, but he is a must-add Fantasy option upon his call up to the majors, because it could be for good. What kind of impact should Fantasy owners expect?
Typically, I'd start with the projections, but Kieboom's promotion is such a surprise that neither Steamer, THE BAT, PECOTA really projected Kieboom for much playing time this season. So, we'll have to take another path.
For his career, Kieboom has hit .286/.373/.471, with 32 homers and 14 steals in 238 games. Those counting stats may not jump out at you, but the last two seasons point to even better things. Conveniently, he has played exactly 162 games since the start of 2018, with about half spent in either High Class A or the Arizona Fall League and half at Double-A and Triple-A. In those games, he has hit .292/.383/.455, with 20 homers and 14 steals.
You can start to see where the profile comes into focus here. What you've got is a hitter with pretty good plate discipline and a willingness to take a walk (12.4 BB%), with developing power, and even a bit of speed. He'll never be Trea Turner — whose place in the lineup Kieboom wiill be replacing until Turner is back from his injury — but he can swipe a bag. And it's not hard to see him developing into a 20-25 homer hitter as soon as this season, given how the baseball seems to be flying off bats this season.
If you're looking for a comp here, 2018 Tommy Pham (.275-21 HR-15 SB) seems like a pretty fair one, if a bit on the high side. I'm not saying he will be that, but it's not out of the realm of possibility. A more realistic outcome might be Marcus Semien, who is usually good for about 15 homers and 15 steals, perhaps with a bit more average.
That's not a huge difference maker right away, necessarily, but it plays in mixed leagues as a CI, with room to settle in as a top-10 option at a deep position on the higher end of the projection. That's worth a FAAB bid in the 15-20% range.
One other interesting wrinkle …
In the short term, Kieboom should slide in at shortstop, replacing Wilmer Difo until Turner is back from his injury. However, if he proves capable of contributing, his callup brings up an interesting question for the Nationals: How long is Brian Dozier's leash?
Dozier signed a one-year contract with the Nationals this offseason in the hopes he could bounce back and return to free agency with a chance for one more payday. However, more than 10% of the way through the season, he's batting just .183/.266/.366. He's an average defender, but not good enough to carry around a sub-.700 OPS line all season. Which is what he did in 2018, too.
Does this mean Dozier's time is coming to an end in Washington already? Perhaps not. After all, Kieboom has relatively little exposure to the high minors, and there's always the chance he just doesn't hit well enough to stick right away. However, with a shortstop's pedigree, if he's got a .100-plus point edge in OPS on Dozier come mid-May, it wouldn't be shocking to see the Nationals stick with the young guy at the keystone. Dozier is on the clock.
So, that's something else to watch while we keep track of Kieboom's progress.
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