The latest prospect to get the call is one who we hoped to see from the start.

Matt Mervis will reportedly join the Cubs on Friday and presumably take over as their starting first baseman, their offseason decision to delay him with Eric Hosmer having predictably fallen to pieces.

Mervis rocketed through the Cubs' system last year, leading the minors in extra-base hits and total bases. In all, he batted .309 with 36 home runs, 40 doubles, 119 RBI and a .984 OPS across three levels, his production more or less holding steady at every stop. And because he's an older prospect, having just turned 25, the hope was that he'd ride that momentum all the way to an Opening Day job. The decision to bring in Hosmer basically ended that hope, but then Hosmer did his thing and Mervis continued to do his. Here's what his numbers look like at Triple-A this year:

CHC Chi. Cubs • #22 • Age: 26
2023 Minors

The first thing you'll probably notice is the power production, but the next thing you'll probably notice is the plate discipline, with him having nearly as many walks as strikeouts. More than anything, it's the contact skills that set Mervis apart from other sluggers and will perhaps make for an easier transition. As I've already mentioned, he's 25, which means he's more experienced than the usual first-time big-leaguer, and it's clear he wasn't challenged by any level of minor-league competition.

So surely he's going to be this year's big call-up success story, right? I'd like to think so. If it's simply a matter of checking boxes, Mervis has it down. But we've seen a massive influx of prospects already this season, from Opening Day until now, and most of them haven't paid off in Fantasy yet. Some have been outright disastrous.

I've written in several places this year, most recently the latest Prospects Report, that the learning curve for a prospect call-up seems especially steep right now. It's a change I first noticed coming out of the lost minor-league season in 2020, but it clearly hasn't abated. There have been other times in major-league history when this was the norm, but it's an adjustment for someone in my position, who's used to hyperventilating over everyone with a sparkly Triple-A stat line.

What I've had to realize is that the call-up itself isn't the biggest hurdle, not even for a prospect who checks as many boxes as Mervis does.

What this means, practically speaking, is that I have to be more judicious how I respond to call-ups. Each still represents a lottery ticket, and the payoff for a lottery ticket could be enormous. But what's the flip side of a lottery ticket? More than likely, you're throwing a small sum of money away. That's the mindset you should have when you move to add such a player.

So should you drop Player X or Y for Mervis? Should you drop none at all? I'm not comfortable answering anymore because I have no confidence in what Mervis will actually do. What I can say, because I'm required to rank him somewhere, is that I currently rank him 22nd at first base. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't drop him for Josh Bell, who I rank ahead, or that you have to drop him for Jake Cronenworth, who I rank behind. What you have to weigh is how impactful that player could be relative to Mervis and how ruinous dropping him would be if Mervis goes belly-up. And that's going to vary according to your particular circumstances and format.

Generally speaking, the shallower the format, the bigger the risk you can take. So in a 12-team Head-to-Head points league, with only about 250 players rostered, go ahead and drop Bell for Mervis. Shoot, drop Alec Bohm for him, provided you have someone else to man third base. If it doesn't work out, you can probably find a player of similar caliber on the waiver wire, and now may be your only chance at him, after all. But if your league is such that the first baseman you choose now is (probably) the one you're stuck with for the rest of the season, I'd be hesitant to swap out Mervis for Cronenworth.

Just look at what's happened with Triston Casas.