Fantasy Baseball: What to know about prospect call-up Austin Riley
Austin Riley is the latest big-time prospect call-up, and Scott White thinks the impact could be immediate.
The 22-year-old homered for the 13th time in his past 18 games Tuesday — an incredible stretch that gives him 15 home runs to go along with a .299 batting average this season. It probably owes something to the new baseballs being used at Triple-A, where power numbers have spiked, but only one other prospect has hit 15 at that level this year — and it's the most buzzed-about so far, Yordan Alvarez.
Plus, Riley has always been highly regarded specifically for his power potential, earning a 70 grade on the 20-80 scale from Baseball America this preseason. It's the same grade that that particular publication awarded Pete Alonso for his power, which is to say it's especially rare. And Riley seems to be realizing the full extent of it in the same year he has made significant headway on his strikeout problem, cutting his rate from 29.3 percent last year to 19.7 percent this year.
Yes, it looks like it's all coming together for the young third baseman. The latest piece to the puzzle: Ender Inciarte's removal from Tuesday's game against the Cardinals because of back tightness. It's fair to assume then that Riley's arrival is as an injury replacement, meaning there are no promises with regard to opportunity. The Braves had already been experimenting with him in left field, though, presumably with the idea he'd replace Inciarte outright. Maybe Inciarte's injury accelerated the timetable, or maybe Riley's own bat did. Either way, it's reasonable to assume the young slugger will stick if he hits.
Third base isn't as much of a need for Fantasy owners as second base, where the most recent of the significant prospect call-ups, Keston Hiura, plays, but Riley will soon be dual-eligible. And the upside is comparable enough, if geared more toward power than batting average, that he's just as deserving as a pickup, basically in all Fantasy formats.
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