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Roto Roundup: Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Joc Pederson and others

Ray offers his thoughts on some of the top fantasy performers from Thursday's MLB action, including Joc Pederson, Kris Bryant, and others.

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Kris Bryant to make his major league debut

On Thursday, we learned that the Cubs will promote top prospect Kris Bryant and he will be in their lineup vs James Shields and the Padres on Friday. Bryant, the #1 prospect in the game, is expected to hit in the middle of the Cubs lineup from the get go, and he has the power to hit 30+ home runs as soon as this year. Will he? I like to be conservative and say he won't. Last season, only 11 big league hitters hit 30 or more home runs, and none of them were rookies one of them was a rookie - White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu. I know. Not all rookies have the power of Kris Bryant, but it would be too much to expect him to do so this season.

Bryant is coming off a spring training where he hit 9 home runs, so expectations are very high right now, but I would advise some pause with those high expectations. Steamer project Bryant to hit ,260-.333-.497 with 27 home runs, 63 runs scored, 75 RBI and steal 8 bases. With the power comes some strikeouts, and Steamer projects him to strike out in just under 30% of his plate appearances, Over the last two seasons in the minors, across three different levels, Bryant's strike out rate has ranged from 26%-29%, so a 30% strikeout rate at the big league level should be expected in his rookie season.

For more on Bryant's call up and the Cubs, make sure you check out Bleed Cubbie Blue, SB Nation's Cubs fan site.

Addison Russell: Second Baseman?

Cubs beat reporter Mark Gonzalez wrote a piece in the Chicago Tribune this morning addressing the Kris Bryant promotion. In the piece, he discussed the possibility that now that Bryant has been called up, shortstop prospect Addison Russell may not be far behind. Here is an excerpt:

The addition of Bryant will fill up the Cubs 40 man roster. But if Thursday's developments are any indication, they might need to make room soon for another prized prospect.

Addison Russell, who dazzled the Cubs staff and fans at shortstop during spring training, started Thursday night's game for Iowa at second base.Russell isn't foreign to second base, and he went 3-4 with three RBI that raised his batting average to .355.

Gonzalez goes on to write that with Tommy La Stella on the disabled list, Arismendy Alcantara and Jonathan Herrera struggling at the plate, and Javier Baez on the bereavement list, Russell could be the next prospect that the Cubs call up to help out the big league club.

A move to second base would make sense right now as it appears the Cubs are going to stick with Starlin Castro at shortstop for the time being. Russell is the better shortstop of the two, but moving Castro to another position midseason may not be the Cubs best option, as his bat is important to their lineup, and they don't want Csstro's offense to be affected by a position change.

Joc Pederson: Adjusting well to MLB pitching

Heading into the season, Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson was one of the top prospects many had on their radar on draft day. He comes off a 30 home run, 30 stolen base season in AAA, but with a knock that he strikes out too much. Nine games into the season, and Pederson is striking out at a 30% clip, but he is also walking at a 19% rate.

Pederson went 1-1 with 3 walks on Wednesday night in the Dodgers 5-2 win over the Mariners. On the season he is hitting .310-.444.517 with a 171 wRC+ through 9 games. Manager Don Mattingly is batting him in the 8th spot in their lineup which hurts his fantasy value, but is a good decision for his long term success at the major league level, in my opinion. Batting a young prospect in front of the pitcher helps the prospect learn how to take pitches when pitchers are pitching around you, and allows them to see more pitches.

Pederson has started his rookie season on a positive note, so hopefully he can continue to make strides at the plate, reduce his strikeout rate, and maybe.....just maybe, he could move into a leadoff role in the Dodgers lineup. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins is not the best option at the leadoff spot as he doesn't get on base enough, but he has experience leading off, and he can work pitchers from time to time.

For more on Pederson and the Dodgers, make sure you check out True Blue LA, SB Nation's Dodgers fan site.

Collin McHugh: Fantasy Ace?

Astros starter Colin McHugh had a breakout season in 2014 going 11-9 with a 2.73 ERA, a 3.11 FIP, while striking out a batter per nine and walking less than three batters per nine. Coming into the season, I was not confident he could repeat the breakout season but he has shown that he is for real in his first two starts thus far.
On Wednesday night, McHugh limited the A's to just one run on 6 hits, no walks while striking out 11 in the Astros 6-1 win. Of the 17 outs he got in his 5.2 innings, 16 came via the strikeout or ground ball. The win moves his record to 2-0 with a 1.54 ERA, a 0.92 FIP, and a 1.11 WHIP.  He is striking out almost 12 batters per nine, has improved his walk rate to under two and is inducing ground balls at a 66% rate through two starts.
Yes, I know it is only two starts, but these are all the ingredients for an ace starting pitcher. It appears McHugh is building on his breakout 2014 season, and teams up with Dallas Keuchel to form a solid 1-2 in the Astros rotation for 2015 and beyond.

For more on McHugh and the Astros, make sure you check out The Crawfish Boxes, SB Nation's Astros fan site.

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