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Roto Roundup: Addison Russell, Starling Marte, Zack Cozart and others

Ray offers his thoughts on some of the top fantasy performers from Tuesday's MLB action, including Matt Kemp, Addison Russell, Zack Cozart and others.

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More on the Addison Russell call up

The Cubs called up shortstop prospect Addison Russell to be their everyday second baseman on Tuesday, batting him in the 9th spot in the order. The call up tells me that the Cubs feel they are ready to compete in the National League Central and they felt that they needed their best team on the field as soon as possible, which prompted the call up of Kris Bryant last week and Russell on Tuesday. Putting Russell at second base, tells me that they do not want to mess with moving current shortstop Starlin Castro during the season. He isn't great defensively, but his bat is special and it is worth keeping Castro's mind focused on playing shortstop and hitting, rather than a new position. The Cubs best lineup has Russell at shortstop and Castro at second base, but the Cubs are smart handling this way for now.

The Russell call up also tells me that Javier Baez could spend the whole season in AAA, working on refining his swing to reduce the strikeouts. If he shows improvement, he could become trade bait at midseason, but the Cubs would be smart to wait it out, to see if he can show improvement, then possibly deal Castro in the offseason.

The callup also hurts the fantasy value of one of my top preseason sleepers, Arismendy Alcantara. Alcantara struggled to hit in the first two weeks of the season, and he wasn't playing every day, so sending him down to AAA doesn't change his outlook. He has the talent to be the Cubs every day center fielder, but he is probably more suited to be a super-utility player. Should the Cubs have a need for a utlility player later in the season, Alcantara should get the call up.

In his big league debut, Russell batted ninth and went 0-5 with 3 strikeouts, similar to how teammate Kris Bryant performed in his debut.

For more on Russell's major league debut, make sure you check out Bleed Cubbie Blue, SB Nation's Cubs fan site

Roto Roundup

Indians starter Trevor Bauer was another one of my sleeper picks coming into the season.I felt that he could have a breakout season under the tutelage of Indians pitching coach Mickey Calloway, who has been the brains behind the breakouts of Ubaldo Jimenez, Scott Kazmir, Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco. On Monday night, Bauer was impressive, shutting out the White Sox on 4 hits, 2 walks while striking out 7 in 7 innings of work. He was in line for the win until closer Cody Allen blew up in the ninth, yielding four runs. Bauer is now 2-0 with a 0.95 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP and a 26-11 strikeout to walk ratio, which is an improvement compared to last season. He appears to be making the necessary adjustments on the mound to be a potential top of the rotation starter, something many saw when the Diamondbacks drafted him a few years ago.

I was pretty high on Padres outfielder Matt Kemp in my preseason rankings, and I even traded a $5 Noah Syndergaard for a $32 Kemp in one of my keeper leagues in the offseason. So, yeah, I was pretty optimistic about Kemp heading into the 2015 season. The deal to San Diego dampered my projections for him a bit, but it didn't kill his fantasy value in any way. On Monday, Kemp had a big night at the plate, going 3-4 with 3 runs scored and 4 RBI in the Padres 14-3 win over the Rockies in Coors Field. The big night moved Kemp's slash line to .368-.393-.561 with one home run, 12 runs scored, 13 RBI and 2 stolen bases in the early going. The home runs will come for Kemp, as he hit 17 of his 25 home runs in the second half of the 2014 season.

After going 0-4 with 3 strikeouts vs James Shields in his major league debut, Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant is showing us that he is major league ready. On Monday, Bryant went 3-4 with a double and 3 RBI in the Cubs 5-2 win over the Pirates. The big night improved his slash line to .429-.579-.571 with 4 RBI and a 4-4 strikeout to walk rate. After striking out three times in his first game up, Bryant worked three walks in his second big league game, so he appears to have a good grasp of the strike zone, and the power will come.

Last night, Bryant went 2-4 with a walk, double and 2 RBI in the Cubs loss to the Pirates. Bryant raised his slash line to a very impressive .444-.583-.611 with 6 RBI in five games.

Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion had a huge year at the plate in 2014, hitting 34 home runs and driving in 98 runs in 128 games, so much was expected of him coming into the 2015 season, as he was being drafted in the first round of many deeper mixed league drafts. He has struggled at the plate in the first two weeks of the season, but last night may have been the start of a hitting streak for him, as he went 2-5 with two solo home runs in the Blue Jays 13-5 win over the Orioles. The big game raised his slash line to .219-.262-.455 with 4 home runs, 7 runs scored and 8 RBI in 61 plate appearances. He has the power and the hitter friendly ball park to approach 40 home runs this season.

Another hitter drafted in the early rounds of drafts this season was Pirates outfielder Starling Marte, who received plenty of love this offseason. Like Encarnacion, he started the season in a slump, but has been slowly hitting his way out of the slump. Last night, he went 2-3 with a home run, walk, 3 runs scored and 2 RBI in the Pirates 9-8 loss to the Cubs. He raised his slash line to .208-.250-.542 with 5 home runs, 9 runs scored, 12 RBI and 2 stolen bases. Over his last two games, he has hit 4 home runs, scored 7 runs and drove in 10 runs, so the window to trade for him below par may have closed.

I enjoy writing my preseason bold predictions and I hope you enjoy reading them. The reason why I write them is to prove that attempting to predict the performance of major league hitters is not easy, and sometimes a wild prediction can come true. I didn't predict a breakout season from Reds shortstop Zack Cozart but I wish I did. Well, saying he is breaking out is a bit premature right now, but he has had a very solid two weeks in 2015, and it continued last night. As I write the Roundup, he is 3-4 with 2 home runs, 3 runs scored, 3 RBI and a stolen base through 7 innings, and is now hitting .360-.396-.660 with 4 home runs, 8 runs scored, 8 RBI and a stolen base through 14 games. Cozart showed double digit power in the minors, but hit just 4 home runs last season after hitting 27 home runs in 2012-2013.

It was reported yesterday that Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon will start a rehab assignment on Friday, much earlier than I expected. Here is more from Mark Zuckerman from Comcast Sports Network:

I imagine the Nationals will take it slow with Rendon, who has had several leg injuries in his short career, but think if all goes well, he should be back in the next few weeks.

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