Ender Inciarte has landed on the 15-day DL with hamstring tightness, so Atlanta has recalled speedster Mallex Smith from Triple-A Gwinnett. Assuming he takes over as the everyday CF, Smith immediately becomes relevant in all fantasy leagues and a must-add in standard, 5x5 roto leagues.
Since the Padres selected him in the 5th-round of the 2012 draft, Smith has become one of MiLB's elite basestealers. In 2013, his 19-year-old season and first full year in professional ball, Smith hit .262 and stole 64 bags. The next season his average improved to .310. He showed an excellent batting eye (BB:K ratio of 69:103), and swiped a jaw-dropping 88 bases between Low-A Fort Wayne and High-A Lake Elsinore. He went to Atlanta as part of the December 2014 trade that sent Justin Upton to San Diego. In 2015, between Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett, he hit .306 and stole another 57 bases.
The Overall Outlook
Smith checked in at #89 on our preseason Consensus Top 100 Fantasy Prospects List and at #4 on our list of Atlanta's top 10 fantasy prospects. He will turn 23 on May 6 and should have a solid career as an above-average Major-League regular. He also projects as a near-elite fantasy player based on his annual potential for 50+ steals and 100+ runs scored.
Smith is the most dynamic source of steals fantasy owners could hope to see called up this early in the season. Inciarte's hamstring injury is not considered serious, so Smith might be up only for a few weeks. Even so, he's well worth the add.
Inciarte will not hit free agency until 2021, but he's eligible for arbitration after this season, which makes him a candidate for a mid-season trade out of Atlanta. That would give Smith the everyday CF job for the foreseeable future, which is what his dynasty-league owners love to hear. The Braves' overall lineup will improve as they continue to reap the fruits of an intelligent rebuilding effort. In short, the arrow on Smith points upward.