Astros prospect Jose Altuve made his major league debut today after hitting .389/.426/.591 with 10 home runs and 24 stolen bases between high-A and double-A this season. Also today, the Royals traded Wilson Betemit to the Tigers for a couple of prospects. Given the value in each player’s position (2B and 3B), should fantasy owners be looking to add either or both?
To call Jose Altuve’s rise through the Astros’ system meteoric would be an understatement. Standing at five-foot nothing, Altuve had never really been considered a big-time prospect, but did rank just outside the top ten lists of Baseball Prospectus and Minor League Ball. There’s one thing about Altuve’s game that has never been questioned: He can flat out hit. His minor league career OPS is .867 and he put up his best numbers as he rose through the system. If fact, he was so impressive this season, that the Astros decided to call him to the big leagues despite only 153 plate appearances at double-A.
From a fantasy prospective, it’s hard to gauge what to expect. Altuve is only 21 years old and has little experience at the higher minor league levels, but he has hit and hit exceedingly well everywhere he has gone. He also has slick speed, having stolen as many as 42 bases in a single season as well as 24 in 87 games this season. He also has some pop, which could be aided by the Crawford Boxes in Minute Made Park. As far as his plate discipline goes, Altuve doesn’t draw a ton of walks, but he’s certainly not a hacker. One thing he doesn’t do a lot is strike out, so his chase rate will play a big role in his major league numbers.
The bottom line is that Altuve has some decent upside, which means a lot at this point in the season. While I’m holding back any aspirations that he’ll hit .300 the rest of the way, I wouldn’t say .280-.290 is out of the question. His biggest potential value should come in stolen bases, as the Astros should let him run free when he gets on base. If you need a 2B or stolen base upside, Altuve is definitely worth a waiver claim or FAAB bid somewhere between $5-10 dollars (assuming $100 FAAB budget).
Eyeball ROS projection: .284/.338/.435 with 3 HR and 15 SB
Wilson Betemit drew some pre-season sleeper hype based on his .281/.341/.409, 13 HR performance in 84 games with the Royals last season. However, playing time was never clear from the get-go and once the Royals called up top prospect Mike Moustakas, Betemit lost almost all value, even in AL-only leagues. Now, as a member of the Tigers, Betemit should see a nice up-tick in playing-time, especially given how horrible Brandon Inge has been this season. Betemit should get almost all of the at-bats against right-handed pitching the rest of the way. He has hit .301/.360/.466 off of righties this season with all three of his home runs in 164 plate appearances. If he really starts out hot, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him steal at-bats against lefties as well.
However, over more at-bats Betemit should see a regression in AVG, as his current .281 mark has been fueled by a .372 BABIP.
This trade really boosts Betemit’s value in AL-only leagues and he should be roster-able in 14-plus-team mixed leagues. In 12-team leagues with daily roster moves, Betemit is worth a flier if your squad has a hole at 3B, as you can move him in and out based on the matchup.
Eyeball ROS projection: .267/.330/.432 with 4 HR
Update: Brandon Inge has been designated for assignment. This clears the way for even more playing-time for Betemit, though Don Kelly should see some at-bats as well.