FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Chavis, S. Alcantara, C. Stewart, M. Kelly, R. Martin

First Impressions is a look at recent call-ups, a snapshot of their early progress so far in the majors. Initial BaseballHQ.com minor league write-ups for all of the players in today's column can be found in the News tab on their individual PlayerLink pages. Because the majority of these players have accumulated less than 100 AB or 50 IP, small sample size warnings apply to the analysis here.

 

First Impression: Michael Chavis (2B, BOS)

CALLED UP: 4/19/2019
BHQ.COM RATING: 7B
CURRENT ROLE: Starting 2B
POTENTIAL ROLE: Starting 3B
2019 MINORS STATS: Pawtucket (AAA)—33 AB, .273/.294/.545, 3 2B, 4 HR, 0.08 Eye, 0 SB

Year   AB   BA    xBA  HR  bb%  ct%  HctX  GB/LD/FB   PX/xPX  hr/f
====  ===  ====  ====  ==  ===  ===  ====  ========  =======  ====
2017# 248  .239   N/A  11    6   77   N/A     N/A    128/N/A   N/A
2018^ 155  .279   N/A   6    7   68   N/A     N/A    134/N/A   N/A
2019   85  .282  .241   7   14   67    77  46/12/42  155/111   29%
#Double-A MLEs
^Double-A/Triple-A MLEs

The power was expected, the patience has been a surprise:

  • Power has been Chavis's best skill in the upper minors, though an 80-game PED suspension in 2018 did cast some doubt on his performance. He's quieted those doubts with a combined 11 HR over 114 AB between Triple-A and the majors in 2019. His skills aren't flawless—he's made subpar hard contact thus far, his xPX is well below his PX, and his elite hr/f rate will be tough to sustain—but there's enough of a track record to assume he'll continue to provide plus power.
  • His surge in walks has been a pleasant bonus, and far beyond any skill level he's previously owned. He had a 23% walk rate in his first week in the majors, so it doesn't appear to be a case of pitchers reacting to his HR outburst—he seems to be taking a more discerning approach at the plate.
  • His contact rate took a dive in 2018, and that has stuck so far in 2019. That, plus a lack of line drives, has his xBA well below his actual batting average, and if his inflated PX regresses, that will take his xBA even lower. He does not have the skills of a high-average hitter at this point.

Injuries opened up an opportunity for the 23-year-old Chavis, and he has taken advantage. Whether he'll be able to hold down the second base job for the remainder of 2019 is still an open question though, especially with the potential for a slump that his xBA seems to suggest—single-season owners should keep an eye on those underlying BA skills. Long-term, he still profiles as a third baseman, and one with promising power upside.

 

First Impression: Sandy Alcantara (RHP, MIA)

CALLED UP: 9/1/17, 6/29/18, 9/1/18, 3/28/19
BHQ.COM RATING: 9E
CURRENT ROLE: Starting pitcher
POTENTIAL ROLE: Starting pitcher
2019 MINORS STATS: None

Year   IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl   Dom  Cmd  GB/LD/FB  H%/S%  hr/f  FpK  SwK  BPV
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ====  ===  ========  =====  ====  ===  ===  ===
2017# 125  5.43   N/A  3.9   6.3  1.6     N/A    33/67   N/A  N/A  N/A   38
17MLB   8  4.32  4.97  6.5  10.8  1.7  26/43/30  34/85   29%  56%  17%   23
2018+ 117  4.33   N/A  2.9   5.8  2.0     N/A    30/68   N/A  N/A  N/A   57
18MLB  34  3.44  4.93  6.1   7.9  1.3  48/16/36  25/78    9%  61%  11%    5
2019   44  5.11  5.55  4.7   5.7  1.2  45/20/35  31/71   12%  57%  11%   -1
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
MLB    86  4.38  5.25  5.4   7.1  1.3  44/21/35  29/75   13%  58%  12%    4
#Double-A MLEs
+Triple-A MLEs

We're still waiting for raw talent to turn into skill:

  • Alcantara throws a two-seam and four-seam fastball that can both touch 100 mph with, in the words of our own Chris Blessing, "explosive, mostly late movement" that he struggles to control. You can see that in his skill history. And his secondary pitches haven't developed enough to help him get strikeouts, though his 11% SwK suggests he can do better than his current 5.7 Dom.
  • He's done a good job of generating ground balls, mostly with his two-seamer, and that at least helps to offset some of the damage from his current high-walk, low-strikeout skill set.
  • His results seem to be getting worse with continued exposure to major league hitters—over his last five starts, he's slid to a 6.13 xERA, 5.3 Ctl, 5.3 Dom, and -29 BPV.

The 23-year-old Alcantara's 9E rating aptly reflects his current reality: he's a high-ceiling talent who is at risk for never reaching his full potential. He could eventually become a frontline starter... or he could wind up in the bullpen. For 2019, even deep league owners may be hard-pressed to get any value out of him, but with the Marlins having nothing to play for, there's reason to think they'll give him a lot of rope to see if he can work through some of these issues.

 

First Impression: Christin Stewart (LF, DET)

CALLED UP: 9/9/2018, 3/28/2019
BHQ.COM RATING: 7B
CURRENT ROLE: Starting OF
POTENTIAL ROLE: Starting OF/DH
2019 MINORS STATS: None

Year   AB   BA    xBA  HR  bb%  ct%  HctX  GB/LD/FB   PX/xPX  hr/f
====  ===  ====  ====  ==  ===  ===  ====  ========  =======  ====
2016#  87  .188   N/A   5   10   68   N/A     N/A    111/N/A   N/A
2017# 485  .228   N/A  23    9   69   N/A     N/A    131/N/A   N/A
2018+ 444  .236   N/A  20   11   73   N/A     N/A    114/N/A   N/A
18MLB  60  .267  .226   2   14   78   102  38/19/44   77/108   10%
2019   81  .185  .246   3   11   68    87  25/25/51  149/124   10%
------------------------------------------------------------------
MLB   141  .220  .239   5   12   72    93  30/22/48  114/116   10%
#Double-A MLEs
+Triple-A MLEs

He can deliver power, the rest is still uncertain:

  • Power is Stewart's calling card, and at this point, we have enough history of it across multiple levels of development to feel confident in that skill. His fly ball rate in the majors has been elite, and while we'd like to see more hard contact and a higher hr/f, his xPX has still been above average.
  • His patience is also a pretty strong skill, and one that has held up impressively well for a young player with only 162 career plate appearances in the majors. It can give him additional value in OBP leagues, though that hinges greatly on his batting average—in 2018, he had a terrific .375 OBP, but in 2019, it's down to .289.
  • His contact rate has held up pretty well in the majors, though it's still below average. That and his high FB% will make it hard for him to hit for a high BA—even with additional power, he might max out around .260.
  • He spent time on the IL for a quad injury in late April/early May, and since coming back, he's gone just 3-for-27 (.111) with a 67 HctX, 73 PX, 88 xPX, and .172 xBA, so that stretch has dragged down his overall numbers a bit.

The 25-year-old Stewart could eventually become a 30+ HR source, along with the potential to add a high OBP, but he still has a way to go to get there. With the Tigers not very competitive in 2019, he should have a long leash to play through the ups and downs of his development, and while that might make him less appealing for single-season leagues, his long-term outlook is worth watching.

 

First Impression: Merrill Kelly (RHP, ARI)

CALLED UP: 3/28/2019
BHQ.COM RATING: 7E
CURRENT ROLE: Starting pitcher
POTENTIAL ROLE: Starting pitcher
2019 MINORS STATS: None

Year   IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl  Dom  Cmd  GB/LD/FB  H%/S%  hr/f  FpK  SwK  BPV
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ===  ========  =====  ====  ===  ===  ===
2016+ 200  3.68   N/A  2.7  6.8  2.5     N/A    32/73   N/A  N/A  N/A  N/A
2017+ 190  3.60   N/A  2.1  9.0  4.2     N/A    35/74   N/A  N/A  N/A  N/A
2018+ 158  4.09   N/A  2.7  9.2  3.4     N/A    32/70   N/A  N/A  N/A  N/A
2019   51  4.21  4.77  3.2  7.0  2.2  40/23/36  31/75   14%  53%   9%   59
+KBO League non-MLEs

The skills have been pretty mediocre so far:

  • Kelly spent the last three years pitching in the KBO League in South Korea, and while we wouldn't expect his numbers here to match what he did there, the drop-off has been pretty steep in terms of his skills. His Dom and Cmd are below average (as are his FpK and SwK), and as his xERA shows, a slightly high strand rate has been hiding some of the damage to his ERA.
  • There has been a big slide in performance from April to May. In five April starts, he had a 3.94 ERA, 3.6 Ctl, 8.2 Dom, 59% FpK, and 4.33 xERA; in four May starts, he has a 4.57 ERA, 2.5 Ctl, 5.4 Dom, 46% FpK, and 5.35 xERA. It looks like hitters are figuring him out.
  • He's also showing sizable home/away splits. In five home starts, he has a 2.64 ERA, 1.2 Ctl, and 7.3 Dom; in four away starts, he has a 6.53 ERA, 6.1 Ctl, and 6.5 Dom, though his road numbers are being skewed somewhat by a start against the Cubs where he allowed 7 walks in 3.2 IP.

The 30-year-old Kelly wasn't much of a prospect in the minors (he started out in the Tampa organization), but added velocity and more pitchers to his repertoire in South Korea and successfully revived his career. The Diamondbacks signed him hoping to get a back-end starter, and that's the level at which he's performed thus far. But the deterioration of his skills in May is a concern, as the difference between his first and second months of work are the difference between being roster-worthy in deep leagues and being unrosterable. Nine starts is still a small sample at this point, but there's enough warts here that he'll need to be monitored closely if you have him on your roster.

 

First Impression: Richie Martin (SS, BAL)

CALLED UP: 3/28/19
BHQ.COM RATING: 7C
CURRENT ROLE: Backup INF
POTENTIAL ROLE: Starting SS
2019 MINORS STATS: None

Year   AB   BA    xBA  bb%  ct%  HctX  GB/LD/FB   PX/xPX  hr/f  Spd/SBO  HR/SB
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ====  ========  =======  ====  =======  =====
2017# 286  .198   N/A    6   79   N/A     N/A     46/N/A   N/A  128/N/A   2/10
2018# 453  .261   N/A    7   79   N/A     N/A     75/N/A   N/A  131/N/A   4/19
2019   87  .161  .195    7   62    37  46/23/31   57/ 33    0%  138/13%   0/ 2
#Double-A MLEs

He really shouldn't be in the majors:

  • Martin was the first overall pick in the Rule 5 Draft, and it's fair to say that his debut has been a disaster. Among hitters with at least 75 AB, his contact rate is tied for 7th-lowest in the majors, his xPX is 5th-lowest, and his HctX is the worst. He looks overmatched against major league pitching. He owned much better contact rates in Double-A, and it's pretty clear he should be in Triple-A right now, if not for his Rule 5 status.
  • In light of how badly he has performed, his walk rate, even though it's league average, is pretty remarkable. He's not pressing and swinging at everything. So he's not completely lost at the plate.
  • His speed skills (which are his greatest source of potential value) have held up, but he's simply not getting many opportunities with a .232 OBP. He's 2-for-2 in basestealing attempts, coming on the heels of a 71% success rate in Double-A in 2018.

The 24-year-old Martin's struggles have already begun to cost him playing time, as he has only started 6 of the Orioles 14 games in May. The Orioles have nothing to play for in 2019, and so despite his poor performance, they will likely keep Martin on the roster to avoid having to send him back to Oakland. His current MLB value is tied more to his glove than his bat, but long-term, his speed could give him decent fantasy value, and we still don't know how his other skills might develop. It's too early to write him off, especially under these circumstances.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.