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The Reds are the latest to join prospectpalooza, with word coming down Sunday that they plan to call up shortstop Matt McLain.

McLain, the team's first-round pick in 2021, was putting up ridiculous numbers at Triple-A Louisville, batting .348 with 12 homers, 10 steals and a 1.184 OPS in 138 at-bats. But you know the deal with prospect call-ups by now, given the incredible number we've already seen this season. Most have let us down, and the same could hold true for McLain. I'll get into his individual attributes in a bit, but as a reminder, it's better to treat him as a lottery ticket than a sure thing.

Ah, but how should we weigh him against other recent middle infield call-ups like Christopher Morel and Casey Schmitt -- you know, guys who we've seen deliver results right away? Indeed, simply knowing they won't shrink in the moment counts for something. But I still perceive Morel as more volatile than McLain and Schmitt as lower-upside. Plus, both are up as injury fill-ins and not as likely to stick in a full-time role. They're still featured among today's possible waiver wire pickup, but I would take McLain over both.

Possible waiver wire pickups
MIA Miami • #39 • Age: 20
Rostered
76%
Friday vs. Reds
INN
4.2
H
4
ER
2
BB
2
K
7
The recently turned 20-year-old and consensus top pitching prospect lived up to the hype in his debut Friday. Sure, Eury Perez failed to go even the five innings required for a win, which may be a side effect of his youth and inexperience, but he was effective for the time he was in, piling up 16 swinging strikes on just 88 pitches. His 70-grade fastball peaked at 99 mph and is a swing-and-miss offering in its own right, so it was impressive to see his slider and curveball combine for 12 of those whiffs. And the control was as good as advertised, with 66 percent of his pitches going for strikes. His innings may be capped at 125-130, but you don't want to miss out on this upside.
BAL Baltimore • #68 • Age: 29
Rostered
65%
Saturday vs. Pirates
INN
7
H
1
ER
0
BB
2
K
8
With Saturday's one-hit gem against the Pirates, Tyler Wells lowered his ERA to 2.68 and his WHIP to a league-best 0.72, which would indicate he's been thriving all along. But this latest outing gave me my first real hope he might continue to do so. His low WHIP is partly because of excellent control but equally because his high fly-ball rate yields a low batting average ... on balls that stay in play, anyway. It's a dangerous way to live, but others like Triston McKenzie and Nestor Cortes have made it work. They also had pretty good strikeout rates, though. Wells is currently at 7.5 K/9, which helps explain why his ERA estimators are all over 4.00, but Friday saw him set career highs with eight strikeouts and 18 whiffs. If he can build off those totals, he could become a real asset.
CHC Chi. Cubs • #5 • Age: 24
Rostered
54%
2023 Stats
AVG
.381
HR
3
SB
1
OPS
1.238
AB
21
K
6
Though recently called up from the minors, Christopher Morel is no stranger to the majors, having gotten 379 at-bats last year. He got off to a nice start then, too, but was ultimately consumed by his 32.2 percent strikeout rate. So what do we make of his hot start now, particularly coming on the heels of an outstanding showing at Triple-A, where he hit .330 with 11 homers and a 1.156 OPS in 29 games? The talent is apparent, his latest home run being hit 113.6 mph and traveling 461 feet, but he's still striking out at about a 30 percent rate and did at Triple-A as well. Maybe rather than worrying, though, we should just enjoy the production while it lasts, because there is a chance it continues. And as versatile as he is, he should find playing time as long as it does.
MIN Minnesota • #37 • Age: 26
Rostered
42%
Sunday vs. Cubs
INN
6.1
H
4
ER
3
BB
1
K
7
It's hard to knock Louie Varland's consistency. With another quality start Sunday, he's now up to three in four chances, and they've come against lineups like the Yankees, Padres and Cubs. Most impressive is that he's gotten no fewer than 12 swinging strikes in any of his four starts, and his overall 14.9 percent swinging-strike rate would rank alongside Shohei Ohtani. He tends to give up hard contact, so his ERA may wind up a bit on the high side. But if he's consistently working into the sixth inning, he offers enough win and strikeout potential that you won't mind.
MIN Minnesota • #19 • Age: 26
Rostered
41%
2023 Stats
AVG
.409
HR
2
OPS
1.308
AB
22
BB
6
K
5
Remember Alex Kirilloff? He was a hot commodity when he got called up in mid-April a couple years ago, but his career has been derailed by persistent wrist issues ever since. He took his biggest step toward addressing them last year, having surgery to shave down the ulna bone in his right wrist, and now he's back, having started six of the Twins' past seven games. So how's it going so far? Well, he had two homers and a double Saturday and recently moved up to second in the lineup. He's also batting over .400, and having more walks than strikeouts is a nice touch. His minor-league production throughout this ordeal has remained off the charts, so why not take the shot in five-outfielder leagues?
SF San Francisco • #10 • Age: 25
Rostered
36%
2023 Stats
AVG
.458
HR
2
2B
3
OPS
1.292
AB
24
K
4
As a third base prospect, Casey Schmitt's carrying tool was his defense, and that's generally not going to attract much attention in Fantasy. But when that defense is so good that the Giants are calling him up to play shortstop, he starts looking like a pretty handy player in Rotisserie leagues, where shortstop has already been stretched thin. Schmitt may still end up playing more third base now that Brandon Crawford has returned from the IL, but by now, he's secured dual eligibility. Better yet, he's revealed himself to be an offensive asset, showing surprising quality of contact for what's supposed to be a defensive-minded player. He hit .293 with 21 homers and an .854 OPS between three minor-league stops last year, so maybe the bat was overlooked all along.
LAD L.A. Dodgers • #65 • Age: 35
Rostered
33%
Friday vs. Cardinals
INN
5
H
4
ER
2
BB
1
K
9
James Paxton last threw meaningful innings four years ago. Since then, he's endured a whirlwind of injuries, most notably undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2021. It gave reason to wonder if the 34-year-old would have anything left after such a long layoff and so much physical trauma, but he answered in the affirmative Friday, striking out nine over five strong innings. He had 12 swinging strikes, including 10 on his fastball, which was up 4 mph from 2020 and at its highest, on average, since 2016. A pitcher who can miss bats with that pitch has a high ceiling indeed, and that's how we thought of Paxton prior to all the injuries. You have to treat the left-hander like he's made out of glass, but seeing he has something left in the tank makes him a high priority in a pitching-starved landscape.
CIN Cincinnati • #27 • Age: 28
Rostered
32%
2023 Stats
AVG
.267
HR
5
SB
4
OBP
.366
OPS
.823
AB
105
Jake Fraley was a preseason breakout pick of mine after seeing how he took to Great American Ballpark, showing surprising power to go with premium on-base skills once he returned from an early-season injury. If he could incorporate the speed he showed in his Mariners days, he'd really be in business. Well, it's taken a while, but it finally seems to be coming together for the 27-year-old, who homered twice Friday and had both a home run and stolen base Saturday. His totals are still lagging a bit due to his tendency to sit against left-handers, but he's suddenly on a near 20-20 pace with a series coming up at Coors Field. You may want to give him a second look in five-outfielder leagues.
CHW Chi. White Sox • #7 • Age: 26
Rostered
13%
2023 Stats
AVG
.429
HR
2
3B
1
2B
3
RBI
13
AB
42
Dominic Fletcher batted .313 and slugged .497 in the minors the last two years, but I didn't take it all that seriously. Double-A Amarillo and Triple-A Reno are both extremely hitter-friendly, and I didn't want another Alek Thomas-level fakeout. But already, it's becoming clear Fletcher has something to offer offensively. He homered in back-to-back games over the weekend, driving in nine runs between them. He's already hit a ball harder (108.7 mph) than his brother David of the Angels ever has, and he's struck out just 14 percent of the time. His plus defense gives him a leg up in the Diamondbacks outfield rotation, with him sitting out only one of their past 12 games. I still question the ultimate ceiling here, but he's earned consideration in five-outfielder leagues.
CIN Cincinnati • #9 • Age: 24
Rostered
10%
2023 Minors
AVG
.348
HR
12
SB
10
AB
138
BB
29
K
34
Not only is Matt McLain coming up Monday but he's also expected to play every day at shortstop, a position where the Reds have gotten little production all year. The immediate job security is nice, but will the performance justify it? It's true you won't find better numbers than the ones who was putting up at Triple-A Louisville, but he's more of a "baseball rat" than a natural talent, standing 5-feet-8 "without a lot of functional strength," in the words of Baseball America. What we're hoping for here is another Alex Bregman type, and playing half his games at the most homer-friendly ballpark should help McLain's case. He may be best suited for points leagues because of his plate discipline, but he's worth adding anywhere you need shortstop help.