UNSUPPORTED BROWSER
More Sports

Nine for now: Debut performances

Nine For Now

This week's Nine for Now turns its' magnifying glass on player who have made their major league debuts this season. As you'll see, they come from the entire spectrum of prospects, including can't-miss phenoms, journeymen, surprises and overachievers. All of them have made their marks early in their big league careers and all are worth owning in fantasy leagues over the coming days, weeks and, in most cases, years. For more insights, follow SI's fantasy expert David Sabino on Twitter at SI_DavidSabino.

1Jason Heyward, Braves
Jason Heyward, Braves
How good has the Braves' 21-year-old right fielder been since earning the starting job in spring training? Besides leading all rookies in home runs, runs batted in, walks, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and extra base hits, his power numbers (eight home runs, 29 RBIs, .576 slugging percentage) virtually mirror those of a fellow from St. Louis named Albert Pujols (eight HR, 29 RBI, .559 SLG.). Thus far in May Heyward has only gotten better, watching his averages skyrocket to place him in the Top 15 among all big leaguers in average (.372), on-base (.481) and slugging (.674) for the month.
 
2Brennan Boesch, Tigers
Brennan Boesch, Tigers
Since being recalled on April 23 to replace an injured Carlos Guillen, the lefty-swinging former Cal-Berkeley star has been on a tear, placing second in the majors to L.A.'s Andre Ethier in batting (.372) and fifth (second in the AL) in slugging percentage (.654) among all players with at least 75 at-bats. His meteoric rise has earned Boesch a permanent spot in Jim Leyland's starting lineup, shifting the now-rehabbing Guillen back to the infield at second base.
 
3Mike Leake, Reds
Mike Leake, Reds
Small in stature (5-10, 175) but a towering figure on the mound thus far in his big league career, the right-handed Leake is the first hurler to bypass the minor leagues by going straight from college (Arizona State) to the majors since Darren Dreifort. Cincinnati's first pick of the 2009 amateur draft is the main reason the Reds find themselves atop the NL Central standings, going 4-0 with a 3.09 ERA and .220 opposition batting average, all team-leading figures. In fact, when Leake starts the Reds record is 6-1 -- the only loss coming to the Pirates on a walkoff single by Lastings Milledge.
 
4Austin Jackson, Tigers
Austin Jackson, Tigers
The Tigers are thrilled to have acquired Jackson in an offseason three-way deal with New York and Arizona. Deemed not ready for prime-time by some in the Yankees organization, not only has Jackson outplayed the main man he was traded for and has replaced in center at Comerica, the currently DL'ed Curtis Granderson (.225, two HR, seven RBIs), but he's hitting .331 and trails only Ichiro in overall hits among all major leaguers with 55.
 
5John Ely, Dodgers
John Ely, Dodgers
Obtained from the White Sox as one of two players to be named later in the Juan Pierre trade, Ely, 24, has been outstanding since joining the Dodgers rotation. He's compiled a 3.51 ERA and microscopic 0.94 WHIP in 25 2/3 innings, while winning two of his three decisions. A standout in the Southern League with Birmingham in '09 (14-2, 2.82 ERA), he's limited National League hitters to a .219 average and just .250 on base percentage. However most impressive is his strikeout-to-walk ratio, an unheard of 25-to-3, with all three walks allowed in his first big league appearance, ranking him second to Seattle's Cliff Lee (and first for right-handers) among all starters.
 
6Sergio Santos, White Sox
Sergio Santos, White Sox
In less than two years he's gone from being a journeyman minor league infielder with a 20-home run season to his credit but a .248 career average, to a virtually untouchable major league middle reliever who, by his lights-out performance, has put his name squarely in the South Side closer debate. Traded by Chicago to the Giants and then back to the White Sox in a less-than two week span last spring, Santos, 26, has a 0.63 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 14 1/3 innings of relief for the Pale Hose, striking out 18. With closer Bobby Jenks struggling, forcing Ozzie Guillen into a closer-by-committee situation, Santos could find his way into ninth-inning duty sooner rather than later.
 
7Ike Davis, Mets
Ike Davis, Mets
What's not to like about Ike? Since replacing the ailing and often overmatched Daniel Murphy at first base, the son of former All-Star reliever Ron Davis and newest CitiField fan favorite has batted .272 with four home runs and 11 RBIs, each of which places him near the top of the Mets charts, earning him a regular gig as a cleanup hitter and therefore a bucket-load of RBIs coming up.
 
8Luis Atilano, Nationals
Luis Atilano, Nationals
It's been quite a journey to the majors for Atilano, 24, who endured high expectations, injuries, falls from grace and struggles before reaching the big leagues on April 23, nearly seven years after being drafted by the Braves and four years after being dealt to the Nationals for Daryle Ward. He has certainly made the most of the opportunity since, going 3-0 with a 3.90 ERA in five starts and becoming the first starter to win his first three career decisions as a National.
 
9Jason Donald, Indians
Jason Donald, Indians
Having played only two games replacing Asdrubal Cabrera at shortstop, it's hard to evaluate Donald as a big leaguer for fantasy owners, but with good speed and the ability to get on base for a team that has to manufacture runs to survive, he gets the nod here over Rangers first baseman Justin Smoak (four home runs but just a .174 average) and 35-year-old Mets pitcher Hisanori Takahashi (3.12 ERA, 33 strikeouts in 26 innings) based on immediate upside.
Close

To continue enjoying content from the most trusted name is sports, please be sure to update your current bookmark.

Our updated web address is http://www.si.com.

To continue enjoying content from the most trusted name is sports, please be sure to update your current bookmark.

Just follow these 4 easy steps:

  1. Click the Chrome menu on the browser toolbar.
  2. Select Bookmarks.
  3. Select Bookmark manager.
  4. Locate your current Sports Illustrated bookmark, click the Organize menu, then select Edit. You can now easily update the web address of your Sports Illustrated bookmark.

    Our updated web address is http://www.si.com.

To continue enjoying content from the most trusted name is sports, please be sure to update your current bookmark.

Just follow these 2 easy steps:

  1. Click the Safari bookmark manager on the browser toolbar.
  2. This will open the Bookmarks Bar. In the Bookmarks Bar, select your Sports Illustrated bookmark and manually edit the Address field.

    Our updated web address is http://www.si.com.

To continue enjoying content from the most trusted name is sports, please be sure to update your current bookmark.

Just follow these 3 easy steps:

  1. Click the Firefox bookmark manager on the browser toolbar.
  2. Select Show All Bookmarks.
  3. This will open the library window. In the Library window, select your Sports Illustrated bookmark and manually edit the Location field.

    Our updated web address is http://www.si.com.
Don't Show This Again