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How to Approach MLB Rookies in 2020 Re-draft Leagues


While the players and owners continue to trade demands for getting the 2020 season on its feet, we're going to turn our attention to fantasy. This article will specifically look at players who have yet to make their major league debut (or come up for more than the proverbial cup of coffee) and how fantasy owners should approach them for re-draft leagues. We're not going to discuss keeper value or anything of that nature; this will only discuss how to assess the ability of rookie players to help you for the 2020 season.

A couple of things before we get started. The biggest one is that I'm operating under the assumption that there will also be an expanded instructional league or Arizona Fall League while the MLB season goes on. There have been enough discussions about this that I assume it will happen. Even if there are no official MiLB games, organizations are not going to let their best minor league players simply take a year off. What this means is that players who would not get meaningful innings or at-bats in the major leagues will not be called up to sit on the bench but will instead get consistent reps in during these instructional league games. So, you're not going to see Alex Kirilloff sit on the bench behind a stacked Minnesota lineup, Andrew Vaughn promoted to sit behind Jose Abreu, or Grayson Rodriguez come up to face major league hitters.

This article also operates under the assumption that any rookie added to the Major League roster for this shortened season will lose a year of service time control. That means teams who are unlikely to compete, even in a shortened season, are also unlikely to burn a year of team control for less than half a season of performance. That means I'm assuming we don't see players like Adley Rutschman, Julio Rodriguez, or J.J. Bleday, whose teams are highly unlikely to compete in 2020. What remains are players I've broken down into four categories: Sure Things, Likely Contributors, Part-Time Players, and Longshots.

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Sure Things

These are the players we always expected to come up. They're clearly ready, and there's no reason for teams to manipulate their service time anymore.

Count on regular at-bats or innings: Jo Adell, Luis Robert, Gavin LuxDylan Carlson, Sean Murphy, Nick Madrigal, Evan White, Kyle Lewis, Jake Fraley, Mitch Keller, MacKenzie Gore, Jesus Luzardo, Spencer Howard, Justin Dunn, Justus Sheffield

Robert, Carlson, Murphy, Madrigal, White, Lewis, Keller, Dunn, Sheffield, and Luzardo always seemed like givens to break camp with their teams are get called up at the first opportunity. They're guys you should draft with the same confidence you would have had earlier, depending on your personal valuation of them. The shorter season does benefit a pitcher like Luzardo, who was going to be on an innings cap, so make sure you factor that into your rankings, but most of the hitters should stay around the same ADP you would have taken them at. Personally, I've been a fan of Keller and Carlson all offseason and think that Kyle Lewis could make for a solid bounceback candidate as some of the shine has washed off his once sparkling prospect image.

Gore and Howard were trending towards substantial major league innings before the shutdown, so I expect them to open the short season with their major league teams. Both the Padres and Phillies expect to be in contention, and both Gore and Howard are dynamic enough talents to help make that a viable option. With likely expanded rotations, Howard can be a starter even while the Phillies keep trying to get value out of Vince Velasquez, Zach Eflin, and Nick Pivetta.

The universal DH helps Lux immensely. Now that Mookie Betts is in town, it would have forced Cody Bellinger to 1B more often than last season in order to get Joc Pederson and AJ Pollock into the lineup. As a result, Lux would have to worry about splitting time with Max Muncy and Justin Turner, but that's no more with Muncy or Joc able to slide into the DH role. The expanded rosters also help Fraley, who could find his way into the starting lineup for Seattle but was on the bubble before the shutdown.

I've heard some people say that Adell still needs more time to develop and might not be up when the short season begins. My opinion is that the Angels signed Anthony Rendon to go for titles while Mike Trout was at his peak, and having Adell up at the beginning of the shortened season gives them the chance to take advantage of his dynamic talent and catch lightning in a bottle. I just can't see them rolling with Brian Goodwin as they go for a title. Plus, the long layoff has made it more likely that Shohei Ohtani can pitch for a majority of the season, which might free up some DH opportunities if/when the Angels want to give him a rest in lead-up to his starts.

Semi-regular at-bats or innings: Carter Kieboom, Kevin Cron, Dustin May, Brusdar GraterolAnthony Kay 

I think all five of these guys will be up at the start of the season but won't be locked into full-time roles. Anthony Kay is potentially just holding a rotation spot for Nate Pearson (and I'm not sold on Kay as a prospect on his own), and both Dustin May and Brusdar Graterol will likely be part of the Dodgers' expanded pitching staff, with Graterol strictly in a relief role and May mixing it up with a few starts.

Kevin Cron will be an option for the DH in Arizona but will likely be a power bat off the bench, while Kieboom will be part of a rotation at 2B/3B in Washington with Asdrubal Cabrera, Starlin Castro, and Howie Kendrick. With the Nationals trying to defend their title, they're not going to ride Kieboom if he struggles at the plate like he did last year.

 

Likely Contributors

These are the players who are likely to make the expanded major league rosters. Some of them are players who were likely mid-season call ups before the shortened season, and others are players who may be pushed to help teams compete for a title in a season where anything can happen. Regardless, they're likely to see enough opportunities to make them viable in re-draft leagues - just not as consistently or early on as the guys in the tier above.

Bats: Brendan Rodgers, Sam Hilliard, Ke'Bryan Hayes, Nico Hoerner, Alec Bohm, Mauricio Dubon, Willi Castro, Ryan Mountcastle, Monte Harrison, Jared Oliva,

Brendan Rodgers and Sam Hilliard are here because they play for the Rockies, who never seem to want to commit to prospects. With the universal DH, Daniel Murphy should slot in there, freeing up 1B for Ryan McMahon, 2B for Garrett Hampson, and an OF spot for Sam Hilliard. That would make Rodgers the main back-up infielder and the leader to take over 2B if Hampson falters again. However, it's the Rockies, so we can't count on that playing out as we hope. However, I'd be open to gambling on Hilliard in my re-draft leagues for his upside.

Hayes, Hoerner, Dubon, Castro, and Bohm are all likely to see time with the big club this year, and possibly the majority of the season in Hoerner's case. Hayes, Castro, and Bohm could also be mid-season call-ups, but none of them are guys I'd really prioritize in a draft. Hayes doesn't possess a seductive fantasy skillset, Castro will likely settle in as a 15 SB regular but he'll start by hitting at the bottom order of a bad offense, and Bohm likely won't see enough at-bats in a strong lineup to be anything but a late-round stash in redraft.

Dubon is likely to be the Giants' main second baseman, but he's likely to hit at the bottom of a mediocre lineup and I don't see him getting full-time starts with the additions of Wilmer Flores and Yolmer Sanchez. As for Hoerner, I'd imagine that he's up all year, but the Cubs also signed Jason Kipnis and have given David Bote reps at second base as well. Since they're in "win-now mode," I see them riding the veterans more than Hoerner in a shortened season where every game counts that much more.

With Trey Mancini likely not to play this year, there is a strong chance that Ryan Mountcastle sees lots of time with the Orioles, but I'm not convinced it will be at the start of the season. Chris Davis and Renato Nunez can't going anywhere, and the Orioles have filled up on fringey OF prospects like Dwight Smith Jr., Cedric Mullins, Ryan McKenna and D.J. Stewart, who seem likely to get chances early in the season. What's more, they have little chance to compete and may not want to waste a year of Mountcastle's service time, which is the only reason he's not in the first group.

That leaves us with two outfielders who have intriguing skillsets and are worth late-round fliers in redrafts leagues. The trade of Starling Marte freed up a spot for Jared Oliva, but he doesn't have a single at-bat above AA, and the Pirates aren't going to be competitive this season, so it's hard for me to picture them rushing him up at the start of the year. Monte Harrison's time in Miami will depend on Lewis Brinson. Miami is certainly going to give Brinson the start of the season to show that he can still have long-term value, but the second he proves otherwise, I'd imagine Harrison will be up. If it does click for Brinson, then Harrison may be up later in the season if the Marlins can find a taker for Corey Dickerson or Isan Diaz falters, causing them to move Villar back to 2B.

Arms: Nate Pearson, Forrest Whitley, AJ Puk, Kyle Wright, Deivi GarciaBrady Singer

Many people want to put Pearson in the first tier, and I do too, but I also saw how the Blue Jays toyed around with Vlad Jr. for service time reasons. Pearson is ready, and the AL East is weak this year, but the Blue Jays are certainly building this thing for the future and may choose to hold Pearson down until they don't lose a year of service time. Whitley is another arm who's ready now, but the Astros are too stacked in the rotation to give him immediate innings. There is a chance he makes starts this year if Austin Pruitt or Josh James falter, but I wouldn't bet on them being consistent.

Puk and Wright will likely be on their big league teams from the start, serving as bullpen arms who can also spot start with larger rotations likely. I imagine the A's will be cautious with Puk's innings since he got hurt in spring training, so I wouldn't expect too many starts from him, but Wright could sneak into a regular role for the Braves if Felix Hernandez falters. The problem is that there are many good young arms on the Braves who could take that spot (more on that later), so it's hard to bank on with any certainty.

I expect both Deivi Garcia and Brady Singer to make their debuts in the latter part of the season. The Yankees could use Garcia out of the bullpen, where many people think he could settle long-term, but I imagine Singer gets starts for the Royals. His ceiling is as a real-life number three, and the Royals aren't good, so I wouldn't go crazy trying to get him, but I think he'll get consistent innings down the stretch.

 

Part-Time Players

There are three types of players here: guys who have likely developed all they can in the minor and will make good bench pieces with the expanded rosters, players with one or two elite skills that could help push a competitive team over the edge, or guys who will likely only see enough time to not waste a season of eligibility.

Bench Pieces: Abraham Toro, Austin Hays, Daniel Johnson, Brent Rooker, Bobby Bradley, Kevin Padlo, Randy Arozarena

I expect all of the above players to spend all, or most, of the year with a major league team given the likely expanded roster size. Toro would be the most exciting from a talent standpoint (the guy just flat hits), but I don't see him getting more than the occasional start in Houston. Hays could see time in the OF in Baltimore, but he struggled in his first shot, and it depends what they want to do with Mountcastle and all of the other guys mentioned above. Johnson could be fantasy viable, but he needs Greg Allen to give up his starting job, which isn't a stretch, and it's why I like Johnson the most out of this group in re-draft leagues.

These next guys are all deep league bench pieces at most this season. Rooker can hit but can't really play the field, and Minnesota's offense is stacked, so I think he's just a bench bat. Same goes for Bradley, who can crush baseballs but also strikes out too much, and isn't pushing Carlos Santana out of the lineup. Padlo and Arozarena are intriguing options who are likely going to be buried on a deep Tampa Bay team that will prevent them from seeing meaningfully consistent at-bats.

One-Two tool guys: Khalil Lee, Jorge Mateo

Both of these guys can flat out fly. Mateo had a shot to win the A's 2B job, but I see him as more of a bench bat behind Tony Kemp and Franklin Baretto. Since Mateo can also play the OF, he may make 2-3 starts a week, which could make him viable in deep leagues because of his wheels. Lee likely won't be up until the end of the season, but his speed makes him immediately viable given that he'd see regular at-bats. Just don't expect too much else in his first taste of the big leagues.

Part-Time guys: Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Ian Anderson, Sixto Sanchez, Luis Patino, Clarke Schmidt 

Every guy on this list is highly talented, but I doubt they see more than a handful of major league innings this year. They either play on bad teams that won't want to rush them (Mize, Manning, Sanchez) or face too much competition to get innings right away (Anderson, Patino, Schmidt).

I think Schmidt is more of a bullpen option in 2020, so he's my least favorite of the group even though he's likely to see the most major league games. Anderson needs a few other arms to falter (Wright, Hernandez, and Bryse Wilson), the Marlins don't seem too keen to rush Sanchez, and the Tigers were babying Mize a little bit last year as he dealt with some forearm tightness. If I was just ranking them for 2020, I would go: Patino, Manning, Anderson, Mize, Schmidt, Sanchez, but I wouldn't be spending anything other than a lottery ticket late-round pick. You're going to be stashing these guys for a while and might get nothing out of it.

 

Longshots

These are the guys we want to see up, but things will need to break their way. For example, they'll need to show clear growth in the instructional leagues or their teams (who we didn't expect to compete) will have to be performing surprisingly well and in need of reinforcements to make the most of the opportunity.

Wander Franco, Jarred Kelenic, Alex Kirilloff, Royce Lewis, Andres Gimenez, Lewin Diaz, Seth Beer, Joey Bart, Bobby Dalbec, Tarik Skubal 

Basically, I'd love to see these guys in the majors this year, but I just don't see it based on how far away they are (Franco, Lewis, Gimenez) how stacked their teams are (Kirliloff, Beer) or how poorly their teams are set up to compete for this season (Bart, Diaz, Skubal, Dalbec). Kelenic, Diaz, and Dalbec seem to be the most likely to debut, but I don't think the Mariners are going to risk a year of Kelenic's eligibility for an 80-game season, same with Miami and Diaz, especially with Jesus Aguilar in town.

The Red Sox signing Mitch Moreland to pair with Michael Chavis makes the 1B situation muddy, and Dalbec isn't pushing Rafael Devers out of 3B or J.D. Martinez out of DH, so there is nowhere to play him, especially in a season where Boston isn't likely to compete.

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Welcome back, RotoBallers!  Below you will find my Week 7 fantasy football lineup rankings. The ranks are available in PPR, Half PPR and Standard formats. They will be updated as needed, so make sure to check back for the latest versions. Skill Position analysis is primarily based on the PPR ranks. The rankings are powered by... Read More


Slow Starters Ready to Break Out in Fantasy?

We are now more than a third of the way into the fantasy football season and a seemingly clearer picture is available across the landscape. After a pandemic-shortened offseason and lack of preseason exposure, there were plenty of worries headed into the first month specifically. Thus far, one of the most prevalent topics with regards... Read More


Fantasy Football Warning Signals for Week 7

The warning signals get brighter by the week since we have more data to work from. The larger the sample size the easier it is for us to connect the dots from the latest trends. Football is a game of small samples and many variables, making it one of the hardest sports to predict. How... Read More


How to Value Clyde Edwards-Helaire with Le'Veon Bell in KC

Clyde Edwards-Helaire or Jonathan Taylor? Coming into the season this was the biggest question for fantasy GMs, both dynasty managers who were thinking long-term and redraft managers who wanted to know who would be better for this season. There were many different theories and believe me when I say, both sides thought they were 100%... Read More


NextGen Stats - Quarterback Breakdowns and Takeaways

It's been a month since the last time we took a look at our beloved quarterbacks. Numbers are numbers, and numbers don't lie. You can twist them, but looking at them objectively, numbers say that no matter what, rushing the ball is almost always a worse option than passing it in today's game. That's why... Read More


Fantasy Football Risers and Fallers - Week 7

Whether due to their own play, the play of others, or injuries, players' stock increases and decreases on a weekly basis. Perhaps more than any other, the NFL is a league that experiences ups and downs at a rapid pace. With only 16 games, there’s little room for error and seemingly endless opportunities for improvement.... Read More


Coaching Matters: Offenses That Will Improve From Week 6

This series continues into its sixth week of where I dive into offensive areas that will improve or decline based on coaching in order to glean insight as to fantasy football value. In Week 6, we saw performances such as Ryan Tannehill throwing for 364 passing yards, the Houston Texans running backs combining for 66 rushing yards, and the New... Read More


Tape Tells All: D'Andre Swift's Week 6 Performance

Welcome to another edition of Tape Tells All. I've been thinking of rebranding as just TAPE. All-Caps like that. Probably wouldn't be a good idea for SEO purposes, right? Anyways, this week we'll be discussing Detroit Lions rookie running back D'Andre Swift. Swift set a lot of career highs this week, with bests in carries... Read More


Week 7 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

Week 6 was like the 2020 of fantasy football weeks. All those great matchups meant nothing, those studs let you down, and your bench likely went crazy. The good news is that we didn't have any season-ending injuries to running backs or games canceled due to COVID, so in retrospect maybe we shouldn't complain. The... Read More


FAB Bidding - Week 7 Waiver Wire Targets

Whether it's injuries, bye-week blues, or simply poor performance, we've got the waiver-wire cure...but it just might cost you! Alongside our famous waiver wire pickups list and our weekly waiver wire columns by position, this column focuses on suggested waiver wire bidding percentages for fantasy football owners in leagues using a Free Agent Budget (FAB). In... Read More


Waiver Wire Express - Week 7 Lightning Round

Week 6 was relatively healthy and had no coronavirus delays, so let's just take a moment to bask in that. That said, we still saw Miles Sanders (knee) and Zach Ertz (ankle) go down, while Mark Ingram (ankle) has a bye to get healthy. Week 7 byes are Baltimore, Indianapolis, Miami, and Minnesota. Let's get... Read More


Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 7

Fantasy GMs are to be commended for rising to the unique challenges that have unfolded during this regular season. Injuries to critical players is an unwelcome reality that occurs every year. This is also the case for backs that were expected to operate as RB1s, but have been relegated to committees. However, this season has... Read More


Wide Receiver Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 7

Six weeks of NFL football are behind us, aside from a pair of Monday games, including a late afternoon game between the Bills and the Chiefs. In terms of wide receiver production this week, we didn't have the huge breakouts like we had in Week 5. Chase Claypool didn't score four touchdowns. In fact, only... Read More


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Dissecting Contact Quality In Search Of Fantasy Bargains

Of the 1,015 hitters sampled(1) between 2015 and 2019, there were only 14 instances of hitters making more productive contact against pitches outside of the strike zone than against pitches inside of the strike zone based on xwOBAcon. Based on the same sample, the average hitter was a whopping .116 points better against pitches inside... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 23rd, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 23rd, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Lineup Order Risers and Fallers: AL West 2020 Review

It’s the offseason and there are about to be a bunch of moving parts. This allows for speculation in terms of players gaining or losing playing time, moving up or down a batting order and much more. The idea here is to highlight some lineup situations for each team and some potential winners or losers... Read More


2021 1st & 2nd Year Players with James Anderson - Benched with Bubba (Episode 317)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by James Anderson (@RealJRAnderson) on episode 317. The guys will go over 30+ first and second-year players. They will discuss their current ADP's in the 2 Early Mocks, what to expect of the players in 2021, and much more. They also go over some listener questions, compare Juan Soto to Mike... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 21st, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 21st, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 20th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 20th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 54: 2 Early Mocks APD Player Debates - Benched with Bubba (Episode 316)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They go over some of the positions and look at players with similar ADPs and debate. Going around the diamond discussing some players people are high on and some they are down on with a... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 18th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 18th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 17th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 17th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


2021 Early Mock ADP Values & Reaches: WPC+ Videocast

Pierre Camus and Nicklaus Gaut prepare for the 2021 fantasy baseball season with a look at early mock draft results from the RotoBaller Expert mock. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well! Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller... Read More


Statcast Season Review: 2020 Barrel Leaders (Hitters)

The 2020 MLB season will always be one for the record books, even if everything that took place will have multiple asterisks attached to it. Evaluating Statcast numbers is a nice way to find hot and cold hitters, as well as underachievers and overachievers. Now that the regular season is over, let's reflect on the... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 16th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 16th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 15th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 15th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 14th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 14th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 53: 2 Early Mocks APD Trends & More - Benched with Bubba (Episode 315)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They dig into trends, some interesting risers/fallers, and much more. They also go over some listener questions at the end to keep the Fantasy Baseball information coming even in the offseason. Be sure to subscribe... Read More