The 2020 baseball season was unlike any year we’ve ever seen with its shortened season and schedule that can perhaps be best described as organized chaos. The absence of a minor league season played havoc with prospect prognosticators.
The 2021 season — and perhaps beyond — will continue to present unique challenges as the pandemic continues to rage on and Major League Baseball barrels ahead with its plan to significantly reduce the number of minor league affiliates for each MLB club. But the 2020 season also showed us that prospects can thrive under unique circumstances — such the alternate training site — and a number of prospects reached the Majors in 2020 after spending 2019 in A-ball, essentially skipping Double-A and Triple-A baseball.
Despite the unusual 2020 season, one thing stayed the same. Young players continue to have more and more of an impact on the game. Look at the teams that reached the second round of the playoffs. The San Diego Padres are loaded with talented first- and second-year players. The same can be said for the Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, Tampa Bay Rays, Houston Astros, and even the Los Angeles Dodgers. Grizzled veterans no longer dominate the rosters of playoff contenders. With that in mind, we unveil our first look at the Top 250 Dynasty Prospects for 2021.
Top 250 MLB Prospect Rankings
|27||Bobby Witt Jr.||SS||KC||20||2022|
|44||Robert Hassell III||OF||SD||19||2023|
|113||Simeon Woods Richardon||SP||TOR||19||2021|
The Top 10
1. Jarred Kelenic, OF, Mariners: During our recent Top 50 redraft prospects for 2021 update, I referred to Kelenic as the next coming of Mike Trout and I don’t think that’s an exaggeration. He’s made huge strides in his development at a young age and prospects to be a five-tool talent.
2. Wander Franco, SS, Rays: It was a bit of a surprise to not see Franco arrive in Tampa Bay this season but with such a strong stranglehold on the American League East, there was no reason to push his development. He’s a gifted hitter whose only real need is to continue to get stronger so that his plus bat speed can produce more over-the-fence pop.
3. MacKenzie Gore, SP, Padres: Gore is another player that was projected to arrive in the latter half of the shortened 2020 season but he remained at the alternate training site. The talented lefty has all the makings of a frontline starter: size, stuff, moxie, and command/control.
5. Sixto Sanchez, SP, Marlins: Sanchez made huge strides in 2020 and had little issues with big-league hitters during his seven regular-season starts. He can touch 100 mph with his heater and backs it up with a plus change-up. The breaking ball needs continued work but his ability to induce a high number of ground-ball outs gives him another valuable weapon.
6. Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Tigers: With a number of top hitting prospects graduating to the Major Leagues in the second half of the year, Torkelson takes a noticeable jump up the list despite having yet to play a true pro game. The first overall selection of the 2020 draft has plus-plus power potential but I do have some concerns with how much swing-and-miss he’ll show given his relatively high career strikeout rate in college (only Aaron Sabato had a higher career strikeout rate among college first-round picks in 2020). There is perhaps Pete Alonso upside here but even the Mets first baseman struck out significantly less in college.
7. Andrew Vaughn, 1B, White Sox: Vaughn was the third overall selection of the 2019 draft but is a slightly different player than his fellow first baseman right above. He doesn’t have nearly the raw power that Torkelson possesses but he’s a better all-around player and much more likely to hit for average while producing strong on-base numbers and generating 20+ home runs.
8. Julio Rodriguez, OF, Mariners: There weren’t many people talking about Rodriguez as recently as April 2019 when I first highlighted him as an intriguing bat to watch and his rise to top prospect since then has been swift — even with a litany of injuries throwing up roadblocks. His inability to stay healthy is somewhat worrisome but he’s a very advanced bat for his age (19) who has a chance to hit for both power and average.
9. Ian Anderson, SP, Braves: I ranked Ian Anderson as the 30th best prospect in baseball back in March, which I felt was aggressive at the time but he’s blown that ranking away with a dominating first taste of MLB action. The big right-hander has likely been underestimated in the past because he doesn’t possess a blazing fastball or a deep repertoire but his strong command/control helps everything play up. Long-term, he’s probably a little more of No. 2 starter than a true ace but he’s going to be very, very good.
12. Austin Martin, IF/OF, Blue Jays: I personally preferred Martin to Spencer Torkelson as the top college hitter in the draft. While Torkelson arguably has the higher ceiling, Martin is a safer bet to be an above-average MLB hitter and impacts the game in more ways than the Tigers’ prospect. There is some question about how much power Martin will produce but I think he’ll eventually offer 20-homer pop while hitting for average, producing strong on-base numbers and showing well at multiple defensive positions.
14. Zac Veen, OF, Rockies: I had Veen ranked as the top player available in the 2020 draft — that’s how much I love his bat… and his selection by the Colorado Rockies only increases his offensive potential. The last time I was absolutely convinced that a prep bat was going to be an impact hitter was 2012 when I loudly advocated for Carlos Correa to go first overall (which he did, but it was considered an overdraft at the time to save money).
15. Nick Gonzales, 2B, Pirates: Gonzales is going to be a stud for Pittsburgh and I would have been tempted to select him with the Top 5 of the 2020 draft. He’s going to regularly threaten to hit .300 and should produce a ton of extra-base hits. He showed home-run skills in college but was playing in the collegiate equivalent of Coors Field so that made it a little more challenging to predict his future power potential.
17. Alex Kirilloff, OF, Twins: Kirilloff spent 2020 at the alternate training site but he should be a strong bet to spend most — if not all — of 2021 in the Majors. He’s had some injury issues but he should hit for both power and average.
19. Luis Patino, SP, Padres: Some people have already allowed Patino’s modest results in 2020 to cast doubt on his future impact (I claimed him off waivers in one of my fantasy leagues) but don’t despair. Patino held his own at the MLB level as a 20-year-old with just 7.2 innings of experience above A-ball. Once he gets his feet back under him and shows more of the control that he had in the minors, Patino will be a stud.
23. Max Meyer, SP, Marlins: The Marlins showed flashes of their amazing, young pitching depth with the arrivals of Sixto Sanchez, Trevor Rodgers, and Braxton Garrett but Meyer, selected third overall in 2020, has a chance to challenge Sanchez as the top arm in the system.
25. Riley Greene, OF, Tigers: When I first started to promote Greene as one of the top bats in baseball I received a lot of “Huh, really?” Then he blew up in spring training and continued to impress all season long at the alternate training site. He should hit for both power and average in the middle of the Tigers’ lineup and will pair beautifully with slugger Spencer Torkelson.
27. Bobby Witt Jr, SS, Royals: I’ve had my reservations with Witt Jr. since his prep days. He’s athletic and comes from good bloodlines but he’s struggled with making consistent contact. He generated strong reports out of the alternate training site so I’m a little more optimistic but he comes with a little more “bust” potential for me than a lot of other prospect watchers.
30. Jasson Dominguez, OF, Yankees: A player like Dominguez is incredibly difficult to rank because he comes with so much hype but has yet to actually play even one pro game — and missed out on an entire year of competitive game action. He’s the epitome of a boom-or-bust prospect.
31. Ryan Mountcastle, OF, Orioles: The alternate training site environment worked wonders for Mountcastle in 2020 as his value as a hitter took a huge jump. He’s become a more patient hitter, which has helped his natural talent play up.
32. Tarik Skubal, SP, Tigers: My early season predictions that Skubal would outperform Casey Mize came true but the right-hander will still likely outperform the left-hander over the long haul. However, once he solves his command issues — and he showed improvements as the year went on — the Tigers should have something valuable here in Skubal.
35. Brailyn Marquez, SP, Cubs: Marquez had one disastrous start at the MLB level in 2020 but showed a brief flash of his future potential by hitting 99 mph a number of times in two-thirds of an inning. If he can rein in his control and continue to polish his secondary stuff, this hard-throwing youngster has a strong future.
36. Triston McKenzie, SP, Indians: McKenzie was a tough pitcher to rank coming into 2020 given that he hadn’t pitched in a year-and-a-half. The fastball velocity was down a bit from his pre-injury days but he was still a very good MLB pitcher for the Indians and has the chance to settle in as a very good mid-rotation starter — possibly more if he recovers some of his velocity.
38. Daulton Varsho, C/OF, Diamondbacks: It was a rough offensive season for Varsho but, in fairness to the rookie, he received inconsistent playing time. I remain high on his fantasy value given his strong minor-league offensive performances as well as his defensive versatility. I just hope his development isn’t hindered by the organization’s seemingly directionless approach to running a baseball club.
41. Francisco Alvarez, C, Mets: Alvarez is one of the top catching prospects in baseball and has significant upside as a hitter. He has a chance to produce strong on-base numbers and good power but he’ll need to watch his conditioning. Just 18, he’s already listed at 220 pounds.
44. Robert Hassell III, OF, Padres: After Zac Veen, I considered Hassell III to be the next best prep hitter in the draft. The big concern with this prospect is his future power output but I remain convinced that he has a solid shot to generate at least 20 home runs a season while hitting for a high average.
48. Emerson Hancock, SP, Marines: I have my concerns about Hancock’s overall potential. He was a successful college pitcher but I don’t love his delivery and fear that he’ll be prone to significant platoon splits.
49. Josh Jung, 3B, Rangers: I thought Jung had one of the best bats in the 2019 draft and fully supported the Rangers’ aggressive grab at eighth overall despite concerns he may have to move from third base to first base. If minor league baseball returns in 2021, I can see Jung being a huge riser on this list.
52. Jordan Groshans, SS/3B, Blue Jays: The stunted 2020 season was quite possibly a blessing in disguise for Groshans, whose 2019 season ended almost before it got started due to a serious foot injury. With no daily grind this year, it likely gave the young infielder’s injury more time to fully heal. With a mature approach, I expected big things in 2021.
53. Orelvis Martines, SS, Blue Jays: Toronto has a strong minor league system and Martinez is one of the best prospects no one is talking about yet. He hit seven home runs in 40 rookie ball games in 2019 — as a 17-year-old. And he did it with a BB-K of 14-29, which is almost as impressive as the power output. As long as there was no rust added with the non-existent minor league season in 2020, Martinez could really take off in 2021.
55. Deivi Garcia, SP, Yankees: Garcia showed glimpses of his potential at the MLB level in 2020. His lack of size is a concern and I think he’ll also need to rely more heavily on his plus curveball going forward.
56. Shane McClanahan, SP, Rays: McClanahan’s potential has always been undermined by below-average control but he made huge strides in that area in 2019 and likely would have reached the Majors in 2020 if we had experienced a normal season. Given the Rays’ solid pitching depth, there is a chance that McClanahan ends up as a high-leverage reliever but I think he’ll settle in as a mid-rotation starter with the ability to hit the upper-90s with his heater and back it up with a strong breaking ball.
59. Nolan Jones, 3B, Indians: Jones is an on-base machine with plus raw power but he’s spent the majority of his pro career hitting too many balls on the ground. The 2020 season provided a great opportunity for Jones to work on his swing with a number of different coaches so I’m eager to see how he looks in 2021.
74. Hunter Greene, SP, Reds: This ranking of Greene could end up being too passive but he’s coming off Tommy John surgery and has thrown just 72.2 innings in four years. Reports on his recovery have been very positive and the video I’ve seen has been impressive.
76. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Pirates: Hayes had a very strong MLB debut and the time spent in the alternate training site clearly did him well. But I’m somewhat skeptical of his ability to continue to be an impact bat at the hot corner given his ground-ball rate of nearly 50% and .450 BABIP.
78. J.J. Bleday, OF, Marlins: I’ve given Bleday a cautious ranking for a few reasons. I’m always cautious when ranking players who built their value on one strong college season. As well, Bleday has shown contact issues and the long layoff from competitive action could hurt a player like this. On the plus side, he receives glowing reports on his make-up.
86. Royce Lewis, IF/OF, Twins: Lewis continues to receive a lot of love but I have my reservations about his ability to be a consistently-above-average offensive player. He’s a no-doubt big leaguer but I see his value coming more from his defensive versatility and good base running. On the plus side, he’s still young and very athletic so he could turn things around in a hurry.
87. Jared Kelley, SP, White Sox: Garrett Crochet made all the headlines prior to his unfortunate injury but I wouldn’t be shocked if Kelley has a better overall career — or just as good — especially if he makes strides with his breaking ball.
97. Kyren Paris, SS, Angels: I was super-high on Paris as the 2019 draft approached and has him as a first-round talent. He was ultimately nabbed in the second round by the Angels and I’ve remained encouraged with his early-career results. He’s another name that could start to really rise up in 2021.
98. Tucker Davidson, SP, Braves: Ian Anderson’s 2020 performance suggests he was underrated by many and Davidson may be the 2021 version of an underrated Braves’ pitching prospect. With that said, his ceiling likely isn’t as high but he’s shown the potential to develop into a solid mid-rotation starter thanks to his strong fastball and ground-ball tendencies. With additional polish to his secondary stuff, Davidson could really take off.
102. Josiah Gray, SP, Dodgers: I yelled as loud as I could in supporting Tony Gonsolin in 2020 and he had an outstanding season. Gray is my Dodgers pick for 2021. The ceiling with Gray isn’t quite as high but he should settle in as a very valuable No. 3/4 starter for a very good team. Like the Yankees, never underestimate the Dodgers' ability to develop very good prospects.
103. Keibert Ruiz, C, Dodgers: For Ruiz to really shine, it will likely take a trade from the Dodgers, which could very possibly come this winter. I think he’ll continue to be a player that performs better at the MLB level under the bright lights rather than in minor league stadiums with 1,000 spectators.
123. Alejandro Kirk, C, Blue Jays: I was aggressive with my pre-season ranking of Kirk and he’s more than justified my faith in him. He’s a very advanced hitter for his age and should hit for both power and average. He’ll probably end up spending more time at DH than catcher (but he’s not a bad defensive catcher) and should hit for power and average. He really needs to lose some weight, though, and could have a shorter career than many if he can’t get in better shape.
125. Heston Kjerstad, OF, Orioles: Kjerstad was a massive overdraft by the Orioles in 2020 and they didn’t do nearly enough with the money they saved to make the pick worth it. I saw him more of a second-round talent; he's not worthy of a roster spot -- even in keeper leagues with deep rosters -- until he shows some excellent results in pro ball.
127. Randy Arozarena, OF, Rays: I’ve always been a big Arozarena supporter but even I was surprised by his power output (which I’m not convinced is sustainable). Even if he’s more of a 15-20 homer guy, Arozarena is a well-rounded player who can do a little bit of everything.
135. Brent Rooker, OF/1B, Twins: I had Rooker pegged as someone that could really surprise in 2020 and he was well on his way to doing just that before he suffered a broken arm after being hit by a pitch. He may not hit for a high average but he should produce good walk rates and lots of power.
140. Jordan Walker, 3B, Cardinals: The Cardinals ran a 2020 draft very similarly to the way I would have. Walker was originally ranked by most draft analysts as more of a supplemental first-round or second-round pick but I had him as a no-doubt first-rounder which is where St. Louis nabbed him. I love his swing and approach and see a player capable of hitting for both power and average.
152. Aaron Bracho, 2B, Indians: Bracho did a little bit of everything during his pro debut in 2019 at an 18-year-old in rookie ball. He’s a naturally gifted hitter who walked more than he struck out and showed more power than expected.
155. Jhoan Duran, SP, Twins: If he can flesh out his repertoire a little bit and find a reliable third offering, Duran has a chance to be a good starting pitcher. If he ends up with just two reliable pitches then he may end up as a very good high-leverage reliever.
156. Aaron Sabato, 1B, Twins: Sabato was a bit of a surprise as a first-round pick in 2020 by the Twins but he reportedly generates excellent exit velocities that caught the team’s attention. I have concerns about the swing-and-miss he showed during his college career.
171. Dean Kremer, SP, Orioles: Kremer had a solid start to his MLB career in 2020 and looks poised to develop into a very good No. 4 starter. His stuff is difficult to pick up and he should continue to produce solid strikeout numbers.
173. Nick Bitsko, SP, Rays: Bitsko is likely to be a long-term project but he could end up being well worth the wait. He has an excellent pitcher’s frame, promising stuff and he’s in an organization that really knows how to develop pitching.
175. Tanner Houck, SP, Red Sox: Houck entered the 2020 season with his prospect value at an all-time low. It looked like his MLB future may lie in the bullpen after a rough 2019 but he clearly benefited from his time at the alternate training site. He has No. 3 starter upside.
176. Gabriel Moreno, C, Blue Jays: Teams would be wise to target this athletic catcher in trade talks with Toronto, an organization that is desperate for good starting pitching. Moreno has shown flashes of developing into a good hitting catcher with solid bat speed but he needs to continue to get stronger.
193. Casey Schmitt, 3B, Giants: Schmitt is a name that you won’t see on many other — if any — lists but I was a huge fan of him coming into the 2020 amateur draft. I think the Giants got a real steal in this second-round pick as I had him ranked as more of a supplemental first-round guy. There’s some work to be done on the offensive side of things but I see some real potential here in a couple of years.
197. Jerar Encarnacion, OF, Marlins: Encarnacion is still somewhat raw as a hitter and shows significant swing-and-miss to his game but he has a chance to produce plus power.
198. Miguel Hiraldo, 3B/SS, Blue Jays: Another strong offensive infield prospect for the Blue Jays, Hiraldo has a chance to produce above-average pop. He’s also consistently hit .300 despite an aggressive approach at the plate.
201. Masyn Winn, SP/IF, Cardinals: The Cardinals had an outstanding draft in 2020 and took a number of players that I had ranked higher than the consensus. Winn will take some time to develop but he’s an ultra-athletic, two-way player with a high ceiling. I think he’ll end up spending most of his time on the mound in the long run.
204. Jared Jones, SP, Pirates: Another two-way talent from the 2020 draft, Jones is raw but has significant upside on the mound. He can get into the mid-to-upper 90s with his heater and shows a good breaking ball.
209. Dillon Dingler, C, Tigers: I was the low man on Dingler heading into the 2020 draft. I just don’t see a ton of offensive potential and think he was a serious over-draft at 38. The Tigers have also struggled to develop catchers selected out of the college ranks in previous years.
211. Daz Cameron, OF, Tigers: Cameron has long been considered a prospect but it’s been slow going with the bat. Still, Cameron should get a chance to play thanks to his plus outfield defense and good speed. He could eventually hit for improved power.
217. Corbin Martin, SP, Diamondbacks: A bit of a forgotten man after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2019 and getting traded from Houston to Arizona, Martin could surprise a lot of people in 2021 and beyond. He has the potential to develop into a very good mid-rotation starter if he bounces back with his pre-surgery stuff.
219. Grant Lavigne, 1B, Rockies: Lavigne had a disappointing 2019 season and the layoff in 2020 may not help, but I’m not ready to write off this young slugger just yet. If he spent his downtime working on improving his launch angle and hits significantly fewer balls on the ground moving forward then there is a significant upside here.
224. Aaron Schunk, 3B, Rockies: Schunk is a real sleeper to keep tabs on. He’s shown the ability to hit for average with raw power potential — and playing in Coor Field could really help him tap into that pop.
226. David Calabrese, OF, Angels: A deep sleeper, Calabrese is a relatively advanced prep bat out of Canada who has plus speed. He also reportedly has excellent make-up and the drive to be a star.
243. Estevan Florial, OF, Yankees: Florial lost significant value as a prospect over the past couple of years but has started to regain some of his previous shine. And as a general rule, I never underestimate the Yankees’ ability to develop players.
247. Isaiah Greene, OF, Mets: Greene was one of my favorite 2020 prep bats and the Mets got a real steal here. He might be a long-term project but I think he’ll be worth the wait.
249. Thomas Hatch, P, Blue Jays: Hatch got his first taste of MLB action in 2020 but it came out of the bullpen. It was a solid fit but this right-hander has shown continued improvements that could help him settle in as a No. 3/4 starter.