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Top 250 Dynasty Prospects for 2021

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

Ranking Player Pos Team Age ETA
1 Jarred Kelenic OF SEA 21 2021
2 Wander Franco SS TB 19 2021
3 MacKenzie Gore SP SD 21 2021
4 Nate Pearson SP TOR 24 2020
5 Sixto Sanchez SP MIA 22 2020
6 Spencer Torkelson 1B DET 21 2022
7 Andrew Vaughn 1B CWS 22 2021
8 Julio Rodriguez OF SEA 19 2022
9 Ian Anderson SP ATL 22 2020
10 Spencer Howard SP PHI 24 2020
11 Adley Rutschman C BAL 22 2022
12 Austin Martin IF/OF TOR 21 2022
13 Dylan Carlson OF STL 21 2020
14 Zac Veen OF COL 18 2023
15 Nick Gonzales 2B/SS PIT 21 2022
16 Joey Bart C SF 23 2020
17 Alex Kirilloff OF MIN 22 2021
18 Jo Adell OF LAA 21 2020
19 Luis Patino SP SD 20 2020
20 Marco Luciano SS SF 19 2023
21 CJ Abrams SS SD 19 2023
22 Asa Lacy SP KC 21 2021
23 Max Meyer SP MIA 21 2021
24 Matt Manning SP DET 22 2021
25 Riley Greene OF DET 19 2022
26 Casey Mize SP DET 23 2020
27 Bobby Witt Jr. SS KC 20 2022
28 Grayson Rodriguez SP BAL 20 2022
29 Shane Baz SP TB 21 2022
30 Jasson Dominguez OF NYY 17 2024
31 Ryan Mountcastle OF BAL 23 2020
32 Tarik Skubal SP DET 23 2020
33 Nick Madrigal 2B CWS 23 2020
34 Garrett Crochet P CWS 21 2020
35 Brailyn Marquez SP CHC 21 2021
36 Triston McKenzie SP CLE 23 2020
37 Nolan Gorman 3B STL 20 2022
38 Daulton Varsho C/OF ARZ 24 2020
39 Ronny Mauricio SS NYM 19 2023
40 Kristian Robinson OF ARZ 19 2023
41 Francisco Alvarez C NYM 18 2023
42 Corbin Carroll OF ARZ 20 2023
43 Alek Thomas OF ARZ 20 2022
44 Robert Hassell III OF SD 19 2023
45 Edward Cabrera SP MIA 22 2021
46 Geraldo Perdomo SS ARZ 20 2021
47 Braxton Garrett SP MIA 23 2020
48 Emerson Hancock SP SEA 21 2022
49 Josh Jung 3B TEX 22 2021
50 Trevor Rogers SP MIA 22 2020
51 Noelvi Marte SS SEA 18 2023
52 Jordan Groshans 3B/SS TOR 20 2022
53 Orelvis Martinez SS TOR 18 2023
54 Vidal Brujan 2B TB 22 2021
55 Deivi Garcia SP NYY 21 2020
56 Shane McClanahan SP TB 23 2021
57 Clarke Schmidt SP NYY 24 2020
58 Xavier Edwards 2B/SS TB 21 2022
59 Nolan Jones 3B CLE 22 2021
60 Trevor Larnach OF MIN 23 2021
61 Matthew Liberatore SP STL 20 2022
62 Daniel Lynch SP KC 23 2021
63 Jackson Kowar SP KC 23 2021
64 A.J. Puk SP OAK 25 2019
65 Brandon Marsh OF LAA 22 2021
66 Reid Detmers SP LAA 21 2021
67 George Kirby SP SEA 22 2022
68 Jazz Chisholm SS MIA 22 2020
69 Nick Lodolo SP CIN 22 2021
70 Brice Turang SS MIL 20 2022
71 Brennen Davis OF CHC 20 2022
72 Oneil Cruz SS PIT 21 2021
73 Austin Hendrick OF CIN 19 2023
74 Hunter Greene SP CIN 21 2021
75 Brennan Malone SP PIT 20 2023
76 Ke’Bryan Hayes 3B PIT 23 2020
77 Heliot Ramos OF SF 21 2021
78 J.J. Bleday OF MIA 22 2021
79 Hunter Bishop OF SF 22 2022
80 Jose Garcia SS CIN 22 2020
81 Tyler Stephenson C CIN 24 2020
82 Tyler Soderstrom C OAK 18 2023
83 Robert Puason SS OAK 18 2024
84 Cristian Pache OF ATL 21 2020
85 Jordan Balazovic SP MIN 22 2021
86 Royce Lewis OF/SS MIN 21 2021
87 Jared Kelley SP CWS 18 2023
88 Drew Waters OF ATL 21 2021
89 Pete Crow-Armstrong OF NYM 18 2023
90 Jackson Rutledge SP WAS 21 2021
91 Mick Abel SP PHI 19 2023
92 Alek Manoah SP TOR 22 2022
93 Brendan McKay SP TB 24 2019
94 DL Hall SP BAL 22 2022
95 Jordyn Adams OF LAA 20 2022
96 Taylor Trammell OF SEA 23 2021
97 Kyren Paris SS LAA 18 2023
98 Tucker Davidson SP ATL 24 2021
99 Kody Hoese 3B LAD 23 2022
100 Brendan Rodgers 2B/SS COL 24 2019
101 Luis Campusano C SD 21 2020
102 Josiah Gray SP LAD 22 2021
103 Keibert Ruiz C LAD 22 2020
104 Jeremiah Jackson SS/3B LAA 20 2022
105 Patrick Bailey C SF 21 2022
106 Forrest Whitley SP HOU 23 2021
107 Justin Dunn SP SEA 25 2020
108 Leody Taveras OF TEX 22 2020
109 Sam Huff C TEX 22 2020
110 Tyler Freeman SS CLE 21 2021
111 George Valera OF CLE 19 2023
112 Jeter Downs SS BOS 22 2021
113 Simeon Woods Richardon SP TOR 19 2021
114 Brett Baty 3B NYM 20 2022
115 James Karinchak RP CLE 25 2020
116 Andres Gimenez SS NYM 22 2020
117 Seth Corry SP SF 21 2022
118 Seth Beer 1B/OF ARZ 24 2021
119 Levi Kelly SP ARZ 21 2023
120 Michael Toglia 1B COL 22 2022
121 Bobby Miller SP LAD 21 2022
122 Cole Wilcox SP SD 21 2023
123 Alejandro Kirk C TOR 21 2020
124 Triston Casas 1B BOS 20 2022
125 Heston Kjerstad OF BAL 21 2023
126 Joshua Lowe OF TB 22 2021
127 Randy Arozarena OF TB 25 2019
128 Bobby Dalbec 1B BOS 25 2020
129 Matthew Allan SP NYM 19 2023
130 Jesus Sanchez OF MIA 22 2020
131 Kyle Muller SP ATL 22 2021
132 Bryson Stott SS PHI 22 2022
133 David Peterson SP NYM 25 2020
134 Cade Cavalli SP WAS 22 2022
135 Brent Rooker OF MIN 25 2020
136 Erick Pena OF KC 17 2024
137 Michael Kopech SP CWS 24 2018
138 Dane Dunning SP CWS 25 2020
139 Ed Howard SS CHC 19 2024
140 Jordan Walker 3B STL 18 2024
141 Garrett Mitchell OF MIL 22 2023
142 Zack Thompson SP STL 22 2022
143 Quinn Priester SP PIT 20 2023
144 Ryan Weathers SP SD 20 2022
145 Sean Hjelle SP SF 23 2021
146 Brusdar Graterol RP LAD 22 2020
147 Adrian Morejon SP SD 21 2019
148 Diego Cartaya C LAD 19 2023
149 Luis Toribio 3B SF 19 2023
150 Luis Gil SP NYY 22 2021
151 Austin Wells C/OF NYY 21 2023
152 Aaron Bracho 2B CLE 19 2023
153 J.T. Ginn SP NYM 21 2023
154 Thomas Szapucki SP NYM 24 2021
155 Jhoan Duran SP MIN 22 2021
156 Aaron Sabato 1B MIN 21 2022
157 Albert Abreu SP NYY 24 2020
158 Brayan Rocchio SS CLE 19 2023
159 Bo Naylor C CLE 20 2022
160 Kevin Alcantara OF NYY 18 2024
161 Travis Swaggerty OF PIT 23 2021
162 Jonathan India 3B CIN 23 2021
163 Adbert Alzolay SP CHC 25 2019
164 Hans Crouse SP TEX 22 2021
165 Bryan Abreu P HOU 23 2019
166 Cole Winn SP TEX 20 2022
167 Maximo Acosta SS TEX 17 2024
168 Ronaldo Hernandez C TB 22 2021
169 Logan Davidson SS OAK 22 2022
170 Gunnar Henderson SS BAL 19 2023
171 Dean Kremer SP BAL 24 2020
172 Gilberto Jimenez OF BOS 20 2022
173 Nick Bitsko SP TB 18 2024
174 Bryan Mata SP BOS 21 2021
175 Tanner Houck SP BOS 24 2020
176 Gabriel Moreno C TOR 20 2022
177 Daniel Cabrera OF DET 22 2023
178 Ethan Hankins SP CLE 20 2022
179 Jonathan Stiever SP CWS 23 2020
180 Ryan Jeffers C MIN 23 2020
181 Isaac Paredes 3B DET 21 2020
182 Parker Meadows OF DET 20 2022
183 Keegan Akin SP BAL 25 2020
184 Ryan Vilade 3B/OF COL 21 2021
185 Adam Kloffenstein SP TOR 20 2022
186 Ryan Jensen SP CHC 22 2022
187 Tristen Lutz OF MIL 22 2022
188 Aaron Ashby SP MIL 22 2021
189 Carmen Mlodzinski SP PIT 21 2023
190 Liover Peguero OF PIT 19 2020
191 Ryan Rolison SP COL 23 2021
192 Chris McMahon SP COL 21 2023
193 Casey Schmitt 3B SF 21 2023
194 Alexander Canario OF SF 20 2023
195 Khalil Lee OF KC 22 2021
196 Francisco Morales SP PHI 20 2022
197 Jerar Encarnacion 3B MIA 22 2022
198 Miguel Hiraldo 3B TOR 20 2023
199 Joe Ryan SP TB 24 2022
200 Greg Jones SS TB 22 2022
201 Masyn Winn SP STL 18 2024
202 Cole Roederer OF CHC 21 2022
203 Miguel Amaya C CHC 21 2022
204 Jared Jones SP PIT 19 2024
205 Lane Thomas OF STL 25 2019
206 Edward Olivares OF KC 24 2020
207 Daniel Espino SP CLE 19 2023
208 Chris Vallimont SP MIN 23 2021
209 Dillon Dingler C DET 22 2023
210 Misael Urbina OF MIN 18 2023
211 Daz Cameron OF DET 23 2020
212 D’Shawn Knowles OF LAA 19 2023
213 Daulton Jefferies SP OAK 25 2020
214 Freudis Nova SS HOU 20 2022
215 Justin Foscue 2B TEX 21 2023
216 Luis Matos OF SF 18 2023
217 Corbin Martin SP ARZ 24 2021
218 Bryce Jarvis SP ARZ 22 2022
219 Grant Lavigne 1B COL 21 2022
220 Luis Rodriguez OF LAD 21 2024
221 Michael Busch 2B LAD 22 2022
222 Colton Welker 3B/1B COL 22 2021
223 Jorge Mateo OF/SS SD 25 2020
224 Aaron Schunk 3B COL 23 2023
225 Mark Vientos 3B NYM 20 2022
226 David Calabrese OF LAA 17 2024
227 Trent Devereaux OF LAA 20 2023
228 Chris Rodriguez SP LAA 22 2022
229 Anderson Tejeda IF TEX 22 2020
230 Sherten Apostel 3B TEX 21 2020
231 Keoni Cavaco SS MIN 19 2023
232 Anthony Volpe SS NYY 19 2023
233 Arol Vera SS LAA 18 2024
234 Alexander Vizcaino SP NYY 23 2022
235 Drew Romo C COL 19 2024
236 Hudson Head OF SD 19 2023
237 Justin Lange SP SD 19 2024
238 Carlos Rodriguez OF MIL 19 2024
239 Drew Rasmussen P MIL 25 2020
240 Matthew Thompson SP CWS 20 2023
241 Jeremy Pena SS HOU 23 2021
242 Jairo Solis SP HOU 20 2021
243 Estevan Florial OF NYY 22 2020
244 Clayton Beeter SP LAD 21 2023
245 Luis Garcia SS PHI 19 2022
246 Andry Lara SP WAS 17 2023
247 Isaiah Greene OF NYM 19 2024
248 Landon Knack SP LAD 23 2023
249 Thomas Hatch SP TOR 26 2020
250 Casey Martin SS Phillies 21 2023

 

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.

 

Prospects 11-30 

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.

 

Prospects 31-50

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.

 

Prospects 51-75

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.

 

Prospects 76-100

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.

 

Prospects 101-150

101. Luis Campusano, C, Padres: Campusano has a chance to be a very strong hitting catcher but the Padres’ acquisition of Austin Nola has a chance to impact the rookie’s playing time.

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.

 

Prospects 151-200

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.

162. Jonathan India, 3B, Reds: It’s been a disappointing pro career to date for India, who was once considered a similar talent to Alec Bohm. He needs to show significant improvements in 2021.

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.

 

Prospects 201-250

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.



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Evaluating MLB Rookie Performances for Fantasy Baseball - Week 10

While this past week didn’t feature as many headline-grabbing MLB debuts as previous weeks, there was certainly no shortage of prospect call-ups around the league.

It’s going to be hard for any call-ups going forward to make a difference in the 2020 fantasy season, but the five players below are all players who have dynasty league implications.

One more time, we’ll take a look at how these top prospects should all be valued as we go into the final stretch of the 2020 season.

 

Braxton Garrett (SP, MIA)

Miami Marlins pitcher Braxton Garrett made an impressive MLB debut this past Sunday against the Philadelphia Phillies. Garrett pitched five innings and allowed three hits, two walks and one earned run while striking out six.

Garrett mostly found his success with his secondary pitches in his debut. His curveball, which he threw 32% of the time, induced a whiff rate of 38.5%, while his changeup, which he threw 10.7% of the time, earned a whiff rate of 50%. His primary pitch, a four-seamer that had an average velocity of 89.5 miles per hour, wasn’t quite as effective. Phillies batters hit .286 against the pitch and it resulted in his lone run of the day, a solo shot from fellow rookie Alec Bohm in the second inning.

The 23-year-old Garrett split the 2019 season at High-A and Double-A, pitching 106.2 innings and posting a 3.54 ERA and 1.275 WHIP while averaging 10 K/9. The Marlins should have a crowded competition for their rotation next year, but Garrett has a decent shot to make the cut. He doesn’t need to be highly prioritized in dynasty leagues just yet, but if he’s trending towards a rotation spot when spring training comes around next year, he’s worthy of taking a chance on.

 

Mickey Moniak (OF, PHI)

The first overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Mickey Moniak, made his long-awaited debut as a pinch-runner on Wednesday. The following day, he got his first start and went 0-for-4 with a walk.

Moniak has the makings of an extremely valuable fantasy asset. Last year, over 119 games at Double-A, Moniak hit 11 home runs, 28 doubles and 13 triples while adding 15 stolen bases. He had a slash line of .252/.303/.439.

Now 22 years old, Moniak should still have some developing power upside. The best-case scenario for him is a pesky leadoff hitter with power. Think something like a George Springer type.

It’s a bit of a question as to how long it will take for Moniak to reach his potential and find an everyday role with the Phillies, but there’s no question that he’s a very valuable dynasty league asset. If he underwhelms in the final week of this strange MLB season and his owner gets a bit down on him, jump on the buy-low opportunity.

 

Tanner Houck (SP, BOS)

It’s been a rough year for Boston baseball, but recently called-up pitcher Tanner Houck at least offered a brief glimpse of positivity. In his MLB debut against the Miami Marlins this past Tuesday, Houck pitched five scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and three walks while striking out seven.

During his debut, Houck saw his low-80s slider register a put-away percentage of 44.4% while his low-90s sinker averaged a remarkable 30.9 inches of vertical drop, 8.4 inches more than league average. Unfortunately, he may have had a bit of luck on his side during the start. He gave up a hard-hit rate of 33.3% and registered an xERA of 4.01.

Houck had a bit of an underwhelming run in the minors coming into this season. Last year, over 107.2 innings split between Double-A and Triple-A, Houck posted a 4.01 ERA and 1.402 WHIP while averaging 8.9 K/9. The previous year, at High-A, his numbers were slightly worse: 4.24 ERA, 1.429 WHIP, 8.4 K/9.

Boston’s complete deficiency of starting pitching right now could lead to Houck having a role on the team next year, but there’s not enough of a proven track record to suggest he’d be able to put together a solid year if he lands a rotation spot.

 

Zach McKinstry (INF, LAD)

25-year-old Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Zach McKinstry has been floating around in the minors for longer than most of the prospects we’ve featured in this weekly piece. McKinstry was a 33rd round draft pick of the Dodgers in 2016. Since then, he’s slowly worked his way through the Dodgers’ system, finally leading to his MLB debut this past week, which came as a pinch hitter in Wednesday’s game.

McKinstry had a phenomenal season split between Double-A and Triple-A last year. Over 121 games, he slashed .300/.366/.516 and tallied 19 home runs, 78 RBI, 70 runs and eight stolen bases. He also showed fantastic plate discipline with just 92 strikeouts compared with 43 walks.

McKinstry played second, third and shortstop in the minors. Unfortunately, the Dodgers are so deep with position players, that McKinstry’s versatility might not play a factor right away. Given how impressive his 2019 season was, McKinstry could be as MLB-ready as any prospect we’ve seen this year, but the playing time situation is conversely, about as cloudy as it can get. He needs to be rostered in all dynasty leagues. He might be a bit frustrating next year as the Dodgers will likely platoon him, but his upside if he lands an everyday role is extremely high.

 

Blake Cederlind (SP, PIT)

Flame-throwing Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Blake Cederlind made his MLB debut on Tuesday, pitching a smooth, hitless sixth inning against the Cincinnati Reds.

Cederlind pitched 59.1 innings through multiple minor league levels last year and posted a 2.28 ERA and 1.18 WHIP with 8.3 K/9. The 24-year-old Cederlind earned a lot of buzz in the Pirates organization this offseason, primarily for his velocity, but he tested positive for COVID-19 in July, which understandably set back his progression.

In his MLB debut, Cederlind threw his fastball six times and it had an average velocity of 98.2 miles per hour, inducing a 25% whiff rate. He only threw one other pitch in the game, a slider that had an average velocity of 89.7 miles per hour and registered a whiff rate of 33.3%.

Look for Cederlind to play a key role in the Pirates bullpen next year. He’s likely to be a setup man, but could also be a dark horse as a potential closer. While his minor league ratios last year were fantastic, his strikeout rate wasn’t high enough to make him a high priority for dynasty owners going into the offseason. Just be ready to keep an eye on spring training developments with him next year.



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Evaluating MLB Rookie Performances for Fantasy Baseball - Week 9

If you’re looking for a newcomer to boost your rotation or lineup down the stretch, there could be a few recent call-ups worth considering. As for dynasty owners, whether you’re competing down the stretch or building for next year, there will certainly be several names to keep on your radar through the season’s final stretch.

This past week wasn’t the most eventful one for prospect call-ups, especially with the insane rate that we’ve seen rookies debut throughout this shortened season.

Still, here are four rookies who crashed onto the MLB scene this past week with a quick look at how relevant they are for both redraft and dynasty leagues.

 

Dean Kremer (SP, BAL)

Last weekend, Baltimore Orioles pitcher Dean Kremer became the first Israeli player to pitch in the major leagues. But that wasn’t the only reason he made headlines. Kremer pitched a gem against the New York Yankees, going six innings and allowing just one hit, three walks and one earned run while striking out seven.

Kremer led with his mid-90s four-seamer against the Yankees, throwing it 39.8% of the time. The pitch earned a put-away percentage of 44.4%. He also saw success from his secondary pitches. He supported the four-seamer with a curveball that he threw 35.2% of the time and he also mixed in a cutter (13.6%) and sinker (11.4%). The cutter and sinker were extremely effective, each inducing a whiff rate of 50%.

Kremer spent the 2019 season pitching through various levels of the minor leagues, including Triple-A, and produced solid results. Over 21 starts and 113.2 innings in the minors last year, he posted a 3.72 ERA and 1.302 WHIP while averaging 9.7 K/9.

Kremer is a bit of a gamble in redraft leagues. His next two starts are lined up for a rematch with the Yankees on Saturday followed by a tough matchup against the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday, September 17. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him struggle in both. However, dynasty owners should certainly take an interest in Kremer. As long as he can have adequate showings in his remaining outings this year, he should be a shoo-in for the Orioles rotation next year.

 

Brent Rooker (OF, MIN)

Minnesota Twins outfielder Brent Rooker has gotten off to a strong start to his major league career. Over his first 19 plate appearances, Rooker posted a slash line of .278/.316/.500 with a home run, a double and five RBI. He registered an impressive barrel rate of 15% with a similarly impressive hard-hit rate of 53.8% over that stretch.

The Twins called up Rooker after placing Max Kepler (adductor) on the Injured List with a left adductor strain. Since the call-up, the Twins have certainly made an attempt to get Rooker regular playing time, even slotting him into the heart of the order somewhat often.

Rooker showed some promising power potential in the minors. He hit 22 home runs over 130 games at Double-A in 2018. The following year, which he spent primarily at Triple-A, he posted an OPS of .928 with 14 home runs in just 67 games.

Rooker is a great add in dynasty leagues. He could find himself becoming a regular in the vaunted Twins lineup by next season. As for this year, he might not offer too much help for the final stretch. Kepler seems on pace to return as soon as this weekend and that would result in either Rooker getting sent back to the team’s alternate site or just a big decrease in playing time.

 

Daz Cameron (OF, DET)

Detroit Tigers outfielder Daz Cameron, who is the son of longtime MLB outfielder Mike Cameron, made his MLB debut this past Wednesday, going 0-for-3 in the team’s 19-0 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. Cameron went on to start in both games of the team’s doubleheader the following day as well, but again failed to get a hit, going 0-for-6. He did reach base on a walk in Game 1 though.

Cameron has been a standout base stealer in the minors. He swiped 32 bases back in 2017, then another 41 bases over the next two years. He’s also shown some power potential with a total of 35 home runs over the past three years in the minors. He certainly has a shot to become a future 20/20 guy in the big leagues.

The biggest questions for Cameron are his plate discipline and contact abilities. Last year over 120 games at Triple-A, he hit just .214 and struck out 152 times. Those are two pretty big red flags for someone who is going to need to get on base consistently in the majors to provide sufficient fantasy value.

Cameron should get semi-regular playing time the rest of the way this year for the Tigers so the organization can get an extended look at him. He’s not relevant in redraft leagues at this point unless we see him start to get hot and maybe rise in the Tigers batting order. In dynasty leagues, if he shows some promising trends at the plate, he could be worth a roster spot as a base-stealing asset going into the future.

 

Clarke Schmidt (SP/RP, NYY)

New York Yankees pitcher Clarke Schmidt made his MLB debut in relief last weekend and it was certainly an eventful outing. Schmidt entered in the fifth inning of Game 2 of a doubleheader against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday and went on to allow three hits, a walk and two earned runs over 1 1/3 innings. He returned to the mound three days later and pitched a clean eighth inning with two strikeouts, but he also gave up two walks.

Schmidt was used almost exclusively as a starter in the minor leagues the past two years. Last year, over 18 starts and 90.2 innings across multiple levels, he posted a 3.47 ERA and 1.18 WHIP while averaging 10.1 K/9.

Even though his first two big league outings were less than desirable, Schmidt still showed a few promising signs. He registered a hard-hit rate of just 28.6% in the two appearances and generated a solid strikeout rate of 21.4%.

Schmidt should get a chance to be a starter in the big leagues at some point in the near future, but that won’t necessarily be this year. He’d likely need one of the team’s current starters to get hurt or for J.A. Happ or Jordan Montgomery to implode over their next few starts – which is certainly on the table.

For now, Schmidt should remain on waivers in all redraft leagues, but be ready to jump on him if there’s any news of an opening in the Yankees rotation. In dynasty leagues, Schmidt is a solid stash. Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton are both unrestricted free agents after this year. That leaves the team with only Gerrit Cole and Deivi Garcia as likely starters going into 2021. Schmidt could find himself in a Spring 2021 battle for a rotation spot and if he earns a spot, he could be a good sleeper going into next year.



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Evaluating MLB Rookie Performances for Fantasy Baseball - Week 8

We’re in the final month of the MLB regular season, meaning that the fantasy regular seasons for many of us will be over soon with playoffs right around the corner. It may be slightly harder for recently called-up rookies to make an impact the rest of the way given the short schedule to establish themselves and get comfortable in the majors.

However, that doesn’t mean we won’t see a few exceptions to the rule, a few rookies who can help play important roles down the stretch this year.

This week’s batch of recent call-ups could feature a few of the potential difference-makers down the stretch, depending on whether you need some backend rotation help or if you can take a shot on a high-upside hitter to provide depth to your lineup.

 

Deivi Garcia (SP, NYY)

New York Yankees pitcher Deivi Garcia made his highly-anticipated MLB debut on August 30 against the New York Mets and left Yankees fans with a debut to remember. Garcia pitched six innings and allowed four hits and one unearned run while striking out six and walking none. He became the first pitcher in Yankees history to go at least six innings and not allow a walk or an earned run in his debut.

Garcia’s second start, against the Baltimore Orioles this past Friday, wasn’t quite as encouraging. He allowed four earned runs on five hits and two walks over 4 2/3 innings, but still struck out six batters in the game.

The 21-year-old Garcia leads with a low-90s four-seamer that has induced a 23.7% put away percentage and averaged 13.6 inches of vertical drop, over three inches more than league average. He threw the pitch 61.8% of the time in his first two starts. However, it’s his curveball that has been the key to his success so far. Inducing a whiff rate of 50%, Garcia’s curveball has been simply lethal. He threw the pitch 21.8% of the time in his first two starts and it averaged a vertical drop of 65.1 inches, almost six inches more than league average.

Here’s a quick look at that beauty of a pitch:

via GIPHY

While Garcia’s next start hadn’t yet been announced at the time of this writing, it’s nearly inconceivable that the Yankees wouldn’t make a rotation spot for him, given the struggles we’ve seen from all non-Gerrit Cole starters on the team. Garcia should continue to take the rotation spot vacated by James Paxton (flexor strain), who is likely to remain on the Injured List for at least two more weeks. Once Paxton returns, J.A. Happ and Jordan Montgomery, who sport ERAs of 4.68 and 5.76, respectively, could very much be expendable in the rotation.

Garcia should be added in all leagues. His upside is too significant to ignore. He has elite strikeout potential, demonstrated by his 13.3 K/9 over 111 1/3 innings in the minors last year. Plus, he has the vaunted Yankees offense supporting him, which should give him ample opportunities for wins.

 

Ke'Bryan Hayes (3B, PIT)

Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes got off to a hot start to his MLB career, going 2-for-5 with a home run, a double and three runs scored in his MLB debut this past Tuesday. In Friday’s double-header against the Cincinnati Reds, he continued to impress, going 3-for-6 with a walk and a triple.

Hayes is one of the top hitting prospects in the Pirates’ organization. While he didn’t excel in any one statistic during his career in the minors, he showed glimpses of having the ability to contribute across the board.

As a 20-year-old in High-A in 2017, he stole 27 bases in 108 games. The following year, over 117 games at Double-A, he had a solid slash line of .293/.375/.444. Last year, over 110 games at Triple-A, he hit 10 home runs and tallied 55 RBI.

Hayes should be part of the Pirates’ lineup for most games going forward. Erik Gonzalez leads the team in starts at third base, Hayes’ primary position, but Gonzalez might be playing more second base going forward, splitting time with the struggling Kevin Newman.

Third base is one of the deepest positions in fantasy, which makes Hayes far from a must-add in any league, but if you have an open spot in a deep rotisserie league or head-to-head categories league and need someone who could contribute in a variety of statistics, Hayes is worth monitoring going forward.

 

Luis Campusano (C, SD)

San Diego Padres catcher/designated hitter Luis Campusano followed the lead of Hayes by going yard in his MLB debut this week. Campusano got the call on Friday and went 1-for-3 with a home run and two runs in the game.

Campusano primarily played catcher in the minors, but most of his playing time with the Padres this year should come at designated hitter as the team appears to be content with the Austin Hedges and Francisco Mejia combination behind the plate.

Campusano had a fantastic year at High-A last season, slashing .325/.396/.509 with 15 home runs and 81 RBI over 110 games. He showed elite plate discipline with 57 strikeouts compared to 52 walks over the season.

Campusano is just 21 years old. His future is extremely bright, but he may not have much value in redraft leagues this year unless the Padres sustain a few more key injuries. Tommy Pham (hamate bone) could be back before the end of the month if he continues to progress, making the playing time situation even more complicated for Campusano.

Campusano is a great target for anyone playing the long game in dynasty leagues, but for redraft leagues, he can be left on waivers for now.

 

Bobby Dalbec (1B, BOS)

After trading first baseman Mitch Moreland to the San Diego Padres, the Boston Red Sox called up first baseman Bobby Dalbec for his major league debut. Dalbec quickly became a near regular in the team’s starting lineup, despite struggling at the plate.

Through his first six MLB games, Dalbec, went just 4-for-22 with 12 strikeouts. He did show a glimpse of his power production over that stretch with two home runs. Just like the above two hitters, Dalbec went yard in his MLB debut.

Dalbec hit a total of 59 home runs in the minors over the past two years, so there’s certainly plenty of reason to buy in to his power potential. The two main questions for him right now are in regards to playing time and strikeout concerns. He struck out a whopping 176 times over 129 games at High-A and Double-A in 2018, so the fact that his strikeout rate over six MLB games was north of 50% is really no surprise.

As for his playing time, Dalbec will primarily be splitting time with Michael Chavis, who has a very similar prospect makeup to Dalbec. Both players have shown elite power potential, but enormous strikeout concerns. Chavis had a strikeout rate of 33.2% over 95 games in the majors last year. This year, his strikeout woes have gotten even worse as he’s whiffing at a 41.3% clip. He’s also slugging just .352 this year compared with .444 last season.

If Dalbec can deliver at the plate in the coming weeks, he should be able to earn a higher share of the first base starts than Chavis. First base has been a weak position in fantasy this year, so fantasy owners in deep leagues and AL-only leagues should monitor the situation going forward. If Dalbec continues to see the bulk of the starts and does adequately well with them, he’s a worthy add.



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Evaluating MLB Rookie Performances - Week 7

While we’ve had some big time pitching prospects make waves throughout the 2020 season, it was this past week where we saw many of the most promising pitching performances from prospects so far this year.

The 2020 fantasy season doesn’t have too much longer to go as the regular MLB season concludes in about a month. Choosing the right pitchers to round out your rotation the rest of the way could be the difference between a deep playoff run and an early playoff exit.

The three pitchers highlighted in this week’s article could all play big roles in redraft leagues to close out the year and they all look to be fantastic assets in all dynasty and keeper leagues.

 

Triston McKenzie (SP, CLE)

In what may have been the most impressive MLB debut of the 2020 season, Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Triston McKenzie pitched six innings and allowed two hits, one walk and one earned run while striking out 10 on August 22 against the Detroit Tigers. McKenzie instantly became a must-add pitcher in all deep leagues despite the fact that it wasn’t clear at the time whether or not he’d have another start with the club.

McKenzie had back problems that shortened his 2018 campaign, then suffered from lat and pectoral strains that cost him the entirety of the 2019 season. His MLB debut on August 22 was his first competitive action in almost two years.

Luckily for McKenzie, fellow pitcher Zach Plesac (COVID-19 violation) has been away from the team since McKenzie’s debut, enabling McKenzie to get a second start and for now, it looks like McKenzie should stay in the rotation for the near future.

In McKenzie’s second start, which came this past Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals, the results weren’t quite as inspiring as McKenzie pitched just four innings and allowed three hits, three walks and two earned runs.

He’s currently slated to make both of his next two starts against the Kansas City Royals, two games where he could deliver some solid strikeout numbers with the potential to go a bit deeper than he did against the Cardinals this past week. He’s worth owning in all leagues where you have a need for a back-end rotation pitcher.

 

Ian Anderson (SP, ATL)

Despite going up against a tough New York Yankees lineup and facing off against Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, Atlanta Braves rookie pitcher Ian Anderson coasted through his MLB debut. He pitched six innings, allowing just one hit, two walks and one earned run while striking out six.

The 22-year-old Anderson had been extremely productive in the minor leagues ever since first joining the Braves’ organization in 2016. Last year, over 26 starts split between Double-A and Triple-A, Anderson posted a 3.38 ERA and 1.25 WHIP with a K/9 of 11.4.

Anderson leads with a mid-90s four-seamer and supports it with a changeup that had phenomenal results in his big league debut. He threw 35 changeups against the Yankees and it induced a whiff-rate of 44.4%, yielding no hits.

The Braves are desperately in need of starting pitchers right now and Anderson will certainly be sticking in the rotation going forward. With the support of the Braves’ high-powered offense and a minor league track record of limiting walks that should enable him to pitch into the sixth innings of games, Anderson is someone worth owning in all redraft leagues. His next start will be on the road against the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday.

 

Sixto Sanchez (SP, MIA)

While McKenzie and Anderson may have had the most impressive MLB debuts this year, Miami Marlins starting pitcher Sixto Sanchez likely had the best standalone outing of them all.

In his second MLB start on August 28 against a tough Tampa Bay Rays lineup, Sanchez pitched seven innings and allowed six hits, one walk and no runs while striking out 10.

Sanchez excelled at limiting base runners and run production in the minors. Last year, over 20 starts split between Double-A and High-A, Sanchez posted a 2.76 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. However, the strikeouts we saw against Tampa Bay seemingly came out of nowhere. Sanchez averaged just 8.1 K/9 in the minors last year and just 8.0 the year before.

Of the three pitchers highlighted in this week’s article, Sanchez seems like the riskiest to trust in redraft leagues. The Marlins aren’t going to give nearly as much run support or bullpen support as the Indians or Braves. The Marlins couldn’t even come out ahead in Sanchez’s 10-strikeout gem, losing the game 2-0.

Sanchez is slated to make his next start against the Rays once again on Tuesday and knowing the Rays, they’ll have prepared themselves for the rematch quite well so don’t expect similar results. Keep an eye on Sanchez in redraft leagues, but he’s far from a must-own at this point.

 

Ryan Mountcastle (OF, BAL)

Baltimore Orioles outfielder Ryan Mountcastle had a tremendous first week in the majors. Through his first seven games, he went 8-for-24 with two doubles, two RBI and two runs.

Mountcastle became one of the top hitting prospects in the Orioles’ organization the past few years by showing both solid contact numbers and solid power potential.

Last year was by far his best year from a power standpoint. He spent the entirety of the year at Triple-A and slashed .312/.344/.527 with 25 home runs and 83 RBI. However, the increase in power unfortunately also showed a decrease in plate discipline in 2019.

In 2018, Mountcastle struck out just 79 times compared with 26 walks over 102 games. The following year, he struck out 130 times with 24 walks over 127 games.

Through seven big league games, he’s maintained a solid strikeout-to-walk ratio with six strikeouts and four walks. That’s an extremely good sign to see from someone with potential strikeout concerns exposed to their first big league action.

Mountcastle should be added in all deep redraft leagues and AL-only leagues. He’s likely going to be a regular in the middle-third of the Orioles lineup the rest of the year and should provide solid power numbers along with a solid batting average. In more shallow leagues, he can remain on waivers.



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Unexpected Dynasty Risers - Pitchers

Every year in dynasty league drafts fantasy managers will target young future stars, prospects which rank highly among all prospect rankings. There's a tendency to overdraft/overpay for these high-end prospects as fantasy folks are drawn to the new and shiny things much like kids get gooey-eyed for the newest toys each Christmas.

While this is understandable as these prospects are ranked highly for a reason; they have the best chance of translating potential into Major League success. But there are always some hidden gems, those with impressive Minor League numbers which can act as a great indicator of how a player will fare in the Majors and how a prospect will transition into fantasy relevancy when they get called up to The Show.

But every year, lesser know prospects emerge at the Major League level as viable fantasy options. Sometimes, players in their mid-twenties who aren't even in the top-10 of their club's farm system get called up and perform at an unexpected level to become fantasy relevant. Despite the uncertainties of 2020, we are still seeing such players come from nowhere into fantasy relevancy so we're going to take a look at five pitchers who are doing just that, assess their performances so far and what their long-term fantasy value is.

 

Tejay Antone (SP/RP, CIN)

Antone has appeared in seven games for the Reds predominately out of the bullpen but has made two starts, although he's yet to get through five innings and maxed out at 82 pitches. That has limited his exposure in fantasy which can only be a good thing as he continues to go under the radar. But a quick look at the 26-year-old's Statcast profile will very quickly get you on the Antone hype-train.

After missing 2017 following TJS, Antone had a solid 2018 season in High-A pitching 96.0 innings (17 starts) with a 4.03 ERA. Antone started 2019 in Double-A and in 13 starts put up a 3.38 ERA (74.2 IP) before finishing the season in Triple-A with a less impressive 4.65 ERA from his 71.2 IP (13 starts and one relief appearance). His Triple-A BABIP was .402 so his ERA was inflated due to some misfortune.

In the Major League, Antone has a 2.66 ERA from his 20.1 IP with a 3.38 SIERA. His numbers have been better coming in relief as he's given up just two earned runs in 12.0 IP out of the bullpen and that could be where his long-term future lies. Antone might offer more fantasy value as a long reliever too as he's struck out 18 batters in his 12 relief innings (compared to 9 Ks in 8.1 IP as a starter). He can get through enough innings to help with ERA and WHIP and will pick up wins along the way. His dynasty outlook is certainly a positive one and a few more good outings this year will only increase interest among fantasy players.

 

Logan Webb (SP, SF)

Webb came into the season as the Giants no.1 pitching prospect, but after making just one Triple-A start in his career, he made the jump up to the Majors in 2019 and struggled. As a result, some of the shine came off of Webb's fantasy outlook. In eight starts, Webb threw 39.2 IP and had a 5.22 ERA, a 1.46 WHIP with 37 Ks and 14 BB. Although his underlying numbers suggest Webb was unfortunate last year (4.45 SIERA, 4.12 FIP and 3.89 xFIP), they aren't quite at the level to justify rostering Webb in anything other than the deepest of leagues. This year, Webb has marginally better numbers with a 4.35 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in 31.0 IP (seven starts). His underlying numbers are similar too with a 4.48 SIERA, 3.27 FIP and 4.23 xFIP. Again, nothing that really justifies rostering Webb in fantasy leagues.

If we take a look at his minor league numbers, we'll see a pitcher who dominated at the MiLB levels for the last two years. In 2018, Webb had a 2.41 ERA in 104.2 IP before a 1.85 ERA in 63.1 IP last year prior to his Major League call up. The concern for Webb was developing his changeup as he had a plus fastball and slider in the minors but looking at his numbers this year, his changeup has been his best pitch with just a .250 SLG% against it (compared to .400 in 2019).

We're talking small sample sizes but if Webb's changeup does continue to dominate and gives him an out pitch against left-handed hitters, he should be able to take the next step up and become a more dominant pitcher. Interestingly, he's upped its usage this year too from throwing it 20.1% of the time in 2019 to 30.2% in 2020.  This could be the last time you can add Webb to your dynasty rosters without spending much to pick him up.

Devin Smeltzer (SP/RP, MIN)

After being traded by the Dodgers to the Twins in 2018, Smeltzer had an impressive Minor League season in 2019 before being promoted to the Twins. Between Double-A and Triple-A, Smeltzer made 19 starts and one relief appearance, totaling 104.1 IP with just a 2.76 ERA and 1.05 WHIP, tallying 104 Ks and 22 BB. His first go at the Major League level was impressive too as Smeltzer had a 3.86 ERA across 49.0 IP as he made six starts and appeared in relief five times (four of the five relief appearances were at least 4.0 IP). Smeltzer had just an 18.8% K% but only walked 12 batters in the 49.0 IP. He did have a dose of good luck last year with a 4.68 SIERA, 4.58 FIP and 4.85 xFIP so when we see Smeltzer has a 6.59 ERA so far in 2020, you'd be forgiven for thinking he has no fantasy relevance.

However, as lucky as Smeltzer was last year, he's been even more unlucky this year with a 4.19 SIERA, 4.24 FIP and 4.62 xFIP as well as a .344 BABIP against him. He's only pitching 13.2 innings this year in five appearances and made just one start but has pitched between two and three innings in his relief outings and went 4.1 innings in his solitary start, so Smeltzer is at least in consideration for starting long-term and isn't seen as a one-inning type bullpen arm. It's unclear whether Smeltzer will make any more starts in 2020 but if he doesn't, fewer people will be looking to add him to their dynasty rosters this year, making him easier to pick up for your teams with a solid outlook for the coming years.

 

Ryan Castellani (SP, COL)

It seems as though a young pitcher emerges in Colorado every year before finding out how brutal pitching at Coors Field can be and getting discarded in fantasy leagues as quickly as they get rostered. Castellani's Major League career has started well and it'll come as no surprise that he's fared better on the road than at home. In four starts (two home and 2 away), Castellani has a 5.23 home ERA (10.1 IP) and a 1.80 road ERA (10.0 IP). It may seem futile rostering a Rockies pitcher especially one who had an 8.31 ERA in Triple-A last year and a 5.49 ERA in Double-A in 2018. His scouting reports mention Castellani was working to correct his delivery in 2018 and was making mechanical alterations and then last year, had to undergo surgery to remove bone chips in his elbow which limited him to just 10 starts so I'm fine with giving him the benefit of doubt that injury was the cause for last season's numbers. Especially when we see how well he did in the Arizona Fall League after recovering from surgery where he threw 16.2 innings and had just a 2.16 ERA.

Castellani does have a four-pitch arsenal with a four-seam fastball having enough life on it that it registers as a sinker on Statcast almost half the time it's thrown. That will hold him in good stead pitching at Coors Field as if he can keep the ball on the ground, he'll have a much better chance of success there more so than any other ballpark. His fastball has been sitting at around 93 MPH this year but did touch 97 MPH last year in the Minor League so there could be more to come. If we look at the effectiveness of his pitches this year both the actual stats and expected stats against each pitch (below), we have reason to believe Castellani can get even better if he finds more consistent movement on his fastball so it registers as a sinker more often. Castellani could be a very effective pitcher with the Rockies for years to come and is certainly someone who warrants rostering in dynasty leagues.

Pitch type # thrown % used AVG xAVG SLG xSLG wOBA xwOBA
Four seamer 84 26.5 .368 .347 .789 .612 .491 .426
Sinker 69 21.8 .071 .262 .286 .469 .263 .394
Changeup 66 20.8 .125 .213 .313 .292 .206 .243
Slider 59 18.6 .083 .188 .083 .388 .163 .306
Curve 39 12.3 .222 .243 .778 .670 .385 .375

 

JT Brubaker (SP, PIT)

The Pirates have had very little to get excited about in 2020 but the emergence of Brubaker as a viable Major League pitcher is one positive. Whether or not he continues to be a starter or transitions into the bullpen long-term could rest on how he gets on the remainder of this year but he's certainly done well enough to warrant consideration as a rotation option. After a highly impressive 2018 which saw Brubaker reach Triple-A, the Pirates added him to their 40-man roster but any hopes of a call-up to the Major Leagues last year were curtailed by arm injuries (forearm strain and elbow inflammation) which limited him to just 27.2 IP. His ERA last year was still a miserly 2.28 when he was able to take the mound, which backed up his improvements in 2018 that saw him throw 154 innings with a combined 2.81 ERA across two levels.

After two scoreless relief outings to begin this year consisting of 5.0 IP and seven Ks, Brubaker moved into the starting rotation but struggled and lasted just three innings in each of his first two starts and gave up three earned runs in both games. His last two starts have been better with a 4.0 IP, 2 ER and 6 K performance followed by a 5.0 IP, 2 ER and 6 K outing, both coming against Milwaukee. His best two pitches are his sinking fastball and a slider with a curveball and changeup added into the mix but neither of which grade out particularly well. The lack of a really solid third pitch is what leads many to believe Brubaker will end up in the bullpen but his curveball and changeup have yet to give up a hit so far (thrown a combined 60 times). If just one of those pitches can continue to be as good as they have so far and with his hard slider, the offspeed pitches will continue to compliment his sinking fastball which has enough movement on it to be a strikeout pitch itself. That effective third pitch could be the difference between being a good bullpen arm and a good Major League starter as well as making Brubaker a viable fantasy option.



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Unexpected Dynasty Risers - Hitters

Every year in dynasty league drafts fantasy managers will target young future stars, prospects which rank highly among all prospect rankings. There's a tendency to overdraft/overpay for these high-end prospects as fantasy folks are drawn to the new and shiny things much like kids get gooey-eyed for the newest toys each Christmas.

While this is understandable as these prospects are ranked highly for a reason; they have the best chance of translating potential into Major League success. But there are always some hidden gems, those with impressive Minor League numbers which can act as a great indicator of how a player will fare in the Majors and how a prospect will transition into fantasy relevancy when they get called up to The Show.

But every year, lesser know prospects emerge at the Major League level as viable fantasy options. Players in their mid-twenties who aren't even in the top-10 of their club's farm system get called up and perform at an unexpected level to become fantasy relevant. Despite the uncertainties of 2020, we are still seeing such players come from nowhere into fantasy relevancy so we're going to take a look at five hitters who are doing just that, assess their performances so far and what their long-term fantasy value is.

 

Jake Cronenworth (1B/2B/SS, SD)

At 26 years old, Cronenworth isn't really a prospect, but he's a rookie who is making a name for himself in 2020. The 'extra piece' of the move which saw Tommy Pham traded from the Rays to the Padres, the utility infielder is showing his own (Cronen)worth with a .342/.402/.608 slash line through 25 games. Yeah, his name lends itself to dreadful puns too. Although he moved around the infield earlier in the short season, Cronenworth has established himself as the Padres' regular second baseman but his ability to cover at first base and shortstop improves his chances of staying in the lineup every day.

Although he was drafted by the Rays as a two-way player after a successful College pitching career, Cronenworth only pitched seven innings last year which was the first time he took the mound in the minors, so we can assume his pitching career is over. Last year also saw Cronenworth have his best season as a hitter with 10 homers, 12 stolen bases and a .334/.429/.520 slash line. In 504 Minor League games, he hit 22 home runs and stole 73 bases so it might be a bit surprising Cronenworth has three homers compared to just one steal so far this year. But he's become a fixture in the middle of the Padres lineup and is establishing himself as a versatile modest five-tool player.

Given he was universally undrafted prior to this season, Cronenworth should have been a bargain pick up in dynasty leagues and at the very least, will give you a reason to root for arguably the most exciting team in baseball right now.

Austin Slater (1B/OF, SF)

Unlike Cronenworth, Slater has previous Major League experience having played 176 games for the Giants between 2017 - 2019. Now 27 years old, Slater was having something of a career year prior to injuring his groin and heading to the IL (after playing with a sore elbow). Through just 19 games, Slater was already just one home run (four HR) and one stolen base (six SB) shy of tying season highs and his .347/.458/.653 slash line is comfortably a career-best.

It's easy to look at his .406 BABIP and assume Slater has just been really fortunate this year but if we take a closer look at his Statcast profile, his expected numbers don't scream that significant regression is coming.

2020 Stats Expected 2020 stats Difference
AVG xAVG  
.347 .341 - .006
SLG xSLG  
.653 .598 - .055
WOBA xWOBA  
.458 .443 - .015

The differences between Slater's actual and expected stats are pretty small and while we can expect his numbers to slip away a bit, he should still put up very good numbers on his return from injury and be a viable outfielder option in all fantasy leagues. Slater has only had one season of double-digit steals (2018 with eight in Triple-A and seven in the Major League) but ranks in the 76th percentile in sprint speed this year according to Statcast. First-year Giants manager Gabe Kapler appears keen to utilize the outfielder's speed with six steals from seven attempts in just 19 games. Slater has emerged as a viable outfield option in fantasy and should remain a fixture in the Giants lineup for the coming years. He's an ideal cheap source of steals with a good batting average and will chip in with double-digit home runs and likely won't cost much to keep on your roster in dynasty leagues.

 

Mike Brosseau (1B/2B/3B/OF, TB)

Brosseau has been on the fantasy radar in dynasty leagues for the last twelve months after an impressive Triple-A season in 2019 saw him promoted to the Major League. In 73 games for the Durham Bulls, Brosseau hit 16 homers and had a .304/.394/.567 slash line with a .406 WOBA. He turned that into a solid first go in the Major League, hitting .273/.319/.462 with six homers in 51 games. So far this year, Brosseau has mainly been deployed against left-handed pitching and used as a pinch hitter frequently as evidenced by his 50 plate appearances despite appearing in 21 games. A look at his Major League splits will show us if this platoon usage is justified.

  AB AVG OBP SLG K% BB%
2019 vs LHP 70 .300 .329 .500 23.3% 4.1%
2019 vs RHP 62 .242 .309 .419 31.9% 5.8%
2020 vs LHP 30 .367 .394 .800 30.3% 6.1%
2020 vs RHP 14 .214 .353 .214 35.3% 17.6%
Career vs LHP 100 .320 .349 .590 25.5% 4.7%
Career vs RHP 76 .237 .318 .382 32.6% 8.1%

Outside of a better walk-rate, Brosseau fares much better against left-handed pitching. He is only 26 years old and has just 76 at-bats against right-handed pitching so there's plenty of chance for growth, but it's not clear if the Rays will afford him enough chances in games to face more righties. Even if Brosseau justs ends up as a platoon bat, his positional versatility and numbers against lefties are still reasons to warrant inclusion on your dynasty league rosters, especially in leagues where you can make daily roster moves and play match-ups.

 

Edwin Rios (1B/3B, LAD)

Rios made a name for himself after the 2018 Minor League season for hitting over .300 in three straight years. Given the 2018 season was all at the Triple-A level, you'd be forgiven for thinking Rios should be a fixture in the Major League by now and for pretty much all other teams, he would be. Unfortunately for Rios, the Dodgers team is stacked and their farm system is so loaded, he's never even been included in the Dodgers top-10 prospects according to MLB Pipeline. After another impressive Triple-A season last year, Rios eventually made his Major League debut in June and in just 56 plate appearances, managed to hit four home runs and put up a .277/.393/.617 slash line.

In 450 Minor League games, Rios has 95 home runs with an .887 OPS which would normally vault him towards the top of draft boards in dynasty leagues. As mentioned, playing time was the negative factor for Rios but he managed to feature in 14 games this year prior to landing on the IL with a hamstring injury in mid-August. Those 14 games only equated to 31 plate appearances however, yet Rios still hit three homers and when he returns to action he will be looking to maintain his impressive 1.012 OPS.

Rios has featured at both corner infield spots and with Justin Turner a free agent at the end of this year, if Rios continues to impress after he returns from the IL, he could make a serious case for manning the hot corner for the Dodgers long-term, although his defense will likely need to improve for that. He is certainly someone who needs consideration for adding to your roster in dynasty leagues now as this could be the last chance of getting Rios at a discount.

 

Sam Haggerty (2B/OF, SEA)

Haggerty was claimed off of waivers back in January in a move that went almost completely unnoticed. Haggerty also failed to make the Mariners opening day roster so he continued to reside in relative obscurity. But the Mariners called him up and he made his first start in Seattle on August 19th batting eighth and playing left field. Haggerty stole two bases on his debut and found himself batting leadoff the following day. Since then, he's hit second for the Mariners in the next five games, seemingly becoming a fixture in the lineup. Through six games this year, Haggerty has hit .280/.308/.480 with one homer and three steals and has at least one hit in every game he's played. A look at Haggerty's Minor League career numbers will show you why he is worth considering rostering this year and long-term in dynasty leagues.

In 408 Minor League games, Haggerty has amassed 113 steals and managed 49 in 2017 in High-A. Through his 2018 and 2019 season in the Double-A and Triple-A levels, Haggerty played 174 games and stole 49 bases. The problem for Haggerty is a career .249 batting average in the Minor Leagues and it's seldom a good idea to roster hitters who are stolen base only players (Mallex Smith springs to mind as to why). But Haggerty does have good plate discipline and had a .355 OBP throughout the Minor Leagues with an impressive 13.24% BB%. That's likely the reason why the Mariners have no problem with Haggerty hitting in the two-spot. Being a switch hitter who plays good defense should be enough to keep Haggerty in the Mariners lineup as long he keeps getting on base.

Providing his current role sticks, Haggerty will also be a fantasy asset in scoring runs and in leagues which value walks/OBP, he will be an excellent addition to your fantasy teams outfield for the coming years.



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Evaluating MLB Rookie Performances - Week 6

It’s been a dream week for prospect watchers and dynasty owners who have been holding onto some of the recently called-up rookies for the past few years. Essentially every day this past week, we got news of a Top-100 prospect getting the call, something you’ll never see in a normal 162-game season.

For those of you with your frustrations and grievances against this year’s shortened campaign (yours truly, included), hopefully the past week’s excitement has helped you come around on the bizarre 2020 season a bit.

The Detroit Tigers were the clear center of attention in this week’s prospect bonanza, with their three call-ups, primarily star pitching prospect Casey Mize. I covered their debuts in an article earlier this week focused exclusively on the Tigers’ trio of prospects, so for this week’s edition of the recent call-up overview, I’ll be featuring the non-Tiger prospects who warrant your attention.

 

Dylan Carlson (OF, STL)

St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Dylan Carlson, the organization’s top prospect, has gotten off to a rough start to his MLB career. Through his first nine games, Carlson had just one extra-base hit, a double, and was 4-for-31 overall with no RBI. He’s been primarily hitting in the bottom-third of the lineup, but has earned a few shots in the two-spot. He’s certainly going to need to come around quickly in order to warrant more starts near the top.

The 21-year-old Carlson did a little bit of everything in his minor league career, which is what led to his high prospect ranking. Last year, over 126 games split between Double-A and Triple-A, Carlson slashed .292/.372/.542 with 26 home runs, 95 runs and 20 stolen bases.

He has the makings of a future elite leadoff hitter, someone who could be a 30-30 threat for a number of seasons throughout his twenties.

However, this year, his outlook is more of a question. The Cardinals are built to compete this season and if Carlson doesn’t turn things around quickly, he’s either going to remain at the bottom of the lineup - which of course greatly lowers his fantasy upside - or he’s going to be sent back to the team’s alternate site.

He’s someone worth taking a shot on in deep redraft leagues if you have an open bench spot and are looking for someone with high upside. In more shallow redraft leagues, he can remain on waivers.

Dynasty owners, don’t fret over the slow start. If the Carlson owner in your league is hitting the panic button, go and get him.

 

Joey Bart (C, SF)

With San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey opting out of the 2020 season, it paved a more open path to playing time for one of the organization’s top prospects and he has finally made his highly-anticipated arrival.

Joey Bart was the second overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. That same year, he went on to win the Johnny Bench Award, given to the top catcher in college baseball, after a standout season at Georgia Tech.

Bart has shown fantastic contact-hitting abilities as well as elite power potential over the past few years in the minors. He hit .278 with 16 home runs and 48 RBI in just 79 games at High-A and Double-A last year.

In his MLB debut on Thursday, Bart hit sixth in the order and went 1-for-4 with a double. He should be in line to start regularly for the team going forward. Chadwick Tromp and Tyler Heineman had been splitting catcher duties for the team prior to Bart’s call-up, but both have hit under .200 this year and Heineman was optioned to the team’s alternate site when Bart got the call.

Bart should be added in all deep leagues and is worthy of consideration in shallow leagues as well for owners in need of catcher help.

 

Luis Garcia (SS, WAS)

With Starlin Castro (wrist) likely out for the rest of the regular season with a broken wrist, the Washington Nationals called up 20-year-old shortstop Luis Garcia a lot quicker than many of us thought.

Garcia made a lot of headlines for being the first player born in the 2000s to hit a home run in the major leagues.


 

Overall, his first week in the big leagues has been a resounding success. Through his first four games, he went 6-for-17 with four RBI and three runs. He started at second base and hit sixth in the order in each of his first four games.

Garcia struggled a decent amount last season at Double-A, which wasn’t too big of a surprise given the fact that he was just 19 years old at the time. He hit only four home runs and had an OPS of just .617 over 129 games in 2019. Those uninspiring numbers made his recent call-up all the more surprising.

If Garcia doesn’t have second base eligibility in your league, he will soon. And that’s where you’re most likely to get value out of him due to the depth of high-end hitters at shortstop.

He’s worth adding in all deep redraft leagues and NL-only leagues, but if he starts to struggle don’t be too attached to him.

For owners of Garcia in dynasty leagues, it’s certainly inspiring to see the youngster contribute in the majors already and this recent stretch surely increases his value, putting to rest any concerns of his disappointing 2019 output.

 

Dane Dunning (SP, CWS)

On the other end of Casey Mize’s MLB debut this past week was another top pitching prospect, Chicago White Sox pitcher Dane Dunning. While Mize certainly had the bulk of the attention in the game, Dunning definitely held his own in the battle of MLB debuts.

Dunning went 4 1/3 innings this past Wednesday, allowing five hits, one walk and three earned runs, while striking out seven. He had two extremely dominant pitches in the game. His four-seamer, which he led with and threw 41.1% of the time, induced a whiff rate of 50%, while his slider, thrown 28.8% of the time, had a whiff rate of 53.8% and a put-away percentage of 55.6%. He also mixed in an effective sinker as well as a curveball and a changeup.

Dunning missed the entirety of the 2019 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, which makes it all the more surprising he was able to step in for his MLB debut given the bizarre course of the 2020 season. In his last competitive action, pitching in Double-A and High-A in 2018, Dunning made 15 starts and had a 2.71 ERA and 1.19 WHIP and averaged 10.4 K/9.

Dunning was sent back to the team’s alternate site the day after his debut, but fantasy owners shouldn’t be alarmed by this. The team has two days off next week and they are slated to go with a four-man rotation until Dunning is needed to step in again, likely the following week.

Dynasty owners should be jumping on Dunning right away if he’s available. In redraft leagues, it’s a bit more complicated. For deep, daily lock leagues, he’s someone worth adding once we get an announcement regarding his next start. He has fantastic strikeout potential and with the way the White Sox are hitting lately, he should have decent win potential as well.

 

Brendan Rodgers (SS, COL)

Colorado Rockies shortstop Brendan Rodgers, the third overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, was called up this past week for his second trip to the majors. Rodgers played in 25 games last season before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery. He struggled over those 25 games, slashing just .224/.272/.250 with only two extra-base hits (both doubles) and 27 strikeouts.

Rodgers became one of the top prospects in all of baseball after a standout 2017 campaign when he slashed .336/.373/.567 and hit 18 home runs over just 89 games split between High-A and Double-A. He was just 20 years old at the time.

Now, fresh off his 24th birthday earlier this month, Rodgers is certainly under a good amount of pressure to start delivering in the big leagues. In his first start of the year this past Thursday, Rodgers played second base and hit seventh in the lineup, going 0-for-5 with two strikeouts in the game.

Playing time is certainly a big question for Rodgers. With David Dahl (back) placed on the Injured List, Garrett Hampson should see more time in the outfield, opening up opportunities at second base. However, the team also has Ryan McMahon getting starts at second as well as Chris Owings.

Rodgers needs to start producing quickly in order to attain regular playing time. If he does, then he’s someone worth adding in all deep redraft leagues as his best case scenario is an extremely productive hitter in the league’s best hitting environment. For now, however, he can remain on the waiver wire.



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Tigers Trio Ready to Make an Instant Impact?

This past week has been the most eventful period for the Detroit Tigers organization for quite some time. Ever since being swept out of the first round of the 2014 playoffs by a hobbled Baltimore Orioles team, there’s been a lingering cloud of dread over the franchise, with fans wondering when the team’s rebuild would finally start to materialize.

Through a series of trades and high draft picks, the next generation of Tigers baseball is finally starting to look like an actual thing rather than just an idea. And this week, we finally got a look at three of the potential faces of this next generation, donning actual Tigers uniforms rather than those of their minor league affiliates.

In this article, we’ll take a look at how the team’s newcomers faired in their first MLB appearances and how fantasy owners in both season-long and dynasty leagues should feel about them going forward.

 

Casey Mize

No doubt the banner child for the up-and-coming Tigers, Casey Mize made his MLB debut this Wednesday, an event that Tigers fans had been looking forward to ever since the top prospect was taken first overall in the 2018 MLB Draft.

Mize has done nothing but amp up expectations for his big league career since that 2018 draft. In his first start at Double-A Erie in 2019, Mize threw a no-hitter on just 98 pitches. Splitting his time at Double- and High-A in 2019, Mize went 8-3 over 21 starts, posting a 2.55 ERA and .942 WHIP with 8.7 K/9.

Despite the fact that Mize only went 4 1/3 innings in his MLB debut on Wednesday and allowed seven hits and three earned runs, there was certainly a lot to like from his outing.

In both his college career and his minor league career, Mize was exceptional at limiting walks. In his sophomore year at Auburn University, he struck out 109 batters while surrendering just nine walks. In his big league debut, Mize didn’t succumb to the pressure and change his ways. He didn’t give up a single walk and threw 49 of his 73 pitches for strikes.

He also showed some impressive put-away abilities on Wednesday, striking out seven of the 20 batters he faced.

Mize featured four different pitches in his debut, a fastball, slider, curveball, and splitter. While his low-to-mid 90s fastball and dynamic slider are his typical leading pitches, it was certainly the splitter that stole headlines in his debut.

Of the ten splitters Mize threw, he generated five swinging strikes. Only one ball was put in play and it went for an out.

He used the nasty splitter to record his first career strikeout on Yoan Moncada:

Mize was pulled in the fifth inning of his start on Wednesday after a shaky start to the inning, allowing a leadoff double to Zack Collins followed by a pair of singles that each scored a run. His only real blemish before that inning was a solo home run by Edwin Encarnacion in the second.

Because of Mize’s strong track record of limiting walks, he should be able to keep his pitch count low enough going forward that he’ll be able to go six innings or deeper in any start where he remains in control. That’s something notably tough to come by amongst rookie pitchers. Nate Pearson is yet to go deeper than five innings in a start, Brady Singer’s lengthiest start across five outings has been 5 2/3 and it took Jesus Luzardo four starts to make it to the end of the sixth inning for the first time.

Mize is currently owned in about 50% of fantasy leagues. That’s a number that absolutely needs to go up. While he won’t come close to hitting his future upside this season, he’s still going be a great source of strikeouts and should be able to limit runs as well. The shortened season and the fact that his call up came about a month into it should favor him going forward as he won’t be on a season-long innings count, just more of a game-to-game pitch limit that should be somewhere around 90.

In dynasty leagues, Mize owners should love what they saw from him on Wednesday. The fact that the Tigers finally pulled the trigger on calling him up is a big relief and should ensure that he’s set for a solid full year in 2021 that should see a lot of strikeouts and significant help in ratios. You should only consider trading him if you’re getting a massive return that includes a young pitcher with similar upside.

 

Tarik Skubal

A day before Mize became the center of attention for the baseball world, 23-year-old Tarik Skubal made his own MLB debut for the Tigers. The results, unfortunately, weren’t quite as inspiring as Mize’s. Skubal went just two innings, allowing seven hits, a walk, and four earned runs while striking out just one batter.

Skubal sky-rocketed up the Tigers’ prospect rankings the past two years after being a ninth-round draft pick in 2018.

Like Mize, Skubal split his 2019 campaign at Double- and High-A, but as impressive as Mize’s numbers were over the year, Skubal’s might have been even better. Over 122.2 innings last year, Skubal posted a 2.42 ERA and 1.01 WHIP with a whopping 179 strikeouts and 37 walks. That strikeout clip is good for a gaudy K/9 rate of 13.1.

Skubal leads with a mid-90s four-seamer, which he threw 55.8% of the time in his debut. It wasn’t a particularly effective day for the pitch on Tuesday as it generated a whiff rate of just 14.3% without a single put away. His slider, however, showed some real promise. He threw the pitch just nine times, but it led to his only strikeout and averaged 38.9 inches of vertical drop, nearly four inches more than league average. He also has a changeup and curveball that he regularly works into his arsenal.

Skubal is owned in just about 10% of fantasy leagues right now. It certainly makes sense that fantasy owners are skeptical to trust him as he doesn’t have the esteemed pedigree of Mize and he has a horrendous Tigers offense supporting him. Keep an eye on him going forward and if he shows he can go deeper into games and generate some more strikeouts as he did in the minors, he’s worth taking a flyer on in deep leagues.

In dynasty leagues, owners might be a bit wary of the fact that Skubal’s ascent into the top prospect rankings happened so quickly and seemingly out of nowhere. However, the minor league numbers should trump any concerns of that nature. Like Mize, because Skubal got his first shot this week, he now becomes essentially a sure thing for a full season as a big-league starter next year as long as he stays healthy and continues to progress. Dynasty owners should hold onto him regardless of how the rest of this strange, shortened season develops. If the Skubal owner in your league makes him available in exchange for more short-term help, jump on the opportunity.

 

Isaac Paredes

Before either Mize or Skubal took the field for the Tigers this week, third baseman Isaac Paredes made his MLB debut on Monday. He started each of his first three games in the big leagues, going just 1-for-9 with two RBI and a run.

Those two RBI both came on his first major league hit in his debut:

The 21-year-old Paredes showed exceptional plate discipline in the minors. Last year over 127 games at Double-A, he struck out just 61 times and drew 57 walks, good for a K/BB ratio of 1.07. That strong K/BB ratio certainly continued through his first three MLB games as he drew two walks to pair with his two strikeouts.

At this point, Paredes doesn’t seem destined to excel in any one particular stat, but he showed some overall statistical balance and versatility in the minors. During his stint at Double-A last year, he slashed .282/.368/.416 with 13 home runs and five stolen bases.

Paredes entered the season as the Tigers’ sixth overall prospect, one spot behind Skubal. Owned in about 1% of fantasy leagues right now, he’s someone who is very unlikely to contribute much for fantasy purposes this season. He hit eighth in the Tigers lineup in his MLB debut, then hit ninth in the next two games, a tough spot to do damage from in an uninspiring Tigers order.

For dynasty leagues, he’s a bit of a deep pull. If your league has 200 or fewer players kept each season, he’s hard to justify rostering. The upside of Paredes is likely a solid contact hitter with minimal strikeouts who can provide around 15 to 20 home runs over the course of a season. There’s certainly some value to that in deep rotisserie and head-to-head categories leagues, but you can wait for him to get there before you add him to your roster.



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Evaluating Rookie Performances - Week 5

The Phillies were the big headline-stealers in the prospect game this past week, calling up both their top pitching prospect, Spencer Howard, and their top overall prospect, infielder Alec Bohm.

But they weren’t the only NL East team with significant rookie developments this past week. The Marlins and Mets have some interesting rookies to watch going forward as well.

Read further to see how interested you should be in this week’s NL East-heavy rookie watch…

 

Spencer Howard (SP, PHI)

The most exciting pitching prospect in the city of brotherly love didn’t have the most inspiring MLB debut this past weekend against a tough Atlanta Braves lineup. Howard allowed seven hits, a walk and four earned runs over 4 2/3 innings. He was tagged for two home runs in the game and struck out four.

On the bright side, he threw four different pitches in the game, and each had something significant to like about it. He led with his mid-90s four-seamer, which had some significant movement, both vertically and horizontally. Then he threw a slider and changeup about 20% of the time each. The slider induced a whiff rate of 53.8% while the changeup registered an xWOBA of just .273 and an xSLG of just .396. He only threw his fourth pitch, his curveball, five times in the start, but it was extremely nasty. It averaged a vertical drop of 72.4 inches, which is 9.2 inches more than league average.

Here’s a quick look at that beauty of a pitch:


Another positive from Howard’s debut is that the Phillies weren’t especially restricting on him, allowing him to throw 81 pitches despite some of his struggles. The third inning was where the Braves did their first damage, with three hits including a two-run home run by Freddie Freeman. Howard then faced the bottom of the order in the fourth inning and cruised through it. A lot of rookies would have been pulled after that, with the top of the order coming up. Howard was tagged with a Ronald Acuna Jr. home run to lead off that fifth inning – which of course gives credence to the philosophy of pulling young pitchers earlier – but the fact that manager Joe Girardi gave Howard a longer leash is encouraging for future usage.

Howard had elite production in the minor leagues last year. Over 71 innings across multiple levels, he posted a 2.03 ERA and 0.83 WHIP with 11.9 K/9. Simply put, the makings of a future ace are certainly there.

Howard’s biggest obstacle in the short-term is finding a secure rotation spot. Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Jake Arrieta and Zach Eflin are the clear top four in the Phillies rotation and Vince Velasquez has the experience and an adequate enough track record to seemingly give him the leg up on the fifth rotation spot.

Howard’s currently rostered in about 20% of fantasy leagues. If there’s any indication that he’ll become a regular in the team’s rotation, that number will need to shoot all the way up. Deep league owners would be wise to beat the rush and add him now to – at the very minimum – stow him on your bench. In more shallow leagues, you can have a bit more of a wait-and-see approach.

 

Alec Bohm (3B, PHI)

Alec Bohm made his MLB debut on Thursday, going 1-for-4 with a double against Baltimore. He started at third base in the game and hit sixth in the lineup.

Bohm has a fantastic prospect profile with a great mix of plate discipline and power. Last year, over 125 games spread across Double-A, High-A and Single-A, he slashed .305/.378/.518 with 21 home runs, 80 RBI, 57 walks and just 73 strikeouts. If he can replicate those types of numbers in the big leagues, he could develop an extremely valuable, diversified profile somewhat similar to a Jose Ramirez type.

However, the road to immediate playing time is a bit unclear. Jean Segura has been the team’s primary third baseman this year. While there’s some speculation that Bohm could cover first base, he was primarily used as a third baseman in the minors. In Bohm’s first major league start, Segura shifted to second base while regular second baseman Scott Kingery was left out of the lineup.

Kingery could shift to a utility type of position and for now, that’s probably the only hope Bohm has in finding regular playing time. Despite the early-season struggles of first baseman Rhys Hoskins, the track record of the slugging first baseman is too strong to suggest he’ll lose his everyday job easily.

Bohm is currently rostered in about 30% of fantasy leagues. If you have an empty spot to fill, or someone who is very drop-worthy, Bohm is a great high-upside talent to take a shot on. He’s most attractive – at least in the short-term – in deep, daily-lock leagues as his playing time is uncertain.

 

Andres Gimenez (SS, NYM)

No doubt one of the best surprises this year for the New York Mets has been the exceptional play of shortstop Andres Gimenez.

Through 19 games, Gimenez is slashing .286/.327/.388 with five stolen bases, a double, two triples and seven runs. He’s yet to go yard on the season, but he did show a little pop in the minor leagues as he hit nine home runs over 117 games at Double-A last year. Plus, he’s just 21 years old and has a good chance of developing more of a power profile in the coming years.

Gimenez began seeing extended playing time at second base following an injury to Robinson Cano (abductor strain). He shifted to shortstop earlier this week while Amed Rosario was dealing with a stomach bug. Unfortunately for Gimenez, both Cano and Rosario should be back very soon, especially Rosario. Once both players return, Gimenez might find himself in more of a utility role.

Keep an eye on Gimenez’s playing time once the team is healthy. They could find a way to get him into the lineup most days with creative use of their designated hitter position, which was primarily held down by Yoenis Cespedes before he opted out of the season. Lately, it’s been Dominic Smith who has typically been used there.

Gimenez’s best asset should be his stolen bases. He stole a total of 66 bases the past two years in the minors and could be a difference-maker in the stat if he earns that regular playing time.

 

Matt Foster (P, CWS)

Chicago White Sox pitcher Matt Foster’s first few weeks in the majors couldn’t have gone any better. He earned a win in his MLB debut on August 1, pitching a scoreless fifth inning, and all he’s done since is pitch another 6 2/3 scoreless innings since.

But that’s just the beginning of the story.

Foster hasn’t just thrown 7 2/3 scoreless innings, they’ve been completely dominant ones. He’s struck out 13 of the 26 batters he’s faced, giving him a strikeout rate of exactly 50%, which ranks amongst the top 1% of the league. He’s allowed only two hits and his hard-hit rate against is just 18.2%.

Foster proved to be a strikeout extraordinaire in the minor leagues. He posted a 10.3 K/9 in 43 innings at Double-A and Triple-A last year. He backed up the strikeouts with a sturdy 3.20 ERA and 1.08 WHIP.

This past Saturday, Foster made his first start at any level as he opened up a bullpen game for the White Sox. He pitched two innings and allowed only one base runner through a walk.

Foster leads with a mid-90s four-seamer that has significant movement to it, averaging 12.8 inches of vertical drop, 2.6 inches over league average. He supports the four-seamer with a dominant changeup that has induced a 50% whiff rate so far this year.

There are multiple fantasy formats where Foster could become of value this year. He should be on the radar of anyone in deep leagues who needs help in ratios, primarily K/9 or strikeout percentage. He could also develop into a reliable source of holds. If he keeps rolling, the team will most certainly be going to him in high leverage setup situations. Last, if he indeed develops a trend of starting bullpen games for the Sox, he could earn SP eligibility and he could also be a valuable asset in leagues that require start minimums.

 

Humberto Mejia (SP, MIA)

Miami Marlins pitcher Humberto Mejia made his major league debut last weekend and though it was short, he showed some promising signs, suggesting he could be in line for additional starts soon, even though he was sent to the team’s alternate site shortly after his debut.

Mejia pitched 2 1/3 innings against the New York Mets last Friday and allowed two hits, two walks and a run. However, it was his six strikeouts that really stood out.

Here’s a look at one of those six strikeouts as he completely fools Amed Rosario:


Mejia’s mid-90s four-seamer, which he threw 62.7% of the time in his start, induced a whiff rate of 33.3% and averaged 12.8 inches of vertical drop. He supported the four-seamer with his curveball (20.9% of his pitches), slider (11.9%) and changeup (4.5%).

There’s a lot to like about Mejia’s minor league track record, not just his strikeouts. Last year, split between Single-A and High-A, he threw 90 1/3 innings and posted a 2.09 ERA and 0.897 WHIP. 14 of his 18 appearances were starts, including a complete game.

Despite Mejia being sent to the Marlins’ alternate site this past week, we all know that the Marlins roster is likely to fluctuate greatly throughout the year. Three of the team’s primary starters, Sandy Alcantara, Caleb Smith and Jose Urena, are all currently on the Injured List due to positive COVID-19 tests.

Right now, Mejia appears to be seventh in the pecking order for the team’s rotation, behind the above-mentioned three as well as currently-active pitchers Pablo Lopez, Jordan Yamamoto and Elieser Hernandez.

Dynasty league owners looking for a promising pitching prospect who could also have short-term value should keep a close eye on Mejia.



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Evaluating Rookie Performances - Week 4

Happy Jo Adell week everyone!

It may not have been the most thrilling way for Adell to begin his big league career, with a whimper of a single followed by a quad injury two days later, but there’s still plenty to discuss with the Angels’ new slugger and some fellow rookies who made headlines this week.

In the weekly article, I take a look around the majors at rookie performances and their potential impacts for the 2020 fantasy baseball season. Without any further ado, here are six recently called-up rookies worth knowing about…

 

Jo Adell (OF, LAA)

The top prospect in the Los Angeles Angels organization, and one of the top prospects in all of baseball, Adell made his major league debut against the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday. He went 1-for-4 in the game, earning his first big league hit on a slow groundball single. He followed the game up with another 1-for-4 effort the following day, but struck out three times in the game. He hit seventh in the order in both games.

Unfortunately, Adell was sidelined for his third game while dealing with quad tightness, but manager Joe Maddon suggested it was just a minor injury and that the star prospect should be considered day-to-day.

Adell struck out a total of four times over eight at-bats in his first two games, which isn’t ideal, but it shouldn’t be too concerning. He had a strikeout rate around 30% the past two years in the minor leagues, certainly not an alarming rate for a power hitter like Adell.

Expect Adell to play every day once he recovers from his quad injury. The Angels didn’t bring him up to sit on their bench. He should be owned in all fantasy leagues, given his potential to be an extremely effective power hitter right off the bat. He also has a strong track record of getting on base consistently and could give fantasy owners a boost in batting average as he hit .289 and .290, respectively, in his last two seasons in the minors.

 

Luis Patino (SP/RP, SD)

20-year-old San Diego Padres pitcher Luis Patino made his MLB debut on Wednesday, coming on in relief to pitch the sixth and seventh innings of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He got off to a rocky start to his debut. After recording a fly ball out, he gave up a pair of singles, followed by a three-run home run off the bat of Joc Pederson. Luckily, Patino settled down after that, striking out Enrique Hernandez to end the sixth, then pitching a perfect seventh inning that included a strikeout of Max Muncy.

The shortened season could help incentivize the Padres to give Patino a chance in the team’s rotation, but there’s been no indication that’s the plan thus far. The team has been slowly working up the youngster’s innings over the past few years. He threw 56 innings in 2017, followed by 83 1/3 in 2018 and 94 2/3 in 2019.

Patino has had an exceptional run in the minor leagues, posting a 2.57 ERA and 1.13 WHIP with 11.7 K/9 over 20 games (19 starts) in High-A and Double-A last year. While he can be left on waivers in redraft leagues for now, make sure to keep an eye on him as he could be a very valuable contributor in ratios for rotisserie and head-to-head categories leagues if he earns some spot-starts.

 

Daulton Varsho (C, ARI)

Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Daulton Varsho is one of the more interesting recent call-ups for fantasy purposes for a number of reasons.

First off, his positional versatility. While he’s primarily a catcher, he has the ability to play a variety of positions and in his first two big league starts, he played centerfield and leftfield. Right now, the Diamondbacks are pretty set in the outfield with Starling Marte, Kole Calhoun and David Peralta as their primary starters, but if there’s an injury there, Varsho could be very interesting in fantasy as a player who gets outfield starts with catcher eligibility.

Second off, his statistical versatility. Varsho has filled the stat sheet throughout his minor league career. Last year, over 108 games at Double-AA, he tallied 18 home runs, 25 doubles and 21 stolen bases while slashing .301/.378/.520. He also showed great plate discipline with 63 strikeouts compared with 42 walks last year.

Through his first six big league plate appearances, Varsho went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts and a walk. He is certainly worth taking a flyer on in deep dynasty leagues, but in all other leagues, he can be left on waivers for now. Just make sure to keep an eye on him.

 

Anderson Tejeda (2B, TEX)

Texas Rangers second baseman Anderson Tejeda certainly had a flashy debut on Thursday against the Oakland Athletics. Tejeda was responsible for three of the team’s four runs in the game, going 2-for-4 with a home run, three RBI and a stolen base.

The 22-year-old Tejeda has shown some clear power potential in the minors. He hit 19 home runs over 121 games at High-A in 2018. He’s also regularly been active on the base paths, with 30 stolen bases over his past three minor league seasons.

The team has been without Rougned Odor (oblique) since Saturday, August 2. As of this writing, Odor has remained day-to-day and hasn’t been placed on the Injured List. Assuming Odor does indeed return soon, there likely won’t be much of an opportunity for playing time for Tejeda. He can be left on waivers in all leagues at this point.

 

David Peterson (SP, NYM)

Through two major league starts, New York Mets starting pitcher David Peterson certainly has looked ready for the show. He made his MLB debut July 28 against the Red Sox and went 5 2/3 innings, allowing seven hits, two walks and two earned runs while striking out three. He followed that outing up with a quality start against the Braves on August 2, going six innings and allowing five hits, one walk and three earned runs while striking out eight.

Peterson spent the entirety of the 2019 season at Double-AA, going 3-6 over 24 starts with a 4.19 ERA and 1.35 WHIP, averaging 9.5 K/9. There’s certainly a lot of reason for optimism for Peterson’s future, however, his time in the rotation might be short-lived, for now. Marcus Stroman (calf) is nearing a return from the Injured List and Peterson certainly looks like the most likely candidate to lose his rotation spot. Behind ace Jacob deGrom, the team’s rotation is rounded out by veterans Steven Matz, Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello.

You can hold onto Peterson for short-term help while Stroman works his way back, but he shouldn’t be a primary factor in your long-term season plans for now.

 

Joey Gerber (RP, SEA)

Anyone in deep leagues looking for some sneaky ratio help, keep an eye on Seattle Mariners relief pitcher Joey Gerber. The 23-year-old was called up this past Tuesday and made his MLB debut that same day, pitching a clean sixth inning against the Los Angeles Angels.

Gerber showed elite strikeout abilities in the minors. In 2019, over 48 2/3 innings at High-A and Double-A, Gerber struck out 69 batters, good for 12.8 K/9, while posting a 2.59 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. The previous year, split with Low-A and Single-A, he struck out a whopping 43 batters in just 25 2/3 innings, good for 15.1 K/9.

The Mariners’ bullpen has been extremely shaky to say the least so far this year. Closer Taylor Williams boasts a 7.20 ERA through five appearances and primary setup man Dan Altavilla hasn’t been much better with a 5.40 ERA through five innings of work.

If Gerber can find his way to meaningful innings and carry his minor league strikeout magic up to the majors, he could be a very valuable asset in a number of fantasy formats. Keep an eye on him and see if anything develops.



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Evaluating Rookie Performances – Week 2

In this weekly column, we’ll be featuring rookies who were recently called up or who had the most notable performances in the past week.

At the start of this week, we highlighted some of the key rookie performances during the opening weekend, including the hot start of Luis Robert and the MLB debut of Brady Singer. You can find that article here.

Generally, we’re going to avoid discussing the same players week after week. Otherwise, it might just end up being the Luis Robert and Nate Pearson show. For this week’s edition, we’ll try to contain our love for the Blue Jays flame-throwing prospect - emphasis on try.

 

Nate Pearson (SP, TOR)

The highly-anticipated debut of Pearson came on Wednesday against the Washington Nationals and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Pearson gave up just two hits and two walks with no runs over five innings, averaging a strikeout per inning.

Pearson heavily leaned on two pitches in the start, his four-seamer and his slider. Both pitches appear well on their way to being dominant pitches in the big leagues. He averaged 96 miles per hour on his four-seamer and saw some significant movement on it with an average spin rate of 2,420 revolutions per minute and an average vertical drop of 11.2 inches, which is 2.3 inches more than league average.

His slider was even more impressive, inducing a whiff rate of 47.1% with an average vertical drop of 40.1 inches, which is 3.1 inches more than league average.

Pearson is coming off a remarkable year in the minor leagues where he posted a 2.30 ERA and a 0.885 WHIP with 119 strikeouts over 101.2 innings. He is about as enticing as a pitching prospect as you’re likely to find, checking just about every box possible.

Pearson is currently owned in about 60% of fantasy leagues. That number absolutely needs to shoot up. While the Blue Jays certainly won’t extend him too far in his starts, all he should need to justify a roster spot is five or six innings per start. He’ll provide significant help in strikeouts and ratios and should even earn a decent amount of wins with an improving Blue Jays offense supporting him.

 

Kyle Lewis (OF, SEA)

No doubt one of the most talked-about rookies in the league so far, Seattle Mariners outfielder Kyle Lewis has been on an absolute tear to start his first full big-league season. Through his first seven games, Lewis is slashing .448/.500/.655 with two home runs, seven RBI and five runs. He’s been primarily hitting third in the Mariners order and there’s little reason to think that will change anytime soon.

But how legit exactly is Lewis’s scorching start?

In his past three years in the minor leagues, Lewis didn’t offer much of a preview of the power he’s shown so far in 2020. His highest season-ending OPS in the minors the past three years was .741 in 2019. Over 122 games in Double-A in 2019, he hit 11 home runs and 25 doubles, tallying 62 RBI and 61 runs.

We’ve certainly seen a trend in the past decade or less of prospects exhibiting more power in the majors than they did in the minors, with players like Francisco Lindor and Fernando Tatis Jr. coming to mind. However, a key difference with Lewis is his age. Lindor and Tatis, for example, were 21 and 20, respectively, when they began their MLB careers. Lewis, meanwhile, just recently turned 25. So he was 23 and 24 back in 2019 when he failed to show a great deal of power potential in the minors. Maybe he’s developed slower than the aforementioned stars, but the more likely scenario might be that this past week is more of an anomaly than anything.

Another alarming metric for Lewis is of course his strikeouts. Unlike his power surge, the strikeouts were something that we could see coming from his minor league career. He struck out 152 times in his 122 at-bats at Double-A last year. Over his first seven games this year, he had already struck out 12 times.

Lewis is rostered in about 70% of fantasy leagues right now. Because of the shortened season we’re dealing with, there’s no problem with that number and there’s even an argument it should be higher for now. Fantasy owners can take a chance on him and ride him out to see how long this hot streak lasts. Owners in dynasty leagues, however, would be wise to try and sell high if there’s someone buying.

 

Cristian Javier (SP, HOU)

Houston Astros pitcher Cristian Javier blew away expectations in his first start this past Wednesday against a tough Los Angeles Dodgers lineup. Javier pitched 5 2/3 innings and allowed just two hits, one walk and one earned run while striking out eight. He limited the Dodgers to a 14.3% hard-hit rate and an exit velocity of just 82.1, both clips ranking amongst the 88th percentile in the league thus far.

Javier’s success this past week certainly didn’t come out of nowhere, as he dominated in the minors last season, spending the bulk of the year at Double-A. Over 113 2/3 innings last year, Javier posted a 1.74 ERA and 0.97 WHIP with 170 strikeouts.

Despite his remarkable minor league track record, Javier has floated under the radar for the most part, potentially due to the surplus of pitching the Astros have or the presence of the younger, more highly-regarded Astros pitching prospect Forrest Whitley.

Regardless, Javier is certainly on our radars now.

He’s currently owned in under 20% of fantasy leagues, which is a shockingly low number considering how impressive his first start was. That number should shoot up over the weekend assuming the Astros don’t take him out of the rotation, which does bring us to the primary concern regarding Javier. His rotation spot is very much a question. The opportunity certainly seems to be there with Justin Verlander sidelined for at least a month or so, but manager Dusty Baker hasn’t fully commit to Javier’s spot in the rotation quite yet.

Overall, Javier certainly should be added in all deep leagues and many shallow leagues as well as a speculative add just for how valuable he could be if he continues to stay in the rotation going forward.

 

Edward Olivares (OF, SD)

In his first stint in the major leagues, San Diego Padres 24-year-old outfielder Edward Olivares has seen some significant playing time. He started on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday this past week and closed out Tuesday’s game as well. He’s been hitting at the bottom of the lineup, but his production has been decent. Over 16 plate appearances, he’s slashing .286/.375/.357 with two runs and two RBI.

Olivares spent the entirety of the 2019 season at Double-A, hitting .283 with an .801 OPS, tallying 18 home runs, 77 RBI, 85 runs and 35 stolen bases over 127 games. He showed solid plate discipline in the minors, striking out just 98 times last year while walking 43 times.

He’s almost universally un-owned in fantasy leagues right now and he can certainly stay that way in redraft leagues until we see a bit more from him. In dynasty leagues, however, he’s worth further consideration. He could certainly turn into a dependable source of batting average and stolen bases with low strikeouts.

 

James Karinchak (RP, CLE)

On Thursday, Cleveland Indians rookie relief pitcher James Karinchak closed out Shane Bieber’s gem against the Minnesota Twins to earn his first career save. Karinchak has looked strong in his four innings of work so far this year, allowing no hits, two walks and no runs while recording five strikeouts.

Karinchak was a strikeout extraordinaire in the minor leagues. Last year, he struck out a whopping 74 batters over just 30 1/3 innings, splitting his time between multiple levels including Triple-A. He also briefly pitched in the majors last year, striking out eight batters over 5 1/3 innings while allowing just one earned run.

Indians closer Brad Hand has struggled out of the gate. He barely clung to his second save on Tuesday, then got shelled by the White Sox the following day, allowing four runs while recording just one out.

Karinchak can be left on waivers in all leagues at this point, but definitely keep an eye on him. If Hand continues to struggle and the team looks to Karinchak for future saves, he could be an extremely valuable fantasy asset.



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Looking at Rookie Performances - Opening Weekend 2020

As we wait oh-so-impatiently for star Angels prospect Jo Adell to get the call and delay our anticipation for top Blue Jays pitching prospect Nate Pearson, there are still plenty of noteworthy rookie performances to examine from this past weekend's action.

We're going to take a look at the most notable performers and look at their fantasy rostered percentages to see whether they should be added in more leagues this week.

For more coverage on upcoming prospects who could make their way onto this column soon, check out Hot Prospects to Watch.

 

Dustin May (RP/SP, LAD)

Dustin May was called upon to start the Los Angeles Dodgers's first game of the season on Thursday against the San Francisco Giants after veteran Clayton Kershaw (back) was placed on the Injured List shortly before the game. May made 14 appearances with the Dodgers last year, but only four starts. He performed well with the team in 2019, posting a 3.63 ERA and 1.096 WHIP with 8.3 K/9.

There was a lot to like about May's 2020 debut. The surface numbers don't scream at you. He pitched 4 1/3 innings and allowed seven hits, no walks and one earned run while striking out four. However, on the more promising front, he allowed an exit velocity of just 82.2 and a launch angle of just 4.4. Last year, he allowed an exit velocity of 86.8 and a launch angle of 7.9. Additionally, his hard-hit rate on Thursday was just 18.8%, compared with 33% last year. Granted May was facing an extremely weak Giants lineup, but the improved metrics is encouraging nonetheless.

May is owned in about 50% of fantasy leagues right now, which needs to go up. His usage is certainly a big question going forward as the Dodgers have a bit of a logjam at starting pitcher and are notoriously cautious with the usage of their rookie pitchers. However, at the very least, May should be added for short-term help while he maintains a rotation spot. Plus, even if he is relegated to long relief, he could be of help in many rotisserie and categories leagues by posting solid ratios. All in all, it's likely he'll find himself with several starts throughout the year solely due to the frequency of pitcher injuries. He's currently slated to make his second start against the Astros on Wednesday.

 

Brady Singer (SP, KC)

In his MLB debut against the Cleveland Indians on Saturday, Kansas City Royals pitcher Brady Singer went five innings and allowed three hits, two walks and two earned runs while striking out seven. It was an impressive debut, to say the least. He induced a sturdy whiff percentage of 45.2% in the start. His slider was his most dominant pitch, inducing a whiff percentage of 58.8% while averaging 41.8 inches of drop, over three inches more than league average.

Owned in about 10% of fantasy leagues, Singer needs to be added in far more leagues. He should be owned in all deep leagues and added for at least this week in more shallow leagues as he faces a dreadful Detroit Tigers lineup in his next start on Thursday. It's no guarantee Singer stays in the rotation throughout the year, but if he keeps pitching like this, it'll be impossible for manager Mike Matheny to take him out.

 

Luis Robert (OF, CWS)

Highly-touted Chicago White Sox prospect Luis Robert made his MLB debut this past weekend and certainly didn't disappoint. In his first three games, Robert went 4-for-11 with a home run, a double, two runs and two RBI. He hit out of the seventh spot in the lineup in all three games, but if he keeps hitting like this, that will certainly change.

Robert's exit velocity of 96.3 this past weekend is an example of the elite power potential he has. He hit 32 home runs and had a 1.001 OPS over 122 minor league games in 2019. Robert should be able to deliver somewhere around 15 home runs in the shortened 2020 season.

Robert is almost universally owned in fantasy leagues at this point. There aren't really many actions owners can or should take with him at this point. If he's on your roster, hold onto him and enjoy the ride.

 

Carter Kieboom (SS, WAS)

Dealing with a groin issue right now, Washington Nationals shortstop Carter Kieboom only made one start in the team's first series. He played designated hitter in the game and batted seventh, going 1-for-4 with a run. Kieboom appeared in 11 games for the Nationals in 2019 and despite hitting two home runs, he struggled overall, slashing .128/.209/.282.

His road to playing time isn't 100% clear right now as Trea Turner of course holds down the shortstop position. He could have a chance to emerge as the team's primary second baseman, as the team's current starter Starlin Castro doesn't figure to be the strongest roadblock. The existence of the DH in the National League this year should certainly help as well.

Kieboom is one of the Nationals' top prospects. He slashed .303/.409/.493 in Triple-A last year. He is only owned in about 10% of leagues right now and he can remain un-owned in most formats, however, make sure to keep an eye on him. If he gets hot, he could certainly be a difference-maker.

 

Jesus Luzardo (RP, OAK)

Oakland Athletics pitcher Jesus Luzardo had a solid showing in his first action of 2020, a relief appearance on Saturday against the Los Angeles Angels. Luzardo pitched three innings and allowed one hit, one walk and no runs while recording two strikeouts.

Luzardo, one of the game's top pitching prospects, is yet to make his first big league start. He made six relief appearances for the Athletics last year, posting a 1.50 ERA and 0.67 WHIP with 16 strikeouts in 12 innings.

The 22-year-old is currently owned in about 90% of fantasy leagues, which is about the right amount. If the Athletics announce he'll be joining the rotation, that number should go up to 100%.

 

William Contreras (C, ATL)

A surprise inclusion on this week's list, Atlanta Braves catcher William Contreras found his way onto fantasy radars after a three-hit day on Sunday. Well, maybe he entered fantasy radars just by being the younger brother of stud catcher Willson Contreras.

The younger Contreras only made one start over the weekend as Alex Jackson started at catcher for the Braves on Friday and Saturday. However, Jackson went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts while Contreras was 4-for-6 with a double and an RBI over the weekend. The team is without starting catcher Travis D'Arnaud (COVID-19 recovery) for the near future so anyone in deep leagues in need of immediate catcher help can consider adding Contreras. He's only owned in about 1% of fantasy leagues as of this writing.



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Prospects To Cut Loose In Dynasty Leagues

The dynasty format requires an owner to consider both the immediate and future implications of draft picks, trades, and waiver wire moves. Viewing roster decisions through two lenses, both present and long-term future makes fantasy baseball much more strategic and, unfortunately, much less forgiving. Any wrong move lives with you for years and makes you the subject of continuing brutal harassment from league mates.

The decision to cut loose a prospect in lieu of another prospect, a major leaguer who fits a specific need or for roster space is always difficult. With the minor league season canceled in 2020, the decision to cut loose a prospect that you may have invested draft capital and time in becomes even more difficult. There are no updated statistics or 2020 metrics we can use to evaluate the growth and development of those prospects.

Below I will cover four players who had poor 2019 campaigns who won’t have an opportunity to show additional development until 2021. As a result, these players can be dropped in dynasty formats to make room for other prospects, roster space, or major league talent that fits an owner’s immediate needs.

 

Victor Victor Mesa (OF, MIA)

Miami Marlins outfielder Victor Victor Mesa was signed by the Marlins in October 2018 and received a sizeable $5.25M signing bonus. In 2019, Mesa failed to live up to his lofty signing bonus and expectations. Heading into 2019, Mesa was the Marlins’ No. 2 MLB Pipeline prospect. Unfortunately, between high Single-A and Double-A in 2019, Mesa posted a putrid .235/.274/.263 line with no home runs, 29 RBI, and just ten extra-base hits in 464 at-bats. Mesa did compile a low strikeout rate of less than 13%, a good attribute for a speedy table-setter. However, his high groundball rate of more than 60%, combined with overall low exit velocity, led to a large number of weak outs.

Mesa is considered a top-tier defender in centerfield and he has successfully utilized his speed on the base paths. In 2019, he swiped 18 bags in 20 attempts between two levels in the Marlins’ system. That said, despite the defensive prowess and elite speed, the general consensus is that Mesa only projects as a reserve outfielder. While his skill set may be beneficial for Miami in the late innings when they have a lead or need a pinch-runner, it doesn’t play in the fantasy landscape. As a result, Mesa, once a top-100 prospect, has fallen from second to 26th on MLB Pipeline’s top-30 prospects list for the Marlins. FanGraphs also has significantly downgraded Mesa to the Marlins’ 32nd best prospect due to his offensive woes and total lack of power.

Mesa will not have an opportunity to enhance his value and play in a formal game until sometime in 2021 when he is 24 years old. This is obviously not ideal for someone who struggled so mightily against low minor league pitching in 2019. In addition, Mesa faces competition for regular playing time, if and when he reaches the majors, from higher-rated prospects including Monte Harrison, J.J. Bleday, Jesus Sanchez, and Peyton Burdick. The once top prospect Mesa, now considered a defense-first outfielder blocked by higher ceiling prospects, is not worth holding in dynasty formats.

 

Bubba Thompson (OF, TEX)

Despite his inclusion in the column, Texas Rangers outfielder Bubba Thompson still projects as a starting centerfielder whom I remain a tremendous fan of. Thompson was the 26th overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. Despite his pedigree, a poor, injury-riddled 2019, combined with a possible future logjam in the Rangers outfield, makes Thompson expendable in dynasty formats.

Thompson’s main issues have been his inability to stay on the field, his poor strikeout rate and low career on-base percentage. Repeated injuries have impeded Thompson’s development since he was drafted. Tendinitis in both knees hampered him in 2018, limiting him to just 84 games in low Single-A that season. In April of 2019, Thompson suffered a broken hamate bone in his left hand which required surgery. Once he returned in June of 2019, he crashed into an outfield wall which set him back another month due to a resulting ankle injury. When all was said and done in 2019, his hamate and ankle injuries limited him to just 57 games in high Single-A. In those 57 games, Thompson posted an awful .178/.261/.312 line with only five home runs and 21 RBI in 202 at-bats. More concerning was the fact that Thompson also struck out 72 times, equating to a career-worst 32% strikeout rate. By the end of 2019, his career on-base-percentage in the minors had plummeted to .313 in 714 plate appearances across three levels.

Although Thompson has a natural speed and power combination skill set, his inability to make contact, get on base, and stay healthy, calls into question whether he can reach his 20-20 potential. His strong defense and speed should theoretically keep him in the lineup once he reaches the majors. However, competition from other top prospects including the speedy Leodys Taveras, the powerful Bayron Lora, the versatile Nick Solak, and Steele Walker could potentially relegate him to reserve status. That is why 2020 was so crucial for his development. His next real opportunity to work on hitting deficiencies and prove he can remain healthy won’t be until 2021.

Thompson’s natural athleticism is still recognized by the industry. He remains ranked 15th on MLB Pipeline’s Rangers top-30 prospects list. There’s no doubt he has the potential to become a 20-20 player if everything clicks. That said, there are way too many variables at work here. Can he stay healthy? Can he sufficiently cut down on strikeouts and get on base? How will the hamate injury impact his power ability going forward? As a result, Thompson should be let go in dynasty formats to make room for more advanced prospects who have shown development and returns on their potential. That is not to say Thompson is a lost cause. Owners should monitor Thompson’s season next year. If he begins to show signs of consistent health, on-base prowess, and a power return despite the wrist injury, owners should be quick to get back on this train.

 

Albert Abreu (P, NYY)

New York Yankees pitcher Albert Abreu signed with the Astros back in 2013. He was eventually traded to the Yankees in 2016 as part of the deal that brought Brian McCann to Houston. Despite his high ceiling, thanks to a 94-98 mph fastball that tops out at 101 mph and two other highly graded pitches, Abreu’s production in the minors has fallen short of expectations. As a result, the 24-year old who once ranked third on MLB Pipeline’s Yankees top-30 prospects list is now ranked No. 11.

Injuries and a lack of control have been Abreu’s Achilles heel since coming over to the Yankees. In his first three seasons in the Yankees organization, he managed to pitch only 222 2/3 innings due to a variety of injuries. These included shoulder, biceps, and elbow issues, not to mention an appendectomy for good measure. Beyond his injury history, in 439 career minor league innings pitched, Abreu has walked 211 batters. This translates to a minor league career 4.3 walks per nine innings, contributing to a minor league career 1.33 WHIP.

While the Yankees have been patient with Abreu in his development as a starting pitcher, he is simply not progressing in limiting his control issues. Just last year, while at Double-A, his walk rate exceeded his minor league average. In 96 2/3 innings pitched, Abreu registered 4.9 walks per nine innings. This amounted to an awful 53 walks which contributed to a bloated 1.61 WHIP. Falling behind in counts regularly and consistently issuing free passes won’t play in the majors (or Yankee Stadium for that matter). As a result, Abreu has yet to pitch above Double-A.

Given the other top prospect arms in the organization, including Clarke Schmidt, Deivi Garcia, and Luis Gil, it is more likely than not that Abreu will end up a power bullpen arm. His top-tier fastball velocity should help him make the transition to a reliever. This would help bolster the Yankees bullpen, but it doesn’t do much for dynasty league owners. Those who have held onto Abreu hoping to realize his high starting pitching ceiling may want to consider letting him go for other more developed arms.

While Abreu may one day be used as a closer given his fastball that tops 100 mph, he would still need to reign in his control issues to be effective. Abreu has shown absolutely no signs that he can limit walks over his six-year minor league career. Despite being on the Yankees 40-man roster, Abreu won’t really get the chance to work on his control issues until minor league games resume in 2021. As a result, he can be let go in dynasty formats.

 

Luis Garcia (SS/2B, PHI)

Philadelphia Phillies infielder Luis Garcia is another player who I remain a huge fan of despite being included in this column. After an incredible Rookie-League debut in 2018, Garcia had a disastrous 2019. In 524 plate appearances with the low Single-A Lakewood Blueclaws of the Southern Atlantic League, Garcia posted a .186/.261/.255 line with four home runs, 36 RBI, nine stolen bases, and a .516 OPS. By comparison, in 2018 with the Gulf Coast League Phillies West, Garcia posted a .369/.433/.488 line in 187 plate appearances. He added one HR, 32 RBI, and 12 stolen bases on his way to winning the Gulf Coast League batting title at 17-years old.

Garcia, who turns just 20 in October of 2020, is still very young. It is clear, however, that at 18 years old he was overmatched by the pitching in the Sally. The Phillies’ decision to push Garcia aggressively to full-season ball in Lakewood did not translate into success. Scouting reports from 2019 reveal that Garcia was frequently late on fastballs, way too passive on pitches that were in the zone, and confused by breaking balls.

Perhaps more than any other player in this column, the minor league shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacts Garcia’s development. Were it not for the shutdown, I would have recommended dynasty owners continue to hold Garcia to see if he could have bounced back in 2020. Garcia, who was one of the top prospects in the 2017-18 international amateur class, is still ranked 6th on MLB Pipeline’s Phillies top-30 prospects list. He has a solid contact, defense, and speed skillset, with some power growth potential as well. That said, although Garcia does project as a starting MLB shortstop, his next taste of competitive ball won’t take place until 2021, most likely in low-Single-A again. As a result, dynasty owners may wish to move on to prospects who showed growth in 2019 or who produce against MLB talent as members of their MLB taxi squads in 2020.

Garcia’s potential as a starting middle infielder who can hit, run, and provide some punch is there. It really becomes a matter of how much opportunity cost dynasty owners will need to expend to eventually get a return on investment. Dynasty owners would be better served to move on from the 19-year old Garcia in the short term while keeping an eye on his development in 2021. Should he start to produce in 2021, then, similar to Bubba Thompson, be ready to get him back onto your rosters.



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Updated Top 50 MLB Prospects for Redraft Leagues

After a long wait, the 2020 MLB season is almost here. But it’s also going to be a season unlike any season we’ve ever seen. This year is going to feel more like a sprint rather than a six-month marathon.

If you’re a fan of prospects — or simply looking for a competitive edge in your fantasy league — then this could be a great year to dive in and really immerse yourself in the world of prospects. The 2020 season could create a perfect storm for key prospects to have significant roles in redraft leagues.

In recent years, more and more teams have begun to aggressively push their prospects through the minors. Teams are also far more willing to hand key roles to unproven youngsters. On top of that, we have a short, 60-game schedule this year that could make contenders out of teams expected to finish near the bottom of the league. If a team like the Tigers gets off to a fast start, they may be tempted to promote players such as Casey Mize and Matt Manning to the Majors more quickly than they planned. With that in mind, we’ve refreshed our Top 50 redraft prospects for 2020.

 

Top 50 MLB Redraft Prospects Rankings

Ranking Player Pos Team ETA
1 Luis Robert"}">Luis Robert OF CWS July
2 Gavin Lux"}">Gavin Lux SS/2B LAD July
3 Carter Kieboom"}">Carter Kieboom 3B/2B WAS July
4 Nate Pearson"}">Nate Pearson SP TOR July
5 Brendan McKay"}">Brendan McKay SP TB July
6 Jo Adell"}">Jo Adell OF LAA August
7 Sean Murphy"}">Sean Murphy C OAK July
8 Nick Solak"}">Nick Solak 3B/OF TEX July
9 Evan White"}">Evan White 1B SEA July
10 Dustin May"}">Dustin May SP LAD July
11 A.J. Puk"}">A.J. Puk SP OAK July
12 Brendan Rodgers"}">Brendan Rodgers 2B/22 COL August
13 Kyle Lewis"}">Kyle Lewis OF SEA July
14 Dylan Carlson"}">Dylan Carlson OF STL August
15 Jesus Luzardo"}">Jesus Luzardo SP OAK July
16 Nick Madrigal"}">Nick Madrigal 2B CWS August
17 Jose Urquidy"}">Jose Urquidy SP HOU July
18 Alec Bohm"}">Alec Bohm 3B PHI August
19 Sam Hilliard"}">Sam Hilliard OF COL August
20 Brent Rooker"}">Brent Rooker OF/1B MIN August
21 Ryan Mountcastle"}">Ryan Mountcastle 1B/3B BAL August
22 Wander Franco"}">Wander Franco SS/3B TB September
23 Austin Hays"}">Austin Hays OF BAL July
24 Alex Kirilloff"}">Alex Kirilloff OF MIN August
25 Tony Gonsolin"}">Tony Gonsolin SP LAD July
26 Nico Hoerner"}">Nico Hoerner 2B/SS CHC August
27 Mitch Keller"}">Mitch Keller SP PIT July
28 Kyle Wright"}">Kyle Wright SP ATL August
29 Monte Harrison"}">Monte Harrison OF MIA July
30 MacKenzie Gore"}">MacKenzie Gore SP SD August
31 Josh Lowe"}">Josh Lowe OF TB August
32 Mauricio Dubon"}">Mauricio Dubon 2B SF August
33 Cristian Pache"}">Cristian Pache OF ATL August
34 Spencer Howard"}">Spencer Howard SP PHI August
35 Abraham Toro"}">Abraham Toro 3B HOU August
36 Sixto Sanchez"}">Sixto Sanchez SP MIA August
37 Ke’Bryan Hayes 3B PIT August
38 Casey Mize SP DET August
39 Luis Patino"}">Luis Patino SP SD August
40 Forrest Whitley"}">Forrest Whitley SP HOU August
41 Daulton Varsho"}">Daulton Varsho C/OF ARZ August
42 Bobby Bradley"}">Bobby Bradley 1B CLE August
43 Matt Manning SP DET August
44 Jared Walsh"}">Jared Walsh OF/1B LAA August
45 Sheldon Neuse"}">Sheldon Neuse 2B/3B OAK August
46 Logan Allen"}">Logan Allen SP CLE August
47 James Karinchak"}">James Karinchak RP CLE July
48 Bryan Abreu"}">Bryan Abreu RP HOU July
49 Brusdar Graterol"}">Brusdar Graterol RP LAD July
50 Hunter Harvey"}">Hunter Harvey RP BAL July

 

Top 10 Prospects for 2020 Redraft Leagues

Luis Robert, OF, White Sox: Robert has been wowing at Summer Camp and comes with electric bat speed. The big question with this young hitter is how well he’ll handle Major League breaking balls and off-speed pitches. But his bat speed is so good that, when he’s locked in, he has the ability to adjust even when he’s fooled. There is 30-30 potential here in a full season. But one thing to be mindful of is that Robert is a very, very streaky hitter so with a short season this could a very negative thing -- especially if he gets off to a slow start.

Gavin Lux, SS/2B, Dodgers: After a modest first full season in pro ball in 2017, Lux has quickly turned himself into one of the best young hitters in the game. After hitting nearly .400 in a half-season of Triple last year, he’s ready to assume a full-time role for the Dodgers. There is some swing-and-miss to his game — which has increased the more he’s developed his in-game power — but it should lower again as he gains additional experience and will make his batting average less reliant on a strong BABIP. But, because he hits the ball consistently hard and has good wheels, he should have no issue posting strong BABIPs for the foreseeable future. Lux could develop into a .300 hitter with 30-home run potential.

Carter Kieboom, 3B, Nationals: With a number of Nationals players sitting out the season it opens up definitive playing time for Kieboom. The young hitter’s strong offensive season at the Triple-A level in 2019 was forgotten a little bit after he struggled at the MLB level. Kieboom has the potential to be a .280 hitter with 20+ home runs and a strong on-base presence that could increase his value in on-base leagues. With experience playing second base, third base, and shortstop, multiple-position eligibility would also make him more valuable. If you're currently unhappy with your third base option, Kieboom could be a sneaky pickup with great upside.

Nate Pearson, RHP, Blue Jays: The hard-throwing Pearson is MLB ready. But service time considerations could keep him off the main roster for a couple of weeks as the Jays look to balance long-term viability with the potential for a win-now approach in a shortened season. Pearson can hit 100 mph with movement and throws four pitches for strikes. Toss in a work-horse frame and you have a true frontline talent if he stays healthy.

Brendan McKay, LHP, Rays: There is talk that McKay may not break camp with the Rays because he came in late and there is decent depth ahead of him. I’d be shocked if he’s not with the big league club within a week or two of the season beginning given that the Rays will want to get off to a strong start to try and keep up with the Yankees. McKay isn’t overpowering but he hits 95 mph with his heater and shows four average-or-better offerings with above-average control. He’s also been a two-way player so he may even better as he focuses (almost) solely on pitching.

Jo Adell, OF, Angels: As we approach the season, the Angels have yet to tip their hand with Adell. More than likely, he’ll open the year working with the secondary roster while Brian Goodwin gets an opportunity to play every day. But Adell shouldn’t be down for long after showing he was close to big-league ready in 2019 before getting hurt. He was on pace for a 20+ home run season before injuries struck and he has impressive raw power that he’s finally getting to on a consistent basis. Adell has good speed but has never been much of a base stealer. Instead, the speed helps him post strong BABIP results which give his batting average a consistent boost and help offset the high strikeout rates he’s posted (which are of minor concern).

Sean Murphy, C, Athletics: If Murphy can stay healthy — something he’s had issues with in recent years — he has a chance to provide above-average power at the plate. He really found his in-game pop in 2019 with 10 home runs in 120 at-bats in Triple-A and then another four in 53 big-league at-bats. He’s also been a .280+ hitter with a strong understanding of the strike zone in the minors.

Nick Solak, IF/OF, Rangers: If he can find regular playing time (and the Willie Calhoun injury helps), Solak has a chance to be an above-average offensive player. And his ability to move all over the diamond only increases his fantasy value. He’s been an above-average hitter at every single stop he’s made in the minors and has really tapped into his raw power over the past two years. After going deep 19 times in 2018, Solak slugged 32 home runs between two Triple-A stops and the Majors in 2019. He’s also a good base runner and has a chance to offer 10+ steals in a full season. His strong walk totals make him a potential beast in on-base leagues.

Evan White, 1B, Mariners: White has moved up significantly on the Top 50 list since March. The Mariners are committed to giving him everyday at-bats and he’s made key adjustments to his swing. White has looked good in Summer Camp while getting used to the changes that have seen him hit more balls in the air and fewer on the ground — a trend that started to improve during the 2019 season at Triple-A when he hit a career-high 18 home runs. White may never be a true “slugger” at first base but 20+ home runs with a chance at hitting .290+ make him an interesting player.

Dustin May, RHP, Dodgers: Even with the injury bug hitting the starting rotation in Summer Camp, the Dodgers remained poised to have some of the best starting pitching depth in the league — which means May could start the year in the rotation — or even on the secondary roster. But even with its depth, the Dodgers rotation is brittle so this young hurler should get an opportunity to prove himself before too long. His combination of stuff and plus command/control gives him a high ceiling — and the strong offensive support won’t hurt, either.

 

Wildcard Prospects:

Jesus Luzardo, LHP, Athletics: This young southpaw was previously within the Top 10 but his start to the season could be delayed after he contracted the new coronavirus. When he gets back up to full strength, Luzardo has the weapons to pile up strikeouts and, in general, overpower MLB hitters. The big question is: How good the offense will be and will pitchers like Luzardo and A.J. Puk have runs on the board to work with and help them pile up some wins?

A.J. Puk, LHP, Athletics: Like Luzardo, Puk is expected to throw key innings for the A’s in 2020. However, he’s also thrown just 36.2 competitive innings over the past two and a half seasons. How much rust will he have? How durable will he be? Puk has a sky-high ceiling but how also comes with a lot of question marks.

Brendan Rodgers, SS, Rockies: Another wildcard thanks to injury, Rodgers showed last season that he has nothing left to prove in the minors. However, a very serious shoulder injury derailed the second half of his 2019 season. If he bounces back with no ill effects — and if manager Bud Black actually trusts him with regular playing time — then Rodgers could be a serious threat with the bat with the ability to hit for both power and average.

Nick Madrigal, 2B, White Sox: We've heard a lot of hype out of camp about Luis Robert, but the Sox have yet to tip their hand on their plans with Madrigal. He's an intriguing prospect who should eventually hit .300 with 20-30 steals in a full season but he also managed just 36 extra-base hits in 2019 while playing at three levels over a 120-game season. He may need to get a little stronger before he's ready to consistently face big-league pitching.

Dylan Carlson, OF, Cardinals: Carlson has a chance to make an impact in 2020 but he also has to wade through some outfield depth ahead of him, including fellow young outfielders in Tyler O’Neill and Lane Thomas. Carlson has a chance to provide some serious power but I’m not 100% sold on the hit tool or his ability to provide consistent steals.

Kyle Lewis, OF, Mariners: Like Carlson above, Lewis has a chance to push for playing time and flash some serious pop. He’s struggled to stay healthy and get the most out of his tools while playing in the minors. But he's also looked really good since reaching the Majors. He might be one of those rare players that need the spotlight on them to truly shine. Of course, the juiced ball also really helped.

MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Padres: Gore is another player who could benefit from a short season if the Padres get off to a strong start to the season. He may be one of the best arms on the Padres’ pitching staff despite having pitched just 21.2 innings above A-ball. The Padres don’t hesitate to think outside the box and push players they think are ready so Gore could pitch significant innings for San Diego in 2020.

 

Sleeper Prospects

Sam Hilliard, OF, Rockies: The loss of Ian Desmond for the season could open up playing time for Hilliard. The Rockies tend to be inconsistent with the playing time they provide to rookies but this young slugger could force their hand. He has plus raw power potential that could really play well in Coors Field, as well as above-average speed that gives him the ability to steal 20 bases in a full season. Hilliard slugged 35 home runs in Triple-A last year and then added seven more in the Majors in just 77 at-bats. At 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, he has long arms and swings from the heels at times so he’ll likely always strike out a lot but the speed could help him post above-average BABIPs.

Brent Rooker, 1B/OF, Twins: I’ve been beating the drum for Rooker for a little while now and a season like this could be exactly what he needs to sneak into a big-league role. He played just 67 games due to injury but slugged 14 home runs and, overall, 30 of his 66 hits went for extra bases. He’ll swing and miss quite a bit but the power tradeoff is worth it. My biggest concern with Rooker is that the Twins have a lot of outfield depth with the likes of Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach also looking for playing time so he’ll likely need some help (injuries) to get significant at-bats.

Wander Franco, SS, Rays: Yes, Franco is only 19 and hasn’t played above High-A ball but we’re also talking about a generational talent. The young hitter also performed at a high level at both A-ball stops that he made in 2019 and could have made quick work of Double-A this year had the pandemic not hit. Franco is still working on getting stronger and hasn’t translated his outstanding bat speed into over-the-fence pop just yet, but it’s coming. He also has a career .336 batting average in two seasons and posted a BB-K of 56-35 in 114 games last year while playing against pitchers mostly four to five years older than him.

Tony Gonsolin, RHP, Dodgers: Gonsolin is another player I’ve been supporting for a while now. He has a ceiling higher than other Dodgers pitchers being looked at for starting pitcher roles in 2020, including Ross Stripling and maybe — just maybe — even Dustin May. In his first taste of big-league action, Gonsolin held hitters to a .177 batting average. He can hit the mid-90s with his heater and can command four pitches, which is rare for a young pitcher. This young pitcher had a similar swinging-strike rate (12.2%) to Walker Buehler.

Josh Lowe, OF, Rays: Lowe has a chance to be Kyle Tucker for a much smaller investment. The former first-round pick has teased us with his raw potential for a few years now but he finally found his in-game power in 2019 with 18 home runs. He also walked 59 times in 121 games and showed his above-average speed with 30 steals. Both Tucker and Lowe found their power at almost the exact same point in their career although the Rays prospect swings-and-misses more than the Astros outfielder so there likely won’t be quite as much value in the batting average department.

Daulton Varsho, OF/C, Diamondbacks: Varsho’s ability to play the outfield as well as catcher makes him very valuable in fantasy baseball — as long as he plays enough behind the plate to remain eligible there. He is very athletic for a catcher with a strong hit tool. As long as he doesn’t play too much behind the dish and wear down, he has a chance to be a .280+ hitter with 20 home runs and 15-20 steals.

Bryan Abreu, RHP, Astros: Abreu has nasty stuff. He can get his heater up into the 95-97 mph range and throws two breaking balls that both show plus potential. If he can find more consistent command and control, he has frontline stuff. The downside is that he’s so overpowering as a reliever — and the win-now Astros’ pitching depth is so thin — that he’s more likely than not to be pushed to the Majors as a reliever. If things shift and/or the command/control improve enough for him to start, Abreu has big, big upside.



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Top 250 MLB Dynasty Prospects - Final Preseason Update

The 2020 MLB season is going to look very different. But as long as the virus doesn’t rear its ugly head in an apocalyptic fashion, it’s still going to be fun. And to help fantasy managers prepare for this season and for those to come, we’ve updated our Top 250 dynasty fantasy baseball prospects list. The last update was made shortly before the season was paused back in March.

The biggest update to the list came with the addition of prospects from the 2020 amateur draft. We’ve added players regardless of their signing status - although almost all key, fantasy-relevant prospects have already signed on the dotted line with their respective clubs. We’ve infused a healthy dose of 38 players from the 2020 amateur draft onto the list. Two of those recent draftees are now among the Top 11 dynasty prospects in all of baseball.

The other changes to the list saw a smaller group of players lose value, while another group of players saw their fantasy relevance increase. We didn’t see any games played over the past four months but the delay allowed us time to complete additional research, which included watching hours and hours of additional video from the 2019 season and Arizona Fall League. And injuries have also played a small part in some of the adjustments.

 

Top 250 MLB Prospect Rankings

Ranking Player Pos Team Age ETA
1 Wander Franco SS TB 19 2020
2 MacKenzie Gore SP SD 21 2020
3 Luis Robert OF CHW 22 2020
4 Gavin Lux 2B LAD 22 2020
5 Jarred Kelenic OF SEA 20 2021
6 Nate Pearson SP TOR 23 2020
7 Jesus Luzardo SP OAK 22 2020
8 Jo Adell OF LAA 20 2020
9 Austin Martin IF/OF TOR 21 2023
10 Andrew Vaughn 1B CHW 21 2021
11 Spencer Torkelson 1B DET 20 2022
12 Julio Rodriguez OF SEA 19 2022
13 Matt Manning SP DET 22 2020
14 Brendan McKay SP TB 24 2020
15 Riley Greene OF DET 19 2022
16 Alex Kirilloff OF MIN 22 2020
17 Alec Bohm 3B PHI 23 2020
18 Casey Mize SP DET 22 2020
19 Carter Kieboom 3B/2B WAS 22 2020
20 Zac Veen OF COL 18 2024
21 Luis Patino SP SD 20 2021
22 Nick Madrigal 2B CHW 23 2020
23 Brendan Rodgers SS/2B COL 23 2020
24 A.J. Puk SP OAK 24 2020
25 Dylan Carlson OF STL 21 2020
26 Nick Gonzales 2B PIT 21 2022
27 Sean Murphy C OAK 25 2020
28 Asa Lacy SP KC 21 2022
29 Sixto Sanchez SP MIA 21 2020
30 Dustin May SP LAD 22 2020
31 Cristian Pache OF ATL 21 2020
32 Marco Luciano SS SF 18 2023
33 Nolan Jones 3B CLE 21 2021
34 Ian Anderson SP ATL 21 2020
35 Michael Kopech SP CHW 23 2020
36 Drew Waters OF ATL 21 2020
37 J.J. Bleday OF MIA 22 2022
38 CJ Abrams SS SD 19 2023
39 Max Meyer SP MIA 21 2022
40 Spencer Howard SP PHI 23 2020
41 Joey Bart C SF 23 2020
42 Adley Rutschman C BAL 22 2022
43 Ronny Mauricio SS NYM 19 2022
44 Jasson Dominguez OF NYY 17 2024
45 Jordan Groshans 3B/SS TOR 20 2022
46 Grayson Rodriguez SP BAL 20 2022
47 Tarik Skubal SP DET 23 2020
48 Forrest Whitley SP HOU 22 2020
49 Bobby Witt Jr. SS KC 20 2023
50 Daulton Varsho C/OF ARI 23 2020
51 Nick Solak 3B TEX 25 2020
52 Vidal Brujan 2B TB 22 2020
53 Corbin Carroll OF ARI 19 2022
54 Kyle Wright SP ATL 24 2020
55 Shane McClanahan SP TB 22 2020
56 Heliot Ramos OF SF 20 2021
57 Kristian Robinson OF ARI 19 2022
58 Trevor Larnach OF MIN 23 2021
59 Brandon Marsh OF LAA 22 2020
60 Hunter Bishop OF SF 21 2022
61 Matthew Liberatore SP STL 20 2022
62 Daniel Lynch SP KC 23 2021
63 Geraldo Perdomo SS ARI 20 2022
64 Orelvis Martinez SS TOR 18 2024
65 George Valera OF CLE 19 2023
66 Brailyn Marquez SP CHC 21 2022
67 Jackson Kowar SP KC 23 2020
68 Francisco Alvarez C NYM 18 2023
69 Pete Crow-Armstrong OF NYM 18 2024
70 Robert Hassell OF SD 18 2023
71 Austin Hendrick OF CIN 18 2024
72 Mick Abel SP PHI 18 2024
73 Jared Kelley SP CWS 18 2023
74 Logan Gilbert SP SEA 22 2021
75 Reid Detmers SP LAA 21 2021
76 Mitch Keller SP PIT 23 2020
77 Jordyn Adams OF LAA 20 2022
78 Alek Thomas OF ARI 20 2022
79 Nolan Gorman 3B STL 20 2022
80 Shane Baz SP TB 21 2022
81 Emerson Hancock SP SEA 21 2022
82 Garrett Crochet SP CWS 21 2023
83 Noelvi Marte SS SEA 18 2023
84 Jazz Chisholm SS MIA 22 2021
85 DL Hall SP BAL 21 2021
86 George Kirby SP SEA 22 2022
87 Josh Jung 3B TEX 22 2022
88 Sheldon Neuse 3B/2B OAK 25 2020
89 Oneil Cruz SS PIT 21 2021
90 Nico Hoerner 2B/SS CHC 22 2020
91 Deivi Garcia SP NYY 21 2020
92 Nick Lodolo SP CIN 22 2022
93 Jordan Balazovic SP MIN 21 2021
94 Jose Urquidy SP HOU 24 2020
95 Brady Singer SP KC 23 2021
96 Royce Lewis SS/OF MIN 21 2021
97 Jeter Downs SS BOS 21 2021
98 Edward Cabrera SP MIA 21 2020
99 Alek Manoah SP TOR 22 2022
100 Kody Hoese 3B LAD 22 2022
101 Xavier Edwards 2B/SS TB 20 2021
102 Triston McKenzie SP CLE 22 2021
103 Joshua Lowe OF TB 22 2020
104 Matthew Allan SP NYM 18 2023
105 Justin Dunn SP SEA 24 2020
106 Simeon Woods Richardson SP TOR 19 2021
107 Kyle Lewis OF SEA 24 2020
108 Braxton Garrett SP MIA 22 2021
109 Nick Bitsko SP TB 18 2024
110 Kris Bubic SP KC 22 2021
111 Clarke Schmidt SP NYY 24 2021
112 Jordan Walker 3B STL 18 2024
113 Alejandro Kirk C TOR 21 2021
114 Taylor Trammell OF SD 22 2021
115 Mauricio Dubon 2B SF 25 2020
116 Tyler Soderstrom C/IF OAK 18 2024
117 Bobby Miller SP LAD 21 2022
118 Keibert Ruiz C LAD 21 2020
119 Heston Kjerstad OF BAL 21 2023
120 Seth Beer OF/1B ARI 23 2020
121 Abraham Toro-Hernandez 3B/1B HOU 23 2020
122 Gabriel Moreno C TOR 20 2022
123 Levi Kelly SP ARI 20 2022
124 Adam Kloffenstein SP TOR 19 2022
125 Evan White 1B SEA 23 2020
126 Brent Rooker OF/1B MIN 25 2020
127 Ryan Mountcastle 1B/3B BAL 23 2020
128 Justus Sheffield SP SEA 23 2020
129 Brennan Malone SP PIT 19 2023
130 Josiah Gray SP LAD 22 2020
131 Grant Lavigne 1B COL 20 2022
132 Kyle Muller SP ATL 22 2020
133 Trevor Rogers SP MIA 22 2021
134 Jesus Sanchez OF MIA 22 2020
135 Jackson Rutledge SP WAS 21 2022
136 Luis Gil SP NYY 21 2022
137 Hans Crouse SP TEX 21 2022
138 Joe Ryan SP TB 23 2021
139 Bryan Abreu SP/RP HOU 22 2020
140 Tony Gonsolin SP LAD 25 2020
141 Austin Wells OF/C NYY 21 2023
142 Bobby Bradley 1B CLE 23 2020
143 Brett Baty 3B NYM 20 2023
144 Garrett Mitchell OF MIL 21 2024
145 Leody Taveras OF TEX 21 2021
146 Jhoan Duran SP MIN 22 2020
147 Ke'Bryan Hayes 3B PIT 23 2020
148 Brennen Davis OF CHC 20 2022
149 Aaron Sabato 1B MIN 21 2023
150 Hunter Greene SP CIN 20 2022
151 Brice Turang SS MIL 20 2022
152 Tyler Freeman SS CLE 21 2021
153 Luis Campusano C SD 21 2021
154 Cole Wilcox SP SD 21 2022
155 Ed Howard SS CHC 18 2024
156 Ryan Weathers SP SD 20 2022
157 Sean Hjelle SP SF 23 2021
158 JT Ginn SP NYM 21 2024
159 Seth Corry SP SF 21 2022
160 Austin Hays OF BAL 24 2020
161 Ronaldo Hernandez C TB 22 2021
162 Brusdar Graterol SP/RP LAD 21 2020
163 Adbert Alzolay SP CHC 25 2020
164 Bryson Stott SS PHI 22 2022
165 Sam Hilliard OF COL 26 2020
166 Travis Swaggerty OF PIT 22 2021
167 Jonathan India 3B CIN 23 2021
168 Cole Winn SP TEX 20 2022
169 Daniel Cabrera OF DET 21 2023
170 Corbin Martin SP ARI 24 2021
171 Ronald Bolanos SP SD 23 2020
172 Bryce Jarvis SP ARZ 21 2023
173 Aaron Bracho 3B CLE 19 2023
174 Khalil Lee OF KC 22 2020
175 Jared Jones SP PIT 18 2024
176 Jon Duplantier SP ARI 25 2020
177 Michael Busch 2B LAD 22 2022
178 Zack Thompson SP STL 22 2021
179 Luis Garcia SS WAS 19 2021
180 Triston Casas 1B BOS 20 2022
181 Brayan Rocchio SS CLE 19 2023
182 Luis Toribio 3B SF 19 2023
183 Sam Huff C TEX 22 2021
184 Bryse Wilson SP ATL 22 2020
185 Ethan Hankins SP CLE 20 2023
186 Albert Abreu SP/RP NYY 24 2021
187 Jared Shuster SP ATL 21 2023
188 Cade Cavalli SP WAS 21 2023
189 Tucker Davidson SP ATL 24 2020
190 Gilberto Jimenez OF BOS 19 2023
191 Patrick Bailey C SF 21 2024
192 Daniel Espino SP CLE 19 2023
193 Monte Harrison OF MIA 24 2020
194 Masyn Winn SP/IF STL 18 2024
195 Randy Arozarena OF TB 25 2020
196 Sammy Siani OF PIT 19 2023
197 Mason Denaburg SP WAS 20 2023
198 Lewis Thorpe SP MIN 24 2020
199 Gage Workman 3B DET 21 2023
200 Yusniel Diaz OF BAL 23 2020
201 Jorge Mateo SS/OF SD 24 2020
202 Willi Castro IF DET 23 2020
203 Greg Jones SS TB 22 2022
204 Anthony Kay SP TOR 25 2020
205 Casey Schmitt 3B SF 21 2023
206 Thomas Szapucki SP NYM 23 2021
207 Bryan Mata SP BOS 21 2021
208 Quinn Priester SP PIT 19 2023
209 Miguel Hiraldo 2B TOR 19 2023
210 Bo Naylor C CLE 20 2022
211 Lane Thomas OF STL 24 2020
212 Justin Foscue 2B TEX 21 2023
213 Kyren Paris SS LAA 18 2024
214 Nick Loftin SS KC 21 2023
215 Jonathan Stiever SP CHW 22 2021
216 Lucius Fox SS TB 22 2021
217 Lewin Diaz 1B MIA 23 2021
218 Michael Toglia 1B COL 21 2022
219 Jeremiah Jackson SS LAA 20 2023
220 Dax Fulton SP MIA 18 2025
221 Bobby Dalbec 1B/3B BOS 24 2020
222 Ryan Vilade 3B/SS COL 21 2021
223 Dane Dunning SP CHW 25 2020
224 Jose Garcia SS CIN 21 2021
225 Jay Groome SP BOS 21 2023
226 Robert Puason SS OAK 17 2024
227 Kyle Isbel OF KC 23 2022
228 J.B. Bukauskas SP/RP ARI 23 2020
229 Terrin Vavra IF COL 22 2022
230 Jake Fraley OF SEA 24 2020
231 Tyler Callihan 3B CIN 20 2023
232 Adonis Medina SP PHI 23 2020
233 Tyler Stephenson C CIN 23 2020
234 Tristen Lutz OF MIL 21 2022
235 Diego Cartaya C LAD 18 2023
236 Sherten Apostel 3B TEX 21 2022
237 Joe Palumbo SP TEX 25 2020
238 Kameron Misner OF MIA 22 2022
239 Cal Raleigh C SEA 23 2021
240 Jarren Duran OF BOS 23 2021
241 Andres Gimenez SS NYM 21 2021
242 Pavin Smith 1B/OF ARZ 24 2021
243 Ryan Jensen SP CHC 22 2022
244 Logan Allen SP CLE 22 2020
245 Freudis Nova SS HOU 20 2022
246 Alex Faedo SP DET 24 2020
247 Nick Gordon 2B MIN 24 2020
248 Mark Vientos 3B NYM 20 2023
249 Isaiah Greene OF NYM 18 2024
250 Drew Rasmussen SP/RP MIL 24 2020

 

2020 Amateur Draft Picks

Austin Martin, IF/OF, Blue Jays: You might be a little surprised to see Martin, who went fifth overall to the Blue Jays, ranked ahead of Spencer Torkelson, who went first overall to the Tigers, but you really shouldn’t be. He has an advanced bat that shouldn’t require much work in the minors which means he’ll arrive during the prime years of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio, and Bo Bichette. That’s a potent list of young, high-ceiling players for Martin to play with, which can only help his personal results. Along with the ceiling of a .300+ hitter with the ability to steal 20+ bases, he has the power to eventually hit 15+ home runs as he physically matures and adds muscle. The Jays have yet to commit to a permanent position for Martin, which is good news for fantasy owners as he could end up eligible at a number of key positions including shortstop, outfield, and third base. But it's also somewhat telling that Martin's arrival in Jays camp coincides with the news that Guerrero Jr. is suddenly making the transition to first base.

Spencer Torkelson, 1B/3B, Tigers: Torkelson is loaded with plus power potential and he took a ton of walks during his college career, but there is some swing-and-miss to his game and we have yet to get a good read on how good his hit tool will be. Plus he has limited defensive value/versatility despite the Tigers’ desire to try him at third base. Torkelson is currently ranked just behind fellow first base prospect Andrew Vaughn of the White Sox. Vaughn has the benefit of playing pro ball plus he has a better swing which gives him a better shot at being a plus hitter even if he doesn’t possess the same raw power (although he’s no slouch in that area). Like Torkelson, Vaughn is also being pushed to see if he can handle other positions on the baseball diamond.

Zac Veen, OF, Rockies: The next draftee to appear on the list is prep outfielder Veen. If I were running the draft for the Tigers, I would have personally taken Austin Martin or Veen with the first overall selection. The 18-year-old outfielder already stands 6-foot-5 with lots of room to add muscle and good weight. Along with the developing frame and bat speed that combine to suggest a future potential for 30+ home runs, Veen has an exceptionally clean swing for such a young player and should hit for a high average, too. Add in the fact he ended up being drafted by Colorado and you have a player with a massive ceiling. I was a huge Jarred Kelenic fan from the beginning and I think Veen has a chance to be just as good — if not better.

Nick Gonzales, 2B, Pirates: Gonzales is another player I’m seriously considering investing in early. He may be the only college player with a bat more advanced than Austin Martin’s. Gonzales didn’t land in the best hitting environment in Pittsburgh but there should be a respectable supporting case around with the likes of Josh Bell, Gregory Polanco, and Bryan Reynolds. For me, Gonzales is a surefire threat to repeatedly hit .300. There is great debate among scouts when it comes to how much power he’ll possess given that he played for the college equivalent of Coors Field, but he also homered 12 times in 16 games during his junior seasons (prior to the cancellation of the season) and went deep 15 times as a sophomore. His feel for the barrel is outstanding and he quite possibly has plus-plus bat speed which is going to guarantee a certain number of home runs -- if he can produce even an average launch angle with his swing.

Asa Lacy, LHP, Royals: The Top 2 pitchers to come out of the draft are Lacy at 30 and Max Meyer at 40. The Royals are absolutely stacked in the pitching department with four or five pitchers that have a good chance at developing into No. 3 starters or better with Lacy carrying the highest ceiling. In two to three years, the club could have a rotation of Lacy, Jackson Kowar, Daniel Lynch, Brady Singer, and possibly Kris Bubic. Lacy has the stuff to be a No. 1 starter. The left-hander has the size, velocity, and a four-pitch mix with multiple offerings that can induce strikeouts.

Max Meyer, RHP, Marlins: As for Meyer, he enters another organization that is starting to acquire an impressive group of young arms (although I still can’t believe they traded Zac Gallen). He’ll quite quickly join Sixto Sanchez at the top of the Marlins’ starting rotation. Meyer’s fastball-slider combination should generate a ton of whiffs but, like Sanchez, he’s on the smaller side for a pitcher so it remains to be seen if he can consistently provide 180+ innings at the MLB level.

Prep Outfielders: The 2020 amateur draft saw four high-ceiling prep outfielders selected within the first 19 picks. Pete Crow-Armstrong was the last to be selected at 19 by the Mets but I’m a fan of his strong overall offensive package. His plus center-field defense won’t help us in fantasy but he has a chance to hit for solid power, steal 20+ bases, and hit for a strong average. Robert Hassell joins a good, young team in San Diego that has a strong player development system. His swing hints at future .300 seasons and, although the power output is currently below average, he has the frame (once he adds some muscle) and the bat speed to eventually provide above-average power numbers. Reds’ first-rounder Austin Hendrick is the most physically mature out of the four players and has 30+ home run potential but his bat also comes with some concerning swing-and-miss tendencies.

Sleepers: As for sleepers from the draft to monitor, keep a close eye on third baseman Jordan Walker (Cardinals), starting pitcher Bobby Miller (Dodgers), two-way player Masyn Winn (Cardinals), third baseman Casey Schmitt (Giants), and outfielder Isaiah Greene (Mets). In particular, I had Walker ranked as a talent worthy of being drafted in the 15-20 range. Pre-draft, most publications had him ranked as more of a supplemental-first-round or second-round talent but the Cardinals snapped him up at 21. The prep third baseman is a huge kid with massive raw power but he has more feel for the bat than you'd expect. There may be some swing-and-miss to his game -- especially early on -- but if he can hit spin and has the drive to get consistently get better -- then there is star potential here.

 

The MLB Prospect Risers

Spencer Howard, RHP, Phillies: Howard has moved up a few slots to better position him among the best pitching prospects in the game. I remain somewhat concerned after he broke down the year after surpassing 100 innings for the first time as a pro but his stuff is outstanding. A half-season like this could really benefit a young pitcher like Howard. He won’t face the same constant competition that he would have in the minors but working alongside the veteran players in summer camp could really help him take the next step while keeping the innings down.

Francisco Alvarez, C, Mets: of the Mets has moved up as he belongs in the conversation when discussing the Top 5 catching prospects in baseball. There is a lot of risk with him given the failure rate with young catchers and the fact he has yet to play above Rookie ball. but Alvarez has also shown above-average raw power and a strong understanding of the strike zone.

Tony Gonsolin, RHP, Dodgers: Gonsolin also moves up. I’m a huge fan of this pitcher and he’s shown flashes of having four above-average pitches and excellent spin rates. His previous lower rating was over concerns that he would struggle to find an opportunity to start given the Dodgers’ depth. However, the shortened season and recent thinning out of potential starters could help Gonsolin’s cause. Ross Stripling will likely get the first shot at the starting rotation — and has shown that he’s a solid big league pitcher — but Gonsolin’s upside and outstanding stuff could move him up the pecking order quickly.

Bryson Stott, SS, Phillies: I’ve never been the biggest Stott fan and I’ve been perhaps a little hard on him in terms of fantasy value so I’ve moved him up a little bit. He’s probably not a big-league shortstop and I’m not convinced he’ll hit for a high average but there is some power potential here and he’s shown the willingness to take a walk which could give him additional value in on-base leagues.

Other Movers: Some of the other players to move up include Michael Busch (Dodgers), Kyren Paris (Angels), Jose Garcia (Reds), Pavin Smith (Diamondbacks), and Mark Vientos (Mets).

 

The MLB Prospect Fallers

Brusdar Graterol, RHP, Dodgers: The offseason saw Graterol involved in some controversy after the Twins were prepared to deal him to the Boston Red Sox. His new-club-to-be then rebuffed the swapped after concerns over his health. The Twins then ended up making a deal with the Dodgers.

The medical issues come as no major surprise given that Graterol missed significant time in 2019 with a shoulder issue. He also had Tommy John surgery shortly after turning pro. And with the Dodgers reportedly viewing the young hurler as a reliever, his fantasy value takes a hit. Now, make no mistake, Graterol has shown the ability to be downright dominant as a starter so the move to the pen suggests he could also be an outstanding high-leverage reliever. He could be in line for holds and the odd save starting in 2020 and is likely Kenley Jansen’s eventual replacement.

Adonis Medina, RHP, Phillies: Medina also gets knocked down after further research. The right-hander can get his heater into the mid-90s and back it up with a good changeup but he lacks a reliable breaking ball. Making matters worse, his fastball lacks movement and is fairly straight. That makes him far more hittable than he should be and we’ve seen that over the past two years as he’s become more hittable. On the plus side, he induces a healthy number of ground ball outs but his ceiling is slipping down and he currently looks like more of a No. 4/5 starter.

Nick Gordon, SS, Twins: Gordon takes a bit of a slide with both Luis Arraez and Jorge Polanco looking fairly secure in their starting roles. The good news is that the infield prospect has increased his versatility so he could bounce around the diamond in an effort to find playing time and versatility on a fantasy roster is always a nice thing to have. But even if he plays every day, Gordon has shown limited power potential and, although he has solid speed, he doesn't run much — surpassing 20 steals just once in the last four seasons. He also doesn’t walk very often so he has little value in on-base leagues. There's a lot of pressure on his hit tool.

Injured Players: Rays’ starter Brent Honeywell and Rangers’ starter Brock Burke have both fallen completely off the list. Honeywell just can’t stay healthy and will miss the 2020 season after yet another surgery. Burke had pretty serious shoulder surgery and is also out for the 2020 season.



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Off-The-Radar MLB Prospects and Dynasty Assets

Dynasty leagues are always a lot of foresight and mental math. Are you competing this year or in the future? Are you trying to stockpile pitching assets to balance against their heightened risk or take a lot of hitters because of their relative safety? What skills project the best for you? All of these questions are complicated even more knowing that we will not have a true minor league season this year (or, really, baseball for that matter).

If the players and owners can come to some agreement, fans and fantasy owners can feel confident that the top prospects in each organization will be given reps and experience regardless of the situation. However, the future for the fringier prospects has become murkier. Perhaps some teenagers will be allowed to have a year of just drills and instruction, knowing that they will have years ahead of them to develop in games. But some teams may only prioritize the young guys with upside while giving the potential late bloomers short shrift.

The goal of this article is to highlight some players who are commonly left off of Top-100 lists that are worthy of being on your dynasty league roster. Obviously, depending on the depth and size of your league, some of these players may be owned, but I want to "plant my flag" into prospects who are not discussed as regularly but are nonetheless worthy of your time and attention. And possibly some trade offers.

 

Catcher

Ivan Herrera, St. Louis Cardinals - The catcher position in dynasty leagues can often be a crapshoot, but I think Herrera has a real chance to stick behind the plate and be a consistent offensive contributor. The Cardinals have been aggressive in promoting him, and he's hit at all levels so far. The power will come as he grows, which could make him one of the few catchers you want to target in fantasy leagues.

Heriberto Hernandez, Texas Rangers - Listen, Heriberto is not a catcher. He's likely not an outfielder long-term either. I don't have any confidence in guessing a future defensive home for him but I have total confidence in his bat. He hit .344 in the Arizona League with a 1.079 OPS, which was indicative of his true plus power. He's a few years away, so he has time to settle in at first base or maybe he'll only be a designated hitter but I'll take a chance on that bat in any dynasty draft.

 

First Base

Mason Martin, Pittsburgh Pirates - The first base prospect landscape isn't overflowing with options but Mason Martin's power demands to be noticed. As a 20-year-old who advanced all the way to High-A, Martin put on a power display in 2019, posting a .254 AVG with 35 home runs and a .908 OPS at an age that was young for the level. He's a pull-heavy power hitter and one who isn't going to get you a high batting average. But damn, that power might be special.

Michael Toglia, Colorado Rockies - The Rockies have had a few first base prospects come in and out of fashion, whether it's Tyler Nevin, Grant Levigne, or Toglia. I'm putting Toglia here because he's my pick to win the first base job in the long-run and given his future home park, that's an asset that I want on my dynasty team. Toglia is a huge dude but is still somehow a plus defender at first, and his 15.7% BB% hints at a strong understanding of the strike zone to go with his plus power.

Brent Rooker, Minnesota Twins - Rooker is 25-years-old, doesn't really have a defensive position, and is buried behind a dynamic Twins major league lineup. All of that adds up to him being off the radar for many people. However, his power is real enough to warrant attention. He's probably a DH in the future and he'll need to cut down on the strikeouts to become a true fantasy asset, but the guy can hit and would likely be a starter at 1B/DH on most other teams in 2020.

 

Middle Infield

Terrin Vavra, Colorado Rockies - I know Mike Kurland is the "Vavra guy," but there is still room on the bandwagon. The Rockies middle infield is a logjam, but I think there might be space for Vavra once a likely divorce with Nolan Arenado comes to bear. The son of a coach, Vavra is a highly intelligent player who is well-rounded and can play anywhere around the infield. He may never be a stud, but he is a plus hitter who will call Coors Field home and can slot in at various positions. I love that kind of relative safety on my dynasty teams.

Tucupita Marcano, San Diego Padres -  A shortstop by trade but also available for second base, Marcano is a high-contact hitter with solid speed and the defensive ability to stay at shortstop long-term. He's not going to hit for lots of power but I think he can be a high-OBP table-setter. Marcano has the speed to also chip in 20+ steals and is an organization that has a lot of intriguing talent coming up to potentially fill out a lineup with him.

Ronny Mauricio, New York Mets - Most of the Mets prospect talk centers around Andres Gimenez but Mauricio could very likely be the better pro. He might not be the defender that Gimenez is, but he's no slouch with the glove and his bat could be much better. At 18-years-old, he doesn't quite have the power to make consistent hard contact but his approach and mechanics suggest it's coming, along with added strength in his forearms and lower body.

Liover Peguero, Pittsburgh Pirates - Peguero was the central piece in the Starling Marte deal and for good reason. He might not have one elite tool, but he is solid all across the board. His .377 OBP and 9.9 SwStr% suggest a solid understanding of the strike zone and good contact skills. And at only 160 pounds soaking wet, his offensive game only figures to improve as he gets older and stronger.

Greg Jones, Tampa Bay Rays - Xavier Edwards is a little bit higher profile given his inclusion in the Tommy Pham trade and Blake Snell's reaction on Twitter, but Greg Jones may wind up being the better pro. A switch-hitter with plus speed and solid plate discipline, Jones has the all-around tools to hit near the top of the lineup for the Rays, as evidenced by his .412 OBP in his first professional season. As an advanced college bat with a solid contact approach, Jones could move quickly up the levels for Tampa Bay.

 

Third Base

Kody Hoese, Los Angeles Dodgers - Hoese was the Dodgers' first-round pick in 2019, so he's not exactly an off the radar asset. However, judging by ADP and recent drafts, he doesn't seem to be attracting too much attention in dynasty leagues. Perhaps he's overlooked because of all the players in the Dodgers' system or since he's an average defender, which could be concerning for his long-term viability in the National League. He showed power potential at Tulane and the ability to make consistent contact in his professional debut, which means his bat figures to get him in a lineup, with the Dodgers or a team he's traded to, even if he's an average defender.

Josh Jung, Texas Rangers - It's been Jung's teammate, Sherten Apostel, who's getting drafted ahead of Jung in recent dynasty drafts, but I don't quite understand it. Yes, Apostel will likely have more future power, but Jung hit .343 with 15 HRs as a college shortstop and then transitioned to third base in the minors and carries above-average athleticism for the position. He has tremendous bat speed and doesn't strike out often. I believe more consistent power will come and Jung will eventually emerge as the Rangers third baseman of the future.

Kevin Padlo, Tampa Bay Rays -  Padlo was a high draft pick who seemed like he was never going to pan out. Then he changed his approach to add more consistent loft and pull, and wound up hitting 21 HR, with a .535 SLG% in 2019. Paired with the plus patience evidenced by a 15.7% BB%, you get a potentially solid regular. He's never going to set the world on fire, but he could be a 20 HR threat in the majors with a solid batting average and good OBP. Nobody seems to be in on him because he's already 23, but we all know that prospect growth isn't linear.

 

Outfielder

Misael Urbina, Minnesota Twins - Urbina is only 17-years-old, so his availability fully depends on how deep your league is. However, his professional debut showed two attributes that make me excited about his long-term viability. For one, he flies. You can't teach speed, and he certainly has it. Second, Urbina registered a 10.6 BB% and a 6.5 K%. Anytime you have a 17-year-old who has that kind of understanding of the strike zone, I'm extremely interested.

Josh Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays - Josh Lowe appears on some Top-100 lists, so he doesn't fit the true profile of this article. However, I also own Lowe in every dynasty league I'm in, so I felt that I needed to shout him out here. Lowe has some contact issues in his game, but he has plus speed, solid defense across the board, and the potential for plus power. I think you're looking at a real power-speed threat in an organization that has shown it knows how to develop players effectively. I'm (obviously) all in here.

Gilberto Jimenez, Boston Red Sox - As a 19-year-old switch-hitter with plus speed, Jimenez had a solid 2019 season. He's currently a little bit of a free-swinger and doesn't take many walks, but he also doesn't strikeout an outrageous amount, so he might simply be a player who makes an aggressive approach work for him. With his speed, he could hit atop the order for Boston and push 30+ steals a year with a solid average.

Jordyn Adams, Los Angeles Angels - Jordyn Adams is a talented prospect, but not quite a fixture in all dynasty leagues, partially because he's overshadowed by the presence of Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh. Adams is much further away than them and certainly isn't as polished, but he is an incredible athlete with tremendous speed. Many scouts think there is plus power in his bat to go along with it, so he's worth a gamble, even if he takes a few years to pay off.

Jeisson Rosario, San Diego Padres - The Padres minor league system is loaded with talent that's on many dynasty-league owners' radars, but there are often talented players who get overlooked in the stream of names. Rosario is one that I find myself personally intrigued by. His BB% suggests a strong feel for the strike zone, which he pairs with outstanding athleticism and good speed. He's super raw, but I like the combination of his athletic make-up and a solid approach at the plate.

 

Pitcher

Jhoan Duran, Minnesota Twins - Duran is on the fringes of Top-100 status, but if he continues the progression he made last year, he'll be locked into the list. At 6-foot-5, Duran packs an imposing frame with an upper-90s fastball. Additionally, last year he also showed evolution by adding more consistency to his curveball. He still needs to refine his approach, but if the curve remains an asset, he becomes a three-pitch pitcher, (he throws a two and four-seam fastball) even without his changeup becoming a consistent weapon yet.

Yerry Rodriguez, Texas Rangers - Rodriguez is nasty. Let's just get that out of the way from the start. He has easy, consistent velocity and off-speed pitches that flash plus. From a pure stuff standpoint, he's a guy you want on your squad. His momentum takes him to the first-base side of the rubber, which can cause stress on his arm and may have contributed to his UCL injury last year. However, I believe the Rangers can fix the mechanics and get him back throwing darts.

Bryan Mata, Boston Red Sox - It feels like Mata has been around forever, but he's still only 20-years-old. Given his age, what he did in AA last year was impressive. Adding a cutter helped offset his lack of over-powering velocity, and he now has four pitches that show good movement. If he can begin to hone his command, he could be a reliable starter for years on a franchise that's usually competitive.

Tucker Davidson, Atlanta Braves - Davidson is often excluded from the conversation of talented Braves pitching prospects, but that would be a mistake. The left-hander can run it up into the upper-90s and possesses four pitches that he can throw for strikes. He's close to being Major League-ready now, and if he continues to make improvements with his command, he could be a mid-rotation starter for a long time.

Jackson Rutledge, Washington Nationals - Rutledge is one of the Nationals' top prospects, but he's not as sexy a name as some of the other pitching prospects in dynasty leagues. However, the gigantic right-hander is an exciting prospect to me because he has a mid-90s fastball and a plus slider already. The curve can be dynamic, so if he finds the consistency with that pitch, he's a top of the rotation arm.

Quinn Preister, Pittsburgh Pirates - The Pirates have a few intriguing arms in their minor league system, and with their organization publicly adopting a new pitching philosophy, it makes me more apt to take a chance on some of them to reach their ceilings. Priester is one who I often see being overlooked. A multi-sport athlete, the 19-year-old has plus athleticism and apparently is a diligent worker, which makes me feel good about investing in his improvement. He already has a solid fastball and curve, so if he can throw a consistent third pitch, I can see him shooting up prospect lists.

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Stock Your Dynasty Farm: AL West Sleeper Prospects

If you've been following my series on sleeper prospects, you probably correctly noted that there are actually more than the four divisions I've already written about. Who knew?!

No worries Rotoballers, a six-week gap isn't enough to keep me from tucking my tail firmly between my legs and returning to finish what we started. I can't, and won't, leave you hanging. Take a quick peek back at my favorite sleeper prospects in baseball in the AL Central, AL East, NL Central, and NL West. They're definitely worth a read, as is all of Rotoballer's prospect/dynasty coverage.

Today, we get the AL West, home to the AL champion* Houston Astros. As a collection, this is an odd division from a prospect and development perspective. In 2020, Oakland and Houston are the classes, but LA is coming on hot, and then a steep drop to Texas and Seattle. From a development perspective, all of these teams are a little all over the map.

 

AL West Overview

In Baseball America's Top 100, the whole division had just 13 representatives thanks to Seattle's five. But most of that cream of the crop were either trade acquisitions (Jarred Kelenic, for example) or are very young and most of the hype is based on tools projection (Julio Rodriguez). There's just not a lot of faith that these teams can consistently get the most of their talent. This perception should color the way we value their prospects. If Seattle drafts a prep flamethrower in the early 2nd round, and the Rays draft a similar guy in the 3rd or 4th round, sight unseen I'd probably lean towards Tampa because they've had more success developing those guys into valuable big-leaguers. At the end of the day, Rotoballers, it's a dart throw. But setting your sights on better situations generally yield better results.

All that said, there's a lot of talent to be mined. Houston has built a juggernaut on the back of a once-stacked system that has only recently begun re-stocking the cupboards. They have a handful of promising pitchers, but outside of Forrest Whitley, reliever Bryan Abreu, and "prospect" Jose Urquidy, reinforcements are a ways off. Los Angeles of Anaheim boasts one of the top prospects in baseball in outfielder Jo Adell, who has more tools than a hardware store but precious little in terms of production. In a way, Adell is a microcosm of the whole system; tons of talent, little to show for it.

Seattle has the most top 100 darts to throw at the board, including uber-teenager Julio Rodriguez, but have also seen stock drop off on several high profile prospects, including Justus Sheffield, Justin Dunn, and Kyle Lewis before a surprising late 2019 surge. Oakland is a little underrated, consistently churning out big league-ready options. The problem they have, which it seems like many smart teams deal with these days, is quantity over quality. Matt(s) Olson and Chapman are recent success stories, but where is the stud to tie it all together? Texas may have the highest upside in the division, but that upside is few years off, and their handling of top prospects comes into question when considering recent development issues with Leody Tavaras and high-profile international signing Julio Pablo Martinez.

Keep in mind that we're looking at players that are down a bit from the top 10s.  Before the 2019 season, guys like Jarren Duran, Tahnaj Thomas, Andy Young, and Ivan Herrera were overlooked by even their own fanbases. Now, they're real assets that you can rebuild around or as trade pieces to reinforce your championship run. Rotoballers don't waste picks, even in deep dynasty drafts. Many of these players will require patience, but stick with Rotoballer, and you'll find yourself with a farm system that will be the envy of your competitors for years to come. Championships aren't won, after all. They're earned.

 

Houston Astros – Hunter Brown, SP

Houston’s system is extremely depleted from years of trading prospects for MLB talent while they contend for titles. I’m sure Astros fans aren’t weeping over split milk, as their last three seasons have included three AL West Division Championships, a 2019 World Series appearance, and the 2017 World Series title. That’s a lot of pennants to add to Minute Maid Park, which also happens to be one of the best parks to watch a ballgame.

The once and future Colt .45s recent indiscretions led to the dismissal of GM Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch, but this sudden turnover shouldn’t impact their farm system in the short-term. The team is still a juggernaut offensively, leading to a potential logjam at a variety of positions in Triple A, potentially hurting development of some of their higher-level prospects. The pitching staff, on the other hand, is looking fairly depleted after a number of high-profile defections and some likely regression for guys like Roberto Osuna and Zack Grienke.

Which brings us to Brown. Once an overlooked member of Division II’s Wayne State College, Brown had a monster junior year thanks in large part to a screamer of a fastball that touches 100 in a normal start. Having a 100 mph fastball isn't the super skill it used to be, but Brown can actually manipulate the speed on his fastball as well. He uses this skill in combination with his newfound heat to create a wide range of outcomes that get hitters extremely uncomfortable. Evan Longoria talked about this a couple of years ago in relation to Chris Sale, who if you hadn't heard is pretty good. Check out a breakdown on the variety of speeds in Sale's pitch mix.

This variety gives Sale many more options than just his standard mix of pitches. He effectively has dozens of weapons that he can deploy against hitters, making it extremely difficult to hone in on any one or two options. I'm not saying Brown can become the next Chris Sale but if he can deploy his trademark fastball and a change at different speeds, and mix in the odd slider or curveball, he'll be an extremely rich man's no. 3 starter.

All of that said, the research on mixing pitch speeds is incomplete, with little consensus on how effective it is to mix speeds. But I'll leave it for you to decide, so here's a piece from the Hardball Times that serves as a pretty good primer on the subject.

Regarding Brown, his fastball could play in the bigs right now, and word is he's making solid progress on a. If Houston needed a reliever, they may be in position to call him up for a cup of coffee late in the season. Based on their organizational depth and general developmental approach, I'm betting the Astros will be patient with him and allow him to improve his slider and change, which is very good for his chances to remain a starter.

Honorable Mention: Jordan Brewer, OF; Jose Rivera, SP

 

Los Angeles Angels – William Holmes, SP/OF

Before we dive into Holmes, here's a little honesty Rotoballers. I don't really know what to do with two-way players long-term. I don't have any shares of Shohei Ohtani or Brendan McKay, but did win a dynasty title last year making use of the gifts of one Michael Lorenzen. The Red's reliever/slugger made waves in 2019 by becoming the first player since Babe freaking Ruth to play the field, hit a home run, and log the win as a pitcher in the same game. When you do something that no one's done since the '20s, you're going to be a thing.

Lorenzen is a good pitcher (2.02 ERA, 9.18 K/9) with a good shot to earn some saves in 2020, but outside of that splashy headline hasn't had an opportunity to be a true threat in the batter's box. The COVID-shortened 2020 season may feature a curveball (pun intended) that may be the beginning of the end of pitchers being forced to take at-bats in the National League, offering even fewer opportunities for hitting pitchers. Lorenzen is interesting because he hit four dingers in 2018 and reportedly wants to play the field, but at the major-league level players generally have to choose if they want to be effective at pitching or hitting at the expense of the other discipline.

All that brings us to William Holmes, one of LA's projects to develop a true two-way threat (I'm excluding Ohtani because he came to the MLB a relatively finished product). The 19-year-old is a genuine physical specimen in the mold of Yasiel Puig. He looks like a star. He also has monster tools, including a jumpy fastball that touches the high-90s and a sweeping curveball. As a hitter, he shows natural command of the strike zone and possesses good contact skills. In his first taste of pro ball, he hit .326 with a .920 OPS and chipped in seven steals while striking out 38 batters across 24.1 innings on the mound across three Rookie-league stops. He packs a good amount of juice in his swing, leading scouts to slap "above-average" on his game power scores.

Why is Holmes more interesting to me than other "two-way" prospects? Holmes' mechanics are largely quiet and smooth, which scouts will argue gives a player a solid base for development. On the pitching side, his strong body and smooth hips allow him to consistently repeat his delivery. This keeps his body in line when he's generating the torque he needs to get the velocity and movement on his pitches that he needs, while also allowing him to pinpoint where the pitch is going.

If he's swinging his hips with reckless abandon and never has the same release point for when the ball leaves his hand, then he can't command the pitch to go where he wants it, leading to tons of walks. And if he adjusts his torque to help give himself more control, he takes velocity/movement off his pitch, making it easier to see and hit. This is a lot to work on and develop, which is why two-way players are so rare.

Holmes seems to have an effortlessness to his game that could allow him to buck the trend. He is smooth and composed on the mound and in the batter's box. The tools are there for Holmes to be effective on both sides of the ball. The question is whether it's as a hitter, pitcher, or both. His development will be one of the more interesting to follow over the next couple of years. Given the relative dearth of exciting options in the Angels' farm club and Holme's high level of athleticism, I'm betting that they'll get something useful out of him, with the upside being a legit two-way star. Holmes is an ideal late round stash for dynasty players.

Honorable Mention: Adrian Placenia, SS; D'Shawn Knowles, OF

 

Oakland A's – Greg Deichmann, OF

Let it be known that I am am not an ageist.

Truth be told, some of my favorite prospects to poach in late rounds of prospect drafts are the guys who are old for their level, and for one reason or another have something click. The bigs are littered with guys who finally found their mojo in their mid to late-twenties. I think Deichmann is the next in a line of reclamation projects that will yield fantasy goodness.

The 24-year-old outfielder has not been on the radar since being drafted in the second round of the 2017 MLB draft. The lefty slugger showed power and the ability to spray the ball to all fields at LSU, ending his junior season with a sterling .308/.417/.579 line with 19 dingers in 72 games. He showed early returns in his draft year, but two weeks into the 2018 season, Deichmann experienced a hamate bone fracture that, due to misdiagnosis, Deichmann tried to rehab through with disastrous results. A line .199/.276/.392 across 47 games in a hitter-friendly environment is a bad way to start a pro career, and the injury wasn't correctly diagnosed and treated until after the season ended.

The presumably healthy outfielder's 2019 didn't fare much better. The A's pushed the youngster to AA rather aggressively, but Deichmann's game hadn't quite recovered from the ordeal. A .211/.282/.346 line with little of the expected pop seemed to spell the end of his prospect status, and he didn't even make Baseball America's top 30 Oakland prospects.

Cut to 2019 Arizona Fall League, and the former Tiger showed up looking like a new man. He talked about being looser and more comfortable with his swing, which took work after the extended injury issue. By the time AZL wrapped up, Deichmann had launched nine homers in just 23 games. For reference, no one else had more than four. FOUR! He led the league in slugging, OPS, and fell just short in leading extra-base hits as well. It wasn't just pop either, as the .256/.347/.634 line against high-level competition when he's only had a single season of healthy play that occurred after his injury of disaster should make your ears as tingly as it does mine.

Because of the stats I mentioned, and the lack of hard data from the AZL, this is as much of a narrative call as it is a "scouting one". The A's added a 17-degree-launch angle change to Deichmann’s swing, pairing it with his natural plus power and big exit velocities. He shows an above-average eye at the plate, and one of the few constants in his minor-league numbers is walk rates over 10%.

He struck out a ton in 2018 and 2019, including in the Fall League, but the A's aren't afraid of using a three true outcomes-style masher in a role that maximizes his ability and hides some of his weaknesses. The A’s have found success taking a player with specific gifts and adding a piece to better unlock a skill they can use on the major league roster. With Deichmann, it’s obvious that the skill the A’s want is a right-handed platoon bat with serious torque.

Deichmann is the rare under-the-radar prospect who could provide major-league value in 2020. The A's outfield, outside of speedster Ramon Laureano, is in flux. Mark Canha, Stephen Piscotty, and Robbie Grossman are all various levels of "fine", and if you told me that two of the three were gone and in their place a combo of Seth Brown and Deichmann, I wouldn't bat an eye. All the 24-year-old needs now is health, which he appears to finally have for the first time in years. Although his minor league numbers are pedestrian, buy into the narrative and you’ll receive easy return on your investment.

Honorable Mention: Brayan Buelvas, OF; Marcus Smith, OF

 

Seattle Mariners – Milkar Perez, 3B

I promised myself when I started this that I wouldn't make the Seattle selection Noelvi Marte. If you don't know about Noelvi Marte, well now you know and knowing is half the battle (GI Joooooe)!

Anyways, since we're mining the depths for fantasy goodness, allow me to introduce you to Milkar Perez. The 18-year-old with the 80-grade nickname "Milk" showed out in the 18U Pan American Championships shortly after signing for just $175K in the 2018 J2 class. Perez played alongside current "name" prospects like fellow Panamanians Daniel Espino and Ivan Herrera, Canadian Bo Naylor, and Americans Bobby Witt, Riley Greene, Corbin Carroll, CJ Abrams, and Brennan Malone. My point is that the 18U Pan American Championships is a good place to scout talent as they are competing against the cream of the crop of amateurs. It was against that group that Perez's .274/.381/.388 line with a BB% of over 13% was good enough to land him on the all-tourney team, showing that he not only belonged among that group, he excelled.

That .381 OBP should jump out at you, as it's Perez's defining skill at this point in his career. His approach is extremely advanced, showing a strong eye for the ball regardless of which side of the plate the switch-hitter is batting from. That eye led to a 13% BB% in the 18U tourney, an outcome that is even stronger than the number suggests since, to date, he's never played stateside. This should keep his OBP high, even if he's having a cold spell at the plate.

Speaking of the plate, his swing is tight and compact, but contains lots of juice. His eye and selectivity at the plate keep him from taking cuts and bad balls, and his above-average contact ability gives the Mariners the hope that the bat will eventually top out as plus. When he does make contact, Perez produces plenty of torque, leading the Mariners to again believe that he'll produce above-average to plus game power.

For those that aren't following, we have an above-average eye, above-average approach at the plate, above-average hit and contact tools, and above-average pop. If you want to get lofty with the comps, that's a poor man's Kris Bryant. Perez likely isn't a superstar on Bryant's level, but the young man is hungry and has shown a lot to like to evaluators. We'll know more when he hits the states whenever 2020 happens, but today he's an ideal end of the draft stash in your deep dynasty league. "Milk" will be on my radar going forward, and Rotoballers should definitely do the same.

Honorable Mention: Dom Thompson-Williams, OF; Joey Gerber, RP

 

Texas Rangers – Maximo Acosta, SS

I’m cheating a bit here, as Acosta has built quite the following in scouting circles since being signed for $1.6 million during the J2 signing period. The 17-year-old was overshadowed by fellow Rangers signee Bayron Lora, who commanded a massive $4.2 million. Lora and Acosta are very different players, with the former a hulking man-child with 70-grade raw power and the latter a pure plus athlete with little “baseball” seasoning. You’ll see both Lora and Acosta earn honorable mentions to top 100 lists this offseason, and it’s for good reason.

Once Acosta got exposure with major league quality coaching and scouts, he proceeded to open a ton of eyes with far better than expected polish. The hyper-athletic, quick-twitch was all there, but so was a more dynamic bat, quality defense, and pitch recognition that is well beyond his years. He’s already adjusting to spin and breaking balls, using a short and smooth swing that keeps the barrel in the strike zone. He makes fantastic contact, with a potential plus hit tool to go with what is expected to be above average pop at maturity. Add plus speed that is smooth and effortless, and you have the potential for a true five-tool player.

I wish there was more analysis, but we just don't have the numbers yet. Whenever the 2020 season happens, where Acosta plays and how the Rangers move him will be on the top of my watch list. Acosta has drawn comparisons to Yankees shortstop Gleybar Torres and, while I hate overly optimistic player comparisons, I have to admit that scouts that were interviewed that made the comp seemed like they were initially cagey about letting that name fly. What that tells me is that this isn’t a comp that was made flippantly, but rather an assessment that felt both honest and considered. While Lora was the more celebrated (and expensive) prospect, it’s clear that the Rangers struck gold in Acosta.

Honorable Mention: Ricky Vanasco, RP; Zion Bannister, OF

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Milwaukee Brewers: Top 10 Dynasty Prospects

Today, we’re continuing our look at the Top 10 dynasty prospects in each organization with an eye to discovering which organizations are best positioned to succeed with their player development when games resume. Make sure to check out all of our prospect content, including Top 50 for 2020 and Top 250 for Dynasty Leagues.

One important question to ask is: How will a long layoff affect prospects? One has to assume the more advanced prospects prior to the work stoppage will be at an advantage, while the more “toolsy but raw” types could be hurt with the lack of repetition and in-game action; throwing or hitting in simulated environments just doesn’t match up to the real thing. Many prospects will have to work jobs during the pandemic just to make ends meet, so players who signed for large bonuses will have an advantage. Other prospects that lack strong discipline and commitment to their craft could struggle to stay in shape.

We won’t really know what the layoff impact will have on baseball in general until things start ramping up. But we do know that a strong prospect pool will continue to be an important element for a successful baseball franchise.

 

Milwaukee Brewers Top 10 Prospects: Quick synopsis 

The Brewers have one of the weaker Minor League systems in baseball, but there are a few prospects of note. The club also added some intriguing arms during the 2019 amateur draft.

 

1. Brice Turang, SS

Dynasty Prospect Rank: 133
2020 LEVEL: A+
MLB ETA: 2022

Just 20 years old, Turang has shown an advanced bat for his age. He should eventually hit for a good average but he’ll likely never be a big home run hitter. However, his bat could still generate a ton of extra-base hits thanks to his good bat speed. He also has speed on the bases and could nab 20-30 bases per year as a big leaguer. Trea Turner (with less home run pop) is a decent comp for Turang’s future.

 

2. Tristen Lutz, OF

Dynasty Prospect Rank: 201
2020 LEVEL:  AA
MLB ETA: 2021

The 21-year-old Lutz has a chance to develop into a power-hitting right fielder. He has 20+ home run potential, and the power may have to carry him because he strikes out a fair bit. He doesn’t project to hit for a high average, and he’s not going to be a big base stealer.

 

3. Aaron Ashby, LHP

Dynasty Prospect Rank: 214
2020 LEVEL: AA
MLB ETA: 2021

Ashby has a good chance to develop into a No. 4 starter at the MLB level thanks to his four-pitch repertoire, which includes three offerings that could develop into above-average pitches. His inconsistent command and control limit his effectiveness at times but, when he’s on, he’s shown the ability to miss bats.

 

4. Carlos Rodriguez, OF

Dynasty Prospect Rank: 218
2020 LEVEL: SS-A
MLB ETA: 2023

Players like Rodriguez tend to get overlooked in this era of boom-or-bust baseball, but I’m a fan. Just 19 years old, he’s already shown the ability to produce a high average and has hit more than .300 at three different stops in the lower Minors. He makes a ton of contact -- almost to a fault -- as he doesn’t walk much because he can hit just about any pitch thrown at him. The biggest knock against Rodriguez is his lack of pop, but if he can add some good weight and muscle to his frame, he should be able to produce at least gap power as he already produces respectable line-drive rates.

 

5. Drew Rasmussen, RHP

Dynasty Prospect Rank: 228
2020 LEVEL: AAA
MLB ETA: 2020

Rasmussen was a promising amateur hurler but two Tommy John surgeries took some of the shine off his potential. He still has a plus fastball and a promising slider, which were on display when he zoomed through three different Minor League levels in 2019. He’s been working as a starter, but his future is likely in the bullpen due to his lack of durability and below-average third offering.

 

6. Eduardo Garcia, SS

2020 LEVEL: Rookie
MLB ETA: 2024

Signed for more than $1 million in 2018, Garcia’s first pro season was derailed after just 10 games due to a broken ankle. His best skills are on the defensive side of the game which has little value in fantasy baseball, but he’s shown a solid approach at the plate, too. He has a chance to hit for a solid average with decent pop.

 

7. Ethan Small, LHP

2020 LEVEL: A+
MLB ETA: 2022

Small is a pitcher with three average offerings and good control with a shot at developing into a No. 4 starter. His changeup has a chance to generate the most swing-and-misses, while the breaking ball needs the most work to become a consistent big league weapon. He also has some deception in his delivery and solid command/control.

 

8. Mario Feliciano, C

2020 LEVEL: AA
MLB ETA: 2021

Feliciano has too much swing-and-miss to his game, but while he may never hit for a high average, he has a chance to have offensive value due to his above-average pop. His defensive skills all but assure he’ll stick behind the plate on a long-term basis.

 

9. Antoine Kelly, LHP

2020 LEVEL: A-
MLB ETA: 2023

Selected in the second round of the 2019 Draft out of junior college, Kelly is one of the hardest throwing southpaws around and can tickle triple digits. On the downside, he’s close to being a one-pitch pitcher, although his slider shows flashes of above-average potential. At just 20 years old, youth is on his side, but the lack of a deep repertoire and iffy control suggests that he could be headed for the bullpen.

 

10. Corey Ray, OF

2020 LEVEL: AAA
MLB ETA: 2020

The fifth overall pick in the 2016 Draft, Ray has failed to translate his promising tools into baseball skills. In four seasons, he’s never hit above .240 because of his sky-high strikeout rates. On the plus side, he still has the potential to develop into a 20-20 (HR-SB) player while playing good outfield defense.

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Dynasty League Buy/Sell

With the uncertainty of opening day, there is no better time to play in an MLB Fantasy Dynasty League. Due to the league format, it by far the most unaffected by the delay of Opening Day. Drafting and trading can proceed in full force as the value assigned to these players go long beyond this shortened season.

When trading in a dynasty league, a player’s future production needs to be weighed much more heavily than in standard redraft leagues. The players recommended to be sold in this article are clearly highly valued, but the return their current price tag will bring is greater than their future dynasty production, therefore making them perfect trade candidates.

Without further ado, let's take a look at my top recommended dynasty buys and sells!

 

Sell! Sell! Sell!

Justin Verlander (SP, HOU)

According to Fantasypros, Justin Verlander’s average draft position is around 16th overall in standard redraft leagues, behind only Gerrit Cole and Max Scherzer at his position. In dynasty leagues, the Astros ace falls to an ADP of 54th. Clearly owners are already taking into account Verlander’s advanced age and off-season groin injury, but not enough. At 54th overall, he is still the 14th starting pitcher off the board, and ahead of promising young bats like Ketel Marte and Victor Robles.

There is no denying that the old-school workhorse pitcher has been a stud his whole career. In his 14 full seasons in the majors, he’s only thrown fewer than 200 innings twice and it has not happened since 2015. In fact, it’s only going to take 18 more innings to put him at 3,000 career innings pitched, but that's the problem. All good things come to an end and at 37 years old, the veteran's value is soon going to be on a steep decline. After he received the Cy Young award in 2019, this is the perfect time to sell him at his absolute height.

His numbers last season were still sensational and it's almost impossible to find a flaw. With that being said, he was more prone to giving up the longball than ever last year. He had a 1.45 HR/9, giving up 36 total, both career highs to go along with the fact his ERA (2.58) outperformed his FIP (3.27) by a significant margin. In addition, the former Tigers' BABIP was a career-low .218. whilst leaving 88.4% of runners stranded on base, by far the most in baseball and a staggering 4.4% more than Clayton Kershaw who finished second in that category.

The eight-time All-Star had groin surgery in the off-season and it's unclear how much that will affect him moving forward, but it could be an indication that a 200-inning workload may not be the guarantee it always has been. And if he is affected, perhaps his numbers will more closely resemble his sub-par 2019 postseason.

The drop-off will come, it's just a question of when, and it's always better to sell too early than too late. Realistically the 2017 World Series champion will be his ace-like self this year. That's why you should identify the owner in your league who is in position to go all-in on winning this year and trade the five-time AL strikeout leader for a king’s ransom of young assets to put your team in a position succeed for the next decade.

 

Stephen Strasburg (SP, WAS)

Now for our next sell-high candidate. The ace whose team bested Verlander and the Astros to be crowned 2019 World Series champions, Stephen Strasberg. The man who just signed a brand new seven-year, $245 million dollar contract. The first-overall pick in 2009 is the next pitcher taken after Verlander in standard leagues and is rightfully deemed more valuable in dynasty with an ADP of 40.5.

The 2019 World Series MVP finally stayed healthy and realized his full potential last season. However, that’s the biggest cause for concern. Including the postseason, this injury-prone pitcher hurled 245.1 innings in 2019, by far a career-high.

The three-time All-Star's stock hasn’t been this high in years, largely due to his postseason heroics. Take advantage of owners viewing him through the Madison Bumgarner postseason stud glasses. In reality, last season wasn't that much of an outlier compared to his prior seasons. It was still very very good, it's just hard to imagine it will get much better.

His 3.32 ERA was 16th in baseball amongst qualifying pitchers. For dynasty purposes, it's important to note only six starters were older than Strasberg. His strikeout rate in 2019 was a nice 29.8%, but that's only 0.7% higher than his career average. Similarly, his 6.7% BB% was actually 0.2 higher than his career average of 6.5%. This should illustrate that Strasburg didn't make much of a jump last year, he just did it on a bigger stage.

A big reason for his success last year was his .274 BABIP, his lowest since 2013. However, this season he will be without his stud third baseman, Anthony Rendon. Fangraphs ranked the two-time Silver Slugger as the second-best fielder at the hot corner last year (36.6 DEF,) behind only Matt Chapman (40.8,) and ahead of Nolan Arenado (35.3.) In comparison, Carter Kieboom is currently slated to be the primary third baseman, who in eleven games last season posted a -2.2 DEF.

Strasberg relies a lot on hitters chasing his pitches out of the zone, possessing a career 45.0 zone percentage.  However, last season he took it to another level, throwing off the plate more than ever (39.3 Zone%,) correlating with a huge jump in his curveball usage. He actually threw his curve (30.6%) more than his four-seam fastball (29.8%) last season, a fastball clocked at a career-low 93.9 mph.

He tried to compensate for the drop in velocity by reintroducing a sinker that he hadn’t featured since 2012, but it didn't help. The sinker ended up being his worst pitch, with a .342 WOBA, slightly worse than his fastball (.327 WOBA.)

The three-time All-Star is relying on his curveball more than ever, meaning if hitters sit on a fastball and limit chasing out of the zone, Strasburg may see a substantial dip in production. Given his prior injury history, his public perception, and the fading fastball, it's optimal to sell as high as you can and grab a younger, safer ace in return.

 

Paul Goldschmidt (1B, STL)

Abandon ship while there is still time. I’m sure that’s what Cardinals GM Mike Girsch is thinking too. To be fair, the six-time All-Star finished with a respectable 97 runs, 97 RBI, and 34 HRs in his first season with the Cardinals. Don’t be fooled though, Goldy is 32 going on 40, and his batted ball data was by far the worst since his rookie year.

Being a Silver Slugger and All-Star as recently as 2018 may give some owners hope that he will bounce back. However, that seems highly improbable. In addition to his decline in production, it is being reported by the St. Louis Post that he is still going to the Cardinals spring training complex to receive treatment for his sore elbow. It doesn't take a doctor to think that it doesn't exactly bode well if the injury is causing enough discomfort that it needs to be treated at the team facility during these times.

Looking back, his last down year was in 2016 when Goldschmidt only delivered 24 home runs and a .192 ISO. On the other hand, that year he still provided immense fantasy value with a .411 OBP, and 32 Stolen bases. In 2020, he no longer has the athleticism to compensate for his diminishing skills at the plate. According to Fangraphs his Offensive rating in 2018 was seventh overall at 41.0. In 2019 his rating was 17.3, good for 51st.

As a hitter gets older, his bat slows down, a great way to analyze that is to see how he does against the fastball. Before 2019, the former Diamondback's career-low vs. the fastball was .309. In 2020, it dropped all the way down to .256, and that was with a .302 BABIP. He did improve against off-speed and breaking pitches but if his regression in power and bat speed continue then opposing pitchers can lean on hammering the zone against the veteran. In fact, he already faces fastballs 60% of the time.

 

A combination of age, injury, and a big name makes Paul Goldschmidt the perfect sell-high candidate. His stock certainly isn’t as high as it was in his Arizona days, but at this stage, it seems like he may soon follow in the footsteps of Joey Votto and become more and more irrelevant for fantasy purposes.

 

Get 'Em While They're Hot!

Eugenio Suarez (3B, CIN)

The continued undervaluing of Eugenio Suarez is a puzzling one. He’s 28 years old, came second in the Majors with 49 HRs last year, and is on a team that added big-time bats in Mike Moustakas and Nicholas Castellanos this offseason. Even if his recent shoulder surgery saps a little bit of raw power, the season postponement means he won't start on the IL. That's a fair trade-off.

Third base is a position overflowing with high-value fantasy assets, but even so, Suarez is being drafted too low as the 10th third baseman in dynasty, being valued behind Yoan Moncada and Manny Machado. The 2018 All-Star was eight points clear of Alex Bregman for most HRs at his position in 2019, and seventh in the league with a .301 ISO. It's crystal clear that with a 46.7% hard-hit rate, a 14.0%-barrel percentage, and a 17.8 average launch angle Suarez will still be a great asset even with some regression.

The one moderate cause for concern is his plate discipline. A 28.5% strikeout rate is too high, however, it’s a worthy tradeoff for the power production. In the three seasons prior to last year, Suarez averaged a 23.8% strikeout rate, but it wasn’t until the former Tiger started gripping and ripping that his breakout came. In fact, fantasy studs like Trevor Story (26.5%,) Peter Alonso (26.4%), and Ronald Acuna Jr. (26.3%) all struck out a comparable amount, yet Suarez was tied with Acuna for the highest BB% amongst that group (10.6%). Major League players are worrying less and less about strikeouts and so should fantasy owners, as long as the OBP is respectable and in Suarez’s case (.358) it is.

It’s unlikely that Suarez will improve on his gaudy 2019 numbers but there’s no reason to think that his breakout was not legitimate. If he produces close to the same way in 2020 he will be right behind Nolan Arenado, Anthony Rendon, and the other top tier third baseman, for a fraction of the price.

 

Lance McCullers Jr. (SP, HOU)

In redraft leagues, Lance McCullers Jr. has an ADP of 188. In dynasty leagues, he is going in the same range as Jake Odorizzi and Marcus Stroman. This is a player who was cruising in 2018 before his season was derailed by Tommy John surgery. Yes, he’ll be on an innings restriction this year, but with this shortened season it essentially becomes a non-factor in dynasty leagues. If a fantasy owner can acquire this future ace then he’ll be an asset for years to come.

In his four-year Major League career, the 2017 All-Star has a 10.10 K/9, a 3.31 XFIP, and is always in the top five at inducing groundballs: 54.9% in 2019 and a staggering 61.3% in 2018. The top groundball pitchers usually come with the downside of a low strikeout rate. For example, Marcus Stroman is always one of the league leaders in this category but his career-high K/9 is only 7.76.

The 2017 World Series champion is considered to have one of the best curveballs in the league. It’s been his most dominant and most used pitch (44.5% career) since his rookie season and for good reason. In 2017, it had an XBA of .198 and of the 132 batters he struck out in 118.2 innings, 108 of them were sat down with the curve. This bodes well for McCullers' comeback from Tommy John surgery as he isn’t overly reliant on throwing with heat.

The Astros need McCullers to step up big for them in 2020. Last time he was healthy they had Gerrit Cole, Dallas Keuchel, and Charlie Morton. They don't have those stud arms to fall back on anymore so grab him on the cheap and he’ll step up big for your fantasy team too.

 

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3B, TOR)

It’s rare that a player ranked 14th overall in dynasty drafts can be considered a buy-low candidate, but that’s the case with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. This kid is a generational talent that can become the best bat on your dynasty team for the next decade.

Guerrero made such light work of minor league pitchers that the Blue Jays had no choice but to call him up in 2019. He was 20 at the time, played in 123 games, but ultimately did not live up to the high expectations he set for himself. He struck out 17.7% of the time and only hit 15 HRs. Furthermore, his batted ball data shows this lack of production was warranted. Admittedly, a .162 ISO, a 34.4% hard-hit rate, and a 49.6% groundball rate was not what was expected from the Dominican slugger.

However, the former No. 1 overall prospect is still only 21 years old. In 91 games in 2018, between Double-A and Triple-A, Guerrero had a .369 batting average, a 1.049 OPS, and a 9.0% strikeout rate. Once he adjusts to big league pitching, and he will, then this is a guy who can win leagues for fantasy owners.

It was the breaking stuff that Vladdy had a problem with in 2019. He had a .234 XBA and a 38.1 Whiff % against big-league breaking balls, and a 77.3% contact rate overall. Judging by his minor league numbers it won't be long before he gets a better eye for that style of pitch.

An important note is that a big reason for Guerrero's underwhelming production is because he is already being treated like one of the game’s best by opposing pitchers. Only seven qualifying hitters saw a fewer percent of pitches in the zone in 2019, (37.8 zone %,) Christian Yelich, Pete Alonso, Bryce Harper, Josh Bell, Eddie Rosario, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez. Out of all of those All-Stars, Vlad had the highest zone contact rate at 87.2%. Once he sees the plate better and waits for strikes he can really begin to unlock his potential.

Clearly the league knows what the Homerun Derby runner-up is capable of. He brings more to the table than just raw power, and yet he had the hardest-hit home run last year (118.9 MPH EV). Even if it takes him a few more seasons to truly be a Silver Slugger candidate, he most certainly will improve on last year's performance and his price tag will only go up.

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Stock Your Dynasty Farm: AL East Sleeper Prospects

The AL East features the top farm system in baseball, two uber-prospects, the only Canadian team, as well as two of sports’ most prestigious franchises. Needless to say, there are some storylines to mine for content here. And yet, what may be the richest and most influential division in baseball is, in my humble opinion, set up for one of the best run, cheapest franchises in sports to take the crown in 2020. Tampa Bay built its success the same way a dynasty owner does: good post-draft prospect evaluation, and ridiculous smart trading. Their title of best farm club in baseball is well-earned, and as a result, there will be a lot of guys who don’t get their due, but do yourself a favor and dig in as there are a lot of diamonds in that particular rough.

The Yankees are still recovering after graduating and dealing away a variety of prospects, but the farm system is built less on hyper-dynamic talent and rather on spectacular development practices. Theirs is quietly one of the more stable farm clubs in baseball, and there’s a lot of good-not-great talent that with coaching can take a step up. The Orioles have more question marks with regards to who will rise to the top, but the addition of Adley Rutschman suddenly brings more clarity on what window the O’s could be targeting for contention. The Red Sox feature a deep bench of talent that needs seasoning; they feature a bevy of under-the-radar relievers that underscore their decision to not chase bullpen help in the offseason. Finally, as Toronto graduates what projects to be their core for the foreseeable future, the question becomes how they can develop a team to go around them. So far, the results haven’t been particularly exciting, but solid drafting of guys who refuse to be failures has kept them afloat. Nate Pearson fits this mold, but the Blue Jays have just not taken those toolsy balls of clay and shaped them into baseball players.

Keep in mind that many of these players will be owned for at least a couple of years before you can expect either MLB playing time or the kind of value jump that turns a non-asset into a real trade chip. Remember to check back to Rotoballer.com and follow @Rotoballer and @RotoballerMLB on Twitter for more juicy tips to help you dominate your fantasy league.

 

Baltimore Orioles – Gunnar Henderson, OF

I don’t what it is about the Orioles and the sorts of positionless, offense-first players like Ryan Mountcastle, but they love them a quality bat who they have no idea where he’ll play. 2020 draftee Gunnar Henderson is another in the Mountcastle mold. I don’t mean to suggest that these two, and fellow bat-first draftee Kyle Stowers, are all super similar, more that eventually Baltimore will have to, you know, field the ball successfully, and all of these three have major holes and questions about their gloves.

The most significant difference between the 19-year-old Henderson and Mountcastle is the level of athleticism on display with the second-rounder. Henderson is a much better athlete, so the chance that he’ll develop at least an average glove that can keep him at his current third base or at a corner outfield spot is much better.

This gives us much more confidence that he won’t have to be hidden in a part-time DH role to accumulate a full season’s worth of plate appearances. And, of course, this is fantasy, so making sure that he can get those at-bats is critical.

Questions about his baseball fit aside, the bat is fantastic, with above-average to plus grades across the board. Henderson has an outside shot at a plus-hit tool, but it’s more likely to fall into the above-average range.

That’s not a slight, as he’ll pair it with above-average power and potentially above-average speed. Plug that into a roster at the No. 3 slot behind Adley Rutschman, or No. 5 behind Mountcastle, and you’ve got a very strong offensive core that will give Henderson tons of opportunity to rack up counting stats.

Honorable Mention: Luis Ortiz, SP; Kyle Stowers, OF

 

Boston Red Sox – Thad Ward, SP

I got to tell you, Rotoballers, when I or any other analyst posts juicy content like this, we are basically putting out all of the oppo research that the owners we compete with could ever hope for! I mean these sleepers aren’t just random names pulled out of the hat, they become more than that. They become almost family, and I want to have the opportunity to draft these guys!

Too much? Fair enough, but the lead serves to underscore the relationship we dynasty players develop when we find a guy to buy into that others overlook. Last season, Jarren Duran and Owen Miller were guys I went into draft season really excited about, ended up with multiple shares, and they popped onto the national scene right away; thus justifying my excitement. This year, Red Sox 2018 5th rounder Thad Ward is one of my guys.

Ward was an odd case of the college reliever who was converted back to starter in the pros. After a year of middling success, Ward improved dramatically in his second full season in the role. A 1.99 ERA (2.85 FIP) to go with a huge boost in K/9 led to a midseason promotion to High-A ball, where he promptly improved on his K/9 again, albeit with a boost in walks as well. The improvement has been driven by Ward’s ability to pair a deep repertoire of cut fastballs and breaking balls with a true plus slider that one Red Sox coach called “a Chris Sale slider”.

A student of the craft of pitching that thankfully lacks Trevor Bauer’s trademark charm, Ward is the rare pitcher who doesn’t need a tremendous amount of velocity to miss a ton of bats. Oddly enough, he’s exactly the kind of pitcher who could counteract the Astros’ infamous “trash-can pitch selection” move. Ward is a high-ceiling, high-floor prospect somehow masquerading as a “No.4-type”.

Honorable Mention: Brainer Bonaci, SS; Eduardo Vaughn, OF

 

New York Yankees – Alexander Vizcaino, SP

A 22-year-old starter at High-A who posted a 4.28 ERA and 1.61 WHIP with just an 8.89 K/9. But Alexander Vizcaino didn’t start his professional career until he was signed out of the Dominican Republic at 19. The late start notwithstanding, Vizcaino hurled three relatively nondescript seasons before clicking a bit in 2019 at A-ball with a 3.16 FIP and a 10.37 K/9 alongside a solid 2.77 BB/9.

All that said about his statistics, the fact is that Vizcaino is one of the more talented pitchers in the Yankees’ system, bringing plus heat and has been coachable to the point that he’s adding true weapons to his arsenal.

What makes Vizcaino especially interesting is a hugely-improved changeup to pair with an already elite upper 90s fastball. The offspeed pitch comes in a little faster at low 90s, but that higher velocity is combined with a sharp dive at the plate, confusing even the best hitters with whether it was a split-finger heater or the change.

The upside on the pitch is plus, and an average to an above-average slider is on the way. The feel Vizcaino has shown with his spin rates gives me hope that his tools will play up and he’ll end up a really productive, high-strikeout starter for fantasy owners.

Honorable Mention: Kevin Alcantara, OF; Ezequiel Duran, 2B

 

Tampa Bay Rays – Joe Ryan, SP

In case you hadn’t heard, the Rays have a pretty good farm system. Because there is so much quality at every level, finding guys that you really like that end up being buried by superstar-level teammates like Wander Franco or Brent Honeywell. Joe Ryan is one of those guys who is starting to get some industry love, but the sheer depth around him has led to him being well underappreciated.

A 2018 7th rounder, Ryan has been dealing K’s from the day he stepped onto a pro mound. After 160 innings across four levels, the 23-year-old has racked up 234 strikeouts, including a small-sample-sure-but-still-mind-numbing 16.2 K/9 in 13.1 innings over three starts at Double-A.

Ryan has an ultra-loose arm, which allows him to really get the best stuff out of what was expected to be average-ish grade pitches. But as his development continued, Ryan has shown an ability to very quickly pick up new ideas and mechanics, using his loose arm and athleticism to his advantage.

Ryan is the perfect type of pitcher that Tampa Bay has shown to get the absolute most out of, and Ryan is the type of player to learn, adapt, and improve as he goes. While there’s a lot of differences in terms of skills and tools, Ryan’s development narrative reminds me of fellow Rays project-turned-All Star James Shields.

What was once hoped to be a back-end of the rotation innings eater has seen his perceived ceiling bump all the way up to a second-division No. 2.

Honorable Mention: Jhon Diaz, OF; Niko Hulsizer, OF

 

Toronto Blue Jays – Dasan Brown, OF

Honestly Rotoballers, I wish I could punt this one and just talk about Nate Pearson for 500 words. But, we press on. It’s really tough shining in a farm club that includes my most exciting pitching prospect in baseball, but there are a handful of players I feel are going to power their own way to the bigs, even if the Blue Jays don’t have the most sterling record of development.

So, for Toronto, we’re looking for players that have undeniable tools that could pop if things click. That being the case, we’re really making a bet on the player himself, and little else. Brown is the type of player I’m betting on.

The 18-year-old Brown has a ton of natural athleticism and raw tools. He’s among the rawest in the system, but his natural ability is among the most tantalizing. Plus-plus speed, a plus glove, and plus-bat speed are the foundation of my optimism. Billy Hamilton turned his 80-grade speed into a long career, and Brown’s speed is a true 80.

The difference between him and Hamilton is the overall feel at the plate. Brown is further along than Hamilton at his age, and profiles as a similar slap-hitting outfielder who gobbles up steals by the bunches. But between the juiced ball and Brown’s own thicker frame, there’s no reason to think that the former third-rounder could experience a sudden power surge. Even league-average pop and an average bat, combined with his already elite speed and defense, add up to a borderline All-Star.

Honorable Mention: Estiven Machado, SS; Leonardo Jimenez, SS

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Stock Your Dynasty Farm: NL Central Top Prospect Sleepers

Continuing down the line, we've already explored the NL West and AL Central. Today, we’re covering the NL Central, home of maybe the most "blah" collection of farm systems and expected outcomes in baseball. That said, the group of prospects that I've pulled might be my favorite overall collection, despite there being two catchers. The systems might be shallow in terms of dynasty fantasy goodness, but these finds are strong.

I don't mean to disparage any individual group, but the division hasn't had an influx of exciting talent since the Cub's Kris Bryant/Anthony Rizzo/Javier Baez era. And I'm referring specifically to prospects produced by their own farm systems, so don't @ me about Christian Yelich. In fact, in recent years, the best prospects to be produced by team in the NL Central have been starring elsewhere, such as the Rays' Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow, or the Giants' Mauricio Dubon. Many of the division's most exciting prospects have tended to lose shine for one reason or another, such as Taylor Trammell and Nick Senzel, or even the aforementioned Glasnow. That doesn't mean that the cupboard is bare, rather it speaks to what our expectations overall should be for this division. With some teams, you can expect a certain amount of development in one area or another. With the NL Central, I think you're needing the player to bring a little more to the table developmentally, so scouting reports on makeup and work ethic are key.

But this group of five prospects represents a very good chance for each of these clubs to graduate a genuinely exciting fantasy star. We're looking for diamonds in the rough, and this is a very bright set of diamonds in a very dull rough. Don't forget to follow @Rotoballer and @RotoballerMLB for the best redraft, dynasty, and daily fantasy content.

 

Chicago Cubs – Ethan Hearn, C

I'll be real with you. I have a weird thing with catchers in dynasty. I absolutely hate being the guy who has a stacked roster but is rolling out the M's backup as my starter, just praying for an at-bat. So, because of that aversion, I tend to have too many options. Unfortunately, that extends to you today, Rotoballers, as I have not one but two backstops represented today.

Our first is a nondescript 6th round pick from Alabama who just happened to sign the biggest bonus for a  rounder in years. The 19-year-old Hearn is built to be a pure masher, meaning he has a future even if he doesn't stick behind the plate.

Fortunately, the Cubs have been pleased with the tools he's displayed defensively, giving him a good chance to retain that all-important "C." He's a power over hit bat with genuine plus pop from the left-side and a chance for more. Hearn has shown coachability, making tweaks to his approach and his swing.

Catchers that provide value on both sides of the plate are rare, but they become genuine fantasy assets since you never have to remove them from the lineup. With catchers starting to slip in production at a younger and younger age, it would be wise to take a stab at Willson Contreras' eventual heir apparent. If Hearn continues down this path, a Robinson Chirinos-esque .230/.340/.500 with 30+ homers isn't an unreasonable projection long term.

Honorable Mention: Pedro Martinez, 2B/SS; Kevin Made, SS

 

Cincinnati Reds – Tyler Callihan, 3B

For regular Rotoballer readers that caught my breakdown on the AL East, you'll recall that I mentioned the Baltimore Orioles' affinity for positionless, bat-first guys who move through the minors relatively quickly like Ryan Mountcastle. Well, introduce yourself to the NL's version of that player, the Reds' 2019 third-round pick Tyler Callihan.

The 19-year-old "third baseman" was quietly one the best hitters, full stop, of the 2019 class. He wasn't phased by 90+ mph velocity, barreled balls with ease, and catching up to movement quickly. Once drafted, he showed a plus batting eye, plus bat speed, and plus raw power. His scouting report is literally in the middle of my Venn diagram for traits I specifically look for in a fantasy prospect.

For dynasty fantasy players, where a prospect ultimately plays matters surprisingly little. Maybe you care more, but I frankly don't If a prospect in a deep league brings you MLB points, sometimes that's enough. There are few prospects I am more certain will have a legitimate MLB career than Tyler Callihan. It is a true plus bat that will either end up somewhere in the outfield or second base. Regardless, his bat is very real, and don't wait to add him to your roster if you can.

Honorable Mention: Michael Siani, OF; Michel Triana, 1B

 

Milwaukee Brewers – Hedbert Perez, OF

I promised no more than one J-2 signing per division, and here’s my favorite in the NL West. Perez is a bundle of premium tools signed at the age of 16. A 5-foot-11, 180-pound switch-hitter with Major-League bloodlines, Perez brings what is already plus speed and above-average power that he actually gets to in games. This might not sound that interesting, but we’re talking about a true man-child that has major league power today. Not tomorrow, today.

Plus, the expectation is that as his body fills out, he could grow into plus or better power. Combine that plus to plus-plus pop with his smooth mechanics and a swing that keeps the barrel in the zone, and you have a potential middle-of-the-order slugger.

Where Perez separates himself from other premium athletes at his age level is his makeup. A native Venezuelan, the 17-year-old is already a fluent English speaker and draws praise as a natural leader in the clubhouse. Further, he’s shown the willingness to adjust his approach and swing, and has taken very well to the limited professional coaching he’s received. Today, Perez unloads a smooth, compact swing, but also controls the strike zone and has shown really strong patience at the plate, willing to take a walk and lay off close pitches that he can’t do as much with.

Hedbert Perez has shown to be one of the elite talents signed during the 2019 international signing period. Right now, the tool projection is plus speed, plus power, and plus hit. If that wasn’t enough, add in an above-average glove in center field that will keep him from having to be substituted out for defensive replacements, thus sacrificing plate appearances. Between the exciting physical toolset, the advanced baseball acumen, and plus makeup, the pieces for a franchise cornerstone are all here. Be aggressive!

Honorable Mention: Antoine Kelly, SP; Luis Medina, OF

 

Pittsburgh Pirates – Alexander Mojica, 3B

Selfishly, I thought about holding out on you, Rotoballers. I’m sorry, and I hope my apology will serve as payment enough. Well, an apology and one of my favorite under-the-radar prospects in baseball. I’ve been slowly and steadily consolidating shares of this 17-year-old signing out of the Dominican Republic in 2018. While the sum he commanded, $390,000, is a significant amount of money, it proves he wasn’t viewed on the same level as other 2018 signees such as Noelvi Marte, Orelvis Martinez, or Marco Luciano.

Mojica has done nothing but hit since signing. The 2019 Dominican Summer League was his coming out party, carving up opposing pitchers to the tune of a .351/.468/.580 triple-slash line with eight homers, 37 walks, and just 34 strikeouts on 218 plate appearances. Despite being one of the youngest players, he was one of the best and most polished. A strong, sturdy frame that has above-average raw power, a smooth swing that translates well in-game, and what appears to be a plus eye that could elevate his bat to plus, he has as much upside as anyone in Pittsburgh’s system. Mojica is easily one of my favorite sleeper prospects, and if he takes to low-A like he took to the DSL, we’ll have a top-50 prospect.

Honorable Mention: Juan Pie, OF; Ji-Hwan Bae, SS

 

St. Louis Cardinals – Ivan Herrera, C

This Cards’ young backstop has been a personal favorite for a couple of years now, although the industry has been relatively down on him. However, this pessimism might come from a combination of Andrew Knizner being widely expected to be the “catcher of the future,” the prevailing belief that Yadier Molina would rather die than retire, and plain old boredom in either Herrera as a prospect, the catcher position as a whole, or both.

Don’t let the lethargy suck you in, as Herrera is a very real prospect who has been advanced in many aspects of the game. Signed out of Panama in 2016, the tools have always been considered more in line with a borderline starter or backup. But despite a lighter toolbox, the Cards have tested the 19-year-old with extremely aggressive promotions. Seriously, he took at-bats in Double-A at the age of 18! That’s not just random, that’s faith in a kid’s fortitude.

But Herrera is not just interesting because of context. He has produced at almost (Double-A at 18!) every level, compiling a .309/.397/.431 in 592 at-bats. The hit tool is strong, with solid plate discipline and a smooth swing that keeps the bat in the zone. He makes consistent contact, and he’s slowly starting to get some power, leading optimists to believe that he’ll eventually work his way into league average pop.

He’s physically, technically, and mentally mature, he sprays the ball to all fields, and he’s lowering his ground ball rate, and he’s a solid backstop. I’m not going to go so far to say that he’s the next Yadi, but I’d put money down that in three years he’s pushing for playing time in St. Louis.

Honorable Mention: Edgardo Rodriguez, C; Luken Baker, 1B

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Stock Your Dynasty Farm: AL Central Top Prospect Sleepers

I've already covered the NL West previously in this series. Today, we’re covering the AL Central, which sports a couple of my favorite fantasy prospects in baseball.

As with all prospect hunting, the variance on outcomes is all over the board with these guys, but the AL Central has me feeling, personally, quite confident. These organizations have all had recent success with graduating top prospects and getting solid gains out of fringier guys. Kansas City has perhaps struggled the most recently, but the picks for that organization were guys that feel either like they can’t miss or that they simply won’t fail due to sheer force of character. The Twins, Indians, and White Sox are all extremely smart organizations that have years of recent history elevating certain profiles. The Tigers are bad - I don’t really have a clever way to put it.

As a self-diagnosed prospect nut, I am constantly reading and looking at young players to gain an edge in my various dynasty, Ottoneu, and deep redraft leagues. It would be a shame if all this work only benefited me, so my friends at Rotoballer would like to present to you my favorite under the radar players that I’ve already acquired, or am looking to grab in drafts this spring. Of course, keep in mind that many of these players will be owned for at least a couple of years before you can expect either MLB playing time or the kind of value jump that turns a non-asset into a real trade chip.

 

Chicago White Sox – Benyamin Bailey, OF

Well, this was going to be Steele Walker, but Nomar Mazara messed that right up, didn’t he?

Before getting to the matter at hand, a quick bit of context. Benyamin Bailey hails from Panama City, Panama. If you’re racking your brain to think of another MLBer that is also from Panama, you’re not alone. There are a grand total of 10 current major leaguers from the tiny country, perhaps most notably Johan Carmago, which historically has not been a hotbed for athletic talent. This leads to prospects coming from countries like Panama to be overlooked because they don’t have the baseball background that’s been cultivated in countries like Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. They’re also generally more willing to sign for tiny bonuses.

All that said, on to Bailey. After signing for a mere $35,000 bonus in 2018, the now 18-year-old showed out at the Dominican Summer League to the tune of .342/.503/.447. Even more surprising, he racked up 45 walks and 33 strikeouts, showing an eye at the plate that nobody saw coming. That walk rate contributed to a whopping .476 wOBA, which opened a lot of eyes in the scouting community.

Bailey is a man child, standing 6’4” and 215 pounds when he was 17! Despite the chiseled body, Bailey only launched a single home run last season. However, he also racked up nine doubles and a pair of triples, using a natural swing path to generate strong contact. He’s long-limbed and lanky, meaning he’s likely to add substantial weight over the next couple of seasons while he gets access to professional level seasoning. If you were putting ideal ingredients into a pot, hoping to cook up a future top prospect, the outcome might look a lot like Bailey.

For my fellow trivia aficionados, some baseball greats also from Panama include Dave Roberts, Carlos Lee, Rod Carew, and Mariano Rivera. Neat!

Honorable Mention: Luis Mieses, OF; James Beard, OF

 

Cleveland Indians – Lenny Torres, SP

Lenny Torres didn’t begin focusing on pitching until later in his high school career, but flourished so much so that he was selected in the first competitive balance round in the 2018 draft. Tommy John surgery has kept Torres on the shelf for all but 15 innings of Rookie ball, but those few innings were enlightening. A miniscule 1.76 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, coupled with a sterling K/BB of 5.5 have the Indians feeling like they have a real asset.

Torres’ small sample size isn’t the only area for optimism. The 19-year-old has scouting reports that fantasy players drool over. A quick, loose arm that runs his fastball up to 97 mph that flashes above-average. The heater is paired with a plus slider which is a true out pitch. The questions about Torres are the same that scouts would have about any young pitcher who was new to the craft, and Torres is in the midst of adding a changeup to his arsenal. He’s also in the midst of ironing out his delivery to improve his control, but the Indians appear optimistic that Torres is athletic enough to easily repeat his delivery, which may bump the rest of his tools up.

The takeaway here is that Torres has all the pieces to be a really good no. 3 in the rotation with lots of strikeouts for fantasy players. When I think of what Torres could provide at his peak, I can’t shake Jose Quintana out of my head. He’s been a fantasy asset for a long-time, once underrated and who popped with a couple of fantasy ace seasons. Torres has a long way to go to get to that lofty, All-Star ceiling, but I don’t have to squint hard to see that future outcome.

 

Bonus Cleveland Indian – Danny Medina, SP

Ok, so full disclosure I know next to nothing about this 2019 J2 signing out of the Dominican Republic from a baseball sense. He signed as a 16-year-old starting pitcher for an undisclosed, but likely very small signing bonus. It’s reported that he’s just hitting 90 with his fastball and has a sharp, but inconsistent slider. All told, he has the right mix of body and stuff at a young age to be considered a lottery ticket by the organization.

The reason I bring him up is that his mother and my wife grew up together in Santo Domingo and I’m just super proud of him. Regardless of whether or not he’s a real prospect, he’s a really good kid with enough baseball skill to try to make a career for himself playing ball. With that career, he can set his entire family up for life. It’s a dream for many a Dominican child to leverage their baseball ability into a comfortable life for their loved ones and Danny is no different. I’m going to be drafting him late in a dynasty league I’m involved in, if for no other reason than moral support (and so my wife can text proof to his mother, who will be no doubt very confused at the concept of me “owning” her son). In any case, keep an eye out and remember to be root for these kids as they grow up playing the game they love.

Honorable Mention: Jose Pastrano, SS; Christian Cairo, 2B

 

Detroit Tigers– Carlos Guzman, SP/RP

Lovefest over, back to hard-hitting analysis! There are few better systems to discuss where “hard-hitting” is appropriate. Not because the output of the Tigers’ farm is anything special, but rather because, well, it’s close to rock bottom. Detroit has struggled to find and develop talent at all levels, leading to a top-heavy list that gets thin really fast. Where most systems start to fall off somewhere between 12 and 17, but I’m not sure there are more than five guys that I’d be excited to own out of their prospects.

This challenge brings us to Guzman, a 21-year-old converted infielder whose stats, especially those from A-ball in 2019, don’t really jump off the page. However, the numbers hide a very interesting narrative and skillset. Despite never pitching at any organized level in his life, Guzman used his live arm, exceptional athleticism, and surprising spin on his fastball to strike out more than a batter per inning in just his second season of hurling full-time.

Guzman is in no way ready for the show. He needs to dramatically improve his breaking stuff and maybe to add another pitch to stick in the rotation, but this is a high ceiling and possibly higher-than-expected floor. With the possibility for three above-average pitches and a recent history of making big developmental leaps quickly, Guzman is the kind of fast riser who could be a strong value for dynasty players, regardless of his ultimate role.

Honorable Mention: Roberto Campos, OF; Paul Richan, SP

 

Kansas City Royals – Erick Pena, OF

This one might be cheating, as the 16-year-old received a massive and well-publicized $3.9 million signing bonus from Kansas City during the 2019 J2 period. I hate buying into the hype on J2 guys too early (*five minute break to bat myself on the back for ignoring Kevin Maitan), but Pena looks like the real deal.

A plus athlete with an advanced feel for the game, Pena showed he belonged in the pro game from the jump. He has always played against older competition and, in fact, has thrived. A native Dominican, Pena arrived at instructional ball as a fluent English speaker and in shape. You can’t teach that kind of maturity from a young age.

At the plate, Pena’s swing is balanced, strong, and level, allowing him to make good contact even though his plate coverage isn’t there yet. He’s projected for plus power and at least an average hit tool, but the projections are generally only derived from the body and its expected growth. I’d expect a kid with these kinds of tools, his advanced baseball skills, and his good work ethic to push his non-physical tools to their zenith. If that happens, we’re looking at a plus athlete with plus power and an above-average hit tool.

Most J2 kids should be ignored in their signing year, at least until they have some substantial playing time with MLB coaches. Pena is not one to wait for.

Honorable Mention: Jonathan Bowlan, SP; Yohanse Morel, SP

 

Minnesota Twins – Cole Sands, SP

There are a handful of tools or traits I look for in a “sleeper” or, more specifically, in a draft-worthy fantasy prospect. Good bloodlines are nice, but not critical. Kids that are 17 or 18 that can already handle pro-level breaking pitches, elite plate recognition (I see you, Luis Arraez), or an uber-patient approach. Fantasy analysis rarely puts grades on tools like these, so it can be hard to look past the numbers and rankings to the fantasy assets lurking just beneath the surface. In a way, this speaks to every one of my picks, but it especially speaks to the Twins’ young pitcher Cole Sands.

The 22-year-old Sands is a former fifth-rounder out of Florida State and is the younger brother of a former Cubs farmhand. Once the Seminoles’ ace before being shut down due to injury, my main interest in Sands is a plus changeup which he pairs with plus command and what has the makings of a slightly above-average fastball. The greatest concerns about Sands’ ability to stick as a starter are that his repertoire outside of that changeup is a bit average, but I actually see opportunity.

Sands has a slider and a curveball that tails off like a slurve when it gets away from him. That’s the bad, but the good is that he generates a ton of spin on both pitches and has a smooth, easy delivery. While the pitch grades themselves may never come out better than average, the high spin rate combined with Sands’ plus command are going to allow him to use those pitches as weapons to force hitters into outcomes he wants, like groundballs for example.

Couple that scouting report with a very smart coaching staff in Minnesota led by Rocco Baldelli, and you have the makings of a much more valuable and surprising fantasy weapon. Sands won’t be Jacob deGrom, but could he be as valuable as a Kenta Maeda-type? No question.

Honorable Mention: Gilberto Celestino, OF; Rhodery Diaz, OF

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2020 Outfield Rankings - Fantasy Baseball Dynasty Leagues

For the first time in a long time, Mike Trout isn't the top dog in dynasty baseball. While this is hard to believe for some, the numbers being put up by players like Ronald Acuna Jr., Christian Yelich, and Cody Bellinger, to name only a few, are impossible to ignore.

You simply can't go wrong at the top of the outfield player pool. After the first-rounders are gone, however, the pool becomes a minefield of playing time battles, injury concerns, and worrisome aging curves. Let's dive into this position and dig up some gold for your dynasty drafts.

All preseason long, RotoBaller has you covered with the latest rankings for all fantasy baseball league types. Here we present our dynasty rankings for the outfield position, put together by analysts Ellis Canady, Nicklaus Gaut, Kyle Brown, and Pierre Camus. Check out our analysis of all other positions as well.

 

Outfield Rankings — Dynasty Leagues (March)

In case you missed it, our very own "Big Pick Nick" Mariano was named the #1 overall most accurate industry expert ranker for the 2018 season!

Rank Tier Player Name Position Pierre Camus Nicklaus Gaut Ellis Canady
1 1 Ronald Acuna Jr. OF 1 2 1
2 1 Mike Trout OF 2 1 2
3 1 Christian Yelich OF 4 3 3
4 1 Juan Soto OF 3 7 4
5 1 Mookie Betts OF 7 4 5
6 1 Cody Bellinger 1B/OF 6 5 7
7 2 Bryce Harper OF 14 19 15
8 2 Aaron Judge OF 23 37 17
9 2 J.D. Martinez OF 22 22 34
10 2 Eloy Jimenez OF 20 35 24
11 2 Yordan Alvarez OF 27 32 26
12 3 Victor Robles OF 36 53 37
13 3 Starling Marte OF 34 39 58
14 3 Austin Meadows OF 42 50 39
15 3 George Springer OF 56 25 51
16 3 Giancarlo Stanton OF 57 52 71
17 3 Luis Robert OF 32 107 49
18 4 Andrew Benintendi OF 59 68 70
19 4 Joey Gallo OF 72 57 69
20 4 Marcell Ozuna OF 45 75 88
21 4 Charlie Blackmon OF 98 40 85
22 4 Kris Bryant 3B/OF 143 43 44
23 4 Ramon Laureano OF 73 70 87
24 4 Ketel Marte 2B/SS/OF 106 60 76
25 4 Jo Adell OF 82 101 62
26 4 Eddie Rosario OF 99 63 90
27 5 Michael Conforto OF 89 99 81
28 5 Whit Merrifield 2B/OF 134 47 91
29 5 Nick Castellanos OF 74 109 96
30 5 Michael Brantley OF 71 106 110
31 5 Kyle Tucker OF 101 115 86
32 5 Tommy Pham OF 122 82 116
33 5 Max Kepler OF 121 104 98
34 6 Oscar Mercado OF 100 120 112
35 6 David Dahl OF 85 153 102
36 6 Trey Mancini 1B/OF 111 111 118
37 6 Yasiel Puig OF 116 94 139
38 6 Willie Calhoun OF 81 127 169
39 6 Jorge Soler OF 155 102 123
40 6 Franmil Reyes OF 120 122 140
41 6 Jeff McNeil 2B/3B/OF 203 93 105
42 6 Nick Senzel OF 150 162 107
43 6 Alex Verdugo OF 103 188 132
44 6 Lorenzo Cain OF 131 144 156
45 6 Byron Buxton OF 178 136 120
46 6 Bryan Reynolds OF 142 141 152
47 6 Mitch Haniger OF 139 150 159
48 6 Khris Davis OF 126 190 148
49 7 Aristides Aquino OF 167 130 182
50 7 Kyle Schwarber OF 215 139 172
51 7 Nomar Mazara OF 140 219 170
52 7 Lourdes Gurriel 2B/OF 241 126 183
53 7 Austin Riley OF 171 242 153
54 7 Mallex Smith OF 169 177 235
55 7 Trent Grisham OF 165 231 192
56 7 Julio Rodriguez OF 242 228 144
57 8 Hunter Renfroe OF 152 267 199
58 8 Hunter Dozier 1B/3B/OF 228 221 176
59 8 Scott Kingery SS/3B/OF 182 235 209
60 8 Joc Pederson 1B/OF 257 146 223
61 8 Garrett Hampson 2B/SS/OF 227 254 185
62 8 Jarred Kelenic OF 254 250 163
63 8 Justin Upton OF 248 184 236
64 8 David Peralta OF 195 272 230
65 8 Victor Reyes OF #N/A 234 #N/A
66 9 Taylor Trammell OF 170 335 200
67 9 Alex Kirilloff OF 218 332 174
68 9 J.D. Davis 3B/OF 356 159 215
69 9 A.J. Pollock OF 294 204 242
70 9 Aaron Hicks OF 288 244 231
71 9 Jesse Winker OF 200 290 281
72 9 Jon Berti 2B/3B/SS/OF #N/A 263 #N/A
73 9 Dylan Carlson OF 297 302 198
74 10 Adam Eaton OF 310 195 295
75 10 Stephen Piscotty OF 234 304 273
76 10 Domingo Santana OF 181 372 274
77 10 Kyle Lewis OF 224 309 305
78 10 Gregory Polanco OF 286 270 287
79 10 Brandon Nimmo OF 345 211 294
80 10 Avisail Garcia OF 323 237 307
81 10 Andrew McCutchen OF 369 172 334
82 10 Austin Hays OF 359 275 247

 

Tier One

Acuna is an absolute monster in today's fantasy baseball landscape. With stolen bases getting harder and harder to find, Acuna's 40/40 potential at 22 years old is the perfect, and only, type of age/production combination that could wrestle away the top spot from Mike Trout. Keep in mind that Aunca Jr. has not yet had his peak season, and the possibility of him putting up a .300/40/40 campaign this year is very real. Do everything in your power to get that #1 pick in your dynasty draft.

There is nothing wrong with Mike Trout. In a 5x5 format, Acuna has a higher ceiling due to the steals, but Mike Trout's floor is still an MVP season. It will be interesting to see what Trout's stolen base total is in 2020 after he had surgery to fix a nagging nerve issue in his foot at the end of 2019. It's too easy to simply write off the possibility of Trout stealing 30 bags again. Consider Mike Trout's 2014 and 2015 seasons where he only stole 16 and 11 bases, respectively. Well, all he did after that was go out and steal 30 bases in 2016. Trout is still several years away from his decline and remains a legitimate choice for the #1 overall pick in any format.

If Yelich's 2019 had not been cut short by an unlucky foul ball, he might have hit 50 HR with 40 SB. No, really. In just 130 games, he was able to mash 44 bombs and swipe 30 bags. He is also the only player in tier one to hit over .320 for two consecutive seasons. Simply put, Yelich is elite is every single 5x5 category, and you really can't say that about any other player in fantasy baseball. At only 28, Yelich has a few more MVP seasons left in the tank.

Juan Soto's emergence defies reason. He has hit 56 HR in the major leagues and will play the entirety of 2020 as a 21-year-old. Players like this simply do not come around very often. A big part of his elite value in 2019, and his top-15 ADP in 2020, comes from the 12 SB he logged last year. Soto's sprint speed was in the 60th percentile last season, which is good, but his minor league career lacks a track record of swiping bags. If Soto can continue to tack on double-digit steals for the next few seasons, he is likely to remain a first-rounder for the next decade. Juan is just beginning to scratch the surface of his potential, and none of us are ready for what's to come.

Mookie Betts had a down year in 2019 and still had a wOBA of .380 with a wRC+ of 135. His floor is extremely high, and NASA is probably monitoring his other-worldly ceiling. Betts will be hitting at the top of a Dodgers lineup that could easily be the best in baseball in 2020, even without a DH. Oh yeah, Mookie is also in a contract year. Betting on elite players to put everything on the line for a huge season and subsequent payday is just smart money. He may not have the green monster to smack doubles off anymore, but the centerfield wall in Dodger Stadium is much friendlier than centerfield in Fenway. Betts is still in the conversation for the best player in baseball. Don't let him slip too far.

You can read about Cody Bellinger in the 1st base rankings here. First base is incredibly thin this season, and it is, therefore, unwise to think of Bellinger as an OF. That said, the multi-position eligibility is a nice chip to keep in your back pocket.

 

Tier Two

Harper is a frustrating player to own in dynasty leagues. It can feel as if Harper merely decides what stats he wants to chase in a given year and gets tunnel vision. Frustration aside, Harper possesses the skills to turn in HOF level production at any time. Just look at his .330/.460/.649 season in 2015, or his .319/.413/.595 season in 2017 for proof. Both his average exit velocity and hard-hit rate are in the 86th percentile or better, and his on-base skills are incredible. With a floor of 30/15, the 27-year-old Harper is a great piece for any dynasty team despite the possibility of a .250 average.

Aaron Judge has a bum shoulder and a stress fracture in his rib. Without knowing how the injuries will play out for 2020 and beyond, it is extremely difficult to place a value on the oft-injured slugger. We all know that Judge has the potential to hit 50 HR with any baseball, but will he ever reach that number again? Proceed with caution.

J.D. Martinez is as steady as they come. JDM has hit over .300 for four consecutive seasons, a very rare feat for a power hitter that can easily blast 40 HR. At 32, the clock is running out on Martinez for dynasty leagues, but until the numbers show a noticeable dip, there isn't much reason to get off the train.

In a world where seemingly every top prospect comes up and immediately lights the world on fire, Eloy Jimenez's debut could be viewed as a disappointment. Do not fall into this trap and let the Eloys of the world slip through your fingers because they didn't go all Acuna and Soto on the league. Jimenez's two biggest problems are a lack of walks and an abundance of strikeouts. However, both of these shortcomings are hidden in a 5x5 format, and at just 23, he has lots of time to grow into the 40 HR masher we all expect him to become.

Yordan Alvarez was just 22 years old in 2019, but that didn't stop him from hitting 50 HR between AAA and the MLB last season. His slugging percentage in 56 AAA games last season was .742. The major leagues barely slowed him down after he debuted, and his final triple-slash line ended up a jaw-dropping .313/.412/.655. The league should adjust to him with a full season of analysis, but Alvarez is likely to remain an upper-echelon power source for dynasty teams for six to eight more seasons. That said, he is a risk to lose OF eligibility in the future if he doesn't log enough games on the grass.

 

Tier Three

Victor Robles has plenty of people cheering and jeering him on both sides of the fence. Those who favor him are looking at his elite speed (29.3 ft/sec). Those who steer away from him are eyeing the poor 81 MPH average exit velocity. At 23 years of age, there’s still time to decide which side of the fence you’re on.

Feet don’t fail me now. Starling Marte’s superior sprint speed (29 ft/sec) endured another year. If you believe in his career-high Barrel rate (8.2%), then a 20 HR/30 SB season is well within reach for the aging veteran.

Austin Meadows is the next superstar with power and speed. The youngster will have his streaky moments, but a decade of this goodness has people salivating. He is worth his current price.

Luis Robert represents a ton of value at this very moment. Right now, he has the potential to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases. You could even look at his .312 AVG across his minor league career and project a great batting average as well. Everything looks peachy. Consider using this as an opportunity to test the market. Robert’s value will never be as high as it is now when the imagination runs wild of what he could become. Long-term, he does have the tools to be a very good fantasy player.

 

Tier Four

Andrew Benintendi contributes in all five categories but doesn’t excel in any one of them. His tremendous 2018 season was supposed to be a launching pad for an exciting career. However, his contact rate (77.3%) dropped off, and his Swinging Strike rate (11.6%) jumped. A silver lining is that he improved his performance against southpaws. Right now, Benintendi is a great buy-low candidate. Get in now.

What type of dynasty league are you in? Joey Gallo is perfect for those big-power and high-OBP leagues, albeit with a low-average.

Marcell Ozuna might present a buying opportunity if the owner is fretting over a career-low batting average. His one-year contract in Atlanta will provide the opportunity for plenty of counting stats to boost his value by the end of the season. Don’t get involved with paying for his career-high 12 stolen bases, though.

Charlie Blackmon is still a four-category contributor that has a lovely home park. However, he is best suited for the win-now roster construction as he’s not getting younger (33 years old) or faster (26.7 ft/sec).

Kris Bryant still has outfield eligibility. Though he has above-average speed (28.2 ft/sec), it hasn’t resulted in many stolen bases. Bryant does have excellent plate discipline, though, which has contributed to tallying 100 runs in three of the last four years. The trend should continue with a move to the leadoff spot and a career .385 OBP. Bryant might even have some discounted value in him.

A leg injury didn’t stop Ramon Laureano from validating his rookie season. He exhibited enough power (93.3 mph LD/FB) and speed (28.5 ft/sec) to make people slobber over themselves at the possibilities. We would prefer a higher walk rate that 5.6%, but we won’t quibble about the process if he can achieve 30 HR/20 SB.

 

Tier Five

Michael Conforto seems to have put the shoulder troubles in the past. He has rewarded you with the power (33 HR) that you sought all along. However, be honest with the talent; He’s not a four or five-category contributor. Conforto is a serious power bat (40 HR, anyone?) who will draw plenty of walks (13%).

Nick Castellanos falls into a primo situation that allows every owner to giggle like little school girls. Covered in Cincinnati red, he will attempt to convert his league-leading 58 doubles into even more homers for the next four years. If you own him, hold onto him unless the offer is substantial for a four-category provider.

Tucker’s performance at Triple-A in 2019 was jaw-dropping; he compiled 189 R +RBI, 34 HR, and 30 SB with a .266 AVG. Regardless of your personal opinion, Tucker earned an opportunity to ride the MLB pine and get a few spot-starts. He has been waiting a while, but it seems regular playing time is near as Josh Reddick is in the final year of his contract. The 23-year-old brings power and speed that will make him a coveted asset annually.

 

Tier Six and lower

David Dahl and Willie Calhoun represent the opposite end of the opportunity spectrum. Dahl has been presented with chances, but his injuries have kept him from giving any consistent excitement to owners. They have every right to be restless, but his potential is too much for them to give up on him. I’d move on from him as soon as possible. That might not happen until he entices owners with a sniff of his all-around performance.

Calhoun has power and should hit for a high batting average. He lacks a defensive position as he’s not as defensively inclined as he is at the plate. Calhoun is projected to own an outfield spot in 2020; however, a fastball broke his jaw in spring training. Once he returns from surgery, it wouldn’t be surprising if he became a bit more timid in the batter’s box.

Grisham and Verdugo both benefit from trades that open avenues for playing time. Grisham had poor minor league performances until a power breakout (26 HR) at Double- and Triple-A in 2019. The power quickly carried over with six long balls in 156 at-bats. While the batting average (.231) was poor, his 10.9% walk rate was encouraging. Even with a .250 average, Grisham’s power and premium speed (29.1 ft/sec) make him a target everywhere. How much does he cost in your league?

Verdugo was the major piece in return for Mookie Betts and David Price. The pressure already exists to validate the value sacrificed. In his best year, Verdugo will never be Betts, but he is still a great asset hitting at the top of a dynamite lineup. Verdugo has discipline and a great eye at the plate that will limit his swing and misses. However, he won’t be looking to take walks (6.9%). His principle tools (power and batting average) will keep his value high regardless of any injuries, and it will be worth it.

Bryan Reynolds silently flies under many radars. Some consider him the replacement for Michael Brantley on your roster. Statistically, he looks to fit the mold with a .314/.377/.503 slash line. Naysayers will point towards his .371 wOBA that outweighed his actual xwOBA (.357). They will even bring up a very generous .387 BABIP. We can't predict the future, but I will point this out. Reynolds has not had a BABIP below .362 or a batting average below .302 in his entire professional career.

Carlson and Hays represent the next group of prospects that deserve their fair share of big-league playing time in 2020. Carlson skyrocketed up the rankings and is considered a contender to get a spot to start the season. He hit 21 homers with 18 stolen bases and a .281 batting average at Double-A in 2019. I know, I know. Our fantasy teams need him on our rosters now. Check your league to see if the positivity train has already inflated his value beyond reach.

Hays has continuously battled injuries but did well in 2019. In only 75 plate appearances, he hit four long balls and had a .309 AVG while pitching in two stolen bases. Some of these numbers contradict his minor league performances, but player development is significant. Playing time is extremely important in fantasy and Hays has already been identified as the leadoff guy for the Orioles. Not only does he call Camden Yards home, but he has a few more favorable parks to visit in the American League East. Assuming health, the 25-year-old rookie will show us the extent of his skills soon enough. It doesn't hurt to have a couple of cheap shares of him.

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Stock Your Dynasty Farm: NL West Prospect Sleepers

As a self-diagnosed prospect nut, I am constantly reading and looking at young players to gain an edge in my various dynasty, Ottoneu, and deep redraft leagues. It would be a shame if all this work only benefited me, so my friends at RotoBaller would like to present to you my favorite under-the-radar players that I’ve already acquired, or am looking to grab in drafts this spring.

You won’t find any top 100 players, or even club-specific top 10s here, so don’t expect to see names like Wander Franco, Jasson Dominguez, or Tarik Skubal. We’re mining the lower levels for value and looking for guys only your scout’s favorite scout knows about. Shallow redraft leagues need not apply here, we’re going hardcore.

Of course, keep in mind that many of these players will be owned for at least a couple of years before you can expect either MLB playing time or the kind of value jump that turns a non-asset into a real trade chip. Remember to follow @Rotoballer and @RotoballerMLB on Twitter for more juicy tips to help you dominate your fantasy league. Good luck and happy hunting!

 

NL West Farm Systems

The National League West has been dominated by Los Angeles for the past few seasons, who show no signs of slowing down. And, unfortunately for fans of the West's other noble franchises, my favorite prospect of this bunch is also projected to wear Dodger blue. However, hope abounds, and this might be the division with the best stable of farm teams from top to bottom.

Colorado is probably the shakiest, but some of that hesitation comes from the fact that any starting pitcher they graduate has to throw at Coors, which German Marquez will tell you really, really is not a fun time.

The Padres have incredible depth, making it very easy to find guys that don't get a lot of press.

The Giants' representative, perhaps poetically, will challenge the Dodgers' for best in the division, and I look forward to the next two seasons of them dueling on top prospect lists before they arrive to the bigs.

Finally, the D-backs have accrued a surprising set of talent. Of the five, I was most pleasantly surprised by how efficiently and effectively they've rebuilt their farm club in the last couple of seasons. If you're mining for your own sleepers, keep Arizona in mind.

 

Arizona Diamondbacks - Levi Kelly, SP

I’m a sucker for guys with great work ethic, and that appears to describe Kelly, a 2018 eighth-round pick, perfectly. He fell in the Draft thanks to physique concerns, with what was assumed to be little projection and a stiff, violent delivery, but that all changed when he showed up to Spring Training with a completely rebuilt physique. What’s strange is that he didn’t experience a corresponding velocity bump with his new, svelte look. Either this means that his velocity will remain static, which is fine at 90-96 mph, or he’ll get a later bump with more training time and more rest.

To pair with that low- to mid-90s heater, which grades out as slightly above average, he brings an above-average splitter and, the star of the show, a plus slider. The slider has been described by scouts as a “bastard”, sometimes looking like a curve and sometimes feeling more like a changeup. But when his control is on, the pitch is almost untouchable.

He turns 21 years old in May and I’d guess would start out in Class A Advanced. If he comes out hot and forces the organization to push him to Double-A or even Triple-A, it’s not crazy to think he could be used as a bullpen piece with the D-backs as early as September 2020. Regardless, whereas he was once considered a multi-inning, swingman-type could now top out as a second division No. 2 starter or first division No. 3 or 4.

Honorable Mention: Jeferson Espinal, OF; Conor Grammes, SP

 

Colorado Rockies - Julio Carreras, OF

Carreras is considered to have among the highest upside in the Rockies’ system. He has all of the tools you’d want in a middle-infielder for today’s game; balance in the field and at the plate, dynamite hand-eye coordination and bat control, and the body to grow into above-average power, while maintaining his already plus speed. If this all sounds too good to be true, it’s because for all of Carreras’ considerable tool set, he’s extremely raw as a baseball player.

The biggest problem comes from his swing, which lacks consistency and can devolve into a slap-hit style despite his ability to make strong contact. If this sounds familiar, you might be reminded of Rays’ third baseman Yandy Diaz. Diaz broke out in 2019 when he finally tapped into the obvious pop that was lurking in his body. Watching him hit was like watching a mini-Sammy Sosa try to hit grounders. Once he corrected his bat path, even a little, the power was unlocked. You can’t make a direct comparison between Diaz and Carreras as they are very different players, but they have this issue in common.

Carreras is a dynasty player’s dream: oodles of talent and just as much risk. He’ll be drafted as a lottery ticket, but even a little more production could raise his profile and value. If there’s a guy in this division that I’d put money on being a surprise top 100 inclusion this time next year, it’s Carreras.

Honorable Mention: Helcris Olivarez, SP; Aaron Schunk, 3B

 

Los Angeles Dodgers - Luis Rodriguez, OF

The easy choice in this system is 19-year-old outfielder Andy Pages, who has amassed a sort of cult following among prospect hounds in recent months, but I’ll go off the book a bit. July 2 signings can either get overlooked or overdrafted, but Rodriguez is one of the rare talents that is well prepared for immediate success. Signed for $2.67 million out of Venezuela, the outfielder has consistently performed against older competition and will be tested as one of the few guys who will play all of 2020 as a 17-year-old.

Despite almost always being one of the youngest guys on the field, Rodriguez looks like a mature hitter at the plate. He is patient, sprays the ball to all fields, and has shown plate discipline far better than his age would suggest. There’s a potential plus hit tool with a natural swing that creates loft, which allows for him to tap into every bit of his raw power, which comfortably projects for average to above-average.

The ingredients for a .280 average with 25 homers and 10+ steals are here, and you don’t even have to squint or fix anything glaring like you’d expect from someone his age. Also, he’s already 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds, meaning that a shot at adding plus power to his plus hit tool exists. Again, you have to be really careful with the natural hyperbole that comes from J2 signings, but Rodriguez has something around a five percent chance of becoming an uber-prospect. That’s worth a valuable dynasty league pick.

Honorable Mention: Michael Grove, SP; Ryan Pepiot, SP

 

San Diego Padres - Owen Miller, 2B

Another player that has become a popular hip pick, Miller is a classic underdraft that lacks physical tools but makes up for it with pure baseball savvy. Since being selected by the Padres in the third round of the 2018 Draft, the 23-year-old has done nothing but hit, compiling a robust .307/.367/.441 with 17 homers and nine steals in 805 at-bats across three levels. He brings a minimalistic swing, which encourages a very high rate of contact by keeping the bat in the zone for as long as possible. He’s shown a strong eye at the plate, keeping his K% below 16% at every stop while drawing walks at a reasonable clip.

Today, the biggest issue with his value is, frankly, from a fantasy standpoint, he’s boring; he’s not crazy athletic, doesn’t have a plus tool, isn’t a major defensive presence. He’s just … fine. But fine in dynasty league baseball can become very valuable.

The knock on Miller coming out of Illinois State was power, but he drove 13 homers in 507 at-bats at Double-A last season. As a minor note on my philosophy in dynasty drafting, I elevate guys with above-average and better hit tools when it comes to power expectations. The speculated juiced ball that may have had an impact in MLB’s recent home run revolution has also fueled a rise in the value of prospects once considered to have suboptimal pop.

Guys with less raw power, but better hitting mechanics, are driving the ball with greater force because, simply, they’re making better contact. Think of Luis Arraez of the Twins, who never hit more than three homers at any level of the Minors, and hit just six total from 2014 to '19, suddenly driving out four in just 326 at-bats. That may not sound like a lot, but when your batting line is .334/.399/.439, it’s basically free from a value perspective.

With that context, if the league average-ish power Miller showed from Double-A holds, it’s very possible that we see a slight bump in power at Triple-A and the MLB level. If this all stays true, Miller could end up as the kind of utility bat who may never hold a consistent starting spot with San Diego or anywhere else, but can still contribute, at a minimum, at least a league-average clip. If you’re in a deeper league or you have plenty of bench/Minors spots, Miller can be the kind of high-floor Jon Berti/Jeff McNeil utility bat that is incredibly valuable.

Honorable Mention: Hudson Head, OF; Luis Gutierrez, SP

 

San Francisco Giants -  Luis Matos, OF

I’m cheating a bit here, as you may see Matos listed among the Top 10 in San Francisco in prospect lists as they come out, and you may even see him get some honorable mention love in Top 100s, but he’s young and just obscure enough to make me feel good about sharing what I like about his upside. When it comes to Giants prospects, only Joey Bart and Marco Luciano have the kind of raw tools to compare to the 18-year-old Matos.

Of all the players on this list -- and those for the other divisions -- Matos might be the safest bet to appear on a Top 100 list at some point in the future. Before an in-game collision prematurely ended his 2019 season, Matos was displaying elite bat speed, plus speed, and encouraging growth in plate discipline and pitch selection. Add in his potential for plus-plus power and maturity, and you have the tools necessary for an uber-prospect just below the level of a Top 50 or better prospect.

There are real concerns that keep him from being considered one of the game’s best, including major swing-and-miss issues and a current lack of breaking ball recognition. He needs to work hard to change his approach, but this is partially a bet on the skill of San Francisco’s coaching staff to drag the most out of Matos' tools. Players that will play most of 2020 at the age of 18 usually don’t have plus power and plus speed projections, and that alone makes Matos worth the investment.

Honorable Mention: Tyler Fitzgerald, 2B/SS; Seth Corry, SP

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2020 Starting Pitcher Rankings - Fantasy Baseball Dynasty Leagues

Even with the baseball season delayed, many are looking for places to cast their stored up fantasy baseball energy. With no drafts or mocks to do, the Dynasty community becomes the primary source of enjoyment. Your team could be looking to continue their dominance, rebuild, or in a worst-case scenario, stick their hands up in frustration. Regardless of the team's competitive situation, everyone wants to add value to their roster.

Starting pitcher has a wide variety of talent, and everyone will be looking at the same players in the upper tier. This could force the market to share the same valuations and control pricing. Future elite options like Jesus Luzardo and Julio Urias will drive the market as well. However, there will always be players in the middle-to-late range that will have people conflicted. This is where you can find values if you believe in players more than others. Don't forget about the value that veterans can bring to your dynasty strategy.

All preseason long, RotoBaller has you covered with the latest rankings for all fantasy baseball league types. Here we present our dynasty rankings for the second base position, put together by analysts Nicklaus Gaut, Pierre Camus, and Ellis Canady. Check out our analysis of all other positions as well, coming soon!

 

Starting Pitcher Rankings - Dynasty Leagues (March)

In case you missed it, our very own "Big Pick Nick" Mariano was named the #1 overall most accurate industry expert ranker for the 2018 season!

Rank Tier Name Position Pierre Camus Nicklaus Gaut Ellis Canady
1 1 Gerrit Cole SP 16 11 14
2 1 Jacob deGrom SP 15 14 21
3 1 Walker Buehler SP 19 17 19
4 2 Jack Flaherty SP 25 30 38
5 2 Shohei Ohtani DH/SP 39 29 33
6 2 Shane Bieber SP 29 45 36
7 2 Justin Verlander SP 30 36 46
8 2 Blake Snell SP 48 34 40
9 2 Max Scherzer SP 37 38 48
10 2 Luis Castillo SP 38 59 45
11 2 Mike Clevinger SP 51 49 43
12 2 Aaron Nola SP 47 56 52
13 2 Stephen Strasburg SP 53 51 53
14 2 Chris Sale SP 64 42 54
15 3 Chris Paddack SP 60 69 61
16 3 Patrick Corbin SP 66 67 63
17 3 Clayton Kershaw SP 69 64 66
18 3 Lucas Giolito SP 65 71 64
19 3 Noah Syndergaard SP 61 96 55
20 3 Tyler Glasnow SP 96 76 82
21 4 Charlie Morton SP 75 81 99
22 4 Brandon Woodruff SP 77 88 92
23 4 James Paxton SP 94 83 84
24 4 Mike Soroka SP 70 121 73
25 4 Trevor Bauer SP 76 112 77
26 4 Jose Berrios SP 58 147 68
27 4 Zack Greinke SP 95 92 100
28 5 Hyun-Jin Ryu SP 102 86 109
29 5 Yu Darvish SP 125 80 101
30 5 Jesus Luzardo SP 114 110 95
31 5 Zac Gallen SP 97 140 94
32 5 Eduardo Rodriguez SP 90 154 89
33 5 Max Fried SP 93 128 124
34 5 Corey Kluber SP 124 125 115
35 5 Brendan McKay SP 43 196 125
36 5 Carlos Carrasco SP 136 105 136
37 5 Madison Bumgarner SP 104 173 114
38 5 Robbie Ray SP 112 158 128
39 5 Frankie Montas SP/RP 151 116 133
40 5 Dinelson Lamet SP 130 100 175
41 5 Forrest Whitley SP 91 210 108
42 5 Sonny Gray SP 160 138 129
43 5 Zack Wheeler SP 163 142 126
44 5 Sean Manaea SP 137 163 141
45 5 Matthew Boyd SP 141 156 151
46 5 Casey Mize SP 113 203 150
47 6 Mike Minor SP 128 182 162
48 6 MacKenzie Gore SP 154 201 122
49 6 A.J. Puk SP 158 183 138
50 6 David Price SP 129 160 193
51 6 Julio Urias SP/RP 204 149 147
52 6 Nate Pearson SP 148 185 180
53 6 Mitch Keller SP 133 180 205
54 6 Kyle Hendricks SP 202 152 168
55 6 Lance Lynn SP 207 135 190
56 6 Matt Manning SP 157 236 145
57 7 Caleb Smith SP 188 168 188
58 7 German Marquez SP 179 189 177
59 7 Luke Weaver SP 189 170 202
60 7 Dustin May SP 185 213 173
61 7 Lance McCullers Jr. SP 193 197 #N/A
62 7 Masahiro Tanaka SP 187 241 164
63 7 Carlos Martinez SP/RP 176 208 211
64 7 Marcus Stroman SP 206 187 204
65 7 Mike Foltynewicz SP 183 262 166
66 7 Griffin Canning SP 149 248 216
67 7 Michael Kopech SP 190 230 194
68 7 Joey Lucchesi SP 174 206 237
69 7 Sixto Sanchez SP 159 269 191
70 7 Ryan Yarbrough SP 168 227 234
71 7 Jon Gray SP 205 216 217
72 7 Andrew Heaney SP 244 166 229
73 8 Domingo German SP 199 220 225
74 8 Joe Musgrove SP 222 199 233
75 8 Kenta Maeda SP/RP 214 176 277
76 8 Miles Mikolas SP 213 194 262
77 8 Jake Odorizzi SP 209 265 207
78 8 Jose Urquidy SP #N/A 233 228
79 9 Sandy Alcantara SP 186 314 208
80 9 Matthew Liberatore SP 243 #N/A #N/A
81 9 Steven Matz SP 197 292 245
82 9 Alex Reyes SP/RP 239 #N/A 257
83 9 Aaron Civale SP 268 238 #N/A
84 9 Brent Honeywell SP 127 394 252
85 9 Adrian Houser SP #N/A 258 #N/A
86 9 Eric Lauer SP 260 #N/A #N/A
87 9 Jameson Taillon SP 212 285 290
88 10 Jorge Guzman SP 279 #N/A #N/A
89 10 Dallas Keuchel SP 220 319 303
90 10 Cole Hamels SP 221 323 301
91 10 Rick Porcello SP 264 271 310
92 10 Triston McKenzie SP 184 389 275
93 11 Brady Singer SP 283 #N/A #N/A
94 11 Pablo Lopez SP 219 382 248
95 11 Spencer Howard SP #N/A 245 331
96 11 Dylan Cease SP 301 301 279
97 11 Reynaldo Lopez SP 211 397 276
98 11 Dylan Bundy SP 289 255 356
99 11 Kyle Wright SP 156 482 263

 

Tier One

Gerrit Cole didn’t win the Cy Young, but he finished the 2019 season with a 20-5 record, 2.64 FIP, and led the majors in strikeouts (326). He also had a league-leading 34% K-BB. Cole used his success in Houston to launch himself into a dynamite free agency. The Yankees saw the same thing fantasy owners did and paid him a hefty sum. To obtain Cole, you’ll need to sacrifice what feels like more than the Yankees did. If you own him, ring that cowbell.

Jacob deGrom has every right to own the top spot, even though he will play most of 2020 at 32 years of age. He is a workhorse that provides excellent ratios and strikeouts across 200 innings of a regular, non-shortened season. Historically, the Mets have been unable to provide deGrom with a suitable number of wins. His age and win total is no reason to offer a discount to anyone looking to purchase deGrom.

Walker Buehler has youth and elite stuff to be in this tier for quite some time. His arsenal is headlined by a fastball that he throws 60% of the time. It is his slider (18%) and curveball (17.1%) that generate the most swinging strikes. Buehler etched his name in the elite tier in 2019 with a FIP (3.01) that ranked fifth among qualified starters.

 

Tier Two

Bieber has struck gold for some owners, but your perspective will depend on whether you’re buying or selling. Many had concerns prior to 2019 after he lived in the zone 50% of the time in 2018. Bieber cast off any doubters with a 25.5% K-BB that ranked fifth among starters. His 1.30 HR/9 isn’t preferable, but that isn’t going to keep him from the second tier of pitchers. You’ll need to pay a pretty penny to get a premium pitcher who is only 24 years old.

Scherzer led all starters with a 2.45 FIP in 2019. The competitive status of your team defines his value. If you’re rebuilding, Scherzer doesn't have enough time to wait on your squad. You will have to determine the best time to sell. Is it before the season starts or halfway through the season when you can find a team that needs one elite starter to push them towards the championship trophy?

When you win a Cy Young, it’s tough to match that excellence. Few could have expected Snell to have a 2019 riddled with injuries in the form of toe and elbow issues. He was also wholly unlucky with a .343 BABIP, and his performance resulted in a 4.29 ERA (3.32 FIP). Snell’s 2020 season hasn’t started any better with a cortisone injection in his elbow. He is a dominant pitcher when he’s on the mound, but with continued health issues, Snell also has tremendous risk. It might be worth it to see if his owner is shaking in his or her boots, looking to discharge Snell from their roster.

There will always be bumps and bruises with pitchers. Clevinger has had his share of them, but they haven’t stopped him from providing excellent returns. Even with back and ankle injuries in 2019, he matched the previous season’s record (13-4) in only 21 starts. Clevinger utilizes four pitches that each earned a Swinging Strike rate higher than 13.94% (fastball). Even at 30 years of age, Clevinger has plenty of tread left on the tire.

Luis Castillo might want to thank Derek Johnson for some of his 2019 success. He finished with a 15-8 record and a 28.9% strikeout rate. Castillo increased his changeup (32%) usage that generated a 27% whiff rate. He also finished fourth among all qualified pitchers with a 15.9% Swinging Strike rate. Don’t get sidetracked by his 4.02 ERA that was ballooned by a couple of rough outings in the second half. Trust in the 3.70 FIP and be confident that he can repeat. Although, we would like to see the 10% walk rate trimmed down a little bit.

 

Tier Three

Paddack’s rookie debut couldn’t be any more marvelous. The crowd went wild with each start; unfortunately, the frequency of his starts was inconsistent as the season went along to minimize his innings. Paddack still finished with 153 strikeouts in 140.2 innings. He utilized two pitches, a four-seamer and a changeup, to earn a 3.95 FIP and a 0.98 WHIP. Paddack also led all pitchers with 71.3% first-pitch strikes (minimum 140 innings). There is still room for growth in his arsenal. While many are excited at owning a young fireballer, don’t forget to consider the value he possesses in a trade.

Where are all the people concerned about Patrick Corbin’s health? With back-to-back seasons exceeding 200 innings, 238 strikeouts, and a 14.2% Swinging Strike rate, let’s just consider him a reliable starter worthy of more recognition than what he receives.

Clayton Kershaw bounced back in 2019 after a 2018 season that many thought indicated the end of his elite status. He is no longer the pitcher that sat at the top of the SP totem pole. Even with a velocity (90 mph) that has declined for four-straight seasons, Kershaw is still a premium starter.

Giolito’s terrible 2018 left many supporters lost and concluding that he was another over-hyped pitching prospect. His 5.30 ERA in the first 18 innings of 2019 confirmed that as well, despite a 3.91 FIP. Regardless of what anyone tells you, no one anticipated the phoenix. Giolito rose from the ashes to finish the season with a 3.43 FIP and 228 strikeouts in 176.2 innings. The turnaround stems from an increase in both his fastball (55%) and changeup usage (26%). Giolito also brought back the velocity (94.6 mph) and increased his first-pitch strikes (62%). If you believe in his changes, you’re keeping him. If you doubt them, you’ll be maximizing profit.

Syndergaard has had a rollercoaster career for dynasty leaguers. Selling him now would sacrifice an opportunity to gain value. Check your dedication level.

Glasnow shoves it with a two-pitch mix, a 97.6 mph fastball and a curveball. In 60.2 innings, he had a 2.26 FIP, 33% strikeout rate, and a 50.4% ground-ball rate. The primary concern with Glasnow has been his health. If the health or limited arsenal concerns you, it might be time to consider trading him off.

 

Tier Four

Charlie Morton has already stated he will be retiring after the 2020 season. At 36 years old, we have to take him at his word. As such, you have one of two options. Your team is competing; therefore you keep him. Or, your team is rebuilding in which case you need to get as much value as possible for him.

Paxton and Greinke are both on the list to own only if you are competing this year. Greinke is here primarily due to his age, and Paxton, who is only 31 years old, slots in due to his continual health issues. Of course, his upside is still tremendous when he is on the field. The optimum situation is to sell after he’s had a streak of consistent health and elite performance.

Soroka put on an impressive display of control in his age-21 season. Don’t get blinded by the 2.68 ERA as his 3.85 xFIP is more telling. Soroka’s 80% Left on Base rate and .280 BABIP were sparkling, a little too much. Even if these regress a bit, he can still sit near a 3.50 FIP. Soroka shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg as most owners want more strikeout upside that a 20% K rate. He also benefits from the Braves giving him continual opportunities for wins. Soroka might still be undervalued.

Everyone expects more from Berrios. Even if he never develops ace-level status, Berrios is still a very good starter. Though he’s lost a tick off his velocity the last three seasons, Berrios came just short of striking out 200 batters for the second-consecutive season. Now is an optimal time to buy as concerns are growing regarding his lack of upside and his second-half struggles of 2019. Let’s be clear, though. While the ERA fell, Berrios’ second-half 3.86 FIP remained the same as his first-half level (3.85). Two hundred strikeouts and a 3.50 annually isn’t out of the realm of possibility. That is a very good dynasty asset.

 

Tier Five

The Darvish resurgence is in full swing. Yes, he’s 33 years old, but it looks like you can get a couple more years of supreme strikeouts.

Luzardo is the next wave of elite starters, but you already knew that. Multiple injuries in 2019 delayed his season until he could get 12 innings in September. If you’re going to make a pitch for him, do it now. Once he wins the Rookie of the Year, his price will be untouchable. His health has to be a consideration since he’s already had Tommy John surgery (2016) and a few other issues on his record. When he’s on the mound, he exudes confidence and excellence with his three plus pitches.

In regards to Max Fried, every fantasy baseball analyst across the internet agrees. He is the darling of the preseason. Fried is the SP3 everyone wants to own. It is not hard to see with 53.6% ground-ball, 63.7% first-pitch strike, and 18% K-BB rates. If the excitement continues to build, this might be the last time you can get him at a reasonable price.

Kluber, Carrasco, and Bumgarner are all trending in the wrong direction. Bumgarner’s move to Arizona isn’t viewed as a positive as he has a 3.68 FIP away from Oracle Park.

Kluber missed a majority of 2019 with a fractured arm as well as an oblique injury. He didn’t perform well in 35 innings. Five-straight seasons exceeding 200 innings might have finally taken its toll as well. The Rangers staff will attempt to work their magic. It’s time to sell.

Carrasco’s return from a severe malady has been impressive and heartwarming. The question now will be whether he returns to the 200-strikeout pitcher of 2017 and 2018. At 33 years of age, that is questionable. All the best, Cookie.

 

Tier Six and Lower

The cover of the David Price book might cause some to shrug their shoulders with indifference when looking at his 4.28 ERA and declining 92 mph velocity. Ongoing injuries, 3.62 FIP, and a move to a favorable ballpark/division should persuade you to dust off this old cowboy for one more cattle drive.

The Dodgers have finally cleared a path to consistent starts for Julio Urias. His stuff is undeniable, and he will be in the elite category soon enough. For this, he carries a hefty dynasty tag with him. It is unfortunate that he dealt with a suspension for domestic violence during the 2019 season.

Nate Pearson brings excitement and an inflated cost for some. Sure he throws 100 mph and is a bulldog on the mound. If you think Pearson stays as a starter, he might be a good buy. If you think he ends up in the bullpen, then the price might be a bit too rich.

There is a bunch of helium surrounding Mitch Keller thanks to his undeserved 7.13 ERA and .475 BABIP. His 28.6% strikeout rate and 3.19 FIP are exactly what we want. However, he is still a speculation play, so if someone is trying to make you pay the “he’s already done it” price, look elsewhere.

Currently, German Marquez has four years left in Colorado. If he ever escapes prior to that, his value will skyrocket. Over the last two seasons, he has a 3.31 ERA and a 25.8% strikeout rate away from Coors.

Struggling or rebuilding teams often need a couple of players to break through to increase value for both fantasy teams and trades. Reynaldo Lopez and Dylan Bundy fall in this category.

Lopez didn't have a great year, but he improved to a 4.18 FIP and a 22.5% strikeout rate in the second half of 2019. The addition of Yasmani Grandal might be enough to improve performance and increase trade value.

Bundy isn't sexy, so you can get him quite easily. He benefits from a move to LA. Not only does he have a better park, but Bundy's 53% Pull and 41% ground-ball rates versus right-handers make the Anthony Rendon addition a valuable resource.

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2020 Keeper Value Rankings - Starting Pitchers

I've already revealed the 2020 Keeper Value Rankings for the hitters: First BaseSecond Base, Third Base, Shortstop, Catcher, and Outfield.  Now let's go to the rubber. Keeper Value Rankings are intended for Keeper Leagues in which a fantasy owner must forfeit a designated draft pick in order to keep a player into the upcoming season. These rankings are based on Keeper "Values." In the marketing world, Value can be defined as the extent to which a good or service (player) is perceived by its customer (fantasy owner) to meet his/her needs or wants. The Keeper Values are derived from my Keeper Valuation Formula which accounts for age, player cost (ADP), remaining player pool, past performance, future projections, missed playing time, and even position scarcity.

The product is a quantitative depiction of a player's ability to meet/exceed fantasy owners' needs based on the cost they paid for the player in the previous season (2019 ADP) and will subsequently pay for in the current season's draft (2020). The higher the score, the higher the return the fantasy owner will receive from the player keeping him at their associated cost. Approaching Keeper selections with this "value" based attitude will greatly increase the effectiveness of a fantasy owner's draft in a Keeper League.

Whereas the main purpose of the Keeper Value Formula is for customization based on specific leagues and keeper costs, I create these yearly rankings with standard 12 team league data, 2019 ADP, and 23rd Round cost for UDFA just as a baseline to help managers get an idea of their options. Let's see which backstops are worth holding this year.

 

JB's Keeper Value System

TIER SCORE DESCRIPTION
1 >100 Finders Keepers! These are the Elite Keeper Values. MUST BE KEPT at all costs.
2 75-99 Great Keeper values. Unless you have a full load of Tier 1 players, these guys need to be kept.
3 50-74 You are gaining good value with these players. A majority of good keepers options tend to fall into this category.
4 25-49 Minimal value. The value exists, but not as much as your opponents are likely receiving with their selections. Consider if your options are limited.
5 0-24 Break-even point. Keeping these players will likely hurt your overall draft, as you are not adding enough value.
6 <0 The associated costs make it impossible to return any value, these players will ruin your draft. Stay far away.

Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @RowdyRotoJB to check out your specific league's values.

 

2020 Keeper Value Rankings - Starting Pitchers

POS Rank Keeper Tier Player ADP (Round) Score
1 2 Shane Bieber CLE 13 98.95
2 2 Gerrit Cole NYY 3 90.82
3 2 Lucas Giolito CWS 23 90.29
4 2 Chris Paddack SDP 20 86.52
5 2 Luis Castillo CIN 11 77.80
6 2 Jack Flaherty STL 5 75.83
7 3 Brandon Woodruff MIL 23 72.58
8 3 Mike Soroka ATL 23 72.53
9 3 Shohei Ohtani LAA 15 70.86
10 3 Tyler Glasnow TBR 14 66.89
11 3 Walker Buehler LAD 4 66.81
12 3 Frankie Montas OAK 23 64.64
13 3 Lance Lynn TEX 23 64.19
14 3 Sonny Gray CIN 23 62.68
15 3 Jesus Luzardo OAK 22 61.67
16 3 Yu Darvish CHC 12 60.95
17 3 Charlie Morton TBR 10 60.30
18 3 Dinelson Lamet SDP 23 59.77
19 3 Stephen Strasburg WAS 5 57.88
20 3 Zac Gallen ARI 23 57.87
21 3 Julio Urias LAD 23 56.95
22 3 Max Fried ATL 23 54.56
23 3 Justin Verlander HOU 2 53.38
24 4 Matthew Boyd DET 23 44.63
25 4 Hyun-Jin Ryu TOR 15 42.38
26 4 Mike Minor TEX 23 41.54
27 4 Lance McCullers HOU 23 40.21
28 4 Clayton Kershaw LAD 5 37.21
29 4 Luke Weaver ARI 23 36.73
30 4 Sean Manaea OAK 23 35.55
31 4 AJ Puk OAK 23 30.41
32 4 Eduardo Rodriguez BOS 13 29.59
33 4 Marcus Stroman NYM 23 28.29
34 4 Jake Odorizzi MIN 23 27.48
35 5 Jacob deGrom NYM 1 24.45
36 5 Caleb Smith MIA 23 23.25
37 5 Ryan Yarbrough TBR 23 20.39
38 5 Mike Clevinger CLE 5 19.16
39 5 Brendan McKay TBR 23 19.11
40 5 Mitch Keller PIT 23 17.84
41 5 Jose Urquidy HOU 23 16.48
42 5 Kenta Maeda MIN 15 14.07
43 5 Sandy Alcantara MIA 23 12.97
44 5 Patrick Corbin WAS 4 9.85
45 5 Carlos Martinez STL 16 7.82
46 5 Aaron Civale CLE 23 7.42
47 5 Dustin May LAD 23 7.41
48 5 Andrew Heaney LAA 16 1.76

 

Tier Two

No starting pitchers made it across that triple-digit elite-keeper tier one threshold in 2020, but to be fair it is pretty uncommon at the position that houses nearly 40% of fantasy players. There is no such thing as position scarcity at starting pitcher, but six studs still put up impressive tier two scores and Shane Bieber was only two points shy of 100. Biebs only has a little over a year and a half of big-league experience under his belt but he already has that workhorse vibe to him. He threw 214.1 innings last season which only trailed Justin Verlander, and 194 between the minors and majors in 2018. He was one of only nine arms to throw for over 200 innings with a double-digit K/9, and his 259 strikeouts were third-best in baseball. The peripherals, especially the amount of hard contact surrendered doesn't exactly reflect a top-10 SP, but not a single projection system has him pegged for less than 196 IP or 213 K. In this day and age that floor is hard to come by and the formula recognizes the value.

Gerrit Cole is a unanimous first-round pick after back to back dominant seasons with the Astros and now he joins yet another team loaded with run support. Keeping him anywhere outside the first round is a no-brainer. Lucas Giolito and Chris Paddack are two extremely exciting names heading into 2020 as both broke out last season. Chris Paddack won the job out of spring training but was handled with care as it was his first season over 100 IP. He finished with a 3.33 ERA and 153 K, and despite the innings limit was still a top-25 SP thanks mostly in part to his sparkling 0.98 WHIP. With the gloves presumably off in 2020, the sky is really the limit for the Sheriff.

Giolito took a bit longer than Paddack to blossom but he finally cashed in on that 2012 first-round draft-pick promise. After a putrid season in 2018 in which he owned a 6.49 K/9 and the MLB-worst 6.13 ERA over 173.1 IP, the 25-year-old ditched the sinker and upped the usage on his fastball which paid huge dividends in 2019. Now on the heels of a 228 K season with a lethal south-side offense, Giolito joins Cole and Bieber for the only starters with a keeper score over 90.

The last two arms in the heralded second-tier are National League youngsters that everyone should be high on for 2020. After a very impressive rookie campaign in 2017, I was all-in on Luis Castillo for 2018, which proved to be one year too early. But the good news for keeper league owners this season is that somewhat disappointing 2018 should have deflated his keeper cost in most leagues. Last season saw Castillo take a giant step forward and he finished top-15 among qualified starters in wins (15), K/9 (10.96), and xFIP (3.48). He relied heavily on his devastating change-up which easily led the league with a 27.7 wCH (Pitch Info), boasted a 26.6 SwStr%, and held opposing hitters to a .129 BAA. RotoBaller rankers expect more of the same in 2020 as they have him pegged as a borderline top-10 SP at #43 overall.

If you look 19 spots higher on our rankings, you'll find Jack Flaherty, who joins Cole as the only SP with a tier two keeper score despite a single-digit ADP. It's pretty hard to argue considering over his last 99.1 IP of 2019 he allowed a microscopic 0.91 ERA, 11.23 K/9, and held hitters to just a .189 wOBA. He was arguably the best pitcher in baseball after the All-Star break and carries a ton of well-deserved hype into 2020 drafts.

 

Tier Three

Remember in the explanation table up top, I said the majority of good keepers fall into the third tier. That definitely holds true among pitchers for 2020 as 16 arms slide in between the 50-74 point range. Our first tier-tres pitcher has been getting a lot of buzz this draft season despite not topping 121 IP in the last three seasons. Before an oblique injury slammed the brakes, Brandon Woodruff was having a very solid season in the Milwaukee rotation. He increased his K/9 to 10.58 thanks to an increase in velocity and usage of his change-up, while still posting the exact 3.36 xFIP that he saw in 2018. Among pitchers with at least 100 IP he surrendered the 16th highest soft hit percentage, and among those top-16 he also owned the lowest pulled hit percentage, so obviously he's very difficult to square up. This ability combined with a double-digit K/9 creates a very intriguing floor and if Woodruff can finally reach a full season's workload we could be surprised by the ceiling as well. Something to watch for in 2020 is his adjustments after the first trip through the batting order. Last season he saw his ERA increase from 1.85 to 5.05 the second time through the lineup.

Another late-round keeper that was well on his way to a 2019 breakout was Frankie Montas, but unlike Woodruff, it was not injury that brought it to a halt. After posting a 9-2 record with a 2.63 ERA in 96 IP, Montas received an 80-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. It was truly heart-breaking for the lucky owners who either took a flyer on him late in their drafts or were the first ones to scoop him up off the waiver wire, because the breakout looked legit. He added a splitter to his arsenal that appeared to completely change his game, boasting a 21.3 SwStr% while holding opposing hitters to just a .160 BAA, and most importantly inducing a 62.6 GB%. I am very high on the Oakland Athletics as a team this year and I think Montas will be a large part of their success. While going light on SP in the early rounds per usual, Montas is always my target for SP1 or SP2. RotoBaller rankings have him at 116th overall, but if he can bounce right back to the level he was at prior to the suspension he would be a steal even at that price.

If I consider myself excited about Montas this season, I don't even know how to describe my feelings for Julio Urias as he is penciled in for a starting spot in the Dodgers rotation for the 2020 season. In 79.2 IP last year, Urias boasted a 2.49 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP with a 9.6 K/9, albeit primarily out of the pen as a reliever. I don't need to convince anyone on the stuff, because we've all known for years now that this guy is a stud but was blocked by a crowded and talented Dodgers rotation. My favorite thing about the stats though is the ability to avoid the long ball. He owns a 0.68 HR/9 across 184 big league innings, and just a 30.9 Hard%. Since 2016 among pitchers with at least 180 IP, his 22.1 Soft% ranks 15th best and is sandwiched between Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom. Obviously Urias won't reach 200 IP in 2020, but realistically I could see a similar workload to what Chris Paddack saw in 2019 when he pitched 140.2 innings.

 

Tier Four

The fourth tier still has some good names, but just remember your opponents may be stacking up their keeper selections with first and second-tier studs. So you don't want very many of these fourth-tier names unless your options are limited. The first guy on the docket is another of my favorite Zero-SP targets in the middle rounds. Usually, when you bypass the fantasy aces in the early rounds, strikeouts are the hardest stat to make up ground on. This is why Matthew Boyd is always a target of mine. He is currently drafted as the SP44, despite owning the sixth-highest K/9 among starters last season. Yes, there was the ugly 4.56 ERA, but he also boasted the 11th best SIERA. Boyd has looked fantastic this spring and even has been working on a filthy new curveball that should help lower that 1.89 HR/9 which paired with his heavy-strikeout profile could produce a massive breakout season for the left-hander.

If you missed out on Julio Urias and you want another per-IP stud that is being undervalued due to a likely innings cap, look no further than Lance McCullers. He is coming off a year-long recovery from TJS and has never pitched more than 130 IP in the majors, but we all know how filthy he is when healthy. Since 2015 among pitchers with at least 450 IP, LMC is one of only 10 to have a double-digit K/9 (10.10) and an xFIP under 3.40 (3.31). He's only thrown 4.2 innings this spring, but he's already whiffed six batters while only walking one. Again, he won't touch 200 IP but at his price, you can't beat the production.

In last year's bold predictions article, I predicted Eduardo Rodriguez would break out in 2019 and be a Top-15 SP. While he fell short of that threshold, he did have a great season and finished as the SP24. He put all the absurd injury-prone concerns to bed as he was one of 15 pitchers to reach 200 IP, and finished behind only Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole with 19 wins. It appears at this point, the walks will always be a bit of an issue with E-Rod which will likely be a WHIP liability for your fantasy team. Plan an extra RP ratio anchor into your plans and you'll be fine because E-Rod is once again primed for a step forward in 2020 after a torrid 2nd half last year. Across his last 100 IP in 2019 he owned a 2.95 ERA, .239 BAA, and a 25.4 K%. That fire has already spilled over into 2020 this spring, as he has struck out 20(!) batters in just 11 IP while only allowing two earned runs.

 

Tier Five

Now we've reached the point of really just not enough value gained to warrant a keeper selection based on production and where you can get the players in your draft after keeper selections. Unless you are just really high on a player, have an open keeper selection and don't want to risk losing him in the draft, you want to avoid this tier. But projections aren't always right and of course, there are still some potential values available on the list. Take Mike Clevinger for example. He ranked much higher on the list with his fifth-round cost prior to his meniscus injury. But now you look at the season being delayed due to the Coronavirus and now Clevinger being out until late May doesn't really seem that bad. You are talking about a second-round stud with first-round potential that may start at the same time as everyone else now. Obviously those are some "what-ifs" and its just one example, but it's just a way of illustrating that keeper values can increase/decrease very fluidly. Be smart, be creative, and whatever you do please don't just keep players based off of 2020 rankings!!!

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2020 Fantasy Baseball & MLB Prospects and Rookies 2020 Fantasy Baseball Advice 2020 Fantasy Baseball Keepers & Dynasty Ranks 2020 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers 2020 Fantasy Baseball Undervalued Draft Targets Editor Note Featured Baseball #2 MLB Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

10 Deeper Prospect Sleepers for Dynasty Baseball Leagues

We are inching closer and closer to Opening Day for the 2020 MLB season. That means that the Minor League season is also just around the corner. With that comes exciting new breakout prospects, as they rise up from both likely, and unlikely, places.

In the past few years, I’ve recommended a number of key pop-up prospects. Back at the end of 2017, I suggested that a little-known Yankees prospect named Jonathan Loaisiga deserved attention. In the spring of '19, I pointed to Yoendrys Gomez as a player to monitor. He’s now ranked among the Yankees' top 8-12 prospects in a number of different prospect publications. In the middle of '18, I ranked Julio Rodriguez as the Mariners’ fifth-best prospect, and then followed that up with a detailed explanation in April '19 that, “It was time to get excited about Julio Rodriguez.” In July '17, when he was still a Cardinals’ prospect, I first pointed to Zac Gallen as a future big-league contributor.

So, who can we uncover this spring? Today, we’re going to look at 10 deep sleeper prospects in Dynasty Leagues that shouldn’t be rostered just yet, but have a chance to find themselves on your rosters at year’s end.

 

Brandon Howlett (3B, BOS)

Howlett is a raw prospect. He spent the 2019 season in Class A ball at the age of 19 and needed a solid .337 BABIP to help him hit .231. The strikeout raw was also sky-high at 31% -- so why am I keeping an eye on him? In his first two seasons, Howlett has produced line-drive rates of more than 25%.

It’s rare to see that kind of consistent hard-hitting among such a young, inexperienced player. And along with the developing pop comes a strong willingness to take a free pass. His walk rate is close to 13% at this point in his career. He was hitting pretty well during his first taste of full-season ball in '19 before appearing to tire in July and August.

 

Brayan Rocchio (SS, CLE)

I thought 2019 would be Rocchio’s big breakout season, but he merely held his own in the New York-Penn League at the age of 18 while predominantly playing against 21- and 22-year-old former college players. He struggled early but managed to produce at a slightly-above-average rate with a 107 wRC+. Rocchio really turned things on in August and hit .283/.349/.414 with six steals in seven attempts over 25 games.

He may never be a huge home run hitter, but the switch-hitting shortstop has the skill to slug 15 home runs, steal 20 or more bases and hit .300. He should get his first taste of full-season ball in 2020 and has looked good so far in Cleveland’s big league camp while filling in for the Major League hitters (3-for-6 with a home run).

 

Bryant Packard (OF, DET) 

I personally thought Packard would be a decent late second-round or third-round Draft pick in 2019 out of East Carolina University. But he slipped to the Tigers in the fifth round, likely over concerns about his modest defensive skills. He hit .358 with a .994 OPS in his junior year of college after producing outstanding numbers in his sophomore season, too.

In his pro debut, Packard stung the ball during his first two stops in the lower levels of the Minors with a line-drive rate of more than 30%. At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, he has excellent size and just needs to make swing adjustments to get balls into the air more consistently. If he does that, the left-handed power hitter could really take off.

 

Edward Olivares (OF, SD)

Olivares has been the victim of the Padres’ strong organizational outfield depth. Last year in Double-A, he produced a 123 wRC+ as a 23-year-old. He also has excellent speed and nabbed 35 stolen bases in 45 tries, one year after going 21-for-29 at Class A Advanced.

Olivares also has the potential to develop into a 20-20 hitter after hitting double-digit home runs over the past three seasons and gradually hitting more balls in the air. He hit a career-high 18 home runs in 2019, along with a 25.5% line-drive rate.

 

Davis Wendzel (3B, TEX)

I really enjoyed what the Rangers did early in the 2019 Draft, as they nabbed two of my three favorite college third basemen in Josh Jung and Wendzel. The latter prospect hit well in all three seasons at Baylor University but really broke out in his junior year with a 1.094 OPS. He hit just eight home runs, but also saw 19 of his 65 hits go for doubles.

There’s power in the bat and some swing adjustments could help him tap into it. Wendzel showed an excellent eye at the plate during his college career and, although he appeared in just seven games after signing, he produced a BB-K rate of 5-6. He’s not the flashiest player, but this third baseman could develop into a well-rounded contributor in multiple categories.

 

Otto Lopez (IF/OF, TOR)

Lopez has been criminally overlooked during the past year or two. He spent the 2019 season in Class A where he hit .324 as a 20-year-old. His production has surpassed 130 wRC+ during the past two seasons, despite being young for the leagues at each stop. He likely gets passed over for more attention because he’s not a power hitter. His game is geared toward putting bat-to-ball and using his speed. He struck out less than 13% of the time in 2019, but also walked just 6.9% of the time.

Lopez has good speed but is still learning to run the bases effectively; he was nabbed 15 times in 35 attempts. Although he’s not the biggest player, he has strong wrists and forearms and could eventually be good for 30+ doubles and 10-12 home runs. Along with his natural hitting ability and speed, Lopez has played multiple positions and thar versatility is quite valuable in fantasy baseball. He’s spent time at second and third base, shortstop, and all three outfield spots.

 

T.J. Sikkema (SP, NYY)

Sikkema was one of my favorite college pitchers available in the 2019 Draft as a potential late first-round or second-round pick -- the Yankees nabbed him 38th overall. He had an excellent pro debut, although he was kept to just four games. In that small sample size, Sikkema produced a K-BB of 13-1 with six hits allowed in 10.2 innings, after striking out 101 college batters in 88.2 innings.

He could easily jump to Class A Advanced in 2020 with his advanced pitchability from the left side. He’s undersized, but is difficult to hit because of his unconventional delivery and potential for three average-or-better offerings. Sikkema’s lack of size could make him prone to home runs if he struggles to get a solid downward plane on his offerings. He may end up as more of a No. 4 starter, but he has the potential to eventually offer strikeouts and wins.

 

Isaiah Campbell (SP, SEA)

Another pitcher I liked a lot from the early rounds of the 2019 Draft, Campbell was selected 76th overall by the Mariners. That selection could be a steal. He’s far more physical than Sikkema (above) at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds. I give a slight edge to the Yankees’ development system over the Mariners', but Campbell has the ingredients to be a No. 3 starter.

He throws in the mid-90s with three secondary offerings and good control (22 walks in 118.1 college innings in '19). His height helps him get good downward plane on the ball, which in turn helps generate ground ball outs. If he shows a reliable strikeout pitch, then Campbell could be a quick mover through the system.

 

Dany Jimenez (RP, SF)

Jimenez is the rare Rule 5 Draft pick that has legitimate redraft and dynasty value. He was 25 years old at Double-A in 2019 and might look like a late-developer, but he wasn’t signed out of the Dominican Republic until he was almost 21 years old.

He then spent three years in Rookie Season ball. Last season split between Class A Advanced and Double-A, the hard-throwing right-hander struck out 93 batters with 21 walks in 59 innings. If he can find the plate consistently, Jimenez’s mid-90s fastball and promising curveball give him high-leverage potential.

 

Chris Vallimont (SP, MIN)

I was a fan of Vallimont when he was in the Marlins' system and I became even more endeared with him after he moved to the Twins’ superior development system. Between two organizations and three teams in 2019, the 6-foot-5 right-hander struck out 150 batters in 127.2 innings. Despite a fly ball heavy approach, Vallimont allowed just seven home runs.

Moving forward, he needs to find a third reliable pitch to go with his fastball and slider, while also showing improved control -- something that the Twins’ development staff has been successful with in the past. The club absolutely pulled one over on the Marlins in getting him during the Lewin Diaz/Sergio Romo trade last summer.

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2020 Shortstop Rankings - Fantasy Baseball Dynasty Leagues

As the season draws near, we realize suddenly that it's draft season. There is a large portion of fantasy baseball busy with mock drafts, rankings, sleepers, and more mock drafts. The Dynasty community, on the other hand, is looking to continue their dominance, rebuild, or in a worst-case scenario, stick their hands up in frustration. Regardless of the team's competitive situation, everyone wants to add value to their roster.

Shortstop is the deepest position in fantasy baseball and ensures nearly every team in your league will have the spot comfortably filled. This presents an issue and opportunity when managing your leagues. It is an issue as it could limit trading if you have multiple shortstops on your roster. It presents an opportunity as there are many potential investments for profit available. Make sure you have a stud, even in the likes of Bo Bichette or Xander Bogaerts. After that, you have 50 other players that you can use to speculate on to test your Buy-Low/Sell-High strategy.

All preseason long, RotoBaller has you covered with the latest rankings for all fantasy baseball league types. Here we present our dynasty rankings for the second base position, put together by analysts Nicklaus Gaut, Pierre Camus, and Ellis Canady. Check out our analysis of all other positions as well, coming soon!

 

Shortstop Rankings - Dynasty Leagues (March)

In case you missed it, our very own "Big Pick Nick" Mariano was named the #1 overall most accurate industry expert ranker for the 2018 season!

Rank Tier Player Name Position Pierre Camus Nick Gaut Ellis Canady
1 1 Francisco Lindor SS 9 6 8
2 1 Alex Bregman 3B/SS 5 12 6
3 1 Trea Turner SS 8 10 9
4 1 Trevor Story SS 13 9 13
5 1 Fernando Tatis Jr. SS 12 13 10
6 1 Javier Baez SS 17 20 18
7 2 Gleyber Torres 2B/SS 24 31 23
8 2 Xander Bogaerts SS 26 27 27
9 2 Adalberto Mondesi SS 28 23 30
10 2 Wander Franco SS 54 33 47
11 3 Bo Bichette SS 46 61 31
12 3 Manny Machado 3B/SS 86 41 35
13 3 Carlos Correa SS 62 78 56
14 3 Tim Anderson SS 63 95 67
15 3 Ketel Marte 2B/SS/OF 106 60 76
16 4 Gavin Lux 2B/SS 92 114 78
17 4 Jorge Polanco SS 105 124 93
18 4 Marcus Semien SS 132 91 104
19 4 Corey Seager SS 107 132 106
20 5 Jonathan Villar 2B/SS 236 85 135
20 5 Amed Rosario SS 201 134 130
21 5 Jean Segura SS 208 137 154
22 5 Paul DeJong SS 153 169 181
23 5 Didi Gregorius SS 194 175 196
24 5 Elvis Andrus SS 231 155 206
25 5 Royce Lewis SS 180 313 119
26 6 Scott Kingery SS/3B/OF 182 235 209
27 6 Carter Kieboom SS 173 289 171
28 6 Garrett Hampson 2B/SS/OF 227 254 185
29 6 Brendan Rodgers 2B/SS 161 369 165
31 6 Willy Adames SS 237 300 218
32 6 Dansby Swanson SS 255 291 214
33 6 Jon Berti 2B/3B/SS/OF #N/A 263 #N/A
34 7 Kevin Newman 2B/SS 410 164 288
35 7 Marco Luciano SS 316 346 212
36 7 Danny Santana 1B/2B/3B/SS/OF 324 123 238
37 7 Luis Urias 2B/SS 307 415 201
38 7 Jazz Chisholm SS 319 350 268
39 7 Xavier Edwards SS 409 383 222
40 7 Ryan Mountcastle SS 331 457 251
41 7 CJ Abrams SS 272 427 #N/A
42 7 Mauricio Dubon 2B/SS 373 #N/A 350
43 8 Bobby Witt Jr. SS 287 441 #N/A
44 8 Ronny Mauricio SS 402 #N/A 372
45 8 Brayan Rocchio SS #N/A #N/A 375
46 8 Luis Garcia SS 375 #N/A #N/A
47 8 Niko Goodrum 1B/2B/SS/OF 499 337 289
48 8 Nick Ahmed SS 341 357 429
49 8 Andrelton Simmons SS 391 387 359
50 8 Tyler Freeman SS 451 384 318
51 8 Andres Gimenez SS 362 468 404
52 8 Cole Tucker SS 420 #N/A #N/A
53 9 Leury Garcia SS/OF 350 516 405
54 9 Nicky Lopez SS 424 #N/A #N/A
55 9 Jorge Mateo 2B/SS/OF 392 550 341
56 9 J.P. Crawford SS 429 #N/A #N/A
57 9 Jeter Downs SS 423 442 #N/A

 

Tier One

There are seven players in this tier. If you’re lucky to have any one of these guys, you’re set at the position. Lindor, Bregman, Story, and Turner are all excellent options and provide similar elite stats.

Fernando Tatis Jr. is the latest hot stuff in baseball. His stat line glistens with possibilities. We didn’t get to see the extent of his rising start as unfortunate hamstring and back issues disrupted and ultimately ended his 2019 season. Tatis did ooze power (22HR) and speed (16SB) in only 334 at-bats. However, he demonstrated concerning aggressiveness at the plate and had a 15.6% Swinging Strike rate. Tatis should be off the market in your league. You should be ecstatic if you can acquire him for anything less than an elite player. Another perspective, considering he will have some regression, is to consider trading the undefinable helium into an uber elite player.

Javier Baez defies the odds and gives you comfort despite some unsettling metrics. In 2019, he had a 44.1% Chase rate with an equally unbelievable 18.3% Swinging Strike rate. Though he is a chase monster, Baez still finds success at the plate. It might be considered a disappointing season, but he still hit 29 homers with 11 steals and a .281 batting average. He is worth acquiring as his 2019 gives an opportunity to acquire his services.

 

Tier Two

Xander Bogaerts doesn’t carry the same excitement as some other premium shortstops. However, he is an outstanding four-category contributor that gets glossed over because of the tremendous depth at the position.

Adalberto Mondesi has had repeated injuries that have slowed his glide path. He won’t be a major producer in 2020. However, he is a premium speed option in the game for the foreseeable future. It is concerning that he lacks plate discipline in addition to a 29.8 percent strikeout rate. Thankfully he’s only 24 years old and can still develop these skills. The shoulder concern and strikeout rate might present a buying opportunity. Take advantage if you have a backup plan.

Wander Franco is not too far from reinforcing the mistaken expectation that all prospects should be superstars once promoted. That mentality shouldn’t be the norm, but the difference is that 19-year-old Franco actually is a star. Everyone knows about his super-fast bat speed and the power/speed combo he brings to the table. Franco’s elite plate discipline enabled him to walk (56) more than he struck out (35) across Single- and High-A levels in 2019. He will likely start 2020 at Double-A with the potential to own a starting job in Tampa in 2021. He’s a known commodity, but it never hurts to see if you can lure him away from his owner.

 

Tier Three

Bo Bichette falls into the third tier but is likely to move up by the end of this year. Bichette brings five categories to your front door. After returning from a wrist injury, he quickly adjusted to the Major Leagues in 2019. Bichette smacked 11 long balls and stole four bases while adding a .311 batting average across 196 at-bats. You’ve got to give up something to get something. If you want Bichette on your dynasty team — and, you should — you’ll need to offer something of serious value.

Manny Machado’s profile isn’t unique and he might be overrated in fantasy baseball. He thumps 30 homers annually, but that is where reality stops and fantasyland begins. The fantasy community wants him to have a great batting average, but we’d be lucky to get .260. We yearn for more stolen bases but would be overjoyed to see five. If you’re looking for a source of profit, Machado could be an option though. His value is currently deflated, but he still has the potential to have a great season.

What type of player is Carlos Correa? He’s a guy with above-average power and a solid batting average. However, that isn’t the extent of his potential. His 95.7 mph exit velocity on LD/FB gives reassurance that the power is sustainable. Even his above-average sprint speed (27.6 ft/sec) would indicate he can do better than the six bags he stole the last three seasons combined. The primary limiting factor has been health. Correa is likely treated as an afterthought in most leagues. There is profit to be made from him this season.

On top of the world, ma! Tim Anderson wins a batting title and there aren’t many that support him in part to a .399 BABIP. The batting average will not reach .335 again (right?) but a 20 HR/20 SB player with a .270 AVG is still quite sexy.

 

Tier Four

Jorge Polanco is constantly overlooked. He doesn’t have an elite category so he is often relegated to an MI spot of a lineup. There is value in boringly reliable stats. Admittedly, he isn’t too boring as he offers a premium plate approach resulting in an 8.5% BB, 16.5% strikeout, and 7.3% Swinging Strike rates. He has the sprint speed (28.2 ft/sec) to accrue more bags but team philosophy prevents him. The philosophy is simple: Get on base, the big bats will do the rest. It works; expect Polanco to tally triple-digit runs annually.

Marcus Semien has often been underrated but it’s possible the pendulum has swung the opposite direction. He had a career year in 2019 with a .373 wOBA. He continued to improve his approach at the plate, lowering his strikeout rate (13.7%) and raising his walk rate (11.6%). Speed will always be in demand and he’s reached the double-digit mark in each of the last five seasons. The 30-homer power will be tough to replicate, however. Semien is a great asset to own but do not pay too much for his services. Remember, he’s already creeping up on 30 years old.

Corey Seager should be the target in all your leagues. I don’t care if you already own a premium shortstop. Admittedly, he misses time every year due to health issues, but he still profiles as an elite hitter. Don’t fret over the slight dip in exit velocity (88.8 mph) and walk rate (8.1%) or even the increase in strikeout rate (18.1%). Let’s give the 25-year-old a pass as he returned from hip and elbow surgeries. Seager finished 2019 with a bang, hitting seven homers, 26 RBI, and a .291 batting average in his final 90 plate appearances. His value is tremendously deflated. Buy back in now and watch his value soar in the explosive Dodgers lineup.

 

Tier Five

Amed Rosario continued his developmental process in 2019, both on the basepaths and with the bat. In his third season, he increased his contact rate to 77.6 percent and finished the year with a .287 AVG. This can be attributed to a .340wOBA in the second half. Rosario’s sprint speed (29.2 ft/sec) is his calling card. However, he’ll need to improve upon his 66 percent success rate to optimize his skills. He’s currently a 15 HR/20 SB guy with the potential to even become a 20/30 player if his power and basepath efficiency continues to progress.

Jean Segura will be 30 years old when the 2020 season begins. His age and a disappointing performance in 2019 has caused his value to unnecessarily plummet. He dealt with numerous injuries that it is no surprise he didn’t steal many bases. He did, however, maintain an impressive 86.6 percent contact rate. With a new regime in Philly, and the possibility of increased positional eligibility (2B), there is value having Segura on your roster.

How often can you get 30 homers from an infielder? Paul DeJong hears your struggles and he grants your wishes. But, be careful what you wish for as it has baggage in the form of a .233 batting average. Batting cleanup, you’d prefer that he did better than a .193 average with men in scoring position. Beggars can’t be choosers I guess. Hopefully, offseason adjustments will improve this area of his game. It wouldn’t be wildly abnormal to expect a .250 AVG with 30 homers.

 

Tier Six and Lower

Willy Adames is one of the few permanent fixtures in the Rays lineup. He reached the 20-homer mark thanks in part to a 42.1% hard hit rate. If he can improve his 10-degree launch angle, Adames could chip in a few more. Despite a 28.3 ft/sec sprint speed, he has yet to eclipse double-digit steals, but they should be coming soon enough. Adames will need to improve versus left-handers (career .205 AVG) if he is to reach his full potential. He’s young enough to make all the adjustments necessary to jump a few tiers by next season. He’s dirt cheap right now if you’ve got a roster deep enough to wait for him to develop.

Dansby Swanson has already gone back to pre-2019 popularity which was non-existent. Many have already forgotten his stellar first-half performance. He hit 17 long balls, stole seven bags, and a had a .341 wOBA. However, a foot injury derailed that fantasy with zero homers and only three steals in the second half. His exceptional stats shouldn’t be prorated, but they should still give an idea of his potential. Also, Swanson isn’t even stealing as many bases as he could as his 28.7 ft/sec sprint speed seems to be overshadowed with all the other news. Injuries aside, Swanson could be a 20/20 player and it would take a few quarters to find out.

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Top 50 Fantasy Baseball Prospects for 2020 Redraft Leagues (March Update)

The sun is shining in Florida and Arizona, and spring training games are underway. That means it’s time to update our redraft prospect rankings for 2020.

We last looked at the key prospects for the coming season back in January when there was a lot of uncertainty around players' roles and potential playing time. As the spring games continue, the opening day pictures will become more and more clear. Managers and coaches are getting new looks at promising prospects and strong performances could expedite those players' arrivals in 2020. Similarly, poor performances could hinder future recalls. Injuries will also play a huge role as we move forward — both among the prospects (Emmanuel Clase) and also with the veteran big leaguers (Luis Severino) as their trips to the injured list will create opportunities for those potentially headed to the minors.

The top of the list is populated by prospects that are all but guaranteed regular roles once the season begins (barring injury). From there, the list looks at players that should eventually push for playing time if they continue to develop their impressive talents, as expected. Don’t underestimate the value a player can have by coming up in May or June. These hitters all provided massive fantasy value despite opening the 2019 season in the minors: Yordan Alvarez (promoted in June, wRC+ of 178), Bo Bichette (July, 142), Keston Hiura (May, 139), Will Smith (July, 132), Tommy Edman (June, 123), and Cavan Biggio (May, 114). Let’s see who the freshmen fantasy studs will be in 2020.

 

MLB Prospect Rankings - 2020 Redraft Leagues

Ranking Player Pos Team ETA
1 Luis Robert OF CWS March
2 Gavin Lux SS/2B LAD March
3 Brendan McKay SP TB March
4 Carter Kieboom 3B/2B WAS March
5 Jesus Luzardo SP OAK March
6 Alex Kirilloff OF MIN June
7 Jo Adell OF LAA June
8 Nate Pearson SP TOR May
9 Jose Urquidy SP HOU March
10 Tony Gonsolin SP LAD March
11 Sean Murphy C OAK March
12 Dylan Carlson OF STL June
13 Ryan Mountcastle 1B/3B BAL March
14 Nick Madrigal 2B CWS May
15 Dustin May SP LAD April
16 A.J. Puk SP OAK May
17 Nick Solak 3B/OF TEX May
18 Brendan Rodgers 2B/22 COL June
19 Jonathan Loaisiga SP NYY March
20 Alec Bohm 3B PHI July
21 James Karinchak RP CLE March
22 Kyle Lewis OF SEA June
23 Sheldon Neuse 2B/3B OAK June
24 Kyle Wright SP ATL May
25 Mitch Keller SP PIT May
26 Austin Hays OF BAL May
27 Evan White 1B SEA May
28 Sam Hilliard OF COL June
29 Deivi Garcia SP NYY May
30 Cristian Pache OF ATL June
31 Sixto Sanchez SP MIA June
32 Casey Mize SP DET July
33 Nico Hoerner 2B/SS CHC May
34 Jared Walsh 1B/OF/P LAA June
35 Mauricio Dubon 2B SF May
36 Brusdar Graterol SP LAD May
37 Ke'Bryan Hayes 3B PIT May
38 Forrest Whitley SP HOU July
39 Michael Kopech SP CWS July
40 Spencer Howard SP PHI July
41 Wander Franco SS/3B TB August
42 MacKenzie Gore SP SD August
43 Brent Rooker OF/1B MIN July
44 Joshua Lowe OF TB July
45 Daulton Varsho C/OF ARZ July
46 Justus Sheffield SP SEA June
47 Anthony Kay SP TOR June
48 Brent Honeywell Jr. SP TB June
49 Matt Manning SP DET August
50 Randy Arozarena OF TB July

 

Top 2020 Prospects Analysis: 1-10

The top 10 features some immense talent led by Luis Robert, who is off to a strong start to the spring. He has the potential to provide both speed and power to fantasy owners.

Gavin Lux is another player that should make an immediate impact as a rookie in 2020. As a bonus, he could end up being eligible at multiple positions if he moves around the infield a bit for the Dodgers. A strong batting average and power is likely. He also offers the potential for double-digit steals and stole 27 bases as recently as 2017.

Carter Kieboom is a bit of a wild card — but one with a lot of skill. He had a modest performance during his first taste of MLB action in 2019 and is trying to learn a new position but he could hit for average, power and produce good on-base numbers.

Among pitchers, Jesus Luzardo has an intriguing mix of ceiling and ready-now skills. Along with the ability to miss bats, the young southpaw induces a ton of ground balls which helps him mitigate the damage caused by the home run.

Twins’ outfielder Alex Kirilloff also got off to a quick start this spring as he looks to stay at the head of the pack with Minnesota’s impressive young outfield depth that also includes Trevor Larnach, Brent Rooker, and maybe Royce Lewis (who has been playing multiple positions, including the outfield).

Another outfielder, Jo Adell of the Angels, is looking to impress this spring with an eye to getting called up before the summer hits. He’s getting lots of at-bats early on in a bid to shift veteran Brian Goodwin to a fourth outfielder role but the rookie is going to have to improve his swing-and-miss tendencies.

After Luzardo, Toronto’s Nate Pearson could have the biggest impact among rookie starters. He can hit triple digits with his fastball and has a deep repertoire, but his command was inconsistent at times in 2019 despite good control. If he can throw quality strikes more consistently, the sky is the limit. Like Luzardo, Pearson has struggled to stay healthy at times. Both pitchers could face a notable innings limit in 2020 even though both teams are playing that down right now.

Two players rounding out the top 10 could surprise a lot of people this season. The Houston Astros have been attracting a lot of attention for all the wrong reasons but Jose Urquidy could help stabilize an uncertain starting rotation. He doesn’t have the quickest fastball but he hits his spots, mixes things up and gets more than his fair share of swing-and-miss.

You can read more about Tony Gonsolin in detail, click here. He has a deep repertoire that features a lot of potential if he gets a fair shot at starting for the Dodgers. He could provide many wins and quality starts if that happens.

 

Top 2020 Prospects Analysis: 11-30

Sean Murphy currently has an ADP around 240. Ignore the catchers going higher in the draft and nab him later on. He’ll likely produce above-average offense — 20 home runs is possible if he stays healthy — for a low investment.

Dylan Carlson gets a lot of love from prospect watchers and he’s off to a good start this spring but don’t get too excited just yet. Other young outfielders Tyler O’Neill and Lane Thomas are ahead of him on the depth chart and could develop into strong contributors, too. Carlson also isn’t likely to provide a lot of stolen bases in the Majors despite nabbing 20 bases last season. He’s a good base runner but not a real burner and isn’t as likely to catch big-league hurlers (and catchers) napping as he did in the minors.

Ryan Mountcastle is another rookie that’s off to a torrid pace this spring and is getting lots of at-bats early on. The most impressive part of his spring so far has been the lack of swing-and-miss with just one strikeout through his first 16 at-bats. He went deep 25 times last year in Triple-A but it came with 130 strikeouts in just 127 games. The Orioles are also very deep in (modest) first base options but Mountcastle could find additional value (and playing time) by seeing time at first base, third base and left field.

Texas' Nick Solak is another talented player with lots of power to offer — along with good on-base numbers — but he’ll also need to move around the field to find enough playing time to tap into his full potential. The Rangers are giving him a good look in center field and he should also be eligible at third base and second base.

Austin Hays, Kyle Lewis, and Sam Hilliard are three slugging outfielders that could provide a ton of pop for limited investment costs — if they can make enough contact to play every day. Hilliard has the benefit of playing half his games in Colorado and he feasted on fastballs during his brief MLB trial in 2019. But he struggled mightily with breaking balls so he’ll likely see a lot of those early on in 2020. Hays did a much better job of making consistent contact in his second brief MLB trial so he enters the year with increased hype. He had just 75 plate appearances in the Majors last year but the 42% hard-hit-ball rate is intriguing. Lewis flexed his muscles with six home runs in 18 games but it came with a 39% strikeout rate and he went deep just 11 times in 122 Double-A games.

Cristian Pache is another promising outfielder but he doesn’t fit into the same slugging category as the three outfielders mentioned above. He just turned 21 in November and has shown steady improvements each year while being one of the youngest players in every league. It’s unlikely that he’ll open the year in Atlanta but a strong start in Triple-A could get him to the majors before the summer.

A.J. Puk likely has the highest ceiling among the pitchers outside the top 10. But he also has to show that the injury concerns are behind him and he’ll likely face an innings limit in 2020 even if Oakland is downplaying it right now. He’s thrown just 36.2 innings in the past two years combined so a max of 120-140 innings is quite possibly in the cards for 2020.

Dustin May has been durable throughout his career and has provided at least 130 innings in each of the past three seasons but he has yet to see action this spring due to injury. With lots of pitching depth in Los Angeles, May could struggle to gain a foothold in the big league starting rotation.

Jonathan Loaisiga and Deivi Garcia are two pitchers that could benefit from the Yankees’ injury woes. The former is more advanced so he’ll likely get the first shot but he has also been injury-prone throughout his young career. Garcia, just 20, is loaded with potential but the club has been very open about not wanting to rush him and he’s struggled with his command and control in the upper levels of the minors.

The Braves’ Kyle Wright is another player with a lot of potential that’s been hindered by inconsistent command. But the former first-round pick had a strong second half of 2019 and a big spring could vault him into the Braves’ starting rotation.

 

Top 2020 Prospects Analysis: 31-50

The tail end of the top 50 features quite a few highly-rated dynasty players that could make an impact later in the 2020 season. One exception to that is Mauricio Dubon who looked like he might win the Giants’ second base gig before the club brought in defense whiz Yolmer Sanchez. The rookie may now move around the field in an effort to find enough playing time to be relevant. He has good speed and surprising pop.

Casey Mize could be a future ace but he’ll likely head to Triple-A for some additional seasoning to open the year. With another tough season expected in Detroit, the club will likely be hesitant to start the young pitcher’s arbitration clock too early. Once he reaches the Majors, though, it should be a pretty seamless transition.

Forrest Whitley and Spencer Howard saw their promising 2019 seasons cut short by injuries. Both pitchers spent time in the Arizona Fall League in the fall and looked good so they’ll hope to carry those successes over time the 2020 regular season. There are risks with both of these hurlers but they carry the potential for big rewards later this year.

Brent Honeywell’s career has been wrecked by injury. He was likely headed for the Majors in 2018 before he got hurt and missed all of that season and 2019, too. He’ll likely open the year in Triple-A but he could be a force for Tampa Bay in the second half of the year. When he was last healthy, he struck out 172 batters in 136.2 innings.

Wander Franco is the best prospect in baseball and he just turned 19 on March 1. He dominated two A-ball levels in 2019 and should make quick work of Double-A in 2020. With the Yankees vulnerable this year due to injuries, the Rays will likely utilize everything they can to win the division and that could include pushing Franco to the Majors in the second half of the year if he looks ready. He has the potential to be even better than other recent phenoms (Fernando Tatis Jr., Vladimir Guerrero Jr.) and could have an immediate impact like Juan Soto did for Washington in 2018.

Don’t sleep on Daulton Varsho. He’s an advanced bat that could eventually be eligible at both catcher and in the outfield, which potentially gives him a ton of value as a player that could produce a 20-20 (HR-SB) season with regular playing time. He also takes a good number of walks and should hit for a solid batting average.

More MLB Prospects Analysis