Ray Butler's Top 200 Prospects
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1-7Wander FrancoSSTB19It takes a whale of a prospect to rank higher than Jo Adell, but Franco is exactly that. Listen: there are decent wrists. There are quick wrists. Lightning quick wrists. And then there are Wander Franco’s wrists. Packed into a 5-foot-10, 190 lb. frame, Franco is a bat-to-ball god who just walked at a higher rate than he struck out at two different full season levels… at the tender age of 18. He’s never stepped onto the diamond and not immediately been the best player on the field, and after a solid season defensively at shortstop, it’s likely Franco’s worst tool is now his speed (I’ve been told it’s not as impressive as public perception). Perhaps, maybe, someday—possibly—we’ll get to witness the 19-year-old face anything that resembles on-field adversity, just to see how effectively he handles it. Because as of today, he’s in the process of putting together one of the best minor league careers in the history of baseball. The switch-hitting shortstop will likely open the 2020 season in Double-A; from there, assuming good health, he’ll simply bide his time until the Rays decide he’s ready to assume an everyday role at the big league level. Tampa Bay should compete step-for-step with the Yankees for the AL East Crown in 2020, so it shouldn’t automatically be assumed Franco is destined to have tangible impact in redraft leagues this season. Willy Adames was a multi-win shortstop last season thanks to great defense, so it may be 2021 before Franco officially breaks through as a big leaguer. There are also a few ‘doomsday’ scenarios where the entirety of the Rays’ middle infield crop hits their ceiling and Franco eventually transitions to third base or a corner outfield spot. Don’t worry: the bat and skillset will play anywhere. He could very well be a top-20 overall player in redraft leagues by his Age 22 season. Monitor the stolen base output (or lack thereof) versus Double-A and Triple-A batteries this season, and don’t forget to bask in the glory of rostering a future face of baseball on your dynasty league teams. Rays Rank: 1stP365P365
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2-8Jo AdellOFLAA20I would say it’s a shame Wander Franco exists because Adell deserves to be the top-overall prospect in baseball, but who am I kidding? Franco is awesome. Anyways, Adell is built like the last thing you see before you’re laying on your back with a facemask full of grass on a football field. Kyle Muller had the best pitching prospect body I saw in 2019. Adell had the best position playing prospect body I saw. On paper, the 20-year-old’s raw tools are just as explosive as Franco’s. And despite what the season-long numbers might tell you, Adell has unlocked more of his in-game power at this point of his development. The difference in the pair is the bat-to-ball skills. Bat control. Adell does more damage when he connects, but Franco connects more often while showing everything necessary to fully believe he’ll someday access plus-or-better power in-game. With the Angels destined to contend—at minimum—for an AL Wild Card spot in 2020, Adell will either break camp with the big league team or make his MLB debut shortly thereafter. I don’t share the same magnitude of concern with Adell as I do with Luis Robert, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the 20-year-old was fairly pedestrian from a fantasy standpoint throughout his rookie season as he adjusts to big league pitching and big league scouting reports. Any redrafter who pays the ADP price on Adell target cheap outfield depth in the homestretch of their draft. Don’t worry, all-star production is on its way in dynasty leagues sooner rather than later. With only 132 plate appearances of (middling) experience in Triple-A last season, the Angels will likely keep their prized outfielder in the Pacific Coast League until June-ish. Angels Rank: 1stP365P365
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3-114Julio RodriguezOFSEA19It’s more likely than not that Wander Franco will still be a prospect this time next year, but I fully expect Rodriguez to be nipping at his heels for the title of best prospect in baseball. The outfielder was unspeakably good last season between the South Atlantic and California leagues, slashing .326/.390/.540 with 12 home runs in 84 games and 367 plate appearances. Rodriguez posted an unsightly, combined 164 wRC+ in those leagues despite being four years younger than the average competition in the Sally and Cal League. I haven’t even arrived at the most impressive part yet: the 19-year-old compiled an unfathomable 40.0 Hard% in 2019. Let’s think about that for a minute. Of all the balls Rodriguez put into play last season, two out of every five were hit 95 mph or harder. At the big league level, a 40.0 Hard% last season exceeded that of Michael Conforto, Hunter Renfroe, Nomar Mazara, Yasiel Puig and hundreds of others (Rodriguez would have ranked inside the top-200 amongst all hitters in Hard Hit%). There will be seasons throughout Rodriguez’s big league career in which projection systems peg him for north of 40 home runs. The approach has been to all-fields thus far, and Rodriguez has freakish bat-to-ball skills. If these facts remain unchanged, the teenager should continue to hit for high averages without striking out too much. Sitting down for this last part? The teenager will reportedly attempt to be a factor on the base paths in 2020. Being able to bank on 5-10 steals per season at the big league level would simply be the icing on the cake for a player whose baseline could be .280 BA/30 HR annually throughout his prime. That’s an arousing outlook. Mariners Rank: 1stP365P365
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4-13MacKenzie GoreSPSD21Gore has potential to be the best left-handed starter in all of baseball. When you read that sentence in 2020, you imagine that must mean the 21-year-old can really spin it, posting Statcast numbers that makes R&D departments across the sport drool. But this is simply not true of Gore, who has well below average spin on both his fastball and curveball currently. Instead, the southpaw relies on extreme athleticism, unique mechanics and elite pitchability to overwhelm hitters. Gore pitched 101 innings in 2019 between the California and Texas League, posting a 1.69 ERA (2.77 FIP) while striking out a whopping 35.7% of the batters he faced (28.3 K-BB%). In an Age 20 season at those levels, it’s impossible to not consider those numbers deeply impressive. The left-hander’s entire arsenal (fastball, curveball, changeup, slider) all play-up thanks to superb command, a quality that should also allow the 21-year-old to avoid split concerns at the MLB level. In 2019, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Patrick Corbin were the two best left-handed pitchers in baseball according to fWAR. Throughout his prime, I firmly believe Gore will battle the likes of Blake Snell (and perhaps Jesús Lúzardo) to determine the gold standard amongst southpaws at the sport’s highest level. Padres Rank: 1stP365P365
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5-30Luis RobertOFCHW22There is an unfinished article currently sitting in the drafts of the queue on Prospects365.com. Its title? The All-Sell Team of the 2019 Offseason. The list was headlined by Luis Robert. I never got around to finishing the article, but I completed the write-up on Robert. It basically reads like this: The upside here is obvious, and the ceiling is something like .300 BA/30 HR/30 SB if everything clicks. The talent is truly transcendent, and at some point, Robert will likely be very good big league hitter. But how long does it take to get there? And more importantly, what if Robert is only human in his first big league stint? What if the aggressive approach and below average ability to identify spin manifest themselves a bit when facing the best pitching in the entire world, and Robert finishes the season at .250 BA/.310 OBP/20 HR/20 SB? Solid defensive skills might mean the outfielder is still a multi-win real life player even with those moderate offensive statistics, but in the fantasy world, those numbers would Robert a mixture of 2019 Amed Rosario and Lorenzo Cain. Or 2020 Scott Kingery. They would also come as a surprise to uninitiated stat line scouters who won’t easily understand how Robert can be too talented to be burdened by minor league pitching, but too aggressive to ever truly thrive offensively against big league pitching with his uber-aggressive approach and suboptimal breaking ball recognition. And the numbers above are not even the worst-case scenario. What role do those hypothetical numbers play on a contending dynasty league team? How long would it take for Robert to regain the trade value he currently has in your deep keeper league? Granted, I’ve baked the perceived risk into my valuation of the 22-year-old and he’s still my 5th-ranked prospect; the ceiling is just that good. But I do fear Robert’s value is currently as high as it will be for the foreseeable future, and that presents somewhat of a problem (or an opportunity) if you’re currently holding him in a dynasty league. A 6-year, $50 million contract signed shortly after the New Year means the 22-year-old should be Chicago’s starting center fielder on Opening Day; he’ll easily be one of the most polarizing players in the fantasy world moving forward. If we look back on this write-up in a year and laugh maniacally, it’ll be because Robert’s elite hand-eye coordination simply overwhelmed even the best pitchers in the world. It also would mean the 22-year-old will likely be drafted as a top-20 player in redrafts next preseason. White Sox Rank: 1stP365P365
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6-23Jarred KelenicOFSEA20Did you know Kelenic was actually drafted by the Mets? You see, the Mets traded him to the Mariners for then 36-year-old Robinson Cano (0.8 fWAR in 2019) and reliever Edwin Diaz (0.0 fWAR in 2019). It was a win-now trade for the Mets, who finished eleven games behind the division-winning Braves last season. Kelenic is now the 7th-ranked prospect in all of baseball, dominating three different levels in route to a 152 wRC+ in his first full season as a professional. The 20-year-old is often hailed for his well-rounded skillset. ‘Balanced’ was the most common descriptor I heard regarding the outfielder in Cleveland at the Futures Game. There are evaluators who believe Kelenic will slow down once he finalizes his physical development; I’m hopeful his work ethic and makeup allow him to maintain his speed throughout the majority (or at least first half) of his big league career. One of my favorite contacts promises Kelenic will make his big league debut at some point in 2020; as a top prospect in a Mariners’ organization once again destined for the cellar of the AL West, I’ll believe it when I see it. I have a hunch the power will continue to tick-up as Kelenic grows closer to the age of his opposition, so a .280 BA/.350 OBP/30 HR/15 SB upside projection feels about right. Mariners Rank: 2ndP365P365
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7-37Gavin Lux2BLAD22It’s darn near impossible to poke holes at what Lux accomplished in the minor leagues last season. In 113 games and 458 plate appearances between Double-A and Triple-A, Lux slashed an unconscious .347/.421/.607 with 26 home runs, 10 stolen bases, a double-digit walk rate and a strikeout rate less than twenty percent (166 wRC+). The performance was simply a punctuation mark after the 22-year-old officially broke out in 2018, and the infielder was consistently great for so long he forced the Dodgers’ hand and debuted in Los Angeles September 2nd. The subsequent big league numbers in 23 MLB regular games were modest, but Lux was named to the Dodgers’ NLDS roster and homered off Hunter Strickland in Game 1. The infielder is no-doubt a large part of LA’s immediate and distant future, though I’m sure manager Dave Roberts will find ways to rest the 22-year-old a little more than we’d like—especially as Lux continues to acclimate to big league pitching. The Dodgers don’t prioritize stolen bases, so I fear the infielder will never fully utilize a sprint speed that ranked in the 90th percentile amongst MLB players last season. And he obviously can’t be expected to mimic his MiLB slash numbers from last season as a big leaguer, but something like .280/.360/25 HR/10 SB should become the conservative norm for Lux once he fully acclimates to the best pitching in the world. That’s a top-5 second baseman in redrafts. Before the Mookie Betts trade, Roberts hinted Lux could see time “on the grass” in 2020. While those odds have certainly worsened since the Betts deal was officially announced, multiple positions of eligibility would really make the 22-year-old’s fantasy profile pop moving forward. Dodgers Rank: 1stP365P365
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8-8Jesús LúzardoSPOAK22Lúzardo only threw 12 innings after being promoted to Oakland on September 11th, but his small sample success gave the world a glimpse of why he’s one of the best pitching prospects in all of baseball. And good googly moogly was Lúzardo’s curveball phenomenal in his first taste versus big league hitters. The southpaw threw the pitch 51 times (29.8%), allowing only two balls in play while inducing a .000 BAA, .046 xBA and 68.4 Whiff% (!!!). The arsenal distribution was also beautiful post-promotion; Lúzardo basically threw four different pitches at least 20% of the time. None of the quartet posted an xBA higher than .236. I question whether Luzardo’s fastball/sinker will ever be dominant enough to lead to the type of overall production that mimics a fantasy first rounder in redraft formats, especially if he’s unable to ever consistently shake concerns about his durability. But even if the curveball and changeup fuel the strikeout viability, connecting the dots on full, healthy campaigns in the near future would create a floor/ceiling combination that would make Lúzardo one of the safest pitchers in the sport. Athletics Rank: 1stP365P365
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93Forrest WhitleySPHOU22What a disaster of a 2019 regular season for Whitley. Only 59.2 IP. A 7.99 ERA. 44 walks (6.64 BB/9). Name removed, those are the statistics of a pitching prospect not worthy of a top-1000 list, let alone the top-10. But this is Forrest Whitley. There’s a long, established track record of success here. It was fairly obvious early in the season the right-hander’s mechanics were way out of whack. The numbers plummeted, then the 22-year-old was placed on the MiLB injured list with shoulder fatigue. A month later, Whitley returned, eventually working his way back to Double-A (he began the season in Triple-A) before the end of the regular season. Instead of making his MLB debut, the Astros announced Whitley would instead pitch in the AFL. The numbers bounced back to an extent in Arizona: 25.0 IP, 2.88 ERA, 30.5 K%, 8.6 BB%. With the reset button hopefully pressed and the struggles of the 2019 regular season now in the rearview mirror, Whitley has the stuff and organizational support to quickly prove his recent tribulations were simply blips on the radar. Following the AFL, scouts and industry folks I reached out to seemed evenly split on whether Whitley or MacKenzie Gore would begin the 2020 season as the top pitching prospect in baseball. Despite that, I’m worried enough about some aspects of Whitley’s mechanics—namely the effort and repeatability of his delivery—that I’m giving a late nod to Jesús Lúzardo as my second-ranked pitching prospect. The margin is microscopically thin. If everything eventually clicks, Whitley will become an undoubted SP1 and one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. I’m less confident about that outcome coming to fruition than I was a year ago. Astros Rank: 1stP365P365
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105Royce LewisSSMIN20Imagine—last March—predicting Lewis would be the top-overall prospect in baseball by the end of the 2019 season. Everybody hurts. The 20-year-old’s swing became annoyingly noisy last season, implementing a huge leg kick and a lot of (read: too much) hand movement pre-pitch. The results were quite bad; Lewis regressed in every notable statistical category both in the Florida State League and post-promotion in the Southern League. What’s worse, the mechanics aren’t simply viewed as in need of additional refinement. There’s no corner to turn or hump to get over. They’re just bad. That means I’m ranking Lewis as a top-10 prospect while also admitting he needs to overhaul his swing to reach anything that resembles his gaudy potential. Fortunately, the 20-year-old has some of the best makeup and pedigree of any prospect on this list. The batting practices are still spectacular, and the plus (perhaps plus plus) raw power is still completely intact. Lewis showcasing a quieter set-up and swing this season and beyond would be a dream come true to scouts and evaluators alike. If I’m being greedy, the cherry on top would be the former 1.1 showing more willingness to work counts during his second go-around in the Southern League. Twins Rank: 1stP365P365
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11-40Kristian RobinsonOFARI19My 2019 breakout prospect pick was everything I hoped he would be last season, slashing .282/.368/.514 with 14 home runs and 17 stolen bases in 69 games and 291 plate appearances between the Northwest League (A-) and Midwest League (A Full). A year later, Robinson now finds himself near the top of any fantasy-focused prospect list and uniformly included within any real life top-100 prospect list. Now with a foundational track record of success, expectations will be sky-high for the 19-year-old in 2020 as he either returns to the MWL or is pushed aggressively to the California League to open the season. I do worry the unpolished spin recognition will lead to some bumps in the road once he’s introduced to High-A and Double-A pitching (especially because he’ll be so young), but it won’t be anything he’s incapable of overcoming. The swing itself is extremely short to the ball, and I expect the teenager’s work ethic and IQ to iron-out any wrinkles in his path. Robinson played all-three outfield positions last season and is athletic enough to hold his own in center, but I feel strongly his off-the-bat reads and routes are better suited for one of the corners (he has the arm for right). In my breakout prospect article last preseason, I comped the outfielder’s upside to prime Justin Upton. A year later, this is still firmly in play—especially since it’s beginning to appear as though Robinson (who recently showed up to minor league camp noticeably thinner than his playing weight last season) will maintain his speed throughout at least the first chunk of his hypothetical big league career. Diamondbacks Rank: 1stP365P365
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12-100Marco LucianoSSSF18So it’s quite possible—perhaps even likely—Luciano has the best bat speed of any prospect on this entire list. If I’m wrong, there are worse things in life than being second to Wander Franco. The 18-year-old has impact potential both from a bat-to-ball and power projection standpoint. There’s at least decent chance—a few seasons from now—Luciano finalizes his development as a plus-hit, plus-power slugger destined for MLB stardom. The cloudy portion of this profile is potential defensive position. Luciano doesn’t wow evaluators athletically (stolen bases will never be part of this skillset), and there are questions regarding his ability to make enough plays to remain at shortstop long term. A potential move to the outfield—or third base—would lower the real life floor while tempering the positional upside in fantasy, but I suspect the bat will hold redraft value regardless of defensive position. I’m really interested to see how the Giants handle Luciano’s placement in 2020. Do they go ahead and bite the cold weather bullet and place the teenager in the South Atlantic League to open the season? Do the Giants slow-play the development and place Luciano back in the Northwest League? Does he open the season at the complex before debuting in Augusta once it warms up a bit? That’s an aspect of prospect development that often goes overlooked or completely disregarded throughout the prospect world. Regardless, the best-case statistical scenario here is .300 BA/30 HR from shortstop. But even if those numbers come from the hot corner right field, Luciano has the ingredients to someday be an impact player at the big league level. Giants Rank: 1stP365P365
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13URDylan CarlsonOFSTL21It was a monumental year for Carlson, breaking out statistically at Double-A Springfield before cementing himself as a top prospect in an 18-game sample at Triple-A Memphis. In all, the 21-year-old slashed .292/.372/.542 with 26 home runs, 20 stolen bases (71.4%), a double digit walk rate (20.6 K%) and a 28.8 Hard% (145 wRC+). Destined to become an everyday big league player in 2020, the only remaining question regarding Carlson centers on sustainability of tools. Older reports suggest a belief the switch hitter’s frame will thicken early in his career, leading to a transition to a corner outfield spot and a dwindling of speed output on the bases. But I didn’t get that vibe watching Carlson twice in 2019; though the stolen base output will rely a little more on instincts and quick-twitch reaction time than I’d like, there’s a low-maintenance frame and obvious athleticism within this profile. Attempting to dive into the mind of the Cardinals’ front office is equivalent to asking Albert Pujols to steal 40 bases this season, but Carlson should have an everyday impact in St. Louis by July at the latest. Cardinals Rank: 1stP365P365
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14-1Carter KieboomINFWAS22Following Trea Turner fracturing his right index finger and before he was fully ready, Kieboom was thrust into in a big league role last April. It was quite clear pretty quickly the then 21-year-old needed more repetitions in the minor leagues; he was demoted back to Triple-A after striking out in 37.2% of his plate appearances and posting a 17 wRC+ in a microscopic sample (11 games). We’re definitely checking in with our league mates about a possible buy-low opportunity in dynasty leagues, because the reports from the Pacific Coast League last season were excellent. The infielder slashed .303/.409/.493 with 16 home runs and a 13.8 BB% (20.2 K%) in 109 games and 494 plate appearances (123 wRC+), reaffirming himself as one of the best infield prospects in the sport after leaving a bad taste in the mouth of the prospect world in his first, infinitesimal big league sample. The Nationals appear ready to give Kieboom every possible opportunity to break camp as their everyday third baseman, so in redraft leagues in which the infielder possesses shortstop eligibility, there’s certainly some intriguing value in the discounted price tag. Regardless of how the 22-year-old is able to turn the page on his disappointing MLB debut last season, it’s likely he’ll play a huge role in the Nationals’ success both in 2020 and throughout the next decade. Nationals Rank: 1stP365P365
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15URAndrew Vaughn1BCHW22Something you absolutely need to know about Vaughn: the real life floor here is a lot lower than we’d like from a prospect inside the top-20. A right/right first baseman is a profile that will always lean heavily on consistent, high-powered offensive output. It’s also a profile that—in the eyes of MLB organizations—can be adequately and cheaply replaced following inconsistent production or injury. As a 3rd overall pick, Vaughn will have a longer leash than any other first base prospect destined to debut within the next two seasons; he is the top-ranked first base prospect in baseball, after all. The White Sox are also in the process of pushing most of their chips to the center of the table, which means the 22-year-old won’t be left marinating in Charlotte longer than he should. Statistically speaking, Vaughn reaching his ceiling would mean he’s evolved into a right-handed Freddie Freeman: a first baseman who should consistently flirt with .300 BA/30 HR seasons throughout his prime. Even as a four-tool contributor at a corner infield position, that would mean Vaughn becomes a top-30 overall player in dynasty leagues. The Southern League likely beckons for the majority of the 2020 season. FYPD Rank: 1st, White Sox Rank: 2ndP365P365
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16URJasson DominguezOFNYY17For a while, Maitanphobia hindered my evaluation and outlook on Dominguez. “This generation’s Derek Jeter” are words forever branded into the dark side of my brain. But that quote from behind a shield of anonymity; the reports on Dominguez have not. FanGraphs currently has the outfielder’s future grades at 55-hit, 65-raw, 65-speed, 55-field, 60-arm. He was the youngest player on their 2019-updated top-100 by nearly a year and a half (he ranked 58th). Baseball America’s grades for the teenager are equally loud, and their recently-released Yankees’ organizational report ($) projects Dominguez to be New York’s starting center fielder by 2023 (he’ll be 20-years-old at the time). These are huge, well-connected publications that are publishing these otherworldly reports. There’s always risk associated to a 17-year-old who is yet to play a single professional game, but sitting on your hands here likely means you’ll be left without a share of a prospect who could truly be one of the more remarkable players of the next two decades. Dominguez will likely debut in the Gulf Coast League this summer. FYPD Rank: 2nd, Yankees Rank: 1stP365P365
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178Alex Kirilloff1B/OFMIN22Notice one of the positions attached to Kirilloff above. It’s not a forgone conclusion the 22-year-old ends up at first base, but reading the tea leaves here really only leads to one hypothesis. The Twins traded Lewin Diaz to the Marlins last season, seemingly creating an organizational void at first base. The organization also seems to love Trevor Larnach in right field, as it was Kirilloff who transitioned to first base when both played in Double-A Pensacola throughout the final month of the 2019 season. Lastly, Kirilloff appeared to lose a step last season, most of which can be credited to a thicker lower half than in previous seasons. These factors all point to first base likely being the eventual defensive destination. In depth, I’ve already discussed ignoring the dip in statistical output last season. Josh Donaldson signing with the Twins (which subsequently moves Miguel Sano to first base) throws a bit of a wrench in the outlook, but—assuming good health–the 22-year-old should be ready for a big league debut by July. There’s some aggressiveness at the plate that will create some ebbs and flows early in his MLB career, but Kirilloff has all the makings of an impactful big league slugger. As I stated in the link above, the ceiling here is in the region of .280 BA/.350 OBP/30 HR at first base. Minnesota should be in the driver’s seat in the AL Central near the trade deadline; Kirilloff would fetch a game-changing return at positions of need in order for the big club to make a deep postseason run. I’m just saying. Twins Rank: 2ndP365P365
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18-23Casey MizeSPDET22There are so many factors that must be baked in to a valid Mize evaluation. I’ll divvy out as much as I can first, then we’ll try to draw some conclusions at the end. In his first full season since being selected at 1.1 in 2018, the 22-year-old struck 24.7% of the batters he faced in the Florida State League and Eastern League (19.3 K-BB% in 109.1 IP). That’s not a gargantuan punch-out rate like so many of the other pitchers within my top-50, but there was a train of thought amongst some evaluators that Mize purposely experimented with different patterns of two-strike sequencing at times last season. The fact Mize’s 14.1 SwStr% ranked third amongst all Eastern League pitchers (min. 70.0 IP) perhaps speaks a bit to some untapped strikeout potential moving forward. But if the right-hander truly is the 8-9 K/9 pitcher he was in 2019, the floor needs to be incredibly high to warrant a ranking inside the top-20. Statistically, Mize exemplifies this notion. He induces a ton of soft contact, doesn’t walk many hitters (0.94 WHIP in 2019) and should post consistently low earned run averages (2.55 ERA, 2.69 FIP in 2019). The bust risk here centered on injuries. There’s a long track record that validates this notion, ranging from shoulder concerns as a prep pitcher, to forearm and elbow ailments while at Auburn, to another shoulder injury last season that forced Mize to miss a month of Double-A action in the home stretch of the regular season. He posted a 6.61 ERA in eight appearances post-injury. The combination of an amazingly high statistical floor and (suspected) untapped strikeout potential means Mize—at his best—can be a mid-tier SP2 at the big league level. Tigers Rank: 1stP365P365
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19-20Matt ManningSPDET22Much like with Shane Baz (who you read about above), there are still concerns from the org side of scouting that Manning may be best suited in the bullpen. In my eyes, most of these issues were largely alleviated in 2019. The right-hander’s changeup made notable strides last season; it now projects a future, average big league offering that will play a big role against left-handed hitters the second and third time through the order. Manning doesn’t spin his fastball nor curveball exceptionally well, but his elite athleticism—which translates to fantastic extension—allows both pitches to play-up. With said extension and upper-90s velocity, the right-hander’s fastball has played particularly well up in the zone versus minor league hitters. With well below average spin, I will be interested to monitor its ability to miss bats at the big league level. The 22-year-old pairs his heater with a plus curveball, a pitch that’s thrown fairly hard and has proven to be effective against both righties and lefties. Manning’s walk rate has consistently improved throughout his minor league career, so further control refinement will focus on strike zone command rather than strike-throwing ability. The right-hander has the look of a pitcher who will only continue to improve with additional experience. The Tigers have no reason to rush the pitcher with the highest ceiling in their entire organization, though a mid-or-late summer MLB debut is justifiably expected. Everything clicking would mean Manning has become a mid-tier SP2 at the big league level. Tigers Rank: 2ndP365P365
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20-2Michael KopechSPCHW23The most handsome man in baseball will be back with a vengeance in 2020, and it appears as though he may be a full-go by Opening Day. The good news for Kopech is he just missed an entire season, he now has a new and fully healthy elbow and he’s still only 23 years old. You’ve known about the stuff since Prospects 365 was created (I ranked Kopech 23rd on my first-ever prospect list in 2017), but you’ve also known about the spotty command. The ‘towards’ is commonly the final thing that returns to a pitcher’s repertoire post-operation, so it will be interesting to see how much it (further) hinders Kopech this season. The White Sox now have master framer Yasmani Grandal in the fold, so he should be able to help to a certain extent. Chicago will be a popular pick for an AL Wild Card spot in 2020, and while they’ve added rotational depth this offseason, they will likely need to tap-in to whatever upside they possess within their organization if they hope to make a legitimate postseason run. That means Kopech will have his chance to shine under the bright lights on the South Side at some point this season, though it’s likely best if expectations are a bit muzzled for a pitcher whose worst attribute was command before undergoing Tommy John surgery. The fastball and slider are both explosive and analytically elite; prior to going under the knife, the changeup was making strides as a viable weapon against left-handed hitters. After Kopech settles back in and becomes comfortable taking the ball every fifth day over the stretch of an entire regular season, Kopech’s ceiling is that of a high-variance, heavy strikeout SP2. A tight workload restriction will make the right-hander a frustrating player to roster in redrafts this season. White Sox Rank: 3rdP365P365
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21URC.J. AbramsSS/OFSD19The deeper I dig on Abrams, the more I see first-round upside in redraft leagues. Selected 6th overall last summer by the Padres, Abrams laid waste to the Arizona League from June to August, slashing .401/.442/.662 with 3 home runs, 14 stolen bases and a single digit strikeout rate (189 wRC+) in 32 games. The tools are everything you could dream of as a dynasty player: plus hit, above average raw power (perhaps more) and elite, 80-grade speed—all while playing a premium defensive position. There’s a lot of skepticism as to whether Abrams remains at shortstop throughout his professional career; it appears more likely than not—especially as a member of an organization that boats Fernando Tatis Jr. at shortstop—that Abrams will eventually settle in center field. Remember in 2016 when Trea Turner was promoted to the Nationals and exploded onto the scene while playing center field? That could be Abrams’ career. FYPD Rank: 3rd, Padres Rank: 2ndP365P365
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22URAdley RutschmanCBAL22Eventually becoming the best catcher in fantasy baseball is not a hope when evaluating Rutschman; it’s the expectation. If this were a real-life list, the 22-year-old would be the top-ranked player from last summer’s MLB Draft. Heck, with fantasy removed, Rutschman is bar-none the best draft prospect I’ve evaluated since launching Prospects 365 in 2017. He’ll never steal bases, but the backstop is exceptional at everything else he does between the lines. There’s a feel to hit (from both sides of the batter’s box), plus raw power and elite defensive skills behind the plate. By a wide margin, Buster Posey was the best catcher in baseball between 2010 and 2019. Rutschman could assume that role throughout the next decade. The Orioles are currently nowhere near the same universe as the Yankees, Rays and Red Sox, so the organization will likely (and unfortunately) keep the 22-year-old biding his time in the minor leagues longer than they should. All things considered, I would imagine a September 2020 cup of coffee is the best-case scenario when evaluating the ETA. FYPD Rank: 4th, Orioles Rank: 1stP365P365
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23-38Alec Bohm1B/3BPHI23Bohm’s first full season as a professional: .305/.378/.518 with 21 home runs, an elite 35.7 Hard%, a double-digit walk rate and a minuscule 13.5 K%. Granted, those numbers are a bit skewed by the fact the then 22-year-old has no business ever being placed in the South Atlantic League or Florida League—but those are super ultra-elite numbers any way you slice it. The longer I research and evaluate statistics, the more I believe genuinely-poor batted ball luck (over a 200+ plate appearance sample) actually occurs quite rarely. That being said, Bohm was a victim to poor batted ball luck post-promotion to the Eastern League. A .265 BABIP despite an above average Hard%, a higher Oppo% than Pull% and a GB% over 40.0%? All while playing his home games in the bandbox in Reading? Come on. The Phillies truly believe the 23-year-old will be adequate defensively at third base in the big leagues. Scouts are still split, but there are more believers today than a year ago. Thankfully—in dynasty leagues—the bat plays anywhere. Barring a trade to a non-contender, Bohm will almost certainly debut in Philadelphia at some point this season. The ceiling here is .280 BA/.360 OBP/35 HR from a corner infield spot. There are folks within the industry (both in organizations and media) who soured a bit on the infielder after learning he’s an old-school player who relies on ‘feel’ instead of embracing modern-day analytics and technology; while I’ll watch with anticipation as he attempts to eventually overcome his first, real adversity at the big league level in the near future, I find it difficult to penalize a player with Bohm’s prolonged track record of success both at the amateur and professional levels. While I anticipate Bohm eventually shifting across the diamond to first base defensively, it’s certainly possible the Phillies keep him at the hot corner a bit longer than most teams would thanks to the structure of their active roster (see: Rhys Hoskins). Phillies Rank: 1stP365P365
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24-48Luis PatiñoSPSD20For the longest time, I struggled to be all-in on Patiño. Prior to 2019, I thought a mixture of his unspectacular height (6-foot) and alarming struggles versus left-handed hitters (.345/.421/.457 slash in 2018) would keep the right-hander from reaching the top-of-the-rotation ceiling many had projected. The latter completely evolved last season; lefties in the California and Texas leagues only slashed a moderate .262/.308/.443 versus the then 19-year-old. Still not spectacular, but a huge improvement that leads us to believe further improvement is easily attainable. When I see Patiño’s thighs (pound for pound, they may be the thickest of any player on this list), I’m reminded that every time I find a reason to doubt the right-hander, he emphatically proves me wrong. Sitting behind home plate during the Futures Game, the consensus amongst myself and other evaluators was that Patiño had the most explosive inning of any pitcher during the game (29.2 SwStr%, 41.7% CSW). The fastball is high-spin and will eventually top out in the triple digits. The slider is also high-spin and is perhaps the right-hander’s best weapon versus like-handed hitters. The changeup is still developing, but Patiño’s noted improvements vLHB last season is a promising sign the pitch will be at least average at the big league level; scouts lean on the 20-year-old’s athleticism and electric arm speed when projecting the pitch (in other words, they think the offering will eventually be an asset at the big league level). If the Padres continue to make moves this offseason and find themselves in contention for an NL Wild Card slot in July or August, there’s no reason Patiño shouldn’t make his big league debut before he’s legally able to consume alcohol. There’s top-end SP2 upside here. Padres Rank: 3rdP365P365
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25-119Dustin MaySPLAD22May induced a 13.1 Whiff% and 11.8 K% on a pitch (sinker) he threw a whopping 50.5% of the time during his first big league stint (34.2 IP). May has never struck out more than 24.1% of the batters he’s faced in a full professional season (2019 in Double-A, Triple-A and MLB). To plagiarize from a write-up I published following my 2019 end-of-season list: May finished the season with a very mediocre 8.7 SwStr%, which ranked 397th amongst big league pitchers with at least 30 IP in 2019. For reference, Dallas Keuchel finished with the same SwStr%. Felix Hernandez finished with an 8.6 SwStr%. These things absolutely must be discussed when evaluating the right-hander’s big league outlook and upside. In all likelihood, May is going to be a really good big league pitcher for a very long time. But throughout his professional career, we’ve been given no indication the right-hander will go about his business by missing a ton of bats and piling-up the strikeouts. Statistically, the outlook reminds me a bit of Zack Greinke: moderate amounts of strikeouts (8-9 K/9), minimal walks, above average groundball rates. This recipe won’t lead to a fantasy ace, but it will be consistent and reliable (low WHIP, moderate ERA) on a yearly basis. With all the moving and shuffling in the Los Angeles’ rotation late this offseason, it certainly appears May will be stretched out before beginning the 2020 campaign at Triple-A Oklahoma City. Dodgers Rank: 2ndP365P365
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26URBobby Witt Jr.SSKC19If the hit tool can just be fringe average, Witt will be a big league star. It feels weird to say that about a 19-year-old who is yet to debut in full season ball, but the other tools are simply that good. Witt has plus power projection, is a plus runner and has an above average glove and arm from shortstop. There’s also superb pedigree here, as Bobby Witt Sr. accrued 27.8 fWAR as a starting pitcher in a 16-year MLB career. The Royals will likely be very meticulous with their young star’s development, ensuring he checks certain boxes at each individual level before fans can even contemplate a possible big league call-up. In 2020, all eyes will be planted on Witt’s consistency in hitting some of the best velocity he’s ever seen from the batter’s box. He’ll likely do so starting in the South Atlantic League, though he could face High-A sequencing in the Carolina League before the end of the season. With the overflowing of tools, you can dream on .270 BA/30 HR/25 SB from shortstop at the big league level. That’s not too far removed from what Trevor Story is currently accomplishing in Denver. FYPD Rank: 5th, Royals Rank: 1stP365P365
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27-82Nico Hoerner2B/OFCHC22There’s a real chance the tools here get to 55-hit, 50-power, 60-speed with up-the-middle defense. A hairline fracture in his wrist cost Hoerner more than two months of minor plate appearances last summer, zapping a lot of the 22-year-old’s power even after he returned. That tool might be the hardest of the five to project, though things seemed to be heading in the correct mechanical direction early last season (a toned-down stride and stiffer front leg appeared to add more loft to the swing plane). This led to a decreased GB% and increased FB% in 2019. What we know is Hoerner can really hit and run. He should be able to hit anywhere from .270 to .300 at the big league level without breaking much of a sweat. The sprint speed at the MLB ranked in the 89th percentile amongst all position players, though Hoerner’s track record of stolen bases dating back to his time at Stanford point to a level of disinterest in utilizing that aspect of his skillset. The expectation here is something like .290 BA/18 HR/15 SB from second base or center field at baseball’s highest level; with a high-floor profile, Hoerner should be able to reach these numbers fairly quickly once he settles into an everyday role. There’s a chance the Cubs choose to send Hoerner to Triple-A Iowa to open the 2020 season, and it’s a story worth monitoring as you look for value in the later stages of redrafts. Cubs Rank: 1stP365P365
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2815Taylor TrammellOFSD22I always feel the need to point this out before I begin a write-up like this: Trammell was my breakout prospect pick for the 2018 season. We watched his stock rise two seasons ago only to see it take a hit in 2019. Why? A swing change that—quite frankly—didn’t make sense. I can’t blame the Reds for the alteration because I can’t confirm they were behind the change, but Trammell’s upper body and lower body acted independently of one another in the early stages of 2019. In turn, he was incapable of turning on pitches the way he should have. In 94 games and 381 plate appearances with Double-A Chattanooga, Trammell slashed .236/.349/.336 with 6 home runs and 17 stolen bases (14.2 BB%, 22.6 K%), which was good for a pedestrian 106 wRC+. Then, as you know, the outfielder was traded to the Padres as part of a blockbuster, three-team trade that also included the Indians. Post trade, it appeared San Diego’s hitting instructors began ironing-out the issues they saw in Trammell’s swing. The stance became more upright, his hands moved further away his the body and his weight was shifted slightly to his back leg. The results speak for themselves: in 32 Texas League games, Trammell slugged .381. The ISO was .153, which was 48 points higher than his mark in the Southern League. Of course those aren’t superstar numbers by any stretch of the imagination, but we definitely saw signs of life (he also dominated the Texas League playoffs). The bottom line is this: we just witnessed what will likely be Trammell’s worst minor league season. He hit 10 home runs, stole 20 bases and posted a double-digit walk rate (and an above average wRC+)—all while making the toughest transition in the minor leagues. Assuming the Padres are able to continue improving Trammell’s swing mechanics, 2020 should be a big year for San Diego’s future everyday left fielder. Check in with your league mate before MiLB Opening Day to see if there’s a buy-low opportunity here. Padres Rank: 4thP365P365
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29-4Cristian PacheOFATL21If all five tools held equal weight on this list, you could probably cut Pache’s rank in half and that still might be overly conservative. On a fantasy-focused list, the 21-year-old is still very much a work in progress. Pache is no longer an 80-grade runner, but it’s still easily plus straight-line speed. On paper, he should be able to steal 20+ bases a season with his speed. Unfortunately, the 21-year-old simply isn’t a very good base runner. In 2018 and 2019, Pache attempted 34 steals combined. He was caught stealing 19 times. That’s a ghastly 44.1% success rate for a player with plus speed (and -4 NSB total in those two seasons). You know the floor is extremely high because the defense will keep him on the field and in the batters’ box even when the offensive production doesn’t necessarily dictate everyday playing time, but the ceiling simply isn’t as high if we can’t rely on speed output to impact fantasy categories. I wrote this in the Ramblings last summer, but I view Pache similarly to Amed Rosario from a fantasy standpoint. It’ll be a slow burn that likely won’t pay huge dividends immediately. Each season in the big leagues should feature incremental growth, with the ultimate endpoint being a slightly above average hit tool and above average power. In a month or so, I would absolutely love to read reports that Pache spent the offseason working to improve his base running. Being able to rely on the outfielder for 10+ steals per season would be game changing for his potential fantasy outlook. As it currently stands, the future, hypothetical trio of Pache, Ronald Acuña Jr. and Drew Waters will likely be the best defensive outfield in baseball. Braves Rank: 1stP365P365
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30-23Drew WatersOFATL21Let’s start this write-up where we should: a .435 BABIP, 28.6 K% and one of the most aggressive approaches in the upper-minor leagues. Regardless of your opinion on Waters, that’s where any conversation about his 2019 performance must start. For some added context, the highest BABIP in the big leagues last season was .406 (Yoan Moncada). The Hard% (29.6%) was above average, and there’s no questioning the ball often finds Waters’ barrel upon contact. But in my eyes (and after several live looks) the bigger story is the 21-year-old’s affinity to swing at just about anything and everything, which is something that will undoubtedly be exposed versus big league pitching regardless of hand-eye coordination or bat-to-ball skills. The left-handed swing is much better than the right-handed swing, to the point that some scouts think he should give-up switch-hitting and instead focus on improving versus southpaws as a left-handed hitter. He’s got age on his side (there’s plenty of time for refinement), he’s an explosive athlete and he could debut in Atlanta sometime in 2020—that’s why I’m ranking him higher than other, safer outfielders in this tier. But please consider this as we move closer to a new season: Generally speaking, Waters is valued more highly in the fantasy community than by a large portion of organizational scouts (though there are certainly scouts who love him, too). In my experience, these types of valuation disparities almost never end well for fantasy baseballers. Braves Rank: 2ndP365P365
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31URBrennen DavisOFCHC20My love for Davis is well documented. Last preseason, I predicted the outfielder would be a top-100 prospect by the end of the season. Shortly after he debuted in South Bend in May, I wrote a deep dive on Davis and confirmation bias. Other than injuring his fingers twice by being by a pitch while attempting to bunt (smh), it’s really difficult to find a flaw in the then 19-year-old’s unexpected full season debut. There were bat-to-ball skills, a patient approach, solid defense in center field and a surprising power output after Davis added a notable amount of muscle to his frame last offseason. Though I’d be ecstatic to see more willingness to steal bases in 2020 and beyond (he certainly has the speed to do so), the 20-year-old has the ingredients to be a five-tool, impact player at the big league level. The Carolina League awaits Davis this season, though—assuming good health—a late-summer promotion to the Southern League wouldn’t be totally shocking. Cubs Rank: 2ndP365P365
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32-24Vidal BrujanINFTB22If you roster Brujan in dynasty leagues and think there’s sneaky, 20 HR-power upside within this profile, I’ve got bad news for you. The 22-year-old’s Hard% (11.8%) in 2019 ranks seventh worst amongst all minor league players with batted ball data (compiled by Sports Info Solutions and published on Rotowire). Brujan had a worse hard hit rate than Xavier Edwards, Nick Madrigal and Luis Garcia (WSH)—amongst hundreds of others. It should be noted he has a preferable bat path to the aforementioned trio, so it’s not overly bullish to think Brujan will someday hit 10-12 home runs at the big league level. Regardless of power projection, it’s the culmination of other tools make him a hot commodity both in real life and throughout the fantasy world. The switch hitter is an elite athlete, projecting to steal 30-40 bases in the big leagues with fantastic defense that will probably end up at second base. There’s also the all-important feel to hit, which should allow Brujan to hit .280 annually once he settles in to a big league role. Much like current incumbent Brandon Lowe, Brujan is much better versus right-handed pitchers than lefties. I’m worried this will initially cause a prolonged ETA or platoon-like playing time post-promotion, but I’m confident the 22-year-old’s talent will eventually land him an everyday role. Rays Rank: 2ndP365P365
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33-25Nolan Jones3BCLE21As far as bodies go, Jones has the look of a third baseman. He’s built from head-to-toe, with a sturdy lower half that acts as the foundation for the 21-year-old’s plus plus raw power. This impactful tool hasn’t been fully realized in-game yet because Jones hits the ball on the ground too often, but future adjustments and alterations should allow the right field bleachers at Progressive Field to become the third baseman’s playground. There have always been concerns Jones may eventually shift across the diamond to first base defensively, but the consensus amongst evaluators at the Futures Game was that he’s adequate at the hot corner (the common comparison I heard was Jones being more-equipped to stay at third than Alec Bohm). There’s some passivity in the approach that may be exposed by big league pitching early in his MLB career, but Jones has showed an aptitude for adjustments with a long track record of success at each level in the minors. With a double-digit walk rate basically a given, the 21-year-old can be a .260 BA/.380 OBP/30 HR MLB third baseman throughout his prime. If he ever fully realizes the pull side potential in his home park, that projection is probably light on power. It should be noted that Jones underwent thumb surgery in October (UCL reconstruction), though he’s expected to make a full recovery prior to the start of the Spring Training. Indians Rank: 1stP365P365
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34-25Trevor LarnachOFMIN23Larnach was the statistical model of consistency last season, posting a 148 wRC+ in both the Florida State and Southern leagues. He also finished with an above average 29.8 Hard%; hilariously, it only led to 13 home runs thanks to the fact he played 81 games in the FSL (he hit 6 in 361 plate appearances before hitting 7 in 181 Double-A plate appearances post-promotion). The 23-year-old needs to elevate the ball more often (47.5 GB%) to unlock the extent of his massive raw power; assuming this occurs as the Twins look to optimize the skillset, the .390 BABIP from last season will skydive much closer to .300. Of course this will hurt the batting average, but a consistent double-digit walk rate means Larnach will feast in OBP leagues. Something along the lines of .260 BA/.360 OBP/35 home runs from right field feels like a fair upside projection. That would basically make the 23-year-old 2019 Bryce Harper without the steals. The Twins have some decisions to make about their active roster before Opening Day, but Larnach should debut at some point in 2020 regardless. Twins Rank: 3rdP365P365
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35-40Nate PearsonSPTOR23If you’ve actually been reading this prospect list and haven’t just checked in to read my thoughts on the prospects you roster in your dynasty league, you previously learned some scouts fear Shane Baz may eventually be better suited for the bullpen. Scouts have the same fear about Pearson, but for different reasons. Baz struggles to repeat his delivery, especially in longer outings. Pearson repeats well for someone with his size, but his arsenal can be deceiving. Everyone knows the 23-year-old’s fastball is capable of hitting triple-digits with ease (the pitch sits 95-99 depending on the length of the outing). What you might not know is Pearson often struggles to miss bats with the offering thanks to command and overthrowing. I’ve also seen reports of the pitch cutting—whether on purpose or inadvertently—instead of riding, which perhaps speaks to unoptimized spin efficiency (which is fixable). This often leads to soft contact instead of the swings and misses you would think a triple-digit fastball would induce. The spin of the pitch is above average, so I assume the top-of-the-zone issues can be ironed out with further development. Pearson’s slider is his money pitch; sitting 88-91, it truly has potential to be one of the very best pitches in all of baseball amongst starting pitchers. The 30.7 K% throughout three different levels in 2019? The slider is to thank. Pearson also throws a changeup and curveball, but both are well behind the fastball and slider and are mostly utilized against lefties. So what’s it all mean? The more I research, study and ask around on Pearson, the more I become entrenched in my Noah Syndergaard upside comp: Big boned. Premium velocity on a pitch that never misses the amount of bats you assume it should. A devastating slider that acts as the foundation for strikeout viability. A changeup with average characteristics that plays-up thanks to velocity disparity. If Pearson never reaches Syndergaard’s status, I’d wager it’s because a multitude of minor and moderate ailments find ways to always hinder the right-hander’s workload. Blue Jays Rank: 1stP365P365
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36-30Brendan McKaySP/DHTB24McKay came very close to graduating from prospect status, falling an inning short of the 50.0 IP threshold in first stint in Tampa Bay. I’m actually thankful I get to write him up one more time, as he will be an interesting case study in the evolution (or lack thereof?) of expected outcomes and Statcast numbers pre-and post-graduation. If you take away the big league sample, McKay was unconsciously good in Double-A and Triple-A: 73.2 IP, 1.10 ERA (2.06 FIP), 36.7 K% (30.2 K-BB%). Those are elite numbers. The MLB numbers are not. As a big leaguer, outside of the changeup (which he only threw 3.6% of the time), none of McKay’s pitches produced an xBA under .247. None of his pitches produced an xSLG under .447. The average Exit Velocity was in the 3rd percentile of all MLB pitchers. The Hard Hit% was in the 2nd percentile of all MLB pitchers. If you’re an optimist, you’ll be quick to note the 25.9 K% (18.5 K-BB%). Unfortunately, that wraps up the positives. I’m willing to place some of the blame on the newness of pitching at the sport’s highest levels. Nerves and adrenaline can both inhibit performance and take time (and experience) to overcome, and MLB scouting reports find microscopic flaws at supersonic speeds. McKay’s true talent likely falls somewhere between his MiLB and MLB numbers from last season, and that means he’ll be a very good big league pitcher. It should also be noted the Rays reportedly plan to utilize the 24-year-old’s bat more often in 2020; if this holds true, he may start the season as a two-way player in Triple-A. Rays Rank: 3rdP365P365
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3710A.J. PukSPOAK24Puk’s fastball leaves some to be desired from a Statcast standpoint, but his elite extension from a 6-foot-7 foot frame leads to a favorable disparity between actual velocity (the pitch averaged 97.1 mph from the bullpen in 2019) and perceived velocity. Puk has chosen to use this nuance to his advantage by often pumping fastballs low in the zone, inducing a lot of soft contact in the process. That’s fine, but fastballs don’t miss a ton of bats down in the zone in today’s game. I’m curious to see Puk’s plan of attack with his fastball in 2020 and beyond. If the southpaw’s strikeout viability relies on his secondary pitches, the slider, changeup and curveball all play-up thanks to a mixture of extension, arm slot and non-deceleration with his delivery. All flash above average or plus, and they’ve played a huge role in Puk’s long track record of massive strikeout numbers. The left-hander has low-end SP2 upside with some variance in the floor thanks to a history of spotty command and some uncertainty on the number of bats his heater will miss at the big league level. Puk will be on an innings restriction in 2020 as he pitches in his first full season removed from Tommy John surgery, but he figures to have relevance even in redraft leagues regardless of his short-term role with the Athletics. Athletics Rank: 2ndP365P365
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38-133Spencer HowardSPPHI23Howard does a lot of small things that allow multiple parts of his arsenal to play-up. The fastball sits 93-97 (T98). It’s not an elite spin pitch, but Howard’s fantastic extension gives the offering late life—especially up in the zone. Neither the curveball nor the slider are analytical darlings, but the 23-year-old creates a unique angle that allows the breaking balls to ‘get on’ hitters in a hurry. This angle also allows the right-hander to throw both pitches against batters from either side of the plate. And then there’s the changeup, an inconsistent pitch that Howard appears to finally be mastering. It’s especially devastating against lefties. Consistency with secondary pitches is the biggest box Howard has left to check before being considered a complete pitcher, and even that is trending in the correct direction. Assuming the 23-year-old is able to accomplish that feat, he’ll have top-tier SP3 upside once he settles into the Phillies’ big league rotation. Shoulder discomfort sidelined Howard for two months last season (he pitched 68.0 IP total at three different levels), so I suspect Philadelphia will be meticulous in how they handle their prized right-hander throughout 2020. A mid-summer debut is the most likely outcome here. Phillies Rank: 2ndP365P365
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39-139Evan White1BSEA23Well, well, well. In November, White joined Eloy Jimenez, Scott Kingery and Jon Singleton (lol) as the only players to ink contract extensions without ever playing in an MLB game (you can now add Luis Robert to that list). The 23-year-old signed a 6 year, $24 million contract, which both gives him financial security while potentially costing him millions of dollars down the road. Regardless of how you perceive the extension, the contract undoubtedly helps White’s 2020 outlook. It’s likely he would have debuted at some point this season anyways, but without having to worry about service time manipulation, etc., the Mariners might make White their everyday first baseman before the Fourth of July. Having only accrued 18 plate appearances in Triple-A thanks to a temporarily promotion in 2018, it does make at least a little sense for Seattle to have their prized first baseman get his bearings about him in the Pacific Coast League before promoting him to the AL West. White has seemingly made huge improvements offensively each season as a professional, and he already boasts Gold Glove defensive skills. This is a player who is going to be very, very good for a really long time, and he’s just now beginning to tap into his power. With some tweaking to the swing plane, this could be a 30 home run profile at peak. The 23-year-old is sure to be a steal in 2020 redraft leagues with owners who know very little about prospects. Pounce on the opportunity. Mariners Rank: 3rdP365P365
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400Sixto SanchezSPMIA21So many pitchers on this list will never reach their perceived upside because they don’t have the stuff most people assume they do after a quick glance at their FanGraphs’ page. Other pitchers will be relegated to less-significant role thanks to command that never materialized. If Sanchez never reaches low-end SP2 upside, it’ll be because injuries derailed what was sure to be a fantastic career. The 21-year-old’s arsenal is so deep that—at one point—there was actually a concern that consolidation was needed. If you include the different variants, Sanchez can throw anywhere from 6-8 different pitches for strikes (4.6 BB% in 2019). The curveball and changeup are the biggest bat-missers in the repertoire; the fastball is low-spin, but Sanchez’s two-seam was the protagonist for a fantastic ground ball rate last season. In a perfect world, he’ll begin to lean more on the former pair in pitcher-friendly counts moving forward. Strikeouts > ground balls. There is a long-ish track record of injuries for the 21-year-old, and 2019 was his first season to exceed 100 IP. The encore should—at some point—consist of Sanchez taking the ball every fifth day in Miami. Please stay healthy, Sixto. Marlins Rank: 1stP365P365
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41-70Ronny MauricioSSNYM19I won’t lie: I become slightly aroused every time I read the phrase “this is what they look like” in a description of a teenage prospect. Throughout the industry, that sentence has become a popular descriptor of Mauricio, a 6-foot-4, 170 lb. string bean with quick-twitch athleticism and advanced bat-to-ball skills for his age and build (not to mention he’s a switch hitter). Don’t scout the stat line here. Instead, read the scouting reports and evaluations of those who have watched Mauricio in person. Almost uniformly, you’ll notice the focus on the teenager’s 12.0% swinging strike rate, which is considered an anomaly for a prospect at Mauricio’s age and with his long limbs—against full season pitching. The statistics might continue to be quite vanilla as the teenager continues to grow into his body, but no worries. There’s plenty of power on the way, perhaps in massive amounts. There’s a chance that—at full, physical maturation—Mauricio will be forced to shift from shortstop to the hot corner. If this becomes the case, it likely means the switch hitter has grown into 30 home run power. Mets Rank: 1stP365P365
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42URNoelvi MarteSSSEA18In December, I retweeted one of my old tweets from May 2017 that said “I think Ronald Acuña is a future all-star. I also think he’ll be one of the best players in the entire league. He’s ‘that’ guy for me.” May 2017, folks. Anyways, one of the replies was a question as to who I thought that guy could be in 2020 (the replier than specified he wanted a non-boring answer). My first thought was “LOL there are no Ronald Acuña’s in the minor leagues”, and that’s absolutely true. My second thought was this: if there’s a prospect who’s still a bit off the beaten path who could absolutely explode in 2020, it’s Noelvi Marte. This is a prospect who appears to be on the cusp of becoming one of the best players in the minor leagues. There’s raw power that profiles from anywhere defensively. There’s underrated speed (pay no mind to his speed grade elsewhere; by all recent reports, Marte is a 70 runner). The market within the prospect industry is already beginning to account for this, but the 18-year-old has a lot of the same ingredients that allowed Kristian Robinson to ascend into the top-10 a year after ranking in this range. Some think Marte will follow the Julio Rodriguez path, which means he’ll skip the Arizona and Northwestern leagues and instead debut in full season ball to open the 2020 season. With the former possessing a weaker hit tool and defensive skills a bit more unrefined from a higher-priority position than the latter, my money is on the 18-year-old playing for the Everett AquaSox (A-) for the majority of the summer. Marte is one of the few players on this list who have ‘top overall prospect’ potential. It only made sense that the 18-year-old was featured on my 2020 breakout prospect list. Mariners Rank: 4thP365P365
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43-84Jordan Groshans3BTOR20For a prospect who only played in 23 games after an undisclosed left foot injury derailed his season in early May, Groshans greatly increased his stock last season. Conversing with scouts from the Midwest League the weekend of the Futures Game, the 20-year-old was a voluntary topic of discussion. The reports are gushing. More than anything else, folks I talked to were impressed with a hit tool and approach that appeared to be better than it was advertised when Groshans was selected 12th overall in 2018. While third base appears to be the likely destination defensively once he fills out and slows down a bit, the Blue Jays are not yet making that concession (the 20-year-old played the entirety of his defense at shortstop in the Midwest League last season). Obviously the missed development last season stinks, but it’s quite possible the injury masked a performance that would have landed Groshans much higher on this list than his current standing; things were certainly trending that direction when the injury occurred. I expect the 20-year-old to take most of his swings in the Florida State League in 2020. Blue Jays Rank: 2ndP365P365
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4425Brendan RodgersINFCOL23I found this November article from the Denver Post fairly interesting—especially the part where Rodgers said that, prior to undergoing labrum surgery in July, he had been experiencing shoulder pain since 2018. The 23-year-old was everything you’d expect from a pure hitter playing at a launching pad in an offensive-friendly Triple-A environment last season (147 wRC+). He was also nightmarish in his first stint in the big leagues, posting a microscopic 25 wRC+ and striking out in a third of his 81 plate appearances. Rodgers is, eventually, going to hit at the big league level. Assuming he returns to full health, we should witness him make strides in 2020—if for no other reason that it would be difficult to be much worse than his tiny 2019 sample. I do think the aggressive approach will lead to the 23-year-old hitting more pitchers’ pitches than we’d like, and there will always be more value in AVG leagues than OBP leagues thanks to minimal walk rates. There’s still .280 BA/.340 OBP/30 HR upside here, which would make him extremely valuable from second base in the fantasy world. It’ll just be more difficult to get to than we originally thought. Rockies Rank: 1stP365P365
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45-26George ValeraOFCLE19How many “Are you worried Valera doesn’t hit in full season ball?” messages have been sent between dynasty leagues players this offseason after the then 18-year-old struggled in a measly six-game sample in the Midwest League last August and September? The facts are this: Valera has a chance to someday play as a plus hit, plus power centerfielder. It’s a short, compact frame, but the 19-year-old shows all the signs of unlocking his offensive potential. There’s natural loft in the swing plane, lower half engagement and raw strength that generates a ton of pull side power. There’s also some swing-and-miss and in the profile, though some of it can be credited to facing extremely advanced pitching for someone with Valera’s age and lack of experience. The body doesn’t ooze projection like a lot of the prospects you’ll read about on this list, but the 19-year-old has the instincts and reads to remain in center field throughout at least the early stages of his career. Valera could finish the 2020 season in the Carolina League. Indians Rank: 2ndP365P365
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46-123Shane BazSPTB20Shane Baz is going to be one of the most-hyped prospects in all of baseball heading into the 2020 season. You’re bound to read a countless amount of drool-worthy takes regarding the right-hander, and with good reason. Allow me to temper your expectations momentarily with some differing opinions. There are multiple scouts within the Rays organization that view Baz as a future reliever. Most of the concerns stem from the lack of repeatability of his mechanics (especially late in appearances), which is a flaw most hoped would be put to bed during the 2019 season. Those same scouts also witnessed the right-hander excel in shorter appearances during the Arizona Fall League, which only furthered the notion the right-hander could be better suited as an elite fireman/swingman in the future—especially since that archetype has become extremely valued on MLB active rosters. “It’s one of those things where, once you see it, you can’t unsee it” is how Baz’s performance as a reliever in the AFL was worded to me. Now feels like a good time to bump some words of wisdom I was given from a fellow prospect writer: “The job of prospect media is to push. The job of a scout is to be realistic.” I don’t agree with the notion that Baz is destined for the bullpen, but you deserve to know there’s far from a consensus on his future role around the scouting world. I view the right-hander as a raw, 20-year-old pitching prospect with a lot of development left in the tank. Instead of harping on his struggle to repeat his mechanics in longer outings, I’d rather focus on the effortless delivery and dynamic arsenal. Baz boasts three different pitches—a four seam that explodes at the top of the zone, a slider that’s often devastating versus right-handed batters and one of the best cutters in the minor leagues—that all flash plus. I trust the Rays to do what’s necessary to ensure Baz benefits from a consistent release point; once that checkpoint is reached, the sum of the parts could form the top pitching prospect in all of baseball. Rays Rank: 4thP365P365
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47-50DL HallSPBAL21You see Hall’s 15.6 BB% in 2019 and say there’s no way he should rank this high on a prospect list. I see clean mechanics and pitch usage that leaned heavily on non-fastballs by organizational request—and I’m eagerly buying a statistical bounce back in 2020. Statistical evaluations don’t work this way, but indulge me for a moment and forget about the walk rate. Hall just posted a 3.46 ERA and .185 BAA and struck out a jaw-dropping 33.5% of the batters he faced—all while being the second youngest pitcher in the Carolina League. The southpaw possesses three above average or plus offerings (fastball, curveball and slider) and a changeup that could eventually give the left-hander a quartet of greatness. I would guess most of the prospects you’ll read this preseason will slot Grayson Rodriguez ahead of Hall, but the truth is this: Hall has better (and more consistent) velocity, better breaking balls and more athleticism. If you buy the dip and assume the left-hander’s walk rate will normalize when he’s ‘allowed’ to throw the fastball to his liking, Hall could be the best top-100 buy-low acquisition of the 2019-2020 offseason. Orioles Rank: 2ndP365P365
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4818Nolan Gorman3BSTL19I received a bit of criticism for ranking Gorman 51st on my midseason list last summer, but I was unsure if the critics thought he should be ranked higher or lower until they citied the stats. Post-promotion last summer, Gorman slashed a lackluster .256/.304/.428 with 5 home runs, a 5.7 BB% and a 31.7 K% 58 games and 230 plate appearances. He was seventeen percent above league average offensively. The Florida State League, man. Ridiculous. The 19-year-old experienced the ebbs and flows that are typically attached to power-over-hit corner infielders who are challenged early in their professional careers. Gorman’s 28.8 Hard% was still a bit above average, and there are no reports that suggest the third baseman has strayed from the path that leads to above average power as a big leaguer. I’m hopeful the Cardinals let the third baseman cook in the FSL to begin the season before promoting him to the Texas League sometime this summer. We’ve got a ways to go to get there, but Gorman has 40 home run upside from the hot corner. Cardinals Rank: 2ndP365P365
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49-118Nick SolakUTILTEX25September-fueled big league samples are hard to put a lot of stock in, but it’s hard to not be at least a little excited by Solak’s first 33 games. The 25-year-old slashed .293/.393/.491 with 5 home runs and 2 stolen bases in just 135 plate appearances. I’m an equally big fan of the rates, especially the 11.1 BB% that looks a lot like the walk rates he posted throughout his minor league career. Solak has a history of patience, but he’s also got good bat-to-ball skills and the speed to maintain decent BABIPs throughout his big league career. This means he should be an asset in AVG and OBP leagues once he grabs an everyday role. Unfortunately, he has two things currently working against him. He’s not a good defender (it’s perceived he can be at least somewhat passable at second, third, and the three outfield spots as a big leaguer), and the Rangers are awfully incentivized to ride-out Rougned Odor for as long as they possibly can (Odor is currently in the middle of a 6 year/$49 million contract). However, Texas making offseason acquisitions that point toward ‘going for it’ should good for Solak. The signing of Todd Frazier puts a damper on the 25-year-old’s chances of breaking camp as the everyday third baseman, but a recent report suggests Solak will be given the opportunity during Spring Training to seize consistent playing time in centerfield. This move would allow for Danny Santana to be utilized as an all important ‘super utility’ player for the Rangers, leading to consistent lineup optimization throughout a grueling, 162-game regular season schedule. I’ll leave you with two separate quotes from Solak’s write-up in my 2019 top-200 prospect list, published in March of 2019:

Can’t help but think that prediction officially comes to fruition beginning in 2020. Rangers Rank: 1st
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50URGrayson RodriguezSPBAL20Rodriguez cooked in the South Atlantic League for the entirety of the 2019 season, striking out a whopping 34.2% of the batters he faced (24.7 K-BB%) while posting a 2.68 ERA (2.94 FIP) in 94.0 IP. My Orioles contacts have been steadfast in their stance that DL Hall belongs ahead of Rodriguez on lists like this one, though they admit the margin is shrinking. It also surprised me to learn that the right-hander actually spins the ball a bit better than the southpaw (both have above average spin rates). That points toward the 20-year-old simply needing to harness his stuff a bit more (working on spin efficiency, spin axis, etc.)—which he certainly has time to do as a pitcher who has not yet reached the Carolina League. Rodriguez held his velocity well even in the final stretch of the 2019 season, and the 6-foot-5, 220 lb. frame is built to last over the course of a 162-game big league season. The safer of the two prospects thanks to consistent command, Rodriguez could officially overtake Hall in 2020 with additional improvement with his secondary pitches. Orioles Rank: 3rdP365P365
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51-28Brandon MarshOFLAA22I caught Marsh during a Southern League series this summer, and I couldn’t find something about him I didn’t like. The hit tool was better than advertised. The raw power is plus. The speed is above average. The routes were good in the outfield, and the arm projects well from either center field or right field. The squat in Marsh’s batting stance was much more pronounced in 2019 than in prior seasons; generally speaking, scouts worry that too much knee bend can hinder a player’s power (like it did with Triston Casas, who you read about above). But I did not get that sense watching Marsh both in batting practice and in-game. The ball exploded off the 22-year-old’s bat to all fields, including an opposite-field homer in one of my live looks. Statistically, the 4.2 percent decrease in strikeout rate (27.3% in 2018 to 23.1% last season) is quite substantial. The improved slash numbers (.266/.359/.408 to .286/.367/.407) are certainly notable as well. Long hailed as a premium athlete who could potentially impact the game on both sides of the ball, it appears as though Marsh is in the process of putting it all together. Jo Adell will certainly grab the headlines as he debuts in 2020, but Marsh may not be too far behind him. Thru a more narrow lens, the outfielder might currently be the more underrated prospects in OBP leagues. Angels Rank: 2ndP365P365
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52-39Jazz ChisholmSSMIA22No one in the prospect industry saw Chisholm more than I did in 2019, but he’s still an extremely difficult evaluation currently. The raw skills are absolutely undeniable: Chisholm hit 21 home runs and stole 16 bases as an under-aged player in Southern League despite slashing .220/.321/.441 and striking out in 32.1% of his plate appearances. And there’s no doubt he’s a long-term shortstop, and one of the best in the minor leagues at that. But with the good comes the bad, and Chisholm was often beat with velocity up in the zone throughout his 2019 campaign. The troubling part of the approach—other than some aggression—is an uppercut swing with the steepest path of any prospect I evaluated last season. In an era that features pitchers getting the most from their fastballs by commanding the pitch in the upper third, a steep uppercut swing is certainly a troubling flaw to possess. I didn’t see him live after he was traded from the Diamondbacks to the Marlins for Zac Gallen, but it appears Miami’s instructor began ironing out the issues post-trade: in 94 plate appearances, Chisholm hit .284 and struck out in only 25.5% of his plate appearances (which is around the best case scenario in the long-term for the 22-year-old). The bat speed electric, he’s a plus defender, he should maintain his speed throughout the majority of his career and he has a fantastic personality. If he can put it all together, he’ll undoubtedly become one of the biggest personalities in baseball. He finished the 2019 season trending in the correct direction, so I’m anxious to see if he can maintain those gains in 2020. Marlins Rank: 2ndP365P365
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53URLogan GilbertSPSEA22A confession: when I found myself stuck in a rut or suffering from writer’s block this winter while creating my preseason content, my ‘reset button’ would often be watching video of Logan Gilbert’s other-worldly extension. It’s truly a thing of beauty and the prospect equivalent of pornographic material. Gilbert’s fastball ticked-up throughout the 2019 season, sitting 90-92 in April before increasing to 92-95 a few months later. The heater only has moderate spin, but the pitch plays-up anyways thanks to the aforementioned, elite extension. The slider also improved rather drastically last season; it is now clearly an above average breaking ball (as is the curveball). The changeup is only average and clearly the fourth pitch in this repertoire, but Gilbert was actually more successful versus left-handed batters in 2019 than right-handed batters thanks largely to the CB/CU combo. The mound presence reminds me of that of Tyler Glasnow, and the pitchability + arsenal led to Gilbert wreaking havoc at three different levels last season (2.13 ERA, .198 BAA, 25.3 K-BB% in 135.0 total IP). The Mariners might manipulate the service clock more than we’d like, but there’s no reason Gilbert shouldn’t make his MLB debut this season. The expectation here is SP3, though the 23-year-old could reach the low-end SP2 mark at his peak. Mariners Rank: 5thP365P365
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54-39Oneil CruzSSPIT21Baseball players like Oneil Cruz are supposed to be impossible. Six-foot-seven shortstops are largely an oxymoron in a sport with certain stereotypes and aesthetics associated to each defensive position. The long levers naturally associated with six-foot-seven hitters means they should be fighting huge strikeout rates and fringe batting averages, especially while playing in highly-advanced leagues for their age and tools. Perhaps most importantly, six-foot-seven baseball players aren’t supposed to possess the simple swing mechanics and lightning hands that are displayed with ease. To say that Oneil Cruz is an anomaly might be putting it lightly. There was quite a bit of worry that Cruz’s foot fracture in April would hinder the profile for a long, long time. An extremely long-limbed hitter with a fracture in his foot? A lot of people feared the worst. Cruz returned in late June, and two months that ensued is one of the more impressive stories of the 2019 minor league season. The 21-year-old ended up posting a 154 wRC+ in just 35 games in the Florida State League before receiving a challenging promotion to the Eastern League. Figuring to endure some serious challenge against some of the most advanced pitching in the minors, Cruz lowered his strikeout rate while nearly doubling his walk rate, finishing twenty percent above league average throughout the final 35 games of the regular season. Despite everything working against him, the infielder continues to show signs of being able to consistently adjust to various levels of pitching on the fly is a huge plus for the profile. With such long levers, it’s been long assumed the 21-year-old would struggle with strikeouts once he arrived in the upper levels of the minors. So far, this simply hasn’t been true. And even if he does strikeout in his 25% of his plate appearances at the big league level, that leaves plenty of room for the earth-shattering, 80-grade raw power to shine through. We keep waiting on the Pirates to transition Cruz from shortstop to third base, but he actually played 100% of his 2019 games at the 6; it appears Pittsburgh is not treating a defensive move as though it’s inevitable. Cruz is a unique, athletic freak, and he cemented himself as one of the sport’s best prospects in 2019. Pirates Rank: 1stP365P365
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55URJesús SánchezOFMIA22Sánchez flies under the radar because he’s never been statistically spectacular in the minor leagues, but he’s posted a 124-career wRC+ since debuting professionally in 2015. Scouts love the 22-year-old for several different reasons, but none more important than the fact he’s built to succeed against modern day big league pitching. In an era that features countless amount of hitters swinging under elevated fastballs, Sánchez tends to deposit that pitch into the right field bleachers. Baseball HQ’s Chris Blessing put me onto that trait, and then I witnessed it myself last summer. Sánchez also has a plus arm in right field and can drive the ball the opposite way (left field) with authority at the plate. When the Marlins acquired Sánchez last summer, they took-on two primarily responsibilities: 1) assisting the outfielder in elevating the ball more often (GB% ~50.0% last season) to unlock the full extent of his massive raw power, and 2) instilling the notion that patience at the plate is a virtue (career 6.4 BB% in 464 MiLB games). The 22-year-old is a big leaguer with his current skillset; an increased FB% and walk rate would likely means he blossoms into a star. With the Hard Hit % and Exit Velocity tabs always leaning to the right on his Savant page, Sánchez has .270 BA/.330 OBP/30 HR potential from right field at the big league level. Marlins Rank: 3rdP365P365
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56URJ.J. BledayOFMIA22A modest 107 wRC+ in 38 Florida State League games last summer suppressed the acquisition price for Bleday in First Year Player Drafts this offseason, but I’m much more interested in the fact the Marlins set the tone for Bleday’s path and development with an aggressive placement in the Florida State League post-draft. Imagine missing out on a prospect like Bleday because you over-analyze a 151 plate appearance sample in a professional debut following a long, exhausting college season. The 22-year-old is an athletic, strong prospect with four above average future tools (speed being the exception). Bleday is a polished hitter with a track record of success versus advanced college pitching, so he’s fully expected to be a quick mover through an underrated Marlins system. I assume I’ll be one of the few prospect rankers who have Bleday over Riley Greene in FYPD rankings, but I narrowly prefer the polish and real-life floor the former brings to the table. The 22-year-old should be an everyday big leaguer at some point in 2021. FYPD Rank: 6th, Marlins Rank: 4thP365P365
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5714Ian AndersonSPATL21Anderson is an extremely difficult pitching prospect to project with much confidence. In the world of spin rates—which have become such a big indicator of top-of-the-rotation ‘stuff’—Anderson’s fastball and curveball rank near or at the bottom amongst pitching prospects in this top-100. Some of the ‘lack of spin’ worry is nullified by Anderson’s above average extension, which makes his fastball appear faster to opposing hitters than it actually is. Anderson’s curveball RPM (according to FanGraphs) would rank near the very bottom percentile amongst all MLB pitchers, but the right-hander’s over-the-top arm slot allows the pitch to garner above average downward movement anyways. The 21-year-old’s best secondary pitch is his changeup, a true weapon against left-handers with consistent fade. Because of the current arsenal and his ability to locate north-to-south better than east-to-west due to the arm slot, Anderson could potentially struggle a bit versus righties at the big league level. To avoid this problem, the right-hander will have to command his fastball consistently well—which just so happens to be one of the only things he’s struggled to accomplish throughout his development. At the end of the day, Anderson is only 21 years old and has a long track record of success throughout the minor leagues. There’s undoubted SP3 upside here, but a lot of different things would need to click for Anderson to top this label. Braves Rank: 3rdP365P365
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58URRiley GreeneOFDET19All I’d have to mention is the fact the guys at FanGraphs appear to be ardent about Greene comping well to Alex Kirilloff, and you would leave this write-up excited. The 19-year-old is a bat-first outfielder with potential for plus hit and plus power. The Tigers put a lot on Greene’s plate post-draft last summer, moving him from the Gulf Coast League to the New York Penn League to the Midwest League in a stretch of about two months. The subsequent 121 wRC+ in his first, small stint as a professional speak to the immense skills in this profile; the 25.1 K% speaks to general lack of refinement we see in 99% of prep prospects are challenged post-draft. Of course we need to see the strikeout rate decrease before we go all-in on a prospect who won’t bring much to the stolen base department, but Greene should finish his first full professional season knocking on the door of a Double-A debut. A successful 2020 campaign would likely mean Greene ranks similarly to Trevor Larnach’s placement on this list a year from now. FYPD Rank: 7th, Tigers Rank: 3rdP365P365
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59URCorbin CarrollOFARI19The industry (myself included) might be overrating Carroll a bit for dominating leagues his approach was too good for post-draft last summer, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a great prospect in his own right. The value here is fairly obvious: Carroll is a 60-hit, 70-run outfielder with above average defensive skills. It’s a fantastic real-life skillset will lead to a multi-win player in Arizona someday. Our task is to determine how well the tools translate to fantasy leagues. The reported exit velos are pleasantly surprising for someone as currently slight as Carroll (5-foot-10, 165 lbs.), so a future swing change might help emit more power than we’ve seen throughout the outfielder’s amateur career and post-draft professional debut. For now, an upside projection looks something like .300 BA/10 HR/30 SB from center field. If Arizona works on the swing path at some point, we could see 15-20 bombs with a slightly lower batting average. FYPD Rank: 8th, Diamondbacks Rank: 2ndP365P365
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6015Mitch KellerSPPIT23Why waste time say lot word when few word do trick? I dropped a 1000+ word article on Keller’s 2019 unluckiness and 2020 (and beyond) outlook here. If you enjoy analytical deep dives, this piece is for you. Pirates Rank: 2ndP365P365
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61-13Xavier Edwards2BTB20The Padres fans in my mentions saying “Actually Xavier Edwards isn’t that good” following the Tommy Pham trade this offseason were the same Padres fans mad at me this summer when I wouldn’t rank Edwards higher. You hate to see it. Look: as unoriginal as this comp is, there’s a real chance Edwards is Dee Gordon reincarnate. With the current inside-out swing and a high groundball rate, I can’t project anything more than 5 home runs per season with any confidence. But that’s not the end of the world, because the 20-year-old should hit .300 annually with enough steals to put your team on his shoulders in the SB category in Roto leagues. Now a member of the Rays, it appears likely Edwards will engage in a do-battle with Vidal Brujan, the winner pairing with top-overall prospect Wander Franco to form the future double play duo in Tampa. If Edwards is the victor, he’ll likely slot at the cornerstone—which makes the Gordon comp all the more valid. Rays Rank: 5thP365P365
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62-26Jordyn AdamsOFLAA20I originally made ‘in the world of uber-athletic Angels prospects’ the qualifier that led to a comparison between Adams and Jeremiah Jackson, but I quickly realized excluding Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh from said comparison would be insulting. The Angels’ farm system is so freakin’ athletic. Anyways, in the world of low-minors Angels prospects, Jeremiah Jackson stole the headlines last summer. But it was actually Adams—in my opinion—who had the more impressive numbers in 2019. Widely considered a long-term project since he was selected 17th overall in 2018, the outfielder was actually an above average hitter in the Midwest League, hitting 7 home runs and stealing 12 bases while—brace yourself for the best part—only striking out in 22% of his plate appearances (he also posted a double-digit walk rate). It appears as though both the approach and bat-to-ball skills are better than Adams was given credit for when he was drafted, which should allow the plus raw power and 80-grade speed (!) to show up in box scores sooner than we expected. The moderate counting stats are suppressing the actual tools in the eyes of box score badgers, but this arrow is pointing northward. Angels Rank: 3rdP365P365
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63-20Matthew LiberatoreSPSTL20In the VIP section of this list, Liberatore became the common comp I used for ‘what you see is what you get’ pitching prospects. That’s not an insult—it simply means we can more accurately evaluate Liberatore’s current arsenal with eye on the future instead of attempting to predict what the stuff will look like after he ‘fills out’ or executes another common, maturation-based cliché you read about it with pitching prospects. Despite that fact, I do believe the 20-year-old’s 22.9 K% in the Midwest League in 2019 is the lowest such rate we’ll see from the left-hander throughout his minor league career. The impending increases will be realized with further arsenal harnessing. Liberatore’s fastball isn’t an analytical darling like that of former teammate Shane Baz, but he throws it hard and from the left side. The slider is only an average pitch for now, and a lack of a true second weapon versus LHB can be blamed for the reverse split issues in 2019 (lefties hit .290 versus Liberatore). But right-handers only .213 versus the southpaw, thanks largely to a curveball that could finalize as a 70-grade pitch. The offering has an ultra-elite spin rate, and further polishing of the pitch will unlock additional strikeouts on a start-by-start basis. It’s also the in-game development of both breaking balls that will be the difference between Liberatore becoming a strikeout viable, top-end SP3 at the big league level, or being a SP4 who only reaches a strikeout per inning at peak. For now, the delicious ground ball rate forms a solid foundation for whatever strikeout viability is in Liberatore’s future. The Cardinals are somewhat of an antithesis to the Rays from an analytical standpoint (though they’re reportedly in the process of ‘catching up’ to their competitors in the world of pitching data and analysis), but their track record in developing in-house pitching speaks for itself. I assume we’ll see a statistical uptick from Liberatore this season in the Florida State League. Cardinals Rank: 3rdP365P365
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64-102Jeter DownsINFBOS21Statistically, there’s no prospect on this list who reminds me more of José Ramirez than Jeter Downs. The infielder slashed .276/.362/.526 with 24 home runs, 24 stolen bases (75%) and a double digit walk rate in 119 games and 535 plate appearances between the California League and Texas League last season. Like Ramirez, Downs accesses his power by utilizing a heavy pulled fly ball approach, which will allow the 21-year-old to reach his power potential while posting low BABIPs and sacrificing a bit of on base skills. Unfortunately, scouts worry that Downs’ perceived running ability is a bit of a façade (he’s a below average runner with great instincts)—which makes it hard to project continued stolen base output with any amount of certainty. The 21-year-old has mostly played shortstop throughout the early stages of his professional career, but most evaluators think his long-term home is at the cornerstone. With the current approach, Downs’ big league home run upside likely falls somewhere between 25-30. But since he may only hit .260 BA/.340 OBP while doing so, this profile needs the infielder to prove—without possessing above average speed—he can continue stealing bases against the best catchers in the world. Hopefully the 2020 season brings us clarity, though patience will be a virtue as Downs adjusts to his third organization in as many seasons. Red Sox Rank: 1stP365P365
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65-89Geraldo PerdomoSSARI20“Ronny Mauricio without the hype” was the way Perdomo was described to me by someone who watched both shortstops during the 2019 season. I love when an organization drops subtle hints that tell us how they value a prospect. In my eyes, the Diamondbacks did that at the deadline this summer when they shipped Jazz Chisholm to Miami for Zac Gallen. Then, they seemingly reaffirmed this notion by shipping Liover Peguero to Pittsburgh this season in the Starling Marte trade. How do you evaluate those trades and not think the organization views Perdomo as their future, everyday shortstop? The 20-year-old is unrefined in a few different areas: he hasn’t unlocked much power in-game yet and his stolen base efficiency must improve (66.7% success rate in 2019) in order for the above average speed to truly play as part of the profile. What I do love about Perdomo is the plate discipline, which is as elite as it comes in the minor leagues (14.0 BB%, 13.4 K% and .397 OBP across two levels in 2019). He’s also silky smooth at the 6 and is a favorite to stick at the position even when he fills-out his 6-foot-3 frame. I suspect the 20-year-old will take most of his cuts in the Southern League in 2020, putting him on a timeline to debut in the desert sometime in 2021. Perdomo will be a 21-year-old big leaguer if that comes to fruition, though a recently-extended Nick Ahmed will have a say in the rapidness of the former’s ascension. Diamondbacks Rank: 3rdP365P365
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66URAlek ThomasOFARI19I know it’s a cliché upside comp, but I can’t help but see Andrew Benintendi when I watch Thomas and project his ceiling. When you look at the outfielder, you assume sum-of-the-parts. You might even throw the word ‘gritty’ around. But thanks to a thick lower half and plus bat speed, there’s more explosion here than you’d think. In 114 games and 506 plate appearances between the Midwest and California leagues, Thomas slashed .300/.379/.450 with 10 home runs, 15 stolen bases (57.7%) and a double digit walk rate (20.8 K%). The 140 wRC+ in Thomas’ first full season speaks for itself. There’s a lot of polish within this profile, but there’s still a couple of questions we need answered. Will the teenager hit for more power when he finally faces like-aged pitchers (22.9 Hard% last season)? Will he become more efficient stealing bases, or will that part of his game dwindle as he draws closer to a big league debut? The answers to those questions will play key roles in determining whether Thomas eventually makes his MLB debut as a top-50 prospect, or if he’ll continue to slot in the back-half of the top-100. The outfielder should reach the Southern League this season. Diamondbacks Rank: 4thP365P365
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675Joey BartCSF23I took some heat for ‘hating’ Bart by ranking him 81st on my 2019 end-of-season prospect list. I explained my reasoning in a ‘behind the scenes’ article about the list, and it’s worth reading now since the 23-year-old is ranked similarly on this list. A .250 BA with 30 home runs might make Bart a top-5 catcher in redraft leagues, but that doesn’t make him an elite prospect nor a player who’s highly coveted from a fantasy sense. Why should positional scarcity from the least important slot on your fantasy team lead us to ranking Bart more favorably than higher-upside prospects who play positions that more-highly correlate with fantasy success? Couldn’t be me. I firmly believe the 23-year-old will be an above average big league catcher, and his inclusion in my top-100 speaks to that. But a more aggressive ranking would mean we’re banking on >.320 BABIPs from a slow-running catcher moving forward, and I can’t commit to that. Giants Rank: 2ndP365P365
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68-21Daulton VarshoOF/CARI23A week or so before last summer’s trade deadline, I began hearing whispers that Varsho might play some center field throughout the final month of the Southern League regular season. Those whispers ended up being true, and the 23-year-old started four games in center in August. I watched Varsho live in 2019 more than any prospect writer in the entire world (it’s my crowning achievement tbh). Several folks have reached out for my opinion on the defensive skills behind the plate, and my answer is always the same: meh. You notice the athleticism immediately when evaluating the 23-year-old’s defense. There are quick movements, but he’s not always technically sound. The arm is below average, and it showed both in frequency of attempted stolen bases (64) and lack of success hindering the running game (20%). The receiving skills are adequate, but I always got the vibe Varsho would thrive as an everyday player who caught 1-2 games per week. Regardless of future defensive home, the offensive upside here is enormous. I actually like the fact the Pull% decreased in 2019 because it didn’t hinder the power whatsoever (the ISO actually increased greatly from .164 to .220) and it allows the on base skills to better mimic a player with Varsho’s speed. At his best, the 23-year-old can be a .280 BA/.350 OBP/20 HR/20 SB hitter at the big league level. Those numbers hold redraft value regardless of the defensive position. Diamondbacks Rank: 5thP365P365
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69-88Triston Casas1BBOS20People don’t realize how good Casas was in 2019. Hindered by a mechanical issue I’ll discuss shortly, the first baseman slashed just .208/.284/.364 with 2 home runs and a 35.1 K% in the first month of the season. The issue? Casas was extremely ‘squatty’, to the extent the knee bend was hindering both the power and bat-to-ball skills. From May 1st until the end of the season (98 games), the first baseman slashed .267/.364/.506 with 18 home runs and a 21.1 K%–all of which was fueled by a more upright stance. Those are gigantic gains for a prospect playing in a league with an average age 2.5 (and then 3.6 post-promotion) years older than him. Perhaps as a reward for his exceptional improvement, the 20-year-old was promoted to the Carolina League for the final week of the regular season. All put together, Casas posted the second best Hard% of any teenage prospect in the minor leagues with north of 300 plate appearances last season (35.7%, trailing only Julio Rodriguez). That seems significant. It’ll never be a high AVG profile, but Casas should continue to post double-digit walk rates, making him extremely valuable in OBP leagues. Of course, the on base skills are simply a complement to the momentous 80-grade raw power. With 20 home runs in 120 games as a teenager playing full season ball (not to mention his April struggles), he’s certainly off to a great start unlocking that power in-game. Originally a third baseman, Casas should someday be a valuable asset defensively as a first baseman at the big league level. If you can live with the likelihood of a .250 or .260 AVG at the big league level, your Casas arrow should be pointing upwards as we enter the 2020 season. Red Sox Rank: 2ndP365P365
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70URHunter BishopOFSF21Two common fears I heard about Bishop this offseason when I fished around for his exit velocities from Arizona State and the Northwest League: the 2019 performance fell-off against Pac 12 pitching, and some organizations were turned off due to a small sample of success. What can’t be denied are the raw tools. The 21-year-old possesses plus raw power and plus speed, both of which could potentially slot at center field defensively. From a fantasy standpoint, this profile will solely hinge on Bishop’s ability to put the ball in play. Thankfully, the hit tool will never need to arrive at average in order for the outfielder’s other, fantasy-relevant tools to play. More so than the other 2019 draftees in the top-100 of this list, the 2020 season will really tip the scale on Bishop’s stock moving forward. The variance in the range outcomes—even from an unspectacular spot on this list—should give you anxiety. FYPD Rank: 9th, Giants Rank: 3rdP365P365
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71URJosé UrquidySPHOU24Do you have players you associate with other players for no real reason? I’ll always associate Urquidy with Tony Gonsolin, who you just read about. Both exploded onto the scene in 2019. Both made their rankings debut on the same prospect list. Most importantly, both now have Statcast numbers and analytics that support their ‘stuff’ and process. Having hyped Urquidy throughout most of the 2019 season, it was amazingly fun to watch the right-hander post a 0.90 ERA and strike out 12 in 10 postseason innings pitched. Of course, that was headlined by the 24-year-old throwing five scoreless innings in Game 4 of the World Series, striking out four while only allowing two base runners. Having ranked the right-hander 78th on my end-of-season prospect list, his success should have come by no surprise to myself or any of my readers. Pessimistically (and selfishly), however, I knew his stellar performance on the sport’s biggest stage would cause an ADP inflation in 2020. Luckily, Urquidy should enter the new season as a front-runner to secure a rotation spot in the Astros’ rotation. The three-pitch mix of a four seam, slider and changeup should allow him to avoid glaring split issues vLHB, and I’m hopeful the usage of the dominant slider he showcased versus the Nationals in the World Series continues to tick-up (17.2% usage in the big league regular season in 2019). The pitch should become his best weapon against righties. As long as he gets the ball every fifth day for the Astros, he should be a fantasy asset regardless of league depth or format. Astros Rank: 2ndP365P365
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72URTony GonsolinSPLAD25Imagine being a 25-year-old, top-100 prospect who just completed their first stint in the big leagues, posting a 2.93 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 22.7 K% in 40.0 IP while pitching for one of the league’s best teams. Now envision this prospect indisputably being on the outside looking in for a rotation spot (and perhaps a spot on the big league roster altogether) the following season. That’s Tony Gonsolin, who will likely start in Triple-A for the Dodgers in 2020 despite the fact he’d be a mid-rotation starter for 20 other MLB teams. The ‘opportunity’ portion of prospect evaluation sucks in this particular case, but I’m betting on the stuff to shine through in 2020 just as it did last season. The right-hander features four pitches—a fastball, splitter, slider and curveball—all of which he threw more than 10% of the time at the big league level last season. Those pitches had expected batting averages of .272, .220, .108 and .086 respectively. The Dodgers are optimization kings, and I’d expect Gonsolin to throw his fastball less in the future (albeit slightly) in favor of his secondary pitches. With Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urías, David Price, Dustin May and Ross Stripling figuring to be Los Angeles’ prime candidates to fill rotations slot, a deadline trade would have an unspeakable impact on Gonsolin’s fantasy value in 2020 and beyond. If he remains with the Dodgers, the 25-year-old will be a plug-and-play whenever he gets opportunities with the big league club. Unfortunately, as it currently stands, most of those chances this season could come from the bullpen. Dodgers Rank: 3rdP365P365
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73URJordan BalazovicSPMIN21When I watch Balazovic pitch, the phrase that comes to mind is ‘sneaky explosiveness’. The 21-year-old misses right-handed bats with his slider and left-handed bats with his curveball, both of which grade above average. The heater is a low-90s (T97) offering with pedestrian analytics, but Balazovic’s unorthodox mechanics and excellent extension allow the pitch to play-up more than one would assume when evaluating the spin rate. The changeup is currently a fringe-average offering that mostly acts as a secondary weapon versus lefties. Balazovic popped so hard in the Midwest League to begin the 2019 season the Twins quickly realized he probably should have been placed in the Florida State League. After he was promoted, the right-hander kept cooking: 73.0 IP, 2.84 ERA (2.28 FIP), 32.2 K% (25.2 K-BB%) in 14 starts. Not bad for an Age 20 season in High-A. This arsenal will always rely on the explosiveness of the breaking balls, but that’s the direction MLB pitching is trending towards anyways. Some are concerned the right-hander will deal with injuries throughout his career thanks to a unique arm motion and some violence throughout the delivery, but they also acknowledge there’s been no sign of ailments whatsoever to this point. There’s mid-tier SP3 upside here. Twins Rank: 4thP365P365
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74URNick LodoloSPCIN22Say what you will about the Reds’ ability to develop position player prospects, but it’s hard to not be increasingly excited about Lodolo’s outlook following the Reds’ hiring of Kyle Boddy this offseason. The 18.1 IP in the Pioneer and Midwest Leagues post-draft are a silly evaluator of any advanced college arm, so let’s talk about the southpaw’s stuff instead. Depending on who you ask, Lodolo either has two plus pitches (fastball and slider) or three (a changeup he doesn’t love to use). The body is good and projectable, and those who are highest on him believe additional added weight to the frame will greatly assist him in reaching the upside of a SP2. I’m more inclined to believe the ceiling is SP3, but he’s certainly in an organization with decision makers capable of helping him exceed that mark. The 22-year-old will likely begin his 2020 campaign in the Florida State League, though the Reds could be aggressive and push him to the Southern League to begin his first full professional season. Either way, Lodolo should be knocking on the door of big league impact a year from now. FYPD Rank: 10th, Reds Rank: 1stP365P365
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75URAlek ManoahSPTOR22When I watch Manoah on video, the first word that comes to mind is ‘explosive’. The fastball sits 94-97 T98 with above average spin. It’s particularly deadly in the top of the zone, where it rides above barrels in two-strike counts. The slider is equally effective, devastating right-handed hitters with a sharp, sudden bite that tunnels well with his heater. The changeup is currently just an average offering; the Blue Jays will likely prioritize the development of that pitch early in Manoah’s career, but for now, I’ll be interested to see the split disparity between righties and lefties. The 22-year-old restructured his frame prior to his final season at West Virginia, a change that more easily allowed evaluators to believe he could be a >150 IP arm someday. It’s a strikeout heavy SP3 profile with a chance for more if the changeup ever takes the next step. I’m hopeful Manoah is placed at High-A Dunedin to begin his first full season as a professional. FYPD Rank: 11th, Blue Jays Rank: 3rdP365P365
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76-103Sean MurphyCOAK25Fact: Josh Phegley played in 106 games for the Athletics last season, accumulating 342 plate appearances and a whopping 0.3 fWAR in the process. Murphy finally received a legitimate big league opportunity in September, playing in 20 games and accruing 60 plate appearances along the way. He was worth 0.6 fWAR. Injuries have kept the 25-year-old away from the playing field numerous times throughout his professional career, and he’s only surpassed 400 plate appearances in a season once since being selected in the 3rd round of the 2016 draft. Murphy delivered offensively post-promotion, reaching base a third of a time while hitting four home runs in just 20 games; the 132 wRC+ nearly mirrors his mark from Triple-A earlier in the season. The defensive skills continue to be strong, and Murphy should become the primary catcher in Oakland beginning on Opening Day this season. Like most catchers, Murphy will never hit for a notably high average thanks to a pull-heavy approach and a strikeout rate that should hover between 20 and 25 percent. But with consistently impressive Hard% and exit velocities, something along the lines of .260 BA/.340 OBP/20 HR should become the norm with the current offensive environment. If Murphy ever elevates the ball more frequently, 25-30 home runs are not outside the realm of possibility. Athletics Rank: 3rdP365P365
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77-26Heliot RamosOFSF20The real-life floor for Ramos is a little lower now than it was a year ago, and that’s caused me to ease off the pedal a bit with his ranking. With an extremely thick lower half, the 20-year-old is built like a running back. Unfortunately, he’ll likely be graded as an average runner as early as this season, and stolen bases are unlikely to be a big part of his game in the near and distant future. He’s also likely destined for right field defensively, which means he’ll really need to hit in order to project as more than a role 5 in real life. Luckily, Ramos posted a 137 wRC+ between the California League and Eastern League as a 19-year-old, which was aided greatly by 16 home runs and a near double digit walk rate. There’s some swing and miss here, so the batting average may settle a little closer to .250 than .300 against big league pitching someday. Still, this is a potential 30-homer bat capable of hitting the ball over the fence in any part of the park. For now, I’m not worried about what Triples Alley may do to Ramos’ right center field sweet spot. Giants Rank: 4thP365P365
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78-30Deivi GarciaSPNYY20Garcia is now at the top of the minor league ladder as a 20-year-old pitching prospect, an impressive feat no matter the skill level or pedigree. But the right-hander is also quite talented, striking out a jaw-dropping 34.0% of the hitters he faced last season (22.8 K-BB%) while posting a 4.28 ERA (note the 3.28 FIP) in 111.1 IP between High-A, Double-A and Triple-A. Garcia’s fastball is analytically moderate, but he can rev it up to 97 mph when he needs it. More importantly, Garcia pitches from a really unique angle (similar to Chris Sale, but from the third base side) that is both a very uncomfortable look for right-handed hitters and a very awkward look for lefties. The curveball is the best secondary pitch, flashing double plus at times with elite spin. The slider and changeup both flash above average, giving Garcia a second weapon to disarm hitters on either side of the plate. All four pitches are more than capable of missing their fair share of bats. Unfortunately, the 20-year-old has two things working against him: the command is fringe average at best, and the frame (5-foot-9, 165 lbs.) means Garcia will likely never reach 200 IP as a big league pitcher. In an ideal setting, the right-hander is a Bulker who pitches five innings a week and racks up strikeouts and wins for your fantasy team. As a member of a Yankees organization that will be competing for World Series titles for the foreseeable future, Garcia could become a multi-inning reliever, capable of dominating a lineup one time thru the order. In all likelihood, this is a 100-120 IP arm in the Bronx that plays as a Swiss army knife of sorts. That’s extremely valuable in real life, but it’ll likely leave you longing for more in dynasty leagues. Yankees Rank: 2ndP365P365
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79UREdward CabreraSPMIA22Cabrera popped in High-A, got promoted and maintained his gains in Double-A to become a top-100 prospect in 2019. The right-hander totaled 96.2 IP between the pair of levels, striking out 30.3% of the batters he faced (22.2 K-BB%) while posting a 2.23 ERA (3.06 FIP). The 22-year-old possesses two dynamic pitches that serve two separate, distinct purposes. Cabrera’s fastball sits 93-95 (T100) with tremendous arm-side run. The pitch will never produce an elite Whiff% against big league hitters, but it will break its fair share of bats while inducing lots of soft contact. The breaking ball is the moneymaker. A low-80s bender with slurve-like tendencies, the pitch is viable against both righties (.169 BA) and lefties (.216 BA) while also acting as Cabrera’s punch out pitch. He also throws a changeup that made strides in 2019; it could eventually act as a secondary weapon vLHB the second and third time thru orders. You’ll run into a scout here and there who believes Cabrera is best suited for the bullpen, but the 22-year-old has an arsenal for starting and the Marlins have no incentive to make that move anyways. Miami can justify keeping the right-hander in the minors for the entirety of the 2020 season if they’d like (though they shouldn’t), but Cabrera will take the ball every fifth day at the MLB level at some point of his Age 23 season in 2021. Marlins Rank: 5thP365P365
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80-88Clarke SchmidtSPNYY24Schmidt was unleashed for the first time as a professional pitcher in 2019, and the results were quite savory. The 24-year-old missed bats (27.2 K%), limited walks (7.5 BB%) and suppressed damaging contact (55.0 GB%). Those rates are basically the holy trinity of surface analytics that we cherish even at the big league level. Of course, Schmidt was a bit old for the Florida State League, so the fantastic Eastern League numbers post-promotion were quite re-assuring. With potential for four pitches that grade anywhere from average to plus, Schmidt is able to attack both right and left handed hitters without any sign of split issues. There may not be ace upside here, but the right-hander has reliable, mid-tier SP3 written all over him. We need to see the numbers over a full, unrestricted season of work, but Schmidt appears to be well on his way to joining the rotation in the Bronx. He’s very underrated player for a Yankees prospect with his pedigree. Yankees Rank: 3rdP365P365
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81URRobert PuasonSSOAK17I have talked to four different people who had the chance to scout both Puason and Erick Pena. Three of the four prefer Puason. If you’re bullish and want to push the envelope, this profile could be everything you ever ask for from a fantasy standpoint. Puason is a quick-twitch, switch-hitting shortstop with plus speed and potential for plus raw power. It’s early, but there appears to be enough athleticism to stick at shortstop. The frame is ripe for projection, and Puason will likely be a physical specimen by the time he turns 20. As with most prospects of this archetype—especially considering the long limbs—there will likely be some swing-and-miss in the profile. How much swing-and-miss (we’ll get a better idea this season) will dictate the amount of risk associated to Puason throughout his development. If he can simply find a way to only strike out 25% of the time when he debuts in the Arizona League this summer, the power and speed combination could make the shortstop a top-50 prospect by this time next season—if not higher. Puason’s archetype often leads to a slow climb up the developmental totem pole, but the teenager’s raw tools could lead to massive returns for those who invest early. FYPD Rank: 12th, Athletics Rank: 4thP365P365
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82-60Brayan RocchioSSCLE19Less than ten years ago, Rocchio would have probably had no prayer of making a list like this one, let alone be slotted in the top-75. But as the game itself changes, so must we. A plus running middle infielder with a feel to hit (from both sides of the plate), Rocchio will debut in Full Season ball this season as a teenager. Placed in the New York Penn League last summer, the infielder slashed .250/.310/.373 with 5 home runs and 14 stolen bases (63.6%) in 69 games (nice) and 295 plate appearances. The 107 wRC+ isn’t worth writing home about, but the power output is. Standing 5-foot-10 and weighing 150 lbs., showing signs of pop in an advanced league for your age (Rocchio was three years younger than the average competition in the NYPL) is the exact quality that lands you a bullish ranking on a fantasy-focused list. It’s unlikely he ever gets to above average in-game power, but something like .280 BA/.330 OBP/10 HR/20 SB from either shortstop or second base feels like a fairly conservative projection. Rocchio was notably stronger in-game last season than he was in the Arizona League the summer before, and a similar jump in the Midwest League in 2020 would likely cement his status on this list. Indians Rank: 3rdP365P365
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8363Brent Honeywell Jr.SPTBHoneywell has not thrown a competitive pitch since 2017. You’re probably well aware of the story, but allow me to hit the highlights: The right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery in February 2018, figuring to be sidelined until the homestretch of the 2019 season. Last June, as he was throwing a bullpen while progressing through his rehab, Honeywell fractured a bone in his right elbow, ending any hope he had in helping the Rays throughout the final months of the season. That’s where we currently stand, with one of the muddiest outlooks of any prospect on this list. Kevin Cash said in December that the 25-year-old is still rehabbing from his latest injury. Honeywell figures to be ready for MiLB Opening Day this season, where I assume he’ll be slotted in Triple-A to continue working his way back to full-game shape. He’ll likely be heavily restricted from an innings pitched standpoint, so there’s a chance he temporarily transitions to the bullpen this summer, where he could help the Rays at the big league level throughout the final months of the regular season. It’s still a starter outlook long-term, though the certainty in that projection has decreased exponentially throughout the past two years. On (perceived?) skills alone, Honeywell certainly warrants an inclusion inside the top-100 on prospect lists. The inability to stay healthy and increasing risk are becoming harder to ignore, though. Rays Rank: 7thP365P365
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84URErick PenaOFKC17When July 2nd rolled around last summer, the perceived issue for Pena—from a real-life standpoint—was a well-rounded but unexplosive skillset that would probably have to profile in right field with further physical maturation. Those issues were quickly laid to rest when the teenager debuted in instructs this fall. Eyewitness and video evaluation told a story of plus bat speed, solid hand-eye coordination and a body that should at least grow into above average raw power. Instead of a Yusniel Diaz-esque profile we thought might be in the cards for the outfielder, it appears Pena could someday be pretty special. I fully expect the 17-year-old to debut stateside next summer in the Arizona League, where we might get our first real idea as to whether Pena really has the potential to be the future top-20 prospect that’s been whispered about since his performance in instructs. It’s wild that 55-future hit, 55-raw is now on the conservative side of the projections you’ll read on Pena this preseason, but here we are. FYPD Rank: 13th, Royals Rank: 2ndP365P365
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859Nick Madrigal2BCHW23I have sourced out the phrase ‘David Fletcher with more speed’ to just about every scouting and industry contact I have over the past few months regarding a description of Madrigal. I have received zero pushback. From a real-life standpoint, this is a compliment: Fletcher just finished his first, full MLB season as a 3.4 win player according to fWAR. Quietly, he was also nearly a league average hitter (99 wRC+). But outside of the tasty positional versatility, rostering Fletcher in fantasy baseball can be quite frustrating. It’s basically a solid batting average with decent runs scored contribution… and nothing else. Madrigal will contribute to the stolen base department more than Fletcher, but there’s nothing about a 13.4 Hard% or high Oppo% that makes us think the 23-year-old was simply unlucky from a power standpoint in 2019, or that more power is on its way. The second baseman has some of the most mesmerizing bat-to-ball skills in the sport (and you might be able to eliminate the ‘some of’ from that sentence). He’s going to get on base a lot, which should mean 25-30 steals per season should be quite doable once he carves out an everyday role on the South Side. A projection of .300 BA/.340 OBP/5 HR/25 SB with solid defense at second base makes Madrigal a top-100 prospect regardless of the focus of a prospect list. It won’t, however, make the 23-year-old a fantasy star at the big league level. White Sox Rank: 4thP365P365
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86URTarik SkubalSPDET23A bit of a 2019 pop-up prospect in terms of top-100s, Skubal posted one of the best statistical seasons of any pitching prospect throughout the minor leagues last season. In 122.2 IP between High-A and Double-A, the 23-year-old struck out 36.5% of the batters he faced while posting a 2.42 ERA (2.11 FIP). Figure in a 1.01 WHIP and 29.0 K-BB%, and it’s really hard to poke holes in any of the numbers Skubal tallied in 2019. But if you notice, on lists that take into account anything other than statistics, the southpaw doesn’t rank as highly as his statistics suggest he should. When I talked to those who watched Skubal in the FSL or Eastern League, the concerns mostly stemmed around a high fastball usage. You always want to throw your best pitch the most—and Skubal’s heater is his best offering—but a usage that leveled off around 70-percent has some concerned about how the profile will fare in a longer stint in Double-A, Triple-A and the big leagues. Factor in reports of inconsistent command and questions regarding the viability of his secondary pitches, there are valid reasons to want to see a repeat performance in 2020 before pushing our chips to the center of the table. I’m still broken from the Bryse Wilson Fastball Disaster™, so I’ll continue to operate in caution and hope to be pleasantly surprised. Tigers Rank: 4thP365P365
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8749Hunter GreeneSPCIN20If the prospect world had to describe Greene in one sentence, it would be something like “former prep prodigy arm with a huge fastball who already has a new UCL”. And of course that’s not attempting to take anything away from Tommy John surgery rehabilitation, but that outlook is much, much better that the common, current perception of the 20-year-old. Greene underwent the operation last April, so recovery will likely rob the right-hander of at least some of his 2020 season. July-ish feels about right if we’d like to speculate about a setback-free return date for Greene, and he might even finish the season in the Florida State League. He’ll almost certainly be placed on the 40-man roster before he becomes Rule 5 eligible in December 2021, but the Reds will want a good look at their prized pitching prospect in his first full season removed from surgery. I trust Kyle Boddy and the Reds’ evolving R&D department to help Greene’s fastball become the explosive pitch its velocity says it should be. That development—along with the right-hander’s makeup, athleticism and pedigree—means the SP2 upside is still alive and well within Greene’s profile. I assume his return this summer will be a breath of fresh air for fantasy players who have held onto the uber-hyped right-hander with bated breath since the right elbow injury was originally announced. Reds Rank: 2ndP365P365
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88UROrelvis MartinezINFTOR18Martinez is a loud, loud prospect. There are a lot of moving parts in the 18-year-old’s swing, but it didn’t matter last summer in a Gulf Coast League with an average competition nearly two and a half years older than him. Martinez slashed .275/.352/.549 in 40 games and 163 plate appearances last summer, all while tying for second in the GCL with 7 home runs (150 wRC+). There’s honestly very little information publicly available on the 18-year-old, but a few things stuck out to me from video evaluation: The power should easily get to plus with a chance for more as he develops physically. I’m really interested to see if advanced sequencing chisels away at the many kinetic motions in Martinez’s mechanics, which would lead to some swing-and-miss issues along the way; even if this comes true, we may not see it come to fruition until the Florida State League in 2021 (and Martinez may be able to avoid this problem thanks to a patient approach). Lastly, there’s a better-than-average chance Martinez will shift to the hot corner on a full-time basis before he ever comes close to debuting in Toronto. Don’t worry; those thoughts aren’t meant to quell any of your Martinez-related excitement. This is a potential 30 home run bat at third base and one of the most exciting teenage prospects in all of baseball. Blue Jays Rank: 4thP365P365
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89URJose GarciaSSCIN22Like a few other prospects on this list, Garcia’s outlook can better be described by an article from last season than anything I could write in this space. Last summer, site contributor Will Scharnagl coined the 21-year-old as the best prospect no one was talking about. That article lays out everything you need to know about the shortstop, though it’s also worth mentioning Garcia was included in my ‘breakout’ prospect article for the 2020 season. All aboard. Reds Rank: 3rdP365P365
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90URAndrés GiménezSSNYM21Giménez accessed a bit more in-game power, hitting a career-high nine home runs in 117 games and 479 plate appearances in the Eastern League. He also stole 28 bases (though the success rate was just 64%), the speed output continuing to be the most appetizing facet of the 21-year-old’s profile from a fantasy outlook. Unfortunately, the slash numbers worsened (.250/.309/.387), leading to a wRC+ that was barely above league average (105). For a second consecutive season, Giménez participated in the Arizona Fall League. In 2018, there was a consensus that the shortstop looked tired in Arizona, and the subsequent statistical performance spoke to that notion. This fall was different; Giménez was one of the best hitters in the AFL, slashing .371/.413/.586 with a pair of home runs and stolen bases in just 18 games. As esteemed philosopher Chingy once said: every time I try to leave, something keeps pullin’ me back. I still see .280 BA/15 HR/25 SB upside with above average, middle infield defense at the big league level within this profile. If the offensive environment remains the same in Triple-A, I’m excited to see what they 21-year-old can do in 2020. Mets Rank: 2ndP365P365
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911Khalil LeeOFKC21As each month and season of development passes, it becomes less likely Lee ever accesses his above average raw power in-game. In 2017, the outfielder hit 17 home runs in 121 games in Low-A. We dreamt of a player who could reach 20/20 with relative ease throughout his professional career. In the two seasons since, Lee has failed to reach the halfway mark of the gaudy total he posted in the South Atlantic League. Last season, the 21-year-old slashed .264/.363/.372 with 8 home runs and a 28.2 K%. Of course, he also posted a double-digit walk rate—and stole 53 (!!!!) bases (81.5%). Lee is not a great runner, but at this point, it’s hard to make a case against his elite instincts on the base paths. With a passive approach, the outfielder will strike out enough at the big league level that it will always hinder the batting average, but those woes will be partly offset by a walk rate that should hover around ten percent once he settles in to an everyday role. A big league upside projection of .250 BA/.340 OBP/10 HR/30 SB feels in-line for this profile. That projection may be a little light on both counting stats, but we need to see him unlock additional in-game power and prove he can steal bases at the big league level on instincts alone before I’m willing to go much further. Royals Rank: 3rdP365P365
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925Ryan Mountcastle1B/OFBAL22Fun fact: prospect evaluators who put a lot of weight into average estimated fly ball distance are really, really down on Mountcastle’s 2019 performance. Why? Cristian Pache had an average estimated fly ball distance of 306.5 feet in the Southern League last season; he hit 12 home runs. Mountcastle had an average fly ball distance of 306.8 feet in the juiced ball International League; he hit 25 home runs. I’ll let you guess which one is the outlier. It was a typical season from the 22-year-old, who sported a .312/.344/.527 slash that led to a 117 wRC+. We also have more clarity on the long-term defensive home(s), and it appears as though Mountcastle might attain 1B/OF eligibility at the big league level. The low BB%/dependent on high BABIPs profile has never been my cup of tea, especially for a below average runner with plus-but-non-elite power. We should see what it all looks like at the big league level at some point in 2020. There’s even more variance here than other minor-to-major league predictions, but I’ll have some fun and project something like .270 BA/.310 OBP/25 HR from first base and left field. Orioles Rank: 4thP365P365
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93-43Sherten ApostelINFTEX21Apostel was a year and a half younger than the average competition in the South Atlantic League. Then he two and a half years younger than the average competition in the Carolina League post-promotion last summer. Despite these facts, the infielder posted the fourth highest Hard% of any prospect younger than 21 years old with more than 300 plate appearances last season (per Sports Info Solutions via Rotowire, trailing only Julio Rodriguez, Triston Casas and Jeter Downs). Apostel will always hit for power, but the rest of the profile is much less obvious. The hit tool is below average, and a violent swing means there will be hurdles to clear against advanced pitching in the Carolina and Texas leagues. He also swung more frequently last season than his previous looks in Rookie Ball and the Northwest League, leading to some evaluators wondering if the Rangers asked Apostel to improve his passivity at the plate. There are also enough questions about the 21-year-old’s future defensive home that I changed the position next to his name on the list from 3B to INF. A below average runner, I’d bet smart money is on an eventual transition from the hot corner to first base. This profile reminds me a bit of Bobby Dalbec with a chance to hit for a little better average. Perhaps .250 BA/.350 OBP/30 home runs from first base at peak? Rangers Rank: 2ndP365P365
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94URJosh LoweOFTB22When he was drafted, Lowe was projected as an uber-tooled center fielder with gigantic swing and miss concerns. Selected 16th overall by the Rays in 2016, the 22-year-old almost immediately began showcasing a swing with much less steepness that he showed in high school. This change slowly suppressed the strikeout woes (though it’s been a slow burn in that department), but it also hindered the power in-game. In his first two full professional seasons, the outfielder hit 14 combined home runs in 962 plate appearances, posting a 100 wRC+ in the process. But everything clicked for Lowe in 2019. Facing the toughest promotion in the minors and solid pitching in the Southern League, the 22-year-old slashed .252/.341/.442 with 18 home runs and 30 stolen bases in 121 games and 519 plate appearances (128 wRC+). He followed up that stellar performance by impressing scouts and evaluators in the Arizona Fall League, hitting a pair of home runs and stealing four bases in 15 games. The strikeouts didn’t disappear (25.6 combined K% in the Southern League and AFL), but they suddenly became much more tolerable when paired with droolworthy counting stats. Lowe’s stock has absolutely soared in dynasty leagues (especially in OBP formats thanks to consistent double-digit walk rates) over the last six months, but I actually wrote him up in the Ramblings back in April 2018. It’s understandable to worry about how the 22-year-old fits into the Rays’ long-term plans, but the skillset is well rounded (there are no left-on-left split concerns) and offers value in all three phases of the game. If he continues his offensive dominance at the start of the 2020 MiLB season, he could push his way to a contending Tampa Bay team by the middle of the summer. If you’re a big Brandon Marsh fan but miss-out on him in dynasty and deep keeper drafts, Lowe is your best bet to acquire the skillset and statistical profile. Rays Rank: 8thP365P365
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95-75Daniel LynchSPKC23If you’re looking for a pitching prospect who is yet to reach Double-A but could potentially make a big league impact in 2020, you’ve come to the right place. Lynch missed a month and a half last summer with a shoulder injury—two alarming words for anyone who rosters the southpaw in dynasty leagues. Pre and post-injury, the 23-year-old totaled 78.1 IP in the Carolina League, striking out 23.6% (16.5 K-BB%) of the batters he faced while posting a 47.5 GB% and 3.10 ERA (3.00 FIP). I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little concerned that Lynch didn’t miss more bats as a 22-year-old in High-A, especially since he appears to be lacking a true out pitch in his repertoire. There’s a chance this ends up being more of an SP4 profile than the (low-end) SP3 I’m currently seeing, but I can’t help but like the stuff. Both the fastball and slider are above average pitches, giving the left-hander a pair of weapons against like-handed hitters. But what I might like the most is the fact Lynch also has two weapons against righties—a curveball and changeup that both grade as average. The 23-year-old needs to miss more bats in the Texas League in 2020 to warrant a rating this high, but he’s hopefully trending in the correct direction after posting a 30.6 K% in the Arizona Fall League a few months ago. Royals Rank: 4thP365P365
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96URJhoan DuranSPMIN22I caught Duran in the Southern League late last summer, pitching against a Mississippi Braves lineup that had just lost Cristian Pache and Drew Waters to promotions. The right-hander still faced Braden Shewmake, Trey Harris, Greyson Jenista, William Contreras and Lane Adams, so I thought it was a good spot for a valid evaluation. The right-hander is a beast of a pitcher, listed at 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds (it might be more) with a tree trunk lower half. This offseason, I told any contact who asked that you can ‘feel’ Duran’s mound presence because of his frame and the way he carries himself. The stuff is electric, but it still has work to do before the 22-year-old debuts in the big leagues. The fastball sits 95-97 and touches triple digits when he needs it. It’s a low spin pitch that best plays low in the zone with sinker qualities, so I worry about its future strikeout viability against big league hitters (as is typical with sinkers, it’ll be better at inducing ground outs than strikeouts). The curveball is the real deal, acting as Duran’s ‘out’ pitch that he can also throw for strikes. I also got the impression that the right-hander’s delivery (and the fact he finishes to the first base side of the rubber) allows the pitch to play even better than it already is. At 2500 RPM with solid command, it would play in the big leagues right now. He also throws a hard splitter that has sinking action, but it’s clearly Duran’s third pitch currently. If the feel improves, I expect it to pair nicely with the fastball at the bottom of the zone. Duran induced 12 swinging strikes in 85 pitches (14.1%) the night I saw him. The curveball will carry the profile, but Duran has the arsenal and body to take the ball every fifth day at the big league level. There’s mid-tier SP3 upside here, especially if Duran harnesses the splitter as he finalizes his development. Twins Rank: 5thP365P365
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97-50Seth Beer1B/OFARI23Sometimes, a trade can really make a prospect pop from a fantasy standpoint. It’s hard to overstate how blocked Beer was in Houston. And while one would think the 23-year-old best fits in a league that can utilize a designated hitter, the outlook here has improved drastically since Beer was traded to the Diamondbacks as part of the Zack Greinke deadline deal. The 23-year-old was assigned to my home track team post-trade, so I got several live looks before the end of the regular season. More than anything else, you need to know Beer hits the ball extremely hard quite often. His 33.0 Hard% last season speaks to that. He’s better defensively in left field than at first base, but there’s a chance he maintains multi-position eligibility at the big league level. It’s a pull-heavy approach with a lot of fly balls from a poor runner, so Beer may only hit .250 at peak as a big leaguer. But he takes walks, won’t strike out a ton and could potentially make his big league debut in 2020. It’s 30 home runs at peak. Diamondbacks Rank: 6thP365P365
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98-74Bobby DalbecINFBOS24It’s amazing what making more contact can do for a profile and outlook, and Dalbec did exactly that last season. In 2018, the 24-year-old struck out 32.4% of his plate appearances between High-A and Double-A. Last season, that percent dropped nearly eight points to 24.7%. That’s a huge gain, and Dalbec is now perceived as a player with a undoubted big league career in front of him because of that improvement. He’s never going to hit for average, but consistent double-digit walk rates should make Dalbec an asset in OBP leagues of any depth. With Rafael Devers now officially locked-in at the hot corner in Boston, Dalbec figures to spend most of his time at first base or second base post-promotion. For what it’s worth, I personally see him grabbing the lion’s share at the former. He might still strike out around 30% of the time versus big league pitching, but that’s somehow an improvement on the perception from a year ago. Think .230/.350 with 30 home runs and a chance at multi-position eligibility. That’ll do. Red Sox Rank: 3rdP365P365
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