10 Rookies to Get Excited About (2020 Fantasy Baseball)
For fantasy baseball fans, it’s easy to get excited about the start of spring training. However, it’s even easier to get excited about another new crop of rookies, especially when there is a strong class of first-year players. That is certainly the case in 2020, meaning that we’ll again have to pay some quality draft capital to acquire rookies this fantasy baseball draft season.
To help you navigate the freshman class of 2020, here are 10 rookies our writers are excited about entering the new season.
Q: Which rookie are you most excited to stash?
MacKenzie Gore (SD)
Gore might not be up right away like Jesus Luzardo, Brendan McKay, and A.J. Puk, but from the time he comes up, he should be the best of the bunch. This is the top pitching prospect in all of baseball that we are talking about, after all, and not only that, but he’ll pitch in an extreme pitcher’s park. Gore should rack up the Ks right away with quality ratios, and I wouldn’t be shocked at all if he took the baseball world by storm like Walker Buehler did on day one. This may very well be a top-50 overall pick by this time next year.
– Bobby Sylvester (@bobbyfantasypro)
Gore may be the top pitching prospect in baseball right now. He’s a lean 6-foot-3 lefty with one of the highest leg kicks you’ve ever seen. He has a deep arsenal of four pitches that all grade out as future plus-pitches. His fastball sits at 94 mph but can touch 96. In 100 innings across two minor league stops last year he posted a 1.70 ERA with a 35.7% strikeout rate and an impressive 16.3% swinging-strike rate. Normally with a young starter, command is an issue, but Gore has regularly walked fewer than two batters per nine innings. If he continues to dominate minor league hitters, he could be up with the Padres by June. His arsenal should play at the major league level and provide plenty of strikeouts following his promotion.
– Max Freeze (@FreezeStats)
Luis Robert (CWS) Jo Adell (LAA) Nate Pearson (TOR)
This is a very deep rookie class. The White Sox will begin their climb to an eventual American League Central title with Robert as one of the focal points. He is a terrific five-tool athlete with game-changing ability. Adell will eventually win an outfield role with the Angels. He’s big and strong with power and speed. Pearson has a big arm and could be a top of the rotation starter capable of throwing 100 miles an hour with command for Toronto. We have a great rookie group to enjoy in the 2020 season.
– Bernie Pleskoff (@BerniePleskoff)
Nick Madrigal (CWS)
The odds are that the Sox want to get Madrigal some final minor-league seasoning but will quickly see that he is clearly a better option at the keystone than Leury Garcia. Once he comes up sometime in late April or early May, I’m expecting him to provide a .280+ average with at least 20 steals. Sure, he will bat at the very bottom of the order, but his contact and plate discipline skills will create plenty of run-scoring opportunities in a dangerous lineup. If you stack up on power early, he is a great middle infield option in 15-team leagues.
– Carmen Maiorano (@cmaiorano3)
Wander Franco (TB)
It has to be Wander Franco, even though the odds are tremendously stacked against him. Simply put, Franco is near-lock to not see a single plate appearance with the Tampa Bay Rays, this year. It is in the Rays’ best long-term interest to delay his arrival – much like they did with Evan Longoria – and 2020 is almost out of the question. Almost. And that little bit of doubt – the “near-lock” and the “almost” – is exactly why I’m so excited to stash Franco. Perhaps as a trade chip. Perhaps as a dead spot on the roster. Or perhaps as the surprise call-up that obliterates the baseball as soon as he arrives in Tampa.
– Mario Mergola (@MarioMergola)
Alec Bohm (PHI)
While he won’t be the first rookie who I am drafting in 2020, Alec Bohm is my top stash for a number of reasons. Now, he is a true stash in the sense that he probably will not be up with the Philadelphia Phillies for the first half of the season. If you are looking for instant or early rookie contributors, you are better off going with bats like Gavin Lux, Luis Robert, Carter Kieboom, or pitchers like Dustin May and Jesus Luzardo. But you are going to have to pay to draft those budding superstars, while Bohm’s current ADP is around the 400 mark. If you are in a league that allows you the roster space to draft and stash, Bohm could be a steal at the end of your draft for one major reason, there isn’t really anyone standing in the way of his playing time once he gets his call up to the show. Scott Kingery is currently projected to start at third base for the Phillies, but he can play just about anywhere, including second base and the outfield, where Jean Segura, Andrew McCutchen, and Adam Haseley are all projected to see regular at-bats. If Bohm’s bat proves that he is ready for a call-up in the first half, he could step in as Philadelphia’s everyday starter at third base at some point in the second half.
– Mike Maher (@mikemaher)
Carter Kieboom (WAS)
Everyone is going to be in on names like Luis Robert, Jesus Luzardo, and to a lesser extent Jo Adell. However, due to his underwhelming MLB debut in 2019, not many will be in on Kieboom. This makes it a good time to buy in on the 22-year-old infielder. Kieboom was fantastic in Triple-A last year, batting .303/.409/.493 with 16 homers and five steals in 109 games. He spent 11 games in the majors as well, going 5-for-39 with two long balls. That performance really removed the shine from his prospect pedigree, but it was a very small sample, and it would be foolish to completely write him off. Additionally, it appears the Nationals are giving him a legitimate chance to win the third base job this spring, which would accelerate his path to everyday at-bats in the majors. If Kieboom struggles again this spring then we can pump the breaks on his potential a bit. We aren’t yet at that point, though. For now, Kieboom is a forgotten, but still promising, rookie to stash.
– Brendan Tuma (@toomuchtuma)
Dylan Carlson (STL)
Jo Adell, Luis Robert, and even Nick Madrigal (for steals) will be popular and worthy picks for rookie stashes. However, Alex Riley and Yordan Alvarez were lesser-known prospect names that didn’t show up on many top-10 lists during draft season last year, and few considered stashing them in advance as many fantasy owners held on tight to the likes of Kyle Tucker and Jesus Luzardo instead. Dylan Carlson is more of a deeper-league stash in that I don’t expect him to open the season with St. Louis, but when you consider the fact that the Cardinals are slated to begin the year with Dexter Fowler, Harrison Bader, and Tyler O’Neill in the outfield, Carlson should be up soon if the team has any designs to compete. Bader is a nice player with defensive value but offensive limitations. Fowler hit .238 last year and will be entering his age-34 season. O’Neill has massive power but also batted .230 and whiffed at a 29% rate. If the Cardinals haven’t promoted Carlson by May, it will be a surprise. A switch-hitter with power from both sides and the speed to swipe double-digit bases, Carlson slugged .518 in Double-A last year and boasts 20/20 upside. The five-category potential and lack of impediments to his playing time make him an appealing stash.
– Paul Ghiglieri (@FantasyGhigs)
Brendan McKay (TB)
If you haven’t heard the name Brendan McKay, you’ll be hearing it plenty soon. The SP/DH hybrid reached the bigs for a portion of last season with the Tampa Bay Rays but struggled to the tune of a 5.14 ERA. McKay was used rather strangely last season, primarily as a long reliever, but he should have a much better shot to crack the starting rotation this spring. And his numbers in the minors last season — 1.10 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, and 102/18 K/BB in 73 2/3 IP — should really show through in the bigs this year. If McKay makes it as a starter, he has a much better chance of receiving regular at-bats as a DH or at 1B, where his value could rise even further. McKay will be a great pitcher this season, but if you play in a league that allows you to take advantage of his dual functionality, McKay might even be the best rookie stash of all.
– Alex Altmix (@Altmix_23)