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Bernie Pleskoff’s Top 40 Prospects (2020 Fantasy Baseball)

by Bernie Pleskoff | @BerniePleskoff | Featured Writer
Feb 3, 2020

Wander Franco is a tremendous hitter with power and speed who will continue to blossom with more experience.

A graduate of the Major League Baseball Scout School, Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional baseball scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Bernie watches and scouts baseball players from a stadium press box at least 100 times a year.

My Top 40 prospect players for 2020 are predicated upon specific selection criteria. Those factors include but are not limited to:

  • Evidence and demonstration of hitting, power, speed/running, arm strength/accuracy, and defensive tools
  • The impact upon his team’s performance
  • Depth of development experience and proximity to major league graduation
  • Relationship and comparison of the player’s skills to the league average/norm
  • Impact of injury history
  • Fantasy impact

Given those factors, the separation between and among players can be minimal. The rankings below are the result of this old scout’s personal evaluation of almost every player noted in either spring training, minor league games, and the Arizona Fall League. Personal observation and scouting form the foundation for player evaluations on this list.

Many of the players still require development, meaning they need more time in the club’s minor league system in preparation for major league graduation.

I will include my scouting grade for each player:

50 – An everyday regular in the lineup.

55 – A better than average player with at least one high-quality tool.

60 – A player that will see an occasional All-Star Game.

65 – A frequent All-Star player.

70 – A high-impact, premium, among best in the game type player.

80 – The absolute best the game has to offer, a future Hall of Fame type candidate.

In some cases, a player with a higher grade is ranked above a player graded lower. Injury history or other factors like fantasy relevance and minor league playing experience dictate the ranking difference.

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1. Luis Robert (OF – CWS) 

  • Right-handed hitter
  • 22 years old
  • Grade: 70

A potential fantasy stud, when the powerful, incredibly athletic Robert arrives in the White Sox outfield it will be like opening up the biggest and most exciting package on Christmas morning.

2. Wander Franco (SS – TB) 

  • Switch hitter
  • 18 years old
  • Grade: 70

A keeper league must, Franco is a tremendous hitter with power and speed who will continue to blossom with more experience against even better competition at higher levels.

3. Gavin Lux (SS,2B – LAD) 

  • Left-handed hitter
  • 22 years old
  • Grade: 65

Major league ready right now in all aspects of his game as a patient hitter with emerging power, an excellent hit tool, speed and an average glove in the middle-infield.

4. Jo Adell (OF – LAA) 

  • Right-handed hitter
  • 20 years old
  • Grade: 65

A winning fantasy option, Adell is a strong, well-conditioned and powerful gap hitter with home run upside. He has a complete package of well above average tools that will shine in the Angels lineup.

5. Adley Rutschman (C – BAL) 

  • Switch hitter
  • 21 years old
  • Grade: 65

An advanced combination of offensive and defensive skills with tremendous upside at a tough position makes him the best catching prospect in baseball and a future fantasy star.

6. MacKenzie Gore (LHP – SD):

  • 20 years old
  • Grade: 65

Starting pitcher with an outstanding and balanced repertoire of fastball, slider, and curveball that each grade at 60. He has superb command and control that will help you in all fantasy categories.

7. Casey Mize (RHP – DET) 

  • 22 years old
  • Grade: 60

With a marvelous splitter as his calling card, Mize mixes in a top-notch fastball and slider to keep hitters off-balance as a potential high quality, strike-throwing starter currently finishing his development.

8. Nate Pearson (RHP – TOR) 

  • 23 years old
  • Grade: 60

Top of the rotation starter upside with a 100 MPH fastball along with a slider and curveball that he commands and controls. He’s ready to roll in 2020 with the mound presence of a veteran.

9. Royce Lewis (SS – MIN) 

  • 20 years old
  • Grade: 60

An outstanding, versatile athlete with a terrific hit tool and emerging power capable of playing the infield as well as outfield positions at a very high level. Likely graduates next season.

10. Jarred Kelenic (OF – SEA) 

  • 20 years old
  • Grade: 60

Not quite ready for prime time yet, Kelenic is a former 1st round Mets draft pick traded to Seattle who is bringing a balanced and  exciting array of improving tools on both sides of the ball.

11. Bobby Witt Jr. (SS – KC) 

  • 19 years old
  • Grade: 60

Witt brings a full toolbox to his game, but it is his very smooth approach to defense and mature approach as a hitter that should propel him to future stardom.

12. Cristian Pache (OF – ATL) 

  • 21 years old
  • Grade: 60

Superb defender with gold glove potential, Pache is still a bit raw but he is refining his offensive skills and moving quickly in the Braves system. He isn’t quite ready.

13. Jesus Luzardo (LHP-OAK) 

  • 22 years old
  • Grade: 60

On the doorstep of a major league promotion, Luzardo brings a full repertoire of fastball, slider, and a curveball that is bolstered by unusually good command and control to help as a winning fantasy option.

14. Andrew Vaughn (1B – CWS) 

  • 21 years old
  • Grade: 60

Not the biggest first baseman, Vaughn has solid power and a good bat that is far superior to his mediocre defense as he waits patiently for his graduation time.

15. Brendan McKay (LHP/DH-TB) 

  • 24 years old
  • Grade: 60

Two guys in one, McKay will soon fit well in the Rays lineup with complete skills in a dual role as a quality lefty on the mound and solid left-handed hitter at the plate.

16. Joey Bart (C – SF) 

  • 23 years old
  • Grade: 60

The heir apparent to Buster Posey, and the second-best catching prospect in baseball, Bart has equal skills on both offense and defense with huge upside that should shine in 2021.

17. Michael Kopech (RHP – CWS) 

  • 23 years old
  • Grade: 65

Recovering now from Tommy John surgery, Kopech can bring his fastball at 100 mph as the main pitch in a very solid, high quality, mature repertoire as soon as this season. He has to prove his arm is sound.

18. Forrest Whitley (RHP – HOU) 

  • 22 years old
  • Grade: 60

Huge upside with an outstanding arsenal that includes a 100 mph fastball, but he requires more development time to improve command and control that have been very inconsistent.

19. Dustin May (RHP – LAD) 

  • 22 years old
  • Grade: 60

Knocking on the big league door, everything works off an oustanding fastball that is supported by a wicked cutter and average curve. May still has work to do on lowering his walk rate.

20. Julio Rodriguez (OF – SEA) 

  • 19 years old
  • Grade: 60

Not ready for prime time yet, Rodriguez is a powerful hitter, but still a bit raw regarding experience in game situations against top quality pitching.

21. Dylan Carlson (OF – STL) 

  • 21 years old
  • Grade: 60

Almost ready to claim a role in the Cardinals outfield, Carlson is a powerful hitter with a big strong frame and enough speed to be dangerous.

22. Drew Waters (OF – ATL) 

  • 21 years old
  • Grade: 55

Getting closer to graduation, speed can’t be denied as he uses that tool on both offense and defense as a solid hitter and an outstanding defensive outfielder.

23. Sixto Sanchez (RHP – MIA) 

  • 21 years old
  • Grade: 60

Traded by Philadelphia to Miami in the deal for catcher J.T. Realmuto, Sanchez needs more minor league work but he is likely the future ace of a young and improving rotation.

24. Matt Manning (RHP – DET) 

  • 22 years old
  • Grade: 60

Along with Casey Mize, Manning gives the Tigers a future dynamic duo and some hope on the mound, as he is a huge presence with enough stuff to win.

25. Alex Kirilloff (OF, 1B – MIN) 

  • 22 years old
  • Grade: 55

A strong and powerful hitting prospect, who along with Royce Lewis will keep the Twins in contention and supplement their increasingly powerful club after a bit more time in development.

26. Brendan Rodgers (2B, SS – COL) 

  • 23 years old
  • Grade: 55

On prospect lists for years, Rodgers’ time may be coming as a reliable, credible hitter capable of playing both middle-infield positions.

27. Alec Bohm (3B, 1B – PHI) 

  • 23 years old
  • Grade: 55

Bohm has a big, strong frame and is a very good hitter with problems on defense that the Phillies can’t ignore and have to solve with more repetition and seasoning.

28. Luis Patino (RHP – SD) 

  • 20 years old
  • Grade: 55

Fastball/slider combination can really work at the big league level by the end of the year as a top of the rotation starter or high strikeout throwing closer in the back end of the bullpen. 

29. CJ Abrams (SS – SD) 

  • 19 years old
  • Grade: 55

Given his top of the chart speed as his best tool, the extremely athletic Abrams can hit his way on base with an ever-improving bat that needs a great deal more development.

30. Carter Kieboom (SS, 2B – WSH) 

  • 22 years old
  • Grade: 55

A solid hit tool with emerging power could land Kieboom in the Nationals middle-infield as soon as this season if his defense proves up to quality standards.

31. Ian Anderson (RHP – ATL) 

  • 21 years old
  • Grade: 55

With a good mix of pitches including a fine fastball, above-average curve and changeup, Anderson may soon be relied upon as a quality starter.

32. Nick Madrigal (2B – CWS) 

  • 22 years old
  • Grade: 55

Soon to be the White Sox starting second baseman, Madrigal is a very solid, high average hitter with good speed, capable defense, and very little power.

33. Nolan Gorman (3B – STL) 

  • 19 years old
  • Grade: 55

Game-changing power sets Gorman apart from many, but he is still raw and needs repetition in development against quality pitching to refine his swing and approach as a hitter.

34. Taylor Trammell (OF – SD) 

  • 22 years old
  • Grade: 55

Still young and learning how to use his tremendous athletic ability, the good hitting Trammel has plenty of speed to steal bases and rattle pitchers when he matures and gains experience.

35. Matt Liberatore (LHP – STL)

  • 20 years old
  • Grade: 55

Recently traded from the Rays, the major-league ready Liberatore is an advanced lefty with good command and control of an outstanding fastball and curve combination.

36. A.J. Puk (LHP – OAK)

  • 24 years old
  • Grade: 60

Recovering from Tommy John surgery, Puk has a tremendous fastball/slider combination that can dominate hitters if his shoulder and arm return to pre-surgery form.

37. Kristian Robinson (OF-ARI)

  • 19 years old
  • Grade: 55

Very intriguing, multi-tooled player with power upside and excellent defensive ability in a complete package that must mature in the minor leagues.

38. Spencer Howard (RHP – PHI)

  • 23 years old
  • Grade: 55

Even with some command issues, his mid-90s fastball sets up a power slider before he finishes the hitter with an outstanding changeup.

39. Riley Green (OF – DET)

  • 19 years old
  • Grade: 55

A young but polished left-handed hitter with huge upside to dominate as he continues to develop his hit tool and refines his overall game.

40. JJ Bleday (OF-MIA)

  • 22 years old
  • Grade: 55

A young and powerful hitter just beginning his career after Miami took him in the 1st round last year, Bleday is rising quickly and has tremendous upside but lacks experience. 

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Bernie Pleskoff is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Bernie, follow him @BerniePleskoff and read more of his work here.