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Who Is This Year’s Pete Alonso & Luis Castillo? (2020 Fantasy Baseball)

Mar 4, 2020

Nick Castellanos may be on the verge of a breakout year now that he’s with the Reds

Predicting breakout players is always one of the most fun exercises fantasy owners undertake when prepping for their drafts. The prospect of nabbing someone who becomes an absolute stud and pushes you closer to a championship is exciting. However, the best way to identify these potential stars is to understand which players have the best chance of outperforming their draft price. These guys are often either young, in a great situation (such as quality surrounding talent, an increased role, a higher batting order spot, or favorable park factors), once had a top-prospect pedigree, or had recovered from an injury. Even then, figuring out which athletes to hone in on isn’t an easy task. Fortunately, our featured analysts are here to help and have shared their favorite hitter and starting pitcher breakout candidates below.

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Q1. Which hitter do you expect to become an elite breakout star (like Pete Alonso in 2019) and why?

Nick Castellanos (OF – CIN) 
“Castellanos is the 67th hitter taken in ADP and he’s probably going to outearn that by about 40-50 spots. He has always been held down by Comerica Park and a sub-par Tigers lineup as he showed when he put up a 154 wRC+ and 16 home runs in just 225 plate appearances with the Cubs last year. He’ll now be playing a full season in Great American Ballpark, which routinely ranks as one of the most favorable home run parks for hitters, and is in the middle of a lineup with Eugenio Suarez, Joey Votto, and Mike Moustakas. Forget about hoping for his first 30-homer season. If Castellanos can return to his career 15.2-degree launch angle (he dipped to 13.9 degrees last year), then 40 home runs and a true breakout season is well within reach.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

Avisail Garcia (OF/DH – MIL) 
“I’d say Luis Robert, as I think he is the rookie who could immediately perform like a top-20 fantasy player, but Pete Alonso and Aaron Judge were both fringe-draftable the years they broke out, so I’ll go with Garcia. This isn’t the same type of player, as he is neither a rookie or a 45-homer threat, but Garcia is someone who has batted .330 over a full season before, plus hit 20 homers and stole 10 bases despite missing 40 games last year. Oh, by the way, he played in a pitcher’s park and now moves to a strong hitter’s park. Add in the fact that his batted ball data is elite and we could legitimately be looking at a .315 average with 30-35 homers in Round 21 of your fantasy drafts.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Franmil Reyes (OF/DH – CLE) 
“I just discussed Reyes on ‘The 2020 All-Breakout Team‘ episode of the FantasyPros Baseball Podcast with Bobby Sylvester. He has ‘Khris Davis power’ and is approaching a 50% hard-hit rate and a 40% medium-hit rate, which means that almost nine out of 10 times, he is squaring the ball up and making big contact. His HR/FB ratio has been stable at an elite level of 30%. Unlike Davis though, Reyes might be able to sport a decent batting average. ATC projections are currently forecasting a .261 BA for 2020. 40 home-run power with a .260 BA? That’s a breakout star in the making.”
– Ariel Cohen (FanGraphs)

Willie Calhoun (OF – TEX) 
“I am expecting Calhoun to have a Pete Alonso-esque season in 2020. He has the prospect pedigree, the raw power, and a full-time job — just like Alonso in 2019. With a game power rating of 60 and a raw power rating of 65, Calhoun is a near-lock to hit 35+ homers over a full season and should be batting in the middle of the order to total a combined 170 runs and RBIs. I have him ranked as a top-70 hitter — and I think that’s his floor.”
– Carmen Maiorano (FantasyPros)

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (2B/SS/OF – TOR) 
“The breakout hitter will be Gurriel Jr. We got a glimpse of what he can do last season in 84 games. In 314 at-bats, he had a line of .277/.327/.541 with 52 runs, 20 home runs, 50 RBIs, and six stolen bases. He averaged 409 feet per homer and is in the middle of an improved lineup.”
– Adam Ronis (Fantasy Alarm)

Luis Robert (OF – CWS) 
“While the approach is different, the results for Robert have been Juan Soto-like. He does not carry the same elite plate discipline, but he absolutely mashes the ball, while not striking out a ton or looking lost. He also has arguably more power and is a major threat on the basepaths. In that regard, Ronald Acuna has competition for the 40/40 club. I’m a little leery to buy in at his current ADP for his first exposure to MLB pitching, but the sky is the limit and you want this guy on your rosters.”
– Andy Singleton (Expand The Boxscore)

Q2. Which starting pitcher do you expect to become an elite breakout star (like Luis Castillo in 2019) and why?

Zac Gallen (SP – ARI) 
“Gallen has all the makings of a breakout ace, assuming he wins the fifth starter’s spot in Arizona, as expected. After dominating Triple-A in a way rarely seen at this point, Gallen acquitted himself well with the Marlins and Diamondbacks last year, pitching to a 2.81 ERA and a 10.80 K/9 rate. He has a well-above-average fastball (.192 BAA), curveball (.203 BAA), and changeup (.188 BAA), and isn’t afraid to throw any pitch in any count. The only bugaboo was his walk rate (10.8% and 4.05/9), but considering he had never struggled significantly with his control in the minors, it’s reasonable to expect major improvement in 2020. If he does make those gains, he’s a true ace in the making.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

Chris Paddack (SP – SD) 
“Paddack was elite over 140+ innings last year and I’m expecting him to get to 175 innings in 2020. He is working on his curveball this spring and if that becomes even an average offering, he can make the jump to elite status. While I don’t think he will repeat a sub-1.00 WHIP again, I think the WHIP will still be elite and he should continue to strike out batters at a 27%+ clip. He is my 13th pitcher off the board, which makes him a borderline SP1. Yes, he is even ranked in front of Luis Castillo.”
– Carmen Maiorano (FantasyPros)

Frankie Montas (SP – OAK) 
“The Luis Castillo of this season will be Montas. He is being drafted in a spot similar to Castillo last year. Montas was pitching extremely well before the suspension for PEDs. One of the reasons he was pitching well was a nasty splitter. Montas had a 2.63 ERA, 1.11 WHIP. 26.1 percent strikeout rate, and a 5.8 percent walk rate in 96 innings. He had a 0.75 HR/9 in a season when almost everyone was allowing home runs.”
– Adam Ronis (Fantasy Alarm)

Josh Lindblom (SP/RP – MIL) 
“Early in his career, Lindblom could not find success here in the majors. He then went packing to Korea and guess what? Still no success – so Lindblom came back home. Back to the major leagues again in 2017 and still – he was ineffective as a pitcher. Lindblom then remade himself in Korea once more and cut down his walk rate in an enormous way. He became the winner of back-to-back pitcher of the year awards, as well as the MVP of the KBO. Now, Lindblom is back in the U.S. and is set to pitch for the Brewers. He might give up a ton of homers in one of baseball’s premier hitter’s ballparks, but he also has the breakout-star potential that he’s shown in the KBO. This could be the next coming of Colby Lewis.”
– Ariel Cohen (FanGraphs)

Dylan Bundy (SP – LAA) 
“I’m amazed that Bundy is still just 27 years old. He is just entering the window for his physical peak and has a track record that’s better than you’d think. The K:BB ratio has always been great, but his penchant for allowing the long ball has doomed him. A change of scenery with a ton of veteran and run support behind him could be the recipe for a major resurgence. The difference in home and division ballparks is also a plus. He should be good for 175 innings, which could mean close to 200 strikeouts. If he can keep the ERA around 3.50, I could easily envision 15+ wins, which would be a career-high.”
– Andy Singleton (Expand The Boxscore)

Josh James (SP/RP – HOU)  
“Three names quickly come to mind: Lance McCullers Jr., Julio Urias, and the one I’m going with, Josh James. The Astros have an open spot in their rotation, so James has a shot to jump from the bullpen into 160+ innings. If he does win the job, we could be looking at a top-five strikeout rate among starters and perhaps even Houston’s best fantasy pitcher for 2020. He throws triple-digits and his xwOBA last year was better than Mike Clevinger, Blake Snell, and Stephen Strasburg.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)


Thank you to the experts for providing their top breakout candidates. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter for more advice all season and check out our latest podcast below.


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