Top Redraft Prospects to Target (2020 Fantasy Baseball)
Prospect rankings have significantly changed since the last iteration, as the shortened season helps some rookies and hinders others. Let’s just get this out of the way now – you won’t see Jo Adell below. Adell has significant playing time concerns, as the Angels seem content with letting him develop at the alternative site. With that, let’s fast forward three months and see which prospects bring the most impact to the table.
1. Luis Robert (OF – CWS)
Projection: 205 PA’s, 11 HR, 26 R, 29 RBI, 7 SB, .253 BA (92nd overall player)
Robert is going to play every day in centerfield, but he will likely have a strikeout rate north of 30%, which limits his batting average value. RosterResource has him hitting in the bottom third of the lineup, which also limits his counting stats. With that said, he’s the surefire top fantasy prospect, as he has power and speed in spades. This video says enough.
Luis Robert hits bombs even when he’s falling. 😂 pic.twitter.com/GVRkj42FZd
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) July 11, 2020
2. Gavin Lux (SS – LAD)
Projection: 220 PA’s, 7 HR, 26 R, 26 RBI, 5 SB, .263 average (162nd overall)
Lux’s playing time concerns are out the window with the universal DH. Even though he will probably bat in the bottom-third of the order, he should bat plenty in one of the best lineups in the majors. He should provide above-average value in every fantasy category. In fact, if he can limit the strikeouts as he did in the minors, he could rank at the top of this leaderboard at the end of the year.
3. Jesus Luzardo (SP – OAK)
Projection: 55 innings, 4 W, 3.61 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 59 K (170th overall)
This upwards trend has a bit of irony to it, as Luzardo is falling down draft boards due to testing positive for COVID-19. However, he should still put together 55 really strong innings when he does return with his 70 (out of 80) grade fastball and slider. You’ll have to reach to get him, seeing that his ADP is just outside the top 100.
4. Nick Solak (2B/3B – TEX)
Projection: 200 PA’s, 7 HR, 27 R, 22 RBI, 3 SB, .280 BA (179th overall)
Previous: Not Ranked
Solak is slated to get the Opening Day start in left field due to Willie Calhoun unlikely for Opening Day. Once Calhoun returns, he should get starts all around the diamond. Solak hit 27 homers in just 85 games in the minors last year and sported a 126 wRC+ in 35 games in the big leagues. He’s ready.
5. Austin Hays (OF – BAL)
Projection: 220 PA’s, 9 HR, 27 R, 29 RBI, 2 SB, .260 BA (183rd overall)
Previous: Not Ranked
Hays is officially the starting centerfielder in Baltimore and should bat near the top of the order. If he ends up hitting leadoff, trade some RBI for runs. With the combination of a long leash and a lot of at-bats, Hays has risen up draft boards. The poor lineup around him limits his counting stat upside, but plate appearances are the name of the game in this short season.
6. Nick Madrigal (2B – CWS)
Projection: 185 PA’s, 2 HR, 23 R, 16 RBI, 9 SB, .283 average (189th overall)
With the news that Madrigal is likely the backup to Leury Garcia to open the season, his lack of plate appearances limits his upside in the scarcest fantasy categories – average and steals. Once he supplants Garcia, he figures to bat in the bottom third of the order, his lack of plate appearances is emphasized.
7. Dustin May (SP – LAD)
Projection: 42 innings, 3 W, 3.18 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 40 K (206th overall)
May won’t be in the rotation to start the year, but chances are that Julio Urias or Alex Wood will need some rest, even in a 60-game season. Expect May to make around five starts and pitch between 40-45 innings. He has limited homers throughout the minors (and in his cup of coffee in the majors last year), which should suppress his ERA.
8. A.J. Puk (SP – OAK)
Projection: 52 innings, 4 W, 3.71 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 61 K (207th overall)
Puk has come out and said he’s ready to let loose, and he has a spot in the rotation to begin the year. He should get somewhere between 50-55 innings. While he has below-average control, he makes up for it with four above-average pitches and has consistently had 30%+ strikeout rates in the minors.
9. Brendan McKay (SP – TBR)
Projection: 45 innings, 3 W, 3.57 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 49 K (224th overall)
McKay has not yet reported to camp, but assuming he has been able to get some work in at home, he should be able to toss 45 innings. The Rays are so good at playing matchups and maximizing situations that he should post a mid-3s ERA and more than a strikeout per inning. Even if he pitches between 35-40 innings, his value only gets knocked down about 40 spots overall.
10. Jose Urquidy (SP – HOU)
Projection: 52 innings, 4 W, 3.97 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 49 K (225th overall)
Urquidy should get thrown into the fire more quickly than McKay, seeing that the Astros don’t have as much starting pitching depth. Plus, they are more traditional with their starters. Even if he makes only eight or nine starts, Urquidy’s ability to induce weak contact should keep his ratios respectable. He has been able to get some swing-and-miss so far in the majors, which adds to his across-the-board value.
11. Mitch Keller (SP – PIT)
Projection: 68 innings, 4 W, 4.12 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 77 K (232nd overall)
Keller is firmly in the Pirates’ rotation with Chris Archer lost for the season, and he should have a long leash to continue his development. The story’s been told, but it’s worth repeating – his .475 BABIP will surely regress, considering he was above average in both average exit velocity and hard-hit rate. He also struck out over 28% of hitters in nearly 50 innings at the major league level.
12. Mauricio Dubon (2B/SS – SFG)
Projection: 192 PA’s, 6 HR, 20 R, 22 RBI, 5 SB, .266 BA (244th overall)
Dubon’s value was all based on compiling stats throughout a normal 162-game season. Now that we only get 60 games, he falls way down this list. He will still see time all the diamond, but the other rookies on this list are getting exponentially more playing with a short season. He should still provide a 5/5 combo season with a batting average that won’t kill you.
13. Sam Hilliard (OF – COL)
Projection: 205 PA’s, 8 HR, 25 R, 26 RBI, 3 SB, .243 BA (254th overall)
Hilliard’s situation is still up in the air, given that the Rockies signed Matt Kemp, along with the perpetual puzzle of how the Rockies handle prospects. His batting average won’t be good, but he provides power and speed. His minor league numbers were insane last year – 35 homers and over 200 combined runs and RBI. He obviously played in an extreme hitter’s park, given that his wRC+ was “only” 107. But, this shows his potential.
14. Jake Fraley (OF – SEA)
Projection: 200 PA’s, 7 HR, 24 R, 22 RBI, 4 SB, .253 BA (258th overall)
Previous: Not Ranked
Fraley has a spot in the outfield now, and with that comes additional at-bats. He showed some pop in the minors last year with 19 homers in 99 games and should get close to a 5/5 season. He’ll bat in the bottom of the order, which limits his counting stats upside. He doesn’t have the prospect pedigree that others have on this list, but that just means you can probably get him at a bargain.
15. Shogo Akiyama (OF – CIN)
Projection: 183 PA’s, 4 HR, 27 R, 19 RBI, 2 SB, .291 average (262nd overall)
Like Dubon, most of Akiyama’s fantasy impact came from hitting leadoff in a normal year. However, he should still provide a great batting average at the top of the order. The only concern is that Nick Senzel is relatively healthy, so he could split more time in centerfield than originally expected.
16. Nate Pearson (SP – TOR)
Projection: 45 innings, 3 W, 3.74 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 43 K (268th overall)
Everyone knows about Pearson’s 100-MPH fastball, but he still needs to learn how to put batters away. The Blue Jays are being ho-hum about his role on the team, so I expect Pearson to need some time to settle into the big leagues. If the Blue Jays start out hot, he’ll greatly exceed this ranking. If he doesn’t, well, he may not finish the year on this list.
17. Spencer Howard (SP – PHI)
Projection: 44 innings, 3 W, 3.70 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 47 K (281st overall)
Previous: Not Ranked
Howard was rumored to have a full-time spot in the Phillies’ rotation back in May, but those rumors have somewhat subsided. Even still, the back end of that rotation is made of glass and ineffectiveness, so I’m expecting Howard to pitch 40-45 innings. With an above-average fastball and three other pitches to rely on, he should be able to strike hitters out.
18. Kevin Ginkel (RP – ARI)
Projection: 23 innings, 1 W, 3.39 ERA, 27 K, 1.19 WHIP (305th overall)
Previous: Not Ranked
Ginkel has come up on the radar after having a nice cup of coffee last year, punching out over 29% of hitters over 24 innings in the bigs. Ginkel is mainly fastball-slider, but in short relief stints, this works well. If Archie Bradley struggles, he is likely near the top of the pecking order to get saves on an under-the-radar Diamondbacks team.
19. MacKenzie Gore (SP – SDP)
Projection: 43 innings, 3 W, 3.90 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 47 K (315th overall)
Gore’s status with the Padres is uncertain heading into Opening Day, so his innings are of concern. He also has battled with an above-average walk rate, and – this may come as a surprise – he just has 21 innings at Double A. I would be surprised if Gore surpasses the above innings threshold unless the Padres are contending into September.
20. James Karinchak (RP – CLE)
Projection: 20 innings, 1 W, 2.74 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 30 K (324th overall)
Previous: Not Ranked
The flamethrower is set up to be, well, the setup man for Brad Hand. If Hand struggles, Karinchak is probably first in line to get the closer nod. He dazzled in a cup of coffee in the bigs last year, and despite coming-and-going control, he should strike out 33-36% of the batters he faces.
Carter Kieboom (SS – WAS): Kieboom should get 190-200 plate appearances, but he could be a batting average liability in a short season. He’s also likely batting lower in the order, limiting his upside.
Yoshitomo Tsutsugo (1B – DH): His playing time is up in the air, and with the Rays maximizing platoons, it’s hard to count on Tsutsugo for a full 60 games.
Hunter Harvey (RP – BAL): If he ends up winning the closer job, he vaults up this list. For now, he’s likely to split saves with Mychal Givens on a team that won’t have a lot of save opportunities to begin with.
Casey Mize (SP – DET): He should be up in the bigs to continue his development after service time is manipulated, and getting 30-35 innings seems to be in the range of possibilities. Expect a mid-3’s ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. Matt Manning also has a case here.
Kevin Cron (1B – ARI): Cron suddenly becomes appealing with the universal DH, and he could sock almost double-digit bombs if he gets consistent playing time.
Dropped Out: Tony Gonsolin (SP – LAD), Jo Adell (OF – LAA), Sean Murphy (C – OAK), Nico Hoerner (2B – CHC), Brendan Rodgers (2B/SS – COL), Justin Dunn (SP – SEA), Dylan Carlson (OF – STL), Justus Sheffield (SP – SEA)
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