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Prospects to Acquire in Dynasty Leagues (2021 Fantasy Baseball)

by Mike Maher | @mikeMaher | Featured Writer
Jan 19, 2021

The offseason is the time for fantasy managers in dynasty leagues to regroup, retool, and assess how to continue building their roster for the short- and long-term. Identifying the right prospects at the right time is the best way to ensure continued success and avoid those awful rebuilding years. If you are going to build a balanced roster, regularly acquiring the right prospects is key.

But that doesn’t just mean identifying deep prospects at the lower levels of the minor leagues and waiting a few years for them to develop. Everyone can do that, but that can also clog your roster with prospects who won’t be ready to contribute at the MLB level for multiple years. This creates short-term problems for your roster, especially in leagues where roster space is limited. Those prospects also tend to have a fairly high failure rate, so you run the risk of waiting a few years for a player who never develops or is sidetracked by injuries.

The list of prospects you target for acquisition should also include players who have debuted briefly but struggled, pre-hype and post-hype prospects who are likely to break out or bounce back soon, and players who have been slower to develop because of injuries or other circumstances. 

In 2021, this practice gets even more interesting because we didn’t get a minor league season in 2020. Unless the player had a brief debut in the big leagues, we’re attempting to make educated guesses based on 2019 stats, alternate camp notes, and offseason reports. 

Let’s take a look at prospects to acquire in dynasty leagues.

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Ha-seong Kim (SS/2B – SD)

I covered Kim in last week’s Dynasty Fantasy Baseball Players to Target piece and had this to say:

Kim signed with the San Diego Padres this offseason after .306 / .397 / .523 with 30 home runs and 23 steals in 138 games in the KBO in 2020. I don’t expect him to replicate those numbers with the Padres in 2021, but he’s only 25 years old and should be given plenty of time to adjust to the big leagues in a deep lineup. 

Depending on your league setup, Kim will either be available in first-year player drafts or on waivers after the draft since he is coming over from the KBO. This is the rare opportunity for managers in dynasty formats to grab a first-year player who should contribute immediately and has long-term upside.

Spencer Torkelson (1B/3B – DET)

Torkelson was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft and has been called a generational college hitter by scouts. In fact, there were some who thought he could debut with the Tigers almost immediately last summer. Baseball America recently ranked him as their No. 5 overall prospect, and he should be a first-round pick in all first-year player drafts because of his power potential.

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Dylan Carlson (OF – STL)

This one might be considered cheating since Carlson debuted with the Cardinals last season, but that’s exactly why I have him on the list. The young outfielder struggled when he was first called up, was sent back down, and ended the year with a .200 batting average and three home runs in 35 games in 2020. The Cardinals have also struggled to develop their young outfielders over the last few years (see Harrison Bader and Tyler O’Neil), so Carlson managers might be a little nervous and more inclined to sell after a lackluster debut. However, he was much better after he was called back up to the big leagues in September, is still just 22 years old, and dominated Double-A and Triple-A in 2019. Savvy fantasy managers won’t give up on Carlson that quickly, but it’s worth inquiring about his asking price. The answer might surprise you.

Jarren Duran (OF – BOS)

Like Kim above, Duran is another prospect I covered in my recent Dynasty Fantasy Baseball Players to Target piece, and the main reason he’s a prospect I’m targeting is because of the high-floor/high-ceiling potential he offers because of his existing speed and developing power. Even if the power doesn’t continue to develop as many are hoping, he still boasts elite speed at a time when speed is harder to come by, especially in fantasy.

In his State of the System series, MiLB’s Sam Dykstra had this to say about Duran back in October:

Alternate site standout: Dalbec and Houck reached the Majors, but the prospect most talked about around McCoy Stadium this summer was eighth-ranked Jarren Duran, a 70-grade speedster who adjusted at the plate to show a lot more power than he had in his two previous pro seasons.

The 2018 seventh-rounder out of Long Beach State became a must-follow in his first full season when he opened 2019 by hitting .387 with a .998 OPS in 50 games with Class A Advanced Salem. His numbers following a promotion to Portland were much more pedestrian — .250/.309/.325 with one homer in 82 games. So while Duran finished with a .303 average and 46 steals in his first full campaign, he faced questions about how his offensive game would translate to the upper levels. The solution was to focus on improving his launch angle. After all, Duran hit the ball on the ground 49.7 percent of the time in 2019. The hope was that getting the ball into the gaps more would allow the left-handed hitter to take advantage of his speed with doubles and triples, but Duran developed enough power to send those balls over the wall at McCoy.

Is it a lock that Duran’s continues to develop this newly-found power stroke? No, of course not. But if he develops even a little bit of power going forward to pair with his speed (read: stolen bases and high BABIP), he’ll be a hot commodity in dynasty formats.

George Kirby (SP – SEA)

We didn’t get a minor league season in 2020, but we did get reports of Kirby lighting up the radar gun at Seattle’s alternate camp. He was a first-round pick in the 2019 Draft and pitched to a 2.35 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 23 innings in Low-A in his first taste of professional baseball. He is known to already possess fantastic command, and increased velocity could lead to Kirby debuting as early as this summer. He doesn’t necessarily have the same prospect buzz as some of the other top pitchers, but that could very well change after that season. It is better to be a year early on prospects than a minute late. Go after Kirby now because he may not be available in a few months.

Honorable mentions: Triston Casas, Aaron Bracho, Nick Lodolo, Max Meyer, Andrew Vaughn.

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Mike Maher is an editor and featured writer at FantasyPros and BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive, follow him on Twitter @MikeMaher, and visit his Philadelphia Eagles blog.

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