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12 Rookies Who Are Worth Stashing or Overhyped (2021 Fantasy Baseball)

Feb 17, 2021

 
Over the past couple of weeks our writers have been discussing hitters and pitchers who are either potential breakouts or bust candidates. Today, the focus shifts towards rookies. Note that due to the shortened season, both rookie and prospect eligibilities were altered. While some of the below names might not “technically” be a rookie or prospect, they’re all new enough to the scene that we included them in the article.

Average Draft Position (ADP) referenced is using FantasyPros consensus ADP

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Q1. Which rookie are you most excited to stash?

Wander Franco (SS – TB) Overall ADP: 334
The consensus number one prospect in all of baseball, Franco should be good to go after an injury scare this offseason. We should be more excited to get shares of him, given that his NFBC ADP is barely inside the top 300. The main uncertainty surrounding him is when he gets called up and where he will play, but I don’t think that we should consider Willy Adames as too big of a blockade. Adames has power, but his high BABIP so far in his career is likely to get reeled back in somewhat. Franco is the better overall offensive talent, and I expect him to be up shortly after the Super 2 deadline. If he gets just 450 PA’s, he could still produce an average above .300 with double-digit homers and 100 combined runs and RBI. This stash requires patience and is mainly for deeper leagues, but could fully pay off if your roster is constructed in a way that allows you to take Franco at his ADP.
– Carmen Maiorano (@carmsclubhouse)

Alex Kirilloff (OF – MIN) Overall ADP: 267
As one of the Twins’ top prospects, Kiriloff continued to hit in the minor leagues. In 2019 at Double-A, Kiriloff totaled nine home runs, 47 runs, 43 RBI, and seven steals with a triple slash of .283/.343/.413. Kiriloff projects as having an average or above-average hit tool and we see that with his high batting average and OBP in the minors. Although he’s likely a mid-season call-up, consider stashing Kiriloff as an outfielder that can provide a solid batting average and OBP with average power and a handful of steals. The BAT X projects Kiriloff for 11 home runs, 51 runs, 48 RBI, and three steals with a .269 batting average. Given his NFBC ADP of 263 over the past month, he’s worth considering in the back half of fantasy drafts, particularly in OBP leagues.
– Corbin Young (@Corbin_Young21)

Nate Pearson (SP – TOR) Overall ADP: 224
As far as hitters go, Kirilloff has the clearest path to playing time, and his above average bat provides a safe floor. His late-round ADP makes him a value, particularly in four and five-outfielder leagues. However, Kirilloff is unlikely to flash the speed of Luis Robert or the power that made prospects like Pete Alonso and Austin Riley so impactful when they were first called up. Thus, I’m going with Pearson here, since Toronto needs him to produce as an integral part of their rotation if they want to win the AL East. We’ve seen rookie pitchers make a difference before (e.g. Mike Soroka, Chris Paddack, Zac Gallen, etc.) in limited action, but arguably none of them had the velocity and arsenal that Pearson has to make them frontline starters right out of the gate (though Gallen’s command gives him the upside of an ace this year). Pearson posted a 2.30 ERA with a 119:27 K:BB ratio in just 102 IP in 2019 across Double and Triple-A. With a fastball that can touch triple digits, a wipeout slider, and a developing curve, Pearson has the makings of a stud. He relied too much on his stuff last year during a brief call-up, trying to paint corners instead of attacking the zone. But after a minor injury, he went after big league hitters and he looked un-hittable. If the Blue Jays can keep him from being predictable and help him stay aggressive, Pearson has top-40 upside.
– Paul Ghiglieri (@FantasyEvolves)

Adley Rutschman (C – BAL) Overall ADP: 325
While there are numerous rookies that I’m excited about this season, the key word in this question is “stash” – meaning a player that won’t debut in the majors until later in the season. As a general rule, I advise against stashing rookies in redraft formats (with some occasional exceptions) because taking up a bench spot with a lottery ticket player just turns out to be an overrated strategy more often than not, given that rookies often struggle initially at the MLB level. Obviously, keeper/dynasty formats are a different animal altogether. With that said, for this season, I’d be very tempted to stash Rutschman, at least in the early parts of draft season. With a current ADP of 325 via FantasyPros, the risk is negligible, as you can draft him with one of your late round picks. Regarded as one of the top prospects in all of baseball, Rutschman is already 23 years old, and it was recently reported that he has been invited to Major League spring training. There is no guarantee we see the Oregon State star with the Orioles this season, as he hasn’t even played at the Double-A level yet, but it was encouraging to hear that he performed well at the team’s alternate site in 2020. My answer to this question is mostly a reflection of the fact that the catcher position in fantasy baseball is an absolute landfill, so my thinking is that using a late round pick on a player that could emerge as a top-5 (or better) fantasy catcher later this season seems worthwhile with minimal downside, given that you could always drop him guilt-free if (and when) the need arises.
– Lucas Spence (@lspence24)

MacKenzie Gore (SP – SD) Overall ADP: 354
Few prospects have caught — and held — my attention over the past few years more than Gore. He is ‘the’ pitching prospect. A left-handed starter with multiple solid pitches at his disposal and a projection of a top-of-the-rotation ace. The problem? There’s no place for him right now in San Diego. That’s actually a good thing. The Padres have made it a point to prioritize Gore’s development for the long haul, and all indications are that he will be polished and Major League-ready when he finally gets the call. Make sure he’s on your roster when that happens, even if it means aggressively buying now.
– Mario Mergola (@MarioMergola)

Luis Patiño (SP – TB) Overall ADP: 470
Patiño was the youngest player in MLB at age 21 when he made his debut with San Diego last year. He was called up in early-August and primarily worked out of the bullpen. The end result was an ugly 5.19 ERA, 1.85 WHIP, and 21:14 K/BB ratio (16.5% Walk rate) over 17 1/3 innings. As if the high walk rate wasn’t bad enough, his 34.7% fly ball rate and 11.1% HR/FB ratio were nothing to write home about either. It wasn’t all bad for the young hurler, though. His electric fastball, which sits in the mid-90s, was in the 93rd percentile in velocity and 88th percentile in spin rate. His slider had an xBA of .165 with an impressive 47.8% Whiff rate while his changeup posted a .144 xBA. Patiño was shipped over to Tampa Bay in the Blake Snell deal this offseason and will begin the 2021 season in the minors, where he has a career 2.35 ERA across three levels (234 innings). This will give the youngster some time to hone his craft and work on the command of his secondary offerings. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times recently said if Patiño performs well in the minors he could get bumped up to the big league rotation sooner than we think. The Rays brought back Chris Archer and also signed Michael Wacha and Collin McHugh. Their projected starting rotation is nothing special and if anyone starts to scuffle Patiño could be given the opportunity to start if he shows out in the minors. He currently has an ADP of 470 per FantasyPros ECR so he’s the perfect pitching prospect stash.
– Jon Mathisen (@EazyMath)

Jo Adell (OF – LAA) Overall ADP: 315
Adell looked overmatched in his big league debut last season, slashing .161/.212/.266 across 132 plate appearances. He will start the 2021 campaign in the minors as he “needs more time to develop,” per Angels manager Joe Madden. The 21-year-old technically lost prospect status with 132 plate appearances, but will begin in Triple-A with the Angels acquiring veteran OF Dexter Fowler. Adell has legit power and his exit velocity of 115 MPH ranked 14th in the majors. The 21-year-old OF might need more seasoning the minors, but all the tools are there for Adell to be fantasy force in 2021 and beyond once he gets recalled into the majors.
– Brad Camara (@beerad30)

Randy Arozarena (OF – TB) Overall ADP: 59
I’m not saying he’s going to keep hitting home runs every 8.29 at-bats, but the level of disrespect among my FantasyPros colleagues is too dang high! Arozarena’s controversial because he doesn’t have a prospect pedigree, but he passed the eye test last season. Looking at his Statcast profile, I see Arozarena struggled with off-speed pitches but seemed to adjust his approach with two strikes to limit strikeouts. Pitchers who attack Arozarena with splitters will have the most success, but that makes up less than 10% of all pitchers. On the flip side, Arozarena slugged .960 against 4-seamers and .667 against change-ups. He’s also lightning fast, 93rd percentile sprint speed, and the Rays were seventh in the majors last season, averaging 0.82 stolen base attempts per game.
– Lucas Babits-Feinerman (@WSonFirst)

Q2. Which rookie do you feel is most overhyped in redraft leagues?

Randy Arozarena (OF – TB) Overall ADP: 59
I have some legitimate concerns about Pearson this season (limited workload, injured last season, pitching in the AL East) but it’s difficult to argue that a player with his ADP is overhyped, so I’ll table that discussion for another time. Instead, I’ll throw a splash of cold water on Rays’ outfielder Randy Arozarena and his staggering #59 overall ADP (OF #17) – which suggests that the hype-train has left the station already. Arozarena was terrific in limited action last season after being acquired in an off-season trade from St. Louis, hitting 7 HR with a .281 AVG and 1.023 OPS in just 64 regular-season at-bats before going nuclear in the postseason, propelling the Rays to the World Series. He very well could be baseball’s next emerging star. However, for a player that was never considered an elite prospect during his minor league career, I’m exercising some caution here given the extremely limited sample size from an upside-down, abbreviated 2020 MLB season. Being drafted in the same tier as Luke Voit, Vladimir Guerrero, Jr, Yordan Alvarez, Javier Baez, Nelson Cruz, Gleyber Torres, Jd Martinez, Charlie Blackmon, Paul Goldschmidt, and personal favorite Nick Castellanos, I find myself much more inclined to let others take the risk as pitchers across baseball will look to adjust to the breakout star of the 2020 playoffs. I’m rooting for Arozarena to be successful, but at that ADP, the price is simply too rich for my taste.
– Lucas Spence (@lspence24)

Arozarena serves as a ‘cheat code’ in fantasy leagues valuing rookies differently, as he will actually play in 2021 with rookie eligibility. It seems impossible given the attention he received during last year’s playoff run, but such are the numbers. In terms of “numbers,” there’s only one that has me avoiding Arozarena, and it’s arguably the most important one for a fantasy owner in a redraft league: ADP. Arozarena is currently being selected inside the top-60 picks, and doing so at arguably the deepest position in fantasy baseball. FantasyPros compiles nine different sources for projections, and most of them have Arozarena sitting in the low-20s for both home runs and stolen bases. If he can do that, he’ll be well-worth the high investment. The margin-for-error is small, however, and paying a high premium is only justified if Arozarena actually reaches all of his lofty expectations. That’s too dangerous of an investment for me at that price.
– Mario Mergola (@MarioMergola)

Arozarena is coming off one of the best statistical postseasons of all time, slashing .377/.442/.831 with a major-league record 10 home runs. He will play everyday and has the upside to produce a 20-20 campaign. Arozarena slashed .281/.382/.641 in 2020, but fantasy managers shouldn’t overpay for his historical postseason. The 25-year-old OF’s fantasy value is at an all-time high right now and selecting him within the top-60 overall is a risky investment.
– Brad Camara (@beerad30)

Michael Kopech (SP – CWS) Overall ADP: 351
My main concern with Kopech is that his greatest flaw, control, will be exacerbated coming off opting out of the 2020 season and recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2019. The strikeout rate is salivating, but he has the potential for a double-digit walk rate, which will hurt your ratios. As a result of this time off, I would be surprised if he pitched much more than 100 innings, even if the Sox do not sign a veteran starter to eat innings at the back end of the rotation. Tarik Skubal presents the same kind of strikeout upside with a much safer innings floor, and is going in the same range as Kopech.
– Carmen Maiorano (@carmsclubhouse)

Jarred Kelenic (OF – SEA) Overall ADP: 221
This one hurts as a Mariners fan, but as a realist, it’s difficult to imagine Kelenic debuting in 2021. Even though they have a ton of exciting talent in the minors, it’s highly unlikely that they’re competing in 2021 with the need to call up their top prospects. By now, most fantasy prospects lists have him inside the top-3 with his power/speed and sweet lefty stroke. Across three levels in the minors in 2019, Kelenic totaled 23 home runs, 80 runs, 68 RBI, and 20 steals with a .291 batting average. Over the past month, Kelenic holds an ADP above Alex Kiriloff. Realistically, Kelenic is more of a 2022 impact player in redraft leagues.
– Corbin Young (@Corbin_Young21)

Wander Franco (SS – TB) Overall ADP: 334
There is little debate that Franco is among the best, if not the best, prospect in the game right now, but his ADP might be cause for concern. Currently, it sits at 334, but it’s fair to assume that number will rise as we get closer to the season. In the NFBC his ADP has a minimum of 131 in drafts where some are willing to reach for the potential superstar, further providing evidence that the average ADP will steadily rise. The issue has less to do with Franco’s talent and more to do with the Rays’ desire not to rush the face of their franchise before they feel he is ready (and they can maintain the most contractual control). Current projections show about 400 AB with less than 20 combined HRs and SBs and an average that won’t hurt you. However, you might be better off using limited bench space on a potential closer or upside starter instead.
– Paul Ghiglieri (@FantasyEvolves)

Ryan Mountcastle (1B/OF – BAL) Overall ADP: 148
I like Mountcastle and think he has a bright future in the pros. However, his current FantasyPros ECR ADP is 148, which makes him a starter in standard fantasy leagues and has him going ahead of a lot of proven veterans like Josh Donaldson, Max Kepler, and Justin Turner. The former 2015 first-round pick made his MLB debut with the Orioles in late August of last season and he did not disappoint. He slashed .333/.386/.492 with five home runs and 23 RBI over just 126 at-bats. His average exit velocity (87.4 mph) and launch angle (10.8 degrees) were both below league averages, though, and his .398 BABIP and .268 xBA suggest he had some luck. His 2020 was so short that he didn’t have time to slump or hit a rookie wall, but over the course of a full season he’s sure to have his ups and downs. While he has upside as a hitter, I think you’re losing a lot of it with his ADP, which has you paying for a ceiling that he’s unlikely to reach in 2021. For the record, I’d take him on a number of my fantasy teams if he slipped but I won’t reach for him.
– Jon Mathisen (@EazyMath)

Sixto Sanchez (SP – MIA) Overall ADP: 116
Sanchez will be a better major league player than a fantasy baseball player in 2021. He has sterling command evidenced by his 4.65 K/BB in 335 1/3 minor league innings but lacks strikeout upside (7.9 K/9). The 22-year-old righty will not contribute strikeouts, and projections have the Marlins winning fewer than 70 games. He won’t provide value in wins either. He might help your ratios, but that makes him a two-category contributor in 2021.
– Lucas Babits-Feinerman (@WSonFirst)

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