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Brendan Tuma’s Prospect Report: Alex Kirilloff, Jazz Chisholm, Andrew Vaughn (2021 Fantasy Baseball)

by Brendan Tuma | @toomuchtuma | Featured Writer
Apr 14, 2021

As I’ve discussed the past couple of weeks, the 2021 MLB season began with an unprecedented number of top prospects already playing in the majors. However, we’ve already seeing a lot of graduations, which is going to clear the path for a new crop of prospects for us to discuss. Ian Anderson, Randy Arozarena, Dylan Carlson, Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, Ryan Mountcastle, and Nick Madrigal no longer qualify for the below list, so don’t panic when you don’t see their names.

The other thing I want to mention this week is that the below list is for dynasty league purposes. We’ve already seen some non-elite prospects contribute in a meaningful way for fantasy managers in redraft leagues — names such as Yermin Mercedes and Akil Baddoo. While they’ve both been incredibly fun stories to follow, they still aren’t the same caliber of prospects as the below rankings.

Lastly, a reminder to reach out with questions on Twitter anytime — @toomuchtuma

RANK (LW) NAME POS TEAM NOTES
1 (1) Wander Franco SS TB The consensus No. 1 prospect in baseball has a good shot at debuting this season. The Rays aren’t known for aggressively promoting their prospects, though.
2 (2) Jarred Kelenic OF SEA For me, Kelenic is the clear-cut No. 2 prospect after Franco. A hyper-competitive, five-tool stud with a chance to be up before May.
3 (3) Julio Rodriguez OF SEA J-Rod likely won’t debut until 2022, but his studly hit tool keeps him in the top-3 of dynasty prospect rankings.
4 (4) Spencer Torkelson 1B DET Another premium hitter who I don’t expect to see in ’21, Tork’s bat made him an easy No. 1 pick in first year player drafts this spring.
5 (5) Bobby Witt SS KC Witt’s big spring places him above Luciano for me.
6 (6) Marco Luciano SS SF Luciano struggled against the same competition Witt was dominating. Still, he’s just 19 years old. I’m not worried.
7 (7) Andrew Vaughn 1B/OF CWS Entering Wednesday he has started just 5-of-11 games and only one against a right-handed pitcher. It’s been frustrating, but long-term there’s no reason to overreact.
8 (8) CJ Abrams SS SD Abrams’ future position remains up in the air, but a move to center field might suit the speedster best. Don’t expect him this year even with the Fernando Tatis injury.
9 (9) Ke’Bryan Hayes 3B PIT It sounds as if the Pirates placed Hayes (wrist) on the IL for precautionary reasons. Fantasy manages should be glad that he’s taking time for it to heal.
10 (10) Adley Rutschman C BAL Easily the top catching prospect in the sport. Your evaluation of him in dynasty leagues probably ties to how strongly you value high-end backstops.
11 (12) Sixto Sanchez SP MIA The latest update we have on Sixto (shoulder) is that he’s playing catch at 45 feet. That mean he still hasn’t started mound work. Ugh.
12 (13) MacKenzie Gore SP SD Gore still has ace upside but there have been some control/delivery issues dating back to the alternate training site last summer.
13 (14) Alex Kirilloff OF MIN Service time considerations will end later this week. Savvy fantasy managers should start thinking about adding him sooner rather than later.
14 (15) Austin Martin 3B TOR I’m going to try and remain higher than the consensus on Martin. The flood of Toronto position players doesn’t worry me. He’ll hit wherever he plays.
15 (18) Jasson Dominguez OF NYY Dominguez has yet to play a professional game. If he’s legit he’ll be top-10 in a hurry. I’m willing to be higher on him now in an attempt to cash in early.
16 (NR) Michael Kopech SP/RP CWS Kopech has looked downright dominant as a multi-inning reliever so far.
17 (19) Nate Pearson SP TOR Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins recently called Pearson “pain free” from his recent groin injury. Now it’s just a matter of building his arm strength back up.
18 (20) Jo Adell OF LAA Adell had a strong Cactus League showing after a disastrous first stint in the majors last year.
19 (NR) Logan Gilbert SP SEA Tall right-hander showed an uptick in “stuff” at the alternate site last summer. If he can maintain those gains over a full season there’s ace upside.
20 (NR) Matt Manning SP DET It shouldn’t be too much longer until the Tigers bring him up.

 

Honorable Mentions

SP Spencer Howard, PHI: The plan is for Howard to function as a reliever this season. Regardless of his role, we just want to see him have success in the big leagues, similar to Kopech.

C Joey Bart, SF: He just wasn’t ready in 2020. Buster Posey is hanging on after a year off, but this is still Bart’s job long term.

SP Daniel Lynch, KC: There are a number of other SPs I could’ve given this spot to, but I like Lynch’s well-roundedness. I’m anticipating a 2021 debut at some point.

1B Triston Casas, BOS: Former first-round pick has been described as “uncommonly mature” by Baseball America. Casas has prodigious power and possesses elite strike zone awareness, just like his idol Joey Votto.

OF Brandon Marsh, LAA: A well-rounded athlete who profiles as a plus defender, Marsh has gradually added lift to his swing in order to tap into his overall offensive upside.

On the Rise

2B/SS Jazz Chisholm, MIA: The dazzling 23-year-old rookie enters Tuesday night with an intriguing Baseball Savant page. Chisholm currently ranks within the 88th percentile or better in the following statistics:

  • Average Exit Velocity
  • Max Exit Velocity
  • xwOBA
  • Barrel%
  • BB%
  • Sprint Speed

That’s a wildly exciting profile. Hard-hit balls and speed, galore! Of course, Chisholm isn’t without flaws — he whiffs too often, which leads to a high strikeout rate. This lowers his appeal in batting average leagues, but so far he’s been making up for that as an overall player by walking a lot.

Chisholm is talented (he was the Marlins’ return in the Zac Gallen trade, after all) but he’s still raw. The downside is that he gets optioned to the minors in a few weeks, but the upside is that he steals 30 bases with pop. We’ve already seen the highs he can deliver — a two-steal game on April 3rd and a homer off Jacob deGrom on April 10th. We’ll learn a lot about more about him over the next several months.

On the Way Down

3B Josh Jung, TEX: It was once again tough to come up with an “On the Way Down” player. There aren’t any minor leagues games going on and we’re barely getting any information from the alternate training sites, so it’s tough to judge some of these guys right now. Therefore, I’ll take this opportunity to highlight Jung, who is a top-100 prospect but not someone who’s close to making my top-20.

He had to undergo surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot back in late-March. We recently got an update that he wouldn’t be game ready until late-May, at the earliest. This means that it’ll be even longer until he’s considered for a big league promotion. There’s still a chance he can debut in 2021, but this injury has altered his timeline.

Stat of the Week

Brent Honeywell was once considered one of the best pitching prospects in the sport. Prior to serving as the Rays’ opener on Sunday, his last professional appearance came in September of 2017. It had been four elbow surgeries and exactly 1,300 days since he last took the mound for a meaningful game. How can you not be romantic about baseball?

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Brendan Tuma is a correspondent at FantasyPros. To read more from Brendan, check out his archive and follow him @toomuchtuma.