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Brendan Tuma’s Prospect Report: Jarred Kelenic, Cristian Pache, George Kirby (2021 Fantasy Baseball)

by Brendan Tuma | @toomuchtuma | Featured Writer
Apr 21, 2021

The major league season has been up and running for a few weeks now, but we’re still waiting on our favorite prospects to begin playing in minor league contests. We’re getting closer, but we aren’t there just yet. Therefore, a lot of prospect analysis from this month has been geared towards those already playing in the big leagues.

I already highlighted all the turnover we’ve had in my recent Top-100 rankings update. If you play in a dynasty league or just like reading Top-100 lists then you should check that out. You should also reach out on Twitter with questions/feedback, because I love talking about all things baseball/fantasy/prospects — @toomuchtuma.

The below rankings obviously don’t go 100 deep, but I’m able to provide some notes and dive in deeper on some of the honorable mentions, one player who’s rising, and one who’s falling. Let’s dive in!

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 I’m really hoping / expecting we see Kelenic in the very near future.
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 Chicago’s usage of Vaughn early this season has been wildly frustrating.
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.
9 (9) Ke’Bryan Hayes 3B PIT Hayes progressed to hitting on the field this past weekend, which is the first time he had done so since suffering his wrist injury.
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 (11) 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 (12) 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 (13) Alex Kirilloff OF MIN Service time considerations are no longer a concern for a potential Kirilloff promotion. Redraft players who desperately need offense should stash him now.
14 (14) 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 (15) 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 (16) Michael Kopech SP/RP CWS Kopech has looked downright dominant as a multi-inning reliever so far.
17 (17) Nate Pearson SP TOR Pearson (groin) was scheduled to throw live BP this week. He could be ready to go within a couple of weeks.
18 (18) Jo Adell OF LAA Adell had a strong Cactus League showing after a disastrous first stint in the majors last year.
19 (19) 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) Spencer Howard SP PHI The plan is for Howard to function as a reliever this season. More important than his role is just seeing him pitch well in the bigs, similar to Kopech.

Honorable Mentions

2B/SS Jazz Chisholm, MIA: The electrifying rookie rates out extremely well on Baseball Savant. The hard-hit data and sprint speed are both elite, though the swing-and-miss in his game is a tad concerning.

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.

SP Matt Manning, DET: It shouldn’t be too much longer until the Tigers bring him up. He’ll be a factor in redraft leagues once that happens.

SP/RP Garrett Crochet, CWS: The 2020 first-round pick hasn’t been as lights out pitching in relief as I was hoping he would be this season. By all reports the White Sox still view him as a starter long-term.

OF Robert Hassell III, SD: Another 2020 first-round pick, reports on the 19-year-old have been strong this spring. Hassell is far away from the big leagues but he could rise up prospect lists in a hurry if he keeps impressing like he’s been.

On the Rise

SP George Kirby, SEA: As I’ve been mentioning, there just isn’t much prospect news while these guys are the their team’s alternate training sites. However, prospect guru Chris Welsh has been at Seattle’s minor league complex and was able to watch Kirby live. The results are thrilling:

Kirby came out of college as a control-oriented pitcher, similar to Shane Bieber when he was first coming up. His fastball sat in the low 90s in college, but the added velocity that Welsh witnessed puts his upside on a whole other level. Reports from last summer indicate that the velocity gains Kirby has been making haven’t yet come at the expense of his trademark control.

Might this be the prospect world overreacting to some of the limited news we’ve been getting? Perhaps, but this is a genuinely exciting development for Kirby. The Mariners are coming, man.

On the Way Down

OF Cristian Pache, ATL: There’s no question that Pache is going to be an elite defensive player in the major leagues, which makes him such a fun prospect from a “real life” perspective. The 22-year-old has a legitimate 80-grade fielding tool with plus speed and a strong throwing arm. That glove got him onto Atlanta’s postseason roster last year, and he became a regular in the NLCS following Adam Duvall‘s injury.

It’s the bat that limits my enthusiasm for Pache as a fantasy player. I’ve made it no secret that, compared to some prospect lists who factor in defense, I bump up sluggers who should provide quality fantasy production. Triston Casas is an example. This logic means I need to move Pache down, though. A potential second-coming of Andruw Jones, Pache is still developing as a hitter and learning how to use the whole field.

It’s not as if he doesn’t have power. It’s just that he’s such an extreme pull-hitter, and I’d like to see him become more well-rounded. Pache is currently on the IL with a left groin strain. The offensive development could take years, so I’d use his high standing on other prospect lists as a chance to trade him in dynasty.

Stat of the Week

White Sox legend Yermin Mercedes had only been a DH in the majors until this past weekend…when the first position he played in the field was at pitcher! Mercedes’ .390 batting average is currently second in the American League. Is there anything he can’t do?

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