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Brendan Tuma’s Week 2 Prospect Report (2021 Fantasy Baseball)

by Brendan Tuma | @toomuchtuma | Featured Writer
Apr 7, 2021

Nearly a full week of baseball is already in the books and it feels as if a lot has changed. However, more than ever this year, I’m trying not to be to overly reactionary. Fantasy baseball is a six-month grind and we shouldn’t veer off course after a handful of games. This is especially true when we’re talking about prospects and their long-term value in dynasty leagues.

Because of this, I didn’t change the top-20 prospect rankings. Instead, I updated player notes, honorable mentions, and risers/fallers to get some fresh words out there. I just didn’t think it made any sense to alter my rankings considering we don’t even have updates on the ones who aren’t in the majors right now. I’ll likely make some changes for next Wednesday.

I also mentioned this last week, but there’s a big crop of major league players who are still considered prospects. Once we get a month or so into the season that group is going to graduate, which will start creating a lot of turnover on my list. Additionally, once minor league play begins we’ll start accruing stats for these names as well.

That isn’t to say we shouldn’t react at all, though. For example, just from the eye test it’s clear that Julian Merryweather has it. We’ll see what the role winds up being but he’s an example of someone to buy in on immediately. Below I spell out some other noticeable things I’m seeing. And don’t forget to reach with questions on Twitter anytime – @toomuchtuma.

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 CWS Vaughn finally got his first hit of the season on Tuesday night, but he’s batting just .091 through four games. Stay patient.
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 (11) Ian Anderson SP ATL Anderson was fantastic in his 2021 debut, generating seven whiffs on the 14 changeups that hitters swung at. Workload is the only question mark for redraft leagues.
12 (12) Sixto Sanchez SP MIA Sanchez is dealing with mild inflammation in the back of his right shoulder, which isn’t ideal. Injuries were a problem for him in the minors. All we can do is stay patient for now.
13 (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.
14 (14) Alex Kirilloff OF MIN Give it another week and it’ll be time to stash Kirilloff in redraft leagues.
15 (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.
16 (16) Randy Arozarena OF TB We’re still waiting for Arozarena’s first homer and steal but the hits are falling so far.
17 (17) Dylan Carlson OF STL Homered again on Tuesday night. Prior to that hit an Opening Day three-run shot had been the lone bright spot.
18 (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.
19 (19) Nate Pearson SP TOR There’s still a ton of upside in Pearson’s arm but he continues to struggle with injuries. He’s currently sidelined with a groin issue.
20 (20) Jo Adell OF LAA Adell had a strong Cactus League showing after a disastrous first stint in the majors last year.

Honorable Mentions

SP Logan Gilbert, 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.

SP Casey Mize, DET: The former No. 1 draft pick was my “On the Way Down” write-up last week following a brutal spring training performance. However, his average fastball velocity was up over two mph in his 2021 debut on Tuesday (96.0 mph compared to 93.7 mph). He remains a work in progress but the talent is obvious.

SP Tarik Skubal, DET: One of Detroit’s Big 3 pitching prospects, Skubal was good-not-great in his ’21 debut. The southpaw remains a developing young arm who also has some streaming upside in redraft leagues.

1B/OF Ryan Mountcastle, BAL: The 2019 International League MVP is a defensive liability who will need to hit for power to remain a fantasy asset (in addition to remaining in the Orioles’ lineup).

2B Nick Madrigal, CWS: The light-hitting second baseman has been more of a polarizing fantasy player than I thought he would be. Batting ninth doesn’t help. Hopefully Tony La Russa lets him run more than Rick Renteria did.

On the Rise

RP Michael Kopech, CWS: The 24-year-old opted out of the 2020 season and is now another year recovered from Tommy John surgery. Due to all the time he has missed over the past two seasons, the White Sox are using him out of the bullpen right now. He isn’t being used in short bursts, though. So far Kopech has made two appearances and they’ve each lasted two innings.

Through four innings Kopech has given up just one hit while posting an 8:2 K:BB ratio. More impressive than the stats has been how well he passes the eye test. The right-hander has always had hellacious “stuff” and it’s certainly playing up out of the bullpen. Even in redraft leagues he’s worth rostering for the ratios alone. Meanwhile his dynasty stock continues to rise.

On the Way Down

SP Spencer Howard, PHI: To be fully honest it was tough to come up with a prospect for this section, but I’ll take the opportunity to highlight Howard. I was pretty excited about his redraft value before back spasms took their toll this spring. Worsening the situation is a recent quote from Dave Dombrowski, who revealed that the team isn’t viewing the 24-year-old as a traditional starter this season.

Howard could be used as an opener or a bulk reliever once he gets back to the big leagues, which certainly hurts his fantasy value for 2021. This usage combined with his growing injury history gives me pause on his dynasty value. Of course, that could change in a hurry if Howard ultimately pitches well this summer. We just need to see it.

Stat of the Week

Tigers OF Akil Baddoo is a former second-round pick from 2016 who’s major league career is off to a ridiculous start. In less than one week of action the 22-year-old homered in his first game, smacked a grand slam in his second game, and then hit a walk-off against the team that let him go in the Rule 5 Draft (the Twins) in his third game. I haven’t added him in any 12-team redraft leagues, but he’s worth rostering in 15-team leagues as well as dynasty formats. It’s worth pointing out that Baddoo also had a monster spring training (.325/460/.750 with five homers and four steals in 50 PAs).

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

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