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Brendan Tuma’s Biggest Prospect Fallers: MacKenzie Gore, Jeter Downs, Drew Waters (2021 Fantasy Baseball)

by Brendan Tuma | @toomuchtuma | Featured Writer
Aug 25, 2021

And just like that there are only a couple of Prospect Reports left this season. Summer 2021 has flown by, but don’t worry – there will be prospect articles coming your way throughout the offseason. To make sure you don’t miss anything, feel free to follow (and reach out with questions anytime) on Twitter, @toomuchtuma.

I’ve spent most of the year talking about risers – prospects who have seen their dynasty league value increase on a weekly or season-long basis. Therefore, today’s piece will be about fallers. The below names aren’t necessarily players who have seen their stock drop within the past week.

Instead, these are the youngsters whose value has fallen most since the start of 2021. If you’re a patient fantasy baseball player and have held onto these names all this time, then it might be worth shaking things up soon. Let’s dive in.

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MacKenzie Gore (SP – SD)
I’ve already written a lot about Gore this year, but his stock has undoubtedly plummeted throughout 2021. There were warning signs entering the year — Gore was reportedly struggling with the consistency of his delivery at last summer’s alternate training site, and those issues continued in Triple-A. Gore posted a 5.85 ERA and a 1.80 WHIP in 20 disappointing innings before a blister injury shut him down.

The Padres used the injury as a reason to keep him sidelined indefinitely. It wasn’t until last week when Gore would pitch in the minors again, this time at the Arizona Complex League (rookie ball). I’m a firm believer that development isn’t always linear, so we shouldn’t write off Gore becoming a major league pitcher at some point, perhaps as a reliever. Still, it’s been a tough season for him. Chris Welsh from Prospect One (and In This League, tweet below) touched on Gore’s situation in a recent podcast we did together.

JJ Bleday (OF – MIA)
The Marlins’ No. 4 overall selection back in 2019, Bleday was recently removed from Baseball America’s midseason top 100 prospects list. He entered the year with a chance to make his major league debut at some point in 2021, but a .201/.319/.369 slash line in 95 games at Double-A has killed his value. The 23-year-old is known for his fluid, lefty swing that led to prospect analysts believing in him as a future middle-of-the-order bat. Those expectations have been put on hold for now. Bleday can be dropped in certain dynasty leagues where bench spots are precious.

Sixto Sanchez (SP – MIA)
Another Marlin on this list, but for different reasons. Sanchez hasn’t been bad in 2021. He just hasn’t played. It’s worrisome for a young pitcher who has dealt with injuries throughout his minor league career. Sanchez’s diminutive frame has always led to concerns over his ability to withstand a big workload, and we’re beginning to witness some of those fears. His strong 2020 at the major league level has helped him maintain a certain amount of value in dynasty leagues. I’d recommend “selling low” as he certainly won’t be given a big workload next season. There are also questions about his ability to generate whiffs.

Nate Pearson (SP/RP – TOR)
I’ve long thought that Pearson would be better suited as a dominant reliever. At least for the rest of 2021, the Blue Jays agree. Pearson dealt with injuries at the start of this season, so Toronto ultimately decided to use him out of the bullpen down the stretch. Not only did this accelerate his timeline to return, but it’ll give the Jays an opportunity to see how his stuff plays in shorter bursts. It’s unlikely, regardless of how September goes, that the team will give up on him as a starter entering ’22. The most important thing for Pearson at this point is to just have success in the majors, in any role.

Drew Waters (OF – ATL)
Similar to Bleday, the 22-year-old Waters had a chance to debut at some point this season. However, an underwhelming stint in Double-A (.247/.344/.397) led to the Braves acquiring several big league outfielders at the trade deadline. Perhaps he’s simply still adjusting to a higher level of competition after the lost 2020 campaign. Scouts still like Waters’ hitting potential, but he needs to work on both hitting against lefties and not being so overly-aggressive in his approach. If he doesn’t improve in these areas down the road then he’ll peak as a platoon bat in the bigs.

Jeter Downs (2B/SS – BOS)
Downs has actually played more shortstop than second base at Triple-A this year, but his bat just hasn’t produced. Acquired in the Mookie Betts trade, it once seemed as a given that he would debut before his teammate Jarren Duran. Downs was having a rough year, but it’s become quite brutal in August (.058/.222/.115). There’s a real chance that he gets demoted to Double-A soon, and he doesn’t need to be rostered in dynasty leagues these days.

Brailyn Marquez (SP – CHC)
Simply put, the 22-year-old southpaw hasn’t pitched this season, and therefore he needs to move down your rankings. Marquez dealt with COVID-19 back in the spring and then strained his shoulder while building back up. He remains a talented arm long-term, but it’s going to be a while until he gets a full workload at the big league level.

Cristian Pache (OF – ATL)
The defensive wizard has always been a better “real life” prospect than a fantasy one, since so much of his value comes from his glove. The 22-year-old is a career .119 hitter in 24 major league games, and he hasn’t fared much better at Triple-A this season. It’s worth noting that Pache is hitting .327 during the month of August, however. He doesn’t need to be rostered in dynasty leagues.

Asa Lacy (SP – KC)
The Royals have been aggressive with promoting young pitchers the past two seasons, but Lacy has struggled badly in High-A this summer. Taken fourth overall in last year’s draft, Lacy has disappointed with a 5.19 ERA and a 1.58 WHIP through his first 52 professional innings. The biggest concerns has been walks — 42 in the aforementioned 52 frames. Lacy won’t be a dynasty league asset until that improves. As for his immediate value, Lacy is still working his way back from a shoulder injury he suffered in late July.

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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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