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Brendan Tuma’s Prospect Report: Julio Rodriguez, The New No. 1 (2021 Fantasy Baseball)

by Brendan Tuma | @toomuchtuma | Featured Writer
Aug 11, 2021

Happy graduation to Wander Franco, Jarred Kelenic, and Alek Manoah! Man, these are some big ones. Manoah burst onto the scene this past May, quickly becoming a top-25 overall prospect. It’s been fantastic to see him have success in the majors, too.

As for Franco and Kelenic, well, they’ve been 1-2 in prospect rankings for what feels like forever now. It’s been a while since I’ve had to think about who the next No. 1 overall prospect should be, but I’m pretty happy with where I arrived. My top 7-8 prospects have held pretty steady since the 2021 season began, and I haven’t really changed things just because we got some big graduations.

Bobby Witt Jr. leaped Spencer Torkelson to check in at No. 2, but otherwise most guys simply ticked up a couple of spots. Some new(ish) names are making their claim for top-10 consideration as well, so it’s exciting to have some fresh names to discuss now.

Time to dive in. Lastly, a reminder to reach out with questions on Twitter anytime – @toomuchtuma.

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1 Julio Rodriguez OF SEA It has been an eventful year for my new No. 1, who advanced to Double-A before helping lead the Dominican Republic to a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
2 Bobby Witt Jr. SS KC Has a .970 OPS with seven homers in 18 games since being promoted to Triple-A. 21-year-old is worth stashing in deeper redraft leagues.
3 Spencer Torkelson 1B DET The 1.01 from 2020 has had an exceptional first season in the minors, though he has cooled as of late. Witt’s proximity to the bigs gives him a slight edge here.
4 Marco Luciano SS SF He’ll need some time to adjust to High-A, but I’m obsessed with his ability to barrel up balls and produce loud contact.
5 Adley Rutschman C BAL MLB Pipeline’s new No. 1, Rutschman’s defense and plus-plus makeup add value for real life purposes. Even as a catcher he’s a no-brainer top-five prospect now.
6 C.J. Abrams SS SD Keeping him inside the top six despite being out for the season. Skill set is that electric.
7 Noelvi Marte SS SEA Another young shortstop who continues to check boxes, albeit at the low levels of the minors.
8 Riley Greene OF DET I’ve been underweight on him this year, but it’s time for a top-10 inclusion following some recent graduations.
9 Brennen Davis OF CHC Some within the industry have Davis as a top-three dynasty league prospect.
10 Triston Casas 1B BOS Double-A stats are underwhelming, but scouting reports and Tokyo performance inspire confidence in this ranking.
11 Vidal Brujan 2B/OF TB Has hit .396 while going 9-for-9 in stolen base attempts in 13 games since being optioned back to Triple-A Durham
12 Grayson Rodriguez SP BAL Has totaled a whopping 114 strikeouts in 71 1/3 innings this year.
13 Jasson Dominguez OF NYY One of the most hyped prospects ever who’s finally playing — and being challenged — at Low-A. Sporting a strikeout rate near 30% entering Tuesday.
14 Jarren Duran OF BOS Has struggled to adjust to major league game similar to other top prospects this year.
15 Austin Martin OF MIN Have had concerns since the Futures Game. A lot of negative reports came out following the trade. I’ll wait until the offseason to make a significant rankings change.
16 Francisco Alvarez C NYM Rutschman, Alvarez, and Soderstrom are here to remind us that catching prospects aren’t dead just yet, not even for fantasy purposes.
17 Cade Cavalli SP WAS Walks have been an issue since being promoted to Double-A, but the strikeout upside is limitless.
18 Shane Baz SP TB Expecting/hoping we see him in a bullpen role down the stretch, but he remains a starter long-term.
19 Robert Hassell OF SD The swing and approach are both there. I’m trusting the power will develop as he fills out.
20 Zac Veen OF COL Hit .219 with zero homers and 17 stolen bases in his first 32 games at Low-A. Has hit .352 with 13 homers and 12 stolen bases since. Fascinating prospect.

Honorable Mentions

SP George Kirby, SEA: Talented evaluators love him, but the Mariners are playing it extra safe this season. A 52:8 K:BB in 41 2/3 innings makes it easy to look past those workload limiations.

SS Anthony Volpe, NYY: The Yankees’ first-round selection from 2019 is hitting .306/.439/.611 with 17 homers and 26 stolen bases between Low-A and High-A this season. Make sure he’s rostered in your dynasty leagues.

C Tyler Soderstrom, OAK: He’s able to do it all at the plate — hit for power, spray line drives to all fields, and run deep counts. He’s grown a ton physically since being drafted out of high school last summer, which is why his stock is on the rise. Foregoing catching would expedite his path to the big leagues as defense remains an issue.

OF Corbin Carroll, ARI: He’s been out all year due to a shoulder injury, but needed to include him to make sure folks aren’t forgetting his talent/upside. Likely would’ve been a top-15 prospect by now if he hadn’t gotten hurt.

SP Nick Lodolo, CIN: Saw a huge jump in Baseball America’s midseason ranking update. Recently promoted to Triple-A.

On the Rise

SS Reginald Preciado, CHC: Okay. Preciado still feels like a secret, but I’m starting to see some buzz around him. Acquired in the Yu Darvish trade, the 19-year-old infielder has absolutely popped since getting to rookie ball. Yes, hitting .366 is good, but it’s the Arizona Complex League, so who cares? But the scouting reports! This could be an uber-elite prospect within the next year or two. Traditional prospect sites typically don’t rank youngsters so highly, but I’ll be very curious to see where Preciado lands in offseason updates. I began singing his praises to my Patreon subscribers earlier this week.

On the Way Down

SP Simeon Woods-Richardson, MIN: Fell out of Baseball America’s midseason top 100 due to his struggles since being promoted to Double-A.

Stat of the Week

The Baltimore Orioles surprised a lot of people by taking college outfielder Colton Cowser with the No. 5 overall selection in this year’s draft. However, the Sam Houston State product has been lighting it up in at the Florida Complex league so far. Through his first five games as a professional Cowser is an absurd 11-for-16 (.688) with a homer, three doubles, seven RBI, and a 3:1 BB:K ratio. Not bad!

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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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