Dynasty Trade Advice: Prospects to Target (2023 Fantasy Baseball)
It feels like just yesterday the Astros were lifting their second commissioner’s trophy, yet here we sit, less than a mere three weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting in 2023. Major League Baseball is right around the corner, and that means dynasty leagues will be firing up across the globe in the coming days.
2022 proved that the sharpest of fantasy owners were able to compile some of the top young talent the MLB has seen in years. Second-to-none prospects a la Julio Rodriguez and Bobby Witt Jr. made their marks, while others such as Steven Kwan, Michael Harris II, and eventual World Series MVP Jeremy Pena exceeded expectations deep into the postseason. Another young group seems poised to carry on the tradition in 2023, highlighted by renowned names like Corbin Carroll, Gunnar Henderson, and Triston Casas.
The question now beckons- which lesser-known young prospects could explode onto the scene in 2023 and beyond?
Prospects to Target in Dynasty Leagues
Ceddanne Rafaela (SS/OF – BOS)
Though Rafaela’s name has certainly begun gaining more national traction, he continues to fly a bit under the radar compared to some of his higher-profile Boston counterparts. The 22-year-old was brought on by the Red Sox back in 2017 for an almost incomprehensible $10,000 signing bonus, and the youngster has done nothing but produce since.
While small-framed at just 5′ 8″ and 152 pounds, Rafaela plays far above his stature, as he mashed 21 home runs, 63 XBHs, and garnered 28 steals over his playing time in 2022. In addition, to his benefit, Rafaela has the distinct ability to play at multiple positions on the diamond as a plus-speed athlete. These factors, coupled together with the fact that Boston has some clear holes across the diamond, project well for Rafaela to see playing time in the 2023 season. Should the youngster be able to claim an everyday role over one of Boston’s aging veterans, he could even be primed for a breakout campaign.
There are few MLB teams with more blue-chip prospects than the Cubs right now. With so much focus on the 2022 phenom Seiya Suzuki along with huge names like Pete-Crow Armstrong, Brennan Davis, and Cristian Hernandez, a former first-round pick for Chicago has been left out of the picture.
Howard is just 20 years old and was one of the Cubs’ most highly touted prospects just three short years ago. The shortstop, led by his defense, started his minor league career struggling with the bat out of the gate. To add insult to injury (literally), Howard required season-ending surgery after a freak incident in May of last year and he has been sidelined since. However, prior to going down, he had improved on his numbers at the plate after a dismal 2021, posting a near-double walk rate while cutting down on his strikeout numbers by over 10 points. With youth and prototypical 6′ 2″ size on his side, there is no reason for Howard to be pushed to the side this early on in his sanctioned career.
Amidst a true atrocity of a season, the Athletics may have made their best move of 2022 by dealing away SP Frankie Montas to the Yankees for a plethora of prospects at the deadline. Amongst those received was Cooper Bowman, the 6′ 0″, 205-pound fourth-rounder out of the 2021 draft.
Bowman’s profile is of a complete athlete with top-tier speed, plus-defense and annual 20-HR upside as an everyday bat. The native South Dakotan swiped 47 bags across two teams in High-A ball last season. While his batting average and discipline need some refining at the plate, Bowman is a high-IQ player that should be able to make proper adjustments. He will have every opportunity to climb the minor league ranks in 2023, as Oakland will be continuing their years-long rebuild. Bowman is a name that should remain on dynasty radars going forward.
The lesser known of the Acuna brothers, Luisangel was the recipient of a $325,000-higher signing bonus than his older brother Ronald received back in 2014. The 20-year-old debuted and showed out for the Rangers in Low-A ball in 2022, making his presence known and reminding fans of his athletic family surname.
Last season, Acuna rode a .277/.369/.426 line over 91 games played between Single-A and Double-A ball with 11 home runs, 29 XBHs and 40 steals. He is extremely aggressive at the plate, in similar fashion to his brother, and his base stealing instincts are top-notch. Acuna is capable of playing most positions on the diamond, which could accelerate his eventual push toward the big leagues in the long run. While it is unlikely that Acuna makes his MLB debut in the 2023 season, it is not out of the realm of possibility if he continues to tear the cover off the ball in the minors. It is simply a matter of when, not if, he becomes an everyday major leaguer.
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