With Minor League baseball back, it’s time for the Touts to do some prospecting.
What prospects are you following closely? Is there an under the radar minor leaguer we should track?
Chris Liss (Rotowire, @Chris_Liss): Bobby Witt because I over drafted him in a few leagues. Think Josh Lowe might get a shot once injuries strike in Tampa too.
Scott Pianowski (Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, @Scott_Pianowski): I almost never pick wait-for-them rookies in non-keeper leagues, but I couldn’t help myself with Jarred Kelenic (call me crazy, but I think his floor is Kyle Tucker). I’m hoping the Mariners feel more pressure than usual to get their best team on the field, and maybe that means Julio Rodriguez comes up this year, too. As for pitchers, I’m expecting MacKenzie Gore to get a chance in San Diego this year and be a contributor, either as a rotation guy or a wipeout, fire-breathing reliever. Fantasy baseball has never been more reliever-friendly – as the wins keep moving away from starters – so it won’t bother me if Gore isn’t starting right away.
Nando Di Fino (The Athletic, @nandodifino): I’m still hooked on Rylan Bannon — .280 avg and .375 OBP in 292 career games; he hit 22 HRs in 2018 (and 10 in 40 games in 2017, then dropped off a little in 2019) and Baltimore’s current second basemen are both hitting below .165.
Jock Thompson (Baseball HQ, @JOCKatHQ): My top under-the-radar guy is no more; happy to say I was able to pick up Shane McClanahan in one of my keeper/dynasty leagues. Right now given what’s happening to BAs, look for hit tools. On that note, I’m also high on Tyler Soderstrom (OAK catcher), at least for dynasty play (obviously he won’t show in OAK this year). Hit tool and power, potential fast-tracker.
Tim McLeod (Prospect361.com, @RunTMcP361 ): Pedro Leon. Carlos Correa appears to be heading into Free Agency after turning down a six-year $120 mill offer. Leon will be playing the bulk of his time at SS this year as he attempts to knock the rust off after coming over from Cuba. Keep your eyes on this kid as the power/speed combination and fast-tracking by the Astros, could make him a very alluring pickup in Keeper leagues for 2022.
Peter Kreutzer (Ask Rotoman, Fantasy Baseball Guide, @kroyte): For selfish reasons (I took them on reserve in my AL only league) I’m tracking Brandon Marsh, Vidal Brujan, and Trevor Larnach, looking forward to minor league games, expecting new news to topple expectations both for the good and the bad. Marsh is coming back from injury, Brujan is wicked fast, and Larnach is young, but all will be fantasy valuable sometime (though not necessarily this year).
Brian Walton (CreativeSports2, @B_Walton): As I specialize in the St. Louis Cardinals, I will comment on them here. Left-handers Zack Thompson and Matthew Liberatore jumped over Double-A and are in a race to be first to be called up later this summer, though likely in a relief role before competing for the 2022 rotation. At Double-A, watch catcher Ivan Herrera and power threat Nolan Gorman, who is learning 2B to go with 3B. Both are potential 2022 contributors but will move up as quickly as they show they are ready.
Rob Leibowitz (Rotoheaven, @rob_leibowitz): I’m going to keep an eye on Kyle Isbel. He won the starting job out of spring training only to play sporadically and get sent back down after an out of character high strikeout rate. He only has the platoon of Dyson/Taylor in front of him. Potential 20/20 talent with on-base skills. They pushed him to the Majors aggressively, but am interested to see if he can stabilize and get some reps in AAA to get him comfortable again.
Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): I’ll let those better versed in the minors share their names (of which I am very much interested). As a guy who tries to keep updated rest-of-season projections (where the playing time is far more important than the numbers), I really missed knowing how each team’s organizational depth was playing. You know, either Quad-A guys or journeyman signed to minor league deals. As an example, Josh Reddick was signed by Arizona and with all their outfield injuries, he could get a shot, but I have no idea how he’s performing at the alternate training site.
James Anderson (Rotowire, @RealJRAnderson): Jarred Kelenic, Logan Gilbert, Jo Adell, Bobby Bradley, Wander Franco are some obvious ones. Obviously pitching prospects are volatile for health and performance, but Matt Manning, Jackson Kowar and Alek Manoah are some great pitching prospects who are at Triple-A and could be up in a month or two. Josh Lowe and Travis Swaggerty are some under-the-radar power/speed guys on the hitting side.
Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): I don’t typically care for re-draft leagues, but for dynasty (XFL) I care a great deal and try to monitor everything I can get my hands on. I really look at shortstops (who often end up playing other positions anyway) and look for bat to ball skills and at least some pop. I’ll be interested in where this year’s July draft class goes. The youngest player I am tracking right now is Jadyn Fielder who is a 16 yo HS junior (son of Prince, grandson of Cecil).
Ryan Bloomfield (BaseballHQ, @RyanBHQ): To be brutally honest, the prospect game is my “know your limitations” blind spot for fantasy. I don’t pretend to know and track prospects, so I lean on the great work of three sites: BaseballHQ (all scouting reports geared towards fantasy), RotoWire (for lists and evals; James Anderson does a great job), and Prospects Live (for in-person video/reports). Putting the time in to read these three outlets is a much better use of my time than trying to couch/stat-scout on my own.
Ray Flowers (Fantasy Guru, @BaseballGuys): I’m really not a big prospecting guy. With the need for production acute with all the injuries and in and out of the lineup stuff we gotta face, I infrequently invest in minor leaguers in re-draft leagues. That said, Vidal Brujan for his speed piece could be very interesting, but it might be Logan Gilbert who I’m most attracted to. Everyone talks about M. Gore, but what about Gilbert in 2021?
Brent Hershey (Baseball HQ, @BrentHQ): Jarren Duran (OF, BOS) was a slap-hitting speedster who looked like he hit his ceiling at Double-A in 2019 (28 SB, but hit .250/.300/.325 in 320 AB). But he spent 2020 at the alternate site reworking his swing to add some loft and power, and if you were a spring training highlights watcher, you saw some of the results, where 10 of his 16 hits went for extra bases (including 3 HR), and the Sox played him a lot (47 spring ABs). He’s now a power + speed guy who could play his way onto the Boston squad sometime this year, and given his SB ability, could make a difference in fantasy leagues.
Anthony Perri (Fantistics, @Anthony_Perri): Like most others I follow the top prospects, in redraft leagues, specifically those that can come in and have an immediate impact. I tend to focus on high k/9 pitchers or guys that steal bases. One under the radar guy that is starting to get a lot of buzz is CUBS OF prospect Brennen Davis. He’s going to be a 20-20 guy out of the gate, but you’ll probably have to wait until 2022 for that.
Jason Collette (Rotowire, @jasoncollette): Joe Ryan — could have the same type of impact in-season that Colin Poche had when he came up with TB. Ryan led the minor leagues with a 34% K-BB in 2019 across three levels. 183 strikeouts in 127.2 IP!
Matt Williams (NBC Sports Edge, @MattWi77iams): Josh Lowe (OF, Rays) is someone I am very interested in tracking. In 2019 the first baseman hit .252 with 18 home runs and 30 stolen bases in Double-A. There are strikeout issues, but Lowe has shown strong on-base skills that should alleviate some concern. Very athletic outfielder than has an exciting ceiling for fantasy.
Eric Karabell (ESPN, @karabelleric): Certainly the top of the Worcester lineup could find its way in Boston soon because the big league lineup has holes. Jarren Duran is stronger now and hitting for power and Jeter Downs is clearly going to hit and get on base enough. Watch Triston Casas, too I don’t know if he can make enough contact, but it’s not like Bobby Dalbec is, either
Grey Albright (RazzBall, @razzball): I just ask Itch from our site or Geoff from Prospects Live. That’s my advice. Find prospects guys you trust vs. trying to learn everyone. With that said, can Jarren Duran and Jarred Kelenic come up already? Just want to walk around like Chingy singing, “Right Jarr…Right Jarr…”
Alex Chamberlain (Rotographs, @DolphHauldhagen): Not even sure they count as prospects but I’m eager to continue monitoring Denyi Reyes (BOS) and Eli Morgan (CLE), both fringy command-first guys who seem like they could make an impact if they develop/refine legit secondaries. Morgan appears to come from a long line of pitchers in Cleveland (whether drafted or by trade) who did exactly that (Kluber, Bieber, Plesac, Civale), but he lacks velocity, which means he could end up more like the failure among this group (Tomlin). We’ll see!
Mike Gianella (Baseball Prospectus, @MikeGianella): Mostly prospects on my various teams so Triston Casas, Bobby Witt Jr., and C.J. Abrhams. There really isn’t anyone specific “under the radar” I’m looking at, but I tend to focus on AA and AAA rosters of bad teams in redraft leagues to see if someone like the 2019 iteration of Josh Rojas is lurking.
Mike Podhorzer (Fangraphs, @MikePodhorzer): I rarely follow prospects, as it’s easier to check the minor league leaderboards and dive deeper into who’s actually performing well and deserving of a call-up, rather than follow specific top prospects to see if they are performing well.
Anthony Aniano (Rotoballer, @AAnianoFantasy): Bobby Witt is the prospect I am monitoring. What position is he playing? Has he cut down on his strikeouts? With KC overachieving he can have impact if recalled. An under the radar prospect is Ronny Mauricio of the Mets. He’s now blocked at SS by Lindor but can be a nice trade chip and walk into playing time if the Mets move him during the year.
Perry Van Hook (Mastersball, @): Most of you know how extensive my prospect lists are on Mastersball. BUT in redraft leagues we are only concerned with those who will definitely help this year. Gore, Padres pitcher is the highest rated of the ml pitchers and should have some time this year (especially if Lamet goes back on the IL). One ranked lower but who almost started for Oakland in April is Daulton Jefferies but he starts the minor league season on the IL with bicep tendonitis but should be pitching by late this month or early June. The key with many prospects is how their ML teams handle them so as good as Wander Franco is, will Tampa Bay call him up before September? If there is an injury at SS or 2B, maybe. Those far more likely to see time by next month would be Kelenic in Seattle or Witt in KC – and Witt is playing both 2B and OF in the minors to increase his chances IF the Royals can stay in contention in the AL Central.
Scott Swanay (FantasyBaseballSherpa, @fantasy_sherpa): Jarren Duran is probably the minor leaguer I’m most interested in following this year (well, it’s actually Jasson Dominguez, but he’s not going to help anyone’s fantasy teams this season). Also rooting for a local kid, Chris McMahon who had the misfortune of being drafted as a pitcher by the Colorado Rockies last year – his best hope for a fruitful major league career is to be traded to another organization as part of a bigger deal.
Shelly Verougstraete (Dynasty Guru, @ShellyV_643): Outside of the names already mentioned, I’d add Edward Olivares, Jesus Sanchez, Lewin Diaz, and JJ Bleday. As for pitchers, Jackson Kowar, Matt Manning, and Corbin Martin.
Glenn Colton (Fantasy Alarm, @GlennColton1): Logan Gilbert on the pitching side and Jarren Duran on the hitting side. After all, even before Paxton got hurt, the Mariners needed Gilbert and do we really think Franchy is going to not only get out of this horrific slump but also stay healthy too? Nah
Greg Jewett (Fantasy Alarm, @gjewett9): Tracking closely resembles many on this list: Bobby Witt Jr., Logan Gilbert, Jarren Duran (speed) and Wander Franco. An under the radar player of interest, Josiah Gray. Los Angeles refutes they will promote him for the fifth spot in the rotation, right now. However, this organization plugs holes well with a next man up modus operandi. Gray could join the team early June in a Dustin May like role from last season as a spot starter, long reliever. A chance at vulture wins with strikeouts makes him someone worth tracking early on in his Triple-A outings.
Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis): The domino effect of the release of Albert Pujols may make room for top under the radar prospects Jo Adell or Brandon Marsh to get an earlier call up. With Pujols no longer with the Angels, Jared Walsh will move to first base. This opens up right field for either Adell or Marsh. Brandon Marsh is coming off a shoulder issue, so let’s hope this is not a lingering injury.
Bret Sayre (Baseball Prospectus, @BretSayreBP): At the outset of the season, I’m going to be watching closely a bunch of players who don’t have a pro ball track record to see how quickly they acclimate to the climate. On the hitting side, I’ve got a close eye on Austin Martin and Nick Gonzales as potentially fast movers who are looking to make good on big-time amateur promise. On the pitching side, well, as many names as I can. So much can change with pitchers in 20 months and that’s exactly how long it’s been since we’ve seen any of them in games. As for an under-the-radar prospect, I still absolutely love the skill set Keoni Cavaco brings to the table and the potential five-category contributor is getting his first taste of full-season ball this year.
Mike Sheets (ESPN, @MikeASheets): Some of the guys I’m most excited about are players on my dynasty team (go figure), so I have a vested interest in guys like Noelvi Marte, Triston Casas, Jarren Duran, and Michael Harris. Harris might be the name that’s most intriguing right now. There’s so much hype in the Braves organization that he’s starting to quickly ascend prospect lists. I’m excited to see whether he can live up to that hype.
Zach Steinhorn (CreativeSports2, @zachsteinhorn): I drafted Logan Gilbert in the reserve rounds in Tout Wars, so for selfish reasons, I’ll be closely monitoring his progress. Heading into the season, Gilbert was viewed as arguably the most big-league ready starting pitching prospect, but it sounds like the Mariners will be taking a cautious approach, preferring to call him up later in the season and have him close out the year in the bigs as opposed to shutting him down early due to innings restrictions. Gilbert will be making his Triple-A debut on Friday night, so hopefully he will pitch so well in the coming weeks that the Mariners will have little choice but to promote him sooner rather than later.
Vlad Sedler (Fantasy Guru, @rotogut): Many of the usual suspects but specifically tracking four guys I’ve invested in who I’m hoping can help some of my fantasy squads this season: Kelenic, Witt Jr., Duran and Gilbert.