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Top 50 Fantasy Baseball Prospects for 2020 Redraft Leagues


Freshmen players played a huge role in Major League Baseball in 2019 and rookies are poised to once again have a strong presence on your fantasy baseball teams in 2020. Rotoballer is here to help you decide which players are deserving of a roster spot as you open up the season with a list of the Top 50 redraft prospects for 2020. And we’ll be updating the list every week throughout the season.

There were 22 rookies in 2019 with at least 200 at-bats that posted a Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) of 100 or more (100 is considered league-average offense). Six players — Yordan Alvarez, Fernando Tatis Jr., Peter Alonso, Bo Bichette, Keston Hiura, and Bryan Reynolds — produced rates higher than 130 wRC+. This is an excellent offensive stat for fantasy baseball managers because it measures only offensive skill (unlike WAR which blends in defense) and also gives a great visual on how a player’s offensive output compares to the league as a whole. Only 11 rookie pitchers threw at least 100 innings in 2019 and two of those, Merrill Kelly and Yusei Kikucki, were veteran arms coming over from a foreign league. Few of the rookie arms that debuted last year have ceilings anywhere close to the Top 4 arms on this year’s list.

The 2020 rookie class is impressive but not quite as strong as it was in 2019. The hitting side definitely isn’t as deep but you still have advanced, high-ceiling talents like Gavin Lux, Luis Robert, and Carter Kieboom ready to contribute. As mentioned above, the pitching side is actually stronger this year with a good collection of high-ceiling players — such as Brendan McKay, Jesus Luzardo, Nate Pearson, and A.J. Puk  as well as lots of depth with the likes Dustin May, Jose Urquidy, Mitch Keller, and Kyle Wright.

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MLB Prospect Rankings - 2020 Redraft Leagues

Rank Player Pos Team ETA
1 Gavin Lux SS/2B LAD March
2 Luis Robert OF CWS March
3 Brendan McKay SP TB March
4 Carter Kieboom 3B/2B WAS March
5 Jesus Luzardo SP OAK March
6 Dustin May SP LAD March
7 Alex Kirilloff OF MIN June
8 Jo Adell OF LAA June
9 Nick Madrigal 2B CWS June
10 Sean Murphy C OAK March
11 Dylan Carlson OF STL June
12 Nate Pearson SP TOR June
13 Brendan Rodgers 2B/22 COL June
14 Nick Solak 3B/OF TEX May
15 Jose Urquidy SP HOU March
16 Alec Bohm 3B PHI July
17 Kyle Lewis OF SEA June
18 Sheldon Neuse 2B/3B AOK June
19 Wander Franco SS/3B TB August
20 Cristian Pache OF ATL June
21 Mitch Keller SP PIT May
22 Sixto Sanchez SP MIA June
23 Kyle Wright SP ATL June
24 A.J. Puk SP OAK June
25 Casey Mize SP DET July
26 Nico Hoerner 2B/SS CHC May
27 Mauricio Dubon 2B SF March
28 Brusdar Graterol SP MIN June
29 Forrest Whitley SP HOU July
30 Michael Kopech SP CWS July
31 Spencer Howard SP PHI July
32 MacKenzie Gore SP SD August
33 Brent Rooker OF/1B MIN July
34 Justus Sheffield SP SEA July
35 Jon Duplantier SP ARZ June
36 Joshua Lowe OF TB July
37 Daulton Varsho C/OF ARZ July
38 Matt Manning SP DET August
39 Sam Hilliard OF COL July
40 Drew Waters OF ATL August
41 Jesus Sanchez OF MIA August
42 Bobby Bradley 1B CLE July
43 Tony Gonsolin SP LAD May
44 Bryan Abreu SP HOU June
45 Ryan Mountcastle 1B/3B BAL June
46 Evan White 1B SEA May
47 Abraham Toro-Hernandez 3B HOU June
48 Justin Dunn SP SEA July
49 Randy Arozarena OF TB June
50 Joe Palumbo SP TEX May

 

Top 2020 Prospects Analysis: 1-10

You can’t go wrong with snagging Gavin Lux or Luis Robert. Both up-the-middle players are extremely talented and appear to have a big-league roles waiting for them on Day 1 of the 2020 season — something that’s not always guaranteed in this era of service time manipulation. So your decision will likely come down to the needs of your roster: Do you need a strong offensive second baseman (who might eventually become eligible at shortstop, too) or do you need help in the outfield? Lux is also likely to be a little more consistent and MLB-ready from the get-go, while Roberts could take a little time to acclimatize to the Majors and was known to have extreme hot-and-cold stretches in the minors. But the power-speed combination he possesses is not easy to find.

Kieboom is a tiny step down from those two offensive players but not by much — plus he could end up being eligible at three different infield positions. He should hit for average, produce some power (20 home runs is certainly attainable) and be even more valuable in on-base leagues after walking 68 times in 109 Triple-A games in 2019.

More outfield help should come in the form of Alex Kirilloff and Jo Adell. The former had an outstanding offensive season in 2018 before getting slowed by lingering injuries last season. We’re expecting a huge year from Kirilloff as he moves into a league with the MLB baseball. The recent signing of Josh Donaldson muddies the path for Kirilloff to reach the Majors (shifting Miguel Sano to first base). Adell’s season was also slowed by injury. He has the raw abilities to be a 20-20 (HR-SB) player but hasn’t shown much drive to become a high-volume stolen base producer.

Sean Murphy could be the next Mitch Garver — a strong offensive catcher with tons of power that could be had for a relatively modest investment. With very few good offensive catchers available in fantasy baseball, a player like Murphy is worth the risk that comes with any unproven player (and one who has had durability issues).

Brendan McKay already gave us a taste last year of what to expect from him in 2020. Keep in mind that this is a player that has split his focus between hitting and pitching. He’s improved by leaps and bounds since putting more of his focus on his mound work. With a little more polish to his command, he could shoot up the Rays’ starting pitching depth chart. The 49 innings of MLB experience he gained in 2019 gives him a head start in value over all the other pitchers on this list for 2020.

Jesus Luzardo is another arm that could have a real impact in 2020 — if he compiles enough innings. The talented southpaw is coming off an injury-plagued 2019 season and threw only 55 innings (and 109 the year before that). As a result, the club will no doubt be cautious with his workload but 100 innings of Luzardo could provide more value than another pitcher at 150 innings. He throws strikes, avoids the long-ball and misses a lot of bats.

  

Top 2020 Prospects Analysis: 11-20

Yes, I know Dylan Carlson is lower than you probably think he should be. The problem with Carlson, which we also highlighted in our Top 250 Dynasty Prospects article, is that he’s very likely not the 20-20 player he showed to be in 2019. The stolen bases were the product of smart base running, rather than pure speed, and his body suggests he’s only going to get slower. He might throw up five to 10 steals in his rookie season but he’s not in the same class as Kyle Tucker. The majority of Carlson’s value is going to come from the whack of home runs he’s going to hit, while the propensity for taking a walking will be a nice boon for his owners in on-base leagues. If Tyler O’Neill gets off to a slow start for the Cardinals, Carlson will no doubt get a chance to prove us wrong.

Nick Solak is a massive sleeper entering the year. Not many are talking about him and even the Texas Rangers have constructed a lineup with no clear path to playing time for the rookie. Unlike Carlson above, Solak has an extensive track record of success. He also exploded for a combined 32 home runs for three teams last year. He came up to the Majors for the first time and posted an OPS of .884 and a wRC+ of 126 in 33 games. Solak also has the defensive versatility that fantasy managers should crave. He could end up eligible at second base, third base and in the outfield. He may not be guaranteed an everyday position on opening day, but the Rangers would be foolish not to play him at least five days a week.

Kyle Lewis absolutely loves the MLB baseball. The former first-round draft pick jumped over Triple-A in making his MLB debut and slugged six home runs in just 18 games. Now, he’ll need to tone the strikeouts down after striking out almost 40% in his debut. There’s more bust risk here than we usually like in an unproven player but he’s shown massive line-drive rates over the past two years and has some of the best raw power around that is begging to be unlocked by some minor swing adjustments and, of course, the juiced MLB ball.

Wander Franco is the best prospect in baseball and was listed as such on the aforementioned Top 250 Dynasty Prospects List. We think he’ll get to the Majors in 2020 — but he may not arrive soon enough to be a top contributor among rookies this year. He had no issues hitting at either A-ball level last year as an 18-year-old, which is just insane. And his strikeout rate was 7%, which is even more insane. There is no reason to suspect he’ll have any issues with Double-A and promoting him to Triple-A could be akin to dropping a kid into a candy store and handing them a $50 bill. He’s going to go nuts.

No, Jose Urquidy doesn’t throw 100 miles an hour. And he doesn’t have a knee-bending breaking ball. But he showed in 2019, more than a year removed from Tommy John surgery, that he can get big league hitters out even with the juiced ball. He throws a lot of quality strikes and can get swings-and-misses on his outstanding fastball-change-up combination. And the slider showed promise, too. The Astros lack pitching depth heading into 2020, but the dangerous lineup remains intact from 2019 (albeit without the garbage cans and buzzers) so there will be lots of offensive support to go around for Urquidy and others.

 

Top 2020 Prospects Analysis: 21-30

Kyle Wright was jerked around in 2019 with the constant MLB recalls. He didn’t get on a consistent pitching schedule until the second half of the year and was very good with a 3.17 ERA and K-BB of 54-17 in 48.1 innings. If his command turns the corner and he gets a fair shot at a starting role in Atlanta, this former fifth-overall pick could really take off.

A.J. Puk has a lot of talent so his placement this far down the list shouldn’t be taken as a slight against him. We just think he’s further behind Jesus Luzardo in terms of building up his arm to handle a big innings total in 2020. Even when he returned from Tommy John surgery in 2019, he never pitched more than two innings. The A’s will have to be creative in managing his innings as a starter in 2020 and, as a playoff-hopeful team, we expect them to manage him very carefully in the first half of the year before loosening the reigns a bit in the second half.

This is the one ranking that could come back to haunt. Casey Mize is easily one of the most talented hurlers in the minor leagues and could very well become a staff ace in a few years for the Tigers. But the list is also very cautious in ranking pitchers that have yet to see action against the juiced ball in either Triple-A or the Majors. Mize and Sixto Sanchez are the two highest-ranked hurlers that have yet to pitch above Double-A. We’re also being cautious with the Detroit prospect because he’s battled shoulder and elbow issues over the past few years spanning both his pro and collegiate careers. Oh, and once he gets the promotion to the Majors, he’s not going to have much offensive support around him.

Forrest Whitley is another player that’s ranked very cautiously for 2020. We’re well aware of his resurgent results in the Arizona Fall League but the 2019 regular season was a complete dumpster fire. He allowed 34 walks in 47 innings split between Double-A and Triple-A. At the highest level of the minors, he allowed 33 earned runs in 24.1 innings. The 2019 struggles could have been health-related or they could have been a massive mental meltdown. Or maybe a combination of both. Either way, we need to see more of the 2018 Forrest Whitley before we invest too heavily in the 2020 version (although he’s an excellent buy-low candidate in dynasty leagues).

 

Top 2020 Prospects Analysis: 31-40

If Spencer Howard starts off hot in the 2020 season, he could skyrocket up this list en route to a key role on the playoff-hopeful Phillies in the second half of the year. But he also comes with durability concerns after breaking down the year after busting through the 100-innings barrier for the first time. With only six games of experience above A-ball, Howard is likely headed back to Double-A to start the season. And with only about 120-140 innings in the tank for 2020, he may be in line for about 40-50 innings in the Majors this year.

MacKenzie Gore is the best pitching prospect in baseball. And because he’s so valuable, the Padres will be very cautious with him in terms of innings pitched. He’s likely going to open the 2020 season in Double-A and then he’ll be tested against the MLB baseball in Triple-A. If all goes well, he’ll be up in the second half of the year but his full fantasy impact may come in 2021.

Brent Rooker is one of our favorite sleepers for 2020, although the Josh Donaldson signing creates more challenges for any rookie hitter looking to establish themselves in the Majors. Rooker has a step on Alex Kirilloff in terms of development, although the ceiling is not as high. The former produced excellent offensive numbers in 2019 at Triple-A (.933 OPS, 139 wRC+) but injuries kept him to 65 games.

Joshua Lowe is basically a poor man’s Kyle Tucker. He’s a gifted fielder and former first-round pick who finally started to tap into his raw power in 2019. His homer output jumped from six in 2018 to 18 last year. And with the aid of the juiced baseball, we could easily have a 20-20 (HR-SB) player here.

Daulton Varsho’s potential versatility in fantasy baseball could be a difference-maker. He has excellent offensive potential and could end up eligible at both catcher and in the outfield. He’s stolen 40 bases over the past two seasons and slugged 18 home runs in 2019. Imagine slotting in a player at the catcher position that is capable of 20 home runs and 20 steals. It could happen.

Sam Hilliard is another sleeper that is made for the juiced ball era. He has massive swing-and-miss in his game and has averaged a 30% K-rate over the past two seasons but he’s also a 30-30 (HR-SB) threat, especially playing in Colorado. Between Triple-A and the Majors, Hilliard slugged 42 home runs and stolen 24 bases. He’s twice topped 30 steals in a minor league season. Colorado would be nuts to hand the left-field job to Raimel Tapia or Ian Desmond without first giving a legitimate shot to Hilliard. But, then again, this is Colorado so…

 

Top 2020 Prospects Analysis: 41-50

If he can find his way on to the Dodgers’ starting pitching staff consistently in 2020, then Tony Gonsolin has a chance to put up some solid numbers. He’s constantly been underrated as a prospect and produced a 12% swinging-strike rate last year.

Like Gonsolin, Bryan Abreu is a player that could really help in fantasy baseball if he gets a chance to start — thanks to his massive strikeout rates. With the lack of pitching depth in Houston and a strong desire to win-now, though, the young pitcher won’t be given a lot of time to solve him control issues as a starter if they think he can overpower hitters in shorter stints as a reliever.

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