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Top 30 Impact Prospects for 2020 Redraft Leagues


The off-season prospects coverage kicked off recently at Rotoballer with the Top 30 Dynasty Prospects list. This week, we’re taking our first stab at projecting the top impact prospects for 2020 redraft leagues.

Looking ahead, the 2020 wave of MLB rookies should be much more pitching heavy than it was last year as numerous key hitters made their debuts in 2019, such as Peter Alonso, Yordan Alvarez, Fernando Tatis Jr., Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Eloy Jimenez, Bo Bichette and many more. Quite a few of the pitchers with high ceilings received a taste of MLB action in 2019 but retained their rookie eligibility and should play much larger roles in 2020.

A list of this nature considers a player’s overall ceiling and their MLB readiness, as well as the potential for regular playing time. A player like Brendan Rodgers, at this point of the off-season, takes a hit despite having a high ceiling because he’ll have to battle Ryan McMahon for a job or see other pieces moved around to make room. This list will change a lot between now and Opening Day 2020, especially once the wheeling-and-dealing gets started at the MLB Winter Meetings.

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Fantasy Baseball Prospect Rankings (1-10)

1. Luis Robert, OF, White Sox (ETA: May)

Robert had a monster 2019 season while playing at three minor league levels. He topped out with 47 games in Triple-A so he shouldn’t need to return to Triple-A for more than a month. He finished last year with 32 home runs and 36 stolen bases, which makes him an extremely valuable fantasy player, although his ugly BB-K of 28-129 suggests he may not hit for a high average right away in the Majors if pitchers are smart enough to exploit his aggressive nature. With that said, he produces epic line-drive rates so he should have a strong impact nonetheless.

2. Gavin Lux, SS, Dodgers (ETA: April)

Lux is another player who had a monster year and played at three levels. But this middle-infield stud finished the year in the Majors — although his results were hurt when he became overly aggressive with a BB-K of 6-23. A natural shortstop, he played more second base in the Majors but should eventually have dual eligibility, which will further improve his fantasy value. Lux has shown the ability to hit for both average and power and could hit 20 home runs as a rookie with a handful of steals.

3. Brendan McKay, LHP/1B, Rays (ETA: April)

One more inning pitched in 2019 and McKay would have lost rookie eligibility for 2020. Luckily, we still get to talk about him for now. He entered this past season as a two-way player but it became abundantly clear that his true calling was on the mound. McKay has advanced control for his age but the command comes and goes, which results in too many hits at times; it would be nice to see him induce more ground balls — especially in a potent league like the American League East. Still, a K-BB rate of 56-16 in 49 innings is nothing to sneeze at and it should only get better.

4. Jo Adell, OF, Angels (ETA: May)

The 2019 season was a disappointing one for Adell, who battled through injuries in the first half of the season and then hit a wall at Triple-A in the final month. The 20-year-old outfielder’s strikeout rate rocketed up to 33% in Triple-A after sitting at just 22.5% in Double-A. Adell has the athleticism and strong makeup to learn from that experience and use it to get better. He has 20-20 (HR-SB) potential but he’s never been a big base stealer. If he can show a little more patience and stay healthy in 2020, Adell could be poised for a big breakout.

5. Jesus Luzardo, LHP, Athletics (ETA: April)

Luzardo has a case for being ranked even higher but the shoulder injury he suffered in 2019 was pretty serious and cannot be completed discounted just yet. Even if he doesn’t re-injure the shoulder, the A’s will likely be a little extra cautious with the organization’s prized prospect in 2020. Pitching out of the bullpen during his MLB debut, Luzardo commanded three above-average offerings — no easy task for such a young player. He’ll no doubt return to the starting rotation in 2020 and has top-of-the-rotation potential.

6. Dustin May, RHP, Dodgers (ETA: April)

May's minor league success (3.38 ERA, K-BB of 110-29) carried over to a promotion to the Majors in 2019 and he’s well-positioned to challenge for a bigger role in 2020. The right-handed pitcher held numerous roles with the big league club and was unfazed. He posted a 3.63 ERA with a K-BB of 32-5 in the regular season and earned a spot on the playoff squad.

7. Carter Kieboom, SS, Nationals (ETA: May)

Kieboom’s first taste of The Show likely didn’t go as well as he had hoped for, as he got away from his overall game and tried to hit every ball out of the park. The young infielder is at his best when he’s patient, uses the whole field and just looks to hit the ball hard. With that said, he has 20-homer potential and should also produce excellent on-base numbers. He has some added value in fantasy baseball because he can play three infield positions.

8. Nate Pearson, RHP, Blue Jays (ETA: May)

The first wave of homegrown support arrived for the Jays in 2019 but it was almost all offense with the likes of Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. With apologies to Anthony Kay, who appeared in three MLB games in 2019, the wave of talented pitching should really get going with Pearson in 2020. The hard-throwing beast can tickle triple digits with his fastball and has two breaking balls with above-average potential. The Jays are likely to play service-time games with Pearson but he should be up for good in May and could throw 130-140 innings.

9. Wander Franco, SS, Rays (ETA: July)

Yes, the Rays are known for being conservative when developing prospects but Franco has already thrown off those shackles while playing at two A-ball levels in 2019 at the age of 18. He hit .339 with a BB-K of 26-15 in 52 High-A ball games in the second half of the year so Double-A is his likely assignment to open up the 2020 season. To be honest, he’d probably be OK opening the year in Triple-A, especially if the juiced ball remains. But don’t be surprised with six to eight weeks in Double-A, three to four weeks in Triple-A and then a full second half of the season in the bigs.

10. Alex Kirilloff, OF, Twins (ETA: May)

Kirilloff is another player whose 2019 numbers don’t tell the full story. A year removed from hitting a combined .348 with 20 homers over two A-ball levels, the outfielder’s season was delayed by injury and he didn’t look fully healthy until the final month of the year. Expect a huge outburst in Triple-A and then excellent MLB production for the Twins as the club makes another playoff push with its talented young players.

 

Fantasy Baseball Prospect Rankings (11-20)

11. Casey Mize, RHP, Tigers (ETA: May)

The Tigers were terrible in 2019. But they could get very good, very fast if they can find some offense to go along with the wave of pitching talent that’s on a 2020 collision course with the Majors — led by Mize. Had he stayed healthy in 2019, he might have even pitched some big league innings in the second half of the year. Pitching in his first full season after going first overall in the 2018 draft, Mize posted a K-BB of 106-23 in 109.1 innings. He has excellent control and once his command takes a step forward, he should start to rack up more strikeouts.

12. Alec Bohm, 3B, Phillies (ETA: June)

In just his first full pro season, this 2018 first-round draft pick played at three minor league levels. He topped out in Double-A and hit a combined .305 with 21 home runs. He also showed a good approach at the plate with a BB-K of 57-73 in 125 games. With 63 games under his belt at the Double-A level, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Bohm open 2020 in Triple-A and then reach the Majors within one to two months.

13. Sean Murphy, C, Athletics (ETA: April)

Injuries threatened to ruin Murphy’s season but he came back with a vengeance. He slugged 11 home runs in 41 minor league games and then added another four in 20 MLB contests. The young catcher may not hit for a ton of average in the Majors but if he continues to hit for power — and there is no reason to expect he won’t — then he’ll be a valuable everyday catcher.

14. Dylan Carlson, OF, Cardinals (ETA: May)

A former first-round draft pick, Carlson disappeared from the prospect radar for a couple of years but rocketed back into relevancy while spending most of the year in Double-A. After hitting less than .250 throughout his career prior to 2019, the 20-year-old outfielder hit more than .290 and saw his power output jump from 11 home runs in 2018 to 26. He also added 20 stolen bases but relied more on smarts than pure speed.

15. Brendan Rodgers, SS, Rockies (ETA: April)

Rodgers is on the other side of the coin in comparison to Dylan Carlson above. Rodgers is perhaps suffering from a bit of prospect fatigue. He was selected third overall one year before Carlson and has been on top prospect lists ever since. He’s shown flashes of dominance but has also had to battle through a number of obstacles, such as his season-ending injury in 2019. Rodgers has strong offensive potential — especially if he stays in Colorado — but he’ll have to wrestle the second base job away from Ryan McMahon in 2020.

16. A.J. Puk, LHP, Athletics (ETA: May)

Puk had a triumphant return in 2019 from Tommy John surgery and continued to dominate pro hitters despite shifting to a relief role to help the big league club. Puk has never struck out fewer than 10 hitters per nine innings at any stop in his career — including the Majors where he showed a 97 mph fastball and commanded both of his breaking balls. He’ll likely open 2020 in Triple-A while transitioning back to a starting role but should be up quickly.

17. Kyle Wright, RHP, Braves (ETA: April)

Wright’s early season struggles should mostly be ignored. The young pitcher was recalled and then demoted multiple times and didn’t really get into a consistent groove until mid-season. He was outstanding in the second half of the year and has the stuff to be a No. 2 or 3 starter. He struck out 54 batters over his final 48.1 innings. If he can improve his command even a little bit, he could take a big jump forward in 2020.

18. Brusdar Graterol, RHP, Twins (ETA: June)

Just 21, Graterol’s season was interrupted by shoulder issues but he received a late-season promotion to the Majors where he pitched out of the bullpen. He showed his youthfulness and inexperience but also his raw talent. He pitched 10 games in the Majors during the regular season but allowed hits in just five of those. And eight of his 10 strikeouts came in games where he did not allow a hit. Graterol will likely return to Triple-A to open up the 2020 season but, once he shows a little more consistency, he should be back up in The Show.

19. Matt Manning, RHP, Tigers (ETA: June)

Detroit doesn’t get the same media attention that a team like the Yankees or Cubs does and, even then, it was Casey Mize that got most of the prospect attention in 2019. As a result, Manning flew under the radar a bit but had an outstanding year in Double-A as a 21-year-old. Standing 6-feet-6, the young pitcher held batters to a .192 average and posted a K-BB of 148-38 in 133.2 innings. He has a chance to be a strikeout hurler who can also chew up a lot of innings, not unlike former Tigers ace Justin Verlander.

20. Cristian Pache, OF, Braves (ETA: June)

Pache’s overall numbers were not eye-catching but he was also just 20 years old while playing at both Double-A and Triple-A. He has a little less value in fantasy baseball than real baseball because he’s a plus-plus fielder and that, obviously, does not translate over to the fictional games. Still, he shows an advanced skill for hitting and he started producing more power in 2019 — going from zero home runs in 2017 to eight last year to 12 in 2019. He has some speed, too, but he’s not an overly good base runner at this point. If he can improve in that area, he could steal 15 or 20 bases.

 

Fantasy Baseball Prospect Rankings (21-30)

21. Sheldon Neuse, 3B/2B, Athletics (ETA: June)

The Oakland Athletics’ season had a bitter end to it but a lot of positives came out of it, too. Neuse’s development gives the A’s a good problem as he looks MLB ready with nowhere to play. The natural third baseman won’t push off Matt Chapman from third base so he’ll need to find a home at second base or designated hitter if he’s going to play every day. At Triple-A in 2019, Neuse hit 27 home runs with a .317 batting average over 126 games. He received a late-season taste of action in the Majors and spent most of his time playing second base.

22. Michael Kopech, RHP, White Sox (ETA: June)

Kopech did not pitch in 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery but he could be back for the full year in 2020, although the White Sox will understandably be cautious with their prized arm. The Sox have lots of young offensive so the pitching support will be a welcomed addition.

23. Ian Anderson, LHP, Braves (ETA: June)

Anderson was roughed up at the end of the year when he received a late-season promotion to Triple-A but his overall numbers were still strong. He allowed just 105 hits in 135.2 innings and struck out 172 batters. Anderson was hurt by control issues at Triple-A. He allowed 18 walks in 24.2 innings and was bitten by the home run five times (after giving up just eight in 111 Double-A innings).

24. Tarik Skubal, LHP, Tigers (ETA: June)

Who? If you were prospect-watching very closely throughout the 2019 season, you might know Skubal's name. If not, surprise! He’s the third head in what could be an exciting three-headed pitching monster on a collision course with Detroit in 2020 (along with Casey Mize and Matt Manning). A southpaw, Skubal has seen his overall stuff trend upward since turning pro. He posted a K-BB of 179-37 in 122.2 innings while splitting the year between High-A and Double-A.   

25. Shane McClanahan, LHP, Rays (ETA: June)

McClanahan has just four starts above A-ball but he had a dominant season and is somewhat flying under the prospect radar. The hard-throwing lefty has struggled with his control and command — going back to his amateur days — but was still selected 31st overall in the 2018 draft and into an organization known for polishing and developing high-end pitching. McClanahan showed improved control as the season went on and compiled a K-BB of 154-45 in 120.2 innings.

26. Sixto Sanchez, RHP, Marlins (ETA: May)

The Marlins have a wave of four or five minor league starting pitchers nearing the Majors but they may not have large roles until 2021 — save for Sanchez. The start of his 2019 season was delayed as the organization was cautious with his workload after a 2018 injury. He spent most of last season in Double-A where he posted a K-BB of 97-19 in 103 innings. When all is said and done, Sanchez should have three above-average offerings to go with plus-plus control.

27. Nick Madrigal, 2B, White Sox (ETA: May)

Madrigal is such a fascinating prospect — especially in an era where all prospects try to “grip it and rip it” with no concern for strikeouts. The diminutive second baseman played at three levels in 2019. He hit .311 with 35 stolen bases and a BB-K of 44-16 in 473 at-bats. Madrigal’s biggest negative, though, is his lack of strength and there is some concern that he’ll be overpowered by pitchers at the MLB level.

28. Joey Bart, C, Giants (ETA: June)

With Buster Posey still signed to a pretty hefty contract, he’s not likely going anywhere but the Giants can still find playing time for this young up-and-coming catcher by shifting the veteran backstop to first base on a more regular basis in 2020. Bart has 20-25 home run potential but improved patience would help him move into the elite category.

29. Nico Hoerner, SS, Cubs (ETA: June)

The Cubs’ 2018 first-round draft pick, Hoerner moved quickly through the system, mostly out of necessity, but he also had a reputation for being a strong hitter. He hit OK for average in his first full pro season — .284 in 70 Double-A games — but his OPS was just .743. The middle infielder has produced good line-drive rates and he makes a lot of contact. If he can get the ball into the air more consistently and be a little more patient like he was in the lower minors, he should have a strong follow-up season in 2020.

30. Drew Waters, OF, Braves (ETA: June)

Like teammate Cristian Pache, Waters was pushed aggressively through the system and reached Triple-A late in the 2019 season. Just 20, Waters produces massive line-drive rates but he has yet to develop a swing that produces enough fly balls to truly tap into his home-run potential. He went deep just seven times in 134 games. Waters hit .309 but may struggle to hit for average in the Majors. He was very reliant on balls in play in 2019 and had a BABIP of more than .430. The center-field prospect also posted a dismal BB-K of 39-164. There is boom-or-bust risk here.

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