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Do These Prospects Matter for Fantasy Baseball? Sterlin Thompson, Tanner Bibee, Kumar Rocker, Evan Carter and more

Pete Crow-Armstrong - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, MLB Prospects, Draft Sleepers

With the NFL draft happening this week, we are adding a bit of a draft pick theme to this week's six packs. There are three players that were top-10 overall selections, including one prior top-overall pick in this week's player profiles.

We will take a look at season-long leaders in a couple of statistical categories and then dive into six hitters and six pitchers whose numbers may indicate that they should be a pickup or a drop – and why that first instinct could be right, wrong, or even not strong enough!

Look here for insight on potential fantasy baseball dynasty league pickups before they hit and to get to know players as they ascend to the major leagues!

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Top Hitter Prospects

Statistical highlights:


Hitter Prospect Outlooks: Fantasy Six-Pack

Sterlin Thompson, 3B, Colorado Rockies

The 31st overall selection in last summer’s draft out of the University of Florida, Thompson has been known for his strong bat since his high school days, allowing him to be highly regarded despite defensive shortcomings.

Thompson is a below-average runner, and his defensive instincts at the hot corner are a bit lacking, but he has a powerful arm that could play well in a corner outfield spot long-term. With a swing geared for opposite-field contact, Sterlin could be in the perfect long-term organization as his gap power will play well in Colorado’s expansive outfield.

Opening at High-A Spokane this season, Thompson has slashed .477/.519/.682 with six doubles and a home run. A smart player, Thompson has stolen four bases without being caught, despite below-average speed.

VERDICT: Likely a guy that won’t see the big leagues until mid-2024 at the soonest, Thompson is a deep dynasty stash currently, but he could be a huge batting average asset when he does reach Colorado.

Jackson Holliday, SS, Baltimore Orioles

The son of former All-Star Matt Holliday, Jackson was the top overall selection in the 2022 draft by the Orioles, and he very well could end up the top prospect in all of baseball by midseason. He received a promotion to High-A Aberdeen after last week’s performance, an aggressive promotion for a prep player in his first full season.

Holliday has walked more than he’s struck out as a pro, and this year, he’s hitting .392/.523/.667 over 13 games with two home runs and three stolen bases. Many were unsure of his future defensive home, but he’s worked hard already to shore up deficiencies at shortstop and looks to stay there long-term.

VERDICT: Holliday should be owned in all formats. If you have the chance to acquire him for anything short of a top 10-15 prospect, you should jump at the deal!

Justyn-Henry Malloy, 3B, Detroit Tigers

After being an elite player that was on USA 15U teams as a youngster, Malloy initially found his way to Vanderbilt, but after two seasons at Vandy, he transferred to Georgia Tech, had a big season, and the Atlanta Braves drafted him in the sixth round of the 2021 draft.

Malloy was acquired in the offseason deal that sent Joe Jimenez to Atlanta, and it’s looking like a strong trade for the Tigers thus far. The third baseman is known for having one of the most discerning eyes in all of minor league baseball, and he’s already drawn 20 walks this season in 20 games.

While Malloy’s swing may be more geared for doubles than over-fence power, he still hits the ball hard and should be a consistent high-average, 15-25 home run threat once he reaches Detroit. With the current Tiger lineup, he could do that by midseason at either third base or left field.

VERDICT: Malloy will get time in 2023, so he should be highly considered in all dynasty formats as a stash.

Evan Carter, OF, Texas Rangers

A number of heads turned when the Rangers announced Carter as their second-round selection in the 2020 draft. In the COVID season, few had seen Carter play, and he was not highly ranked coming into the draft.

Carter has been elite ever since, with a .290/.417/.478 minor league slash line over 150 games. He’s done better than that this year in his first taste of upper minors, hitting .378/.525/.600 as a 20-year-old in Double-A with more walks than strikeouts in the early season. With the ability to handle center and the arm to handle a corner outfield spot, Carter could quickly move to the Rangers with his blend of contact skills and above-average power and speed really helping fantasy stat lines.

VERDICT: If he’s somehow available in even the most shallow dynasty format, jump on him! Carter could see significant major league time before the end of this season.

Dominic Keegan, C, Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays drafted Keegan in the fourth round last summer out of Vanderbilt. Keegan’s draft season was his first chance to really showcase behind the plate as injuries had prevented him from doing much catching early in his collegiate career.

Keegan’s bat was never in question, showing power and contact abilities with Vandy. He has continued to show polish at the plate as a pro, slashing .400/.478/.625 in the early season while ranking among the minor league leaders in wRC+ and wOBA.

VERDICT: The Rays will want Keegan to get plenty of reps behind the plate, but his bat is already pushing his timeline. He's a deep stash right now, but his hitting is much less impressive if he has to move out from catcher.

Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Chicago Cubs

The Mets selected the defensive stalwart affectionately known as PCA with the 19th selection in the 2020 draft. Crow-Armstrong had a long history with national exposure, playing on 12U and 15U national teams, but struggled in the few games he got the spring of 2020, leading to him dropping from a sure-fire top 10 pick to the Mets.

After being traded as part of the deal that sent Javy Baez to New York in mid-2021, PCA has been incredibly impressive. He had the rare quadruple-double last season across both A-ball leagues in the Chicago system, tallying 20 doubles, 10 triples, 16 homers, and 32 steals.

Crow-Armstrong is arguably the best defensive outfielder in the minor leagues, and his speed will absolutely be a fantasy asset. Early season success at Double-A Tennessee (.343/.395/.571 in nine games) should not be waved off, but he is still polishing up his plate discipline.

VERDICT: Like Carter, if PCA is available in your league, grab him now. He could certainly push for major league time in 2023 and will certainly compete for the starting center field spot with the Cubs going into the 2024 season.


Top Pitcher Prospects

Statistical highlights:


Pitcher Prospect Outlooks: Fantasy Six-Pack

Tanner Bibee, SP, Cleveland Guardians

Bibee fits the profile of the type of guy that Cleveland does very well working with – a fifth-round selection from Cal State-Fullerton who left college with okay stuff but a penchant for throwing plenty of strikes.

This past week was by far Bibee's worst start of the season, as he walked five and allowed three hits over 4 1/3 innings, seeing three runs score. Over the season, though, Bibee has recorded a 1.76 ERA and 0.63 WHIP over 15 1/3 innings with a 19/8 K/BB ratio.

Sitting 90-92 coming out of college, Bibee's fastball now averages 95 and touches 99. He also works in a plus slider and change as well with a mid-70s curve that generates plenty of groundball contact as well as looking strikes.

The Guardians have had some health issues and performance issues among the starting staff to open the season, and while Bibee was behind Logan Allen and Peyton Battenfield in the pecking order, they've both been called up, putting Bibee next in line.

VERDICT: Bibee is the rare guy in this report that will get the recommendation to roster in redraft leagues as well as all levels of dynasty.

Cole Wilcox, SP, Tampa Bay Rays

Considered an incredibly elite prospect out of high school, Wilcox was in a strong prep arm class in 2018 and ended up at the University of Georgia, where he didn't get a lot of time on the mound between injuries and COVID before being selected in the third round by the San Diego Padres.

Wilcox was received by the Rays in the Blake Snell deal, and he alone could end up making that deal worth it for Tampa Bay. He returned from Tommy John surgery in 2022 but flashed dominance when on the mound (24 strikeouts in 16 innings).

This season, Wilcox has opened in Double-A with three strong starts, posting a 16/3 K/BB ratio over 12 innings. Wilcox is working with a mid-90s fastball again this season after working in the low-90s as he returned to the mound last season. His slider is a definite out pitch, and he's been getting more swings with his changeup.

VERDICT: The rotation is quite full in Tampa, but Wilcox has raw stuff as good as anyone in the Rays organization. However, he will be building up innings on his arm this season, so he can be a watch-and-see in shallow dynasty leagues. He should be rostered in any deep dynasty.

Gavin Stone, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers

After a season that rocketed Stone up prospect lists (1.48 ERA, 168 K in 121 2/3 IP in 2022), he's struggling a bit out of the gate to open 2023 statistically, with a 5.49 ERA and a 19/10 BB/K over 19 2/3 innings.

Stone is coming off his best start of the season this week where he generated 19 swings and misses while tossing 4 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out seven while allowing two hits and two walks. He sat 90-93 with his fastball and used his changeup a significant amount in the start, and it was tremendously effective.

From views at all five starts, including his most recent one where he had strong results, Stone appears to be off in his delivery, which was something he rarely did in 2022 as he was incredibly consistent with his delivery.

VERDICT: Stone would be in line to get some MLB time if he were right, but he's simply not. He's a great stash as the raw stuff is at least a mid-rotation starter and potentially better. Hold now if you own him, but unless he's going significantly below cost, Stone isn't a guy to seek out right now.

Frank Mozzicato, SP, Kansas City Royals

Many were surprised when the Royals called Mozzicato's name with the seventh overall selection in the 2021 draft. Mozzicato drew attention with four straight no-hitters in his senior year of high school, but few had him projected as a top-10 pick.

The left-hander is repeating Single-A this season, but he may not be there long if he keeps pitching like he has – 0.60 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, and 26 K in 15 IP. Mozzicato isn't one with elite velocity, typically sitting 90-93 with his fastball, but the heater has ridiculous rise and late movement down in the zone. Mozzicato has one of the best curveballs in the entire minors to pair with the fastball as well.

VERDICT: Deep dynasty stash, but potentially more of a backend projection than a frontline guy.

Royber Salinas, SP, Oakland Athletics

The Atlanta Braves signed Salinas in October 2018 and watched him develop slowly, flashing impressive raw stuff but also struggling to control the stuff. In 2022, he broke out, challenging for much of the season for the minor league strikeout lead, finishing with 175 in 109 innings.

The Braves traded him in the offseason to Oakland in the deal that brought Sean Murphy to Atlanta. Salinas' presence in the deal was often overlooked as a "throw-in" to the deal, but he's shown well to open the season, with a 2.70 ERA and 0.83 WHIP over 13 1/3 innings, with a 26/2 BB/K.

Salinas works with a mid-90s fastball that touches 98-99 and works with high spin and tremendous vertical break. He then uses two plus breakers with a hard slider and a hard curve that offer two very different looks.

VERDICT: The control improvements could take Salinas from a bullpen role or mid-rotation upside to a potential #2 sort of guy. Grab him in deep dynasties and take a look in shallow dynasties as he's doing this in the high minors for an Oakland organization that should have plenty of opportunities.

Kumar Rocker, SP, Texas Rangers

The Rangers owned the third overall pick in last summer's draft, but they had limited bonus pool funds, so while Kumar Rocker was a surprise pick to many when he signed for more than $2 million below slot, the pick made a lot more sense for the big Vanderbilt righty.

The Rangers saw what pushing Rocker's former teammate Jack Leiter too quickly did for him, so they slow-rolled Rocker, letting him make his pro debut in the Arizona Fall League, where he struggled with location, walking 12 in 14 innings. After that performance, beginning in High-A this season was locked in.

Rocker has responded well for Hickory, posting a 2.19 ERA and 0.81 WHIP over 12 1/3 innings. His fastball has been heavy and hard to drive, and his elite slider has been generating plenty of swing-and-miss, resulting in a 20/3 K/BB rate.

VERDICT: Rocker has struggled to show his top-end stuff that he featured as a collegian. His name value led to him being drafted in a number of FYPDs this offseason, but his value hasn't caught up with his talent quite yet. He could be a smart trade target in deep dynasty leagues, but wait until he's shown it at Double-A before buying in shallow leagues.

Check back again next week for more evaluations and look behind the numbers!

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