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Do These Prospects Matter for Fantasy Baseball (Week 21)? Ceddanne Rafaela, Robert Gasser, Drew Thorpe, Wikelman Gonzalez, and More

Ceddanne Rafaela - fantasy baseball draft sleepers DFS MLB injury news

Elite strikeout pitchers and elite power/speed hitters are certainly the most desired commodities in fantasy baseball. Scouting stat lines in the minor leagues can be deceptive, however. Players can put up big numbers but be taking advantage of particular leagues or levels that boost raw numbers.

We're going to look at some of the best power-speed guys in the minors this year on the hitting side along with top strikeout pitchers this year. Hopefully, this gives an idea if those guys are truly elite or not.

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

Blake Dunn, OF, Cincinnati Reds

The Reds drafted Dunn out of Western Michigan in the 15th round in 2021. He flashed well in his pro debut that year, earning his way to Single-A with a .286/.333/.429 line and five steals over 11 games.

Dunn was an elite athlete in high school, with the opportunity to play multiple sports in college, but he went with baseball. Because of that athleticism, he's very advanced on the defensive end, where he utilizes a double-plus arm and exceptional instincts to track down balls in center and keep runners in place.

After struggling with his contact rate and injuries, he's finally taken off this year, splitting the year nearly even between High-A and Double-A, slashing .312/.419/.489 with 15 home runs and 43 stolen bases.

VERDICT: The athleticism is LOUD with Dunn, but he has to figure himself out and has a deep system of guys in front of him. That said, the Reds lack a true centerfielder right now so if he can keep it up in Triple-A, he may have a shot to succeed. He is a deep dynasty only addition at this point.

Dru Baker, OF, Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays selected Baker in the fourth round in 2021 out of Texas Tech. He played all over the field with the Red Raiders, but the Rays have focused his defensive efforts in the outfield. Baker has the athleticism to handle any of the outfield spots, though his natural instincts aren't quite there to project as a future MLB center fielder.

The thing that's never been in question is Baker's ability to hit. He's a .299 hitter over three seasons of minor league ball, though injuries have held that total experience to just 154 games. What's incredible is that in those 154 games, Baker has posted 23 doubles, 10 triples, 19 home runs, and 68 stolen bases. If he could only remain on the field, he could be a fantasy star with his combination of speed and power.

VERDICT: Baker's in a Rays system that's incredibly deep in players, but his talent is quickly rising to the top of the system. He should really only be owned for sure in deep dynasty right now, but be ready to act quickly if he's moved to Triple-A and ends up just an injury away from MLB.

Jakob Marsee, OF, San Diego Padres

The Padres selected Marsee out of Central Michigan in the sixth round of the 2022 draft. He shuffled through his first two years of college before absolutely breaking out in his draft year. Marsee was an elite athlete in high school and continues to show that athleticism on both sides of the ball as he's moving up the Padres system quickly. He's only an average runner but he is a tremendous student of the game and has developed exceptional reads on the bases and in the outfield.

The best individual tool for Marsee is a tremendous eye at the plate, with the ability to control the strike zone with more walks than strikeouts throughout his minor league time, walking at an incredible 18.9% rate.

VERDICT: Despite incredible numbers this year (11 HR, 41 SB), Marsee is still in High-A and should be only owned in a very deep dynasty right now.

Mike Antico, OF, St. Louis Cardinals

Antico made the most of an extra year of college eligibility granted due to COVID. He hit .273/.437/.489 with 10 homers and 41 steals for Texas in 2021 before the Cardinals selected Antico in the eighth round of the 2021 draft.

Antico has elite raw tools due to his athleticism, but he struggles with getting launch angle happy, without the power to back up the angle. He's able to play an elite outfield due to his plus speed. After taking time to get on his feet and striking out at a high rate, Antico has seemingly found his groove this year in Double-A, posting 14 home runs and 40 steals.

VERDICT: The average will be a concern for Antico, but he's a rare guy in the Cardinals with elite speed, with only Victor Scott having similar wheels. He likely can remain unowned until he's in Triple-A.

Ceddanne Rafaela, OF/SS, Boston Red Sox

Rafaela was originally signed in 2017 out of Curacao and made a strong impression in his first two seasons, smashing 25 extra-base hits and stealing 28 bases over 98 games in complex and short-season ball. After the pandemic year, Rafaela returned to show power and speed but saw his walk rate drop significantly. Last year, he reached Double-A, hitting .299/.342/.539 with 21 home runs and 28 stolen bases. He's been even better this year, hitting .305 with 18 home runs and 34 steals.

Rafaela's best talent is with a glove on his hand. An above-average shortstop, Rafaela has developed into an elite defensive center fielder and could immediately be a high-end defender in the majors.

VERDICT: Rafaela's had a tremendous year and is on the cusp of a big league callup. He should be a prospective own in any dynasty league, but don't be surprised if he takes extra time to get on his feet in the majors.

Jacob Melton, OF, Houston Astros

Melton parlayed a big draft season at Oregon State last year into a second-round selection by the Astros. His incredible athleticism showed through right away as he jumped to Single-A last summer, hitting four home runs and stealing five bases over 23 games. He's spent this whole year in High-A for the Astros, powering out 18 home runs and stealing 40 bases, posting a 13% walk rate and a 21% strikeout rate. He's the majority of the season in center field, but his plus arm plays well in right as well.

Melton's swing mechanics are not what you would teach, and they can get out of sync, but when he's right, he punishes baseballs and has the speed to beat out infield grounders. The issue is keeping his swing in sync, which is why he's hit .252 over 105 minor-league games.

VERDICT: Still in High-A at 22, Melton could be a future power/speed guy, but he needs to get to Double-A and show success before he's an add in anything but deep dynasty.

 

Top Pitcher Prospects

Statistical highlights:

  • Strikeout percentage (qualified): 1. Jose Varela 37.6%, 2. Emmanuel Martinez 37.1%, 3. Wikelman Gonzalez 37%, 4. Connor Phillips 35.1%.
  • Saves: 1. Zach Agnos 23, 2 (tie). Angel Chivilli and Evan Taylor 16, 4 (tie). Matt Festa and Luis Guerrero 15.

 

Pitcher Prospect Outlooks: Fantasy Six-Pack

Robert Gasser, SP, Milwaukee Brewers

Gasser was selected by the Padres with the 71st overall pick in the 2021 draft. The lefty was traded at last year's trade deadline to Milwaukee in the Josh Hader deal.

In 2022, his first full season in the minors, Gasser jumped up three levels, finishing with a handful of starts in Triple-A. Overall, he posted a 3.94 ERA and 1.30 WHIP over 137 innings, striking out 172 and walking 52. He's put up similar stats this year, spending the whole year in Triple-A, with a 3.94 ERA and 1.27 WHIP over 107 1/3 innings, with a 133/43 BB/K rate.

Gasser works with a low-90s fastball that touches the mid-90s, working with a slider and curve that are above-average and touch plus as well as an average change. His command is excellent for a guy who works from a low arm slot.

VERDICT: Gasser profiles similarly to how Hader did in the minors, a mid-rotation profile in the rotation that could excel in the back of a bullpen. He should be rostered in all dynasty formats, and he's got a decent shot of making his big league debut yet this year.

Drew Thorpe, SP, New York Yankees

The long, lanky Thorpe was selected by the Yankees in the second round last summer out of Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. After tossing more than 100 innings in his draft season in college, Thorpe did not make his pro debut last summer, but he did participate in fall instructs and made a big impression.

Thorpe debuted this summer in High-A, making 18 starts there before he was promoted to Double-A and had a tremendous first start for Somerset. Overall, Thorpe has tossed 117 innings, with a 2.62 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and a 147/33 BB/K.

The Yankees have worked with Thorpe to push his fastball up to a low-90s offering after typically topping out at 92 in college. He features a double-plus change and a slider that touches plus. Impressive control of his three pitches allows all three to play up.

VERDICT: Thorpe has a very clear path as a starter. It's simply whether he's a mid-rotation guy or could potentially have such strong control that he could work as a #2. He should be owned in deep and mid-sized dynasty leagues.

Wikelman Gonzalez, SP, Boston Red Sox

Gonzalez was signed by the Red Sox out of the Dominican in 2018. He had a strong debut in the DSL in 2019, posting a 3.30 ERA and 1.25 WHIP over 46 1/3 innings. He worked his way up to Single-A in 2021, with a 2.91 ERA and 1.10 WHIP over 52 2/3 innings, posting a 66/16 K/BB rate.

Gonzalez struggled with control issues in 2022, posting a 4.21 ERA and 1.32 WHIP over 98 1/3 innings with a 121/54 K/BB rate. He's had similar control issues this season as he's made his way to Double-A, combining for a 4.22 ERA and 1.35 WHIP over 89 2/3 innings with a 144/57 K/BB.

Wikelman's fastball is electric, sitting in the mid-90s and touching triple digits, and he has three average secondary pitches, but he struggles to reproduce his mechanics, leading to high walk rates.

VERDICT: The raw stuff is excellent for Gonzalez, but he has to put the ball in the zone to make a difference, whether that's in the rotation or bullpen. He's someone to own in deep dynasties, but until he solidifies the control, let someone else worry over him in shallow dynasty leagues.

Blade Tidwell, SP, New York Mets

After a strong year for Tennessee (as they had one of the best years in the program's history), Tidwell was the second-round selection of the Mets in 2022. He struck out 11 in 9 2/3 innings in his pro debut, flashing a dominant fastball at its best.

The Mets sent Tidwell to High-A to open in 2023, and he had a strong season there before moving up to Double-A to open August. His season line is a 3.18 ERA and 1.23 WHIP over 93 1/3 innings, with a 121/50 K/BB ratio.

Bidwell has the ideal size for a big-league starter, standing 6'4" with a wide shoulder base. He works with a mid-90s fastball that can touch triple digits and pairs it with a plus slider and a pair of below-average pitches in his curve and change.

VERDICT: Bidwell struggles with a consistent third pitch and his command, which portends a future reliever. Due to that, he's best left only to deep dynasty right now.

Thomas Harrington, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates drafted Harrington out of Campbell with the 36th overall selection. That was another huge step in the rise of a pitcher that begin his college career as a walk-on. Harrington doesn't necessarily offer any single pitch that's a plus offering, working with a low-90s sinker and a mid-90s four-seam fastball. He has an above-average change and sweeper, both of which can touch plus. He adds a slow curve to keep hitters off base.

What Harrington does offer that's a plus grade is his exceptional control and command. He's danced around hitters in A-ball this year, posting a 117/30 K/BB over 101 1/3 innings.

VERDICT: The lack of an elite pitch means that Harrington can get hit hard at times, but he's consistent enough to figure he's going to move quickly as a mid-rotation arm. Deep dynasty only, but he's a guy that could be a strong inning

Angel Chivilli, RP, Colorado Rockies

The Rockies originally signed Chivilli in 2018 out of the Dominican. The 6'2" lean righty was in the DSL from 2019-2021 before the Rockies moved him into the bullpen when he came stateside.

The results were immediate, as Chivilli went from complex ball to Single-A in 2022, posting a 2.21 ERA over 40 2/3 innings with 10 saves and a 51/10 K/BB. The Rockies moved him to High-A this season. He has been excellent as a closer, saving 16 games and posting a 55/19 K/BB over 50 innings, though with a 5.94 ERA.

Chivilli works with a fastball/change mix, featuring a heater that reaches 98-99 and sits 93-95. His change is a plus pitch, generating plenty of swing and miss. He struggles with a consistent arm action and release point, and his ball straightens out significantly when he gets off-path, allowing him to get hit hard.

VERDICT: A fastball/change reliever in Colorado seems a scary combo. If he had a third pitch with some wiggle, he'd be a potential deep dynasty guy, but without that, leave him be.

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



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