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Do These Prospects Matter for Fantasy Baseball? Mick Abel, Matt McLain, Colton Cowser, Ben Brown and more

Mick Abel - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, MLB Prospects, Rookie Sleepers

The 2023 fantasy baseball season has been highlighted by the promotion of nearly two-dozen top prospects to the major leagues to impact fantasy rosters. This week's edition features one player who was called up as the piece was being written.

Will these strong performers join the ranks of those who have moved to the majors this season? We'll look at six pitchers and six hitters that could potentially work their way to the majors or at least significantly speed up their ETA in the majors with continued elite performance.

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

Ronny Mauricio, SS, New York Mets

The Mets signed Mauricio out of the Dominican Republic in July of 2017. He has been on Baseball America's top 100 lists four times, so the prospect fatigue has set in fairly strong. The big potential has never been realized consistently. After crushing the ball in the Dominican Winter League this last winter, Mauricio has come into 2023 and put up his best season by far at 22 years old.

While his walk rate is still below 5%, Mauricio's strikeout rate, which has topped 30% in previous stops, has dipped down to 16.2% this season. He's still showing the same impressive power/speed combination, with seven home runs and eight steals in 39 games.

VERDICT: While Mauricio has been producing in Triple-A and is one step away from the majors, his future defensive home is still uncertain as he's struggling at shortstop but is a strong athlete that could become a valuable utility man. Buy him in deep leagues, but take a wait-and-see approach in shallow dynasties.

Matt McLain, SS, Cincinnati Reds

Originally drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first round in 2018, McLain went to college at UCLA and ended up a first-round pick by the Reds in 2021 after an up-and-down career with the Bruins.

McLain altered his swing, attempting to generate more power, but he struggled to generate consistent contact in 2022 in Double-A, hitting .232. He's allowed his natural athleticism to show more this year, with 12 home runs and 10 stolen bases while walking nearly the same amount as he strikes out. McLain's mother recently broke that he would be called up to Cincinnati, where he will likely split time between second and short while working in the outfield as well.

VERDICT: Obviously, with him being called up, McLain is a buy, even in redraft formats. He's likely to end up with multi-position eligibility, has a great home park to boost his offensive stats, and should provide power and speed both.

Austin Gauthier, 3B/SS, Los Angeles Dodgers

If you need any further convincing that the Dodgers have some sort of magic fairy dust in their system, Gauthier was an undrafted free agent in 2021 out of Hofstra. He posted a .441 OBP in his first full season across the Dodgers' A-ball levels in 2022.

He returned to High-A Great Lakes to open the season and has been one of the most productive hitters in the minor leagues this year, with a .389/.504/.565 slash line with more walks than strikeouts. Gauthier has played around the infield and even some left field this season, and his best route to the majors is likely as a utility man.

VERDICT: Even though he's producing very well, Gauthier's best-case future is a utility man with good on-base skills. No need to invest until he's shown more in the upper minors.

Colton Cowser, OF, Baltimore Orioles

The fifth overall selection in 2021 by the Orioles out of Sam Houston State, Cowser hit very well in his pro debut before posting a .278/.406/.469 slash across three levels in 2022 with 19 home runs and 18 stolen bases. Cowser has spent all of 2023 in Triple-A, slashing .336/.477/.567 with seven home runs and five steals. He's posted a 20% walk rate and just barely higher strikeout rate, at 22%.

While his glovework doesn't impact his fantasy value, Cowser is a capable center fielder who could be a high-end defender at either corner.

VERDICT: The Orioles have a glut of young outfielders in the majors and upper minors, but Cowser is by far the best. He should be owned in all dynasty formats.

Ignacio Alvarez, SS, Atlanta Braves

The Braves drafted Alvarez in the fifth round last summer from junior college in California. He had an impressive pro debut, with more walks than strikeouts and a .451 on-base percentage. Alvarez is producing similar results this season in High-A at 20 years old, with a 30/17 BB/K ratio to open the season. His raw power has not yet translated to gameplay yet, but he has above-average power in batting practice displays that should come as he fills into his frame further.

Defensively, Alvarez has turned heads with his ability to handle short this season, though his future home is likely third base as he fills out.

VERDICT: The Braves seem to have struck gold with Alvarez. The organization's willingness to push prospects over the last few years could mean we get to see plenty of Alvarez in Double-A this year. That's really the last test he needs to pass before being a must-roster player at all levels.

Henry Davis, C, Pittsburgh Pirates

After an impressive draft season with Louisville, the Pirates made Davis the top overall draft pick in 2021. He showed his double-plus raw power in a brief pro debut that season.

Davis struggled with injury last season, but he was able to have a better showing in the Arizona Fall League walking 10 times over 69 plate appearances. He's taken that patience into the 2023 season. The Pirates catcher has been showing off his power, with eight home runs in 25 games, while also posting a 199 wRC+, tops among all qualified minor leaguers.

VERDICT: Endy Rodriguez is ahead of Davis in the Pirates organization among catchers, but he's also been hurt. Davis has been playing outfield as well this season, so he could work his way to the majors in the second half of the season. He should be rostered in all dynasty leagues.


Top Pitcher Prospects

Statistical highlights:

  • Highest groundball rate (qualified pitchers): 1. Reid VanScoter 66.7%, 2. Jake Garland 65.2%, 3. Sean Hermann 64.4%, 4. Jack Kochanowicz 63.2%.
  • Lowest walk rate (qualified pitchers): 1. Marcus Johnson 0.8%, 2. Bernie Martinez 0.9%, 3. Max Rajcic 1.7%, 4. Blake Adams 1.8%.


Pitcher Prospect Outlooks: Fantasy Six-Pack

Blake Adams, SP, Colorado Rockies

Adams began his college career at the University of Arkansas and rarely pitched before transferring to Kansas State for the 2022 season. His numbers weren't earth-shattering, allowing the Rockies to nab Adams in the 13th round in last year's draft.

Adams has a heavy fastball that sits in the low-90s and touches 95. He has three average-ish secondary pitches, but he has above-average control that can lead to a projection as a future MLB backend starter.

This season, Adams has been elite with both an absurdly-low walk rate (1.8%) and one of the best groundball rates in the minors (62.9%). He's likely going to be getting a promotion soon to High-A, which would make sense for a college arm in his first full season.

VERDICT: Adams is only in consideration in very deep dynasties right now, even with his success. The lack of elite stuff and a future home park in Colorado are big strikes against him.

Cade Povich, SP, Baltimore Orioles

The Minnesota Twins selected Povich out of Nebraska in the third round of the 2021 draft. He was establishing himself in his first full season when the Twins traded Povich as part of the package to land Jorge Lopez. Orioles breakout reliever Yennier Cano was also part of that deal.

While Cano has been tremendous in 2023, Povich very likely will be the feature piece of the deal. He saw his velocity bump up from the high-80s in college to sitting 92-93 and touching 97, and his combination of four secondary options that are all at least average, combined with above-average control gives Povich a mid-rotation expectation with upside if he can bump up that control just a tick from the left side.

This season, Povich has been striking out 40% of hitters while forcing 52.7% of contact to groundballs, allowing him to post the lowest FIP in all of the minors this season among qualified starters (1.43).

VERDICT: Povich is a guy that will become a priority pickup as the season continues, so if you want him, you may need to act soon in deeper dynasties. In more shallow leagues, watching for just a bit could be smart simply to see how he handles a second trip through Double-A, though he could be bumped up to Triple-A before that happens.

Will Warren, SP, New York Yankees

The Yankees drafted Warren in the eighth round out of Southeastern Louisiana. New York has a habit of taking a player with a strong breaking pitch and developing the fastball to turn the arm into a prospect.

Warren has a double-plus slider but he hasn't seen the growth in his fastball you'd like to see to be projected as a starter. This season, he's posted a 2.45 ERA and 1.30 WHIP over 29 1/3 innings, with a 39/12 K/BB.

Warren's heavy sinking fastball and elite slider could allow him plenty of success as a backend starter. If he could see one of his other three offerings play up, he could potentially bump up to a mid-rotation type.

VERDICT: Warren's delivery is difficult to repeat, which makes projecting him as a starter difficult right now, but he could be very strong in the bullpen. He could be a deep dynasty stash, but shallow leagues should wait and see how he handles a full season of starting at the upper levels.

Nick Frasso, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers

The Blue Jays selected Frasso in the fourth round out of Loyola Marymount. He ended up requiring Tommy John Surgery and returned to the mound in May of 2022, quickly working his way up to High-A before he was traded to the Dodgers in a deal to bring Mitch White to Toronto.

Frasso blossomed in the short time with the Dodgers' instruction, with his velocity bumping up to mid-90s, touching 98. He uses an above-average slider and a plus change to complete his offerings. Those pitches from Frasso's cross-body delivery and big extension play up even further. This season, Frasso has posted a 1.01 ERA and 0.90 WHIP over 26 2/3 innings, with a sterling 36/5 K/BB ratio.

VERDICT: Frasso's raw stuff is incredibly impressive, but he's also in a system with a lot of pitching depth, including multiple young arms that are already on the 40-man. He should be rostered in deep dynasties, but you can likely still hold off until he hits Triple-A in shallow leagues.

Mick Abel, SP, Philadelphia Phillies

The clear top prep arm in the 2020 draft, Abel fell to the Phillies with the 15th selection. The Oregon native showed big strikeout stuff in his pro debut in 2021, but also struggled with his control, leading to a 4.43 ERA over 44 2/3 innings.

He worked up to Double-A in 2022, posting 130 strikeouts over 108 1/3 innings. This season, he opened the year with Double-A Reading, and the results have been mixed. He's posted a 5.40 ERA but with a 1.24 WHIP and a .198 opponents' batting average.

Abel works with a mid-90s fastball that touches triple digits with an elite double-plus curveball and an above-average change. The big question is his command as Abel is still walking more than 12% of hitters.

VERDICT: Abel's stuff is incredibly tantalizing, but the inconsistency with command will need to be ironed out before he's an add in shallow dynasty leagues, but he should be rostered in all deep dynasty leagues.

Ben Brown, SP, Chicago Cubs

The Phillies drafted Brown in the 33rd round out of high school in 2017. He was just beginning to break out in 2019 before Tommy John surgery took him out through the 2021 season.

Brown opened in High-A with the Phillies organization before he was traded to the Cubs at the deadline for David Robertson. He totaled a 3.38 ERA and 1.17 WHIP over 104 innings with a 149/36 K/BB.

This season, Brown was one of the presumed beneficiaries of the new tacky ball in Double-A, posting a 0.45 ERA and 0.95 WHIP over 20 innings at the level before a recent callup to Triple-A. Instead of struggling, Brown has shown the strikeout stuff to continue, with a 17/5 K/BB over 10 2/3 innings in Triple-A.

VERDICT: With three plus pitches and a big step forward in his command this season, Brown could be pushing for time in the Cubs rotation soon after midseason. He should be owned in all deep dynasties and should be a strong consideration in shallow dynasties.

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

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