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Prospect ranking is similar to picking stocks to invest in. With both areas of focus, you have to consider a number of variables, including overall long-term value, as well as how quickly you want or need a return. Investment advisors will often analyze an investor’s risk appetite to help choose the right investments. If you have a significant period of time to sit on your investments, you should probably consider a higher-risk portfolio. If you have a shorter time frame in mind, then you should take a safer approach. If you’re somewhere in the middle, which is where a lot of people end up, then you want to take a balanced approach.

Similar considerations should be had in dynasty leagues when investing in prospects. I personally like to run my teams with a balanced approach as I try to win now and for the future. I have a healthy number of prospects playing in Double-A or Triple-A but I also take some flyers on guys I think will be impact players later on. I did it with Vlad Guerrero Jr. in multiple leagues, as well as with Fernando Tatis Jr. I acquired both of them when they were still in rookie ball. And more recently, I had the same approach with Wander Franco. There is still some risk, though, with a balanced approach. I got burned on both Juan Soto and Ronald Acuna Jr. because their respective clubs pushed them up to the Majors more quickly than anticipated. I was sitting in wait until they spent enough time in Double-A to mitigate some of the risks before I attempted to acquire them.

During the 2019 baseball season, you’ll get to read a number of recurring features from me looking at impact rookies for 2019, 2020 and even beyond in an effort to help you with your prospect investments. I don’t want any of our readers to get burned with their investment strategy. Today, we kick off the series perusing impact rookies for 2020.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off, with exclusive access to our season-long articles, 15 in-season lineup tools and over 200 days of expert DFS research/tools. Sign Up Now!

 

Top MLB Prospects to Watch

1. Carter Kieboom, SS, Nationals (AAA)

The recently-broken finger of Nationals shortstop Trea Turner could push Kieboom into the 2019 impact zone, rather than the 2020 list but I’m going to wait for a week and see where the injury replacement comes from before making that move. Previously, it looked like Turner and second baseman Brian Dozier would almost assuredly block the young prospect until 2020.

2. Dylan Cease, RHP, White Sox (AAA)

The White Sox starting rotation has had a strong beginning to the 2019 season. Bounce-back seasons from Carlos Rodon and Ivan Nova could mean that Cease won’t pile up meaningful innings until 2020 — which gives the Sox one more year to get the youth movement going.

3. Christian Pache, OF, Braves (AA)

After spending just 29 games at Double-A in 2018, the Braves do the wise thing and return him to level to begin the year. This is probably the year he really breaks out. He does a lot of great things with his speed and defense already but it’s the bat that’s a sleeping giant. Pache needs to become less aggressive and wait out the pitcher’s pitches for something in the hitter’s zone. He already produces some outstanding exit velocity and line-drive numbers; he also needs to lift the ball more.

4. Keston Hiura, 2B, Brewers (AAA)

Hiura is another player that could be listed on the 2019 impact list but I’m not ready to make that call with some decent middle infield depth in Milwaukee and the club on a hunt for a playoff spot (making it less likely they’d push an unproven rookie into a key role). I’m a little surprised Hiura was pushed to Triple-A to start the year given his solid-but-unspectacular showing in a Double-A last year, which was also in a hitter’s league.

5. Austin Riley, 3B, Braves (AAA)

Another Braves prospect waiting for an opportunity, Riley has some massive power potential but he’s currently blocked by Josh Donaldson. On the plus side (for Riley) Donaldson is unlikely to stay healthy for a full season if the past couple of years are any indication. But I’m not sure Riley will have enough opportunity to compile enough meaningful at-bats in 2019 to be relevant.

6. Taylor Trammell, OF, Reds (AA)

I’m also a huge fan of Trammell and he’s another player that I think will really break out in 2019 with an eye towards having a big MLB impact next year. He’s athletic, loaded with tools and has raw power just waiting to explode. There is 20/20 (HR/SB) potential here.

7. Nick Madrigal, 2B, White Sox (A+)

The first-round selection of the Sox in 2018, Madrigal played at three levels during his pro debut and topped out at High-A ball. He’ll return to that level in 2019 but if he could move quickly if he continues to hit more than .300. The big thing I’d like to see from him in 2019 is more extra-base hits as I question how well he’ll fare against more mature pitching.

8. Ian Anderson, RHP, Braves (AA)

The Braves have a plethora of pitching in the upper levels of the minors (and the Majors) vying for innings. Anderson is the next big name to know but the depth ahead of him will likely keep his big-league innings suppressed until 2020. He has at least mid-rotation potential.

9. Jo Adell, OF, Angels (INJ)

You could have argued for Adell to be on the 2019 MLB impact list if not for his spring injury, which could cause him to miss a good chunk of the first half of 2019. The fast-riser looks like a future complement to star Mike Trout but now it looks like his first MLB at-bats will come in 2020.

10. Jesus Sanchez, OF, Rays (AA)

Pretty much everything said about Christian Pache above can be reiterated for Sanchez as well. Here we a player who shows outstanding raw hitting skills with power waiting to develop but over-aggressiveness is hampering him to a degree. Sanchez walked just 26 times in 117 games last year and having the benefit of more hitter’s pitches could really push him into the prospect limelight.

11. Corbin Martin, RHP, Astros (AAA)

There aren’t many organizations in baseball that can see the kind of pitching turnover that the Astros saw post-2018, making the majority of replacements in-house, stay competitive AND still have outstanding depth. But that is the case and likely means that Martin won’t see key big league innings until 2020. With that said, he’s going to open the year in Triple-A and is just a phone call away.

12. Brendan McKay, 1B/LHP: Rays (AA)

McKay gets a lot of attention for being a two-way player but the truth is that his pitching is what’s really going to get him to the Majors — and also keep him in The Show. The offense is a nice, added bonus but he’s probably never going to be an everyday hitter — more of a pinch hitter/occasional platoon designated hitter with the ability to impact the game on offense from time to time.

13. Matt Manning, RHP, Tigers (AA)

Manning is one of my favorite underrated pitching prospects and, when the dust settles, he’s probably going to have a bigger impact than the likes of any pitcher in Detroit’s system not named Casey Mize (who I conservatively have marked down for a 2021 MLB arrival pending some 2019 results). Manning has the frame to be an innings-eater and the stuff to pitch at the top of the rotation. Tigers fans should be excited.

14. Tony Santillan, RHP, Reds (AA)

Hard-throwers are all the rage in Major League Baseball and Santillan fits the bill. But this hurler needs to show improved command because he throws too many hittable pitches and gets hit around more than he should for someone with his stuff. He’ll work away at solving that issue at the Double-A level in 2019.

15. Royce Lewis, SS, Twins (A+)

The Twins are playing it safe with Lewis and having him return to High-A ball in 2019. He spent just 46 games there last year and produced a modest .726 OPS. Oh, and the first-overall pick of the 2017 draft is still just 19. But if you’re in a hurry for him to move up the chain, the good news is that there is limited depth ahead of him in Double-A so, when he shows he’s ready, he’ll no doubt move up.

16. Sixto Sanchez, RHP, Phillies (Not Assigned)

Injuries kept Sanchez to just 46.2 innings in 2018 so his new organization, the Miami Marlins, are doing the smart thing and keeping him in extended spring training to open the year. This will allow them to monitor his innings and we’re not likely to see him pitch more than 100 innings this year. This slow (but ideal) approach will all but assure we don’t see him in the Majors until 2020.

17. Dustin May, RHP, Dodgers (AA)

May’s overall numbers maybe don’t jump right out at you but he’s more of an impressive prospect than it might appear. Although with solid strikeout numbers, he also induces an above-average number of ground-ball outs and he also doesn’t walk anybody. I have him earmarked for 2020 but injuries could push him to The Show in 2019.

18. Isaac Paredes, IF, Tigers (AA)

Just 20, Paredes received 131 at-bats at the Double-A level towards the tail end of 2018 and produced excellent numbers. However, the Tigers have done the wise thing and returned him to the same level to continue to polish his skills. He has a better chance to be a long-term asset in Detroit than fellow infield prospect Dawel Lugo, who is in Triple-A and has some big league at-bats to his credit.

19. Victor Victor Mesa, OF, Marlins (A+)

Mesa is really a wild card. The big-dollar, Cuban signee hasn’t played much baseball recently but he’s loaded with potential. He’ll open 2019 in High-A ball to acclimatize himself to baseball in North America, but he could see Double-A quickly if he gets off to a strong start. The Marlins have a significant lack of outfield depth in the Majors and upper minors.

20. Michael Kopech, RHP, White Sox (INJ)

Kopech might have been in the Sox 2019 Opening Day starting rotation if not for Tommy John surgery. Instead, he’ll miss all year but could be back on the mound throwing key innings in the second half of next year.

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