We are back with the third installment of the six-part series looking through each division from a dynasty perspective. The American League East is next up. There are plenty of prospects that could play a role in shaping the future of the division. Historically, the division has been controlled by the Yankees and Red Sox. The emergence of the Rays and the Blue Jays talented youth should make the division intriguing in the years to come. The Orioles are beginning to show signs of competitiveness in the system. They currently have some of the very best prospects in baseball at the top of their organization.
With the trade deadline creeping closer, some of the players listed here could be on the move within the next week. Such a scenario could open the door for an opportunity that isn’t available with their current team. Each organization has a different level of talent at various stages of development and positions. A player ranked relatively low in the Rays organization could be placed inside the top 10 on a different team. As player movement shakes out, I will be updating each list regularly.
If you want to check out the first two parts of the series, you can find the AL West and AL Central lists here. I have revisited both divisions on various occasions since their original release to make adjustments. The more time I have with each organization, the more in-focus the overall picture becomes.
This puts me at the halfway point of the project. Once it’s fully operating, I see these lists having several benefits, particularly for deep league players who may be looking for that new name that emerges. In some cases, I will be quicker than the crowd to move a player up or down, opening the door to some potential trade opportunities. I will also continue to add more columns and features once the foundation is set. I continue to be excited about possibilities once it’s functioning how I imagine. Thanks for reading!
The time has come to take stock of how some organizations are shaping up in the Minor Leagues. With a good amount of data out for 2021, there have been some early-season breakouts. While the typical caveat of a small sample size always applies, it would be wise to notice some trends taking place. Not every prospect with a gaudy slash line will sustain the production. But it is worth noting when players are showing noticeable statistical improvements. In many cases, we haven’t had eyes on these players for over a year. There are bound to be some surprises, likely more so than a traditional year.
When taking on this project, it seemed simple enough. Rank the top 20 prospects in each organization from a dynasty perspective. I took this on as a solo project because I thought it would be a helpful way to keep track of all the lists I was posting on Twitter throughout the off-season. I didn’t fully appreciate how intensive it is to keep up with every organization at the same time. In hindsight, there’s probably a reason most lists like this are released in the winter when everyone has time to catch their breath. With games actively taking place, it can be a monumental task to keep up with all the movement.
Originally the plan was to display all 30 organizations at once. That turned out to be more difficult than I had anticipated. I had a grandiose vision of what this could look like with all the team colors but there is probably a good reason I have never seen what I was picturing in my mind. So to make the material more digestible for myself and the reader, I have decided to display organizational rankings by each division. I was able to give more individual time to each team rather than trying to juggle all 30 organizations at once.
I will begin the series focusing on the AL West. I am familiar with the history and dynamics of the division living near the Seattle area for the better part of my life. The division is up for grabs over the next decade, and several of the players on these lists will play a crucial role in determining which organization comes out on top. There is plenty of high-level talent scattered throughout these organizations located at every level throughout the Minor Leagues.
Just like a dynasty list, these rankings are a snapshot in time. They are constantly evolving as breakouts happen, players under-perform expectations, and perspectives shift. You could ask 100 people to rank each organization, and their lists might all look a little different. I hope you enjoy this and will check out the upcoming divisions. The idea is to keep these updated regularly when graduations, promotions, and perspectives shift.
The weather is beginning to turn for the better and a renewed sense of hope is in the air. Fantasy baseball is back and those of us who love the game couldn’t be more excited about it! The game has gone through many transformations over the years. We currently find ourselves in the early stages of unlocking the secrets behind advanced analytics. There are some intelligent people out there doing incredible work in the baseball community. Their innovation and willingness to share their gifts and support each other only continue to grow the game.
A difference between now and when I played my first league is the introduction of prospects to the game. It brought an entirely new element to fantasy baseball and opened the door for some intriguing dynasty leagues. To this day, there are mixed feelings about how to best utilize prospects in fantasy leagues. Some people see them as essential for long-term success. Others see them as nothing more than trade pieces to help them win right now. Regardless of what side of the fence you are on, there’s little doubt that prospects have become a big part of the fantasy experience. Becoming familiar with them can help you either way.
Like building a team through the draft, several different approaches can work with prospects. If your league values pitching, then consider bumping them up. If you value players that are closer but may not have as much upside, pay attention to ages and ETA. Prospects are mostly about projecting the future and figuring out how their skillsets could play a role in fantasy baseball down the line. It’s important to factor in your specific league categories as well. Certain prospects rise and fall depending on the categories being used. There are so many different ways to evaluate players making it such an interesting puzzle to try and put together.
I will be writing articles throughout the season discussing this list and the movement of players as more data becomes available. As a general guideline, here are some of the factors that go into this list…
1. I weigh upside over proximity to the Major Leagues. My approach is more tilted towards discovering future game-changing players. Someone who is on the verge of a promotion, or already has a job secured definitely gets a boost up the rankings. But the players with special skillsets get a lot of respect from me, even if their track record isn’t yet established.
2. While Minor League stats do have value, they are just a part of the process. There is so much development happening at this stage of their career that I don’t always find it to be an accurate way to gauge future fantasy value. Different leagues and parks also increase or suppress production, so it’s important to know the difference between legitimate improvements and being aided by offensive-heavy parks.
3. Age vs. Level is something I have used for many years to discover potential gems or avoid landmines. Simply put, a 19-year-old who is tearing through Double-A carries significantly more weight than a 23-year-old at the same level. Prospects who are much younger than their competition tend to have a lot of potential and upside, even if the statistics don’t necessarily look appealing.
4. Projecting positions for prospects can be tricky, as a lot of them end up moving to a different spot once they’ve been promoted. It is important to understand the general defensive skill set of the players. As we all know, there are certain positions that have more depth in the Majors. Prospects who can fill one of those spots have a higher floor and less pressure to reach certain statistical thresholds.
5. There is a long track record showing that hitting prospects are less risky than pitching prospects. While I’m not dismissing pitching as an important element of the game, I do take a more conservative approach with them relative to hitters. If you see pitchers ranked aggressively on this list, that should be taken as a sign I am particularly high on them.
Without further ado, I am pleased and honored to reveal the Top 300 dynasty prospects for RotoFanatic. I will be updating the list throughout the season, and we will expand it further and add more features. I appreciate your time and we hope you will bookmark this list and reference it for all of your dynasty needs.
Here is a prospect question that applies to those of us who play in redraft, keeper, and dynasty leagues: Which rookie pitcher will be the most valuable fantasy player in 2021?
I’m going to track the answer to that question throughout the season with the rookie ladder. Today we introduce the initial pitchers’ rookie ladder for the 2021 season. This is my first best guess as to where the 2021 rookie class will finish in terms of fantasy value at the end of the 2021 MLB season.
I’m sure that there will be plenty of twists and turns along the way, full of pop-up surprises and high prospect pedigree disappointments. So, I will be checking in bi-weekly to update the ladder rankings and provide notes on each player as the season progresses.
What went into the initial projections?
I started with a simple concept. My initial premise is that the rookie who will have the most productive 2021 season is the player who combines skill with opportunity. So then I broke each of those concepts down into smaller component parts.
For ‘skill’, I looked at a number of publicly available projections for the 2021 season. I used strikeouts per nine (K/9), walks per nine (BB/9), and groundball rate (GB%) projections from Derek Carty’s “THE BAT”, and FanGraphs “Steamer” projections to fill out the initial pitcher skill evaluations. Then, for pitchers with MLB data, I pored over their Statcast pages to look at things like fastball velocity, active spin rates, and pitch usage.
For opportunity, I started by looking at each player’s expected role for his club on FanGraphs RosterResource. This was the basic starting point, and a player projected in a starter’s role for the 2021 season gets an initial bump in the rookie ladder.
I also considered whether each player was on his organization’s 40-man roster, as well as the number of option seasons he has remaining. The reasoning being that a player that is currently on the team’s 40-man roster and has less than his full complement of three option years is more likely to be used at the MLB level than a player who is currently not on the team’s 40-man roster.
Finally, I looked at the playing time situation ahead of each of these players on the depth chart and used my own judgment as to whether the prospect in question could replace the MLB talent currently in front of him.
Then I squinted, looked at my google sheet with mock seriousness, and shuffled some players around applying my own biases. The result? Your first rookie ladder of the 2021 season:
I shall not succumb to the temptation to fill in this blurb with Jethro Tull puns.
The Braves took a rather outlandish shot on drafting Ian Anderson 3rd overall in the 2016 MLB draft. He was a prep righthander out of cold weather Rexford, New York. But the Braves organization did its homework in scouting Anderson and developing him throughout the minors. When the club needed him in a big spot in 2020, Anderson responded with aplomb.
At first blush, Anderson’s 94 mph fastball, while above-average, doesn’t feature eye-popping velocity. And his changeup features a vertical movement profile that’s about 10% worse than the MLB average changeup. Ultimately neither of these facts really matter.
Why? Well, Anderson possesses elite extension on his fastball. You can see it when you watch him pitch. He’s able to contort his torso in such a way so as to release the ball extremely close to the plate, creating an absurd 7.3 feet of extension on the pitch. Then, he tunnels the changeup with the fastball extremely well. Finally, he repeats his delivery so uncannily well that it’s hard to tell two deliveries apart when overlaid on top of each other:
The only real warning sign with Anderson so far is spotty control. It’s probably related to his delivery, which is designed to maximize extension but can result in him missing his spots at times. But even with the control, If he puts in a full season of work, it’s hard to not envision him as the most profitable rookie pitcher in fantasy baseball this season.
Sixto Sanchez would probably be atop the leaderboard if we were looking for the most giffable rookie pitcher for 2021. He leaped into the consciousness of the average Big League fan in 2020 by flashing a diverse repertoire of filth. His ability to deal was already known to minor league observers. But, his ability to continue that mastery of his arsenal in his debut season was impressive indeed. As I remarked to a friend, he was just throwing every pitch in and around the zone and everything was moving like crazy.
Sixto will have a delayed start to his 2021 campaign, as the team has already shipped him off to minor league camp to start the season. Blame it on visa issues early in the spring and then a false-positive COVID-19 test result upon finally reporting to the team. His throwing program was behind and as a consequence, he wasn’t fully ramped up by Opening Day. He will be slotted into the Marlins rotation as soon as his arm is built up.
With a build like a string bean, “T-Mac” was at times dominant in his minor league career in the Cleveland system. However, he also dealt with numerous injuries as a professional, including back, pectoral, and rotator cuff problems. He sparkled in his MLB debut against the Tigers on August 22, punching out 10 batters over 6 innings of work. For a brief moment, the health concerns went to the back of everyone’s mind. However, as the season wore on, those concerns reared their ugly head again:
You can see the precipitous decline in McKenzie’s average fastball velocity, dropping down about 4 mph over the course of the season. A velocity surge over his two games seems encouraging, but you have to remember that those were games in which he appeared out of the bullpen.
If his health holds up, McKenzie has the stuff to hang with Anderson and Sixto any day of the week. The trick will be how Cleveland manages him during his first full season of MLB action. The club seems to see him as part of their big league rotation, so he will likely get the opportunity to show us what he can do in 2021.
This left-hander might go down as the deep find of the 2018 MLB draft. Detroit selected Tarik Skubal in the 9th round of the draft, but it’s pretty clear now that he possessed day one talent. Skubal simply shredded the competition in the minor leagues, as hitters at the lower levels simply could not keep up with his plus fastball. The fastball is a huge weapon. It sat at 94.4 mph in 2020, but Skubal can reach back and touch 98 with it when needed. The pitch eats up in the zone with a 98% active spin rate. This means that it’s thrown with near pure backspin, causing the pitch to frequently jump over hitter’s bats up near the letters.
Detroit has committed to using Skubal in the rotation to start the 2021 season. His success in a starting role might come down to the development of his changeup. He worked on a new changeup grip all offseason. It is a needed pitch for Skubal, who is generally death to left-handed hitters, but has a little more palatable look to opposite-handed batters. Right-handed hitters slugged .577 against him last season, so the changeup will need to be effective to give him options.
Like fellow Motor City rookie Tarik Skubal, Casey Mize has also made the opening day starting rotation. When researching this piece, I was a little surprised by the skepticism of Mize’s K/9 projections. Similar to fellow ladder-mate Sixto Sanchez, Mize is maybe a little more likely to pitch to contact, relying on his diverse arsenal of offerings to lure hitters into swinging at junk, making his life easier on the mound.
Lurking within Mize’s deep arsenal is a double-plus splitter that should be an out pitch for him at the MLB level. There is a very real possibility that the numbers we are relying on to evaluate Mize are tainted by the fact that he has been keeping the splitter in his back pocket during his professional career thus far. It has certainly seemed that way this spring. Watching Mize, he’s focused on using his breaking stuff, four-seam fastball, and cutter to put hitters away. He’s been effective without heavy reliance on the splitter, and his fastball velocity is up as well. Don’t be surprised to see him climb this ladder as the season wears on.
Dane Dunning was a bit of a surprising addition to the White Sox playoff push in 2020. Then, this offseason, he was shipped off to Texas for right-handed veteran Lance Lynn. The White Sox were trying to bolster their rotation for an even deeper playoff run in 2021. However, in the trade, they may have moved a pitcher who can contribute in a big-league rotation for many years.
Dunning generally made his living in the minor leagues off his sinker, a pitch with some nice boring action that he can use to generate groundball outs. However, in his MLB debut, it was his slider that stole the show:
The slider elicited an elite 43.5% whiff rate last season. It drops off the table due to a vertical movement profile that features 12 percent more drop than the MLB average. He also mixes in a slower, downer curveball that drops 16 percent more than MLB average. So Dunning has progressed from a contact-manager to a contact-manager with a side of dominance. If he can rack up the innings this season, he might also be quick to climb this ladder.
On pure stuff alone, Garrett Crochet probably sits alone atop this list. His fastball beguiled every hitter he faced in 2020. He threw the pitch 84% of the time and it just didn’t matter. Between his elite velocity and a funky arm-angle and stride combination, he managed a 40.5% whiff rate on the pitch. And he frequently throws the fastball right in the middle of the zone:
The team has stated that Crochet will work only from the bullpen in 2021. This limits his ceiling on the ladder, as it’s very difficult for a non-closing rookie reliever to be the most valuable arm for redraft leagues. However, the team still plans on trying to let Crochet work in the starting rotation in the future. If that comes to fruition, he could leap up in dynasty league value substantially.
With Nate Pearson, the talent is not really in question. His big-time stuff includes a fastball that runs up to 100 mph and a turbo slider that he throws 90+. It’s the type of dominant material you would expect from an elite closer, except that the Blue Jays are trying their hardest to see if it will work for Pearson in the starting rotation.
And that’s also the rub with Pearson. He has just had issues staying in sync and healthy due to his XL frame (listed 6’6” 245). One issue that comes with the frame is a delivery that can be inconsistent at times, leading to control issues. The other issue is just general health, meaning that 2019 is the only season in his professional career where he’s logged full-time work. He’s expected to miss the start of the 2021 season with a groin injury, as his throwing regimen has only worked up to long tossing at this point. If he can keep himself on the mound, there’s no reason he can’t jump up this list as the season progresses.
Miami’s southpaw hurler had a rough go of it in 2020, but once you dig beneath the surface stats you can see there is a lot to like with Trevor Rogers in 2021. He’s been the subject of several deep dives this offseason, so you can find further detail on him. But the snapshot is this: he added a couple of ticks of velocity in his MLB debut, and it makes everything in his arsenal play up. Especially his changeup, which could be a borderline elite pitch.
Rogers has made the opening day rotation for the Fish. He should have the opportunity to run with a starting role all season. He also has a good history of making consistent starts in his minor league career, posting 72.2 innings over 17 starts in 2018 and 136.1 innings over 23 starts in 2019. The recipe is here for a shock takeover of the top of the rookie pitching ladder.
“Dealin’” Dean Kremer has secured a place in the Orioles OD rotation. It’s well deserved, as Kremer showed us last summer that he’s more than capable at handling MLB hitters with his arsenal. His command for a cutter, in particular, is going to make him an effective option in the starting rotation:
He’s slotted in the middle of the Orioles rotation, and really has no one pressing him for the spot at present. While he might not post eye-popping numbers, he has the upside to acquit himself just fine in the middle of a big-league rotation.
Daulton Jeffries and Adbert Alzolay have both obtained a gig in the starting rotation to kick off the season. Both pitchers should be watched closely, as if they start out well they will start climbing this ladder.
Kohei Arihara seems to have secured a rotation spot as well. My info on him is scant, so I’ll take a wait-and-see approach before bumping him up at all.
Michael Kopech and Josh Fleming will both start the season in long relief roles, but for very different reasons. Kopech is building his way back from both Tommy John surgery and a 2020 season-long opt-out, so the team is likely to be very patient with him. Fleming is going to be used as a weapon in a variety of roles for Tampa, so ‘long relief’ is really a catch-all term for him here.
Then, there’s a big pile of arms that could land starting roles but have been shuttled down to minor league camp for at least the start of the season. Of this group, Spencer Howard and Nick Lodolo have the best chance to climb the ladder if given the opportunity. Luis Patino, Deivi Garcia, Brailyn Marquez, and Adonis Medina are more likely to appear in relief than a starting role in 2021.
Big news out of San Francisco today as the Giants are promoting their highly ranked catching prospect Joey Bart to the big league club.
Just a few years ago, the Giants had one of the worst farm franchises in all of baseball, but have since rebuilt their list of prospects to become quite a promising group of talent. Now, their top prospect gets the call to join the big league club and show them that he is their future and it is bright.
Bart comes to the Giants with an average hit tool, but some nice power in his bat. He’s someone who has done well with the bat, but with the potential for even more. Last season, over two levels of A+ and AA ball, Bart posted a .278/.328/.495 line with 16 home runs, 48 runs batted in and five steals. While most of his offensive damage was done in A+, he held his own in AA, batting .316 with four home runs over 87 plate appearances.
– the above chart displays Bart’s numbers over his four levels of professional ball: Rookie, A-, A+, AA
More specifically, Bart shows decent plate discipline during his at bats with a nice strikeout rate, showing that he puts a good amount of contact to the ball. While his K% – BB% rate in AA is promising, he wasn’t there long enough to see any sort of possible regression. If there is going to be regression with respect to that, it will unfortunately have to be while with the Giants in 2020.
I do like the fact that he can spread the ball around the field, specifically with those high rates towards Center Field and Right Field. The Park Factors for Oracle Park show that it is primarily a pitcher’s ballpark, but it plays well to those that can hit the ball all over the field. Just look at what it’s doing for Mike Yastrzemski and his .351 home batting average. I’m not comparing the two by any means, but I am saying that the ability to spread the ball all over the place can be helpful at Oracle Park.
Who’s Stopping Him?
In 2020, the Giants have started the following players at catcher at some point or another over 89 combined at bats:
Chadwick Tromp – .178/.188/.333, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 16 K Tyler Heinemann – .195/.283/.220, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 6 K Rob Brantly – .000/.000/.000, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0K
Needless to say, there’s not much standing in the way of Joey Bart and some consistent playing time. His bat should be much better than any other option the Giants have instead, so he should slot right in there and play. Added to that is his defense. If the above scale rating is to be believed, and I would dare say it is, he’s got the ability to be an even better catcher behind the plate than anyone else on the Giants too, meaning he should get the most amount of playing time going forward. Needless to say, he’s ready for this.
What about fantasy teams?
Bart needs to be added, especially in two catcher leagues where playing time is golden. With the catcher landscape being so wide spread speculative and volatile, picking up and starting a catcher that looks guaranteed to play with an offensive hitting tool such as his seems logical. There’s potential for greatness here, and, though it may not happen in 2020, his worst case scenario is probably better than their other options. Right now, I would put him in my Top 15 overall at the position, given the opportunity, the talent and the defense.
Words of Advice
If you own Yadier Molina, Jorge Alfaro or Francisco Mejia, and are waiting for a return, I wouldn’t hesitate to make the switch for Bart.
If you own Roberto Perez, Jason Castro or Danny Jansen, I would make the switch in an effort to rejuvenate your lineup instead of waiting for things to click for the scuffling catchers.
Go out and pick him up now. If he’s available in FAAB, I would see which other teams might need a catcher too, and would spend 25% of my remaining FAAB budget on him.
In dynasty leagues, he is a must own right now but is probably already owned.
Baseball is back and the first week barraged us with storylines, enough to make your head spin. We’ll focus on the week that was and highlight the “Debut Dandies,” rookie-eligible players that made their MLB debuts over the past week and represent the next wave in fantasy baseball. We’ll break down instant impacts in redraft leagues as well as dynasty league outlooks. Over 60 players made their debut to start the 2020 season, so let’s hone in on some key names.
The Elite Prospect Debuts
Week 1 saw a handful of consensus top prospects make their much-anticipated debuts.
After signing a MLB contract in the off-season, Luis Robert of the Chicago White Sox has lived up to the hype in the early going. Robert has started every game so far, typically batting 7th and playing CF. After an injury to Tim Anderson over the weekend, Robert soared up to the leadoff spot, promptly responding with a titanic opposite-field blast (highlighted below). He’s slashed .351/.385/.595 with 13 H, 2 HR, and 1 SB. Robert has 2 BB to 11 K, one of his only blemishes during the opening week. It’s not entirely surprising given his career marks and scores on the projection systems. Robert has been served well with an aggressive approach in the early going, where six of his hits and both home runs have come on the first offering in an AB. Robert is showing his all-around skill set as a bona fide future fantasy stud. There’s a reason he’s a top 5 prospect in the game, and we’re all smiling ear-to-ear with every highlight. Outlook: Robert is elbowing his way up rankings with a strong MLB showing, putting pressure on a spot within the top 25 overall dynasty players.
On the pitching side, “Nasty” Nate Pearson of the Toronto Blue Jays lived up to his nickname in his debut start against the Nationals on Wednesday. Pearson had an important tuneup start against Boston at the end of Summer Camp, during which he made critical adjustments after initially struggling with command. Pearson showed in his official debut that he can attack the zone with all of his offerings. When the righty is getting called strikes and chases on his wicked slider, hitters are in for a long night (highlighted below). He gets excellent velocity separation between his off-speed pitches and his high heat. Pearson threw 75 pitches in his opening start and should be on a strict pitch count as he has been his entire professional career.
Widely considered among the top pitching prospects, Pearson may have ups and downs and rack up pitch counts during some of his starts in 2020. Beyond this year, he’s bound to be a PitchingNinja GIF factory and one of the scariest starters in the majors. Outlook: Pearson gets a slight ding pitching in the tough AL East, but nonetheless possesses a rare SP1-SP2 fantasy ceiling. Over the next few years, his career path projects similarly to that of Tyler Glasnow in terms of potential for conservative usage. Once he’s unleashed, he could ascend to one of the top starting pitchers in fantasy.
Week 1 also saw a group of prospects in the 50+ overall rankings make their MLB debuts.
Evan White of the Seattle Mariners, like Robert, signed an MLB contract during the off-season. White has run with the 1B job from the jump. White has been great on both sides of the ball. A rare right-handed batter and left-handed thrower, White has shown exceptional defensive instincts and smoothness with the mitt. He’s bound to stick in the lineup even through offensive dry spells due to the glove, which helps his fantasy managers lock down a shallow position. White has hit in the 2 and 5 holes in the lineup so far.
He’s at a double-digit BB rate and he is delivering 91st percentile hard contact (highlighted below). White may be a more modest 2020 performer in terms of hits and power output but long term, he can be a 20-25 HR player and prove an asset in both average and on-base formats. There aren’t too many 1B that can also chip in some SB. White is one of those rare exceptions.
Evan White w/ a shot last night.@PhilOfSports’s take: My sleeper pick for AL ROY. This clip shows you here: his timing & attack angle has improved throughout his pro career. He’s not only hitting the ball hard, he’s also finding the barrel more frequently.#Seattle#MLB#PLivepic.twitter.com/frU8KYevER
In somewhat of a surprise promotion, Andrés Giménez broke camp with the New York Mets to open 2020. Giménez has netted a single start; nonetheless, he has found his way into 9 of 10 games. He’s played 2B, 3B, and SS defensively and served as a pinch runner. Giménez is a good SB threat in 2020 and beyond. Notoriously young at every level of his development, he is still just 21 years old. Giménez carried over his hot Arizona Fall League performance to the big leagues.
Ever since I first saw Giménez back in 2018, he’s had the ability to drive (not slap) the ball the other way (highlight below). While there are some infield logjams, Giménez is certainly contributing every night in some fashion. He’s a beneficiary of the universal DH in 2020, and a middle infielder I am high on in dynasty.
The Kansas City Royals are using 2020 to showcase many of their young arms, and Brady Singer was the first man up. The 6’5″ righty had two starts this week, with nearly identical results in both: 5 IP, 2 ER, and right around 80 pitches. Singer K’d seven against Cleveland and three more against Detroit.
The fastball/sinker and slider are the primary offerings, with a show-me changeup right around 6% usage (though only 2 in his opening start). He was able to turn to the late-breaking slider in tough spots and generate swings-and-misses. Singer generates significant horizontal movement on both the sinker and slider. He projects as an innings-eater who can unlock his ceiling with further utilization of his changeup (highlighted below).
Nick Madrigal also debuted for the Chicago White Sox on July 31. Madrigal boasts some of the strongest bat-to-ball skills in professional baseball. He strikes out at absurdly low rates, and the question will be how this translates into driving the ball for fantasy. There’s high potential for strong batting average and he possesses plus speed. He hit 9th in the lineup in his debut weekend, so his short term value could be capped with that lineup placement. Madrigal showcased his hit tool prowess with a 4 hit day over the weekend, all singles (highlighted below). Madrigal plays a strong defensive 2B, earning the call to become the fixture at the keystone in Chicago.
Nick Madrigal's day just kept getting better. Baseball's No. 39 overall prospect racked up his first four (!) big league hits as his #WhiteSox finished a three-game sweep in KC. pic.twitter.com/ABTx2wjVPl
In the opposite dugout to Madrigal, the Kansas City Royals Kris Bubic drew the home opener against the White Sox. The nearly 23-year-old lefty hasn’t pitched above high-A professionally, which is a testament to his polish and compelled the Royals to grant Bubic competitive innings this season. Bubic held his own during his debut, getting tough outs after yielding some traffic on the bases.
Bubic surrendered a three-run homer – the extent of the damage in the outing. Bubic had a 1-2-3 third inning, striking out two facing the heart of the White Sox order. Bubic features a low-90s fastball, a devastating changeup (highlighted below), and deceptive delivery. He slots in right alongside other Royals starters Jackson Kowar and Brady Singer in terms of projectable rotation contributors.
Versatile catching prospect Daulton Varsho made his big league debut this week for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Varsho was detailed by RotoFanatic’s Mike Carter in this stellar deep dive article. The Diamondbacks love carrying a deep catching corps, and Varsho should be able to catch enough to maintain valuable catcher eligibility given his offensive upside.
He’s a potential 20 HR, 20 SB hitter at his peak with a strong hit tool and on-base prowess. He could also get his bat in the lineup via starts in the outfield. Varsho has been limited to pinch hitting over the weekend in getting 2 plate appearances (1 BB, 1 K), so it remains to be seen exactly how the Diamondbacks will deploy him in 2020. With a great AA track record already, Varsho may simply be getting a taste of big league action for a more expanded role heading into next year.
Other Notable Prospect Debuts
Left-handed starter David Peterson made his big league debut for the New York Mets against Boston. Peterson pitched 5.2 innings and surrendered two runs on seven hits to go along with a pair of walks and three strikeouts. Peterson dazzled in his next start against division foe Atlanta. Peterson showed good use of the slider and changeup as putaway offerings, helping particularly against righties. Peterson netted a quality start: in 6 IP, he limited the Braves to 5 hits and racked up 8 strikeouts against only 1 walk. The lefty is a groundball machine who also has a good ability to miss bats with a five-pitch arsenal. He has what it takes to stick in the Mets rotation, and is a name trending up.
Cristian Javier followed up a scoreless inning of relief on July 25 with a stellar first start in the big leagues. On July 29, he fired 5.2 IP with only 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB and 8 K on 82 pitches; thus, he became a popular FAAB target over the weekend. Historically Javier has had a high BB rate but showed how tough he can be when his command is on. Consistency will be key, but Javier should get some run in 2020 on the suddenly pitching-starved Astros.
Yoshi Tsutsugo has gotten into all but one game so far for the Tampa Bay Rays. I covered Tstutsugo in a recent episode of the “On the Bump” Podcast and think he can be a solid source of power and on-base ability, hitting from the middle of the Rays lineup. He’s also handy with dual-eligibility on multiple platforms. The 28-year-old Tsutugo hit 255 career home runs spanning 10 professional seasons in Japan.
Daniel Johnson made a cameo for Cleveland and the outfielder brings a nice blend of athleticism with power-speed potential. He’s always had a knack for getting on-base and could blossom into a viable fantasy outfielder. The outfield isn’t as wide open for playing time as it was previously in Cleveland, but Johnson should have an up-and-down taxi squad role with the big club this season.
Like Johnson, outfielder Leody Taveras had a quick up-and-down stint for the Texas Rangers. Taveras is just 21 years old, though he has seemingly been a touted prospect for many years. There’s some prospect fatigue with Taveras but the speedy outfielder projects a hit tool and stolen base potential. He is an elite defender but his ultimate power ceiling along with in-game production questions could limit his status to fourth outfielder or second division regular duties. He was recently optioned to the taxi squad in an “offensive move” to replace him with Adolis Garcia. That may be the case today, but here’s hoping Taveras can pass Garcia in the depth chart.
Edward Olivares caused some buzz as he debuted this week for the San Diego Padres. The toolsy outfielder has turned himself into a legitimate dynasty prospect after putting up consistently strong offensive performances during his professional career, dating back to his time in the Toronto organization. Offering power and speed off the bench, Olivares finds himself in a crowded outfield situation in San Diego; nonetheless, he could squeeze his way into more playing time with better production against LHP, especially if Wil Myers regresses.
Shogo Akiyama has come out of the gate in a strict platoon role for the Cincinnati Reds. The 32-year-old Akiyama has started two games while entering every other contest as a pinch-hitter. He is 0-3 against southpaws, but has a .263 AVG and .364 OBP in 22 plate appearances against RHP. Akiyama represents a particularly skilled source of on-base potential, though he will have to get more regular at bats to maintain fantasy appeal.
Two talented catchers made their debuts: Tyler Stephenson of the Cincinnati Reds and William Contreras of the Atlanta Braves. Stephenson is an imposing 6’4″ and he swatted a titanic blast in his first plate appearance. Stephenson could be a good offensive catcher for dynasty leagues; likewise, Contreras was pressed into duty due to two senior circuit catchers landing on the IL. Contreras has been a pleasant surprise since his debut, delivering four hits including a double in 10 at bats as of this writing.
Deep League Talents: Joe McCarthy (SFG), Enoli Paredes (HOU), Jose Marmolejos (SEA), Jonathan Arauz (BOS), Taylor Widener (ARI), Alex Vesia (MIA), Santiago Espinal (TOR), Taylor Jones (HOU), Jordan Holloway (MIA), Jake Cronenworth (SDP), Nick Heath (KCR).
Ben is a member of the RotoFanatic team as a Minor League Prospect Analyst and Dynasty Fantasy Baseball writer. Ben is a longtime fantasy baseball player with a focus on deep dynasty leagues. Ben broke into baseball writing in 2017 as a team writer at realmccoyminors.com. In addition, Ben currently writes for Prospects1500.com covering the Red Sox system. He has also been a team writer at Fantrax and contributor to notesfromthesally.com. Ben is also a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA). Follow Ben on Twitter @TBDubbs11 for player video and dynasty baseball content.