Here in the middle of August, we have been entertained with big-name prospect debuts at a steady rate. This past week we saw two major hitting prospect debuts who are of significant interest to redraft and dynasty managers: Alec Bohm and Dylan Carlson. This past Monday, we were also bestowed with a pair of Detroit Tigers pitchers in Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal making their debuts this week.
The Elite Prospect Debuts
Overview: The Philadelphia Phillies top prospect, Alec Bohm, slots right into their starting third base job. Bohm’s journey to the majors started as a hyped draft pick in 2018 (3rd overall). He was billed a superior power hitter paired with a solid hit tool. Injury led to struggles in his professional debut, where in 40 G between Rookie and Low-A, he produced a jarring .659 OPS with 0 HR. Bohm rebounded spectacularly and laid siege on minor league pitchers across three levels in 2019. The cherry on top of last season was a blistering tour through the Arizona Fall League, signaling that the only logical next step would be an early 2020 debut for Bohm in Philadelphia.
Bohm represents one of the top prospect talents at corner infield in all of baseball. He is a relatively unique hitter in that he can hit the ball for extra base hit power without sacrificing contact ability. Therefore, we see lower K rates from Bohm than we are accustomed to in today’s swing-for-the-fences-at-all-costs landscape.
Outlook in 2020: With early-season struggles for infielders Rhys Hoskins and Scott Kingery, Bohm makes logical sense as a potential infusion from within. Bohm has bounced between the 6 and 8 holes in the lineup, where his value rises as his lineup position does. The Phillies have a large number of options at the hot corner, but Bohm is the clear choice of the organization should he produce. Let’s hope he also snags enough games at 1B to boost his value heading into next year at a position that is steadily dwindling in the short season.
Outlook in Dynasty: I would daresay Bohm is a divisive prospect. One corner argues in favor of the high average and home run output as a difference-maker fantasy player. This is where you’ll see Bohm’s ranking in the 10-35 overall range. The other corner argues that the power won’t manifest in-game and his performances have been aided by favorable hitting environments through the minor leagues. These folks see him as a high floor regular and will rank him in the 50+ range overall. Choosing one side, I would lean towards potential difference-maker.
Regardless of where you stand, Bohm represents only a handful of notable 3B prospects who both represent offensive upside prototypical of the position and proximity to big league impact. Beyond Bohm, the next group of pure 3B rankings includes Nolan Jones, Nolan Gorman, Kody Hoese, Josh Jung, and Isaac Paredes. Side by side, Bohm is ahead of each of these names given some combination of skill questions and proximity.
Of note for dynasty purposes, Bohm’s ultimate defensive home is also another divisive issue. It’s true that Bohm has moved between 3B and 1B defensively in 2019. In part, this helped the organization maximize Bohm’s opportunities to contribute. He gets to learn both spots while still in the minor leagues (whereas Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is learning 1B at the major league level at the expense of his offense).
This play from earlier this week at least shows that he is making progress in range and athleticism in order to raise his chances of sticking there. This was a nice play in a big situation, but one that many big league corner infielders should be able to corral. We can’t let one play dictate a future, but Bohm may simply fill in better for the struggling Rhys Hoskins at 1B rather than supplant a power/speed player such as Jean Segura at 3B.
Overview: In what has been a trying season for the St. Louis Cardinals due to COVID exposure in the clubhouse, Dylan Carlson promptly found his way into the lineup right away in Game 1 following the extended layoff. Carlson has consistently been viewed in positive regard as a prospect, a former 1st round selection (33rd overall in 2016) who took off considerably with a strong 2019 season. A 26 HR, 20 SB season, and .292/.372/.542 in the high minors will launch you up any list. By season’s end, Carlson was a slam dunk top 15 overall prospect in dynasty. By most timelines, Carlson’s all-around polish made him a fast mover for a high school bat.
Carlson is among the cream of the crop outfield prospects with both a 2020 production window and an All-Star ceiling long term. He comes with relative safety for a prospect (and a high school hitter at that) in his hit tool, multi-category production, and defensive versatility at all 3 outfield positions.
Outlook in 2020: With a reworked schedule packed with doubleheaders, Carlson should find his way into the Cardinals lineup most every day for at least one contest. The Cardinals will rotate Carlson, and their large crop of outfielders, in order to get everyone at-bats and keep everyone fresh. Carlson, like many NL batters, is aided by the universal DH in 2020 because it gets one more of the bats into the lineup each game. The switch-hitting Carlson has most often found himself in the run-producing 6 spot in the lineup. Should he produce, the Cardinals are invested in getting his bat out there and it will only go up from there for potential production. Here’s Carlson’s first MLB hit, he hooks a double with 2 strikes and showcases his contact ability.
Outlook in Dynasty: The Cardinals have long been hoping for a homegrown outfielder to break through as a lineup mainstay. With Tyler O’Neill producing in 2020 and getting most starts in LF, CF and RF are a mix of Carlson, Dexter Fowler, and Harrison Bader. Carlson is primed to bust out among this group. He could still be rotated through the different OF slots for the next couple of seasons, helping boost his value in LF-CF-RF league formats.
The offensive contribution is what is on the mind of dynasty managers, and Carlson shouldn’t disappoint. I think the high offensive floor across all categories is one of the more attractive elements of his profile. People traditionally groan at “sum-of-the-parts” types, but Carlson is a solid producer as a baseline. Carlson’s vertical swing path and hit tool should help him get to his power. Carlson has the potential to be the dynasty hitter that we thought Andrew Benintendi might be at his absolute ceiling: a roster stabilizer with star ability, solid across AVG and OBP formats, and contribute in all 5 categories.
I had the pleasure of working with our very own Rob Cocuzzo of RotoFanatic (@RobCocuzzo) who jumped at the opportunity to profile the exciting talent of Tarik Skubal. (Rob) “Tarik Skubal is finally a major leaguer along with top-ranked, right-handed pitching prospect, Casey Mize. The 6-foot-3 left-hander, much like Mize, hides the ball well with a high leg kick before slinging it across his body.
The left-hander was originally taken in the 29th round of the MLB Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks after undergoing Tommy John surgery the season prior. Skubal returned to school and put together a subpar college career at Seattle University, dropping his draft stock from a potential third-rounder to a ninth-round selection. The buzz around Skubal has commonly been his knack for striking out opponents. Since he burst onto the scene in 2018, the California native has never seen his K% drop below 30%.
Paired with his K ability, Skubal also has excellent command of the strike zone. The lefty has a four-pitch mix in his arsenal that he uses to baffle opponents. Last year, Skubal was sitting in the mid 9s with his heater. Skubal posted an eye-popping 100.6 mph on the gun during a quarantine bullpen session! Skubal’s upper 90s heater with late life, paired with his 60-grade slider, is nightmare fuel for the AL Central. The new call up uses his slider to back-foot right-handed opponents. The breaking ball has tight spin and dives in on right-handed hitters, jamming them, aiding his GB%. Once developed, the changeup will provide a third “plus” offering for Skubal – a left-hander who already yielded the highest SwStr% among qualified pitchers in the Minors last year.
Outlook in 2020: Skubal comes to the big club in the starting rotation, boding well for his fantasy value. The only question is how limited Skubal will be in Detroit. With the Tigers realistically being a long shot for a playoff position, there is no reason to overextend your prized prospects. However, the K potential that he bears and his chance to purely dominate a light-hitting MLB Central certainly makes Skubal worth a waiver wire pick up. After his first start where he matches up with the White Sox, Skubal is lined up to throw against the anemic offense of the Cleveland Indians.
Outlook in Dynasty: Skubal is a must-own in dynasty leagues. He comes into the season as the fifth-ranked left-handed pitching prospect by MLB.com and is a top 35 prospect in our RotoFanatics Prospect Rankings. Some will have pause over Skubal’s unheralded status coming out of college, but the numbers in his professional career speak for themselves. Skubal has flat out dominated every level. His fastball has increased velocity, his slider has more bite, and his curveball and changeup will only progress as he gets a better feel.
Skubal has fantasy ace upside and third starter floor. His K potential makes him an asset in any fantasy leagues. Try to grab him if he is available, or try to buy low before he starts striking out the world.” Thanks Rob for these excellent insights on the high octane lefty!
Overview: Casey Mize was the first overall pick in the 2018 draft and all of his starts will be heavily anticipated. With Mize, you get a deep arsenal with dominant secondaries in the slider and splitter. Mize brings precocious polish to the mound most nights. When he’s on, his fastball command sets up his best pitches: the slider and splitter. Mize relishes the big stage: he threw a no-hitter in his AA debut.
Outlook in 2020: You have a big-league ready pitcher who can be brilliant on any night. Like any young pitcher, he can work through mechanical adjustments and seek consistency too. Expect Mize to be better than your average rookie starting pitcher who can keep his ratios in check and deliver a good amount of strikeouts. He is not an auto start, but should be a safer option against other divisional opponents (outside maybe road starts against the White Sox).
Outlook in Dynasty: There are no surefire, safe pitching prospects, and Mize is included in that camp mostly due to durability questions. He struggled in the last month of the season pitching through a knee injury, also had dealt with shoulder issues in college and the pros. Some point to his arm action being tough on his shoulder long term and have mixed feelings about the history to date. Mize doesn’t have the über athleticism of other top prospects, but he overcomes that with excellent secondaries and pitchability. If he shakes some health questions, Mize will be a valuable starter for the long haul who could be a 1 or more likely a high end number 2 SP type of ceiling. People who value the louder stuff (Skubal) or higher ceiling (Manning) tend to fade Mize, but I like him as a strong bet to be in the “very good” category. These type of players are hard to find, we are uniquely privileged to have this group emerge together. No matter how you slice it, the Tigers have a group of young pitchers that can all in their own way become difference makers towards the top of the rotation.
Other Notable Prospect Debuts
Isaac Paredes is another exciting talent for the Detroit Tigers and one of the top offensive prospects in their system. His plus hit tool and plate approach could make him a potential batting title contender in the future. He’s a sturdy build and brings athleticism to stick on the left side of the infield at either 3B or SS. There’s even a little bit of sneaky SB potential in his early MLB career. Paredes has been a consistent performer as a professional and should hold down a key lineup spot for years to come.
In my view, outside of pedigree, park/club factors, and flyball spray tendency, Paredes brings a similar skill set to Alec Bohm as low K, high contact corner infielders with raw power. I am personally high on Paredes and view him as a top 100 prospect, though there are very few who have him there. Here are Paredes’ minor league numbers, highlighting his manageable K rates with strong BB and offensive output relative to league environments.
Jorge Mateo was a sensible acquisition by the San Diego Padres right before the season began, serving on paper as a right-handed compliment to Trent Grisham and Jake Cronenworth in CF and 2B. Mateo (acquired by Oakland from the New York Yankees in the Sonny Gray deal) was squeezed out in Oakland, and a solid buy for Preller’s Padres. Mateo was a Future’s Game representative last summer and still carries everyday potential, but now has a mountain to climb to win playing time behind a formidable trio (Tatis Jr., Grisham, and Cronenworth) who have been one of the hottest offensive groups in the game.
James Kaprielian, also part of the same Sonny Gray deal with Mateo, is still with the Oakland Athletics and made his debut in relief. Kaprielian has battled arm injuries in the past and missed the entirety of the 2017 and 2018 seasons due to Tommy John surgery. The 2019 season was an impressive performance in a ramp up capacity and regained his prospect status. Now 26, Kaprielian provides intrigue as a rotation depth arm who may see more multi-inning relief opportunities along with it.
Luis Garcia was called up for the Washington Nationals. Garcia played all of last season as a 19-year-old in Double-A, which is a testament to the talent as my number 2 ranked Nationals prospect (behind Carter Kieboom). A tough out, Garcia can put the bat on the ball and his strong hitting ability has him hold his own against more advanced pitching. Garcia is not known for his power yet, though there’s more in the 6’2″ frame than has showed up to date. He did deliver his first big league home run where you can see the potential for more, and also has a 3 hit game under his belt. Garcia is currently the youngest player in the MLB and now holds the distinction as the first player to hit a home run when born in the 2000’s!
The Los Angeles Dodgers promoted catcher Keibert Ruiz. Formerly among the top catching prospects in the game, he’s been passed in the system by Will Smith and Diego Cartaya. But Ruiz is a good defensive catcher with excellent contact ability at the plate. In fact, Keibert hasn’t had a K% above 10% since 2017. The switch hitter is a good play in 2 catcher leagues for the time being. It doesn’t take much to emerge as a fantasy option behind the dish; if Ruiz can translate the bat-to-ball into more lift, he would certainly fly into relevance in all formats but will still have to battle for playing time. Like the contact-oriented Garcia, Ruiz tanked his first MLB home run during his first game against the cross-town Angels.
First baseman Lewin Diaz earned the call for the Miami Marlins. Diaz is a lean, mean, hitting machine who was acquired from the Twins for Sergio Romo in the middle of last season. Diaz is one of the top 1B only prospects in the game, a lefty swinger who could emerge as a future middle of the order hitter. He may not get more than a cameo in 2020, but Diaz is a great dynasty target to impact 2021.
Cristian Pache also got the promotion for the Atlanta Braves. The outfielder is an exceptional defender, and could quickly become one of the games top defensive outfielders. The defense leads the profile at the moment, and likely always will. Pache has both raw power and speed but has not shown the ability to draw on either consistently in game. Pache’s elite defense will keep him in the lineup most every day in his prime, making him best as a play as a third outfielder In deeper leagues. There’s value In those formats and some potential for counting stats as he matures. In the short term, it’s likely Pache is depth and defensive help for the Braves with a slim chance to break through and contribute in the everyday lineup in 2020. Though the future is bright for the young outfielder in Atlanta, he may carry the “better in real life” card through his fantasy career.