Attention fantasy owners! June is finally here, and normally at this time both our rosters and MLB clubs would be rounding into midseason form; ready to gear up for the trade deadline and a potential push for a title. Unfortunately, as we all know, this year has been anything but normal. With the COVID-19 pandemic delaying the season until further notice, and uncertainty around what a season would look like if/when it does return, fantasy owners understandably have questions on how these new developments will affect their favorite prospects. MLB and the MLBPA have both made proposals, and while they disagree on many things, one thing that they seem to agree on is that any season will need to happen with an expanded roster. With that in mind, I took a look at five prospects who stand to gain the most from this proposed rule change.
1. RHP Nate Pearson
Team: Toronto Blue Jays
Highest Level: AAA
A flamethrower from the state of Florida, Pearson has been a staple on Top 100 lists for the past several years, and was likely due to debut sometime in early May. Now that the season has been pushed back, there is absolute certainty that he will be on the expanded roster, likely with a spot in the starting rotation from the get go. With a triple digit fastball and a career minor league ERA of 2.19, it’s clear that Pearson is ready for the show. This makes him an extremely valuable asset in redraft fantasy leagues, as back in the spring he was likely drafted towards the back end of drafts due to his likely call-up date, and some owners might not realize he can now be considered a potential top 50 starter. Now is the time to see if you can catch your fellow owners napping, and acquire him on the cheap.
2. LHP Mackenzie Gore
Team: San Diego Padres
Highest Level: AA
Another top pitching prospect who will be added to the expanded rosters as opposed to starting the season in AAA. Gore is ranked even higher than Pearson and for good reason. He sports career minor league numbers of a 2.56 ERA, 12.0 K/9 and a 1.005 WHIP, showing us that he has ace potential. Like Pearson, he will likely be put in the starting rotation right away. However, unlike Pearson, the Padres have a tendency to let the kid gloves off, meaning Gore has the potential to be special right away. As a top prospect, he won’t be cheap, but if you can acquire him for a reasonable price, don’t be afraid to pull the trigger.
3. RHP Casey Mize
Team: Detroit Tigers
Highest Level: AA
If you’re sensing a theme here, it would be because there 100% is a theme here. Top pitching prospects who would normally need a little more seasoning in the minors stand to benefit from expanded rosters, and that includes Casey Mize. Mize has looked borderline unhittable at times, as evidenced by his fantastic numbers and a legitimate no hitter in his AA debut. Look for the Tigers to ease Mize (along with their other top pitching prospects such as Matt Manning and Tarik Skubal) into games from the pen first, before slowly transitioning them into the rotation.
4. SS Jazz Chisholm
Team: Miami Marlins
Highest Level: AA
A slick fielding shortstop from the Bahamas, Chisholm was a part of the rare prospect for prospect trade at the deadline last year. Now in the Marlins organization, he was likely going to spend a good portion of the season in the minor leagues under normal circumstances. However, Miami isn’t going to win any pennants anytime soon, and when faced with the prospect of having a top prospect miss a full season of crucial development, wouldn’t it make more sense to put him on the roster and let him play through his mistakes in a big league environment? Chisholm does have some swing and miss tendencies, yet he is a top 100 prospect for a reason, and will look to make good on that hype down the road. If he is included on the Marlins expanded roster, keep an eye on him during the early part of the season, as some owners may grow frustrated with any potential early struggles, and you will be able to grab a player with solid upside at a bargain.
5. LHP Shane McClanahan
Team: Tampa Bay Rays
Highest Level: AA
McClanahan was drafted in the first round of the 2018 draft out of the University of South Florida, and has been slowly climbing prospect lists ever since. He has an overpowering fastball and plus plus stuff from the left side, as evident by his career minor league K/9 of 11.8. McClanahan is the type of prospect who would have made his debut during the latter half of 2020, coming out of the pen and providing lockdown relief as the Rays made their playoff push. With a shortened season, every game is exponentially more important, and thus I believe there is a good chance the Rays put McClanahan on the roster, especially if they continue to use the opener as a strategy. Long term, McClanahan is likely destined for the rotation, but in redraft leagues he could be a source of holds and/or saves, and is likely available on the waiver wire.
The 2020 season is certain to be a unique one, with uncertainty around every corner. Despite that, the savvy owner has opportunities to gain an advantage over their opponents, and there is a good chance these players can help you achieve your goal of winning that championship trophy.
Stay tuned for an article on prospects whose development will be impacted the most by a cancelled minor league season!
Nate Pearson by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Zach Ennis (@zachennis on Twitter and Instagram)