Houston Astros Top Fantasy Baseball Prospects 2023

Ben breaks down the Houston Astros' top prospects.

The Houston Astros farm system has been providing sustainable major league talent from all avenues for a few years now. A full suite of draft picks in 2022 for the first time since the sign-stealing revelation has Houston’s system partly refreshed, but player development is still the name of their game in lieu of generational, toolsy prospects. Generally speaking, the floors are high and the ceilings are relatively low here. After eventual ALCS and World Series MVP Jeremy Peña‘s graduation early in 2022, you’ll have to squint to find the difference makers beyond MLB-ready hurler Hunter Brown. However, the difference makers do exist, and this organization has tended to squeeze higher percentile outcomes out of their farmhands in recent memory.

There’s a glut of premium-position talent on the major league bubble, grinding out AAA in Houston’s system, and some really intriguing draft picks from the last two years that look poised to be fast movers through the minors. In between are some cavernous holes where talent used to be, but that’s to be expected considering all of the win-now trades and stripped draft picks. Many of these players discussed will be late-round Rule 4 Draft picks, late bloomers, and throw-ins on under-the-radar trades who are blossoming. While its top-end talent is not the most tantalizing, Houston’s system remains capable of producing plenty of long-time big leaguers with some patented positive development.

 

Houston Astros Top Fantasy Baseball Prospects

 

1. Hunter Brown, RHP

Age: 24/2022 Stats (AAA): 106 IP/2.55 ERA/1.085 WHIP/134 K
(MLB): 20.1 IP/0.89 ERA/1.082 WHIP/22 K

Hunter Brown, in a tier of his own, was the Astros 5th round pick out of Division II Wayne State in 2019. Drafted as a flier on premium velocity with some feel for spin not yet actualized, Brown has always shown a big, imposing, seemingly durable mound presence, but command issues plagued the young righty. His delivery is athletic and upright, with a fluid hip flip and a little bit of a fall-off towards the first base side on release. The Astros reincorporated Brown’s previously discarded curveball into his repertoire during 2020 alternate site instruction, and he’s fine-tuned it into a devastating offering. Now, with four plus pitches and the command gradually making its way towards league average, Brown looks the part of a top 50 prospect with closely attainable, if not actualized, frontline starter upside. He dominated AAA in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, and then dominated the Major Leagues in a 20-inning sample, alternating between starts and bullpen work.

Brown’s fastball is a lively one, sitting 96 MPH and topping out at triple digits. He pairs a HARD slider, which sits in the low 90s and has gotten up to 96. The aforementioned curveball is a hammer. Some Astros voices called it Glasnow-esque, in the low-mid 80s with a tremendously steep attack angle, leading to hitters beating it into the ground even if they do make contact, so long as he keeps it down in the zone. He rounds it all out with a change-of-pace changeup, rarely thrown due to his nascent feel for its placement, but with an impressive movement profile in its own right. There’s a bit of reliever risk in the profile due to less-than-stellar command, but unlike many other volatile stuff monsters, Brown has a notably absent injury history or visual durability concerns with his delivery. As long as Brown keeps his BB% on the right side of 10%, as he’s done for the better parts of two full seasons now, he can avoid relegation to the bullpen and provide huge fantasy upside as a high-octane rotation stalwart.

 

2. Yainer Diaz, C/1B

Age: 24/2022 Stats (AA/AAA): 445 AB/.306 AVG/.356 OBP/.542 SLG/25 HR/2 SB/75 R/97 RBI
MLB: 8 AB/.125 AVG/.222 OBP/.250 SLG

Catchers who can really rake are premium fantasy assets. Yainer Diaz has a strong possibility to maintain catcher eligibility in most fantasy formats and hit the cover off the ball at the next level, even if his timeshare at catcher is minimal. Acquired from the Guardians as the second player in the Myles StrawPhil Maton trade, Diaz has crushed every level of the minors thanks to his combination of a plus hit tool and rotational all-fields power. He earned an MLB promotion as a September call-up, and essentially rode the bench all month with only 9 big league plate appearances, instead spending his time learning how to catch a staff from Martín Maldonado.

The offensive profile is supremely Salvador Perez-ian, with bonkers chase rates out of the strike zone to match. Diaz swings at absolutely everything, but his quality of contact on pitches even in shadow zones leads to many of those swing decisions, typically disastrous, to wind up as net positives. It remains to be seen how that swing-happy approach translates to the bigs. Diaz also recognizes spin well enough in the sense that he gets the bat on offspeed offerings as often as fastballs, and has shown close to double-plus raw power (113.2 max EV) in addition to a fantastic 90th percentile EV (106.5 MPH). Defensively, the Astros deployed Diaz at catcher for roughly 50% of his games as he ascended through the minors while also rotating him around 1B, DH, and the corner outfield spots, in order of timeshare. That split seems his likely destination in the Majors too, as he’s not quite Edward Scissorhands behind the plate, but Diaz’s receiving is far from deft. He employs the one-leg down setup, as most Astros catchers do, without runners on base but stays in the traditional crouch with traffic. His arm grades out as roughly average, and he’s nabbed plenty of solid base stealers in the PCL, where the pitch clock was already implemented. It’s the framing and game-calling, and probably not general athleticism concerns, that will ultimately determine how much Diaz catches. Regardless, Diaz represents an intriguing bat-first catcher who can provide both average and power in an elite lineup and hitter’s park. There aren’t many of those.

 

3. Drew Gilbert, OF

Age: 22/Stats (CPX/A): 32 AB/.313 AVG/.405 OBP/.531 SLG/2 HR/6 SB/9 R/6 RBI

Drew Gilbert was the Astros first-round pick in 2022, going with the 28th overall selection. After posting a 1.128 OPS in his Junior season with Tennessee, Houston’s presumptive center fielder of the future showed out well in a measly 10 pro ball games before he dislocated his shoulder crashing into a wall, ending his first professional season. A sturdy and maxed-out 5’9 athlete, Gilbert displays a prodigious mix of plus pull-side lefty power due to excellent bat speed, plate skills, and the ability to man center field defensively, the full package of which will likely allow him to advance quickly through the minors. He’s a bat-flipping, in-your-face, competitive personality on the field. Gilbert backs it up with five plus tools, even if none of them are double-plus.

Gilbert shows a tremendously advanced feel for the strike zone and looks to do damage by swinging out of his shoes at mistake pitches. There’s also deft barrel control and a malleable plate approach, capable of taking anything where it’s pitched. Gilbert gets his best results when the bat head whips out in front and plays to the pull side. He’s hitting the ball on the ground a little bit too much, but I would expect an approach tweak instead of a swing change in an attempt to rectify that. With surprising max exit velocities given his overall size, Gilbert has the best shot in the system to both stick at the premium center field position and also post 20-20 seasons or better at the highest level. His steals are more based on baseball instincts than because of any blazing foot speed, as is his plus outfield defense. Gilbert relies on above-average jumps and utter disregard for bodily safety in order to make the spectacular plays out there and does so with some regularity. Briefly a two-way player at Tennessee, Gilbert’s strong arm is also an asset in the outfield. All told, Gilbert’s power-speed blend, both merely good and not elite as tools in their own right, are maximized by his already-polished baseball instincts, plate skills, and burgeoning hit tool. Fully maxed out already, he’s a floor-over-ceiling play in line with many other names in this organization.

 

4. Colin Barber, OF

Age: 22/Stats (A+): 218 AB/.294 AVG/.408 OBP/.450 SLG/7 HR/7 SB/35 R/33 RBI

Colin Barber has the best pure hit tool in the system. The overslot 4th round selection as a California high schooler in 2019 saw one developmental season stripped away thanks to the pandemic, and his 2021 cut extremely short due to shoulder surgery. Despite all that missed time, he’ll be knocking on the door of AA at the start of his age-22 season thanks to a picturesque, compact lefty swing geared for pull power, an excellent understanding of the strike zone, and the highest in-zone contact rate of any Astros farmhand. He also has half a chance to stick in center field, with sneaky foot speed and quick-twitch actions. Still not yet physically maxed out, he may fill out and move to a corner – but that would likely bring the power along too. There’s some thump in Barber’s bat, with max EVs in the 110s, but for a player who looks to have a plus hit tool he isn’t posting great quality of contact results. He may be a guy who always maximizes his game power thanks to his professional, pullside lift-heavy swing, like a lefty Alex Bregman – won’t wow you with the exit velocities, but pulled fly balls don’t need to be hit THAT hard to go out. Similarly, Barber absolutely grinds out at-bats on tape. He fouls off pitches, takes on the edges, and just makes the pitcher’s life hard. His career 13.9 BB% is emblematic of my observation, as was his 9.7 SwStr% in 2022. Barber combines that discipline with a non-problematic 25.4% K rate. Overall, Barber’s combination of hit tool, plate discipline, and non-zero power set him up with the outlook of a big-league on-base threat even at the lower percentiles of outcomes.

 

5. Pedro Leon, OF/MIF

Age: 25/Stats (AAA): 413 AB/.228 AVG/.365 OBP/.431 SLG/17 HR/38 SB/71 R/63 RBI

Pedro Leon was the Astros’ high-profile international signing from their 2020 class, earning a $4m bonus after tearing up the same Cuban league as Yuli Gurriel. He’s generously listed at 5’10, strong as an ox with twitchy athleticism, and presents one of the few truly explosive packages of tools in the entire system. He pairs double-plus raw pull-side power with 70-grade speed, a perhaps overly patient plate approach, and one of the biggest cannon arms you’ll see anywhere. Leon’s major league outlook is going as far as his ability to make consistent contact goes. As such, he represents one of the riskier gambles in this range of prospects, but especially in leagues where steals are meaningful, also the highest upside. In 2021, the Astros converted Leon, a traditional center fielder in his first season stateside, to shortstop where he played the majority of his games. This past season, he went back to the outfield primarily, although also saw 20 games worth of work at the keystone. There’s some versatility manufactured there thanks to Leon’s insane athleticism and cannon arm, but his infield footwork was amateurish and requires further work if he’s to provide defensive value on the dirt. It’s likely most prudent to view Leon as a center-field candidate, but he might bounce around enough to earn positional eligibility elsewhere.

Leon is a litmus test for the modern baseball observer; Does batting average matter at all in player evaluation, or not? You’ll see giant red flags from many outlets around his ability to make contact, spurred forth by a 28.8% K rate combined with his .228 batting average over what is essentially a full season. For some added context, underlying those results is an 80.7 z-Con% and a 31.3 Whiff%. Neither are metrics I would deem death sentences, and Leon has been an above-average bat at both AA and AAA for two seasons. With his combination of patience, power, and speed (Leon ran a 14% walk rate and stole 38 bags), you might be willing to gamble on that contact rate to stay sticky, or even improve as he gets more acclimated to stateside arms. In OBP leagues, he’s a rosterable no-brainer. If you like to take the shot on that Christopher Morel mold, the Astros have got the guy for you.

 

6. David Hensley, UTIL

Age: 27/Stats (AAA): 379 AB/.298 AVG/.420 OBP/.478 SLG/10 HR/20 SB/ 80 R/57 RBI
MLB: 29 AB/.345 AVG/.441 OBP/.586 SLG/1 HR/0 SB/7 R/5 RBI

David Hensley is a late-blooming utility man, originally acquired in the 2018 draft in a round so late it doesn’t exist anymore. At 6’6, he’s a four-spot infielder with a double plus first base glove and can spell your shortstop if you need him to – a very similar path to playtime as Aledmys Díaz, before he went to Oakland. Hensley has been a significantly above-average stick at any level for two years now and hit the ground running with a 194 wRC+ in his brief (34 PAs) stint in the Majors.

As a hitter, Hensley is so patient that it’s almost problematic. He ran a 7.5 SwStr% in AAA and took called strikes as often as he swung and missed. His 17% walk rate in AAA, then, is a good indicator of his on-base skills and willingness to take a free base if it’s given. In addition to the patience it’s actually the unheralded Hensley, and not Leon or Yainer or Korey Lee, who holds the highest max EV batted ball during the entire AAA Space Cowboys season, at 114.4 MPH. Hensley’s attack angle is too flat to tap into that raw power consistently, but with a hit tool that does not lag behind, he instead peppers gaps through hard line drives with the best of them. He’s a swing tweak away from serious over-the-fence juice, but at 27 years old they’ve probably tried and failed to bring that along already. Hensley looks like Houston’s de facto utility man for the 2023 season, able to cover every infield position and stand in a corner outfield spot if necessary. He was pinch-hitting for Trey Mancini in the World Series as a rookie. Hensley’s combination of tools and production went under the radar for a while, but he’s capable of providing 5-category value, perhaps a bit light on the power, and should not continue to be overlooked.

 

7. Korey Lee, C

Age: 24/Stats: (AAA): 404 AB/.238 AVG/.307 OBP/.483 SLG/25 HR/12 SB/74 R/76 RBI
MLB: 25 AB/.160 AVG/.192 OBP/.240 SLG/0 HR/0 SB/1 R/4 RBI

Korey Lee was the Astros’ first-round selection in the 2019 draft, having served as Andrew Vaughn‘s lineup protection at Cal. He transitioned to catcher full-time late in his college career, but profiles as a plus defensive catcher going forward, which is the main driver of his stock. The headline of Lee’s skillset is above-average over-the-fence game power combined with a double-plus bazooka of an arm behind the plate. Lee sticks his knee in the dirt at all times while catching to help his framing, and controls the running game effectively from that one-leg-down position. He’s a surprising athlete for a catcher, able to nab some steals and move it on the basepaths. After a torrid offensive 2021 campaign, Lee slowed down in AAA in 2022 but still mashed 25 long balls.

His struggles are not a huge mystery. Lee’s hit tool needs at least another half-grade improvement to profile as a big-league backstop. He ran a 78.9 z-Con% and whiffed at 42% of the non-fastballs he saw in AAA. Lee maximizes his power effectively, with a tight cone of hard-hit batted balls at the right launch angles, but simply struggled to put enough wood on enough pitches to cement his spot as Houston’s catcher of the future. I am particularly scared off when I see that level of offspeed whiffs from a player looking to make the leap from AAA to the bigs because the breakers only get bigger and nastier up there. 24 years old for the 2023 season, Lee has another campaign in front of him to prove he can handle big league stuff, and his defensive acumen behind the plate might carry him into a solid backup role even if he can’t.

 

8. Jacob Melton, OF

Age: 22/Stats (CPX/A): 88 AB/.261 AVG/.353 OBP/.466 SLG/4 HR/5 SB/11 R/13 RBI

Jacob Melton was the Astros’ second-round selection in the 2022 draft, signing for $1m out of Oregon State. Another polished three-spot lefty outfielder with a full suite of average to above-average tools, Melton hit the ground running in his professional debut. As a draft prospect, a major concern was an utter question mark on Melton’s ability to hang with premium velocity, as he rarely saw 95+ MPH in college. He assuaged those concerns by posting a 171 wRC+ in his first season of A ball.

Melton has no true carrying tool, although you could perhaps call his raw power a 60 if you wanted to get generous thanks to a 111.4 MPH max EV. But he does everything well enough and represents one of the higher floors in the system thanks to his many ways to contribute positively on a baseball field. At the plate, there’s a fair bit of noise in his pre-pitch routine, as he starts wide-open and closes off his lower body, while his hands raise, stretching the rubber band. A good athlete, Melton looks to spray the middle of the field and is comfortable tapping into opposite-field power. His patience also looks to be improved from his college days, walking north of 10%. Defensively, he seems destined for some sort of tweener role, as Melton plays a respectable center field in the minors but likely only profiles as plus in a corner.

 

9. Spencer Arrighetti, RHP

Age: 23/Stats (A+/AA): 106.2 IP/4.73 ERA/1.463 WHIP/152 K

The Astros have been pulling unheralded model darling RHPs up into their big league bullpen and rotation to various degrees of success for three years now, and 2021’s 6th-round selection Spencer Arrighetti is probably next. Slim and athletic with a 3/4ths arm slot and a low release point thanks to his drop-and-drive delivery, Arrighetti’s fastball-slider combo mirror each other’s axis perfectly. He’s put on two ticks of fastball velocity since draft day, topping all the way out at 98,2 MPH. He sits from 92-94 MPH and folds in a high-70s curveball as well. Like most Houston arms, his gyro slider is the primary out pitch for same-handed batters, and the two-plane curveball comes out against lefties. There’s also a bad changeup in his back pocket, which he throws exclusively to LHBs and sometimes not at all. His delivery has too much side-to-side movement and release point inconsistency for the command to ever profile as plus, but it keeps approaching closer to average as he gets stronger and more connected. Arrighetti has never dipped under 31.6 K% in any of his minor league stops. He’s tracking like a good reliever at the moment due to extremely spotty command, but Houston has turned this whiff-inducing archetype into solid SPs before. Arrighetti’s ability to switch his pitch mix depending on batters’ handedness bodes well for a chance to go multiple times through a lineup, and if he can improve his command even just a little bit more, he could represent a nice backend starter with strikeout upside.

 

10. Ryan Clifford, 1B/OF

Age: 19/Stats (CPX/A): 77 AB/.247 AVG/.426 OBP/.390 SLG/2 HR/2 SB/13 R/10 RBI

The Astros spent every penny of their slot savings through the first 10 rounds in 2022’s draft to pry Ryan Clifford away from his Vanderbilt commitment, offering him more money than Melton’s at-slot allotment from the second round. Clifford has been one of the more prominent prep bats in the country ever since he was about thirteen and hit the ground running as an 18-year-old getting his feet wet in full-season ball. A lefty slugger with a max EV of 109 as a 17-year-old, there’s clear potential for game-changing power to emerge as Clifford matures over the next few years. What doesn’t need maturing is his approach at the plate. Already armed with a strong understanding of the zone and where his bat plays up, Houston sent the 18-year-old Clifford into Fayetteville along with all their college signees and he emerged unscathed, with an .802 OPS to boot. He’s given no reason to knock his on-base ability, and the hit tool has flashed. Clifford doesn’t offer any defensive value, looking like a fine first baseman and perhaps a below-average corner outfielder, but the power-patience upside with the bat is real, and he’s got a real shot to stick around .250 instead of dragging down the average too.

 

11. Forrest Whitley, RHP

Age: 25/Stats (CPX/A/AAA): 40 IP/6.53 ERA/1.575 WHIP/50 K

Can you believe that Forrest Whitley is still only 25? There isn’t much to say about Whitley that hasn’t already been said over the last three years, but the fact that he resurfaced and threw 33 innings of Hawkeye stat-backed work in AAA means he’s back on the radar. A former top pitching prospect in baseball, Whitley has missed three calendar years thanks to two different surgeries. While he may never stay durable enough to handle a starter’s workload, the frontline starter-caliber raw stuff came back in full even after so much time off. While shaking the rust off in 2022, Whitley flashed six different pitches ranging from major league average to double-plus. He topped out at 99.6 MPH with his four-seamer, alternated a mid-90s sinker in there, showed off a low-80s curveball with a steeper attack angle than even Hunter Brown, displayed one of the best movement profiles on a changeup in the minor leagues, and brought out a new cutter averaging 89 MPH that ran a 29.6% whiff rate in its own right. He still has the gigantic 6’7 frame, wide shoulders, and athletic delivery that had scouts drooling at the end of the last decade. It’s hard to say whether it’s rust, or just who Whitley is, but he struggled mightily in finding the zone after three years away from affiliated ball. He should throw more strikes moving forward, but we’ve been saying that for a while. As was always the case, command and durability are his main concerns, because the arsenal is so tantalizing. Best case, he gets put on the Michael Kopech health track and pitches roughly a half-season of a starter’s workload starting in 2023. More likely, Whitley starts off in single-inning relief and goes from there, if he can stay on a mound.

 

12. Colton Gordon, LHP

Age: 24/Stats (CPX/A/A+): 53.2 IP/2.35 ERA/0.801 WHIP/78 K

Colton Gordon is a strike-throwing lefty with a starter’s pitch mix and a great feel for spin. Drafted in the 8th round of 2021, Gordon flew under the radar because he underwent Tommy John surgery two months before draft day. As such, 2022 represented his first taste of affiliated ball, and despite age-to-level concerns, the results speak for themselves. He dominated the low levels of the minors. Gordon is 6’4 and long-levered, able to get great extension which allows his low-90s running fastball, topping at 95 MPH, to play up at the top of the zone. He mixes in two different breaking balls, a big sweeping curve and a tight, horizontally tilted slider. The two breakers are his money pitches, giving hitters of both-handedness fits. Rounding it all out is a plus changeup with big armside tilt, able to be used liberally against RHBs. Houston started to stretch Gordon out towards the end of 2022, once he was a year and a half removed from Tommy John. Gordon would eclipse 5 innings per start with some regularity, and looked comfortable in that role. You can view Gordon as a backend starter profile, but one that could hover around a strikeout per inning thanks to his deceptive fastball, plus command, and three useable offspeed offerings. Worst case scenario, he seems destined to break the bigs as a lefty relief piece, health notwithstanding.

 

13. Misael Tamarez, RHP

Age: 23/Stats (AA/AAA): 121.1 IP/4.30 ERA/1.253 WHIP/142 K

I’ve been a high guy on Misael Tamarez for a while now, having tabbed him as the type of moldable mid-90s workhorse RHP that the Astros organization tends to maximize. An older, under-the-radar $15k international sign, you don’t have to look beyond Houston’s current rotation and bullpen to see how those guys can make an impact. He’s wild by the box scores, with a career BB/9 north of 5, but Tamarez’s over-the-top and extension efficient delivery is more repeatable than you’d expect given his penchant for walks. I’d project some improvement in the strike throwing, and age 23-24 is commonly when pitchers make that leap. Misael lost the zone entirely when he moved up to AAA at the tail end of 2022, but he was also 22 years old with 100 innings on his arm and had thrown strikes at various levels before. Outside of the command concerns, Tamarez has an explosive three-pitch mix with a burgeoning fourth. His four-seamer is capable of blowing hitters up, averaging 94 MPH and topping out at 98, riding true at the top of the zone. Originally a fastball-changeup only pitcher, his changeup is definitively plus, and he zones it well, often even better than the fastball. In 2021, Tamarez debuted a cutter-y slider in the mid-high 80s, which he throws nearly as often as his fastball, good for a 46.7% whiff rate in AAA this past season. As I thought he might, Tamarez has also started experimenting with a true curveball in the low 80s, although I do not have enough observations of it to make a statement one way or another. Adding two new pitches in two calendar years speaks to Tamarez’s ability to adapt as a moldable mid-90s workhorse, and if the four-pitch mix can tack on another grade of command to go with it, Tamarez could be a rotation fixture for Houston in short order.

 

14. Joe Perez, 3B

Age: 23/Stats: (CPX/AA/AAA): 324 AB/.290 AVG/.359 OBP/.417 SLG/7 HR/4 SB/39 R/37 RBI

Joe Perez had an injury-riddled 2022 and saw his power sapped accordingly. Drafted with a two-way outlook in the 2nd round of the 2017 draft as a high schooler, Perez suffered multiple arm surgeries and the Astros decided to stick him as a position player long-term. Due to the injury history, 2021 was essentially Perez’s pro debut, and he showed out with 18 homers and an .849 OPS in 430 ABs across three levels. In 2022, injuries bit him again and Perez saw his power output fall by the wayside. There’s still plenty of room for optimism, however. It’s hard to doubt Perez’s raw power. Visually, he hits like his barrel is made of cement, and posting a .290 average at the highest levels of minor league ball in 2022 indicates real hit tool progression. He has a controlled approach, looking to lift the ball into both power alleys without a pull-happy spinout. Perez has missed the better part of three seasons now, including a lost 2020, but is still more than age-appropriate for the AAA level he ended up at. I have a 110.1 max EV on Perez from his 8-game AAA stint where he tore the cover off the ball, still firmly plus raw power, but I’m sure he’s hit plenty of balls harder than that. While his power output wasn’t great in 2022, Perez still hit plenty of doubles, and most signs point to the back injury as the cause of his power dip. Defensively, Perez retains his cannon arm from his pitching days, where he’d brush triple digits. He slimmed down a lot from what I remember seeing in 2021, running better, but still a little below average. The glove is likely average at its peak. Already 40-manned and with third base seemingly blocked by Alex Bregman for now, Perez could contribute as a slugger in the majors by moving around in the infield and outfield corners.

 

15. Will Wagner, 2B/3B

Age: 24/Stats: (A+/AA): 414 AB/.261/.374/.394/10 HR/8 SB/62 R/53 RBI

Taken in the 18th round of the 2021 draft, Will Wagner stood out as supremely hitter-ish. The son of (hopefully) future hall-of-famer closer Billy Wagner, the younger Wagner profiles as a utility infield piece who could easily be a better real-life player than fantasy asset. His calling cards are a controlled all-fields line drive approach and discerning batter’s eye, making him an on-base threat with below-average but non-zero pop. 6’0 and filled out, Wagner hits from a low crouch and looks to hit any ball where it’s pitched. After a solid 2022 campaign in affiliated ball, Wagner has been the best hitter in the Arizona Fall League, posting a 1.145 OPS in 60 PAs there with 11 XBHs. Much of his apparent AA struggles, where he posted a 98 wRC+, are due to batted ball luck as opposed to some newfound hole in the approach. Wagner stays with offspeeds as well as anybody, with the ability to uncoil on premium velocity as well. All of his home run power is restricted to the pull side, but he is capable of getting the bat head out there and tapping into it. All told, Wagner’s fantasy outlook looks a little bit like a lineup-filling accumulator. He has enough defensive versatility to slot into all four spots on the infield in a pinch, but should not be an everyday regular at shortstop.

 

Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire, Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire, and NASA | Featured Image by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter and @EthanMKaplanImages on Instagram)

Ben Zeidman

Ben Zeidman is a Dynasty Fantasy Baseball writer at PitcherList. In addition to his work here, he serves as Lead Editor for Apollo Media in Houston, obsesses over the Astros, and is a second-year law student at Tulane University Law School.

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