Every Saturday for the abbreviated 2020 season, I will be posting a list of 10 hitting prospects to stash in redraft leagues. This is important, as I am solely evaluating players for their ability to impact fantasy teams in 2020 — and not beyond.
This list will exclusively feature players who are not currently on major league rosters and will include my prediction for when they will be called up, what kind of impact they can be expected to make, and how you should value them in various redraft formats.
As one might expect from a very strange 2020 season (and year overall), things got weird the week leading up to Opening Day. The Dodgers optioned uber-prospect Gavin Lux to their alternate site, choosing to begin the season with Enrique Hernandez and Chris Taylor at second base, while the Rockies did what the Rockies do, keeping down Brendan Rodgers in favor of veteran Chris Owings.
The Mariners also turned some heads by keeping outfielder Jake Fraley down, while a trio of unlikely prospects made the big league club out of camp: Andres Gimenez (Mets), Edward Olivares (Padres) and Leody Tavares (Rangers).
Each of the three newcomers could provide a nice dose of speed in deeper leagues, but should not be picked up in 10- or 12-team leagues just yet.
However, here are 10 hitters who are worth stashing, with their expected season debut and potential contributions laid out.
1. Gavin Lux, 2B, LAD — ETA Early August
The Dodgers surprised the prospect industry, and alienated a lot of fantasy players, when they optioned star middle infielder Gavin Lux to the alternate site to begin the 2020 campaign. Apparent concerns about his swing and his defense, along with a late arrival to Summer Camp, allowed the Dodgers to send him down while going with some combination of Enrique Hernandez and Chris Taylor at the keystone to begin the season.
I expect Lux to be up very soon, likely after a week or so for service time reasons, and he should resume his role as the everyday second baseman, making him a very appealing fantasy option. There’s no doubt his value takes a hit in redraft leagues by missing the first 10 percent of the season, but if he was dropped in your redraft league — he is well worth stashing for the first week of the year.
The results you get from that point on will be worth the wait.
2. Dylan Carlson, OF, STL — ETA Early August
The Cardinals did what everyone expected them to do, keeping uber-outfield prospect Dylan Carlson at their alternate site and allowing Tyler O’Neill and Lane Thomas to battle for the starting left field spot — at least for six days or so.
Like Lux, I expect Carlson to only be down for a week so the Cardinals can secure another year of service time over the toolsy 21-year-old, who hit a blistering .361/.418/.681(!) in 18 games at AAA last year.
Carlson does lack experience above AA, to be sure, but it is hard to imagine he is not a better option than O’Neill or Thomas this season — even if those guys are both nice post-hype sleepers who could benefit from some Cardinals devil magic.
Carlson blasted 27 home runs with 20 steals last year between AA and AAA, and there’s plenty of reason to believe the power surge is real. If he gets the call in Week 2 of the 2020 season, he should be owned across the board. If you have the ability to stash him for the first week of the season (and you likely will, since so many guys will be on the IL) you won’t regret it.
3. Jo Adell, OF, LAA — ETA Early August
Adell and Carlson are very close, but I believe Carlson has a slightly better chance of contributing meaningful fantasy numbers in 2020, making him my preferred stash.
Both will likely be up in the first week of the season, although Adell has a manager in Joe Maddon who doesn’t like playing prospects, which could hinder him if he gets out of the gate slowly.
Adell is a top-4 prospect in baseball, without a doubt, and his value in dynasty formats is sky-high. But in a 60-game 2020 season, where he will likely be held down for at least a week or two, I need him to hit the stuffing out of the ball — or at least steal a bunch of bags — in order to justify rostering him in a redraft league. And it is by no means a guarantee he will immediately succeed when called up to the big leagues. Of course, that is the case with any prospect (including Carlson) but Maddon doesn’t seem likely to give Adell multiple chances if he isn’t ready, and his AAA showing is a sign he needs more time before he will be ready to go.
Adell will be a huge fantasy stud in the near future, but I’m hard-pressed to bank on it happening in 2020. Still, the upside is high enough to keep him stashed for anyone who can afford to, particularly in 12+ team leagues.
4. Monte Harrison, OF, MIA — ETA August
Many believed that outfielder Monte Harrison would end up on Miami’s opening day roster because of his excellent summer camp performance — as well as the placement of both Lewis Brinson and Matt Joyce on the injured list. While that did not end up happening, Harrison does not seem too far away from reaching the big leagues, and could be up in a week or so if the Marlins decide to keep him down for service time reasons.
Harrison slashed .274/.357/.451 with nine home runs and 20 stolen bases in just 56 games at AAA last season, giving him a full season pace of roughly 25 and 55. Obviously it is unlikely he will ever reach that threshold in a 162 game season, but the toolsy 24-year-old proved he is ready to produce at the big league level, and the power-speed combination is enough for me to have him squarely on my radar in all formats.
Miami still has Jonathan Villar, Corey Dickerson, Harold Ramirez, Magneuris Sierra, Jon Berti, and Garrett Cooper around, which makes finding a spot for Harrison a bit more difficult. And while he is ultimately talented enough to win a starting job, his massive strikeout issues will no doubt hamper him at the big league level.
Still, the tools are good enough that I would happily pick him up in 12-teamers if he earns a starting role — and I wouldn’t fault anyone for picking him up now if they have an open spot. In NL-only or 16+ team leagues, he is almost certainly worth a stash.
5. Joey Bart, C, SFG — ETA Early August
When star catcher Buster Posey opted out of the 2020 season, many felt it was an opportunity for the Giants to pass the reigns behind the dish to Joey Bart, the second overall pick in the 2018 MLB draft. However, the Giants opted to go with a combination of Tyler Heineman and Rob Brantly at catcher, keeping Bart in Sacramento at the team’s alternate site.
Heineman and Brantly aren’t very good, to put it lightly, and it seems entirely possible that Bart will be up before too long.
The 23-year-old only has 87 plate appearances at AA, but he slashed an excellent .316/.368/.544 with four home runs and a 163 wRC+. Catchers don’t have to have elite offensive output to be fantasy relevant, and it’s entirely possible Bart does enough to merit ownership in nearly all fantasy formats by the end of the 2020 season.
In leagues where you can afford to stash, Bart is a great gamble. The potential for plus average and power out of the catching position is far too good to pass up.
6. Nick Madrigal, 2B, CWS — ETA Early August
I believe White Sox second baseman Nick Madrigal is more MLB-ready than anyone on this list, including Carlson and Adell, and I even think there is a great chance he ends up with more big-league at-bats than either of them.
However, his profile is of someone who is far more valuable in real life than as a fantasy asset, and I’m not sure he will ever be much more than a batting average stabilizer in standard redraft leagues.
Madrigal, 23, advanced from High-A to AAA last season, posting absolutely elite contact rates and hitting a torrid .331 in AAA and .341 in AA. His 16 strikeouts in 532 plate appearances last year is simply jaw-dropping, and a walk rate over 8.0% is nothing to scoff at either.
Still, he only hit four home runs, and while his 36 total extra-base hits aren’t too bad, it’s still not enough for him to really make a big impact outside of runs scored and average — unless he steals bases, which will be the ultimate kicker for Madrigal’s fantasy future.
Madrigal swiped 35 bags last season, while getting caught 13 times, a success rate of 72.9%. He’ll need to prove he can steal bases at the big league level, a skill that does not translate from the minors to the pros nearly as much as many other skills do.
If Madrigal gets the call early into the season, which I suspect he will considering the dearth of talent in front of him, he’s a guy who could hit near the top of Chicago’s order, which will provide ample opportunity to score some runs. I have little doubt he can provide a .300+ average, which is certainly valuable, but unless he can steal 10 or so bases in a shortened season, I think he’ll be bench fodder in 10-12 team leagues.
The White Sox said they felt that, ahem, Leury Garcia is more ready for a starting role that Madrigal at the moment — which is something I’m sure they will change their mind about roughly six days into the season, around the same time the Angels change their mind about Adell and the Cardinals about Carlson.
Regardless, Madrigal is worth stashing for those in need of some speed or some help in the batting average department, particularly in 12+ team leagues.
7. Alec Bohm, 3B, PHI — ETA August
Kingery is back, however, and the team seems set on keeping Bohm down at least the six days necessary to gain a full year of team control, and possibly even longer if they don’t feel they need him. Rhys Hoskins and either Kingery or Jean Segura will start at the corners, and a plethora of other corner infield options (including Logan Forsythe, Neil Walker, Josh Harrison, and Ronald Torreyes) could make Bohm less of a need right away.
The 23-year-old rose three levels last year, ending at AA where he posted a 146 wRC+ and 14 home runs in 63 games. Bohm has proven he is among the best hitting prospects in all of baseball, and his raw power and above-average contact rate should make him a fantasy darling when he is playing every day.
I’m confident enough to say that will happen at some point in 2020, and I would not mind taking him with one of my final picks in a 12-teamer, or at least keeping him high on my watch list.
8. Brendan Rodgers, SS, COL — ETA August
The Rockies have more than earned their reputation for squashing the hopes and dreams of young prospects, and middle infielder Brendan Rodgers is their latest victim. Rodgers was expected by most to be a utility infielder to begin the 2020 season, but Colorado opted to keep veteran Chris Owings instead, keeping one of the top-50 prospects in all of baseball out of the major leagues to begin the campaign.
Rodgers admittedly struggled in a big league cameo in 2019, slashing .224/.272/.250 with a 25 wRC+ in 25 games in 2019, but his pedigree and success at the AAA level deserved a shot at the big leagues right away in 2020.
Rodgers’ lack of success last year and Colorado’s unwillingness to play prospects makes me far less optimistic about him this year as many others, but he’s still worth a look in deeper redraft leagues, either 16+ team formats or NL-only leagues. The raw power and speed alone is enough to keep him interesting, even if the Rockies are afraid to give him a second chance.
9. Ryan Mountcastle, 1B, BAL — ETA August
I doubt the Orioles will be able to keep slugging corner infielder Ryan Mountcastle down long. For starters, the absence of Trey Mancini and Dwight Smith makes an already shallow corner infield/outfield situation even more dire in Baltimore, and Mountcastle’s .312 average with 25 home runs, 83 RBI and a 117 wRC+ in AAA last year proves he is more than ready to contribute at the next level.
After coming up as a shortstop, Mountcastle made the transition to third base and then spent most of 2019 at either first base or left field. That type of versatility could make him a super-utility guy, although I suspect he’s good enough to garner everyday at-bats in Baltimore for the majority of the season.
He has plus power and plus bat control, which helps make up for his lack of speed and some concerning plate discipline issues, namely a 4.3% walk rate last year.
Still, I’d be happy taking a shot on Mountcastle in deep redraft leagues and will have him on my watch list in all other formats — as a call-up seems imminent and his chance of contributing in 12- and even 10-team leagues is high.
10. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, PIT — ETA August
Ke’Bryan Hayes may have won Pittsburgh’s starting third base job out of camp, had a bout of COVID-19 not robbed him of his entire Summer Camp opportunity, effectively handing the job back to veteran Colin Moran.
However, Hayes is too good to be ignored all season, provided he gets healthy, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him making his big league debut before the end of the season.
A potential future Gold Glover at the hot corner, Hayes struggled a bit at the dish in 2019, posting a pedestrian 92 wRC+ at AAA with a .265 average in 110 games—although his 10 home runs and 12 stolen bases show the potential he has to be a five-category contributor.
I’m more than happy to pick Hayes up as soon as he gets the call, and in deeper redraft leagues (or NL-only) I think he’s a decent option to stash on the bench while we wait for his debut.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)