Every Sunday during the 2021 season, I will be posting a list of 10 hitting prospects to stash in redraft leagues. This is important because, despite this being a dynasty article, I am solely evaluating players for their ability to impact fantasy teams in 2021—and not beyond.
The trade deadline had a massive impact on virtually every MLB team across the league, and that included some significant playing time alterations for some of the best hitting prospects in the game. Additionally, we are nearing the point in the season where still struggling players seem unlikely to turn it around quick enough to get promoted, which created quite a few changes to the list this week despite no-hitters graduating into the big leagues.
Drew Waters saw Atlanta add a trio of outfielders to the big league roster, so he has been removed, while Jeter Downs and Adley Rutschman seem less likely to actually earn a promotion this year, relegating them off the list as well.
That leaves room for three newcomers this week, including a player dealt at the deadline into a much more favorable playing time situation.
Without further ado, here is a look at the top 10 hitting prospects worth stashing in your redraft leagues.
1. Bobby Witt Jr., SS, KC — ETA September
The Royals turned some heads by starting uber-prospect Bobby Witt Jr. at Double-A this season after the 20-year-old set the baseball world ablaze with his light-tower power on full display at spring training in Surprise, Arizona in March.
Now, after slashing a smooth .295/.369/.570 with 16 home runs, 14 stolen bases, and a 148 wRC+, Witt has moved up to Triple-A Omaha where he already has six home runs and three steals in his first 16 games, while slashing .292/.354/.597. Royals General Manager Dayton Moore made it clear Witt could force their hand with a strong performance at Triple-A, and so far he is doing exactly that, which makes him our top stash candidate for the remainder of the 2021 season.
Witt’s raw power is already well-known, along with his 60-grade speed, giving him true 30/30 potential at his absolute peak. We know Kansas City is not afraid to aggressively promote prospects, as seen by the Daniel Lynch promotion earlier this season, and even though they did not end up moving Whit Merrifield, a reshaping of the roster could mean Witt’s promotion may be closer than initially projected.
Very few prospects have the potential that Witt does, and the few who do are either already in the big leagues or are less likely to be big leaguers in 2021 (Julio Rodríguez, Marco Luciano, CJ Abrams, Spencer Torkelson) which leaves Witt, who registers as an extremely high-risk, high-reward prospect stash in redraft leagues this season.
As talented as he is, I still would not recommend stashing him except in deeper (16+) formats, and even then it is only really worth it if you have deep benches and are willing to gamble a roster spot on someone who probably won’t be up until the final month of the season.
That final month, if we get it, could be absolutely electric though.
2. Jose Miranda, 2B/3B, MIN — ETA Late August
One of baseball’s biggest prospect risers this season has been Minnesota infielder Jose Miranda. Miranda, 23, has always been a solid bat-t0-ball hitter with modest pop and limited patience, but this year he has dramatically improved his pitch selectivity and his over the fence power, resulting in a season where he is hitting .345 with a .407 OBP and 22 home runs split between Double-A and Triple-A.
Our own Nate Handy wrote a fabulous breakdown on Miranda last week, which I highly suggest reading if you want more information. What I can tell you is Miranda has the ability to impact fantasy teams as soon as he gets a chance at the big league level – but the question of when that will happen is tough to answer.
Josh Donaldson didn’t go anywhere at the trade deadline, so he will occupy third base for the rest of the season, and Minnesota has Jorge Polanco manning shortstop with Luis Arraez and Nick Gordon as other options in the system as well. Still, an injury or ineffectiveness should make room for Miranda at some point in the next few weeks, and the way he is impacting the ball right now would make him worth a roster spot in 12+ teamers right away. If you have room to grab him ahead of time, you won’t regret it.
3. Vidal Bruján, 2B/OF, TB — ETA Late August
The Vidal Bruján experience didn’t last particularly long in Tampa, as the switch-hitting 2B/OF only saw 26 plate appearances in 10 games, hitting .077 with zero extra-base hits, zero walks, and one steal before getting sent back down to Durham. He was primarily coming off the bench with the big club, and the acquisition of Nelson Cruz and the return of Manuel Margot made playing time even harder to come by for the 23-year-old.
Despite the setback, Bruján remains near the top of this list because of the prospect pedigree and his performance at Triple-A since the demotion is good enough to wait on him in deeper redraft leagues – especially with that ever valuable 2B/OF positional flexibility.
Bruján’s first game back with Durham was July 23, and since then the 2B/OF has slashed .349/.440/.465 with a 14% walk rate and a minuscule 8% strikeout rate. The sample is small, obviously, but Bruján looks like a guy ready to be back in the big leagues for good, and the fact he is playing some shortstop and third base is a promising sign the Rays want to see his bat back in the show before the season is over.
Hopefully, these hot few weeks at Triple-A will lead to his return to the bigs and much better results for the rest of the year – although Tampa may struggle to find everyday playing time for the versatile switch-hitter by virtue of having so many versatile pieces already on their roster.
It may take an off-season trade for Bruján to find consistent playing time, which is a bummer, but even in a part-time role, the speedster could be a valuable bench bat in redraft leagues for the final few weeks of the season.
4. Keibert Ruiz, C, WAS — ETA Late August
The Nationals made one huge move to replenish their depleted farm system, sending Trea Turner and Max Scherzer to the Dodgers for a pile of prospects including right-hander Josiah Gray and catcher Keibert Ruiz.
Ruiz, 23, has already spent eight games in the big leagues with LA between 2020 and 2021, but the Nationals decided to start him out at Triple-A despite trading their starting catcher, Yan Gomes, to the Athletics in a separate deadline deal. It would be surprising if the team didn’t eventually give him a look this season, likely in September, as he was acquired with the intention of being the team’s long-term solution behind the dish.
Ruiz’s prospect stock dipped a bit after some aggressive promotions in LA’s system, but he has really turned things around at Triple-A this year, slashing .311/.381/.631 with 16 home runs in 52 games, while also homering once already for Washington’s Triple-A squad in just three games.
Catchers are hard players to stash in redraft leagues, but Ruiz has the contact skills and power to contribute in four fantasy categories as soon as this season, and that alone makes him worth looking to stash in deeper formats.
5. Jahmai Jones, 2B, BAL — ETA August
Unfortunately, the Orioles front office apparently didn’t care for the piece, as they have been content to let their second basemen slash a combined .206/.273/.305 this season, good for a league-worst 62 wRC+.
Meanwhile, even after a mini-slump this past week at Triple-A Rochester, Jones is still slashing .244/.342/.429 with eight home runs, nine stolen bases, a 12.2% walk rate, and a 23.9% strikeout rate. An oblique injury limited him to just 56 games so far, putting his full-season pace at over 20 home runs and steals on the year.
While I don’t necessarily expect Jones to be a 20/20 guy at the next level, he has the tools to be a five-category contributor right away – and even more so in leagues that count OBP. Baltimore should be playing their youngsters this season, they aren’t in contention by any stretch of the imagination, and Jones has proven without a doubt he is ready for the show.
I expect a call is coming very soon for the 23-year-old, and in deeper leagues, I would be all over adding him as soon as that happens – if not sooner.
6. Josh Lowe, 3B/OF, TB — ETA Late August
It’s not surprising that Rays’ outfielder Josh Lowe gets lost in the shuffle. On a team with prospects like Franco, Bruján, Walls, and a litany of dynamite young pitchers, Lowe sort of fades into the background. Hell, for a while he was the third highest-rated prospect with the last name Lowe in the system, behind both Nate and Brandon.
However, the 2016 first-round pick is starting to really make a name for himself now. The converted third baseman is now a full-time center fielder down in Triple-A Durham, and the power most in the industry were hoping to see finally peeked out in 2019 and is here in full force in 2021. Lowe is currently slashing .285/.358/.552 with 16 home runs and 18 stolen bases for the Bulls, rocking a .267 ISO and a 137 wRC+.
He does have strikeout issues that likely aren’t going away anytime soon, but his combination of power, speed, and solid walk rates should make him a quality fantasy piece as soon as he is playing regularly. Regular playing time is of course the million-dollar question with Lowe, and any Rays player, because of their love of platooning and a pretty full outfield, especially with Nelson Cruz now entrenched at DH and Manny Margot on the mend, which is what pushed fellow prospect Bruján back into the minor leagues.
Still, Lowe is not a bad option to stash in deeper redraft leagues, as he has plenty of tools to contribute right away if/when he gets the call.
7. Brennen Davis, OF, CHC – ETA September
The Cubs finally bit the bullet and ended what looked like an imposing dynasty by selling away several key pieces from the 2016 World Series team, including the dynamic duo of Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. The team also dealt Joc Pederson and Craig Kimbrel, acquiring a litany of exciting young prospects to help replenish the farm and potentially build them right back into a contender in short order.
A key piece of that potential rebuild is outfielder Brennen Davis, a second-round pick in 2018 who tore through the lower levels of the minors and is now hitting .264/.383/.522 in 52 games at Double-A, with 10 home runs, four steals, and a 148 wRC+. Not bad for a guy who has not even turned 22 yet. With Pederson and Bryant out the door, and Jason Heyward on the IL, there is room for Chicago to add Davis to their outfield mix – and it would be a nice show for the fans who are saddened to see this dynasty ended so unceremoniously.
Davis was considered a toolsy but risky outfield prospect in the draft, but he has successfully shown he has a higher floor than many projected. Of course, after posting sub-20% strikeout rates in the low minors, Davis is up over 30% at Double-A, something he will almost certainly struggle with in the big leagues, and perhaps more so if given the call this year.
That shouldn’t preclude you from adding him to your watchlist in deeper leagues, however, as his combination of power, speed, and high walk totals would make him an appealing fantasy option if he were playing every day – something that could happen in Wrigleyville now that the team decided to tear it all down.
8. Seth Beer, 1B/OF, AZ – ETA Late August
It feels like Seth Beer’s best baseball season came way back when he was a freshman at Clemson, and while that may be true, he has been an extremely productive power hitter throughout his minor league career. Joining the Diamondbacks in the Zack Greinke trade back in 2019, Beer is currently slashing .284/.398/.498 with 11 home runs and excellent walk (9.5%) and strikeout (17.4%) rates for Triple-A Reno. Reno is of course a hitter’s haven, so his numbers should be taken with a small grain of salt, but this is still hard to ignore.
You’d like to see more over the fence pop, no doubt, but Beer has shown great plate discipline and contact skills throughout his minor league career, and there is plenty of optimism the power will resurface in time.
The main issue is Beer’s positional flexibility or lack thereof. Beer played 10 games in right field back in 2018 but has otherwise only played first base and some left field. He is a better fit for an AL team with a DH, although rule changes in 2022 could give him a significant boost in regards to playing time.
For this year he is behind Christian Walker, Pavin Smith, and bench bats like Daulton Varsho and Drew Ellis for playing time in Arizona, but injuries or ineffectiveness could easily open up a spot for him to play somewhat regularly down the stretch – and those in deeper redraft leagues should consider holding onto him until that happens, as his dramatic improvement in strikeout rate and strong slash line and power potential could make him a must-own fantasy player in the final month or so of the season.
9. Joey Bart, C, SFG — ETA Late August
I wrote in this space throughout the season that I thought Bart would be a guy who gets shuttled up-and-down between Triple-A and San Francisco, and so far he has had two call-ups this year that each spanned just one game. With Buster Posey healthy and playing excellent, the strong performance of Curt Casali in a backup role, and the presence of Chadwick Tromp, the Giants just have not had a need for Bart to stay up at the big league level.
That has nothing to do with his performance, however, as the 24-year-old backstop is mashing at Triple-A, hitting .314/.379/.536 with 10 home runs in 50 games played, missing time after getting hit by a pitch on the foot earlier in the year.
All this made it seem like a trade might be imminent, with the contending Giants potentially shepherding the former No. 2 overall pick to acquire a big name bat at the deadline. It almost came to fruition, as the Giants managed to weasel Kris Bryant away from the Cubs without getting rid of Bart, as had been originally rumored. That’s a nice scenario for San Francisco but a raw deal for Bart, who remains buried on the depth chart and unlikely to make a significant big league impact this season, barring an injury to Posey.
Bart is probably never going to contribute in either the average or OBP categories, but the power is very real and could lead to 25-30 home runs annually when he reaches his peak. At a position that is a dearth of fantasy talent, the potential of Bart to come up and pile on home runs makes him an intriguing stash candidate in deeper redraft leagues – although his struggles last season certainly give some cause for concern.
I’d ultimately settle on putting Bart on the watchlist except in those deeper leagues, but if anything happens to Posey you’ll want to be on Bart as quick as you can.
10. Nick Pratto, 1B, KC — ETA September
I mentioned in the Witt write-up that the Royals have shown a willingness to aggressively promote prospects, and the same could apply to 22-year-old first baseman Nick Pratto. Pratto, a first-round pick back in 2017, has torn the cover off the ball this season at both Double-A and Triple-A, hitting a combined 21 home runs with eight stolen bases, a walk rate well over 15%, and a 157 wRC+.
Pratto has strikeout issues, which will impact his fantasy production at the next level, but the way he is hitting this year it is clear he could make an impact in the final month of the season if given regular playing time.
However, the Royals opted not to deal veteran Carlos Santana at the trade deadline, entrenching him at first base for the rest of the season. The team did move on from Jorge Soler, however, potentially clearing up some at-bats at designated hitter, which could go to Pratto if/when he gets the call.
Pratto may not be littering the pages of Top 100 prospect lists, but he looks like a prototypical three-true outcomes slugger in the midst of an excellent season, and that could make him a viable fantasy option this year, particularly for those in deeper OBP formats. At the very least, he’s worth keeping an eye on.
Added: Jose Miranda, Keibert Ruiz, Nick Pratto
Removed: Drew Waters, Jeter Downs, Adley Rutschman
Others given consideration: Heliot Ramos, Riley Greene, Nolan Jones, Nolan Gorman, Drew Waters, Jeter Downs, Adley Rutschman, Oneil Cruz, Mark Vientos, Monte Harrison, Lewin Diaz, Estevan Florial, Sherten Apostel
Photo from Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire | Design by Quincey Dong (@threerundong on Twitter)