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.
The 7/29 deadline to keep players down while acquiring an additional year of service time has officially passed, and with it we saw a handful of players get recalled from their alternate training sites, including White Sox second baseman Nick Madrigal (No. 6 last week) and Diamondbacks catcher Daulton Varsho (unranked).
Madrigal will be a David Fletcher-like source of average and runs, although his fantasy value will hinge on where he hits in the order, and how often he’s allowed to run. He’s worth a look in 12+ team leagues right away, but I’d wait and see in 10-teamers.
Varsho is an intriguing player thanks to his catcher-eligibility and his ability to hit for power and steal bases, but as of now it is very unclear how much the Diamondbacks plan to play him—so I’m not ready to roster him outside of the deeper redraft formats (16+ or NL-Only).
Beyond that, the Marlins have not played baseball in a long time, the Cardinals, Brewers, Blue Jays, Orioles, and Yankees have had games suspended or postponed, and the season feels like it’s on the verge of collapsing. Fun? Fun. Let’s look at which prospects who are not in the major leagues you should stash and who could have an impact on your fantasy team down the stretch—if there is in fact a stretch for us to go down.
1. Gavin Lux, 2B, LAD — ETA Early August
There have been plenty of impatient fantasy owners who have dropped Lux in redraft leagues (his ownership in Yahoo! is at 61% and he’s down to 56% in ESPN) but he is well worth adding in 12-team leagues and might be worth a stash in 10-teamers if you have room.
Now that the service time deadline has passed, I expect Lux to get a call up to Los Angeles in the short-term. Enrique Hernandez and Chris Taylor have both had hot starts to the season, but Lux is frankly better than both of them and he should get his opportunity soon now that the Dodgers can control him through 2026.
There’s no doubt his value has taken a hit in redraft leagues, and he will struggle to match his ADP with such a small window of time left to play, but if he was dropped in your redraft league he is well worth stashing.
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. I think Carlson would have gotten the call over the weekend—even with O’Neill playing well—but there’s just one problem: they are no longer playing baseball.
I struggled to figure out how to rank Carlson. I don’t know if the Cardinals are at any more risk of their season getting banged as any other team, because I think if they shut down there’s a chance the whole league does, and realistically I think he’s the most likely to contribute meaningfully this season.
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. When he does eventually get the call, he should be owned across the board. If you still have the ability to stash him, and you likely do since so many guys are on the IL, you won’t regret it.
If, you know, the Cardinals (and the MLB) play baseball again.
3. Monte Harrison, OF, MIA — ETA Early August
The Miami Marlins were without a doubt the trickiest team to predict on this list. I opted to include a lot of their prospects (three total) because I think the MLB will do what they can to get them back on the field as soon as possible, and with 18 confirmed COVID-19 cases, they have some holes to fill.
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 has Jonathan Villar, Corey Dickerson, Harold Ramirez, Magneuris Sierra, Jon Berti, and Garrett Cooper in their outfield mix, but Ramirez and Cooper are on the IL with COVID, and there are likely others who are yet unreported. It feels icky to capitalize on guys who are missing time because they contracted a disease, but Harrison is one of a handful of Miami prospects who could debut because of it.
While Harrison 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.
4. 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 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.
5. Jo Adell, OF, LAA — ETA September
The Angels had a perfect opportunity to call up Jo Adell—the service time deadline had passed and their star outfielder, Mike Trout, went on the paternity list. What better chance to give a top-3 prospect in all of baseball a chance to play for a few days, giving the fans a glimpse of the future, and letting him spread his wings. If he struggles, he can go back down when Trout is back. If he succeeds, he can take a spot from Michael Hermosillo.
Instead, the Angels opted not to do that, which makes my optimism surrounding a call up for Adell this season even dimmer. I was already pessimistic on the toolsy outfielder after Joe Maddon said he has stuff he needs to work on, and his bad showing in AAA makes me concerned we may not see him until 2021, or very late this year.
Adell is a top-4 prospect in baseball, without a doubt, and his value in dynasty formats is sky-high. But 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, 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. I’m less inclined to keep him in 12 and 10 teamers at this point.
6. Joey Bart, C, SFG — ETA September
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 seemed entirely possible that Bart would be up before too long.
However, conflicting reports have come out this week—one making a Bart call up seem all but imminent, while the other poured a heavy dose of cold water on the rumor, saying he may not be up at all this year, and if he is it wouldn’t be for a while.
It’s almost certain that Bart would be the team’s best catching option, but they may not be eager to start his service time in a shortened, chaotic season with little hope for the playoffs.
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 if he was called up to the show, it is entirely possible Bart would do enough to merit ownership in nearly all fantasy formats. It’s just not looking nearly as likely that that will happen anytime soon.
In leagues where you can afford to stash, Bart is a gamble worth taking. The potential for plus average and power out of the catching position is far too good to pass up—but I’d leave him alone in 10 and 12-team redraft leagues for now.
7. Alec Bohm, 3B, PHI — ETA August
The Philadelphia Phillies are one of the far too many teams who, as of this writing anyway, are not playing baseball because of a positive COVID-19 case. That of course makes predicting potential future stash candidates very difficult, although it’s worth noting they planned to bring uber pitching prospect Spencer Howard up on Friday, which makes it seem more plausible that Bohm will be up before the season ends.
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 picking him up in any league deeper than 12-teams if I have an open roster spot and can afford to wait. I think his performance will merit mixed-league consideration as soon as he is up, and once the Phillies get back on the field that could happen soon.
8. Lewin Diaz, 1B, MIA — ETA August
I’ll echo what I said in the paragraph about Monte Harrison: The Marlins will need some dudes to step up and play if their season doesn’t get completely shut down, and slugging first baseman Lewin Diaz seems like a legitimate option to fill in at 1B or DH, especially with Garrett Cooper out.
Diaz blasted 27 home runs last year, split between High-A and AA and between the Twins and Marlins organizations. He has tremendous raw power and surprisingly good strikeout rates, although his plate discipline still lacks. He’ll likely be a low average, low OBP masher—but in a shortened season a guy who might come in and bop a few home runs a week could have tremendous value.
It’s hard to recommend stashing players on a team that is suspended from playing at the moment, but in deeper leagues, I think Diaz is worth grabbing and holding onto. He could get a chance to start playing regularly, and the power could make him 12-team worthy down the stretch.
9. Andrew Vaughn, 1B, CWS – ETA September
Presently, the Chicago White Sox are pretty well set at 1B/DH, with Jose Abreu and Edwin Encarnacion operating at those spots. However, this team has shown a willingness to promote prospects early in the past, and if anything should happen to create an opening, I could see them turning to Vaughn, one of the best young hitters in the minors.
Vaughn, 22, was the third overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, and is considered one of the purest hitting prospects to come into the pros in quite some time. He appeared in 55 MiLB games down the stretch, hitting six home runs with a batting average hovering over .250, but a stellar OBP in the .360 range.
Vaughn probably needs more minor league seasoning before he is ready for everyday big-league at-bats, but outside of Encarnacion and Abreu, the White Sox have guys like Zack Collins, Cheslor Cuthbert and Nicky Delmonico coming off the bench—and I have little doubt Vaughn is better than all of them right now.
I could see a reality where injury or illness prevents one of Encarnacion or Abreu from finishing the season, and the White Sox—who I expect to make a push this year—need to inject some oomph into their lineup. They won’t get it from Collins, Cuthbert, or Delmonico, so maybe they turn to Vaughn for a few weeks to try and catch lightning in a bottle.
Crazier things have certainly happened, and you won’t want to watch another team beat you in the finals after Vaughn hits three home runs in his first week in the show. Keep him on the watchlist.
10. Jazz Chisholm, SS, MIA — ETA August
If you for some reason you skipped to here before reading the paragraphs about Harrison and Diaz, go back and take a look. Chisholm’s situation is similar: a prospect who is probably about ready for the big leagues who might get an early shot because of the COVID outbreak.
Chisholm also could benefit from the recent news that Isan Diaz—who does not have COVID—is considering opting out. Diaz is the team’s regular second baseman, and his absence could cause the team to shift either Jonathan Villar or Miguel Rojas to the keystone, either way freeing up a spot for Chisholm.
I like both Diaz and Harrison to perform more than Chisholm this season, although the toolsy shortstop prospect has the power (21 home runs) and speed (16 steals) to make an impact at the big-league level.
He does have massive strikeout issues, leading to a low batting average, which makes me think he may not be an impact guy right away. However, the tools are tantalizing and the playing time is potentially there, so in deeper leagues, he’s worth a dart throw if you have the roster spot.
Added: Lewin Diaz, Jazz Chisholm, Andrew Vaughn
Removed: Brendan Rodgers, Ke’Bryan Hayes
Graduated: Nick Madrigal
Others given consideration: Ke’Bryan Hayes, Cristian Pache, Drew Waters, Jesus Sanchez, Jorge Mateo, Brendan Rodgers, Alex Kirilloff, Brent Rooker, Sheldon Neuse
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)