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 we can expect from them. and how you should value them in various redraft formats.
Two players from last week’s list, outfielders Monte Harrison (No. 3) and Jo Adell (No. 5) made their big league debuts last week. Adell went 1-for-4 in each of his first two games, but sat Thursday and Friday with quad tightness. Assuming he recovers from that, he is worth owning in virtually all formats now that Joe Maddon has named him a full-time starter in the outfield.
Harrison is 1-for-10 to begin his career, striking out in each of his first three big league at-bats, but he he did swipe a base on Thursday — showing off the potential he has to be a five-category contributor if he can get on base regularly. He’s worth adding in deeper formats, but those strikeouts are going to pile up, which curbs his value.
With two open spots this week, I added Angels outfielder Brandon Marsh. He’s learning to play first base, which could accelerate a promotion. I also added Mariners outfielder Jarred Kelenic. I’m still not sure when Kelenic is going to come up, but other stash options are uninspiring, and he has the potential to be a league-winner if he gets the call toward the end of the year.
Otherwise there was a handful of rearranging, but the list remains filled with familiar names as we await some call-ups to impact our fantasy lineups down the stretch of this abbreviated season.
1. Gavin Lux, 2B, LAD — ETA August
The Dodgers do not seem super eager to call up Lux, one of the top five prospects in all of baseball, instead going to utility infielder Zach McKinstry for a one-day call-up before rosters shrunk down to 28 earlier in the week.
The team has said they aren’t willing to give Lux a call until he can be a full-time starter, which is why they called up McKinstry, but with Enrique Hernandez and Chris Taylor both playing fairly well, it seems plausible his call to the show may still be a ways away.
While that’s certainly discouraging, particularly for those who drafted him, I would advise holding for now — at least in 12+ team leagues.
I still expect Lux to get a call up to Los Angeles eventually. Even with Hernandez and Taylor’s hot starts, Lux is frankly better than both of them and he should get his opportunity soon, even if the Dodgers are being coy about when that might happen. There’s no doubt his value has taken a hit in redraft leagues, and he almost certainly won’t match his ADP with such a small window of time left to play, but if he was dropped in your 12+ team 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 August
The disappointment about Gavin Lux remaining at LA’s alternate site can be echoed for Dylan Carlson as well. The Cardinals made it clear they aren’t ready to give Carlson the call, even with potential openings thanks to a COVID-19 outbreak through the team, and at this point it may be a while until he’s a big leaguer — especially since the team is once again not playing baseball because of positive tests.
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. I would have him above Lux, who I’m waning on, except that St. Louis seems to be in peril of not playing a full slate, and the team isn’t keen to call him up, either.
Both Lux and Carlson are worth stashing in 12+ team leagues, but I wouldn’t be stashing anyone not in the big leagues in shallower formats, because the shortened season and the volatility of game cancellations makes having a fully operational bench paramount to success in fantasy baseball this year.
3. Andrew Vaughn, 1B, CWS – ETA August
Vaughn is the biggest riser on this list, in part because of injuries to Edwin Encarnacion and Nick Madrigal, and in part because Vaughn has begun working out at third base. While I suspect Vaughn is a first baseman in the long term, getting additional reps at a new position never hurts.
Plus, the White Sox have 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. Plus, the added ability to play third will make him even more likely to get the call.
The White Sox—who I expect to make a push this year—need to inject some oomph into their lineup, especially with Madrigal on the IL and Encarnacion currently day-to-day. 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 watch list, and he’s a fine stash in deeper redraft leagues if you have an open bench spot.
4. Ryan Mountcastle, 1B, BAL — ETA August
When the season started, I doubted the Orioles would be able to keep slugging corner infielder Ryan Mountcastle down long. The absence of Trey Mancini made 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 proved he is more than ready to contribute at the next level.
However, Mountcastle did have a glaring issue: a 4.3% walk rate and a 23.5% strikeout rate at AAA last year. And while the Orioles could likely use his oomph in their batting order, which has frequently featured Jose Iglesias hitting third, it does sound like Mountcastle is using his time at the alternate site well, working constantly on his plate discipline as well as his defensive versatility.
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 if his dedication to plate discipline pays off at the alternate site, he could be a big time fantasy contributor in the near future. Unfortunately, as long as he is still getting something out of his time not in the big leagues, it’s hard to predict exactly when that promotion will be. I’d like to think soon, and I moved him up here because I think he will begin contributing right away, but Baltimore has motivation to keep him down until 2021 if they want to.
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. Alec Bohm, 3B, PHI — ETA August
The Phillies have seen their season interrupted by a COVID-19 outbreak, which delayed the debut of uber pitching prospect Spencer Howard. I have a sneaking suspicion it may have delayed the debut of third baseman Alec Bohm as well, but that should be rectified soon.
Rhys Hoskins and Jean Segura start at the corners for Philadelphia, and while a handful of other corner infield options (including Neil Walker and Ronald Torreyes) could make Bohm less of a need right away, he’s clearly an upgrade and should get a chance in short order.
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 now that the Phillies are back on the field that could happen soon.
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. And now, even after Brantly was optioned, the team called up the wonderfully named Chadwick Tromp to work behind the dish, a discouraging sign for Bart’s short-term future.
However, Heineman, Brantly and Tromp aren’t very good — to put it lightly — and it still seems entirely possible Bart would be up before too long if they continue to struggle.
While I’m almost certain Bart would be the team’s best catching option, the Giants may not be eager to start his service time in a shortened, chaotic season with little hope for the playoffs.
In fact a recent report indicated Bart may not be up for a while, if he comes up this season at all, and as long as San Francisco is content rolling out other, replacement level catchers it’s fair to wonder if he is worth holding onto at all in redraft leagues.
However, he cracks this list because the upside is tremendous, especially from the weakest position on a fantasy squad.
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 super 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. Lewin Diaz, 1B, MIA — ETA August
The first domino already fell for the Marlins when they called up toolsy outfield prospect Monte Harrison, and with COVID-19 seemingly still impacting a handful of players, it’s entirely possible guys like Lewin Diaz and Jazz Chisholm (more on him later) get the call sooner rather than later.
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 has played so few games this year, 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.
8. Brandon Marsh, OF, LAA — ETA August
Angels outfielder Brandon Marsh is considered a potentially elite defensive outfielder, with plus speed and a cannon arm that will play at all three outfield positions. However, the Angels are reportedly giving him some reps at first base at their alternate site, with general manager Billy Eppler calling it “a little introduction”.
#Angels OF prospect Brandon Marsh has begun getting some reps at 1B in Long Beach. GM Billy Eppler said via text that it’s “a little introduction” and they will “see how he develops.”
— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) August 6, 2020
At first glance, this seems like a waste of Marsh’s obvious, Gold Glove caliber talent. However, it’s also a very promising sign for his big league timeline, which could be coming up sooner than expected.
With Mike Trout, Justin Upton, Brian Goodwin and now Jo Adell occupying spots in the outfield, the Angels may not have much room for Marsh this season — unless they can find another spot for him. Shohei Ohtani will DH pretty regularly from here on out, but Marsh could get some reps at first base in place of the aging Albert Pujols, especially now that Matt Thaiss has been optioned back to the team’s alternate site.
Marsh, 22, hit .300/.383/.428 with seven home runs and 18 stolen bases in 96 games at AA in 2019, while posting an excellent 11.4% walk rate and a 22.3% strikeout rate.
Marsh has the raw power to contribute 25-30 home runs annually, save for one small issue: he doesn’t get nearly enough lift on the ball. After averaging a roughly five degree launch angle for his minor league career, Marsh made some mechanical adjustments that showed up in the Arizona Fall League last year, and when he gets a chance to show that in games, he could instantly be a five-tool player.
He is best utilized as a center fielder, but as long as he is in the lineup in LAA he’s worth a look in 12+ team leagues. The new positional shift and the demotion of Thaiss could indicate a move is on the horizon.
9. Jazz Chisholm, SS, MIA — ETA August
Chisholm’s situation is similar to Diaz and Harrison, a prospect who is nearly ready for the big leagues who might get an early shot because of the COVID outbreak.
Chisholm also benefits from the news that Isan Diaz — who does not have COVID — has opted out of the rest of this season. Diaz is the team’s regular second baseman, and his absence has caused the team to use a combination of Jon Berti, Eddy Alvarez and Logan Forsythe at the keystone.
Calling up Chisholm to play shortstop could shift Jonathan Villar back to second base, and would add some oomph to Miami’s rather punchless offense.
I like both Diaz and Harrison to hold fantasy relevance 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, which will likely lead to a low batting average and makes me think he may not be a big 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.
10. Jarred Kelenic, OF, SEA — ETA September
There are a lot of other, perhaps more practical stash candidates who I’d be willing to bet real money will play in the major leagues this season, including Brendan Rodgers, Sheldon Neuse, Ke’Bryan Hayes and Jorge Mateo, but I’d much rather take a gamble on Kelenic than any of those guys, simply because the production he is capable of putting forth, even if he’s only up for a few weeks, outweighs what we might see from any of those other guys, even if they get called up tomorrow.
Kelenic remains a question mark on his debut timeline, but considering the Mariners had a ton of success giving Kyle Lewis an 18-game cameo last year, it seems entirely possible they will do something similar with Kelenic, especially if there left and right field options remain as bad as they have so far. They’ve posted a 90 wRC+, which is about 20 percentage points below league-average.
Kelenic is one of the five most electric prospects in all of baseball, a true five-tool stud who will likely be a fantasy darling for well over a decade. I can’t promise the 21-year-old will be an instant success story (even Mike Trout struggled his first go-round) but I can promise you you’ll hate to be the person watching him beat your team in the playoffs come late-September.
I have him last on this list because I think he has the latest debut date, and the biggest chance of not playing at all this year, but for those of you who like taking risks and would rather gamble on lightning in a bottle than some of the less exciting prospects I could have included, then by all means give Kelenic a go. He could be a season-saver.
Added: Brandon Marsh, Jarred Kelenic
Graduated: Jo Adell, Monte Harrison
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)