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.
We had a pair of graduations from last week’s list, first baseman Lewin Diaz (No. 5) and outfielder Jake Fraley (No. 10). We also caught a glimpse of Gavin Lux in a double-header before he was sent back down—a good indication he will be back soon.
Additionally, we saw a pair of well-regarded prospects, Estevan Florial and Jose Garcia, make their big league debuts, while Texas gave outfielder Leody Tavares another chance and the Braves sent Cristian Pache back to their alternate site.
Quick hits: Florial likely won’t be up for long, although the injuries to both Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton could give him a spot as a bench bat. I’m not investing in him outside of very deep leagues unless he is playing every day. Garcia appears to be Cincinnati’s starting shortstop going forward, and for those in need of stolen bases, this could be a nice speculative add in deeper formats. Tavares is a similar speed-only deep league option, having started three straight games in center field, although I don’t think the hit tool is enough for him to be relevant in shallower leagues. And finally, Pache is back at the alternate site. He’s a top-tier prospect mostly for his defense, but I hesitate to invest much in him in fantasy formats, and wouldn’t target him in any redraft leagues.
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 shortened season.
1. Gavin Lux, 2B/SS, LAD — ETA Today
So the Dodgers finally teased us with Gavin Lux, calling him up to their 29th man in a doubleheader earlier in the week, which required them to send him down immediately afterward. Lux is eligible to be recalled at any time, however, and while I’m still not confident he’ll be thrust into an everyday role at any point this season, I do think he’s going to get a good chunk of at-bats down the stretch, enough to move him back up to the top spot on this list.
(Editors note: This was written before he was officially recalled on Saturday morning, but the sentiment still stands).
Lux went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in the second game of the doubleheader, but his performance in AA and AAA from 2019 is still far too good to ignore, even if he hit just .240 with a pair of home runs and steals in 23 big leagues games last year.
Lux was expected to take over as LA’s everyday second baseman by now, and I know there are plenty of fantasy players who are frustrated he has not done so yet, but he’s still a perfectly defensible stash candidate in 12-team leagues, and worth adding if you have an open roster spot and want some potential oomph to add to your lineup ahead of the fantasy playoffs.
2. Jarred Kelenic, OF, SEA — ETA Mid September
There are a lot of other perhaps more practical stash candidates I’d be willing to bet real money will play in the major leagues this season, but with only one month left, I would much rather take a gamble on Kelenic. It’s really pretty simple: 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’s debut timeline remains a mystery, 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 now that Mallex Smith and Dan Vogelbach are out of the picture, and more trades could be around the corner.
Jake Fraley got the first call up to the show, no surprise there, but 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 that you will hate to be the person watching him beat your team in the playoffs come late-September.
I have him up at No. 2 on this list because—while I think he carries a considerable risk of not playing at all this year—I would rather gamble on lightning in a bottle than some of the less exciting prospects included below.
In 14+ team leagues, by all means, give Kelenic a go. He could be a season-saver.
3. Andrew Vaughn, 1B/3B, CWS — ETA September
The White Sox have shown a willingness to aggressively promote prospects in the past, and Vaughn’s advanced bat and recent repetitions at third base could create an opening for him at some point this season, particularly with the age and potential injury concerns surrounding Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Abreu.
The 22-year-old 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. Vaughn appeared in 55 MiLB games down the stretch in 2019, 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 are rather thin on 1B/DH depth—especially after jettisoning Nicky Delmonico and Zack Collins to their alternate site. Plus, the added ability to play third, if Chicago feels comfortable in his glovework, only makes him more likely to get a call.
The White Sox have among the league’s most powerful offenses, but adding Vaughn would only serve to strengthen their lineup from top to bottom, and while it may take an injury for him to play every day, he is worth keeping an eye on in all redraft formats.
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 your watch list, and he’s a fine stash in deeper redraft leagues if you have an open bench spot.
4. Wander Franco, SS, TB — ETA Mid-September
It’s time. I should probably have listed him in the “given consideration” category the last few weeks, but now with such a small window of time left, and a relatively uninspiring group of hitting prospects left to consider stashing, Wander Franco—the No. 1 prospect in all of baseball—finally cracks this list.
I don’t feel exceptionally confident the Rays will call him up at all this season, and if they do it will likely be in mid-September at the earliest, but if you’re feeling spicy in a deeper league and you have a bench spot, this future MVP candidate is well worth looking into.
Franco, 19, played 52 games at High-A in 2019, hitting .339/.408/.464 with 40 runs scored, three home runs and four stolen bases. He struck out a minuscule 6.7% of the time, while drawing walks at an outstanding 11.7% clip.
You likely don’t need a whole write-up on Franco, but his contact skills, eye at the plate, developing raw power and 60-grade speed make him an absolutely elite prospect, and a near-certainty to be a fantasy stud for years to come.
It may not be in 2020, but you could do worse to stash Franco on the off-chance Tampa throws caution (and service time) into the wind and gives him a shot before the season is up.
5. Jazz Chisholm, SS, MIA — ETA September
Chisholm could benefit from Miami’s barrage of prospect call-ups over the last few weeks, which has included Monte Harrison, Lewin Diaz, Jesus Sanchez and right-handed pitcher Sixto Sanchez.
Chisholm also benefits from Isan Diaz’s decision to opt-out of the rest of this season with COVID concerns. Diaz was the team’s regular second baseman, and his absence caused the team to use a combination of Jon Berti, Eddy Alvarez and Logan Forsythe at the keystone.
With Alvarez now on the IL, 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 Sanchez to hold fantasy relevance more than Chisholm this season, especially since both are already up, although the toolsy shortstop prospect has the power (21 home runs) and speed (16 steals) to make an impact at the big-league level.
Chisholm does have massive strikeout issues, which will likely lead to a low batting average and has me concerned 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.
6. Bobby Dalbec, 1B/3B, BOS — ETA Early September
Red Sox 1B/3B prospect Bobby Dalbec keeps creeping up the list simply because the Red Sox just are not getting it done this season and a potential teardown could be coming. While I don’t expect a huge market to develop before the trade deadline, it is not out of the question that Boston will look to deal either J.D. Martinez or Mitch Moreland for prospects, and either subtraction would open up a spot for Dalbec to make his big league debut.
Dalbec, 25, played first and third last season in the minors, although his big league home will probably reside at first if he stays in Boston, thanks to the presence of Rafael Devers. The slugger mashed 27 home runs in 2019, 20 at AA, and another seven at AAA in 30 games played. He won’t hit for a high average, though his patience at the plate could make him an even more attractive asset in OBP formats.
I’m hard-pressed to recommend stashing Dalbec in 12-team formats just yet, because it’s hard to predict exactly when (or if) he will get the call, but I could easily see him being worth adding in 12+ team leagues as soon as he is up, which could be very soon if Boston parts with either Martinez or Moreland at the deadline.
7. Brandon Marsh, OF/1B, LAA — ETA September
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 have been giving him reps at first base at their alternate site, which general manager Billy Eppler called “a little introduction”.
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 was optioned back to the team’s alternate site.
Additionally, the Angels are pretty far out of contention at this point and could be looking to trade Upton or Goodwin, which would free up a spot for Marsh to make his debut.
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 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 potential sell-off, could indicate a promotion is on the horizon.
8. Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B, MIN — ETA September
I’ve been hesitant to add Twins slugger Alex Kirilloff to this list all year because it will clearly take multiple injuries for him to get an everyday role in Minnesota, and it’s not really worth stashing guys who are that far away, but his raw talent is hard to ignore.
Right now, even with Byron Buxton and Josh Donaldson on the injured list, the Twins have a full 28-man roster and a plethora of other options at their alternate site, including Willians Astudillo, Lane Adams and fellow prospects Trevor Larnach and Brent Rooker, but I think there’s a distinct possibility Kirilloff would be the next man up, if and when they need some oomph in the lineup.
Kirilloff’s numbers at AA last year don’t exactly jump off the page, with just nine home runs and seven steals in 411 plate appearances, but he was dealing with a nasty wrist injury that likely sapped some of his power. If he’s healthy he will hit for average and for power, and if he finds himself anywhere close to a regular role in this Minnesota offense, he will be rosterable all over the place.
I’m not betting on that happening in 2020, but if I’m looking for a stash candidate in deeper redraft leagues, I can see taking a gamble here.
9. Jonathan India, 2B/3B, CIN — ETA September
The Reds made a somewhat surprising move, recalling young infield prospect Jose Garcia and installing him into their lineup virtually right away. Garcia could take over as the team’s everyday shortstop, pushing Freddy Galvis into a utility infielder role.
The team could opt to bring up a new double-play partner for Garcia as well in highly-regarded infield prospect Jonathan India, a third baseman by trade who is earning great marks for his defense at the keystone.
With Mike Moustakas playing more and more at first base, it wouldn’t be a shock to see India given a chance to play more regularly at second or even third for the struggling Eugenio Suarez, especially now that the DH gives Cincinnati a chance to add an extra bat in the lineup.
India, 23, hit 11 home runs and swiped 11 bases in 2019 between High-A and Double-A, along with a .767 OPS and a 132 wRC+.
While I don’t think he’ll ever light the world on fire as a fantasy asset, his positional flexibility makes him more appealing as both a corner and middle infield eligible player, and he has enough power and speed to be worthwhile in most fantasy formats, at least as a bench bat.
For 2020, I think he’s worth keeping an eye on in deeper redraft leagues, especially now that Cincy has turned to Garcia. I wouldn’t be surprised if India is next, and if he does some good things down the stretch.
10. Drew Waters, OF, ATL — ETA September
Now that Cristian Pache is back down, I’m far less confident that we will see much if any, of Drew Waters in an Atlanta uniform in 2020.
Waters may be a consensus top 50 prospect as a tooled-up 21-year-old outfielder, who has the potential to be an easy 20-20 guy at the next level, but with a stacked outfield in Atlanta, and with Pache almost certainly the next guy up, Waters may have to settle for a 2021 promotion instead.
He could probably use more fine-tuning in the minors anyway, thanks to an overly aggressive approach that leads to big strikeout issues. These issues were exceptionally prevalent in AAA in 2019, when he fanned a whopping 36% of the time in 26 games.
Despite those concerns, there is enough tantalizing talent here that I could see stashing him in deeper leagues, hoping to catch some lightning in a bottle down the stretch—if Atlanta has a need and gives him a call.
Added: Alex Kirilloff, Jonathan India
Graduated: Lewin Diaz, Jake Fraley
Others given consideration: Monte Harrison, Cristian Pache, Brent Rooker, Sheldon Neuse, J.J. Bleday, Vidal Brujan, Adley Rutschman, Jeter Downs, Andy Young
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)
Lane Thomas is in the Cardinals’, not Twins’ system.
Correct – supposed to say Lane Adams. I’ll fix it. Thanks!
Do you think the Padres give Trammell a shot to play? Seems like he could be an upgrade over Naylor? Or is he trade bait, hopefully going to a team that let’s him play? He’s out on waivers along with Marsh and trying to decide who’s the better stash (keeper league so some consideration for contribution next year).
I definitely think he’s potentially trade bait, although moving Oliveras does make it seem more likely he will get a shot this year. I’d still rather stash Marsh personally, but it is pretty close between the two