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.
It was a busy week for hitting prospects, as three of the 10 players on last week’s list (Gavin Lux, Jazz Chisholm and Bobby Dalbec) were all called up to the show—along with a bevy of other interesting hitters including Ke’Bryan Hayes, Jose Garcia, Jahmai Jones, Luis Campusano, Brent Rooker, Randy Arozarena, and Estevan Florial.
Jones and Florial have already been optioned back to their alternate sites, and each of them are listed in the “given consideration” category as I think they could both be up again this season, and have the potential to be contributors in the final few weeks of the season.
Many of these call-ups were in response to trades completed earlier in the week, including Dalbec and Arozarena, and there could be more call-ups like this coming, as you’ll see highlighted in the article.
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. Carter Kieboom, 3B/SS, WAS — ETA September
I know there are a lot of you out there, myself included, who were personally victimized by
Regina George Carter Kieboom to start the season. And I don’t blame you if you opt not to pick him up and store him on the bench in your redraft league.
After all, Kieboom saw action in just 17 games this season, after he was expected to be an everyday starter, and he hit a miserable .200/.359/.200 with no home runs or steals, along with a 31.3% strikeout rate.
However, a recent report from Davey Martinez said Kieboom is swinging the bat better at the team’s alternate site, and that he could be back up with the club in the next week or so.
And while Kieboom’s career has not gotten off to the strongest start (he’s a .169/.299/.236 career MLB hitter in 89 at-bats) he is still just 23 years old, a former top prospect, and showed an incredible eye at the plate, with an astonishing 17.2% walk rate.
The big question mark will be playing time, as the Nationals have Trea Turner and Asdrubal Cabrera locked into roles on the left side of the infield, with Luis Garcia starting at second base and versatile Howie Kendrick penciled in at DH—not to mention veterans Brock Holt, Josh Harrison and Wilmer Difo on the bench.
Of course, Washington is on a pretty bad skid right now, and they may choose to pack it in and give playing time to their younger, core players for the rest of the month—in which case Kieboom will (hopefully) be an everyday bat.
I wouldn’t rush to pick up Kieboom in 10 and 12 team leagues, even when he does get called up, but he’s worth monitoring in those formats and likely worth stashing in deeper formats if he was dropped earlier in the campaign.
2. Brandon Marsh, OF/1B, LAA — ETA September
The Angels made an expected move at the trade deadline, sending veteran outfielder Brian Goodwin away in exchange for a pair of pitching prospects. The immediate move was to recall Jahmai Jones briefly, although he is an infielder who was on hand while the team awaited the arrival of Franklin Barreto from the A’s.
That means the Halos could turn to another top prospect, Brandon Marsh, to fill Goodwin’s spot and also team up with Jo Adell in Los Angeles.
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.
Plus, he’s recently been getting reps at first base at the team’s alternate site—which could give him the added bonus of playing there when Albert Pujols needs a day off.
While Marsh is best utilized as a center fielder, as long as he is in the lineup in LAA he’s worth a look in 12+ team leagues, and that could be coming soon.
3. Andrew Vaughn, 1B/3B, CWS — ETA Mid-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. Jarred Kelenic, OF, SEA — ETA Late 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.
Jake Fraley got the first call up to the show, no surprise there, and it now seems plausible that the recently acquired Taylor Trammell could get a look before Kelenic does. Still, 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.
The acquisition of Trammell only increases the considerable risk of Kelenic not playing at all this year— but I would rather gamble on lightning in a bottle than some of the less exciting prospects included below.
In 16+ team leagues, by all means, give Kelenic a go. He could be a season-saver.
5. Wander Franco, SS, TB — ETA Late September
Franco takes a tumble this week as the likelihood of him coming up this year—which was thin to begin with, is even smaller with the strong performances of Brandon Lowe and Mike Brousseau lately.
However, 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—still finds himself on this list as a potential 2020 stash candidate.
Like I said at the onset, I still don’t feel exceptionally confident the Rays will call him up at all this season, 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.
6. Seth Beer, 1B/DH, AZ — ETA September
The Arizona Diamondbacks appear to have packed it in for the 2020 season, dealing Archie Bradley and Starling Marte at the trade deadline and acquiring a handful of prospects and one big leaguer, Caleb Smith, who is currently battling an injury.
So the team could easily turn toward some pieces from their elite farm system to get a look at them against high-level opponents in the final month of the season, and the most interesting from a fantasy perspective would be 1B/DH Seth Beer.
Beer, 23, blasted 26 home runs last season between High-A and Double-A, mostly in Houston’s organization before he came over to Arizona in the Zack Greinke deal. Beer has 60-grade raw power and has done a good job of tapping into it in games, and his excellent eye at the plate and decent bat-to-ball skills should make him a capable .270 hitter with a .350ish OBP and 25-30 home runs annually.
For now, Beer is a strong candidate to replace Jake Lamb as Arizona’s primary designated hitter, as Lamb is hitting an even .100 in 17 games on the year.
For those in deeper redraft leagues, Beer is worth snatching up and stashing for what could be a fun, homer filled few weeks to finish off the 2020 campaign.
7. 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, even more so now that Josh Donaldson is back from his IL stint. However, the first domino fell when Brent Rooker was called up to replace Max Kepler, who hit the injured list on Friday.
The Twins not only have a very full 28-man roster, even without Kepler, they have a plethora of other options at their alternate site as well, including Willians Astudillo, Lane Adams and fellow prospect Trevor Larnach.
However, Kirilloff’s raw talent and potential fantasy impact is hard to ignore, even on a stacked Twins team. Plus, I think there’s a distinct possibility the slugger will be the next man up, if and when they need to add some oomph to their lineup or their bench core.
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 much of his power. When 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. Even if he’s a semi-regular coming off the bench, that could play in deeper formats.
8. Jarren Duran, OF, BOS — ETA September
Momentum began building rapidly for 23-year-old Red Sox outfielder Jarren Duran to get a call for Boston this season, particularly after they dealt Kevin Pillar at the trade deadline. While the Red Sox front office did pour some cold water on those rumors, I still think there’s a chance the team gives him a look in the last few weeks of the campaign, particularly if he keeps hitting home runs at the team’s alternate site.
Duran is a speedster with good bat-to-ball skills who underwent a swing change that began to unlock some power—the ultimate recipe for prospect lovers to start sweating over. He’s reportedly hit five home runs in intrasquad scrimmages this season, and after slashing .303/.367/.408 with 46 steals across two minor league levels last year, with just five total dingers, it’s not hard to see why the added power would make him pretty appealing.
He’s still pretty raw, and I have concerns that plate discipline might be an issue, but if Duran does get the call he’ll be an interesting deep league sleeper—and one that I wouldn’t mind stashing in very deep formats to take a gamble on.
9. Drew Waters, OF, ATL — ETA September
Now that Cristian Pache is back at Atlanta’s alternate site, I am 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.
10. Jonathan India, 2B/3B, CIN — ETA September
The Reds made a somewhat surprising move in August, recalling young infield prospect Jose Garcia and installing him into their lineup virtually right away. Garcia has taken 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.
The Reds sent an indication they are hoping to compete this year after they moved to acquire Brian Goodwin at the trade deadline, and India’s bat and defensive versatility could make him an upgrade coming off the bench in a semi-regular role down the stretch.
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 over the next few weeks.
Added: Carter Kieboom, Seth Beer, Jarren Duran
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)