Obviously bold predictions articles are riskier business than ever this year, due to the play stoppage, which is why I’m making my first two predictions:
- The MLB season will begin on Monday, June 15.
- The MLB will cancel this year’s draft and hold a mega draft in 2021
Now that I’m 0-2, let’s talk a little about how my predictions are different:
Why aren’t there any italic predictions? Or underlined predictions? Or just plain regular predictions?
What are semi-bold dynasty predictions?
It means that many of these predictions will not help your fantasy team this year—I say that not trying to be arrogant. I’ve seen so many bold predictions articles where none of them come true that saying any one of mine will seems like something Steve Zissou would do. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, dynasty predictions have just as much to do with prospects as they do with major leaguers. Below you’ll find modestly extreme predictions about players from MLB and MiLB. Enjoy.
1. Grayson Rodriguez will be the top pitching prospect in one year
“Mark my words: Grayson Rodriguez will be the top-ranked pitching prospect heading into the 2021 season. The Orioles right-hander dominated Single-A to the tune of a 2.46 ERA, a 0.99 WHIP, and 129 Ks in 94 innings—as a 19-year-old. He has easily been the most impressive prep pitcher from the 2018 draft, and probably the most impressive overall pitcher not named Casey Mize. A dominant 2020 and he’ll be finishing the last few months of the season in Double-A at 20. Unlike many of his peers, Rodriguez has a combination of velocity and control that is rarely seen at his age. He’s not painting corners all the time, but he can limit his walks and put pitches in spaces that make them difficult to hit, even when he makes mistakes. On top of that, he has three plus pitches: fastball, slider, and curveball. The changeup isn’t quite a plus pitch but has that potential.”
That’s right! Cherman tried to steal my prediction!
You want bold? You want bold?? How about a reliever prediction? Oh — not that bold. Well, maybe bold, just most will find these numbers inconsequential to their fantasy outlook. Maybe if any of these guys were actually closers (maybe Nick Anderson?) this might matter to you. Let me tell you, however, that it should regardless of their role. (Writer’s note: now that the season is shortened, my prediction is they combine for 200 Ks, as I believe we’ll play somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 games) As I write about in my Delosh Betader articles, non-closing relievers who provide insane K-rates to go along with elite ratios are extremely helpful to your pitching staff. Now that you didn’t read the link, let’s continue: A combination of, say Nick Anderson and James Karinchak, could yield 220 Ks in just 130 innings.
Can you imagine that? Essentially combining two relievers to get a full season worth of Ks in a little over a half a season of actual innings? The possibility is here. Anderson will have to be a workhorse here, as he hopefully reaches a similar 65-70 innings, which he did in 2019 and K’d 110 hitters. There is potential for growth here if only to refine his amazing repertoire. The two wildcards are Colin Poche and Karinchack. Because of injury concerns, Karinchak may not reach 55 innings. But if he does, he will approach 100 Ks. He has the potential to do exactly what Anderson did in 2019. Poche is definitely the least dominant, but the two-time minor league K-rate leader has been able to punch out hitters everywhere he has pitched. He may not produce great ERA/WHIP numbers (although that is possible) but he will rack up Ks.
3. Ramon Laureano is a top-15 OF in 2020
Remember when Yasiel Puig slashed .267/.487/.833 with 28 homers and 15 stolen bases to partially rehab his image in 2017? In 2018, Puig’s ADP was right around 100 with many writers saying he was undervalued because of the stigma associated with his past underperformance, but he is actually a legitimate five-tool player and should be picked higher. Basically Ramon Laureano is a better version of the 2017 Puig. He’s a more powerful, younger outfielder who has the ability to reach 20 SBs. Even though Puig is better at generating walks, Laureano is a better contact hitter. Also, Laureano doesn’t have the baggage that Puig brings with him everywhere he goes. What does a top 15 OF look like? I bet he slashes .295/.540/.900 with 28 HR and 19 SB. There is a lot of room for improvement in his patience numbers, as well as his contact numbers. I also think this is the first year we see his hard contact eclipse his medium contact. I’m buying heavily on this five-tool kid.
4. Luis Arraez wins the Batting Title this year… and next year
Let’s get bold! The mark of a true (AKA reckless) gambler is the willingness to throw variance out the window and just expect because one thing happened, it can/will happen again. Now, keep in mind, Luis Arraez hasn’t actually won a batting title yet, so suggesting he will win two is like doubling my recklessness. Here’s the thing: all the numbers suggest that he will. His insane contact rate (93.3%), combined with his relatively low O-Swing (26.9%) and his ability to minimize soft contact (12.3%) just assumes that he will be putting the ball in play a lot and hitting it hard to very hard most of the time. At just 23, Arraez will likely improve. He might start taking more walks, although a 9.84% mark is pretty impressive for his age, especially since he is incredibly hard to strike out (7.92%, league average is 23). We rarely see anybody this good at contact hitting. We never see someone this young, who is this good at it. Not even Juan Soto. Sit back and enjoy the ride.
What am I thinking? Alex Kirilloff is killing it in Spring Training:
I guess what I’m thinking is, you know who has been just as good?
I don’t buy into the argument that I see in almost every other site that Kirilloff is the obvious choice to be called up first. Larnach is more experienced than Kirilloff, having played for an NCAA championship team. Also, unlike Kirilloff, Larnach also has never slumped as a professional. They are at the same level (Double-A) and Trevor Larnach has been flat-out better. While Kirilloff might have more overall talent, I think the Twins want to try to win this year and therefore will go for the guy who is more likely to adjust quicker to the majors, and that guy is clearly Larnach for 2020. Beyond that, who knows? So if/when there are too many injuries or Nelson Cruz falters, reach for Larnach first.
6. Jesus Luzardo throws 160 innings, Ks 200, wins Rookie of the Year
Yes, I’m a believer. (Writer’s note: we’re probably looking at more like 120 innings now and 160 Ks.)
The A’s, who have been known to not adhere to traditional or cautious player rest, came out and said Jesus Luzardo is not on an innings count. This is an organization that believes in cheap labor — and more importantly, using it while you have it! If Oakland is anywhere near the playoffs, Luzardo will be out there every 5th day down the stretch — if he’s throwing well. Now, if only we had some way of knowing if he is any good (checks notes):
|Minor League Career||197.1||2.54||1.04||234||43||10.79||1.98||13|
|Spring Training 2020||8.1||1.08||0.60||13||1||14.04||1.08||0|
Yep, he’s good.
7. Kyle Schwarber hits .270, blasts 45 HR
Writer’s note: Take the HRs down to 30 because of the shortened season. All of this positivity is making me question myself. It’s widely assumed that 2019 was Kyle Schwarber’s breakout year (.250/.531/.870). What if 2020 is actually the year he becomes the hitter it looked like he would be when rocketing through the minors? The next step forward for Schwarber is the one that makes him a multiple year all-star. Understanding this prediction is understanding what Schwarber did differently in 2019 than the rest of his career: nothing. He had similar swing, patience, and contact percentages. It’s just the results that are different: a significant decrease in soft contact, a jump to elite exit velocities, and elite barrel percentages. He wasn’t even lucky, as his 2019 BABIP is almost exactly his career mark. I believe what we are seeing is an immensely talented hitter who instead of changing his approach, leaned into it and is finally living up to his power expectations… or he just got lucky somehow. We’ll find out.
8. Bryce Harper isn’t an All-Star in 2020 or 2021…
This says more about the talent in the NL than it does about Bryce Harper… actually, I’m lying. It says exactly as much about Harper as it does the talent pool. Let’s look at Harper’s National League Outfield competition: Ronald Acuna, Jr., Juan Soto, Christian Yelich, Starling Marte, Marcell Ozuna, Nick Castellanos, Charlie Blackmon… oh yeah, and Mookie Betts. He’s got no shot of being a starter since the players vote for those and Harper is the player perennially voted the most overrated by players/managers. He’s also not going to be a reserve because there is no way Dave Martinez, the manager of Harper’s former team, picks him. Do I need to even mention all the ways he’s declining (OBP/K%/SLG)? We don’t need a calculator to do this math.
Look at the Mariners roster. LOOK AT IT!!! NO DON’T. It’s ugly. Really ugly. Where is the mandatory all-star coming from? You Weinberg? You want him on that wall, you need him on that wall. Seriously, it’s either Kyle Lewis, Kyle Seager or Carl Edwards. The only other option is Evan White. I doubt the rookie out-duels Jose Abreu, Carlos Santana, and Matt Olson. Saying Lewis will be an All-Star is saying he will be better than he was in 2019 — but it doesn’t necessarily mean he will be a lot better.
10. Riley Greene is a top-3 OF prospect in one year
If there is one thing the abbreviated 2020 spring training has shown me, it is that Riley Greene is ready for advanced competition. By that I mean the 19-year-old could at least hold his own in High-A. After all, he was smoking pitchers who are better than High-A in spring:
I know what you’re thinking: “Seven games of spring? Give me a break. Any prospect can do that.” Here’s the thing: no they can’t. You’re wrong. Deal with it.
If you wanted to say that any prospect currently in Double-A or Triple-A could do that, fine, I will stipulate (even though just because you are less wrong, doesn’t mean you are actually right). That is much more plausible. But here is the thing: there are probably fewer than 10 teenage prospects in Double-A or Triple-A. Greene deserves to be one of those guys. He deserves to be close to the same level as another 19-year-old who after a respectable 2019 spring and a very good following 2019 campaign, is now a top 10 prospect: Seattle’s Julio Rodriguez. Am I saying Greene is better than Rodriguez? No. Is he just as good? No. I’m saying he’s close. Bat-wise, Greene is one of the better prospects out there right now. He has a very good eye and solid contact skills. The power will be there, too… more than it is right now. When he has a good year in 2020, which will include a promotion to Double-A, he will be a top-10 prospect, alongside Rodriguez.