Baseball season is close and fans await new MLB prospects. Five players have stood out in Spring Training and the WBC, including Seattle Mariners’ Harry Ford and St. Louis Cardinals’ Gordon Graceffo. Let’s examine their skills.
The season is not here yet, but why not get a head start and jump in a Fantrax Classic Draft contest? Get a jump on the season with a Best Ball league or maybe a Draft and Hold. Or put some green on the line with a new season-long league to try and conquer. There’s no better time than now to get your baseball on!
5 Prospects Making Waves
1. Harry Ford, C, Seattle Mariners
Harry Ford, or rather Harrison Ford (insert Star Wars pun here), was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 1st round (12th) of the 2021 MLB June Amateur Draft. He’s a 5’10, 200 lb., 20-year-old with outstanding bat speed, solid contact skills, emerging power, and above-average speed.
In his A-ball debut, he played both catcher and designated hitter, posting an impressive 132 wRC+ in 104 games, with a 23% K rate and an 18% walk rate. He’s achieved OBP’s over .400 in both his pro seasons, an impressive feat for a young player straight out of high school. It seems that the talk of a possible shift in position is motivated by a wish to make the most of his physical abilities, rather than concerns over his ability to catch.
Despite being just 20, he’s already shown impressive maturity, as seen in his strong performance for Team Great Britain in the WBC. While he’s expected to play a full season in AA and may not join the MLB team until mid-2024, his stock is on the rise, and he’s quickly becoming a hot pick for the next great fantasy catcher.
2. Chase Silseth, RHP, Los Angeles Angels
Chase Silseth, a right-handed pitcher, was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the 11th round of the 2021 MLB June Amateur Draft. Standing at 6-0 and weighing 217 lbs., Silseth was the first player selected in the 2021 Draft to make it to the Majors in 2022, and he still has Rookie eligibility for the 2023 season.
Silseth’s fastball is consistently firm, clocking in at 95.6 MPH. His slider and splitter are two quality secondary pitches, although neither is considered a “plus” pitch. Nevertheless, Silseth’s assortment of average pitches is effective in keeping hitters off-balance. However, his command can be erratic at times, with a walk rate close to 10% of the time (4 walks per 9 innings).
In his MLB debut last year, Silseth demonstrated his potential, tossing six scoreless innings against Oakland.
The big news this spring is that Silseth has developed a new pitch – a cutter – to help him handle left-handed batters, who gave him the most trouble at the MLB level. The new cutter complements his splitter, giving Silseth six pitches at his disposal.
Silseth has impressed in three Spring Training starts, tallying 12 strikeouts and only two walks in 10 innings pitched. Although he was initially expected to start the year in Triple-A, he is now competing for the fifth starter spot with the Angels.
Silseth has only thrown 110 innings in a professional season, so it is probable that he will pitch around 140 innings this season, with some time in the minors as well. Fantasy managers should anticipate around 120 MLB innings from Silseth at an SP3 level.
3. Quinn Priester, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Quinn Priester is a 6-3, 210 lb. RHP who was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates as the 18th overall pick in the 2019 amateur draft. However, Priester has been somewhat overlooked due to some setbacks in his minor-league career. He had a short professional debut in 2019 but unfortunately missed the entire 2020 season due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
In his highly anticipated return in 2021, Priester pitched in High A and recorded 98 strikeouts and 39 walks while throwing 97 2/3 innings. However, he suffered an oblique issue during spring training in 2022, which delayed his season start until the second week of June. He made his AA debut and threw 75 1/3 innings with 75 strikeouts and 22 walks before being promoted to Triple-A.
Priester’s pitching repertoire includes two fastballs that clock in at 92-96 MPH, an 86 MPH slider, and an 88 MPH changeup. Despite having a variety of pitches, Priester doesn’t strike out as many batters as expected, and his underlying metrics aren’t impressive as evidenced by his lack of strikeouts and high walk rates. This suggests that he may be a pitcher who focuses on minimizing hard contact and can be successful with a strong defense behind him.
The Pirates are considering moving Priester to their MLB rotation this year, where he could be expected to throw 120 innings as their #4 starter. During Spring Training, Priester pitched to only 9 batters, allowing one hit, no runs, and striking out one batter. While this provides a limited sample size, it is still a relatively accurate representation of Priester’s potential.
Fantasy managers should exercise caution when considering adding Priester to their rosters as he might not deliver much in terms of strikeouts, wins, or ERA. It could be a smarter strategy to let other competitors take the risk on him instead of taking the chance yourself.
4. Sal Frelick, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
Sal Frelick is a 5-foot-10, 182 lb. outfielder who was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1st round (15th overall) of the 2021 MLB June Amateur Draft. He plays centerfielder and bats left-handed while throwing right-handed.
In 2022, Frelick moved up two levels and finished his season with 46 games in Trile-A, where he continued to excel at hitting, posting an impressive 155 wRC+. Throughout his career, he has demonstrated strong hitting abilities at every level, outperforming his peers by as much as 30 to 60 percent.
While Frelick may lack the power typically associated with a corner outfield position, he compensates for this with excellent barrel control and the ability to spray line drives to all fields. He has shown good plate discipline by walking and striking out at the same rate in the minor leagues, but it would be beneficial for him to increase his walk rate in the future.
Frelick has primarily played center field in his professional career and has been performing at an average level at the position. There are currently no plans to move him from this position. It is expected that his strikeout rate will increase to around 20% in the MLB, and he will need some luck with batted balls to maintain his current success.
During spring training, Frelick has swung freely in all of his 11 plate appearances, without taking a single walk. Although this is a limited sample size, it suggests that he may need to exercise more selectivity at the MLB level. Currently, his on-base percentage is average and mostly driven by hits, and many analysts believe that he could benefit from drawing more walks. It’s worth noting, however, that despite his tendency to swing, Frelick rarely falls far behind in the count.
Looking ahead to 2023, if Frelick earns a spot on the team, fantasy managers should pay close attention to his walk rate as it could be an important factor in his overall performance. While a low walk rate could raise concerns about his plate discipline, it’s worth noting that players like Steven Kwan have succeeded in the past despite similar tendencies.
5. Gordon Graceffo, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
Gordon Graceffo is a fireballing right-handed starting pitcher, standing at 6-4 and weighing 210 lbs. He was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 5th round of the 2021 MLB June Amateur Draft and quickly made a name for himself in prospect circles after experiencing a significant velocity jump in 2022. He is currently competing for a spot in the Cardinals’ rotation.
Graceffo’s fastball is undoubtedly his most impressive pitch, consistently clocking in at around 97 to 98 mph and occasionally reaching 100 mph. He also has a slider, curve, and changeup in his arsenal, with his slider being the most effective due to its hard, late break. However, despite his impressive velocity, he has struggled with giving up home runs, which could be an indication that his fastball lacks movement.
During spring training this year, Graceffo had a shaky debut, issuing three walks and allowing hard contact from the Nationals. Nevertheless, he appears to be honing his delivery, which is a positive sign. While he has yet to establish a consistent track record, he possesses the necessary tools and potential to be an excellent addition to deeper leagues as you look to fill out your fantasy rotation.