Get ready for some exciting new faces in the 2023 MLB season as minor league prospects make their big league debuts! In this article, we’ll check out some promising young players who can boost your fantasy baseball teams. You could stash them on your minor league roster, keep them on your watch list, or even put them on the injured list. Who knows, they could skyrocket in prospect rankings, giving smart managers the chance to grab valuable trade chips or a steal on the waiver wire.
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!
Prospect Stash Targets for Re-Draft Leagues
Addison Barger, 2B/SS/3B, Toronto Blue Jays
Addison Barger is an all-around infielder who has played at shortstop, third base, and second base for the Toronto Blue Jays since being drafted in the 6th round of the 2018 draft. In 2022, Barger’s game improved significantly, with a lower strikeout rate and increased barrel control across three levels. He played 116 games in A+/AA, achieving a wRC+ of 148, indicating that he performed 48% better than the league average. His impressive performance in New Hampshire was particularly noteworthy, given that he was almost two years younger than the average player in the league.
Barger’s got some serious bat speed on the left side, and he’s holding down shortstop for now. He can handle most of the routine plays, but he’s not exactly the most agile or fleet-footed guy out there, so MLB-level shortstop might not be his calling. That being said, the Jays could really use a lefty in the lineup, so Barger might be their best bet for filling in somewhere in the infield. Right now, he’s fighting for a spot on the bench, but even if he starts the season down in the minors, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him back up with the big club soon.
Owen White, SP, Texas Rangers
Meet Owen White, a 6-foot-3, 199-pound right-handed starting pitcher who was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 2nd round of the 2018 MLB draft. Although he underwent Tommy John surgery in May of 2019, White boasts an impressive fastball, clocking in at 95 MPH. It’s complemented by a plus curveball, an average changeup, and an average slider. What sets White apart is his exceptional command of all four pitches.
In his professional debut in 2021, White showcased his potential, throwing 33.1 innings in A ball with an impressive 14.6 K/9 and a solid 4.5 strikeouts per walk. In 2022, he advanced to AA, demonstrating elite command and keeping his walk rates incredibly low. Overall, he pitched 80.1 innings with an impressive 2.49 ERA.
As for 2023, it’s probably safe to say that White will kick things off down in the minors, but he’s definitely going to get some action with the Texas Rangers at some point. If you’re thinking about him in terms of fantasy, he’s looking like he could be a solid SP3 or SP4 once he gets the call-up later in the year.
James Wood, OF, Washington Nationals
James Wood, a 6’7″ and 240-pound left-handed hitting outfielder, was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2021 MLB draft by the San Diego Padres for almost double the recommended slot value. He possesses tremendous power that he has consistently demonstrated during his short professional career.
Interestingly, Wood was acquired by the Nationals as part of the trade that brought Juan Soto to San Diego, but he is originally from Washington. During his first season in A ball, he put up an impressive 140 wRC+ in 71 low A games.
In the coming years, it is widely expected that Wood will make his debut for the Washington Nationals no later than 2024. Moreover, if Wood performs exceptionally well during the summer, the Washington organization has earned a reputation for aggressively promoting talented young hitters to the major leagues. Savvy managers could potentially transform this lottery ticket into a valuable asset during the trade deadline.
Zac Veen, OF, Colorado Rockies
In 2022, Veen batter was a force to be reckoned with in high A ball, boasting an impressive 126 wRC+ before facing some difficulties in a 34-game promotion to AA. His strikeout rates climbed towards 30%, and his walk rate hovered around single digits, raising concerns that his long swing could be exploited by inside pitches.
Despite occasional struggles, he possesses undeniable power that has yet to be fully realized on the field. In games, he seems to be focusing on driving line drives up the middle while pulling most of his fly balls. Additionally, he is a talented runner, making him at least an average or even a plus defender in the expansive Coors Field.
He has yet to play center field, which may suggest that the Rockies believe he could still be successful in a corner or designated hitter position. If he starts receiving opportunities in center field, however, it could signal that he is ready to play at the MLB level.
Hunter Brown, RHP, Houston Astros
Hunter Brown, a right-handed pitcher for the Houston Astros, stands at 6’2″ and weighs in at 212 pounds and immediately showcased his potential as a dominant force on the mound.
Brown’s pitching arsenal relies heavily on a dominant 97 MPH fastball and a knee-bending 83.4 MPH curveball, both of which are plus pitches. He is also working on refining his average slider.
In his first taste of Major League action with the Astros beginning on September 5, 2022, he threw 20.1 innings with an impressive 50 FIP-. This indicates that he performed at an elite level compared to the average pitcher. This is notable for a rookie, as FIP- has a tendency to quickly stabilize even in small sample sizes.
Brown is expected to start for the Astros this season, which could raise his price on draft day. However, once Lance McCullers Jr. returns, some managers may kick Brown back to the waiver wire. Be quick to pounce. It’s worth noting that Brown is projected to pitch around 100 innings this year, regardless of his role on the team. Even if he ends up back in the bullpen, he’s still a valuable addition to your team if he’s available.
Austin Martin, SS/CF/3B, Minnesota Twins
In 2020, Austin Martin was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 1st round (5th overall) of the MLB June Amateur Draft from Vanderbilt University. At that time, he was widely regarded as having the best hit tool and being closest to the major leagues in terms of his contact ability.
Although he may appear older for his assignments, it’s crucial to consider that he lost a season of development due to COVID. Despite this setback, Martin impressed in his first exposure to AA in 2021, hitting at least 20% better than the league average (120-133 wRC+). While he regressed slightly in 2022, he remained just below the league average (89 wRC+).
Now in his age 24 season, Austin Martin has the potential to emerge as an All-Star caliber player, a label that he has been associated with for a long time. In the previous season, Martin demonstrated his versatility by playing a variety of defensive positions, including 2B, SS, and CF. It’s uncertain where he will fit in on the roster in Minnesota, but his offensive production and flexibility could make him an appealing option for fantasy managers with room for a stash.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Austin Martin is rumored to need his UCL repaired with no exact timetable for return. He may be more of a dynasty buy-low option at this point.
Jake Eder, LHP, Miami Marlins
During the 2021 minor league season, Jake Eder, a fire-balling left-handed pitching prospect for the Miami Marlins, made a significant impression on both fans and analysts alike. His high 80s slider and mid-90s fastball combination proved to be too much for Double-A hitters in his pro debut, and over 71.1 innings, he was able to establish his presence with authority by showing a minuscule ERA of 1.77, a 12.5 K/9, and 3.41 BB/9.
Jake Eder’s promising start was derailed in 2022 by a significant injury that required Tommy John surgery.
Optimism surrounds Jake Eder’s future after a strong showing in Spring Training and his full recovery from injury. He has the potential to pitch approximately 70-90 innings for the Miami Marlins in the 2023 season and perform at a level of an SP3 or an SP4.
While the big-name prospects get all the attention, it’s important to have some knowledge of lesser-known prospects as well; especially with draft season upon us. With so many talented young players making their way into the major leagues, it’s an excellent opportunity to add some fresh talent to your roster before your fantasy rivals have the chance to do so. To get ahead of the game, keep a close watch on these upcoming players and take a proactive approach in adding them to your roster. By doing so, you’ll gain a significant edge over your competition. So, be sure to stay on top of these prospects and make smart decisions about adding them to your fantasy team.