When it comes to prospects in dynasty leagues, there are many different ways to build a top-notch farm system. One key aspect of that is acquiring players BEFORE they breakout, not after. Just look at Wander Franco. He went from being an intriguing prospect in 2017/2018 with breakout potential to someone that is being considered a top-25 overall dynasty talent and the #1 prospect in all of baseball. Sure, that’s an extreme example, but the concept and approach ring true. Acquiring prospects with breakout potential for reasonable prices in dynasty leagues is a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned. And with prospects breaking out sooner rather than later in recent years, we have to be fairly aggressive in acquiring these breakout prospects before someone else in your league does.
Whether that means picking them up off of waivers or shooting an offer to your league mate, I’d be trying to acquire the below National League West prospects now before their price tag inevitably rises in 2021 and beyond. Some won’t pan out, but that’s okay. That’s the reality of prospects and dynasty leagues. Not every prospect pans out and more often than not, they don’t reach the potential and upside bestowed upon them. But if you acquire a few of the below and one or two pans out, you should be happy with your choices and investments.
The criteria for making this list is simple.
- Currently ranked outside my top-100 overall (I broke this rule slightly for one)
- Have the ability to rise 50+ spots in my overall rankings by this time next season. There are obviously more that fit both of the above, but the below prospects are my favorites in this division to breakout and the ones I’m targeting the most in dynasty leagues.
And don’t worry, I’ll have five more installments of this, one per division, with PLENTY of additional breakout prospects for you to target. I’ll leave you with a little tune called “Breakout” from my favorite band, the Foo Fighters. Feel free to rock out before you breakout.
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Breakout Prospects in the NL West – Hitters
Jeferson Espinal (OF – ARI)
The name Jeferson Espinal has really been garnering buzz in dynasty/prospect circles after an impressive professional debut in 2019. In 56 games between the DSL and Arizona League, Espinal combined to slash .347/.413/.437 with 14 extra-base hits and 26 steals in 36 attempts. While DSL numbers can be misleading, they fit the skill set here. Espinal possesses an above-average hit tool with plus bat speed from the left side of the plate and really has a knack for barreling pitches up.
The two homers in 56 games he hit last season might not stand out, but there’s more power in the tank here. A very high ground ball rate (60%) due to a mostly linear swing path through the zone limited Espinal’s in-game power production. Once he matures physically, there’s 15-homer pop here if he can start driving the ball in the air more. That type of offensive production paired with plus or better speed makes Espinal a very intriguing dynasty prospect and one that could really turn heads over the next couple of years as he makes his way into full-season ball.
Michael Toglia (1B – COL)
I’ve been gushing about Michael Toglia more and more as time passes by. The 23rd overall pick by the Colorado Rockies in 2019 possesses easy plus raw power and can flex that power to all fields from both sides of the plate. Right off the bat, this type of power potential combined with his future home ballpark will make even the driest of mouths salivate. But it’s not just the power that places Toglia on this list. He’s also shown a good feel for hitting from both sides with at least average contact skills and can work plenty of walks.
This is a middle of the order masher in the making with .270/.360/35 potential. I’m fully expecting him to rise drastically up prospect rankings moving forward with top-50 overall potential in the near future.
Brenton Doyle (OF – COL)
Further down my Rockies rankings is their 4th round selection from 2019, outfielder Brenton Doyle. You might not be too familiar with Brenton Doyle at the moment, but I have a gut feeling that’s going to change this season. Doyle has the hit/power/speed blend to really be a difference-maker in fantasy if everything clicks with him moving forward. That’s always the key though, especially with players like Doyle. He went to a smaller school and dominated the rookie-level Pioneer League last season as a 21-year-old. It will be interesting to see if he can continue his success as he faces more advanced competition in full-season ball in 2021, but as I said, the tools are here to shoot up prospect rankings over the next couple of seasons.
From the right side, Doyle has plus raw power with plenty of bat speed and natural loft in his swing. He’s also displayed above-average to plus speed with a good feel for hitting and has solid strike zone awareness. If Doyle develops into a 55-hit, 60-power, 50/55-speed outfielder, it wouldn’t shock me at all. That might be the high end, but if it happens, that’s an intriguing offensive talent, especially at Coors Field.
Kody Hoese (3B – LAD)
Kody Hoese might be a tad different than the rest of the lads on this list, but the breakout potential is very real here as well. As a collegiate bat that was taken in the first round of the 2019 MLB draft, most people won’t associate the term “breakout” with this type of player. But let me start with this: By this time next year, people will be talking about Kody Hoese as they’re currently talking about Alec Bohm. That’s the level of potential I see in Mr. Hoese.
First-pitch single to start the day for #Dodgers 2019 1st-round pick Kody Hoese. @TheAthleticLA pic.twitter.com/nOBQtSzMsO
— Emily Waldon (@EmilyCWaldon) July 29, 2019
A big final collegiate season at Tulane vaulted Hoese into the first round of the 2019 draft where the Dodgers snagged him with 25th overall pick. Hoese might not run much, but his abilities at the plate are going to land him in the middle of the Dodgers lineup within the next season or two. Hoese’s swing is simple, yet explosive from the right side. He’s quick to the ball with plus bat speed and is able to drive the ball hard in the air. His feel for the barrel and strike zone is exceptional, which paired with his contact skills, should lead to a high AVG and OBP moving forward. We’re likely looking at a 55-hit, 60-power third baseman capable of putting up .280/.360/.525 seasons with 25-plus homers annually.
Andy Pages (OF – LAD)
The story on Andy Pages is one that should have dynasty owners flocking to him. While his batting average has fluctuated as a professional in his two seasons, Pages’ power/speed blend has not. In 115 games, Pages has cranked 31 doubles and 29 home runs while adding 17 steals. His power is much more prominent than his speed, but both should carry value moving forward. Pages grades as an average runner and needs to develop as a base stealer (17/30 in SB attempts) if he wants to continue running at a solid clip. If he can improve his base-running acumen, double-digit steals annually could be in the cards.
But you’re not here for 10-15 steals. At least, not by itself. You’re here for the plus raw power Pages also brings to the table. Pages’ right-handed swing and strong frame generate plenty of bat speed with a swing path that creates natural loft. His ability to barrel the baseball has been apparent thus far and I feel comfortable projecting 25 homers down the road with a chance at some 30-homer seasons at peak. If Pages can improve his contact skills and trim the strikeouts, there could be a respectable average here as well.
Hudson Head (OF – SD)
The more I dig into, analyze, and watch video of Hudson Head, the more impressed I get. The all-around talent and potential here are very intriguing. To start, Head has a smooth left-handed swing with quick hands and phenomenal bat speed. He’s not a big guy at 6’1/180, but Head has a strong frame, especially through his lower half, and can create plenty of torque in his swing. All the pieces put together give him above-average to plus power potential longterm.
#Padres 3rd-round #MLBDraft pick Hudson Head with a triple in AZL action tonight. pic.twitter.com/1qCnJK2o5J
— William Boor (@wboor) June 29, 2019
It’s not just the power that’s enticing here though. Head has displayed above-average contact skills with solid strike zone awareness and the ability to make hard contact to all fields. He flaunted that hitting ability in the Arizona League where he was one of the more impressive hitters in the league last summer, even if the stats weren’t gaudy. The tools are here to hit .280 or so with 20-plus homers and double-digit steals annually, maybe even a little more. Head doesn’t have that one tool that wows you, but the sum of the parts here gives him a nice ceiling/floor combination moving forward. Head could turn some heads and vault way up prospect rankings in 2021.
Ismael Mena (OF – SD)
Currently ranked just outside my top-200 in my overall top-250, Ismael Mena was one of the better 2019 J2 signings that has flown somewhat under the radar, even though he signed with the Padres for an even $2 million. Sure, he’s not on the same level as Jasson Dominguez, Robert Puason, Erick Pena, and others, but Mena has the raw tools to develop into an offensive standout in time. Obviously, as a 2019 J2 signing that is currently 18-years-old, he’s miles away from the show, but this is the time to jump on the Mena hype train while it’s still boarding in the station. But hurry, this train is about to charge ahead full steam.
To start, Mena has the speed to make you salivate. Currently considered a 70-grade runner, Mena would likely lose a step when/if he adds bulk, but even then should still be at least a plus runner with 25-plus stolen base potential. And if the offensive side of his game progresses, watch out. Here’s a blurb from my 2020 Padres top-25 about Mena’s offensive potential:
“Mena has shown a solid feel for hitting for someone his age and can make hard contact to all fields with close to average raw power at present. Still only 16, Mena has plenty of physical projection left on his 6’3 frame, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he ended up as an above-average to plus raw power type to go along with his speed and above-average contact skills. There’s major breakout potential here making Mena a great dynasty target now before his price tag soars.”
Even if Mena develops into just a 50-hit, 50-power, 60-speed outfielder, that’s still highly valuable in fantasy. The upside for more than that makes him one of my favorite dynasty targets outside my top-200 overall. Grab all the Mena stock you can now or regret it later.
Luis Matos (OF – SFG)
Anywhere you look, the reports on Luis Matos have been glowing. The now 18-year-old Matos burst onto the prospect scene in 2019 in a major way, slashing .367/.438/.566 with 25 doubles, seven home runs, and 21 steals in 24 attempts across 65 games, most of which came in the Dominican Summer League. Although he’s not the biggest guy around at 5’11/160, Matos sure can pack a punch at the plate. Matos has displayed above-average contact skills and advanced strike zone awareness for someone his age, posting a 10.7% strikeout rate in 2019.
In the 11/2 game at Chase Field, Luis Matos went 1/2 with this HR (101 EV). pic.twitter.com/zyQ7preF9l
— SFGProspects (@SFGProspects) November 5, 2020
Matos’ ability to consistently barrel up pitches became obvious very quickly, but he’s been quite pull-happy as a professional so far with more of a line-drive approach. He has the power projection to develop into a 15-20 homer threat down the road, but will need to elevate the ball more consistently to reach that level. If he can add 15-plus homers to his above-average hit tool and borderline plus speed, Matos could develop into a nice all-around offensive talent with .280/15/25 potential with the upside for a little more than that. He’s already beginning to climb up prospect rankings and I have a strong feeling his ascension quickens in 2021. Get on board now.
Luis Toribio (3B – SFG)
The name Luis has a ton of value in this San Francisco farm system. We already talked about Matos the outfielder above and now we’ll dive into Luis Toribio, a 3rd baseman with a different offensive profile. Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2017, Toribio has done nothing but hit and get on base at a high clip in each of his first two professional seasons. The entire body of work thus far equates to a .282/.428/.467 slash line through 118 games. At present, Toribio has shown more raw power than in-game power as a professional, slugging 13 homers with only three in 51 games in 2019. But just you wait. There’s more coming.
At 6’1/165, Toribio still has some physical projection left, and once he fills out his frame more, I believe we’re going to be looking at a plus-power third baseman that also has enough speed and athleticism to flirt with double-digit steals annually as well. Add in at least an average hit tool with an advanced plate approach and Toribio has a chance to hit in the top-half of the lineup due to his solid on-base skills. The potential is here for a 50/55-hit, 60-power, 50/45 speed third baseman that has even more value in OBP leagues.
Jairo Pomares (OF – SFG)
As a whole, this San Francisco Giants farm system has loads of breakout potential. A cornucopia of rising talent, if you will. Jairo Pomares is just another example of this. Signed in 2018 out of Cuba for just under a million ($975K), Pomares profiles as your standard offensive-minded corner outfielder that can also bring a decent batting average and a little speed to the table as well. While he might never be anything more than a 50-grade runner, Pomares potentially potent bat and power potential is what makes him a desirable dynasty league target right now.
But wait, he only had three homers in 51 games in 2019? Yup, he sure did. I’m not going top sit here and say he’s a 30-homer threat in the making, because he’s not. But with his above-average raw power, electric bat speed, and swing path that generates natural loft, I fully believe Pomares can get into the 20-homer range down the road once he’s done maturing physically. And the best part about Pomares is that he’s shown the upside for an above-average hit tool as well. He’ll need to become a bit more patient at the plate, but Pomares makes consistent contact and can put a charge into the ball to all fields. The end product could be a 55-hit, 55-power, 50-speed outfielder that posts nice all-around offensive numbers.
Breakout Prospects in the NL West – Pitchers
Blake Walston (LHP – ARI)
Back in early-March, I joined Chris Welsh on the Prospect One podcast to talk some breakout prospects. He asked me for one hitting and one pitching prospect that I thought would really make a jump up rankings this season and the first name that came to mind for pitchers was Blake Walston. Projection is the name of the game with Mr. Walston. Toeing the runner at a listed 6’5/175, Walston has a ton of room to add bulk to that frame, and in turn, add velocity to his low-90s fastball. That fastball already grades as above-average due above-average command and movement and could finish as a plus or better pitch if/when Walston adds bulk.
Added video of D'Backs 1st rounder North Carolina prep LHP Blake Walston to the FG Insta but people love curveballs so here's one at full speed, then another in slo-mo. His best hooks flashed 65 on the 20-80 scale late in the spring, fastball was 88-92 touching 93 in this outing. pic.twitter.com/VMf16sbt1b
— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) June 21, 2019
With a potential plus or better fastball, plus or better curve, and a changeup that flashes above-average, Walston has major breakout potential in 2020 and beyond. Grab as much dynasty stock as you can now while the price is still reasonable.
Jimmy Lewis (RHP – LAD)
While not quite as projectable as Blake Walston above, there’s something about a 6’6, 200-pound pitcher that gives me all the feels. The 78th overall pick last June and a teammate of Brett Baty in high school, Jimmy Lewis is a big right-hander with physical projection on his frame and a potentially dynamic three-pitch mix. Currently, Lewis’ fastball features strong riding life in the low-90’s and could feasibly end up sitting in the mid-90’s once he’s done adding bulk and maturing physically. Mid-90’s with this type of life and solid command would make Lewis’ fastball easily plus and borderline 70-grade.
Both of his secondary pitches (Curve and changeup) aren’t quite as dynamic, but both project as at least Major league average and Lewis’ curveball flashed plus at times with good shape to it. If his fastball progresses to the level I mentioned above and he develops that curve into a legit weapon and out pitch, Lewis could really soar up prospect rankings with the upside of a high-end #3 starter.
Kendall Williams (RHP – LAD)
We’re not done with breakout Dodger arms quite yet. Acquired as one of the two PTBNLs in the Ross Stripling deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, Kendall Williams has the upside to make Toronto regret dealing him down the road. Williams toes the rubber at 6’6/205 with projection left on his frame and already possesses a low to mid-90’s fastball. That fastball has a great downhill plane to it thanks to Williams’ height and higher release point out of a high 3/4 arm slot. Overall, this is a plus offering in my eyes with room for improvement if he adds a tick or two of velocity over the next few seasons.
Outside of the heater, Williams throws an above-average curveball with good depth that flashes plus and a changeup that should be at least Major League average. Williams has only given us a glimpse of what he’s capable of in his brief 2019 professional debut, but certainly dazzled, allowing just six hits and two earned runs over 16.0 innings with a 19/7 K/BB ratio. Getting an arm with this much talent into one of the best player development organizations in baseball has the arrow next to Williams’ name firmly pointing up.
Bryce Jarvis (RHP – ARI)
While most of the buzz in the 2020 draft went to the top trio and the upside prep arms, I’m anticipating the hype train on Bryce Jarvis to really pick up steam once more people get a chance to watch him pitch in 2021. Jarvis has the upside of a #2 starter without the current price tag of one. That alone makes him a great buy in dynasty leagues.
On the mound, Jarvis attacks with four Major League average to plus pitches, headlined by a plus fastball and plus or better changeup. Both his curveball and slider will show above-average to plus in any given start as well. Not many people would think Jarvis would end up on a list like this before his dominant 2020 campaign at Duke, but Jarvis is for real and should be both a quick mover through the Arizona farm system and a quick riser up prospect rankings.
Others To Target with Breakout Potential: Luis Frias (RHP – ARI), Julio Carreras (3B/SS), Yanquiel Fernandez (OF – COL), Helcris Olivarez (LHP – COL), Eddy Diaz (SS – COL), Reginald Preciados (SS – SD), Alex De Jesus (SS – LAD), Joshua Mears (OF – SD), Jake Vogel (OF – LAD), Owen Caissie (OF – SD), Clayton Beeter (RHP – LAD)
Media Credit: Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire, Emily Waldon, William Boor, SFGProspects, Kiley McDaniel
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I like Kendall and Lewis both too, but I think the biggest riser of the dodgers system could be that of Ryan Pepiot in 2021. I think he know’s who he is on the mound, and how he wants to sequence his solidly above average arsenal. The dodgers should be able to help him coax out the most of his body too, so perhaps there’s something a little more there than his college profile suggests.
Great write-up though, looking forward to the rest!
Thanks Cole, I’m high on Pepiot too. Lot of great arms in this LA org.
Very interesting stuff and I’m a rookie stockpile guy