It’s September, which means fantasy football season has finally awakened while the fantasy baseball playoffs are kicking off. Unfortunately, the 2023 baseball season was lost for you. Injuries, poor performance, some bad trades, and just brutal luck kept you out of the postseason and forced you to look ahead to 2024 already.
There is good news in this scenario; you should have a fairly early pick in the 2024 first-year player draft (FYPD) and may have picked up extra throughout the season. The value in the top tier of names available — Dylan Crews, Paul Skenes, Wyatt Langford — hasn’t changed, but a handful of other players are increasing their value as we finish off the 2023 campaign. This group of bats will be trending up FYPD boards over the coming months.
Rising Stock for 2024 FYPD Hitters
Nolan Schanuel – LAA – 1B
The most obvious choice here is Angels first baseman Nolan Schanuel. The 21-year-old out of Florida Atlantic made his MLB debut a month after being drafted after an incredibly aggressive promotion. He’s held his own so far against the big boys, hitting .270 through 17 games. Before the promotion, he slashed .365/.505/.487 with six extra-base hits and a 21:10 BB:K through 22 MiLB appearances.
Schanuel was the 11th overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft after producing an unreal stat line in his junior season. He posted a .447/.615/.868 slash line with 19 homers, 14 steals, and an unreal 71:14 BB:K. Without knowing any better, you’d think he was playing MLB The Show on rookie difficulty.
The reason for his fantasy value boost is obvious. It’s not often you see FYPD players ready to make a fantasy impact from day one (or even earlier in this case) aside from the older foreign players coming in. Schanuel will likely exceed rookie limits before being FYPD-eligible and can slide right into your lineup next season, especially in deeper leagues with extra infield/utility spots.
Matt Shaw – CHC – SS
Matt Shaw has done nothing but hit since being taken 13th overall by the Cubs. He started in rookie ball and was pushed straight to High-A before earning another promotion to Double-A Tennessee. Through 32 total games, he’s slashing .372/.426/.651 with a whopping 18 extra-base hits and 13 steals. At 21 years old, he already looks polished enough to push for a 2024 MLB debut.
Shaw’s hot bat shouldn’t be a huge surprise after his collegiate career with Maryland. After knocking 22 homers as a sophomore, he hit a new level as a junior in 2023. Before being drafted, he slashed .341/.445/.697 with 45 extra-base hits (24 home runs) and 18 stolen bases across 62 games. He also registered an impressive 43:42 BB:K. Shaw owns a 9:20 BB:K in the minors but has posted a swinging strike rate of under 9% at both the High-A and Double-A levels.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) September 6, 2023
While he probably doesn’t make it to the bigs as quickly as Langford or Crews, Shaw shouldn’t be far behind. College bats usually tend to be safer in FYPDs and can help push a rebuild along a little faster than taking a high school player. Shaw doesn’t exactly have an immediate path to the MLB with Dansby Swanson and Nico Hoerner covering the middle infield but he’s already seen some time at the hot corner since being drafted.
Colt Emerson – SEA – 2B/SS
For the second straight year, the Mariners opted to use a first-round selection in the early 20s to draft a high school shortstop. After seemingly nailing that pick in 2022 with Cole Young, they went back to the well for Colt Emerson in 2023. Emerson didn’t turn 18 until after he was selected 22nd overall and he’s already making a splash in the lower levels of the minors.
Emerson started out by going 15-for-28 (.536) in eight rookie-ball games. That led to a quick promotion to Single-A Modesto, where he’s since slashed .288/.425/.424. Overall, he owns a 1.031 OPS with 11 extra-base hits across 23 MiLB contests. The hit tool, given a 55 future value by Fangraphs, looks to be well ahead of schedule compared to his peers. As a reference, Cincinnati’s Cam Collier was drafted at age 17 in 2022 and owns a .707 OPS at the Single-A level as an 18-year-old this season.
Emerson obviously won’t help fantasy managers any time soon like the previous names on this list. Instead, he’s a good second-round option for teams set for a longer rebuild. If he falls a little further in FYPDs, teams that emptied some prospects during the season could snag him to start repairing the farm.
Kyle Teel – BOS – C
Finally, another polished college bat, Kyle Teel has been working quickly through Boston’s system already. He needed just three games in rookie ball before jumping straight to High-A and 14 games later he was bumped to Double-A Portland. Overall, he’s slashing .378/.484/.487 with six extra-base hits and a 15:16 BB:K through 21 games. However, he hasn’t gone deep since his time at the lowest level.
Teel has never displayed much power and probably won’t be a major contributor in that category. Still, the hit tool speaks for itself. He hit .343 during his three-year collegiate career at Virginia. The 21-year-old was taken 14th overall after slashing .407/.475/.655 with 13 homers and 25 doubles in his junior season.
Kyle Teel posted a 1.9 pop time on this and had the guy out by 2 steps. No catcher should be able to post those pop times on a pitch low and away in the dirt. Excellent framer, excellent pop times. Teel is gonna be a major league catcher for a long time. pic.twitter.com/WQSH2yMQ45
— Chris Clegg (@RotoClegg) September 2, 2023
Teel is probably around the same tier as Emerson as a second-round FYPD pick. So far, he’s exclusively played catcher (with a few DH appearances) since being drafted and has the defensive chops to stick there at the big-league level. It’s a little early in his development to be worried about who’s blocking him, but the Red Sox currently don’t have a catcher that would prevent him from being called up.