The past week or two has been a glorious time for prospects. We’ve had several high-profile names get the call and plenty of new breakout prospects are beginning to make names for themselves in the minors. We’ll talk about the breakouts in a separate article and focus on the promotions today, starting with former #1 overall pick, Royce Lewis.
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Fantasy Baseball Prospect Report
Royce Lewis Called Up To Minnesota
It’s been a roller coaster minor league career for Royce Lewis, but luckily, he’s trending up in a big way right now and we’re seeing the best Lewis we’ve ever seen. Entering 2019, Lewis had racked up 18 homers and 46 steals in 175 games with a .288 AVG but struggled to the tune of a .236/.290/.371 slash line. He was able to turn things around with an MVP performance in the Arizona Fall League, but that momentum was halted by global pandemic followed by a torn ACL. We hadn’t seen Lewis in game action in more than two years entering 2022, but he’s looked better than ever so far this season.
Before getting called up a few days ago, Lewis was slashing .310/.430/.563 in 107 PA in Triple-A with 11 doubles, three homers, and eight steals. Not only has the AVG and OBP bounced back, but Lewis is hitting for more power than he ever has as well with a career-best .253 ISO. The approach has been better as well. Entering 2022, Lewis had a career 7.9% walk rate which has more than doubled to 15.9% this season. he’s also trimmed the strikeout rate by 3% down to 18.7%.
Even with him showing more power, Lewis doesn’t project as more than a 15-18 homer bat, but that should come with a good AVG and 20+ steals as well. He’s been filling in for Carlos Correa at shortstop for the last few games, but Correa isn’t expected to be out long and is eligible to return on the 16th. It’s not inconceivable to see Lewis stay up as he has experience at second, third, and in the outfield, but that remains to be seen.
George Kirby Dominant in Debut
You have your normal MLB debuts, and then you have spectacular MLB debuts like the one George Kirby had on Sunday. Kirby dazzled for six shutout innings, allowing only four hits with seven strikeouts and zero walks against a good Tampa Bay offense. On top of that, Kirby recorded a 37% whiff rate and a 36% CSW in the start. It was just Kirby dominating at another level of baseball, no big deal. Actually, it was a big deal and so is Kirby long-term and ROS in redraft leagues.
You can count the number of pitchers on one hand over the last few years that can match Kirby’s combination of ceiling and floor. In fact, the only current pitching prospect with that same combination level is Grayson Rodriguez. Kirby has plus or better command and control over a dominant four-pitch arsenal led by a mid to upper-90’s fastball that can touch triple-digits with life. All three of Kirby’s secondaries (CU, CH, SL) are above-average or better offerings and can miss bats at a high clip.
It’s simply not fair to have both an elite arsenal and elite command/control, but that’s exactly what we have here with Kirby. These are the type of arms you open the wallet for in redraft leagues as Kirby easily can provide top-40 SP value or better ROS. And in dynasty, Kirby has fantasy ace upside and is advanced enough to reach that level sooner rather than later.
Arizona Promotes Alek Thomas
I’ve long said that Alek Thomas is one of the most underrated top prospects in the game. Prospects like Alek Thomas and Bryson Stott often don’t get quite as much love as they should due to their profiles lacking any standout tools. Thomas doesn’t have huge power potential or the speed to swipe 30+ bags annually, but he does many things well and provides a well-rounded offensive skillset that should lead to plenty of real-life and fantasy value.
In exactly 300 minor league games, Thomas slashed .309/.386/.495 with 134 extra-base hits, 34 homers, and 43 steals. He’s consistently displayed a plus hit tool with an exceptional approach that should allow Thomas to settle in as a leadoff or #2 hitter for Arizona. His above-average raw power and speed could have him flirting with 20/20 as well, however, I wouldn’t expect much more than that longterm.
With that said, Thomas hasn’t been the most efficient base stealer in the minor leagues and has been pounding the ball into the ground this season. Both aspects could limit his power/speed blend initially, so I’m only targeting him in 12-team leagues or deeper and not shallower leagues quite yet. Long-term, Thomas has the skills to be a top-25 outfielder and top-100 overall player.
Corbin Carroll, New #1 Overall Prospect
Sticking with Arizona outfield prospects, Corbin Carroll is slated to take over the #1 overall prospect spot once Bobby Witt Jr and Julio Rodriguez graduate in a couple of weeks. Carroll isn’t the only prospect that can make a strong case for this title, however. You could argue any of six or seven other prospects for this spot as well. But for me, Carroll represents the best combination of skills, performance, proximity, and projection.
After missing most of the 2021 season due to injury, Carroll is making up for lost time and then some here in 2022. In 120 Double-A plate appearances, Carroll has already racked up 16 extra-base hits, nine home runs, and eight steals with a stellar .326/.458/.695 slash line. He’s always hit for and projected to hit for a high average with elite speed, but now his power stroke is taking a major step forward this season, just as we all hoped. With a plus or better hit tool, double-plus speed, and maybe plus raw power longterm, Carroll truly has Trea Turner upside with the chance to be an early-round fixture for fantasy in a few years.
CJ Abrams Demoted
Actually, the header should read “CJ Abrams sent back to Triple-A where he should’ve been to start the season instead of being rushed to the Major League in the wake of San Diego overreacting to Fernando Tatís Jr’s injury.” But that’s way too long of a header. It was clear that Abrams wasn’t ready for Major League pitching. In 65 plate appearances, Abrams slashed just .182/.270/.273 with one homer and one steal, and wasn’t even playing regularly for the past couple of weeks.
Frankly, this move should’ve happened a week or two ago to give him more consistent playing time in Triple-A instead of starting sporadically in the Majors. He’ll likely be back up later this season, but for now, he can safely be dropped in redraft leagues. For dynasty and long-term, nothing has changed regarding the outlook for Abrams. The future is still considerably bright and if the price tag for him in your league has dropped even a smidge, I’d take advantage of that.
Bryson Stott (SS/3B – PHI): Stott has been recalled with Didi Gregorious going on the IL and is a solid pickup in 14+ team leagues and deeper 12-teamers as well. While his first stint didn’t go very well, Stott still projects well longterm and was tearing it up in Triple-A following his demotion.
Adley Rutschman (C – BAL): If for some reason Adley Rutschman is sitting on your league’s waiver wire, go out and add him immediately. Rutschman has been dominating as expected since coming back from injury and it should only be a matter of time before Baltimore brings him up.
Matt Brash (RHP – SEA): Brash was demoted to Triple-A and will work out of the bullpen moving forward. It’s not ideal by any means, but this isn’t a permanent transition yet. There’s no denying that Brash has filthy stuff, especially his fastball and slider, but he continues to struggle with command and giving up way too many walks. These have been my reservations with Brash and are why I haven’t ranked him higher. If he can harness his arsenal and command better, the upside is significant. However, the bullpen risk remains prevalent longterm and this move has all but killed any 2022 value he might have.
Ryan Pepiot (RHP – LAD): A top pitching prospect is getting the start for the Dodgers on Wednesday but it’s not Bobby Miller. Instead, Ryan Pepiot will get the start but it’s not expected to be a long stint with Los Angeles. Pepiot has mid-rotation upside and was off to a good start in Triple-A this season.
Prospects to Stash in Redraft (Stats Over Last 10 Days)
1. Adley Rutschman (C – BAL): 12/29, 4 2B, 5/2 BB/K
2. Max Meyer (SP – MIA): 11.2 IP, 2 ER, 12 K
3. Nolan Gorman (2B – STL): 7/34, 2 HR, SB, 4/14 BB/K
4. Oneil Cruz (SS – PIT): 5/29, 2B, 3B, HR, SB, 6/7 BB/K
5. Josh Lowe (OF – TBR): 6/32, 2 2B, 3 HR, SB, 4/21 BB/K
6. Edward Cabrera (SP – MIA): 9 IP, 2 ER, 8 K
7. Triston Casas (1B – BOS): 10/33, 4 2B, 2 HR, 3/8 BB/K
8. Riley Greene (OF – DET): Injured
9. Roansy Contreras (SP – PIT): 7 IP, 0 ER, 11 K
10. Grayson Rodriguez (SP – BAL): 8.2 IP, 5 ER, 10 K
HM (Hitters): Brennen Davis (OF – CHC), Jarren Duran (OF – BOS), Miguel Vargas (3B – LAD), Gabriel Moreno (C – TOR), Vinnie Pasquantino (1B – KCR), Nick Pratto (1B – KCR), George Valera (OF – CLE), Michael Busch (2B – LAD),
HM (Pitchers): Bobby Miller (LAD), Cade Cavalli (WAS), Caleb Killian (CHC), Matthew Liberatore (STL), Ryan Pepiot (LAD), DL Hall (BAL)
Media Credit: Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire
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