This is an article I aim to have published on-site every Monday. I’m thanking the baseball gods that I pushed it a day this week to finish another piece as the Tigers rewarded all of us with a trio or prospect promotions this week. Not only did we get Casey Mize, but we got another of the big three along with him as well as one of Detroit’s top hitting prospects. This report was already going to be overflowing with prospect promotions and it got a whole lot sweeter after Tuesday. With plenty of intriguing prospects getting the call this past week, let’s not waste any time and dive into this week’s Fantasy Baseball prospects report.
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Casey Mize, Dylan Carlson & Other Prospect Debuts
Dylan Carlson (OF – STL)
Many were disappointed when Dylan Carlson didn’t crack the opening day starting lineup for the Cardinals. There was little doubt that he was ready, and in all honestly, better than the trio St. Louis ran out there on opening day. But still, St. Louis kept him at their alternate site to open the season and that stay was extended when the COVID outbreak kept the Cardinals out of action for more than two weeks. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait any longer as the Cardinals promoted Carlson on Saturday and started him in both games of their doubleheader that day.
Carlson, without question, is one of the top position prospects in the game with an all-star caliber upside. He proved that in 2019 with his breakout performance in the upper minors. In 126 games, Carlson slashed .392/.372/.542 with 28 doubles, eight triples, 26 home runs, and 20 steals with a 10.3% walk rate and 20.6% strikeout rate. Carlson had always displayed an advanced plate approach, but it was the development of his in-game power that really sent his prospect stock soaring last season. Plus or better raw power has always been there, but Carlson began driving the ball in the air more last season and cut his groundball rate by 6.7%.
No. 1 for the Cardinals' No. 1, as Dylan Carlson makes his first Major League hit a double: https://t.co/iGCRKnmcWp pic.twitter.com/ywrQri8iFT
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) August 15, 2020
Another area that took a step forward was Carlson’s stolen base production, more than doubling from the previous season. While that was nice, I’m not confident it continues. Carlson’s speed is merely average and he was only successful on 66.7% of his stolen base attempts in the minors. Expecting 10-12 steals is much more reasonable than a repeat of his 20 from last season. But when that comes with a .270-.290 average and the potential for 30 home runs, you’ll take that any day of the week.
What you won’t take any day of the week is his 2/17 start, but don’t you dare consider dropping him in redraft leagues.
Alec Bohm (3B – PHI)
Don’t you love it when two top-25 hitting prospects get promoted within 24 hours of each other? I know I sure do. While Alec Bohm’s ceiling is a tad lower than Carlson’s due to the lack of speed, his immediate production could be just as impactful. Bohm was the #3 overall pick in the 2018 MLB draft and lauded as one of the most advanced bats in the entire class along with Nick Madrigal.
The big 6’5 right-handed third baseman made quick work of the minors, rising up three levels in 2019 and finishing in the Double-A Eastern League. In 125 games total, he slashed .305/.378/.518 with 30 doubles, 21 homers, and six steals with a 10.3 BB% and 20.6 K%. Everything you see above is legit except for the steals. Bohm is a below-average runner so expecting more than a few every season will likely leave you disappointed.
Single for Alex Bohm in the AFL Fall Stars game.#MiLB #Phillies pic.twitter.com/ck22Na0nSF
— Eric Cross (@EricCross04) October 13, 2019
What you want Bohm for is his potent bat. This is an above-average to plus hit tool and plus power bat with an advanced hit tool, capable of hitting close to .300 with an OBP north of .360 and 25-plus homers annually. Expect him to slot in right around Bryce Harper in the batting order too, which should allow him to add plenty of R and RBI en route to being a strong four-category fantasy contributor.
For re-draft leagues, I’d be fairly aggressive with your FAAB bids this weekend, but someone will likely outbid you hoping Bohm can be a true difference-maker. While I believe he should absolutely be rostered right now, I’m not in the “difference-maker” camp when it comes to Bohm this season. Long-term, Bohm has the upside to develop into a top-10 player at either third base or first base. He’s gone 4/14 with two doubles and a walk through his first four Major League games.
Casey Mize (RHP – DET)
Late Sunday night and into Monday morning, people across the baseball world were speculating on the nature of Al Avila’s Noon Zoom call and hoping it was going to be about Casey Mize’s promotion. Surprise! It was indeed and both Tarik Skubal and Isaac Paredes are coming along for the ride. Thanks Detroit! Skubal will get the ball tonight followed by Mize on Wednesday. For redraft purposes, both Mize and Skubal need to be added immediately or invested in heavily in FAAB this weekend. In my last top-250 dynasty prospect rankings, Mize and Skubal were the 6th and 14th pitching prospects respectively. So yeah, it’s definitely acceptable to be exuberant about their arrivals. And if you’ve been reading this article all season, and more importantly the stash lists, hopefully, you already had one of these high-upside arms stashed.
Last season, I had the privilege of watching two Mize starts live, one in Hartford. Connecticut and the other in Manchester, New Hampshire. Let’s just say that it was a tale of two Mizes. Mizeses? Man, that’s a tongue twister.
In late May, Mize was absolutely dominant allowing just three hits and one walk with eight strikeouts across six shutout innings. The 2018 #1 overall pick was sitting 93-96 with the heater, topping out at 97 and averaging 94.8 mph. That was before his mid-season shoulder ailment that caused him to miss around a month of action. In his second outing with me in attendance on August 11th, Mize’s velocity was down 1.5 mph as he allowed six runs, eight hits, and three walks in 4.2 innings. It was obvious that the shoulder issue was hampering him a bit as his previously stellar command and control escaped him in this outing. Mize only made one more start before getting shut down for the remainder of the season.
The video you see above and below are from his first start in Hartford. Also known as the good Mize start. On paper, Mize’s arsenal runs three pitches deep, but really it’s four as Mize will toy with the velocity of his slider and turn it into more of a cutter at times. That pitch grades as above-average for me and plus at it’s best, usually thrown in the mid (slider) to upper (cutter) 80’s. I already discussed the fastball above, but to summarize, Mize’s usual fastball is the one I described from the first outing. Mize doesn’t have the eye-popping velocity that a Nate Pearson or Dustin May produces, but his command of the pitch along with his plus control makes his fastball a plus offering.
And then there’s that glorious splitter…
I could watch that all day. With the velocity separation (9-12 mph slower than fastball), movement, and command Mize has of it, this is a 70-grade splitter in my book and brings back memories of watching Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling while growing up. Mize uses his splitter as his main out pitch and isn’t afraid to throw it to righties or lefties.
While Mize might not produce elite strikeout numbers (usually around 8.5-9.0 K/9), this is a real-life frontline starter in the making and one that could be an annual top-25 fantasy arm.
Tarik Skubal (LHP – DET)
Okay, enough about Mize, let’s talk Skubal. Some say that he’s the best arm in this system, better than both Mize and Matt Manning. While I do rank him third in this tantalizing Tiger trio, I’m still incredibly high on Skubal and have him as a borderline top-50 dynasty prospect overall.
The 2018 9th round pick soared up prospect rankings with a 2019 season for the ages. In 24 starts combined between the High-A Florida State League and Double-A Eastern League, Skubal 2.42 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 13.1 K/9. Yes, you saw that strikeout rate correctly. To take it one step further, that K/9 was a ridiculous 17.4 in his nine Double-A starts. That’s nearly two strikeouts per inning for crying out loud. There’s no crying in baseball according to Rockford Peaches skipper Jimmy Dugan, but I’m sure Skubal made someone cry last season.
When comparing Skubal to Mize, Skubal has the better fastball, sitting in the mid-90s and touching the upper-90’s at times with excellent life. While the fastball has impressed and is easily a plus offering, Skubal’s secondaries have been inconsistent. Skubal will mix in a low-80’s curve and mid-80’s slider with the curveball grading higher and flashing plus at times. The slider is more of an average complimentary offering to the rest of the arsenal. A big reason for Skubal’s rise, outside of his fastball, has been the development of his changeup. He’s still highly inconsistent with the offering, but it will flash above-average with solid fade and tumble at it’s best.
Long-term, Skubal projects as a high-K #2 or #3 starter for me with the upside to be one of the first two starting pitchers you draft for your fantasy squad. Just how good he can be is going to be determined by the development and consistency of those secondary offerings.
Isaac Paredes (3B/SS – DET)
While Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal garnered most of the buzz yesterday, don’t overlook Isaac Paredes, a borderline top-100 prospect in my overall top-250 rankings. The reason why Paredes tends to slide a bit under the radar is his lack of any “wow” tools. None of his tools stand out when watching him or grade as plus. However, he’s proven time and time again that he’s a polished hitter capable of hitting for a high average with modest power as well.
At 5’11/215, Paredes gets all he can out of his frame and can really impact the ball from the right side of the plate thanks to quick hands and an especially strong lower-half. He’s been more raw power over game power so far with a career-high of 15 in 2018, but there’s more power lurking in that bat with 20-homer upside down the road. Paredes has also shown exceptional plate coverage and pitch recognition, maintaining a stellar 12.8% strikeout rate in his minor league career. Longterm, this is a .280/20 type of bat in my eyes, but for 2020, I’d only target him in 15+ team mixed leagues.
Lewin Diaz (1B – MIA)
With Corey Dickerson being placed on the bereavement list, Miami filled that spot by calling up one of their top hitting prospects, first baseman Lewin Diaz. If you’re looking for a prospect that can make a Bohm or Carlson type of impact, you’re looking in the wrong place. But with that said, Diaz is still quite intriguing longterm, even if his re-draft value isn’t.
After an up and down tenure with Minnesota entering 2019, Diaz broke out to the tune of a .294 average and 19 home runs in 90 games before a mid-season deal to Miami for Sergio Romo. His time with the Marlins Double-A affiliate in Jacksonville didn’t go as swimmingly, but Diaz still cranked eight home runs in 31 games, albeit, with a .200 AVG and .279 OBP.
At 6’4/215, power is the name of the game for Diaz. The 23-year-old Dominican native possesses easy plus raw power with a swing that produces plenty of natural loft. Not once did Diaz have a flyball rate below 40% in the minors. Not at any single level in any season. The contact skills are right around average and you’d like to see Diaz walk a bit more, but this is a 30-homer bat in the making. As with Paredes above, I’d give Diaz a look only in 15+ team leagues as it’s no guarantee he stays up for the rest of the season.
Luis Garcia (2B/SS – WAS)
In a rather surprising move, the Washington Nationals promoted their #2 prospect (in my rankings), Luis Garcia, late last week. And not only did they promote him, but Washington also has started him at second base in three of the last four games. Garcia has taken advantage of the playing time thus far, ranking up a double and home run in his first three games. In fact, Garcia was the first player born in the 2000s to hit a home run in a Major League game.
While it’s nice to see Garcia up with the Nationals, the long-term upside isn’t one that is overly exciting. Yesterday on Twitter, I called Garcia a “potential solid regular, but not a star in the making.” That has absolutely nothing to do with his lackluster 2019 campaign either. This is something I thought before Garcia even got to the Double-A Eastern League. You also need to take last year’s numbers with a grain of salt as he was one of the youngest players in Double-A, playing the entire season in the cold-weather, pitcher-friendly Eastern League.
Long-term, Garcia has some appeal in dynasty formats, but again, don’t go crazy. He has the contact skills to hit around .280 with 10-15 home runs and 15-20 steals annually. This is someone you can slot into your UT or MI spot but not someone you’ll likely ever draft as your starting second baseman or shortstop. For 2020, I’d only target him in deeper leagues.
Keibert Ruiz (C – LAD)
The prospect world has been very split on Keibert Ruiz over the last few seasons. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t received slack from Ruiz supports when he didn’t crack my top-10 Dodgers dynasty prospects this offseason. That was partially due to the depth and talent in that Dodgers organization and partially due to Ruiz’s lower ceiling for fantasy purposes.
One area that cannot be questioned is the hit tool. Ruiz has displayed above-average contact skills in the minors with extraordinary plate coverage and strike zone awareness. In his 387 minor league games, Ruiz hit .299 with a .351 OBO and stellar 9.5% strikeout rate. There’s no doubt in my mind he could hit .280+ annually at the Major League level. However, it’s his power that I’m questioning longterm.
If you look above, you’ll see some lackluster estimate FB distances and flyball rates courtesy of Prospects Live. Ruiz has been hovering right around an average estimate FB distance of 280 feet over the last three seasons while only hitting the ball in the air around 1/3 of the time. In fact, he hasn’t had one 30-game stretch over the last three seasons where his estimated FB distance exceeded 300 feet, peaking at 295 feet late in 2017.
I’m not saying Ruiz has zero power. He’s right around 50-grade raw power in my eyes, but that’s closer to 40 or 45-grade in-game power. So while the average will likely be an asset, I’m not anticipating more than 12-15 homers annually to go along with it. The Dodgers also have Will Smith already with the big club and Diego Cartaya coming in a few years who I like more for fantasy purposes. Ruiz is good, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t see him as more than a back-end C1 for fantasy leagues at peak.
Other Prospect Debuts
Jorge Mateo (2B/OF – SD): Mateo has always been a difficult player for me to rank. That 82-steal season back in 2015 seems like forever ago, doesn’t it? That’s because it was and Mateo’s speed production has dwindled since then, but in volume and efficiency. Mateo as a starter could be a .260 hitter with 25 steals and double-digit homers, but that’s likely the best-case peak scenario. And honestly, I’m not even sure he’s more than a second-division regular or utility bat longterm. For now, he’ll likely only receive sporadic playing time for the Padres and can be ignored in fantasy leagues.
Seth Romero (LHP – WAS): Even with Seth Romero on the 60-man, this one surprised the you know what out of me. Romero got the call even though he hasn’t pitched in nearly two years due to Tommy John surgery and never pitched above the Single-A South Atlantic League. This is 100% someone you can ignore in all redraft leagues, but there’s still some dynasty appeal here and a potential buy-low (very low) window. Before the injury and subsequent surgery, Romero projected as a mid-rotation starter with three pitches that flashed or projected as above-average to plus offerings. There’s plenty of reliever risk now, and that’s where he’ll be used by Washington for now, but it can’t hurt to go out and try to acquire him for dirt cheap in dynasty leagues.
Keegan Akin (LHP – BAL): A former 2nd round pick back in 2016, Keegan Akin is one of about 35 Orioles pitching prospects that project as a back-end starter. He’s been able to strike out batters at a decent clip (9.9 K/9), but Akin has below-average control and that might force him into a bullpen role longterm. He’s not one I’m super excited about for dynasty and definitely not anyone I’m targeting this season.
James Kaprielian (RHP – OAK): This is much more of a long-term arm to watch than one that will help you in 2020 redraft leagues. On stuff and potential alone, James Kaprielian looks like a future mid-rotation starter. The former first-round pick works with a four-pitch mix with two secondaries (slider and changeup) flashing above-average to plus. However, Kaprielian now sits at around 91-92 on his heater following two missed seasons due to Tommy John surgery. The lower velocity and durability concerns push him more into back-end starter territory for me longterm.
Prospect News & Notes
Brendan McKay Shut Down, Brent Honeywell Throws to Hitters
That headline might not seem all that notable on the surface, but this is the first time Brent Honeywell has thrown to hitters in 16 months. He also hasn’t pitched in a minor league game since 2017. While it was only 15 pitches, this is a good step forward for the highly-talented right-hander who was once considered a top-25 overall prospect by certain outlets.
#Rays stellar prospect @brent_honeywell’s got that nasty stuff. #FuturesGame pic.twitter.com/l5C82V4KaE
— MLB (@MLB) July 9, 2017
It’s impossible to know right now how Honeywell will look once he’s fully back and unleashing his entire arsenal, so all we can go on, for now, is what we saw before all these injuries. Honeywell threw everything but the kitchen sink at opposing batters, including his signature screwball. That screwball along with his mid-90’s fastball graded as plus offerings and Honeywell also mixed in a curveball, slider, and changeup with the last two flashing above-average to plus at times. Again, we have no idea how future Honeywell is going to look, but the upside was a #2 starter in the past with above-average control and plus or better command. I’d be willing to buy-low if the price is right.
On the flip side, Brendan McKay has been temporarily shut down due to shoulder irritation. A positive COVID test before the season already put him behind the 8-ball and this latest issue means we’re likely not going to see McKay make an impact in fantasy leagues this season. The Rays just simply have too many mouths to feed on the pitching staff.
Adrian Morejon Recalled by Padres
I know everyone was hoping it was going to be MacKenzie Gore, but we’ll have to wait a bit longer for his debut. Instead, Adrian Morejon will be recalled and start Tuesday’s game against the Texas Rangers. While Morejon’s first stint with the Padres didn’t go according to plan last season (8.0 IP, 15 H, 9 ER), there’s still a lot to like here longterm. Out in the AFL, I got to see a surprise, abbreviated Morejon outing and was immediately impressed by his secondary offerings.
Morejon has made strides with his curveball over the last year or two, developing it into an above-average offering, but it’s his changeup that can be a real difference-maker. Both pitches compliment his low to mid-90’s fastball well and Morejon has shown he can use each as an out pitch. This is a good time to buy-low on the Padres southpaw as his value has come down over the last year. I’m not saying this is a frontline starter in the making, but Morejon has mid-rotation upside and only will have the pressure of a #5 starter behind MacKenzie Gore, Chris Paddack, Dinelson Lamet, and Luis Patiño down the road.
Top Redraft Prospect Stashes
The weekly prospect stash lists factor in proximity to MLB playing time and potential 2020 impact.
- Gavin Lux (2B – LAD)
- Joey Bart (C – SFG)
- Ryan Mountcastle (1B – BAL)
- Cristian Pache (OF – ATL)
- Drew Waters (OF – ATL)
- Jarred Kelenic (OF – SEA)
- Andrew Vaughn (1B – CHW)
- Ke’Bryan Hayes (3B – PIT)
- Jazz Chisholm (SS – MIA)
- Bobby Dalbec (1B/3B – BOS)
HM: Royce Lewis (SS – MIN), Brandon Marsh (OF – LAA), Jesus Sanchez (OF – MIA), Jared Oliva (OF – PIT), Jake Fraley (OF – SEA), Brendan Rodgers (2B/SS – COL), JJ Bleday (OF – MIA), Alex Kirilloff (1B/OF – MIN), Trevor Larnach (OF – MIN), Oneil Cruz (SS – PIT)
- MacKenzie Gore (LHP – SDP)
- Clarke Schmidt (RHP – NYY)
- Matt Manning (RHP – DET)
- Ian Anderson (RHP – ATL)
- Tucker Davidson (LHP – ATL)
- Sixto Sanchez (RHP – MIA)
- Logan Gilbert (RHP – SEA)
- Edward Cabrera (RHP – MIA)
- Jackson Kowar (RHP – KC)
- Deivi Garcia (RHP – NYY)
HM: Forrest Whitley (SP – HOU), Daniel Lynch (LHP – KC), Deivi Garcia (RHP – NYY), Jhoan Duran (RHP – MIN), Brendan McKay (LHP – TB), Bryan Mata (RHP – BOS)
Media Credit: MLB Pipeline, Minor Graphs by Prospects Live, MLB
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