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Fantasy Baseball Prospects that made the biggest jump in 2023. NL Edition

As I did in the previous article listing the AL prospect for every team that made a quick ascent in 2023. I have listed fantasy baseball prospects for every NL team that made the biggest jumps in 2023. The criteria for this are multifaceted, considering players that were promoted aggressively, rose up rankings, or players that increased their productivity. Each player below displayed the skills to stand out in their respective organizations.

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Fantasy Baseball Prospects Who Made Biggest Jumps in 2023

NL East

Atlanta Braves – AJ Smith -Shawver, SP

Smith- Shawver had a meteoric rise through the Atlanta minor league in 2023. He played at four levels of the organization (A+, AA, AAA) before making his MLB debut on June 9. The Braves promoted AJ aggressively as he only made three starts at A+ and two starts in AA, all scoreless, before reaching AAA.

Smith-Shawver throws a fastball that sits mid-to-upper 90s, a good slider, and a changeup, leading to a rise in the prospect rankings. Athleticism and production all while being only 20 years old during the 2023 season have him projected as a number three starter. If Smith-Shawver can develop a third complementary pitch, he could increase it to a front-line starter, otherwise, he will be a number three to five starter or high-leverage reliever.

Miami Marlins – Juan De La Cruz, SP

De La Cruz signed as a 16-year-old in the winter of 2022 during the international signing period. He earned a promotion to low-A Jupiter a year later, a few months after turning 18. Pitching against older competition he had control issues, walking 32 batters in 43.1 innings but held his own with a 4.57 era through 12 starts. De La Cruz offers a four-pitch mix; a fastball that can reach the mid-90s, a curveball, a slider, and a changeup. The Marlins think he may be a third to fifth starter due to his youth, projectable frame, and pitch mix.

New York Mets – Jett Williams, SS

Williams was the second of two first-round picks for the Mets in 2022. He was moved through three levels in the minors in 2023: low A, A+, and AA. Jett offers speed on the basepaths, stealing 45 bases last year, a good approach at the plate with a .425 on-base percentage, and nearly a walk for every strikeout. Williams struggled a bit with his six-game taste of AA with a .227 average and his on-base dropping to .308. The Mets may be best served to push Williams into a utility role that would allow them to get his bat and speed into the lineup without being penalized for his lack of power.

Philadelphia Phillies – Orion Kerkering, RP

Kerkering gained notoriety in the 2023 playoffs for the Phillies by making seven appearances. Before bursting onto the MLB scene, Kerkering started the season at low-A, making stops at every level A+, AA, and AAA. Kerkering was nearly unhittable with a combined 1.51 era, 79 strikeouts, and 12 walks in 53.2 innings. He has a deceptive delivery that makes his mid-90s fastball and his plus slider even harder to hit. The Phillies showed their confidence in Kerkering by throwing him into high-leverage situations upon his promotion. It is obvious that he will be the Phillies’ closer of the future and current high-leverage reliever.

Washington Nationals – Yohandy Morales, 3B

Selected in the second round of the 2023 draft, Morales found his way through four levels of the minors until reaching AA. Morales combined to hit a .349 average with a .423 on-base percentage. The high average was surprising as he is more known for power than he is for his bat. He will stick at third base defensively as he used to be a shortstop. If Morales can quiet his mechanics to keep the high average while tapping into his power, he could be an all-star and the regular third baseman of the future for the Nationals.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs – Pete Crow -Armstrong OF

Crow-Armstrong was acquired by the Cubs in a deal in 2021 that sent Javier Baez to the Mets. All he has done since joining the Cubs organization is hit and put his top-of-the-scale defense on display. Crow-Armstrong worked his way through AA and AAA to make his MLB debut on September 11, 2023. He impressed this season by combining to hit for a .283 average, a .365 on base, hitting a career-high 20 home runs, and stealing 37 bases. Crow-Armstrong will need to make some adjustments at the plate as he had a 29.5 percent strikeout rate while only producing a 9.5 percent walk rate. The defense will allow Crow-Armstrong’s bat more time to develop. As of now, he projects to hit in the .240s with 20 home runs and 30 stolen bases. If he can limit the strikeouts, we are talking about a five-tool player.

Cincinnati Reds – Noelvi Marte 3B/SS

Marte was acquired in the trade that sent Luis Castillo to the Mariners in 2022. A position change to third base was needed due to the abundance of middle infielders in the Reds system. Marte played at AA and AAA in 2023 before making his MLB debut on August 19. He has great plate discipline, striking out only 70 times in 348 at-bats while maintaining a .279 average. Marte possesses pull-side power but that could change to all-field power as he matures. Marte produced a .316 batting average and three home runs in just over 100 at-bats in the majors. Great American Ball Park should play nicely for Marte’s power and should allow him to reach his ceiling of 30+ home runs. We are talking about a perennial all-star caliber player if everything comes together.

Milwaukee Brewers – Jacob Misiorowski, SP

Misiorowski was widely considered the steal of the draft for the Brewers in 2022. Standing at 6’7”, he has a five-pitch mix, curveball, slider, cutter, and changeup, and a fastball that can touch 100 mph. Misiorowski jumped three levels in the minors; low A, A+, and AA. Combined he had an era of 3.41, a 1.18 whip, and 110 strikeouts in 71.1 innings.

He struggled after his promotion to AA, seeing his era bloat to 5.57 but still managed to strike out 36 batters in 21 innings. This may have been due to fatigue as it was a career high for innings pitched. Misiorowski will have to work on his command as he had a 5.30 BB/9. If he can continue to develop and improve his command, then he may be the Brewers’ next ace.

Pittsburgh Pirates – Anthony Solometo, SP

In 2023, Solometo pitched at two levels of the minors, A+ and AA. A+ proved easy for Solometo as he posted a 2.30 era and a 10.43 K/9. AA however proved to be a challenge as his era increased to a 4.35 and his K per nine dropped to 8.71. Solometo is still developing as he was only 20 years old last season. He throws a low 90s fastball, a slider, and a changeup that plays up due to his unorthodox delivery from his 6’5” frame. Solometo has the highest upside of any pitcher in the Pirates minor league system and will look to continue his push toward the big leagues in 2024.

St. Louis Cardinals – Victor Scott II, OF

When thinking about Scott, the first thing to come to mind is speed. He has 80-grade speed that was on full display in 2023 as he stole 94 bases in 132 games across A+ and AA. Scott showed a good plate approach as he combined for a .303 average and just over a 15 percent strikeout rate. If Scott can continue to hit for average, he will thrive as a leadoff hitter and apply relentless pressure on the defense. He could be just what the Cardinals need to mix with their power bats. Scott continued his coming-out party in the Arizona Fall League by batting .286 with a .388 on-base percentage, and 18 stolen bases. We might see Scott for the Cardinals sometime in 2024 where he will add a different dimension to an already impressive offense.

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks – Yu-Min Lin, SP

In two seasons of pro ball, Lin has made it to AA. Standing at 5’11”, Lin is a soft tosser that relies on the movement and location of his pitches. Though his fastball only sits in the upper 80s to low 90s, Lin has managed to strike out 10.4 batters per nine innings. If Lin can gain some velocity on his fastball, it would make his curveball, slider, and change-up play up more even though they already flash plus. He has seen his era increase and his K rate slip while facing more advanced hitters. Lin can be a back end of a rotation piece if he can further develop his fastball and continue to develop his off-speed pitches.

Colorado Rockies – Jordan Beck OF

Beck advanced two levels in each of the past two years after being drafted in 2022. His carrying tool is his power, hitting a career-high 25 home runs in his first full season of baseball. The main concern is the high number of strikeouts as he struck out over 29 percent of the time. He has enough speed to be a 20/20 guy as he stole 20 bases last year. Beck has the tools to take advantage of the Coors Field effect. If he can limit the strikeouts, he will be a middle-of-the-order bat with 25-plus home run potential and a mid-200 batting average.

Los Angeles Dodgers – Payton Martin SP

Payton was a seventeenth-round pick in 2022 for the Dodgers. Martin produced in his first action in low A Rancho Cucamonga, with a 2.04 ERA and striking out 48 batters in 39.2 innings. What makes Martin’s start even more impressive is he worked almost exclusively as a relief pitcher in high school until his senior year. Martin already has one plus pitch in his fastball and the makings of another in his slider. One can expect more development of his pitches as he gets more repetition. The Dodgers may have found a steal in the draft again as Martin looks like a piece that can make their rotation in a couple of years.

San Diego Padres – Robby Snelling SP

Snelling was San Diego’s competitive balance draft pick in 2022. He did not see any time last year in the minors after being drafted. Snelling did not waste any time in 2023 in low-A Lake Elsinore by pitching to a 1.57 era and striking out 59 batters while only walking 13. Snelling was then promoted another two levels to A+ and AA where he continued his dominance. Through 22 starts across three levels, Snelling pitched to a combined 1.82 era, 118 strikeouts, and only 34 walks. A former two-sport star, Snelling possesses the athleticism to repeat his pitches and attack hitters. There is a lot to like about Snelling as he projects to be a number two starter, offering batters trouble from the left side of the rubber.

San Francisco Giants- Wade Meckler OF

Meckler was drafted in the eight-round pick in 2022. He has a contact-orientated approach that leads to an increased amount of ground balls. In 2023, Meckler played at three levels of the minors A+, AA, and AAA batting a combined .371 average and .966 on base plus slugging. Meckler became the fourth player from the 2022 draft to make his big-league debut in 2023 on August 15th. There is a lot to love about Meckler’s production, but adjustments are needed to reach more power. If he can add more power, we are looking at an everyday regular, if not he is a fourth outfielder that can help with his on-base skills.

For more of the great fantasy baseball rankings and analysis you’ve come to expect from FantraxHQ, check out our full 2024 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit! We’re here for you all the way up until Opening Day and then on into your championship run.

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