The rookie impact in baseball is growing exponentially as time goes on. This was especially the case in 2020 with the likes of Fernando Tatis Jr and Pete Alonso dominating out of the gate and instantly becoming two of the top infielders in the game for fantasy purposes. Can the same happen in 2020? The short answer is yes, but I don’t expect anyone to have a Tatis/Alonso level impact. But with that said, there are a ton of infield prospects to target this season in re-draft leagues. Some on draft day and other as mid-season waiver wire targets. So who are the top fantasy prospects to target this season in the infield? Let’s dig in!
Top Infield Fantasy Prospects for 2020 Re-Draft Leagues
DISCLAIMER: This is for 2020 Fantasy Baseball value only and is not a long-term ranking.
If you aren’t playing your dynasty leagues on Fantrax, you’re missing out on the deepest player pool and most customization around. Just starting out in a dynasty league? Then check out Eric Cross’ Top-250 Overall Prospects, Top-500 Dynasty League Rankings, & 2019 FYPD/J2 Rankings.
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The Draft Day Targets
Gavin Lux (2B – LAD)
ETA: Debuted in 2019
Without question, the top infield prospect to target in 2020 redraft leagues is Gavin Lux. After dominating in the high minors for a few months to the tune of a .347/26/10 line in 113 games, Lux received a late-season promotion to Los Angeles receiving 75 at-bats down the stretch at second base. That’s exactly where he’s slated to open the 2020 season as well. Lux’s combination of offensive talent and immediate opportunity makes him a great target around rounds 10-12 after the elite second basemen are off the board. With his plus hit tool, above-average to plus power, and above-average speed, Lux has the skills to contribute across the board and not hurt you in any one category.
Gavin Lux went yard in his first postseason AB. Doesn’t get sweeter than that. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/57NSRwB08i
— B/R Walk-Off (@BRWalkoff) October 4, 2019
Even if there are some rookie struggles, Lux is too good of a pure hitter to struggle for long. A fair projection for him would be around .275-.280 with 18-20 home runs and 10-12 steals in his rookie season with the potential for a bit more across the board. He’ll likely start in the bottom-third of the order, but it’s not like the Dodgers have any great options for leadoff so it wouldn’t shock me if Lux moves up in the order as the season progresses. There’s top-100 upside here with Lux, who is being drafted after pick 125.
Evan White (1B – SEA)
ETA: Opening Day
While Lux is the top infield rookie to target in 2020 drafts, one that could sneak up on him as the season wears on is Evan White. With the ink dried on his six-year contract, White is penciled in to start at first base for the Mariners on opening day. This will mean White skips over Triple-A entirely, but he’s the type of advanced bat to make this sort of jump. All he’s done since being selected as the 17th overall pick in 2017 is hit. White posted a .300 average and .824 OPS in 2018 and followed that up with a .293 average and .838 OPS while playing his home games at one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in the minor leagues.
White doesn’t get nearly the same helium or buzz in fantasy drafts as other rookies, and that’s a mistake. In addition to his stout defensive skills at first base, White possesses the offensive tools to hit for both average and power with enough speed to add in a handful of steals annually. The upside here is honestly a poor man’s Paul Goldschmidt with .280/25/5 upside long-term. If he can approach that in his rookie season, White will return great value as a late-round flier. Don’t you dare sleep on him on draft day.
Carter Kieboom (2B/SS – WAS)
ETA: Debuted in 2019
Despite a rough 11-game Major League debut where he collected just five hits and struck out 37.2% of the time, Carter Kieboom remains one of the top rookies to draft for 2020 leagues. That’s especially true of late as his playing time situation has become a bit clearer over the last week or two. Even with Ryan Zimmerman back and Asdrubal Cabrera, Howie Kendrick, Starlin Castro, and Eric Thames in the mix as well, manager Dave Martinez recently gave Kieboom supporters some confidence:
“We need to fill a void at third base, and we think he’s appropriate,” said Martinez to reporters at the SiriusXM studios in Washington. “He can do the job.”
Yes, Kieboom certainly has the upside to run away with the starting third base gig, but he’ll need a strong showing in Spring Training to do so. Although a solid defender, Kieboom has never been lauded for his defensive prowess, his offensive talent cannot be denied. Kieboom has a quick and smooth right-handed swing that generates hard contact, especially to his pull side. Nationals Park plays neutral to slightly above-average for RH pull power, so he doesn’t get a boost there, but this is the type of bat that can make an immediate impact if given the at-bats.
Monitor this situation closely during Spring Training and move Kieboom up your draft board if he appears to be the leader for the third base job. There’s 20-25 homer upside in Kieboom’s bat immediately with likely dual 2B/3B eligibility once he gets enough time at the hot corner.
Nick Madrigal (2B – CHW)
For those that haven’t been paying attention to what’s gone on in the Windy City, the White Sox have built a dynamite lineup on paper for the 2020 season. All that’s missing is Nick Madrigal at the keystone, but that should change very early in the season. We all know the story on Madrigal. He’s a plus contact hitter with 20+ SB upside and minimal power that rarely strikes out. His contact skills and plate approach give him a strong floor to work off of for fantasy, but his lack of power does limit his upside for fantasy leagues.
Madrigal hits a ton of groundballs and has been sitting in the 260-275 foot range for his estimated fly ball distance. His higher ground ball rate isn’t a bad thing in general with his contact skills and speed, but it further limits the little power upside he had to begin with. But even with only a handful of home runs, Madrigal has the upside to hit around .300 with 20+ steals annually. That should all begin very early in the 2020 season too, making Madrigal a nice late-round target.
Nick Solak (2B/3B/OF – TEX)
ETA: Debuted in 2019
Basically for the entirety of his professional career, Nick Solak has been very underrated. Sure, he doesn’t possess any standout tools, but he’s proven to be above-average across the board offensively and has yet to struggle at any level, including his 33 games with Texas last season. Solak has yet to post an average below .282, OBP below .362, SLG below .421, or OPS below .833 in his four years as a pro. Can the man get a little love! He certainly deserves it.
As of now, Solak projects as the odd man out in Texas, but I don’t expect that to be the case come opening day. In case everyone forgot, several position players on this Texas roster aren’t exactly beacons of durability. And with Solak able to play second base, third base, and outfield, I’m expecting him to get plenty of at-bats this season, even if he doesn’t lock down a starting role. And in all likelihood, with a strong spring, Solak could win the third base gig, moving Todd Frazier to first and Ronald Guzman to the bench.
With 500+ at-bats, Solak could realistically put up a line around .280/20/10, which would be great value for where he’s being taken later in drafts. Sleeping on him on draft day would be a mistake.
Nico Hoerner (SS – CHC)
ETA: Opening Day
Nico Hoerner is another prospect, like Solak, that doesn’t get a ton of buzz in the fantasy world. On more than one occasion I’ve said Hoerner is more of a floor prospect than one with a high-upside ceiling, but floor guys can provide solid value too! Especially when the price tag is a draft pick around 300 overall, as it is with Hoerner in 2020 fantasy drafts.
After a respectable 2019 debut with the Cubs (.282/3 in 78 AB), Hoerner appears to have the inside track to start alongside Javier Baez in the middle of the Chicago infield. For a simple comparison, Hoerner has a lot of Madrigal qualities to him with slightly less SB upside and maybe a touch more power, albeit, with 8-10 HR likely being his ceiling right now. With everyday at-bats, Hoerner could hit .270-.280 with 5-10 homers and 15-20 steals. Just don’t expect many runs or RBI right away as he’ll likely hit 7th or 8th in the order to start.
Sean Murphy (C – OAK)
ETA: Debuted in 2019
Although my Sean Murphy ranking in my top-250 might not have inspired a ton of confidence, don’t let that deter you from drafting him in 2020 drafts. To clarify, I like Murphy longterm. His defensive prowess and strong arm will keep him in the Majors for a long time. And although his offensive upside isn’t quite as robust, there’s still solid upside here that makes him worth drafting in 2020.
Murphy never dominated at any minor league level, but displayed average to above-average contact skills and borderline plus raw power. Hitting in pitcher-friendly Oakland doesn’t help him at all, but Murphy has enough power to settle in around 15 homers annually, even with half of his games coming at the spacious RingCentral Coliseum (or whatever they want to call it now). Add in a batting average likely in the .250-.270 range and you have yourself a solid starting catcher in 2-catcher leagues and a borderline mixed-league starter.
Deep League Draft Targets
Mauricio Dubon (2B/SS – SF)
ETA: Debuted in 2019
For deeper leagues, Mauricio Dubon definitely needs to be on everyone’s radar. Don’t let his 20 homers in the minors last season fool you into thinking he has that level of power potential, but Dubon does have the raw power to produce double-digit homer totals annually with the speed to push some 20-steal seasons if he can improve his efficiency on the bases. Like with many of the names above him, he’s likely going to hit near the bottom of the order, but his ability to reach double-digit home runs and steals in 2020 with a batting average that won’t kill you gives Dubon value in deeper leagues. He’s currently penciled in as the starting second baseman in San Francisco.
Jorge Mateo (2B/SS – OAK)
To be honest, I’m not a big Jorge Mateo supporter in general. But there are two reasons why he makes this section: speed and opportunity. His contact skills and plate discipline have been underwhelming to say the least. And if we’re being honest, his plate approach is worrisome. Yes, Mateo hit .289 last season, while falling one homer shy of the 20/20 club, but as I mentioned in my Oakland Athletics top-25 prospects article, his contact skills are not indicative of someone that is going to hit north of .280. However, even if Mateo hits .250 with 5-8 homers, he has the speed to steal 25+ bags which has value in any league, especially as a late-round flier or early-season waiver wire addition.
With Jurickson Profar now down the California coastline in San Diego, the starting second base gig should be an open competition in Spring Training with Mateo and Franklin Barreto as the two frontrunners for the spot. And in case you forgot, Barreto isn’t that good. On upside alone, I would take Mateo all damn day and with a solid spring, I believe the job is his. Even if Barreto does win the job, I expect Mateo to take over early in the season, making him a late-round target in deeper leagues. If you’re drafting today, I’d probably leave Mateo alone until we have some clarity on the position. But if you’re in a deeper league that has room to stash players like this on your bench, Mateo makes for a solid target due to his speed upside from a middle infield position.
Mid-Season Waiver Wire Targets
Alec Bohm (3B – PHI)
Alec Bohm is my favorite mid-season waiver wire target when it comes to infield prospects. The 2018 #3 overall pick has moved quickly through the Philadelphia system so far, playing 63 games at the Double-A level to end the 2019 season. He might even be done at the level too as Bohm performed well there in 2019 with an .844 OPS and 14 home runs in those 63 games. Regardless if he starts 2020 at Double-A or Triple-A, Bohm should find himself up in Philadelphia sometime mid-season and has the hit tool and power to make a fantasy impact right away. When up, he’d play first or third pushing Rhys Hoskins or Scott Kingery to the outfield and Adam Haseley to a reserve role.
Bobby Dalbec (3B/1B – BOS)
If you’re looking for a big mid-season power bat, Bobby Dalbec is your guy. The contact skills and swing and miss tendencies will likely always limit his batting average, but the power is legit and could translate into 35-plus homers annually at Fenway Park. I’ve always said Dalbec has a swing built for power at Fenway as he has a ton of pull-side power and his swing produces natural loft to that pull side. Dalbec has been playing more first base lately and could take over at some point mid-season with Michael Chavis moving back to second. In OBP leagues, Dalbec gets a boost due to his strong 11.7% walk rate in the minors.
Ryan Mountcastle (1B/3B/OF – BAL)
I’m putting Ryan Mountcastle in the mid-season section of this article, but he very easily could debut early in the season, especially with a strong showing in Spring Training. The problem with Mountcastle has always been his atrocious defense. This has caused him to move all around the field from shortstop to third base to first base, with even a little outfield sprinkled in. Long-term, he’s probably best suited as a DH, but the Orioles will find some way to get his bat into the lineup as he’s already one of the better hitters they have in the entire system. If it’s looking like Mounty will win a job out of camp, he’s worth a late-round flier.
If They Get Regular Playing Time…
Kevin Cron (3B – ARI)
Man, I would LOVE if Kevin Cron received regular at-bats. The hulking corner infielder has averaged around 37 homers per every 600 at-bats in the minors and has steadily improved as a hitter along the way, hitting for more average while raising his walk rate and lowering his strikeout rate. He doesn’t project as a high average hitter, despite his .329 Triple-A average in 2019, but a full season of at-bats for Cron could yield a .250-.260 average with 30-plus homers. It’s all about how much playing time he’ll receive in 2020. Cristian Walker appears locked in at first base for now, but Cron could snag the starting third base job with a strong spring training. His main competition is inconsistent and often hurt Jake Lamb, so it’s definitely possible. Keep an eye on this during spring training. Using a late-round flier on Cron could pay big dividends.
Brendan Rodgers (2B/SS – COL)
The prospect shine has dulled dramatically with Brendan Rodgers over the last 12-18 months as he’s struggled when given the chance at the Majors and now has a shoulder injury to deal with. The upside to hit for both power and a high average remains, but his 2020 outlook is bleak. Currently, the Rockies have Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story locked in on the left side of the infield and Ryan McMahon and Garrett Hampson ahead of him for at-bats at the keystone. Even if Arenado gets dealt, Rodgers still isn’t guaranteed any regular at-bats. The most likely scenario is Rodgers starting at Triple-A and getting the call mid-season if there’s an injury or poor play by McMahon/Hampson.
Others To Monitor
Daulton Varsho (C – ARI), Abraham Toro (3B/SS – HOU), Lewis Diaz (1B – MIA), Ke’Bryan Hayes (3B – PIT), Willi Castro (SS – DET), Isaac Paredes (3B/SS – DET), Sheldon Neuse (2B/3B – OAK).
Media Credit: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire, BleacherReportMLB, Baseball-Reference.
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