After hitting on pitchers and infielders, we shift our focus to the top outfield prospects for the 2020 season, and boy, are there a ton of them. Two of my top-3 overall dynasty prospects project to debut early in the 2020 season with one potentially on opening day with 20/20 upside. Yeah, you know who I’m talking about. But the list of impact outfield prospects for 2020 redraft leagues goes far beyond just one guy. From draft day to mid-season waiver targets, to late-season callups, there are plenty of outfield prospects set to male a fantasy impact in one way, shape, or form this season.
Top Outfield 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
Luis Robert, Chicago White Sox
ETA: Opening Day
Luis Robert is the no-doubt top rookie for 2020 fantasy baseball drafts. That was already the case and then the contract extension locked the notion into place. Robert is coming off a season for the ages in the upper minors last year. In 122 games, Robert slashed .328/.376/.624/1.001 with 74 extra-base hits, 32 home runs, and 36 steals. The power did spike a bit in Triple-A as it has with most, but Robert was hitting for power in High-A and Double-A as well and saw his power steadily trend up as the 2019 season went on. The additional power plus 40-steal potential gives Robert massive upside in our fantasy world. But how much of that upside will translate in 2020?
Well, while the power/speed potential here is sexy, Robert isn’t without flaws. There are some spin recognition issues here and Robert has a tendency to chase pitches outside the zone. The aggressive approach led to less than desirable 129/28 K/BB ratio last season, but his contact skills and power/speed were able to mask the issue. I’m not saying he’s going to be a batting average liability, but those issues and the aggressive approach are likely going to limit his batting average initially. Even so, a .250-.260 average will get it done if Robert is able to put up a 20-homer, 25-steal type of season in a loaded White Sox lineup. As you can probably expect, his ADP has been on the rise as we get closer to Opening Day.
Jo Adell, Los Angeles Angels
First, his ETA was April/May, then June/July after the acquisition of Joc Pederson, and now back to April/May now that the deal fell through due to Arte Moreno getting impatient with the Mookie saga. While I have Jo Adell ranked higher in my prospect rankings and would take him over Robert longterm, Adell is slightly less polished than Robert and isn’t a near-lock for an opening day spot like Robert is. But with that said, I do believe Adell is patrolling the Angels outfield alongside Mike Trout by Memorial Day and has major upside once up.
Holy crap, Jo Adell just hit the snot out of a baseball with Team USA. pic.twitter.com/s2AyfqszQ6
— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) November 2, 2019
That “Major upside” might not jump out at you when you look at his statistics, but his all-around potential and tools are more mouth-watering than hearing the sizzle of a steak on the grill. Yeah, you know that sound. Adell projects as a 60-hit, 70-power outfielder with .300/40 upside at peak. There’s plus speed here as well, but Adell hasn’t run as much as expected since being drafted. His ADP has been very fluctuant this draft season due to the uncertainty surrounding when he’ll be up, but if the price feels right to you in your draft, don’t hesitate to pounce on this blossoming fantasy stud. For me, that’s around pick 200.
Austin Hays, Baltimore Orioles
ETA: April (Debuted in 2017)
Writing this section gives me Deja Vu. It feels like just yesterday that Austin Hays was being looked at as a rookie to target in 2018 fantasy drafts. That was two years ago now and we’re still discussing Hays in the same capacity. Since his great 2017 minor league campaign (.329/32 in 128 games) and subsequent MLB debut, Hays has struggled to perform and stay on the field in general. Hays averaged 81 games in 2018 and 2019 with a .235 and .248 average respectively.
Those numbers don’t inspire a ton of confidence on the surface, but Hays has displayed the ability to hit for both power and average when healthy, as evident in his 2017 season, which was his last fully healthy season. With not much in his way in Baltimore, Hays should get plenty of run this season and is one to keep an eye on in the later rounds of fantasy drafts.
Kyle Lewis, Seattle Mariners
ETA: Opening Day (Debuted in 2019)
When Lewis was drafted 11th overall back in 2016, there was a mix of excitement and pause. He had put up a season for the ages in final collegiate season, but that came at Mercer University which didn’t exactly play the highest level of competition. But still, the raw power was intriguing and there was hope that the hit tool would play well enough to unleash that power potential. Not so much. Lewis’ minor league career was wildly inconsistent and included a gruesome knee injury that cost him a big chunk of time.
So why should you target him in 2020? Well, to start, he’s penciled in to start on opening day in the Mariners outfield. And that raw power that had many excited when he was drafted still remains. He flashed that late last season, hitting six homers in 18 games with the Mariners down the stretch. With a full season of at-bats, Lewis could pop 25 with a batting average that won’t kill you. Granted, that was a limited sample size and luck was certainly on his side with a 40% HR/FB ratio, but the power is there. When the cost is a last-round flier in deeper leagues, it’s worth a shot.
Shogo Akiyama, Cincinnati Reds & Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, Tampa Bay Rays
ETA: Opening Day for both
While I like the talent of both Shogo Akiyama and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, neither are locks for everyday playing time. In Tampa, Tsutsugo is one of around what seems like 27 players vying for playing time. While Roster Resource has him listed as Tampa’s starting DH, Jose Martinez is also on the roster and profiles best in the DH spot. Tsutsugo hit 28-plus home runs with an OBP north of .380 in each of his final four seasons in Japan and could be a solid source of power and OBP in the Majors, but with his playing time not 100% clear, it’s best to wait until the late-rounds after pick 250 before targeting him.
The same goes for Akiyama. Once again, Roster Resource has him starting for the Reds in left field but the Reds outfield has a lot of mouths to feed which could cut into Akiyama’s playing time. On top of that, Akiyama doesn’t have the power that Tsutsugo showed in Japan and I question how much of his double-digit speed translates. With all that said, Tsutsugo is worth a late-round pick as a hitter that could push 20/10 with everyday at-bats. Just keep an eye on how the Reds outfield looks in Spring Training and move him up your draft board if his starting spot appears locked in.
Mid-Season Waiver Wire Targets
Dylan Carlson, St. Louis Cardinals
Out of all the outfield prospects that project as mid-season call-ups, Dylan Carlson has the most upside. Although he was thought highly of before 2019, last season was truly his breakout campaign as a prospect that vaulted him to near top-10 overall prospect status. In 126 games, Carlson hit .292 with 26 homers and 20 steals with a walk rate above 10%. This included an 18-game stint in Triple-A which is where he’ll likely start the 2020 season. But nonestly, he’s not far off from contributing in St. Louis and there’s not a ton standing in his way currently at the Major League level. Yes, there are plenty of bodies in the Cardinals outfield, including Dexter Fowler who never seems to go away, but Carlson is the type of talent that can force St Louis’ hand at some point midseason.
Once he’s up, Carlson could play at a near 20/20 pace with an average that likely won’t kill you. If you have deep benches or play in a league with 15+ teams, he makes for a nice bench stash. If not, monitor him like you would your hot dog around a wide-eyed golden retriever and be ready to pounce when his promotion appears imminent. And for those in FAAB leagues, this is a prospect you spend a big chunk of change on.
Drew Waters/Cristian Pache, Atlanta Braves
These are two I’m going to lump together as their ETA’s are fairly similar. And with each guy, there are some major pros and cons. With Waters, he’s proven to be more valuable offensively, but the raw power has struggled to translate into games and he’s mediocre from the right-side. With Pache, his defensive prowess could put him in the running for a gold glove award today, but the offensive side of things has been very slow to develop, especially on the bases where his plus speed hasn’t translated into big stolen base totals and the efficiency has been downright putrid.
It’s fair to speculate if Pache is a better real-life prospect than a fantasy prospect at this point. Which, in turn, makes you question how much fantasy value he can provide in 2020 if given the opportunity. For me, I don’t see much offensive impact at all due to the turtle pace of his offensive progression, so he’s really only a deep-league target for me once he’s up this summer.
Another thing we can’t forget is that there’s really no spot for either Waters or Pache in the Atlanta outfield. Ronald Acuña Jr and Marcel Ozuna are locked into two spots and the Braves also have veterans Nick Markakis and Ender Inciarte on the roster. Unless there’s an injury or trade, it’s hard to see either of these prospects factoring into our fantasy plans until later on in the season.
Jared Oliva, Pittsburgh Pirates
Originally when I listed players in this article to write about, I had an August ETA for Jared Oliva. But having a gaping hole in center field caused by the departure of Starling Marte gives me additional optimism that Oliva debuts before the all-star break. This is far from the sexy prospect name, but Oliva possesses a skillset, mainly his speed, that can provide solid fantasy value once he’s up. Here’s a bit of what I wrote about him from my Pittsburgh Pirates Top-25 Prospects article earlier this week:
One area that Oliva has always excelled in is on the basepaths. With plus speed and instincts to match on the bases, Oliva has produced back to back 30-steal seasons in 2018 and 2019 with a 79.3% success rate in his professional career. And when most prospects are tired and worn down, Oliva continued to run wild with 11 steals in 26 Arizona Fall League games. It wasn’t just his speed that stood out in the AFL either. Outside of home runs, Oliva ranked at or near the top of most statistical categories, ending as one of the top players in this year’s league.
That last sentiment rings true in regards to Oliva as a prospect as well. His speed leads the way but Oliva has proven his worth at the plate as well. Oliva uses a wider stance, keeping his weight balanced and low. A bigger leg kick and load are used to time pitches, and while his hands can load a bit deep at times, Oliva’s quick hands and compact swing produce plus bat speed with a line drive, all-fields approach. He’s likely capped around 10-12 homers, but add in a .270-plus average and 30 steals and you have a borderline top-100 prospect with a real chance to make an impact in 2020.
In half a season of at-bats, Oliva could provide around 15 steals with a handful of homers and a respectable batting average.
If They Get Regular Playing Time…
Randy Arozarena, Tampa Bay Rays
ETA: April (Debuted in 2019)
This is very much dependent on what the heck Tampa Bay decides to do with all the position players they’ve accumulated this offseason. Seriously, they have like 46 guys vying for playing time this year. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration but you get the point. After coming over from the St Louis Cardinals via trade earlier in the offseason, Arozarena joins an outfield logjam where he’s currently one of the odd men out. Arozarena has shown enough offensive skills to turn into a solid fantasy target down the road once he’s given a chance with .270/15/20 potential. However, that’s unlikely to come early in the season.
Sam Hilliard, Colorado Rockies
ETA: April (Debuted in 2019)
If Sam Hilliard was guaranteed a starting spot this season, he’d be a great draft day target in the later rounds. But this is the Rockies we’re talking about and Hilliard starting is far from a certainty. But for what it’s worth, Roster Resource does have Hilliard starting in left field with Ian Desmond on the bench. I’m not sure I’m 100% buying that due to Desmond’s contract, but it’s certainly a situation to monitor in Spring Training. If Hilliard does look to be in line for regular at-bats, his fantasy stock would instantly soar, along with his ADP. Throughout his minor league career, Hilliard has displayed an intriguing power/speed mix which would play very well in Coors Field. In 500 at-bats, a 25/15 type of season wouldn’t be out of the question, albeit, with a lower average in the .250 range. Definitely keep a close eye on this Rockies outfield.
Jake Fraley, Seattle Mariners
ETA: April (Debuted in 2019)
While Jake Fraley doesn’t have the big-time prospect name or pedigree, the skills are here to make an impact in fantasy. After putting up a .298/19/22 line in 99 minor league games, Fraley received a cup of coffee with Seattle late in the season. But by all accounts, the coffee didn’t taste all that good as Fraley struggled mightily in his brief stint, recording just six hits in 40 at-bats with a 14/0 K/BB ratio. Fraley has displayed above-average contact skills and close to plus speed with an uptick in power as well over the last two seasons. If he can find his way into the Seattle lineup, Fraley would be worth a look in standard mixed leagues. As of now, a lot of depth charts have him starting in right field for Seattle, but that’s far from a certainty.
Late-Season Call-Ups & Others To Monitor
Alex Kirilloff, Minnesota Twins | Jarred Kelenic, Seattle Mariners | Brent Rooker, Minnesota Twins | Monte Harrison, Miami Marlins | Jesus Sanchez, Miami Marlins | Josh Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays | Seth Beer, Arizona Diamondbacks | Daz Cameron, Detroit Tigers | Daniel Johnson, Cleveland Indians | Khalil Lee, Kansas City Royals
Media Credit: Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire, Fabian Ardaya, MinorGraphs.
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