Written by: Ray Butler
Follow us on Twitter! @Prospects365
We’ve arrived at the penultimate release of my 2020 top-200 prospect list.
If we’re being honest, I actively look for situations in which I can appropriately use the word ‘penultimate’, and this is certainly one of those times. The biggest series release in site history is coming to a close, but not before we shine a light on the 40 best prospects in the sport we all know and love.
Before you dive in, make sure you’re up to date on the first 160 prospects published from this list. You can read about my #41-60 prospects here, my #61-80 prospects here, my #81-100 prospects here, my #101-120 prospects here, my #121-140 prospects here, my #141-160 prospects here, my #161-180 prospects here and my #181-200 prospects here. That’s 100 prospects and over 20,000 words worth of content for those of you keeping score at home. Several prospects in the bottom half of my top-200 were also recently discussed on Episode 3 of the Prospects 365 Fantasy Baseball Podcast.
This group of write-ups are the longest of any portion of this preseason’s prospect list, so strap yourself in, take a sip of your coffee and dive in. Happy Monday!
40. Sixto Sanchez, SP, MIA. Age: 21
So many pitchers on this list will never reach their perceived upside because they don’t have the stuff most people assume they do after a quick glance at their FanGraphs’ page. Other pitchers will be relegated to less-significant role thanks to command that never materialized. If Sanchez never reaches low-end SP2 upside, it’ll be because injuries derailed what was sure to be a fantastic career. The 21-year-old’s arsenal is so deep that—at one point—there was actually a concern that consolidation was needed. If you include the different variants, Sanchez can throw anywhere from 6-8 different pitches for strikes (4.6 BB% in 2019). The curveball and changeup are the biggest bat-missers in the repertoire; the fastball is low-spin, but Sanchez’s two-seam was the protagonist for a fantastic ground ball rate last season. In a perfect world, he’ll begin to lean more on the former pair in pitcher-friendly counts moving forward. Strikeouts > ground balls. There is a long-ish track record of injuries for the 21-year-old, and 2019 was his first season to exceed 100 IP. The encore should—at some point—consist of Sanchez taking the ball every fifth day in Miami. Please stay healthy, Sixto. Marlins Rank: 1st
39. Evan White, 1B, SEA. Age: 23
Well, well, well. In November, White joined Eloy Jimenez, Scott Kingery and Jon Singleton (lol) as the only players to ink contract extensions without ever playing in an MLB game (you can now add Luis Robert to that list). The 23-year-old signed a 6 year, $24 million contract, which both gives him financial security while potentially costing him millions of dollars down the road. Regardless of how you perceive the extension, the contract undoubtedly helps White’s 2020 outlook. It’s likely he would have debuted at some point this season anyways, but without having to worry about service time manipulation, etc., the Mariners might make White their everyday first baseman before the Fourth of July. Having only accrued 18 plate appearances in Triple-A thanks to a temporarily promotion in 2018, it does make at least a little sense for Seattle to have their prized first baseman get his bearings about him in the Pacific Coast League before promoting him to the AL West. White has seemingly made huge improvements offensively each season as a professional, and he already boasts Gold Glove defensive skills. This is a player who is going to be very, very good for a really long time, and he’s just now beginning to tap into his power. With some tweaking to the swing plane, this could be a 30 home run profile at peak. The 23-year-old is sure to be a steal in 2020 redraft leagues with owners who know very little about prospects. Pounce on the opportunity. Mariners Rank: 3rd
38. Spencer Howard, SP, PHI. Age: 23
Howard does a lot of small things that allow multiple parts of his arsenal to play-up. The fastball sits 93-97 (T98). It’s not an elite spin pitch, but Howard’s fantastic extension gives the offering late life—especially up in the zone. Neither the curveball nor the slider are analytical darlings, but the 23-year-old creates a unique angle that allows the breaking balls to ‘get on’ hitters in a hurry. This angle also allows the right-hander to throw both pitches against batters from either side of the plate. And then there’s the changeup, an inconsistent pitch that Howard appears to finally be mastering. It’s especially devastating against lefties. Consistency with secondary pitches is the biggest box Howard has left to check before being considered a complete pitcher, and even that is trending in the correct direction. Assuming the 23-year-old is able to accomplish that feat, he’ll have top-tier SP3 upside once he settles into the Phillies’ big league rotation. Shoulder discomfort sidelined Howard for two months last season (he pitched 68.0 IP total at three different levels), so I suspect Philadelphia will be meticulous in how they handle their prized right-hander throughout 2020. A mid-summer debut is the most likely outcome here. Phillies Rank: 2nd
37. A.J. Puk, SP, OAK. Age: 24
Puk’s fastball leaves some to be desired from a Statcast standpoint, but his elite extension from a 6-foot-7 foot frame leads to a favorable disparity between actual velocity (the pitch averaged 97.1 mph from the bullpen in 2019) and perceived velocity. Puk has chosen to use this nuance to his advantage by often pumping fastballs low in the zone, inducing a lot of soft contact in the process. That’s fine, but fastballs don’t miss a ton of bats down in the zone in today’s game. I’m curious to see Puk’s plan of attack with his fastball in 2020 and beyond. If the southpaw’s strikeout viability relies on his secondary pitches, the slider, changeup and curveball all play-up thanks to a mixture of extension, arm slot and non-deceleration with his delivery. All flash above average or plus, and they’ve played a huge role in Puk’s long track record of massive strikeout numbers. The left-hander has low-end SP2 upside with some variance in the floor thanks to a history of spotty command and some uncertainty on the number of bats his heater will miss at the big league level. Puk will be on an innings restriction in 2020 as he pitches in his first full season removed from Tommy John surgery, but he figures to have relevance even in redraft leagues regardless of his short-term role with the Athletics. Athletics Rank: 2nd
36. Brendan McKay, SP/DH, TB. Age: 24
McKay came very close to graduating from prospect status, falling an inning short of the 50.0 IP threshold in first stint in Tampa Bay. I’m actually thankful I get to write him up one more time, as he will be an interesting case study in the evolution (or lack thereof?) of expected outcomes and Statcast numbers pre-and post-graduation. If you take away the big league sample, McKay was unconsciously good in Double-A and Triple-A: 73.2 IP, 1.10 ERA (2.06 FIP), 36.7 K% (30.2 K-BB%). Those are elite numbers. The MLB numbers are not. As a big leaguer, outside of the changeup (which he only threw 3.6% of the time), none of McKay’s pitches produced an xBA under .247. None of his pitches produced an xSLG under .447. The average Exit Velocity was in the 3rd percentile of all MLB pitchers. The Hard Hit% was in the 2nd percentile of all MLB pitchers. If you’re an optimist, you’ll be quick to note the 25.9 K% (18.5 K-BB%). Unfortunately, that wraps up the positives. I’m willing to place some of the blame on the newness of pitching at the sport’s highest levels. Nerves and adrenaline can both inhibit performance and take time (and experience) to overcome, and MLB scouting reports find microscopic flaws at supersonic speeds. McKay’s true talent likely falls somewhere between his MiLB and MLB numbers from last season, and that means he’ll be a very good big league pitcher. It should also be noted the Rays reportedly plan to utilize the 24-year-old’s bat more often in 2020; if this holds true, he may start the season as a two-way player in Triple-A. Rays Rank: 3rd
35. Nate Pearson, SP, TOR. Age: 23
If you’ve actually been reading this prospect list and haven’t just checked in to read my thoughts on the prospects you roster in your dynasty league, you previously learned some scouts fear Shane Baz may eventually be better suited for the bullpen. Scouts have the same fear about Pearson, but for different reasons. Baz struggles to repeat his delivery, especially in longer outings. Pearson repeats well for someone with his size, but his arsenal can be deceiving. Everyone knows the 23-year-old’s fastball is capable of hitting triple-digits with ease (the pitch sits 95-99 depending on the length of the outing). What you might not know is Pearson often struggles to miss bats with the offering thanks to command and overthrowing. I’ve also seen reports of the pitch cutting—whether on purpose or inadvertently—instead of riding, which perhaps speaks to unoptimized spin efficiency (which is fixable). This often leads to soft contact instead of the swings and misses you would think a triple-digit fastball would induce. The spin of the pitch is above average, so I assume the top-of-the-zone issues can be ironed out with further development. Pearson’s slider is his money pitch; sitting 88-91, it truly has potential to be one of the very best pitches in all of baseball amongst starting pitchers. The 30.7 K% throughout three different levels in 2019? The slider is to thank. Pearson also throws a changeup and curveball, but both are well behind the fastball and slider and are mostly utilized against lefties. So what’s it all mean? The more I research, study and ask around on Pearson, the more I become entrenched in my Noah Syndergaard upside comp: Big boned. Premium velocity on a pitch that never misses the amount of bats you assume it should. A devastating slider that acts as the foundation for strikeout viability. A changeup with average characteristics that plays-up thanks to velocity disparity. If Pearson never reaches Syndergaard’s status, I’d wager it’s because a multitude of minor and moderate ailments find ways to always hinder the right-hander’s workload. Blue Jays Rank: 1st
Staff writer Adam Ehrenreich has now published both portions of his Post-Hype Pandemonium series for the 2020 season. Read about his offensive sleepers and breakout candidates here. Read about his pitcher sleepers and breakout candidates here.
34. Trevor Larnach, OF, MIN. Age: 23
Larnach was the statistical model of consistency last season, posting a 148 wRC+ in both the Florida State and Southern leagues. He also finished with an above average 29.8 Hard%; hilariously, it only led to 13 home runs thanks to the fact he played 81 games in the FSL (he hit 6 in 361 plate appearances before hitting 7 in 181 Double-A plate appearances post-promotion). The 23-year-old needs to elevate the ball more often (47.5 GB%) to unlock the extent of his massive raw power; assuming this occurs as the Twins look to optimize the skillset, the .390 BABIP from last season will skydive much closer to .300. Of course this will hurt the batting average, but a consistent double-digit walk rate means Larnach will feast in OBP leagues. Something along the lines of .260 BA/.360 OBP/35 home runs from right field feels like a fair upside projection. That would basically make the 23-year-old 2019 Bryce Harper without the steals. The Twins have some decisions to make about their active roster before Opening Day, but Larnach should debut at some point in 2020 regardless. Twins Rank: 3rd
33. Nolan Jones, 3B, CLE. Age: 21
As far as bodies go, Jones has the look of a third baseman. He’s built from head-to-toe, with a sturdy lower half that acts as the foundation for the 21-year-old’s plus plus raw power. This impactful tool hasn’t been fully realized in-game yet because Jones hits the ball on the ground too often, but future adjustments and alterations should allow the right field bleachers at Progressive Field to become the third baseman’s playground. There have always been concerns Jones may eventually shift across the diamond to first base defensively, but the consensus amongst evaluators at the Futures Game was that he’s adequate at the hot corner (the common comparison I heard was Jones being more-equipped to stay at third than Alec Bohm). There’s some passivity in the approach that may be exposed by big league pitching early in his MLB career, but Jones has showed an aptitude for adjustments with a long track record of success at each level in the minors. With a double-digit walk rate basically a given, the 21-year-old can be a .260 BA/.380 OBP/30 HR MLB third baseman throughout his prime. If he ever fully realizes the pull side potential in his home park, that projection is probably light on power. It should be noted that Jones underwent thumb surgery in October (UCL reconstruction), though he’s expected to make a full recovery prior to the start of the Spring Training. Indians Rank: 1st
32. Vidal Brujan, INF, TB. Age: 22
If you roster Brujan in dynasty leagues and think there’s sneaky, 20 HR-power upside within this profile, I’ve got bad news for you. The 22-year-old’s Hard% (11.8%) in 2019 ranks seventh worst amongst all minor league players with batted ball data (compiled by Sports Info Solutions and published on Rotowire). Brujan had a worse hard hit rate than Xavier Edwards, Nick Madrigal and Luis Garcia (WSH)—amongst hundreds of others. It should be noted he has a preferable bat path to the aforementioned trio, so it’s not overly bullish to think Brujan will someday hit 10-12 home runs at the big league level. Regardless of power projection, it’s the culmination of other tools make him a hot commodity both in real life and throughout the fantasy world. The switch hitter is an elite athlete, projecting to steal 30-40 bases in the big leagues with fantastic defense that will probably end up at second base. There’s also the all-important feel to hit, which should allow Brujan to hit .280 annually once he settles in to a big league role. Much like current incumbent Brandon Lowe, Brujan is much better versus right-handed pitchers than lefties. I’m worried this will initially cause a prolonged ETA or platoon-like playing time post-promotion, but I’m confident the 22-year-old’s talent will eventually land him an everyday role. Rays Rank: 2nd
31. Brennen Davis, OF, CHC. Age: 20
My love for Davis is well documented. Last preseason, I predicted the outfielder would be a top-100 prospect by the end of the season. Shortly after he debuted in South Bend in May, I wrote a deep dive on Davis and confirmation bias. Other than injuring his fingers twice by being by a pitch while attempting to bunt (smh), it’s really difficult to find a flaw in the then 19-year-old’s unexpected full season debut. There were bat-to-ball skills, a patient approach, solid defense in center field and a surprising power output after Davis added a notable amount of muscle to his frame last offseason. Though I’d be ecstatic to see more willingness to steal bases in 2020 and beyond (he certainly has the speed to do so), the 20-year-old has the ingredients to be a five-tool, impact player at the big league level. The Carolina League awaits Davis this season, though—assuming good health—a late-summer promotion to the Southern League wouldn’t be totally shocking. Cubs Rank: 2nd
30. Drew Waters, OF, ATL. Age: 21
Let’s start this write-up where we should: a .435 BABIP, 28.6 K% and one of the most aggressive approaches in the upper-minor leagues. Regardless of your opinion on Waters, that’s where any conversation about his 2019 performance must start. For some added context, the highest BABIP in the big leagues last season was .406 (Yoan Moncada). The Hard% (29.6%) was above average, and there’s no questioning the ball often finds Waters’ barrel upon contact. But in my eyes (and after several live looks) the bigger story is the 21-year-old’s affinity to swing at just about anything and everything, which is something that will undoubtedly be exposed versus big league pitching regardless of hand-eye coordination or bat-to-ball skills. The left-handed swing is much better than the right-handed swing, to the point that some scouts think he should give-up switch-hitting and instead focus on improving versus southpaws as a left-handed hitter. He’s got age on his side (there’s plenty of time for refinement), he’s an explosive athlete and he could debut in Atlanta sometime in 2020—that’s why I’m ranking him higher than other, safer outfielders in this tier. But please consider this as we move closer to a new season: Generally speaking, Waters is valued more highly in the fantasy community than by a large portion of organizational scouts (though there are certainly scouts who love him, too). In my experience, these types of valuation disparities almost never end well for fantasy baseballers. Braves Rank: 2nd
Recently, Connor Kurcon and I embarked on a data-driven journey in search of finding the players who were most affected by the juiced ball in the big leagues last season. Focusing on a certain strand of wOBAcon and a subsequently created ‘Benefit Ball’, here are our findings.
29. Cristian Pache, OF, ATL. Age: 21
If all five tools held equal weight on this list, you could probably cut Pache’s rank in half and that still might be overly conservative. On a fantasy-focused list, the 21-year-old is still very much a work in progress. Pache is no longer an 80-grade runner, but it’s still easily plus straight-line speed. On paper, he should be able to steal 20+ bases a season with his speed. Unfortunately, the 21-year-old simply isn’t a very good base runner. In 2018 and 2019, Pache attempted 34 steals combined. He was caught stealing 19 times. That’s a ghastly 44.1% success rate for a player with plus speed (and -4 NSB total in those two seasons). You know the floor is extremely high because the defense will keep him on the field and in the batters’ box even when the offensive production doesn’t necessarily dictate everyday playing time, but the ceiling simply isn’t as high if we can’t rely on speed output to impact fantasy categories. I wrote this in the Ramblings last summer, but I view Pache similarly to Amed Rosario from a fantasy standpoint. It’ll be a slow burn that likely won’t pay huge dividends immediately. Each season in the big leagues should feature incremental growth, with the ultimate endpoint being a slightly above average hit tool and above average power. In a month or so, I would absolutely love to read reports that Pache spent the offseason working to improve his base running. Being able to rely on the outfielder for 10+ steals per season would be game changing for his potential fantasy outlook. As it currently stands, the future, hypothetical trio of Pache, Ronald Acuña Jr. and Drew Waters will likely be the best defensive outfield in baseball. Braves Rank: 1st
28. Taylor Trammell, OF, SD. Age: 22
I always feel the need to point this out before I begin a write-up like this: Trammell was my breakout prospect pick for the 2018 season. We watched his stock rise two seasons ago only to see it take a hit in 2019. Why? A swing change that—quite frankly—didn’t make sense. I can’t blame the Reds for the alteration because I can’t confirm they were behind the change, but Trammell’s upper body and lower body acted independently of one another in the early stages of 2019. In turn, he was incapable of turning on pitches the way he should have. In 94 games and 381 plate appearances with Double-A Chattanooga, Trammell slashed .236/.349/.336 with 6 home runs and 17 stolen bases (14.2 BB%, 22.6 K%), which was good for a pedestrian 106 wRC+. Then, as you know, the outfielder was traded to the Padres as part of a blockbuster, three-team trade that also included the Indians. Post trade, it appeared San Diego’s hitting instructors began ironing-out the issues they saw in Trammell’s swing. The stance became more upright, his hands moved further away his the body and his weight was shifted slightly to his back leg. The results speak for themselves: in 32 Texas League games, Trammell slugged .381. The ISO was .153, which was 48 points higher than his mark in the Southern League. Of course those aren’t superstar numbers by any stretch of the imagination, but we definitely saw signs of life (he also dominated the Texas League playoffs). The bottom line is this: we just witnessed what will likely be Trammell’s worst minor league season. He hit 10 home runs, stole 20 bases and posted a double-digit walk rate (and an above average wRC+)—all while making the toughest transition in the minor leagues. Assuming the Padres are able to continue improving Trammell’s swing mechanics, 2020 should be a big year for San Diego’s future everyday left fielder. Check in with your league mate before MiLB Opening Day to see if there’s a buy-low opportunity here. Padres Rank: 3rd
27. Nico Hoerner, 2B/OF, CHC. Age: 22
There’s a real chance the tools here get to 55-hit, 50-power, 60-speed with up-the-middle defense. A hairline fracture in his wrist cost Hoerner more than two months of minor plate appearances last summer, zapping a lot of the 22-year-old’s power even after he returned. That tool might be the hardest of the five to project, though things seemed to be heading in the correct mechanical direction early last season (a toned-down stride and stiffer front leg appeared to add more loft to the swing plane). This led to a decreased GB% and increased FB% in 2019. What we know is Hoerner can really hit and run. He should be able to hit anywhere from .270 to .300 at the big league level without breaking much of a sweat. The sprint speed at the MLB ranked in the 89th percentile amongst all position players, though Hoerner’s track record of stolen bases dating back to his time at Stanford point to a level of disinterest in utilizing that aspect of his skillset. The expectation here is something like .290 BA/18 HR/15 SB from second base or center field at baseball’s highest level; with a high-floor profile, Hoerner should be able to reach these numbers fairly quickly once he settles into an everyday role. There’s a chance the Cubs choose to send Hoerner to Triple-A Iowa to open the 2020 season, and it’s a story worth monitoring as you look for value in the later stages of redrafts. Cubs Rank: 1st
26. Bobby Witt Jr., SS, KC. Age: 19
If the hit tool can just be fringe average, Witt will be a big league star. It feels weird to say that about a 19-year-old who is yet to debut in full season ball, but the other tools are simply that good. Witt has plus power projection, is a plus runner and has an above average glove and arm from shortstop. There’s also superb pedigree here, as Bobby Witt Sr. accrued 27.8 fWAR as a starting pitcher in a 16-year MLB career. The Royals will likely be very meticulous with their young star’s development, ensuring he checks certain boxes at each individual level before fans can even contemplate a possible big league call-up. In 2020, all eyes will be planted on Witt’s consistency in hitting some of the best velocity he’s ever seen from the batter’s box. He’ll likely do so starting in the South Atlantic League, though he could face High-A sequencing in the Carolina League before the end of the season. With the overflowing of tools, you can dream on .270 BA/30 HR/25 SB from shortstop at the big league level. That’s not too far removed from what Trevor Story is currently accomplishing in Denver. FYPD Rank: 5th, Royals Rank: 1st
25. Dustin May, SP, LAD. Age: 22
May induced a 13.1 Whiff% and 11.8 K% on a pitch (sinker) he threw a whopping 50.5% of the time during his first big league stint (34.2 IP). May has never struck out more than 24.1% of the batters he’s faced in a full professional season (2019 in Double-A, Triple-A and MLB). To plagiarize from a write-up I published following my 2019 end-of-season list: May finished the season with a very mediocre 8.7 SwStr%, which ranked 397th amongst big league pitchers with at least 30 IP in 2019. For reference, Dallas Keuchel finished with the same SwStr%. Felix Hernandez finished with an 8.6 SwStr%. These things absolutely must be discussed when evaluating the right-hander’s big league outlook and upside. In all likelihood, May is going to be a really good big league pitcher for a very long time. But throughout his professional career, we’ve been given no indication the right-hander will go about his business by missing a ton of bats and piling-up the strikeouts. Statistically, the outlook reminds me a bit of Zack Greinke: moderate amounts of strikeouts (8-9 K/9), minimal walks, above average groundball rates. This recipe won’t lead to a fantasy ace, but it will be consistent and reliable (low WHIP, moderate ERA) on a yearly basis. With all the moving and shuffling in the Los Angeles’ rotation late this offseason, it certainly appears May will be stretched out before beginning the 2020 campaign at Triple-A Oklahoma City. Dodgers Rank: 2nd
24. Luis Patiño, SP, SD. Age: 20
For the longest time, I struggled to be all-in on Patiño. Prior to 2019, I thought a mixture of his unspectacular height (6-foot) and alarming struggles versus left-handed hitters (.345/.421/.457 slash in 2018) would keep the right-hander from reaching the top-of-the-rotation ceiling many had projected. The latter completely evolved last season; lefties in the California and Texas leagues only slashed a moderate .262/.308/.443 versus the then 19-year-old. Still not spectacular, but a huge improvement that leads us to believe further improvement is easily attainable. When I see Patiño’s thighs (pound for pound, they may be the thickest of any player on this list), I’m reminded that every time I find a reason to doubt the right-hander, he emphatically proves me wrong. Sitting behind home plate during the Futures Game, the consensus amongst myself and other evaluators was that Patiño had the most explosive inning of any pitcher during the game (29.2 SwStr%, 41.7% CSW). The fastball is high-spin and will eventually top out in the triple digits. The slider is also high-spin and is perhaps the right-hander’s best weapon versus like-handed hitters. The changeup is still developing, but Patiño’s noted improvements vLHB last season is a promising sign the pitch will be at least average at the big league level; scouts lean on the 20-year-old’s athleticism and electric arm speed when projecting the pitch (in other words, they think the offering will eventually be an asset at the big league level). If the Padres continue to make moves this offseason and find themselves in contention for an NL Wild Card slot in July or August, there’s no reason Patiño shouldn’t make his big league debut before he’s legally able to consume alcohol. There’s top-end SP2 upside here. Padres Rank: 3rd
23. Alec Bohm, 1B/3B, PHI. Age: 23
Bohm’s first full season as a professional: .305/.378/.518 with 21 home runs, an elite 35.7 Hard%, a double-digit walk rate and a minuscule 13.5 K%. Granted, those numbers are a bit skewed by the fact the then 22-year-old has no business ever being placed in the South Atlantic League or Florida League—but those are super ultra-elite numbers any way you slice it. The longer I research and evaluate statistics, the more I believe genuinely-poor batted ball luck (over a 200+ plate appearance sample) actually occurs quite rarely. That being said, Bohm was a victim to poor batted ball luck post-promotion to the Eastern League. A .265 BABIP despite an above average Hard%, a higher Oppo% than Pull% and a GB% over 40.0%? All while playing his home games in the bandbox in Reading? Come on. The Phillies truly believe the 23-year-old will be adequate defensively at third base in the big leagues. Scouts are still split, but there are more believers today than a year ago. Thankfully—in dynasty leagues—the bat plays anywhere. Barring a trade to a non-contender, Bohm will almost certainly debut in Philadelphia at some point this season. The ceiling here is .280 BA/.360 OBP/35 HR from a corner infield spot. There are folks within the industry (both in organizations and media) who soured a bit on the infielder after learning he’s an old-school player who relies on ‘feel’ instead of embracing modern-day analytics and technology; while I’ll watch with anticipation as he attempts to eventually overcome his first, real adversity at the big league level in the near future, I find it difficult to penalize a player with Bohm’s prolonged track record of success both at the amateur and professional levels. While I anticipate Bohm eventually shifting across the diamond to first base defensively, it’s certainly possible the Phillies keep him at the hot corner a bit longer than most teams would thanks to the structure of their active roster (see: Rhys Hoskins). Phillies Rank: 1st
22. Adley Rutschman, C, BAL. Age: 22
Eventually becoming the best catcher in fantasy baseball is not a hope when evaluating Rutschman; it’s the expectation. If this were a real-life list, the 22-year-old would be the top-ranked player from last summer’s MLB Draft. Heck, with fantasy removed, Rutschman is bar-none the best draft prospect I’ve evaluated since launching Prospects 365 in 2017. He’ll never steal bases, but the backstop is exceptional at everything else he does between the lines. There’s a feel to hit (from both sides of the batter’s box), plus raw power and elite defensive skills behind the plate. By a wide margin, Buster Posey was the best catcher in baseball between 2010 and 2019. Rutschman could assume that role throughout the next decade. The Orioles are currently nowhere near the same universe as the Yankees, Rays and Red Sox, so the organization will likely (and unfortunately) keep the 22-year-old biding his time in the minor leagues longer than they should. All things considered, I would imagine a September 2020 cup of coffee is the best-case scenario when evaluating the ETA. FYPD Rank: 4th, Orioles Rank: 1st
21. C.J. Abrams, SS/OF, SD. Age: 19
The deeper I dig on Abrams, the more I see first-round upside in redraft leagues. Selected 6th overall last summer by the Padres, Abrams laid waste to the Arizona League from June to August, slashing .401/.442/.662 with 3 home runs, 14 stolen bases and a single digit strikeout rate (189 wRC+) in 32 games. The tools are everything you could dream of as a dynasty player: plus hit, above average raw power (perhaps more) and elite, 80-grade speed—all while playing a premium defensive position. There’s a lot of skepticism as to whether Abrams remains at shortstop throughout his professional career; it appears more likely than not—especially as a member of an organization that boats Fernando Tatis Jr. at shortstop—that Abrams will eventually settle in center field. Remember in 2016 when Trea Turner was promoted to the Nationals and exploded onto the scene while playing center field? That could be Abrams’ career. FYPD Rank: 3rd, Padres Rank: 2nd
Don’t want to wait for the release of the remainder of my top-200? Want more than 70,000 words worth of prospect and active player content for the 2020 season? Our 2020 VIP package is still available and currently discounted!
Follow us on Twitter! @Prospects365
Featured image courtesy of photographer John Moore and the Amarillo Sod Poodles