Written by: Adam Ehrenreich (@mel_reich)
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There is nothing better than a fresh start. We can step back with a clear conscience, put the pen to the paper and start this annual list from scratch. Every year there are breakout performances in the minor leagues that go largely unnoticed, but not here at Prospects 365, where we have your best interests in mind year round.
This is my fourth article of the preseason. I’ve released articles focusing on my yearly sleeper/breakout hitters, my yearly sleeper/breakout pitchers and my fantasy first rounders…. for next season. You should really check those articles out before diving into this list.
For this list, I give you the top-32 prospects for redraft leagues in 2020 (weird number, I know). This list is geared towards redraft leagues and is broken down into three tiers. The first tier consists of players who can make a Major League impact almost immediately, especially with the delayed start. The second tier are players who we may see in the late summer months, and the third tier are a few players who can grab a cup of coffee in September and likely top this list in 2021.
I will update this list on a monthly basis with the hopes that as things change in the prospect world, this list will follow suit. Keep in mind that—as always—players like Luis Robert, Gavin Lux, Jesus Luzardo, Michael Kopech and Evan White will not be on this list, among others who are set to be in the majors from day one once the regular season officially begins.
Let’s get started.
I want to preface this section with the following anecdote: I don’t love prospects pitchers in their debut seasons. That may seem like a strange thing to say when 8 of the top 15 prospects on this list are, in fact, pitchers. The thing is, there are a lot of very good pitching prospects coming up that I feel will get opportunities to show their value in 2020. Of course, format matters. If you play in a quality starts league then I would largely stay far away from most prospect arms you see. But for the sake of this list, let’s assume that we’re in a standard roto, head-to-head or points league.
Jo Adell should be up before long, solidifying a lineup that in my mind could be top-5 in 2020. Dylan Carlson could steal a starting gig from day one and could produce a 20/20 season in 2020, depending on the length of the season. Players like Ryan Mountcastle and Nick Madrigal have the excellent hit tool and should see the opportunity to be productive from the get go, if their respective teams allow it. Brendan Rodgers now has time to heal and attempt to steal the second base job from Ryan McMahon at some point this summer. Alex Kirilloff could end up being the first basemen of the future in Minnesota, and he’s an injury or poor performance from Miguel Sano away from perhaps seizing his first opportunity at the big league level. Monte Harrison, if healthy, has the ceiling of a mainstay in the Miami outfield—which is flooded with excellent prospects—for years to come. He would be a fantasy contributor from the start with his power and speed combination.
Of all those arms listed above, my personal favorite is Nate Pearson, followed by Luis Patiño. I know Gore and Mize are the likely the best of this bunch talent wise and may be future fantasy aces, but for this year and likely the next, I think Pearson and Patiño have the live arms to make a lot of people miss at the big league level upon their respective arrivals. I love their swagger and I look forward to seeing them in the majors at some point in 2020. Kyle Wright and Spencer Howard likely have the quickest path to the majors this year and are both excellent prospects. Forrest Whitley and Matt Manning are also a few good starts in Triple-A and an injury away from being Major Leaguers.
Wander Franco could make a major impact for the Rays in 2020, if they give the young talented shortstop a chance to showcase his skills. At 19-years-old without even a stitch of Double-A experience, I doubt he gets that chance this year, but if he lights the league on fire over the course of his first few months, I think he may force the Rays’ hand. The likely shortened season may impact that, but I like to dream. I am holding out hope that Franco debuts this year and makes a Juan Soto like impact once he does.
The second tier includes four Marlins players, and that is an ode to the fact that I expect them to be a losing ball club who will give their future a chance to shine. Jesus Sanchez is a live bat that could end up being the most exciting player of this bunch. Jazz Chisholm is a fan favorite who showed in the spring that he is the real deal. I see early career Ray Durham type stat lines from Chisholm in the future. Lewin Diaz is a big, bad bat that reminds me a lot like what we hoped Kennys Vargas would become. I think Diaz has a better chance to produce and will be given every opportunity to succeed in Miami. Lastly Sixto Sanchez, who—while with the Phillies—was compared to Pedro Martinez. He may end up being the most impressive pitcher on this list when it’s all said and done. He has electric stuff and an awesome personality. The Marlins’ future is looking bright.
Cristian Pache, Drew Waters and Ian Anderson could all see MLB action this season, and the trio will be playing for a young and competitive Braves team that will open their arms to any and all help during their pennant chase. Pache and Waters play excellent defense, can hit and have speed. The addition of Marcel Ozuna muddies the waters, but there should be opportunities this year for both of these young studs. Anderson is the final arm amongst a stable of prized pitching prospects who has yet to make his MLB debut. It was just a year ago that the Braves were thought to have the deepest pitching farm in baseball; if Wright and Anderson pan out, that will come to fruition in a big way after Mike Soroka and Max Fried dazzled in their 2019 campaigns.
Daulton Varsho is my sleeper for ascending all the way to number one on this list by the end of the season, as the top prospect for fantasy redrafts in 2020. You could end up having a top-5 catcher for fantasy purposes on your roster who is playing every day in the Diamondbacks’ outfield. That’s a dream scenario at catcher within fantasy circles.
There were lots of whispers around the industry that the Mariners seemed hell-bent on Jarred Kelenic playing a role in Seattle before the end of the 2020 season. But that was before baseball was shutdown, and a shortened season (and modified service time rules) might put a halt to that plan. He’ll be a must-add in all formats if he receives an opportunity.
Lastly, we look at the third basemen of this group, Ke’Bryan Hayes and Alec Bohm. The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of Bohm being in the majors within weeks of the delayed Opening Day. Jean Segura will be given a short leash in Philadelphia (or he’ll be shifted back to second base if Scott Kingery falters), and Bohm could start his long awaited tenure for the Phillies. Once he gets that job, he will not be giving it up, and the kid can certainly hit. Hayes continues to improve at the plate and is already spectacular defensively at third base; if that trajectory continues, he will be with the big club before long.
The succession of Buster Posey is among us, and Joey Bart is likely to be a staple behind the plate in San Francisco before long. The bat is for real. Tarik Skubal is shadowed by Mize and Manning, but he has the upside and potential to be the best of the group if everything clicks. Keep a close eye on him this year.
Julio Rodriguez is in the same boat as Wander Franco, but I am less confident we see him in 2020. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep your eyes and ears open, because once he is up, you will want shares everywhere.
Jose Garcia is a Prospects 365 Special. After talking to Ray about his favorite guys this year, I fell in love with what Garcia can do, and the only thing holding him back from the majors in 2020 is Freddy Galvis (and minor league experience above High-A). Kristian Robinson is also likely a year away from making a major league impact, but if he comes out hot, there’s no telling what a franchise like Arizona may do with their future superstar, a la Juan Soto with the Nationals in 2018.
Follow me on Twitter (@mel_reich) and stay tuned for updates to this list throughout the coming MLB season.
Follow us on Twitter! @Prospects365
Featured image courtesy of photographer Matt York and the Associated Press