Written by: Ray Butler
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We. Get. Regular. Season. Baseball. This. Week.
What better way to celebrate than diving into my top-100 prospects for the 2021 season? If you haven’t read the previous editions, you can check out my #151-200 prospects here and my #101-150 prospects here.
Without further ado, here are my #51-100 prospects for the 2021 season.
100. Robert Hassell III, OF, SD. Age: 19
Hassell’s reminds me a bit of Andrew Benintendi Lite as a prospect. That’s a compliment. The hit tool is advanced for his age and the speed is above average. What is less clear/convincing is the 19-year-old’s power projection as well as his long term ability to remain in center field defensively. If those tools solidify around average, Hassell will belong in this range of a lists, amongst solid-albeit-unspectacular prospects. If the power ticks up to above average or better–which some suspect it will–the outfielder will almost certainly finish his prospect career in the top half of the top half of this list, even if he shifts to a corner outfield spot. The Padres have earned our trust, so let’s be patient and let them cook here.
99. Brailyn Marquez, LHP, CHC. Age: 22
I still feel a bit uneasy ranking Marquez this high. It’s control over command, and at times, it seems as though Marquez’s only plan is to blow his fastball—which you know possesses upper-echelon velocity–by the opposing hitter. When he’s on, the southpaw also displays an above average slider that can be utilized versus both-handed hitters. The changeup has also made strides, and the pitch will always have a decent floor since the fastball is so dynamic. It feels as though there’s still several dots that need to be connected here, but there’s undoubted middle-of-the-rotation potential if they are. The fallback option would be a high-leverage reliever, which allows him to maintain a valuable real life floor even if he falls out of favor in the fantasy world.
98. Luis Medina, RHP, NYY. Age: 21
Command, command, command. Medina reportedly enjoyed a solid stint at the Yankees’ alternate site this summer, and he’s currently making a mockery of opposing hitters in the Puerto Rican League. The stuff is forever etched in the archives of P365 lore, and the premium velocity and sharp slider were a mainstay in sim games against Yankees hitters at summer camp. Fringe average command or perhaps a touch below (think 3-4 BB/9) seems like the most likely outcome here, but it’ll come with an abundance of missed bats as well. Despite very limited experience at a level above Low-A, it’s fairly reasonable to expect an MLB debut at some point in 2021, even if it’s in a bullpen role.
97. Travis Swaggerty, OF, PIT. Age: 23
I’ve never shown Travis Swaggerty the proper respect, and I’d like to rectify that error here. The 23-year-old fits into the same bucket as prospects such as Brandon Marsh and Josh Lowe. The batting average may only be passable, but a solid approach leads to a favorable OBP that teams well with an appetizing power/speed blend and strong defensive skills in centerfield. Swaggerty is yet to hit for as much power as a professional as he did as an amateur at South Alabama, but I’m hopeful the Pirates new R&D department can assist him in reaching the next level of his evolution the same way Ke’Bryan Hayes recently did. Everything the prospect industry wants Jared Oliva to be? Travis Swaggerty has a better chance at actually making it happen. I’m hopeful he knocks down the door of a big league debut in 2021.
96. Mick Abel, RHP, PHI. Age: 19
Two things we absolutely have to mention regarding Abel. First, the Prospect Graveyard is littered with first-round, prep right-handers who were immensely hyped as amateurs. Secondly, this profile–including the data behind the arsenal, mechanics and body–is so good, Abel deserves to be ranked here despite the risky demographic. The fastball is one of the best I’ve evaluated among high school pitchers since I began evaluating prospects, and the athleticism and frame Abel possesses suggest the right-hander is far from maxed out physically. I don’t love the fit with the Phillies to the same extent I love the Nick Bitsko/Rays fit, and this will certainly be a slow-burning development as it typically is as a prep arm ascends an organization’s minor league levels. However, 19-year-old’s with Abel’s fastball/slider duo don’t grow on trees. Kick back, remain patient and let’s see how high Abel can climb on this list.
95. Nick Madrigal, 2B, CHW. Age: 24
To be honest, I was under the (blatantly incorrect) impression Madrigal had graduated from prospect lists when I began the evaluation process for my 2021 list. Simply put, the 24-year-old “is who he is”. He’s never going to hit for a ton of power. Actually, he’s never going to hit for much power at all. There should be plenty of speed moving forward, despite the fact the second baseman didn’t run much after returning from a shoulder injury during the sprint season. I expect his stolen base output to bounce back in 2021, even if he misses the start of the season and he returns to full health (he had shoulder surgery in October). He’s a black hole in the power department, but Madrigal should be useful in the batting average and stolen base departments for the foreseeable future. As I’ve said before, it’s a close relative to David Fletcher from a statistical standpoint.
94. Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, NYM. Age: 19
If we ranked prospects based solely on present tools, PCA would probably slot in the #101-200 portion of this fantasy list. Regardless of how good the offensive tools become in the future, it’ll be tough to match the defensive skills the 19-year-old brings to the table. We’re talking about a player who could eventually compete with Cristian Pache for the Gold Glove amongst National League center fielders, and that creates a sturdy foundation for this profile to build on. The hit tool and power currently lag behind the glove a bit, but a glimpse under the hood suggests there’s a ton of room to grow in both those departments if he’s developed correctly. I’m very interested to see what the offensive numbers look like in PCA’s first full professional season in 2021.
93. Peyton Burdick, OF, MIA. Age: 23
Burdick reportedly did more than hold his own at instructs amongst an outfield group that also included JJ Bleday, Kameron Misner and others. The 23-year-old has been an emerging name in the prospect world for around a year now, and the outlook has typically revolved around a tasty power/speed combination in a body that reminds evaluators of a young Mike Trout. Throughout the summer and fall, Burdick displayed a surprising feel to hit, making mid-at bat adjustments and forcing even his biggest detractors to concede the hit tool could peak at average. There are still some lingering concerns within this profile—namely the fact the outfielder will be 24-years-old prior to 2021 MiLB Opening Day and has not yet played above Low-A—but it feels inevitable Burdick will be a known commodity amongst even the most generic dynasty players within the next calendar year.
92. Jesús Sánchez, OF, MIA. Age: 23
Poor results aside, we received the full Jesús Sánchez experience in his first 29 big league plate appearances. He hits the ball HARD, but his approach is so aggressive it remains to be seen if he’ll make enough contact for his strength and raw power to ever fully manifest itself. The Marlins love the 23-year-old, and I’m far more interested to see what the numbers look like once Sánchez earns a consistent role rather than a 10-day sample in the middle of a weird season. Remain patient here.
91. Luis Campusano, C, SD. Age: 22
Based on skills alone, Campusano should rank higher on this list. The 22-year-old’s data from the alternate site was some of the more impressive numbers I saw all summer, and the Padres rewarded him with a surprise promotion to the big leagues. There, he was a measly 237% better than the average hitter thanks to hitting a home run in a microscopic four plate appearances, which was an immediate display of what he had shown at the alternate site beforehand. Turning the page to the present and future, Austin Nola is still in pre-arbitration. The Padres also just acquired Victor Caratini, who’s easily considered one of the better backup catchers in all of baseball. Do the Padres float Campusano’s name in trade talks to continue to bolster its big league roster? If not, what’s the outlook here? What’s the path? At least for the short term, it’s scary, which stinks for one of the more talented players on this entire list. Oh, and no, I’m not at all concerned about the arrest for marijuana in October. If Austin Nola isn’t ready for Opening Day, it’s likely Campusano begins the season as San Diego’s backup catcher.
90. Daniel Espino, RHP, CLE. Age: 20
Espino is a jaw-dropping fireball of variance. At his best, the right-hander’s talent and process appear generational. Unstoppable. When he’s scuffling, you become concerned he may never figure it out. The 20-year-old possesses some of the best raw stuff on this list, including upper-echelon velocity and four pitches that all show flashes of big league potential. Specifically, a year from now, we might consider Espino’s fastball/slider combination one of the very best pairings amongst all pitching prospects throughout the sport. Unfortunately, the control-over-command approach will increasingly lead to paying for mistakes as he ascends thru the minor leagues. The Indians will continue working to sculpt this ridiculous-ceiling ball of clay, and 2021 should give us a clearer pitcher as to just how much the command lapses could hinder this outlook.
89. Daniel Lynch, LHP, KC. Age: 24
J.J. Picollo, the Royals Vice President/Assistant GM of player personnel, called Lynch the most impressive player at Kansas City’s alternate site this summer. Remember, the alternate roster also included Bobby Witt Jr., Asa Lacy and Jackson Kowar amongst others. The southpaw topped out at 99 MPH this summer, with a curveball, slider and changeup that should all peak at average or better. This profile isn’t a dime a dozen, and Lynch should someday join Lacy in forming one of the more dynamic, left-handed rotation combinations in the big leagues. The development of his changeup was a focal point of his summer workload, and I’m interested to see if it translates to an increase in whiffs in 2021 and beyond. Assuming good health, the 24-year-old could debut at some point this summer.
88. Josh Jung, IF, TEX. Age: 23
Music to our ears. Jung reportedly spent his summer at the alternate site focusing on pulling the ball with authority, which was exactly his area of refinement on this list last preseason. More surprisingly, the 23-year-old spent time at shortstop, second base and in the outfield along with his native third base defensively. Positional versatility and shift comfortability is always a good thing. I’m excited to see if Jung’s pull-side work shows in games next season, since that’s been the missing piece for one of the more exciting offensive profiles in the minor leagues. If it does, he’ll make another jump from his aggressive ranking here. Unfortunately, surgery on a stress fracture in his left foot means it will be a while before we evaluate his progress.
87. Jarren Duran, OF, BOS. Age: 24
The evolution of the Red Sox development program is probably best displayed by Duran’s recent growth, namely the uptick in power thanks to a swing change at the beginning of summer camp. A mediocre real life floor (driven by tweener traits thanks to subpar defensive skills) leaves less margin for error than I’d like, but I also concede the potential for the 24-year-old to finalize as a 50-hit, 50-power, 70-speed player who’s more valuable on your fantasy team than he is on the Red Sox. He should open the 2021 season a call away from the big leagues, though he’ll need to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster prior to debuting. A strong spring affirms the potential impact he can have once he debuts.
86. Orelvis Martinez, IF, TOR. Age: 19
When I say there is very little new information regarding Martinez publicly available, I mean it. When I created his report last preseason, the teenager—despite having a lot of moving parts in his swing—was a pure hitter with a chance to hit 30 home runs at peak. He didn’t repeat his swing overly well in the Gulf Coast League (2019), but I was more than willing to chalk that up to youth and inexperience. Perhaps most importantly, folks who have evaluated him in person believe a move to third base or the outfield is likely in order. That’s not a big deal in real life, given Bo Bichette is likely locked-in at shortstop for the foreseeable future. However, since speed won’t be playing a viable role in Martinez’s outlook, he’ll really need to mash consistently to set himself as a third base or outfield prospect. I’m hopeful we have infinitely more information regarding the teenager in a few months.
85. Jordan Balazovic, RHP, MIN. Age: 22
Two important things worth mentioning here: One, Balazovic was added to the Twins 40-man roster this offseason, making him (procedurally) a call away from the big leagues despite not yet having pitched above High-A. It’s likely he begins the 2021 campaign in either Double-A or Triple-A, depending on how hard the Twins want to push. Secondly, Minnesota was reportedly interested in a reunion with Lance Lynn prior to him being traded to the White Sox. However, the Twins balked when the Rangers requested a package that included Balazovic in return. When an organization tells us know how they feel about a prospect, listen to them. If you’ve read this list, you know the Twins were awfully tight-lipped about the goings on at their alternate site and instructs this summer and fall. The last time we saw the right-hander, he was missing a ridiculous amount of bats with his delicious fastball/curveball combination. There’s at least a decent chance we see that pairing in Minnesota at some point in 2021.
84. Josh Lowe, OF, TB. Age: 23
I feel like I’ve repeated myself a dozen times throughout these write-ups: Lowe is on the cusp of being ready to make an impact at the top level of the sport. However, mostly thanks to the organization he plays for, it’s impossible to know when exactly he’ll receive that opportunity. As I’ve stated before, Lowe’s skillset is similar to that of Brandon Marsh. The former’s hit tool is a bit worse, but both should provide plenty of power, speed and on base skills thanks to the willingness to take a walk. With centerfield defense to boot, Lowe has the makings of an everyday player who hopefully won’t find himself starving for an MLB opportunity for too much longer. The Rays reportedly are not too keen on moving current centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier, though a potential deal seems to be the quickest route for Lowe to receive a promotion and playing time.
83. Aaron Bracho, 2B, CLE. Age: 19
From a pure hitter standpoint, one could make the argument Bracho is tops in an ultra deep organization outside of Nolan Jones. Offensive reports from the alternate site were glowing, which is all the more impressive when you consider the teenager was facing by far the most advanced pitching he’s ever seen. The defensive skills are another story; this summer, he shifted around the infield during summer camp. Most think—well, hope—he’ll eventually settle in at second base. If he proves incapable, he could end up in left field. It’s certainly an area of refinement for Bracho, and it’ll lower the real-life floor a bit until his defensive future becomes more clear. For now, I’m more than happy to focus on what could be a special stick moving forward.
82. Brayan Rocchio, IF, CLE. Age: 20
I won’t deny the fact that an advanced feel to hit, plus speed and fantastic defensive skills set the table for this profile. However, I continue to be impressed with the batted ball data for a player with Rocchio’s unimposing frame. The switch hitter should continue ascending the minor leagues alongside fellow notable prospect George Valera, and the duo is already in the process of forming one of the most dynamic pairings of position players throughout the minor leagues. Something like .280/15 HR/20 SB at shortstop or second base is a bit light of the ceiling projection here.
81. Hedbert Perez, OF, MIL. Age: 18
Find one negative thing about Hedbert Perez anywhere on the internet; I dare you. The teenager has nearly become a mythical being throughout the past calendar year as a combination of drool-worthy reports and a lack of public exposure has formed a scrumptious cocktail of hype. I have nothing negative to say in this space, though I will warn you to take a deep breath before assuming Perez will someday become a cornerstone member of your dynasty teams. Though we’re certainly off to a dazzling start, there’s a long way left to go here. PS: be a bit skeptical of the speed projection here until we know more/actually receive a tangible sample.
80. Drew Waters, OF, ATL. Age: 22
In the year of our Lord and Savior 2020, anyone who tells you Waters’ hit tool projects to above average or plus has either never seen him play or is relying on old information from mainstream sites. When he connects, the 22-year-old has an uncanny knack of finding the barrel or a hole in the defense. Unfortunately, he doesn’t make contact often enough thanks to an affinity to swing at anything and everything. When this doesn’t lead to strikeouts, it often leads to hitting pitchers’ pitches, which will only become increasingly evident once the 22-year-old finally debuts at the big league level. He’s mostly gotten away with high BABIPs and an aggressive approach throughout his minor league career. Do we think the same will hold true in Atlanta? I’m wagering there will be some fairly substantial growing pains here.
79. Clarke Schmidt, RHP, NYY. Age: 25
Do yourself a favor and disregard Schmidt’s first three big league appearances, which he accrued throughout the final month of the 2020 sprint season. Don’t think about the numbers. Don’t look at the numbers. Don’t even breath around the numbers. The right-hander was employed in a weird way against big league hitters, throwing his slider more than both his four-seam and sinker. From his typical starter’s role, the 25-year-old utilizes a four-pitch arsenal (rounded out by a changeup) and far better command than he displayed in 2020. An elbow strain early in Spring Training is an unfortunate twist in Schmidt’s search to carve-out a regular role in the Yankees’ big league rotation in 2021, and a recent placement on the 60-day injured list means we won’t see the right-hander back on the mound for quite a while. This is a troubling sign for a prospect who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2017, and the right-hander will need to perform well once he returns from the ailment in order to not be lost in the shuffle of the next wave of pitching prospects to enter the top-100. There’s some reason for concern here.
78. Hunter Greene, RHP, CIN. Age: 21
If you arrived at Hunter Greene’s name prepared to be encouraged and enthused by what you read, please keep scrolling. Yes, it’s easy to drool a little bit when you see tweets that the 21-year-old hit triple-digits with relative ease during Spring Training. I get it. Unfortunately, it should move the needle very little for you once you’re privy to the analytics behind the pitch. Thanks to a tilt that sits in the 1:00 range, the heater possesses far more horizontal movement that vertical movement. Without an overhaul in this department, Greene’s fastball will continue to be GIFable yet hittable. 103 mph means nothing to big league hitters if the pitch struggles to remain on plane from the pitcher’s hand to the catcher’s mitt. Unfortunately, the change that must take place (which would be Greene employing a more vertical arm slot) is far easier said than done. I’ll be keeping tabs on this throughout 2021; you should too. There’s still immense athleticism within this profile, and adequate command paired with three secondary pitches that flash average or better means Greene should remain in the rotation long-term. The upside here remains prodigious, but the floor is quite a bit lower than most people suspect when only accounting for the premium fastball velocity.
77. Austin Wells, C/1B/OF, NYY. Age: 21
Wells fits into the quickly-growing bucket of prospects that embody the notion of “let them mash, figure out the defensive home later.” A catcher in college, it’s far more likely Wells eventually settles at first base or left field as a professional. Luckily, the on base skills are advanced and the 21-year-old should produce plenty of power throughout his career. It certainly won’t hurt that he’s slated to eventually take his home field cuts at Yankee Stadium. He’s been a consistent target of mine at the backend of the first round in FYPDs, which I consider a steal regardless of your league size.
76. Lewin Diaz, 1B, MIA. Age: 24
This year more so than others, it feels like several prospects on this list experienced less-than-enjoyable MLB debuts. Victims of small samples, victims of the weird sprint season, or a mixture of both? I’m going with both. Diaz didn’t do much well at the plate during his first 41 big league plate appearances, but the defense at first base was everything it’s been hyped to be. Jesus Aguilar re-upped with the Marlins in December, so it appears the 24-year-old will at least initially bide his time waiting to attain a more consistent role in Miami. In an ideal world, Diaz becomes a big-power first baseman who runs a decent batting average with a low walk rate thanks to an aggressive approach. Operationally—as I’ve stated before—it should remind us of a Lite version of José Abreu.
75. Taylor Trammell, OF, SEA. Age: 23
I am ready to admit it is now more likely than not that Trammell never reaches the lofty ceiling I dreamt of when I named the outfielder my breakout prospect for the 2018 minor league season. A lot has happened since then, including Trammell being named the MVP of the Futures Game, a mechanical adjustment that put his upper body and lower body at odds with one another, and two trades. Now a member of the fantastic Mariners system, the 23-year-old finds himself at a bit of a crossroads in his development. Likely destined for left field defensively, Trammell will need to consistently perform at a high offensive level to find every day playing time at the big league level. We saw glimpses of his massive potential during the Texas League All-Stars in 2019, but we’ve yet to see the outfielder connect the dots on a full, eye-opening minor league campaign. Fortunately, a strong Spring Training served as a launchpad for Trammell to open the season as the Mariners starting left fielder, and he might also see some time in centerfield if Kyle Lewis misses time to start the regular season. The 23-year-old is unlikely to ever live up to the “next superstar prospect” label I incorrectly tabbed him with three years ago, but the arrow is firmly pointing upwards here. I still believe.
74. Triston McKenzie, RHP, CLE. Age: 23
From seemingly nowhere, McKenzie served the prospect world a couple of loud reminders during the 2020 sprint season. 1. “I still exist”, and 2. Just how good the right-hander can be when he’s truly healthy. If you look at the game logs from the 23-year-old’s first stint at the big leagues, you pretty quickly spot the fact his fastball velocity decreased as the season progressed. With such a thin frame (listed as 6-foot-5, 160 pounds on FanGraphs), this has always been the concern regarding McKenzie even when he’s been healthy. Along with a fastball with above average vertical movement, the right-hander also featured a slider, curveball and changeup, all of which showed the capability of missing bats with solid surface and expected stats to boot. For now, some questions loom. Can McKenzie remain healthy throughout the course of a normal, 162-game regular season? What does a healthy McKenzie’s fastball velocity look like over the course of a full regular season? After being selected in the top-175 picks in early offseason NFBC leagues, the current ADP of 203.59 is far more justifiable for a player who will likely be on a fairly stringent innings limit in 2021.
73. Trevor Rogers, LHP, MIA. Age: 23
72. Bobby Dalbec, 1B, BOS. Age: 25
Dalbec’s first stint as a big leaguer was practically a caricature of what we’ve come to expect from the 25-year-old: tons of power, tons of strikeouts and an OBP that far outweighs the AVG thanks to a savory walk rate. In the end, Dalbec’s 92 plate appearances in 23 games led to a 152 wRC+, which should land the infielder a consistent role in Boston moving forward. It’s safe to say a 42.4 K% is not a welcomed ingredient in sustainable success, so moving that number closer to 30.0% will be important throughout the upcoming season. There will continue to be some growing pains along with the useful power and OBP, but a golden opportunity at first base means he should be given plenty of cushion to settle-in versus big league pitching. A strong Spring Training certainly doesn’t hurt.
71. Joey Bart, C, SF. Age: 24
I ranked Bart 67th on my preseason list in 2020; I received an abundance of criticism. I wonder if I’ll hear a single word of negativity regarding his placement here following his first stint in San Francisco. My concerns regarding the 24-year-old have remained consistent since he debuted as a professional: the on base numbers throughout the minors were inflated by an unrealistic BABIP. Once you make that realization, the low walk rates become a legitimate concern. Bart triple slashed .233/.288/.320 in 111 plate appearances during the sprint season despite posting a .387 BABIP. The walk rate was a ghastly 2.7%. We need to give Bart the same patience and cushion we’re giving other prospects who experienced big league pitching for the first time during the weird 2020 season, but we also need to see some steps forward in the approach department in 2021. Slated to begin the season in the minor leagues, Bart is simply a late round stash in draft and hold leagues or a “FAAB-bonanza” player in leagues with weekly waivers. Don’t be surprised if his 2021 impact is a bit less than we anticipate.
70. George Valera, OF, CLE. Age: 20
I continue to struggle to be confident in my evaluation of Valera. People who have seen him play in person swear he has the instincts and reads to remain in center field despite possessing meh speed for the position. If they’re right, it really raises the real-life floor of the profile. If the 20-year-old eventually shifts to a corner spot, he suddenly falls into the fantasy bucket of non-center field prospects who won’t be a threat on the base-paths. As you know, this means Valera would really need to mash in order to be considered an undoubted, future everyday big league player. In 2021, I’ll be keeping a close eye on the on base numbers throughout what should be the 20-year-old’s first go versus full season pitching.
69. Tyler Freeman, 2B, CLE. Age: 21
I was very low on Freeman this time last year thanks to a horrific hard hit rate and limited power projection. Fortunately, reports from the alternate site and instructs were fantastic. Not only did the 21-year-old impact the ball much better, but there appeared to be a sense of urgency in his preparation defensively at second base. Almost as if the organization knows he’ll be playing there on a big stage at some point in 2021. I’m still not sold on Freeman ever being a fantasy star, but he’s undoubtedly a better player now than he was when I ranked him last preseason.
68. Luis Matos, OF, SF. Age: 19
From my ‘All-Buy Team’ article this offseason: “Another prospect whose official breakout was simply delayed by the lack of a minor league season in 2020, Matos is reportedly up to 195 pounds and spent most of his summer at the Giants’ training facility in Scottsdale. ‘Explosive’ is the first word that comes to mind here, as it’s obvious the outfielder is employing his newly-added muscle to further enhance his batted ball profile. Two things worth monitoring here: we need to see how/if the added bulk (albeit good weight) affects his speed, and I’m slightly concerned a (currently) relatively flat vertical bat angle and lack of spine tilt will hinder his ability to elevate the ball frequently.” Matos isn’t receiving the same hype as fellow teenage outfield prospect Hedbert Perez, but the former ranks higher on this list and possesses the speed to have the more well-rounded (yet explosive) skillset of the two.
67. Vidal Brujan, IF, TB. Age: 23
Our Tyler Spicer wrote this on Brujan a year ago this month: “Brujan has been ranked as high as the #3 fantasy prospect in baseball entering 2020. It’s easy to see the career .377 OBP and 151 stolen bases and dream about him at the top of a lineup. I hope he gets there and proves me wrong, but there’s a considerable amount of risk given his current ranking. First, Brujan has a concerning batting split risk. Throughout the minors, Brujan has consistently hit better from the left side of the plate. As a RHB, the 22-year-old has failed to generate any sort of power posting a .266 SLG last season. In 426 ABs, Brujan has yet to hit a professional home run against southpaws. For those thinking there might be untapped power or that the MLB ball might help him increase power, statistics show otherwise. Last year, Brujan was hitting the ball on the ground over 50% of the time, which is in line with his career average. His estimated FB distance decreased nearly 20 feet from 2018 to 2019. These indicators show it may be unlikely that Vidal will post an ISO outside of his .100 to .125 career range. On top of this, Brujan’s strikeout rate has been gradually increasing throughout his time in the minors. All else equal, a sub-15.0 K% is still excellent. However, with more advanced pitching, there’s a possibility this trend will continue to increase. Another stat to note is his walk rate. The more times he walks the more chances for steals, right? Well after two seasons of an 11.0 BB%, Brujan posted an 8.6 BB% in 2019. When he does get on base, Brujan has a modest 70% stolen base success rate in the minors. This isn’t elite but it will be playable along with his above average defense at second base. With the prospect depth of the Rays middle infield (Wander Franco, Xavier Edwards, Greg Jones, Lucius Fox and Taylor Wall) and the current middle infield youth in the bigs (Brandon Lowe and Willy Adames), Brujan may not have a lot of time to “figure things out” with a contending Rays team. With questions about his hit tool and external positional factors, I worry that Brujan might fall into a utility role. Like I said, I hope he proves me wrong – but at his current ranking, other prospects around him simply have more upside.” Since then, more and more sites have picked up on the same thing Tyler published. In the most platoon-happy organization in baseball, will Brujan and his issues versus left-handed hitters be immune to this notion? As of now, the safe answer is no. Because of that, we have no choice be to suppress his value until the outlook becomes clearer.
66. Cristian Pache, OF, ATL. Age: 22
The numbers themselves were nothing to write home about, but I was thoroughly impressed by Pache during the 2020 playoffs. Thrust into sudden playing time following an injury to Adam Duvall in Game 1 of the NLCS, the 22-year-old consistently worked counts, spitting on spin out of the zone while drawing three walks in 25 plate appearances. It was a welcome sight compared to the player I evaluated multiple times throughout the 2019 minor league season. Pache should be given an opportunity to seize everyday playing time fairly early in 2021; if the improved patience and all-fields approach is here to stay, we can more confidently project the on base skills (think .260 BA/.330 OBP or somewhere in that realm) with moderate power (20-25 HR at peak) to pair with Gold Glove defensive skills in center field. Despite upper-echelon sprint speed, Pache is yet to develop into an efficient runner who’s a legitimate threat to steal bases. The fantasy-relevant tools will likely never win you your fantasy league, but they’ll also be usable in deeper redrafts and dynasty leagues. If he can find a way to turn the corner as a baserunner, look out.
65. Jordyn Adams, OF, LAA. Age: 21
He who sleeps on Jordyn Adams will live to regret it. It makes complete sense we’ve heard very little on the outfielder in 2020. He was underrated last preseason, so he’s naturally slipping through the cracks throughout the industry after the minor league season was canceled. The 21-year-old was reportedly fantastic at the alternate site this summer, further showcasing his ability to play centerfield while continuing to impress evaluators with his plate approach despite being widely labeled as high-variance and unrefined. With Jo Adell now graduated from prospect status, Brandon Marsh will be the player who receives the bulk of attention within the Angels’ system in 2021. That’s fine—since he’s a good player and all—but don’t be surprised when Adams ‘sneaks’ up on the industry before school lets out for summer.
64. Heliot Ramos, OF, SF. Age: 21
I feel like we’ve been ranking Ramos forever, yet he’s only 21-years-old. Looking back on past reports I’ve published on the outfielder, I basically feel the same way now as I did a year ago. From Spring 2020: “With an extremely thick lower half, the 20-year-old is built like a running back. Unfortunately, he’ll likely be graded as an average runner as early as this season, and stolen bases are unlikely to be a big part of his game in the near and distant future. He’s also likely destined for right field defensively, which means he’ll really need to hit in order to project as more than a role 5 in real life. Luckily, Ramos posted a 137 wRC+ between the California League and Eastern League as a 19-year-old, which was aided greatly by 16 home runs and a near double digit walk rate. There’s some swing and miss here, so the batting average may settle a little closer to .250 than .300 against big league pitching someday. Still, this is a potential 30-homer bat capable of hitting the ball over the fence in any part of the park. For now, I’m not worried about what Triples Alley may do to Ramos’ right center field sweet spot.” While the outfielder should no longer be viewed under the ‘potential mega superstar’ lens he evaluated under a few years ago, the chances of Ramos becoming a solid everyday player seem pretty high. Depending on how much ‘seasoning’ the Giants feel he needs, we could get a glimpse of the 21-year-old in the big leagues at some point this summer.
63. Michael Busch, IF/OF, LAD. Age: 23
It’s such an eye roll-worthy cliché given the organization, but I’m sticking with an observation I originally made within last season’s preseason prospect list: I see quite a bit of Max Muncy in Michael Busch. The defense is below average, but the 23-year-old is versatile and perhaps just good enough to be passable at second base thanks to defensive shifts and advanced scouting reports. Regardless of whether he sees playing time at the cornerstone long-term, first base and the corner outfield will definitely be part of the equation. Luckily, Busch’s offensive profile—which features quiet swing mechanics, above average power and fantastic plate discipline–should play splendidly no matter the defensive home. The Dodgers are extremely high on Busch, and he should move quickly through the minor leagues alongside fellow 2019 draftee Kody Hoese.
62. Alek Thomas, OF, ARI. Age: 20
My evaluation of Thomas hasn’t changed much in the last calendar year. The contact skills are strong. The power is adequate and at times surprising. The base-running has potential but has been extremely inefficient early in the 20-year-old’s professional career. His consistency on the base paths in the upper minors will be the single most important facet of Thomas’ development from a fantasy standpoint, for better or worse. There are obvious ‘top of the order’ characteristics within this profile, but I worry most folks within the industry are overestimating the current ceiling a bit.
61. Nolan Jones, 3B/OF, CLE. Age: 22
Double plus raw power and an elite batter’s eye serve as the calling cards of this profile, and a potential move to the outfield could mean we see Jones in Cleveland before the All-Star break in 2021. The 22-year-old’s approach reminds me a bit of Cavan Biggio; patience and subpar contact skills make Jones a Three True Outcomes player who will typically carry a low AVG and strong OBP. He saw some time in the grass during instructs, and with the Indians reportedly preferring to keep José Ramirez at the hot corner, a mixture of first base and the outfield may be the quickest route to everyday playing time at the big league level for the 22-year-old. He’s an underrated late-round flier in redraft leagues this offseason.
60. Ha-Seong Kim, IF, SD. Age: 25
I ranked Kim in the 50s on the version of this list I sent to VIP members on New Year’s Day, and I’m going to hold steady here despite a less-than-stellar .150/.261/.150 slash in 46 plate appearances (so far) versus less-than-stellar pitching in the 25-year-old’s first Spring Training. Every day playing time will be hard to come by for Kim in his debut season stateside, mostly due to the Padres’ awesome depth and the fact San Diego will likely bring the 25-year-old along a bit slowly in his first regular season grind. As I wrote regarding Kim on my original FYPD report, a .260-.270 average with 10-15 home runs and 10-15 stolen bases with multi-position eligibility feels like a reasonable projection for the rookie given a full season of plate appearances. Be patient here.
59. Geraldo Perdomo, SS, ARI. Age: 21
When an organization makes decision that publicly hint at how they feel about a certain player or prospect, listen to them. The Diamondbacks have traded away both Jazz Chisholm and Liover Peguero—two prime candidates to eventually assume the everyday shortstop role in Arizona—away for pitching and outfield help. In my eyes, those are obvious signs as to how much the org loves Perdomo, a switch hitting 21-year-old with advanced defensive prowess and developing offensive skills. Even on lists like this one, it’s rarified air to discuss a prospect who could eventually possess five tools that all grade at 55 or better. Perdomo has that opportunity, especially if his batted ball data continues to evolve. Recently added to the 40-man roster, the 21-year-old will likely begin the 2021 minor league season in Double-A; don’t be surprised if he’s knocking on the door of a big league debut before the season’s over.
58. Garrett Mitchell, OF, MIL. Age: 22
It’s long been perceived that Mitchell possesses one of the highest ceilings amongst any prospect from the 2020 draft class, but the path to reach the gaudy potential is lengthy enough to give a lot of fantasy players some pause before selecting the outfielder in FYPDs. But the 22-year-old is off to a fabulous start, slashing .379/.419/.586 with a home run and three stolen bases in 31 Spring Training plate appearances. The “talk of the Cactus League” will now have the opportunity to showcase his abilities versus minor league pitchers, and carrying over his ST success would springboard Mitchell into the top-30 prospect conversation a year from now. As has been the case for a while now, unlocking the extent of his power in-game will play a vital role in determining
57. Heston Kjerstad, OF, BAL. Age: 22
A lesson learned after closely following my first draft cycle in 2020: in an age in which more and more organizations are leaning on data-based processes instead of outcomes, be careful to not over-penalize amateur prospects for present, mechanical swing flaws. I still believe the hit tool will fall just short of league average at peak, but Kjerstad’s 70-grade raw power makes him fairly comparable to the outfield version of Nolan Gorman on this list. I’ll be on the edge of my seat waiting to see how the 22-year-old’s unique swing mechanics fares against professional pitching.
56. Simeon Woods-Richardson, RHP, TOR. Age: 20
I’ve published this before, but SWR continues to remind me of Ian Anderson. An over-the-top delivery serves as the catalyst for a fastball with solid ride, a changeup with good fade and curveball with surprising tumble despite low raw spin rates across the board. The changeup is clearly the best secondary the 20-year-old currently offers, but the curveball is no slouch either. Command was a primary focus for the right-hander at the alternate site this summer, and the experience he gained versus older hitters should set the stage for him to open the 2021 season in Double-A. A big league debut at some point in 2021 shouldn’t be ruled out altogether, though the Toronto will likely be reluctant to make that call outside of a desperate situation. If he receives an opportunity, it shouldn’t shock us to see an Anderson-like impact once he debuts.
55. Ronny Mauricio, SS, NYM. Age: 19
Despite what the numbers say from Mauricio’s Age 18 season in the South Atlantic League, he projects for plus-or-better power that should begin trending upwards in-game in 2021. Since the end of the 2019 season, the teenager has filled out physically while maintaining the quick twitch traits that should at least allow him to remain at shortstop for now. As he continues to develop physically, it wouldn’t surprise me if Mauricio eventually shifts to the hot corner, where his thunderous stick would play just fine. From a fantasy standpoint only, the top percentile outcome here would be a switch-hitting Rafael Devers with a taller frame. Yep.
54. Hunter Bishop, OF, SF. Age: 22
Bishop was a late arrival at the Giants alternate site after testing positive for COVID, but the reports were glowing once arrived and got his feet under him. Specifically, the 22-year-old has reportedly cut down on his swing and miss issues, improving his plate approach and a tool that has weighed down the profile and outlook since he was drafted in 2019. If the hit tool cements itself as fringe average or better in 2021, Bishop’s stock should soar. He fits into the unique bucket of prospects who possess impact power and speed despite a large frame (6-foot-5, 210 pounds), making the ceiling quite appetizing if he makes enough quality contact. Not only will the outfielder’s value in dynasty leagues continue to swell if his improved approach sticks once the minor league season begins, but he’ll also find himself knocking on the door of the Giants’ big league outfield before the end of the regular season. Bishop is a name to monitor closely this spring.
53. Leody Taveras, OF, TEX. Age: 22
God help me, I think Leody Taveras might be Trent Grisham Ultra Lite in 2021 and beyond. Currently projected to be the Rangers’ primary center fielder to begin the season, Taveras brings a surprising blend of power and speed to the fantasy table. Perhaps a bit surprisingly for someone with Taveras’ archetype, the 22-year-old posted an above average Hard Hit % and Exit Velocity during the sprint season, which makes the 96th percentile sprint speed all the more intriguing. There are definitely some swing and miss/on base concerns here, and batting towards the bottom the order might mean he doesn’t score as many runs as we’d like, but I’m but the power/speed combination remain extremely appetizing as you look to increase your team’s speed after the first few rounds of the draft. The current NFBC ADP of 209.70 is far from free, but Taveras taking the next step in 2021 means he would likely finish the season as a top-100 fantasy player. He’s a rare player who will maintain value both in real life (plus defense in center field and base path impact) and in the fantasy realm (counting stats, baby).
52. Ryan Mountcastle, 1B/OF, BAL. Age: 24
Mountcastle avoided graduation by a measly five at-bats, but he certainly looked the part of an everyday big leaguer in his first stint with the Orioles. With Renato Nunez no longer part of the organization, the 24-year-old figures to shift between first base and designated hitter alongside Trey Mancini to begin the 2021 season. Despite poor defensive skills, Mountcastle’s Sprint Speed from the 2020 season point towards an adequate athlete who shouldn’t decline physically for quite some time. Long known as a hitter with an aggressive approach, Mountcastle could prove to be a streaky player who is unstartable at times and unbenchable at others in the fantasy world. The current 139 NFBC ADP means you’ll pay an awfully steep price in redrafts leading up to Opening Day 2021.
51. George Kirby, RHP, SEA. Age: 23
Nothing I can say here that can excite you any more than what I wrote in my ‘All Buy Team’ article earlier this offseason. A combination of the velocity uptick and an uptick in the Mariners’ R&D department have allowed Kirby to ascend to new heights. Throw in some of the best command amongst pitching prospects in the minor leagues, and the 23-year-old has suddenly become one of the more exciting names on this list. We need to make sure the velocity gains hold throughout long outings before falling completely in love.
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