Jarred Kelenic looks like a future superstar. (Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press)
Once again, we return to release our 17th annual Top Fantasy Baseball Prospects list. As per usual, it’s slightly larger this season (now 100), and — as always — this list is our take on how these prospects rank prior to Opening Day.
This season, we’ve soared from 41 to 64 returnees, which given the backdrop of no 2020 minor league season is not a great surprise. The top prospect list was bound to remain far more static this year, and so it has. The flipside here is that the number of prospects graduating to the bigs plummeted, from 26 to 14. The number of prospects dropping off the list this year also dipped, from 22 to 17; again, not a huge surprise given the scenario of 2020.
The upshot is that the number of newcomers to the list dropped significantly, from 54 to 36 — even though the list is five names deeper.
Graduating from last year’s top 95 list
Last year’s rankings in parentheses
Gavin Lux, SS/2B, Los Angeles Dodgers (2); Luis Robert, OF, Chicago White Sox (4); Carter Kieboom, SS/3B, Washington Nationals (9); Jesus Luzardo, SP, Oakland Athletics (20); Dustin May, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers (25); Alec Bohm, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies (34); Nico Hoerner, SS, Chicago Cubs (38); Nick Solak, 2B, Texas Rangers (41); Sean Murphy, C, Oakland Athletics (52); Austin Hays, OF, Baltimore Orioles (71); Evan White, 1B, Seattle Mariners (82); Sam Hilliard, OF, Colorado Rockies (87); Luis Garcia, SS, Washington Nationals (88); and Mitch Keller, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates (90)
Dropping off the list this season
Last year’s rankings in parentheses
Brendan Rodgers, SS, Colorado Rockies (53); Jorge Mateo, SS, Oakland Athletics/San Diego Padres (60); Jordyn Adams, OF, Los Angeles Angels (61); Daulton Varsho, C, Arizona Diamondbacks (63); Brent Honeywell, SP, Tampa Bay (65); Monte Harrison, OF, Miami Marlins (66); Brusdar Graterol, SP, Minnesota Twins/Los Angeles Dodgers (67); Gilberto Jimenez, OF, Boston Red Sox (69); Jake Fraley, OF, Seattle Mariners (72); Jonathan India, 3B, Cincinnati Reds (76); Jordan Balazovic, SP, Minnesota Twins (80); Greg Jones, SS, Tampa Bay Rays (81); Brett Baty, 3B, New York Mets (85); Alexander Canario, OF, San Francisco Giants (86); Luis Matos, OF, San Francisco Giants (89); and Sherten Apostel, 3B, Texas Rangers (93)
Ready to tackle this list? You might want to arm yourself with a huge coffee first, because this is long. Without further ado, here are this year’s…
Top 100 Fantasy Baseball Prospects
Last year’s rankings are in parentheses.
1. Jarred Kelenic, OF, Seattle Mariners (5): We’re probably alone in not having Wander Franco as our top prospect, but simply put, love Kelenic. The Mets made a huge mistake when they gave up Kelenic for Robinson Cano, but that error is about to become much more clear as this kid takes the majors by storm. If you don’t have Kelenic on your team and he’s somehow still available, you need to amend that immediately. This kid offers tools across the board, from high BA potential to 30+ homer power and some sweet speed, to boot. Oh, and did we mention Kelenic’s confidence (see video below)? UPDATE: Kelenci was dealing with a minor knee injury during Spring Training, but he’s on the comeback trail now.
2. Wander Franco, SS, Tampa Bay Rays (1): An enviable talent to be heading the Rays’ system, Franco still hasn’t been tested above High-A ball thanks to there being no minor league season last year. However, this kid is an elite contact hitter with elite BA skills. There really isn’t a clear weakness in Franco’s game, although it would be nice to see his base stealing skills improve as he’s just 22-for-39 in his minor league career to date.
3. Julio Rodriguez, OF, Seattle Mariners (7): That’s right. Two of our top three prospects this season are Mariner outfielders. Apparently, things will be looking up in Em City real soon. Rodriguez’s top tools are his hitting, his power and his arm, but his running isn’t far behind.
4. Mackenzie Gore, SP, San Diego Padres (6): Gore in now baseball’s top pitching prospect, and is ready to claim a rotation spot, but the Padres are pretty stacked right now in that regard. San Diego’s 2017 first round pick is just 21, but has already made five starts at Double-A — despite there being no action last year. UPDATE: Gore remains in competition for the fifth starter job.
5. Nate Pearson, SP, Toronto Blue Jays (22): Flamethrower Pearson endured some struggles in his first five MLB games last season, but he provided a hint of how good he can be against big leaguers in Spring Training last year. Consider him a legitimate AL ROY candidate. UPDATE: Pearson may miss the start of the season because of a groin strain.
6. Dylan Carlson, OF, St. Louis Cardinals (12): No, Carlson didn’t take the bigs by storm last season as many predicted, but he started to adjust over the campaign’s final couple of weeks and must still be considered a potential breakout star. In fact, the Cards saw enough progress here that they slotted him into the cleanup role in the Wild Card series, and that ought to tell you a hell of a lot.
7. Andrew Vaughn, 1B, Chicago White Sox (8): In the not too distant future, Vaughn will push long-time Pale Hose first baseman Jose Abreu to the DH role. Chicago will likely wait a few weeks to promote Vaughn to avoid having him become Super-2 eligible, but there’s no doubt he’s ready now. So if the White Sox are truly in win-now mode, they will give him a real chance to win a job out of Spring Training.
8. Sixto Sanchez, SP, Miami Marlins (47): Sanchez is the clear gem from the J.T. Realmuto deal and he’s poised to anchor the Marlin rotation for a long time (well… until he gets too expensive, that is). There’s no doubt Sanchez is the real deal, but expect some hiccups along the way as evidenced by some command struggles he endured down the stretch and then his poor performance in the NLDS.
9. Jo Adell, OF, Los Angeles Angels (3): The ultimate post-hype sleeper, Adell will likely get closer to a full season of MLB action in 2021 to prove he’s the real deal. It’s obvious he was overmatched last year, but with just a bit of extra seasoning at Triple, once he’s recalled, this time we believe it will be for good. If you’re willing to be a bit patient with Adell, you’ll be rewarded. UPDATE: Adell was dealing with a minor knee woe this spring, but he’s fine now.
10. Spencer Torkelson, 1B/3B, Detroit Tigers (NR): Many believe Torkelson isn’t even the top prospect in the Detroit system, but for our money, he narrowly takes the cake — especially given the current paucity of quality first base prospects. In reality, it wouldn’t shock us at all if he ascended to the bigs this season; that’s how advanced last year’s No. 1 overall pick is. Torkelson is in camp as a non-roster invite, and depending on his performance, could begin the season as high as Double-A, giving him a legitimate shot to contribute in Detroit before season’s end.
11. Casey Mize, SP, Detroit Tigers (19): Mize ended last season in the Tiger rotation, and while he took his lickings, his command wasn’t bad. Not to worry, though. He will soon be the ace of a promising young rotation that will also include fellow prospects Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning. Detroit fans’ misery will soon be allayed.
12. Adley Rutschman, C, Baltimore Orioles (16): The top pick in the 2019 MLB draft and Baltimore’s top prospect is a switch-hitter with plenty of plus tools. We always hesitate to label any catcher as can’t miss, but man, this kid looks promising. There are precious few current catching prospects that can match Rutschman’s offensive upside.
13. Alex Kirilloff, OF, Minnesota Twins (14): The Twins think enough of Kirilloff that he became the first player in history to make his MLB debut in a playoff game. Even without a guaranteed job heading into this season, he must be considered a top 75 outfielder.
14. Ian Anderson, SP, Atlanta Braves (79): Anderson’s fine debut and superb showing in the playoffs was a real highlight for the decimated Brave rotation last year. He’s projected to be a top 35 starter this year, and is going off draft boards around the 11th round this spring. Anderson has established himself as one of the top right-handed pitching prospects in the game.
15. Joey Bart, C, San Francisco Giants (42): Bart is front and centre at the group of fine prospects ready to help the Giants. Unfortunately, the return of Buster Posey puts a bit of a damper on Bart’s prospects for 2021, but it’s likely just a matter of time before Posey sees more action at first base, or leaves the team altogether. So be patient. UPDATE: Bart was cut from training camp on March 15, so he’ll begin the season at Triple-A.
16. Luis Patino, SP, Tampa Bay Rays (35): Patino made his MLB debut last year, pitching mostly out of the bullpen for the Padres, getting rocked in his only start. Traded to the Rays this winter, he’ll compete for a rotation job, but Tampa Bay has plenty of options, so he could spend time as an opener or pitching in Triple-A. Long term, Patino is a fantastic keeper option.
17. Spencer Howard, SP, Philadelphia Phillies (44): After making his MLB debut last year, Howard will compete for one of the two open rotation slots for the Phillies this spring. He mostly employs a 94 mph fastball, mixing in his slider, changeup and a curve that’s mostly just a show-me pitch at this point. Howard did a good job limiting barrels, but his curve spin is poor, so if that pitch doesn’t improve, it will likely cease to be part of his arsenal going forward. UPDATE: Howard was recently scratched from a start because of back spasms, so it’s looking more unlikely he breaks camp with a rotation spot.
18. Vidal Brujan, 2B/OF, Tampa Bay Rays (13): Ostensibly, Wander Franco will team with Brujan to give the Rays a fantastic middle infield of the near future (unless Brujan winds up in the outfield). Last season, we had Brujan slotted in the top 15, but with some of the big pitching prospects making their MLB debuts and taking steps forward last year, he’s slid down our rankings a tad. Make no mistake, though; he remains a key part of the plan in Tampa Bay.
19. Tarik Skubal, SP, Detroit Tigers (59): As discussed above, Detroit has some great young arms on the way, but expect its trio talented arms to begin the season at Triple-A with them all being midseason call-up candidates depending on how things play out. Skubal did make several starts last season, but the results weren’t great, suggesting more seasoning is in order. Interestingly, however, Detroit is mulling a six-man rotation this season, which would offer more opportunity for him, but limit his and virtually all other Detroit starters’ upside. UPDATE: As of this writing, Skubal has outpitched Mize and Manning this spring, giving him a better chance at winning a job outright, or getting the first recall.
20. Marco Luciano, SS, San Francisco Giants (11): Luciano has opened eyes this spring, appearing to have gained strength, which is a great sign for the 19-year-old going forward. The Dominican has yet to earn his first look in the bigs; in fact, he has yet to play above Class-A, but being more physically mature should help expedite his journey. UPDATE: Luciano was assigned to minor league camp on March 15.
21. CJ Abrams, SS, San Diego Padres (18): Yet another of the next wave of great shortstops heading down the pipe, Adams will get a chance this spring to show how close he is to helping San Diego. This 20-year-old is blessed with great speed, athleticism and contact skills.
22. Bobby Witt Jr., SS, Kansas City Royals (26): Witt is in training camp this season and what a story it would be if he broke camp with a job, right? Even though he looks like he’s ready, that’s highly unlikely to happen, but realistically, it won’t be long until he has Adalberto Mondesi looking over his shoulder. Witt has tremendous defensive skills, nice speed and some decent power potential, making him yet another elite shortstop prospect to watch.
23. Austin Martin, IF/OF, Toronto Blue Jays (NR): Martin, considered the best bat in the 2020 MLB draft, is part of a new wave of Toronto bats that should be ready to help the Jays by 2022. As an advanced college bat, he’ll move quickly, so really the only question remaining for him is where he’ll ultimately play on the diamond. UPDATE: Martin could be an injury call-up option by the second half.
24. Matt Manning, SP, Detroit Tigers (23): And now here’s Manning, the last of Detroit’s trio of young starting pitchers — all of whom rank as top 25 prospects overall. Some consider Manning a top 20 prospect, but we actually slightly dropped him on our list this year and we still believe that Mize is the arm to own in Detroit — although either of the other two make for a fine consolation prize. Manning’s best offerings are his fastball and curve, but his command remains a work in progress. Assuming it improves as expected, this kid should be a very valuable power arm. UPDATE: Manning was optioned to Triple-A Toledo on March 16.
25. Kristian Robinson, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks (10): If Detroit’s collection of starters is the most impressive thing on the prospect map, Arizona’s group of talented young outfielders is close behind. While none are expected to make it to the bigs this year, the future D-Back outfield looks promising, headlined by Robinson. In 2019, he was tremendously productive at Low-A, before gaining some experience at Class-A, where he continued to flash power. Robinson is simply brimming with tools.
26. Riley Greene, OF, Detroit Tigers (50): The Tigers don’t have nearly the same level of prospects among position players, but Greene is near the top of the class. He’s expected to get a decent look this spring after showing nice patience at Rookie-ball, gaining some solid experience at Low-A and showing decent extra-base pop at Class-A in 2019. Greene is solidly built and has the bat to become a major asset in time. UPDATE: Greene is expected to begin the season at Double-A.
27. Trevor Larnach, OF, Minnesota Twins (36): Because of Kirilloff, sometimes it’s easy to forget about Larnach, but prospect hunters do so at their own peril. When he last played, Larnach’s K rate rose a bit at High-A, and his BA dipped upon arriving at Double-A, so he’s typically going to need an adjustment period with each hop up a level. He’s never going to win a Gold Glove, but we love his power potential and patient approach at the plate. UPDATE: Larnach hurt his hamstring, missing two weeks this spring, but returned to action March 15. He’s likely headed to the alternate training site to begin the season.
28. Nick Madrigal, 2B, Chicago White Sox (37): One of many talented White Sox youngsters ready to make a bigger contribution this season, Madrigal doesn’t hit the ball extremely hard and he didn’t barrel a single ball in his 29 games last year. So don’t expect much — if any — power here, but man, this kid will compete for batting titles and sprinkle in some decent steal numbers. UPDATE: Because of offseason shoulder surgery, Madrigal didn’t make his Spring Training debut until March 16, but he’s expected to be ready for the start of the season.
29. Jasson Dominguez, OF, New York Yankees (28): Dominguez has been a top 100 prospect for some time, but we’re still waiting to see that hype turn into something. He’s super young, so time is on his side, and with his talent and power potential, owners must remain patient.
30. Max Meyer, SP, Miami Marlins (NR): The third overall pick last year is a very athletic specimen, helping him soar onto pretty much all prospect lists this season. Hell, as a Minnesota native, Meyer is a highly experienced hockey player as well. But it is baseball that will be his ticket to stardom — and a slider that’s his bread and butter pitch. UPDATE: Meyer was reassigned to minor league camp on March 10.
31. Jazz Chisholm, SS/2B, Miami Marlins (33): The Marlins have some nice young pieces in place, and Chisholm is a huge key here in the middle of the infield. He’ll battle with Jon Berti and Isan Diaz for reps at second base this season, but with his talent and tools, Chisholm is the long-term answer. You can see him taking some hacks below… UPDATE: As of this writing, Chisholm seems to be leading the 2B competition.
Jazz Chisholm, rocking #2 and bumping to some Dua Lipa, gets in his first swings of the spring pic.twitter.com/686nKiwVUr
— Ethan Budowsky (@ethanbudowsky) February 23, 2021
32. Ryan Mountcastle, OF/1B, Baltimore Orioles (56): With Trey Mancini expected to spend most of his time at first base this season, the left field gig will be open for Mountcastle to take. B-More’s 2015 first rounder spent 35 games last season proving he’s MLB ready and with his advanced hit tool, RBI potential and power, he’s going to be a nice asset from the get-go. Just don’t expect any speed from Mountcastle.
33. Zac Veen, OF, Colorado Rockies (NR): The ninth overall pick in last year’s draft is expected to open the season at Low-A, but even that far from the majors, it’s hard not to get excited about a prospect with Veen’s power potential who may one day be playing his home games at Coors Field. The second high school player taken in the 2020 draft, he has an advanced hitting approach for a 19-year-old.
34. Noelvi Marte, SS, Seattle Mariners (95): Marte should make his North American debut this season after spending his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League, where he hails from. Just 19, he should move quickly now that he’s had some seasoning, and if he can improve his contact rate, he has a chance to be a very special player in time.
35. Brailyn Marquez, SP, Chicago Cubs (78): Marquez will get a chance to win a rotation spot this spring, but he’s expected to begin the season in the minors given that he’s yet to pitch above High-A (other than one brief relief outing in the majors last year). This tall southpaw will become a real force once he adds a bit of weight and sharpens his command. UPDATE: Marquez could factor into the Cub bullpen this season.
36. Drew Waters, OF, Atlanta Braves (21): Waters is currently in camp with the Braves, and he’s highly regarded, it’s also highly unlikely he wins a job over fellow outfield prospect Cristian Pache. Other teams were sniffing around and asking about Waters at the deadline last year, so that should tell you something about how highly he’s thought of. UPDATE: Waters was reassigned to minor league camp on March 12.
37. Forrest Whitley, SP, Houston Astros (24): It seems like Whitley has been a prospect forever, yet he’s still waiting to make his MLB debut. Houston’s 2016 first round pick is a Texas native, so if the towering righty can make good on his once even loftier status (heading into 2019, Baseball America ranked him fifth overall) it would make for a great story. UPDATE: Whitley underwent Tommy John surgery on March 17, so will miss all of 2021.
38. Cristian Pache, OF, Atlanta Braves (30): Atlanta is simply brimming with young talent, and Pache is ready to join the group that’s already at the big league level. His defense is already there; it’s just a matter of how far his bat will go to determine just what his ceiling is. Pache has a chance to win the CF job this spring, and if he can deliver a more consistent offensive performance, he’ll stick with the gig. UPDATE: Atlanta clearly wants Pache to break camp with the job, so it looks promising.
39. Grayson Rodriguez, SP, Baltimore Orioles (54): Baltimore finally has help on the way, and Rodriguez — who could make his MLB debut this season — is a big part of that. After watching him dominate the Sally League in 2019 at the age of 19, it’s clear there’s potential here for him to become the front of the rotation ace the Orioles have needed for a long time.
40. Corbin Carroll, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks (39): Some consider Carroll the top prospect on Arizona, but we much prefer Robinson. Still, given his advanced hitting approach and strike zone judgment, Carroll should not be overlooked. He has a chance to be a high average hitter and great source of steals, at the very least. Here’s a more in-depth scouting report on Carroll…
41. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates (94): The Pirates haven’t had much to get excited about in recent years, but Hayes sure looked good in his MLB debut last year, and enters 2021 on an eight-game hitting streak. At this point, there’s not a better prospect at the hot corner for our money, and he’s likely a top 20 player at the position heading into this season.
42. Nick Gonzales, 2B/SS, Pittsburgh Pirates (NR): Thanks to a future grade of 60 for his hit tool, Gonzales has surged onto our list this year. The 21-year-old is a top 30 prospect on some lists, but we’re being a bit more conservative here given that his college totals were boosted by a great home ballpark. Having said that, Gonzales can definitely hit, so he should have a significant Fantasy impact in time.
43. Asa Lacy, SP, Kansas City Royals (NR): Lacy is in Spring Training this year, but isn’t likely to see a ton of action as KC will take it slow with players that didn’t action in 2020. The lefty still makes a fantastic dynasty league option, though, as he’s the odds on favourite to become KC’s rotation ace in time. Lacy went fourth overall in last year’s draft for a reason. UPDATE: Lacy is expected to begin the season at Double-A.
44. Alek Thomas, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks (51): The third of Arizona’s stud outfield prospects, Thomas is too low on the depth chart to make an impact at the outset of the season, but he could force his way into the picture if there are injuries or issues with ineffectiveness among those ahead of him. He has yet to play above A-Ball, but don’t be surprised if by season’s end he’s at Triple-A, perhaps putting him in line for a September promotion.
45. Royce Lewis, SS/OF, Minnesota Twins (15): The No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft had already taken a tumble in our rankings this year, and news that he’ll miss the 2021 season in the wake of knee surgery isn’t going to help matters. Still, Lewis is just 21, and sure looked great the last time he played, winning MVP honours at the 2019 AFL. So, his MLB debut will be delayed at least a year, but may still very well be worth the wait.
46. Jordan Groshans, 3B/SS, Toronto Blue Jays (58): Groshans is the third baseman of the future for Toronto, although he may need to make some adjustments with his batting approach as he moves up the ladder — especially if he wants to tap into his immense raw power. UPDATE: Groshans was reassigned to minor league camp on March 17.
47. Clarke Schmidt, SP, New York Yankees (NR): Schmidt will be shut down for three or four weeks this spring because of a barking elbow, but if he can overcome this, he has a chance to grab a rotation spot later this season. He made his MLB debut in September, pitching mostly out of the pen, but he’s expected to get a crack at sticking in the bigs at some point. UPDATE: As of March 20, Schmidt is getting close to begin throwing again.
48. Jeter Downs, SS, Boston Red Sox (40): It will be interesting to see how much PT Downs get this spring. Boston’s top prospect was taken 32nd overall in 2017 (by the Reds) and he flashed some intriguing power when he last played in 2019. Assuming he stays in the Red Sox organization (which is not guaranteed considering he’s already been packaged in two huge deals), he’s likely ticketed for second base. UPDATE: Downs has been dealing with a minor injury this spring, but is expected back by March 21.
49. Nolan Gorman, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals (49): We would have loved Gorman more had he been included in the deal to Colorado that sent Nolan Arenado to the Cards. So now Gorman is blocked for the time being, but he remains one of the top prospects in the game, and things have a way of working themselves out. UPDATE: Gorman has been taking reps at second base this spring.
50. Michael Kopech, SP/RP, Chicago White Sox (48): For the second straight season, Kopech dipped slightly in our prospect rankings, and with the news that he’ll start the season in the bullpen, his outlook has dimmed slightly. Given that he hasn’t pitched in the bigs since 2018, missing all of 2019 after Tommy John surgery and then opting out last year, this decision makes sense in the short term. Kopech still has a very bright future; unfortunately the payoff for his owners will take a bit longer.
51. Nolan Jones, 3B, Cleveland Indians (68): Jones is a natural third baseman, but is blocked by Jose Ramirez, so will see reps at outfield this spring. Jones is unlikely to start the season in the majors, but he’s definitely a candidate to see action this year. Expect nice power, a bit of speed, and struggles with his BA at the outset.
52. Brennen Davis, OF, Chicago Cubs (27): Davis is with the Cubs in Spring Training this year and he’s an extremely important prospect to the team given their lack of MLB-ready position players in the upper minors. He’s expected to begin the season at Double-A, and given that he really needs the reps, it would be a shock if we saw him at Wrigley before 2022. Still, it’s easy to get excited about Davis, probably the best overall hitting prospect the Cubs currently have. UPDATE: Davis was reassigned to minor league camp on March 12.
53. Garrett Crochet, RP/SP, Chicago White Sox (NR): Some consider Crochet the top pitching prospect in the White Sox system, however, we still prefer Kopech. Crochet can seriously bring the heat, but we are slightly worried after he was pulled from a playoff game with forearm tightness, which is often a precursor for Tommy John surgery. This is a great dynasty option, but we have slight concerns about his value in the short term because of the injury risk. UPDATE: Crochet is considered a long-term option for the rotation, but will pitch out of the bullpen this season.
54. Brandon Marsh, OF, Los Angeles Angels (NR): The Angels have some very exciting young outfield prospects in Adell, Marsh and Jordyn Adams, so it seems Mike Trout will soon have some company. Marsh brings both hit and run tools to the table, with power that is still developing. UPDATE: Marsh has been limited to DH duties this spring because of a shoulder injury, but is scheduled to play the outfield on March 21.
55. JJ Bleday, OF, Miami Marlins (45): Bleday is in camp with the Fish this year, and has plenty of competition given the outfield depth in this system. His raw power and projection as a fielder should ultimately give him a leg up. Expect Bleday to have a legitimate chance to win a job in 2022.
56. Emerson Hancock, SP, Seattle Mariners (NR): This righty’s stuff was among the best of any hurler taken in last year’s draft. Hancock won’t pitch in the majors this year, but he has the stuff and command to move quickly and perhaps rise as high as High-A by season’s end.
57. Ronny Mauricio, SS, New York Mets (84): One of the Mets’ top prospects, Mauricio is in camp this spring, but his long-term future is clouded by the arrival of Francisco Lindor. Still, Mauricio has a projected future value of 55, and by the time he’s ready to reach the bigs in about two years, much can happen to clear up his situation.
58. George Kirby, SP, Seattle Mariners (NR): Kirby is expected to begin the season at High-A, but he doesn’t necessarily have the same type of raw stuff as some of the other young Mariner arms. Still, it’s his command that will drive him forward, and the fact that he was reaching the high 90s at the alternate camp last summer was a great sign.
59. Shane Baz, SP, Tampa Bay Rays (NR): Baz has already opened eyes this spring, and in time, the Pirates may regret dealing this kid. He still hasn’t pitched above Class-A yet, but has established himself as one of Tampa Bay’s top prospects with his easy 95-99 mph heater that reached 101 in the AFL in 2019. Baz remains a starter, but may ultimately have a future as a closer or top setup man.
60. Triston McKenzie, SP, Cleveland Indians (NR): McKenzie returns to our list this year after dropping off in 2020. Projected as the Indians’ No. 4 starter this year, he earned his first taste of the bigs last season and showed flashes of why he is so highly regarded by the organization. McKenzie will be babied a bit this season, but if he can continue to induce ground balls, he’ll enjoy some solid results.
61. A.J. Puk, SP, Oakland Athletics (29): Puk is in the mix for a rotation spot this spring, and after looking pretty flawless in 10 relief outings in 2019 to begin his MLB debut, he’s ready for his shot. He’s likely to be babied, perhaps being used as a swingman, but expect solid results with a few wins. UPDATE: Puk recently returned to action, but it’s still not clear if he’ll break camp with a rotation slot.
62. Matthew Liberatore, SP, St. Louis Cardinals (83): Liberatore came into his second camp as a Cardinal surrounded by a lot of intrigue, and with the potential to help round out this team’s rotation. When he last pitched in anger in 2019, he put up a respectable ERA in Class-A, gaining valuable experience and putting up solid hit rates. If you’re looking for a 2021 pitching sleeper, Liberatore is a name to consider.
63. Randy Arozarena, OF, Tampa Bay Rays (NR): Arozarena’s amazing stretch run and playoff performance sure signaled his arrival as a budding star. So why isn’t he higher on this list? Well, he’s already 26, so it’s unclear how much upside there is, plus he doesn’t exactly have much of a track record. We expect Arozarena to show better plate discipline this season and be at least an above average player.
64. Xavier Edwards, 2B/SS, Tampa Bay Rays (32): Man, the Rays sure have a hell of a lot of young talent on the way. Even though we lowered him in our rankings this year, we’re actually still higher on Edwards than most. Still, for 2021, it’ll all be about the speed as we expect virtually no power and a middling BA out of the young middle infielder. UPDATE: Edwards was reassigned to minor league camp on March 15.
65. Oneil Cruz, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates (31): Cruz is still a shortstop for the time being, but with speculation growing that he’s ultimately ticketed for the outfield, he’s slipped in our rankings this year. When we last saw him at Double-A in 2019, he sure was hitting a lot of infield flies, which will need to be addressed. Oneil’s development this season will tell us much about this prized prospect’s future.
66. Edward Cabrera, SP, Miami Marlins (NR): Cabrera is another top Marlin prospect worth keeping a close eye on this season. Upon reaching Double-A in 2019, he didn’t induce as many infield flies and his command wasn’t quite as sharp, but because this is Miami, he has a real chance to be recalled mid-season and be a useful Fantasy asset worth spending a few bucks on to grab. UPDATE: Cabrera, who has yet to begin his throwing program, was reassigned to minor league camp on March 10.
67. Triston Casas, 1B, Boston Red Sox (77): Casas has now been among the top Red Sox prospects for a while. In 2019, he shifted mostly to first base, seeing less action at his old home on the hot corner. Wherever he lands on the diamond, this baby beast will rake and he’s a key part of a much-improved Boston farm system.
68. Nick Lodolo, SP, Cincinnati Reds (NR): One of Cincy’s most prized pitching prospects, Lodolo is an excellent dynasty league option. The Reds’ 2019 first round pick was considered an advanced lefty coming out college — the type that can move quickly. So it’s not unreasonable to think Lodolo could reach the majors this year, even though he hasn’t pitched in a real game since Spring Training 2020. UPDATE: Lodolo finally started a game on March 19.
69. Josh Jung, 3B, Texas Rangers (NR): Texas’ top prospect wasted little time in making an impact this spring. Then again, according to his Twitter account, Jung isn’t merely a baseball player… he’s a “Competitor for Christ.” The Rangers may have a real homegrown star on their hands here as he was born and played high school baseball in San Antonio before starring at Texas Tech and then ultimately going eighth overall to Texas in the 2019 MLB Draft. UPDATE: Jung is out 6-to-8 weeks with a stress fracture.
70. Orelvis Martinez, SS, Toronto Blue Jays (NR): Martinez is a newcomer to the list this season, but definitely one of the prospects that could rise significantly by 2022. He’s already impressing at Spring Training with how hard he hits the ball, and this Dominican infielder is going to be an extra-base machine in time. Martinez won’t supply much speed, but more than makes up for it with his power potential.
71. Taylor Trammell, OF, Seattle Mariners (55): Trammell is enjoying a big spring as the former Padre farmhand hopes to raise his stock in a Mariner system that’s filled with up and coming outfielders. He’s now been traded twice in his career, but the 35th overall pick from 2016 has looked very good in his chances in the bigs. The only question now is can Trammell establish himself as a full-time major leaguer before the onslaught of Seattle outfield prospects come knocking?
72. Heliot Ramos, OF, San Francisco Giants (43): San Francisco’s 2017 first rounder is brimming with confidence and is making his Spring Training debut with the big club this year. Ramos is expected to begin back at Double-A, where he last played in 2019, but if he hits — and continues to show growth in his mastery of the strike zone — he’ll move up to Triple-A and be a potential call-up as an injury replacement. UPDATE: Ramos was reassigned to minor league camp on March 20.
73. Daniel Lynch, SP, Kansas City Royals (NR): This southpaw has become a key part of KC’s rebuild and will again be given every opportunity to land a rotation spot this spring. Lynch has the stuff and advanced pitching experience as a former college hurler to succeed — even without having pitched above High-A yet.
74. Deivi Garcia, SP, New York Yankees (74): Garcia’s had issues with gopheritis since reaching the higher levels and the majors, and it seems to be continuing this spring. The kid has talent, but with the additions the Yanks have made this offseason, he’s going to be hard pressed to win a rotation job out of camp. Still, we do expect Garcia to be a factor this season, and if he can cut back on the dingers, he has a very high ceiling. UPDATE: Garcia is still competing for the fifth starter’s role as of March 20.
75. Jose Garcia, SS, Cincinnati Reds (NR): Garcia struggled in his first taste of the bigs last year, but if you’re seeking a potential breakout candidate this season, he’s your man. The young Cuban has a fine glove and is right in the mix of a hotly contested position battle at short for the Reds this spring.
76. Francisco Alvarez, C, New York Mets (NR): Alvarez has the bat to be a big leaguer, but it’s unclear if he’ll stick at catcher given his defensive deficiencies. Part of the team’s alternate training site last season, his K rate increased as he rose through the system, so that’s something to keep an eye on. Obviously, much of Alvarez’s Fantasy value hinges on his ability to qualify at catcher.
77. George Valera, OF, Cleveland Indians (46): Valera has only played six games above Rookie ball, but Cleveland obviously thinks very highly of him, sending him to the alternate training site last year. And he impressed there, buoying hopes that he could move through the system faster than expected. Keep an eye on Valera’s progress this year, and he has a chance to shoot up these rankings in 2022.
78. Brendan McKay, SP, Tampa Bay Rays (17): McKay is unlikely to be much use to Fantasy owners this year as he enters the season still rehabbing from August surgery on his left (throwing) shoulder, but he still has a bright future. The two-way player is using this spring to sharpen his hitting skills, but ultimately his ticket to value will be from the mound.
79. Hunter Bishop, OF, San Francisco Giants (62): Bishop gives the Giants yet another top outfield prospect as this team is really starting to make headway in developing position players. He’s mostly played centre field, but will probably have to transition to a corner slot as he moves up the ladder. UPDATE: Bishop is dealing with some ankle soreness as of this writing.
80. Austin Hendrick, OF, Cincinnati Reds (NR): Hendrick is very young, so there is still time for him to improve his contact skills, but right now he profiles as a power hitter with a low average. But make no mistake. The 12th overall pick from last year’s draft has amazing power potential, and that alone intrigues us enough to rank him slightly higher than most experts.
81. Robert Hassell III, OF, San Diego Padres (NR): One of many Padre prospects trying to open some eyes this spring, Hassell won’t be ready to contribute this year, but is definitely a name to know going forward. He’s just 19 and has yet to play a pro game because he was taken in last year’s draft (eighth overall, to boot), so be patient. UPDATE: Hassell was reassigned to minor league camp on March 18.
82. Geraldo Perdomo, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks (NR): Perdomo is already on Arizona’s 40-man roster, so he has a leg up there, but he’ll need to add strength before he’s ready to move up the depth chart. Still, he looks like a strong gap hitter capable of bringing some nice speed to your Fantasy team.
83. Luis Campusano, C, San Diego Padres (NR): After gaining a bit of experience as a call-up last year, Campusano is one of the more likely prospects on this list to make an impact this season. He had to deal with a personal issue early on this spring (read: weed possession), but it’s not expected to hold him back from… rolling this season. No, we couldn’t refuse that. UPDATE: With Austin Nola nursing a finger injury, Campusano could open the season on the big league team.
84. Simeon Woods Richardson, SP Toronto Blue Jays (NR): Woods Richardson has looked impressive this spring — even against some daunting competition — buoying hopes that he will soon be ready to help the Jays, quite possibly this year. The righty remains young for his league despite not pitching in any games that count last year, so some hiccups are likely. But it’s clear Woods Richardson is highly advanced for a 20-year-old arm, so Toronto may choose to be aggressive with his development.
85. Josiah Gray, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers (57): There are those that like Gray much more than us, but he slipped in our rankings this season. Still, he’s very capable of making an impact this season and could very well become the key piece the Dodgers received when they sent Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp and others to Cincy in December 2018. Gray only received two starts last year, but this season he’ll really be looking to make his mark. UPDATE: Gray was reassigned to minor league camp on March 17.
86. DL Hall, SP, Baltimore Orioles (75): As one of Baltimore’s top pitching prospects, Hall spent last summer at the alternate training site. Taken in the first round (21st overall and one of just three high school southpaws to go in the first round) in 2017, he didn’t have a great record in his last minor league season, but earned some valuable experience at High-A. But with Hall’s velocity increasing to around 96-99 mph last summer, he could be in line to make his MLB debut this season — especially if he can show improvements in his command at the higher levels.
87. Robert Puason, SS, Oakland Athletics (NR): Puason has yet to make his pro debut, but was able to participate in the alternate training site activities last year. Given that he’s merely 18, he obviously needs some minor league time before he’ll be ready to get to the bigs, but this switch hitter is a name to remember. Atlanta may rue losing him as part of the sanctions against the club for violating international signing rules.
88. Bobby Dalbec, 1B, Boston Red Sox (NR): Dalbec has serious upside, but given his contact issues, there’s also massive flop potential. He won’t offer any speed, but man can he ever crank out the dingers. Dalbec held his own average wise in his first taste of the bigs, but how much of that was driven by a near .400 BABIP? He was a major bright spot in a lousy season for the BoSox last year, but can he build on that? It’s a risky bet. UPDATE: Dalbec is expected to bat ninth at the outset of the season.
89. Hunter Greene, SP, Cincinnati Reds (92): Greene has slid slightly from our 2020 Fantasy Baseball Prospects list, after really tumbling last season in the wake of Tommy John surgery. Now fully healthy, he’s getting tongues wagging this spring with his triple digit heat and immense strikeout potential. Greene’s rising fastball will catch quite a few big league hitters off guard once he arrives in Cincy, likely by mid-season.
90. Garrett Mitchell, OF, Milwaukee Brewers (NR): Mitchell’s had some defensive adventures this spring, but sure is impressing at the plate. That’s a good thing as the Brewers are really counting on this kid being special given their lack of other top 100 prospects.
91. Reid Detmers, SP, Los Angeles Angels (NR): Man, it’s hard to remember the last time we had an Angel pitching prospect on our list, but Detmers snuck on this year. The 21-year-old lefty was the 10th overall pick in last year’s draft and is considered advanced enough that he could possibly help the team as early as this season. With his mix of a curve, fastball and newly developed slider, Detmers could be close to the bigs, and at the very least, he should definitely be in the mix for a rotation spot in 2022. UPDATE: The Angels may consider Detmers for a relief role this season if required.
92. Jesus Sanchez, OF, Miami Marlins (73): Much like several Marlin prospects, Sanchez really struggled in his first taste of the majors last year, going 1-for-25 while whiffing 11 times. The former Ray prospect will likely begin the season at Triple-A given the crowded Miami outfield situation, but is definitely in line to get another crack at the bigs very soon.
93. Mick Abel, SP, Philadelphia Phillies (NR): Abel ranks No. 2 on the Phillies’ prospect list, but he’s a long way from the majors, so owners need to be able to stash him in a minor league system for a few years. The 19-year-old righty has a real pitcher’s body (6’5″, 190) and the 15th overall pick from last year’s draft brings mid-90s heat with a mid-80s slider to the table as his chief weapons.
94. Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, New York Mets (NR): Crow-Armstrong is getting a look this spring and showing why he’s the team’s top outfield prospect. Taken 19th overall in last year’s draft, he’s not yet a much-talked about prospect, but this is name you definitely need to tuck away for future reference. The Mets don’t have much in the way of outfield prospects, so it will interesting to see how quickly they move Crow-Armstrong through the system.
95. Erick Pena, OF, Kansas City Royals (NR): Pena didn’t crack some top 100 prospect lists, but he managed to sneak onto ours given that he’s beefed up this year. One of the most intriguing members of the 2019 International signings class, he’s currently a centrefielder, but if he gets too big, he may wind up in a corner slot, which means his bat will be as big a factor as his glove in terms of his future ceiling. UPDATE: Pena is expected to start the season at Low-A.
96. Tyler Freeman, SS, Cleveland Indians (91): Freeman has surprisingly showed some power this spring, but that’s not really his game. Right now, speed is his top skill, but in time his hit tool projects as his best asset, and we certainly saw evidence of that when he hit .319 at High-A in 2019.
97. Logan Gilbert, SP, Seattle Mariners (64): Gilbert has shown nice strikeout potential this spring, coming off his pro debut in 2019 when he averaged better than 10 punchouts per nine at all three levels he pitched at. His fastball is his best weapon, and there’s room for growth with the pitch, but if his command improves as expected, he could be a real force in time. UPDATE: As of March 20, Gilbert won’t pitch in another Cactus League game, instead throwing bullpens and sim games until the minor league season begins.
98. Shane McClanahan, SP, Tampa Bay Rays (NR): McClanahan has been opening eyes this spring as the pitching factory that is Tampa Bay has another gem on its hands here. In 2019, he earned some valuable experience at Class-A, looked even better after a promotion to High-A before his control faltered a bit at Double-A. Clearly, he’s going to whip through the Rays’ system fast, so expect him to make his MLB debut this season and possibly earn a big role. UPDATE: McClanahan won’t break camp with the team and will instead begin the season as a starter in the minors.
99. Seth Beer, 1B/OF, Arizona Diamondbacks (70): Beer enjoyed a dominant college career at Clemson, yet lasted to the end of the first round in 2018 before Houston plucked him. When he last played in 2019, he returned to High-A, but quickly showed he was too advanced for this level and received a bump to Double-A, where he gained valuable experience and continued to impress. Dealt to Arizona in the Zack Greinke trade at the deadline, Beer suddenly struggled to hit over the final month of the season. That was probably just an anomaly given his track record, but this will be a pivotal year for Beer as he’ll be 25 before season’s end and has yet to reach the bigs. UPDATE: Beer was reassigned to minor league camp on March 17.
100. Heston Kjerstad, OF, Baltimore Orioles (NR): Kjerstad is dealing with inflammation of the heart, sidelining him for Spring Training. The second overall pick in last year’s draft is improving, so he’ll be sent to Baltimore’s alternate training site in April. Kjerstand has great hitting potential, but his swing will need to be simplified as he rises through the ranks.
RotoRob Tune of the Day
American saxophonist Ornette Coleman was born Randolph Denard Ornette Coleman. In 1970, Atlantic Records released The Art of the Improvisers without his input. The album features outtakes from his 1959-1961 recordings, including “The Alchemy of Scott LaFaro,” which featured the bass work of Scott LaFaro, best known for his time with the Bill Evans Trio.