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First-Year Player Draft Rankings for 2020 Fantasy Baseball

In dynasty baseball, the June draft is must-watch television and the July 2 international signing day is fodder for a million clicks. 

Months later, typically in February or March, dynasty leaguers select their favorite college, high school and international players in annual first-year player drafts. I have attempted to consider and rank this year’s player pool for your reading pleasure. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Last week, I posted an article about Three Prospects Poised to Skyrocket in 2020. While I didn’t realize it at the time, all three of those guys are on NL teams, so it definitely wasn’t the most helpful for guys in AL-Only leagues. For that reason, this week I’m going to be covering three guys from AL teams who are going to breakout big time in 2020.

If you notice that the six prospects I’ve covered over these past two articles are all position players, that’s not by accident. You may have seen the acronym “TINSTAAPP” around the baseball world before, meaning “There Is No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect”. While it’s a bit of an oversimplification, the reasoning behind it is that pitching prospects are significantly more risky than their position-player counterparts, so you’re more likely to get value out of a hitter than a pitcher. Additionally, the adjustment curve for pitchers in the majors is a bit steeper, and few pitching prospects contribute at a high level immediately. Many prospects struggle massively in their debuts (i.e. Berrios), and some even take a few years (i.e. Giolito, Glasnow) before really figuring it out (By the way if you’re looking for a pitcher like Berrios who struggled in their debut, I highly recommend picking up Mitch Keller.). Because of this, many former top prospects will end up hitting the waiver wire in even deep dynasty leagues, so I think you should invest in position players way more, and for that reason I’m focusing mainly on hitters.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I doubt there’s any good way to explore this, but this week I found myself wondering if this year’s rays prospect list might be the fastest top 10 in baseball history or at least in the last several years. Perhaps the turf-burning Cardinals and Royals of the 80’s could measure up in parts, but they wouldn’t have three 80 runners and a Wander, I think. 

Fantasy baseball players love the Tampa Bay Rays to some extent already, I think, but they should probably just lean in and pick up all the profit. Avisail Garcia was a great example of this last year. As were Emilio Pagan and Nick Anderson and Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows. And that’s all just last season. Oh, Brandon Lowe, too, though he was from within. 

This year it’s Brendan McKay and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo; Kevin Padlo and Joe Ryan; Josh Lowe, Colin Poche and Brent Honeywell Jr.

Also Hunter Renfroe.

Because crazier things have happened. 

Presumably.

Jesus Aguilar did not drink the lazarus water in 2019, so it’s not like Tampa Bay bats a thousand, but the Midas touch element here is real. Consider Nick Solak. Traded for Peter Fairbanks. When a prospect leaves Tampa, it’s because there’s no room at the inn, and they see an angle they want to play now. Our move is to realize their bar is incredibly high, so when they “sour” on a prospect enough to move him, it means a little less than it might in other smart organizations. Solak is still probably a value, depending on how you acquire him, and Fairbanks should be tracked in leagues where his profile (high K reliever) matters. 

I veered off the path there. Suffices to say you could do worse in dynasty leagues than focusing on the organizations that are best at this particular game of finding talented players and helping them maximize their abilities. Or even just using it as a tiebreak when looking at two players of similar appeal. Estanli Castillo and Alberto Figueroa won’t make many lists this off-season, but I will be checking in on throughout the season because they’re with Tampa. I will check their game logs every few weeks or so just in case Castillo begins a noisy home run binge or Figueroa starts swiping bases in bunches. I just don’t want to be late to a Tampa party because a Tampa party rarely stops.  

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I teach in China for a month every summer, and all I really have access to for that month, entertainment wise, is baseball and whatever I can download or arrange ahead of time, so that leads to lots of podcasts and audio books.

The books I repeat most feature a certain group of young wizards invented by J.K. Rowling, and during this summer’s listen-through the whole Potter series, I had some new thoughts.

First, poor Filch. I mean what a awful gig that dude has. Whole castle full of magic, and he’s on his hands and knees scrubbing vomit and blood and snot and who knows what all.

Second, Summer for Harry Potter is a lot like Winter for baseball fans. Harry just sits around waiting for news. All. Summer. Long. So every little snippet of something takes on extra meaning. And The Daily Prophet has its head so far up it’s cauldron that even the snippets are just glances through a cracked mirror.

So who’s ready to fire up the rumor mill and speculate our way through the off-season!?

Not me.

I’m hanging onto Fall as long as possible.

If that appeals to you, let’s hop on a Thestral, fly over prospect country and pretend it’s still Summertime.

Please, blog, may I have some more?