Well these have certainly been an interesting few days. Sunday, I hit the brakes on my 40-man scuba dive because I wanted to dance among the raindrops of roster decisions and come back soaked in fantasy baseball goodness. 

Making a team’s 40-man roster has always granted players an edge in getting a promotion. Every season when we’re waiting for our favorite prospects to get the call, we watch a parade of misfit toys already on the 40 get that chance first. Especially in some organizations that don’t like to toggle the 40-man. In the variation of baseball we’ll get this year, this under-contract advantage seems greater than ever. 

If you’re in a deep league, making semi-regular rounds dissecting 40-man rosters can give you a predictive edge. If you’re in any league, really, how can it hurt to know who’s likely to get called up next at a given position on a given team, no matter how anyone’s hitting or pitching?

Can’t hurt, right? 2020 will be all about maximizing short-term opportunities, so let’s hop in the pool and swim a lap around the American League West.

Note: everyone mentioned in this article is included in the 60-man player pool. 

 

Houston Astros 

On the 40-man roster:

RHP Christian Javier is ready and likely to pitch some strikeout-friendly innings in 2020. 

RHP Enoli Paredes fits the Javier blurb, and I want them both if there’s a decent chance they’re throwing that night. 

I almost skipped RHP Bryan Abreu because he’s seemed locked into a bullpen gig for a while, but it costs little to reiterate his potential usefulness. RHP Ryan Pressly has been a dominant set up man, but he’s dealt with some arm troubles, and Abreu can spin it with the best of them. 

RHP Nivaldo Rodriguez hasn’t cleared A ball and seems unlikely to leap the names ahead of him.

RHP Cy Sneed is the chimeric, Dr. Mephisto outcome of cells taken from Cy Young, Blake Snell and the Astros ongoing need for extra-legal value. He’s 27 and probably shouldn’t be blurbed about for fantasy, but here we are. 

LHP Blake Taylor will pitch big league innings this year. Your AL Only 30-team Holds league will have a bidding war. 

C Garrett Stubbs will catch big league innings and could be a value in deep OBP leagues.

1B Taylor Jones is 6’7” but keeps his strikeouts in check: 21.1% K rate to go with a 12.8% BB rate and a .291/.388/.501 slash line across 125 AAA juicy ball games. We’ve seen crazier things than 26-year-olds like Mr. Jones popping off, 

3B Abraham Toro is a bull in the batter’s box and a pick-up if he falls into some playing time. 

Not on the 40 but Headed to Summer Camp:

RHP Luis Garcia is among my favorite arms in the minor leagues at cost. A position player for years, he’s taken beautifully to starting as a high-K pitcher who buries his off-speed after pumping mid-90’s heat up in the zone. 

RHP Jojanse Torres is mostly high-90’s heat but settled into a groove in 2019. If he finds it again, he’ll be jumping up lists this season. 

RHP Shawn Dubin seems to have garnered more pub than the previous two, but he’s got less to work with. 

RHP Brandon Bielak doesn’t have overwhelming stuff but might have enough for a few chances in a season such as this. 

RHP Forrest Whitley is last on this list but would be first in line if he looks good in camp. 

 

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 

On the 40-man roster:

Mostly vets here sprinkled with three young lefties. 

LHP Patrick Sandoval catches love in some corners but hasn’t shown much.

Same goes for LHP Jose Suarez. I’m not in on either. 

LHP Hector Yan is just 21 and hasn’t cleared A ball, but as a lefty with plus velo, he’s on the cusp if they’re feeling frisky. 

2B Jahmai Jones has stalled out for a while and faces an uphill climb in a deep infield.

2B Luis Rengifo is part of that depth. 

1B Jared Walsh has power and a swing well-suited to his home ballpark. Might get some ABs here and there in part because he could relieve in a pinch, unless the rulebook stopped him.

IF Matt Thais and OF Taylor Ward are both straddling the mythical 4A line and could fall either direction in 2020. 

Not on the 40 but Headed to Summer Camp:

OF Jo Adell is coming up early. Wherever the magic ownership-manipulation line falls, the day after that. I think he’s going to hit early. His bat speed will surprise pitchers trying to get up and in on him. 

OF Brandon Marsh might need an injury to get an opening. Or an opting out . . . 

LHP Reid Detmers is coming to summer camp, and I think he’ll get some big league innings if the Angels can keep pace while he gets acclimated. 

 

Oakland Athletics 

On the 40-man roster:

I watched Moneyball this week, and I’m rooting for the A’s to take the division from the Astros. I knew that already. Brad Pitt just reminded me how true it is. 

RHP Grant Holmes came over from the Dodgers and has seen his stuff fluctuate since, but he’s in a fairly small group of candidates to step up if injury strikes again and again. 

RHP Daulton Jefferies had a bicep strain at last check. Not ideal for a guy with arm troubles in his recent past. He’s got plus command of a diverse repertoire when right, and he’s had a while to rest since the strain was reported in March.

Speaking of arm troubles, RHP James Kapriellan is getting his stuff back in pieces after a long Tommy John rehab. He came over from the Yankees with this next guy.

All three of these guys are reporting to the off-site camp so seem unlikely to make an early impact.

SS Jorge Mateo has been the apple of many a fantasy eyeball over the past few seasons. 2021 seems more likely to be his window than this year, but I think he’ll be energized by making the show when it happens and a nice burst for roto leagues. 

C Austin Allen and C Jonah Heim might both make the roster now that they’ve got 30 spots. Allen brings lefty power with solid contact skills. He’s a target of mine in deepish leagues. 

2B Vimael Manchin came from the Cubs in the Rule 5 draft, so he’ll have to stay if the A’s want to keep him, which adds a complication for 2B Sheldon Neuse

OF Seth Brown should play almost everyday. His fantasy PR team should be fired. 

*checks notes*

Wait, I guess that’s me. 

I’ll just finish up here and clear my locker out by the end of the day, I guess. 

I am  now too sad to rejoice in the cool baseball name that is OF Skye Bolt.

OF Dustin Fowler came over with Kapriellan and Mateo in that Yankees trade for Sonny Gray

*Note: Turns out Jorge Mateo is being traded as I write this!! To the Padres! Nice!

Which means 2B Franklin Barreto has a little clearer path to playing time, along with Neuse, Manchin, Chad Pinder, and Tony Kemp.

Not on the 40 but Headed to Summer Camp:

RHP Parker Dunshee and RHP Brian Howard have more command than stuff and are reporting to the off-site camp, but they’d get the shot if the 40-man arms weren’t healthy. 

SS Robert Puason is an interesting choice. It doesn’t mean anything especially positive for his long-term outlook, but it can’t really be a negative.

 

Seattle Mariners 

On the 40-man roster:

RHP Justin Dunn and LHP Justus Sheffield have struggled so far but have a great chance to develop on the fly.

RHP Art Warren is knocking on the door for a key bullpen role. The layoff has given RHP Austin Adams time to rehab his knee, but there’s a window here for a closer to climb through, and Warren has an inside lane. 

RHP Yohan Ramirez has very little control but enough stuff to pop if he finds some. 

1B Evan White should start the season as an everyday player.

IF/OF Tim Lopes is in position to play a lot and steal a lot of bases. Very undervalued at the moment in part because the Mariners are carrying just five outfielders on their 40-man, and one of them is Mitch Haniger

2B Shed Long could cover some outfield if needed and might do just that if they decide to keep Dee Gordon at second base. 

OF Jake Fraley brings power and speed and figured to crack the opening day 30. 

Not on the 40 but Headed to Summer Camp:

I don’t think Julio Rodriguez or Jarred Kelenic will play this year, but Jerry Dipoto has surprised me before. SS Noelvi Marte earned himself a nice development opportunity here. Good for him.

I wouldn’t expect RHP George Kirby, RHP Emerson Hancock, RHP Logan Gilbert, or LHP Brandon Williamson to pitch major league innings, but lining them up like this gives an enticing glimpse of the Mariners’ future. 

RHP Sam Delaplane figures to pitch late innings earlier than later in 2020 could be amazing for our rate stats. 

RHP Joey Gerber is smooth like baby food. I don’t know that. He’s kind of regular, as relievers go. Regular like baby food keeps you. Or so I hear. 

Seattle is bringing its draft class to summer camp. Neat stuff for OF Zach DeLoach, IF Kaden Polcovich, RHP Emerson Hancock and IF Tyler Keenan.

 

Texas Rangers

On the 40-man roster:

LHP Kolby Allard could crack the rotation if Kyle Gibson opts out due to ulcerative colitis. He reworked his mechanics to add velocity last year and looked promising pushing up against 95 mph.

RHP Kyle Cody is 6’7” and extremely interesting with plus heat and plus off-speed. He’ll be 26 in August and hasn’t pitched above High-A, but he’s been dominant so far in a starting role. 

RHP Demarcus Evans is a must-own in dynasty holds leagues. Might even open the season in the bullpen. 

RHP Jonathan Hernandez was touching 100 mph in Spring and will open the year as part of the 30-man active roster, I think. 

LHP Joely Rodriguez has a lat injury that could keep him out for much of the season. 

LHP Taylor Hearn could step into the vacancy created by the Rodriguez injury. 

RHP Tyler Phillips has plus command and should see some major league starts this year. I think he’ll be effective in his first go-around. 

1B Ronald Guzman worked with Nelson Cruz over the off-season and sounds rejuvenated and more at-ease with the kind of hitter he wants to be. Worth tracking. 

3B Sherten Apostel and SS Anderson Tejada are a little young for a real look. 

IF/OF Nick Solak is ready to hit. Just needs to find a spot. It’s kind of a thing in Texas. 

OF Adolis Garcia strikes out too much but has plus power and can field enough to get a chance. 

OF Leody Taveras isn’t ready with the bat but might be the best defensive centerfielder in Texas summer camp. 

Not on the 40 but Headed to Summer Camp:

Texas stuck with the 40-man prospects for the most part but did invite 2B Andy Ibanez and 3B Josh Jung. Super exclusive camp. 

Thanks for reading!

I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter and Reddit.

 
  1. BB says:
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    Brock Burke is out for the season following February’s labrum surgery, FWIW. (And where did you see that Kyle Gibson has officially opted out?)

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, BB! Totally forgot the labrum. Good lookin’ out!

      Goes double for the Kyle Gibson news. Got out over my skis on that one. Turns out nothing is official on that front, and the deadline for him to decide seems to be unknown at present.

  2. philip says:
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    Itch, if you don’t mind me asking, why do you rate George Kirby over Logan Gilbert?

    Also, would you trade your Dahl for Gallen in a dynasty league.

    Lastly, would you consider trading Jack Flaherty for Urias and Gore in a dynasty league?

    Thanks!

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Hi Philip,

      Gonna have to think on these trades a minute, but my snap reaction is to hold Dahl and Flaherty, especially if this is the league where you’ve got a roster crunch.

      Dahl’s time is now, and I’m not as in on Gallen as some.

      Kirby is over Gilbert because plus plus command of off-speed stuff is extremely rare, and in Kirby’s case that comes along with plus plus command of a plus fastball. He’s a unicorn.

  3. I am high on Seth Brown and Nick Solak too. Good work Itch!

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