Everyone in the baseball world is keeping at least one eye on the postseason, and everyone has the same question: is A.J. Pierzynski likable now? He looks like a nice dude, no?
Maybe that’s just me.
Humans are definitely wondering about bat flips and unwritten rules, though. Especially Grey, who wanted me to delete all Braves from the list because that organization is the worst thing that’s happened to baseball since Grey touted Rudy’s Tout Wars success on Twitter.
Take heart, though, baseball fans. No matter how many bats get flipped this Fall, I’ll be here talking about all the good players our future selves can enjoy (unless they flip bats).
101. Yoshitomo Tsutsugo | OF | FA
Tsutsugo’s only here because news just broke about Yokohama’s plan to post him. By which I mean he’ll rank much higher in the next iteration, assuming his posting goes as planned. The best power hitter in BayStars franchise history, Tsutsugo will be a fascinating case as the most decorated position player to come from Japan in more than a decade. Major League organizations have more history buying international arms than bats, and hitters have faced lean free agent markets in general these past few winters.
(Note from Donkey Teeth: we discussed Tsutsugo with Tim McLeod on our podcast back in August—Tim has a thing for Asian men)
106. Nolan Jones | 3B | Cleveland
This tier brings probability and upside, but the driving force for their ranking here is that likelihood that each will contribute to fantasy teams.
A hot air balloon in 2019, Balazovic is on a steep upward trajectory arcing toward major league innings by season’s end thanks to three plus pitches and impressive command, especially for a 20-year-old acing high-A.
Graterol’s already tasted the big league spreads, and Lynch could probably hold his own now. Well, not now as in postseason baseball, but now as in 2020.
MLB-ready in center, Marsh should help drain the swamp that’s drowned baseball in the County of the West Coast Republic of Los Angeles of Anaheim. He needs reps with the bat, but the glove might buy time to learn under the bright lights, where all five tools could soon shine.
From the patience-is-a-virtue school of hitting, Jones might need to add a pinch of controlled aggression to access in-game power.
108. Jesus Sánchez | OF | Marlins
109. Keoni Cavaco | SS | Twins
I’m comparatively low on these guys except Perdomo and maybe Cavaco who’s straight projection at this point. Any fantasy contributions from him won’t come for several years, but he could be taken early in this year’s dynasty first-year-player drafts and flipped if he starts hot.
Part of the issue with Sanchez is that he can hit just about any pitch, but he’s lacked the patience to make pitchers come anywhere near his ideal bat path. The hands and bat speed carried him all the way to AAA at 21, but he’ll have to get selective to access his power.
India has a similar issue in reverse: the patience is present; the power isn’t. Juiced balls in the Great American Smallpark might fix the issue, but it’s not ideal to be counting on that.
An age-to-level love-fest, Garcia was 18 in AA when 2019 began. His .280 on-base percentage and .337 slugging percentage suggest he was not ready for the challenge. He’s faring better in the Fall League, inviting us to throw out the 2019 results and see what happens in 2020.
115. Luis Rodriguez | OF | Dodgers
116. Ke’Bryan Hayes | 3B | Pirates
119. Tyler Freeman | SS | Cleveland
Cron hit 38 home runs in 82 AAA games. He also walked 16.2 percent of the time and struck out at a 20.4 percent clip. Sure, he’s old for a prospect (26) and blocked everywhere on the diamond, but he’d be ranked quite a bit higher if we could bank playing time in 2020. And who knows: maybe the DH comes to the National League sooner than later.
Stealing 53 bags in AA will grab some fantasy eyeballs, and Lee paired the wheels with a 112 wRC+ thanks to plus patience that led to a .363 OBP. He’ll need to make more contact, but 2019 was a huge step forward.
The Reds invested in their arms by hiring Derek Johnson and Kyle Boddy. They’ve already reaped rewards with Johnson, and Greene brings as much untapped talent as any arm in the game.
A top-five international signing in 2019, Rodriguez looks like he was born for baseball. The Dodgers are scary. I’m buying most talented bats in their system. On an unrelated note, Hector Olivera is still on LA’s payroll for 2020. He’ll collect 4.67 million from them and 8.5 million from San Diego. The takeaway here is: visit your union rep today.
Hayes lacks the apparent upside of most on the list, but great hands on defense often become good hands on offense, so while he’s been overrated for fantasy pretty much his whole career, Hayes is close to the majors and has upside that’s obscured by his stats.
In an average organization, Toro would be a hyped rookie looking at an everyday opportunity in 2020. In Houston, he’s a trade chip in search of a chance.
A deadline trade in 2018 pumped up Diaz’s fantasy stock because people expected him to quickly break in with the opportunity-rich Orioles. 16 months later and following an injury-plagued down season, he’s the same guy still looking at a land of opportunity.
A plus-plus hit tool and plus speed have made Freeman the apple of some eyes. I’m not as wild about a fully actualized version as some, but the upside is obvious if not elite.
Speaking of the hit tool, Swaggerty is just a tick or two from becoming the five-tool talent ‘perts were drooling over during Supp draft season.
123. Braden Shewmake | SS | Braves
Though he’s been blocked by the coming Willenium, Ruiz is an incredible young catcher who’ll begin this season as a 21-year-old in AAA who walked more than he struck out this year in AA.
Martinez finished the season with a flourish, hitting 4 home runs and stealing 11 bases in his final month. If he carries some of that over, he’ll make a profit for whoever hung with him through a tough couple seasons.
Shewmake ended the season in AA after being a first rounder in June. Well-rounded guy with excellent plate skills. Let’s hope he flips good bat.
The Rays know pitching like few organizations and fell into a gift when Liberatore landed on them in 2018’s first round. I think the buy window is open after a less than magical season, so I’m headed for my vault in Gringotts. (Sorry, had to pick the Potter theme up at the end here.)
Thanks for reading!.