A few years ago, I joined a CBS dynasty league in motion one year after it had begun. The team owner quit mid-April after some sort of rules dispute. My entry fee was paid. I started trading. I cannot remember all the moves because I am an incrementalist on the market, for the most part. I do remember trading Yu Darvish and more for a High-A hitter named Juan Soto, which made someone else quit the league, so foolish was I to have done so. Soto got promoted to AA shortly after that, played eight games there, then jumped to the major leagues.
This is not what I came here to discuss, but it’s hard for me to think about that league without rolling through its gruesome history. I joined in 2018, won the league in 2019, and it dissolved before 2020. I loved the team I’d built there by buying early on Soto and Tatis (two of my first three trades). 2021 would have been a blast. But I gained a ton from that league. I know to pump the brakes sometimes if my play style is tilting a league, for one thing. But most importantly, I learned the value of collecting impact outfielders. When I looked around to add speed or outfield help, I always came back to the same team because they had all the upside. Their minor league system was just outfielders with some shortstops sprinkled in. Every single guy had speed. And I learned something: Power/speed combo outfielders are a finite resource.
No shit, right? Well, if we have a look around the prospect lists, we’ll find corner bats everywhere. Speed-free profiles are everywhere. Pitchers and catchers are everywhere. I’m not saying they have no place; I’m just saying it’s easy to wind up with a team peppered with all sorts of players. Might even be preferable. Not so easy to hold ten of the best power-speed outfield prospects at a given time. If you can pull that off, you’ll be on the rich-folks side of the supply/demand curve. Thus far, I’ve found the strategy a bit less profitable in practice than in theory because the people who aren’t focused on speed tend to want it cheap, and the people who collect speed already have enough to get by. That’s fine though. I’ve been running away with the stolen bases category in my four dynasty leagues for years now, and I’ve cashed in all four, so even if I’m not regularly charging rent on Boardwalk anytime someone wants stolen bases, I’m ringing the register in other ways.
That intro got long in a hurry. Always dangerous when a writer veers anywhere near their own leagues, I think, but here’s hoping we came through it okay and that it made connective sense to the focus point today: Outfielders: What do they steal? Do they steal things? Let’s find out.
Format = Player | Team | Age on 4/1/22 | Highest Level Played | ETA
A 6’3” 180 lb right-handed right fielder, Rodriguez comes straight out of central casting for superstar ballplayers. The hit-tool scouting grades I’ve seen in public-facing spheres around the game feel a little light to me, typically 60 or 65. Even Bobby Witt Jr., who I like a lot and have tried to acquire in my dynasty leagues, can’t really compare to J-Rod with the bat. He feels like as easy a 70 as I’ve seen since Wander. I suppose he could trade some of his all-fields contact for power in the long run, but so far he’s been hit over power in his approach, slashing .362/.461/.546 in 46 games at AA. He didn’t turn 21 until December 29 and brings an energy to the game that we oldsters need to see just to keep us young. This day-in-day-out ebullience should serve him well in the big league grind and help him fight through the early struggles typical of the game today with pitching (and advanced scouting) being fathoms better in the big leagues than the minors.
Greene is a smooth 6’3” 200 lb left handed hitter who looks like he was born to play baseball, something made ever more apparent as he climbs the ladder. As a 20-year-old in AAA, Greene slashed .308/.400/.553 with 8 HR and 4 SB in 40 games. That’s superstar stuff if mapping futures by age-to-level math. Here’s a link to Grey’s thoughts in Riley Greene, 2022 Fantasy Outlook.
At 5’10” 165 lbs, Carroll is the rare Mookie Betts type dynamo who is truly plus everything when the lights go on. He hit two home runs and stole three bases in just seven games in 2021 and projects to be a roto gawd bah gawd whenever he gets off the mat from that season-ending shoulder injury.
Davis splashed onto the national scene when he hit two home runs and won the MVP of this summer’s Futures Game, but he’d been a prospect dreamboat long before then, adding muscle after being drafted in the 2nd round as a spindly kid who could’ve played D1 basketball. Today he appears to be built from rebar. His raw power is creeping up into the 70 range, and he accesses that pop in game thanks to a quiet approach that’s helping him hone his pitch selection skills. The 2nd half of 2021 was the best version of Davis we’ve seen, capped by a 15-game stretch at AAA during which he slashed .268/.397/.536 with 4 HR and a 16.2 / 22.1% BB/K rate. His timeline comes down to how focused the Cubs are on manipulating his years of team control. I suspect he’ll make a strong case to join the club as soon as possible during spring training. And who knows? A new CBA might cut down on some of the prospect fuckery prevalent in today’s game. Probably not a smart bet, but if anyone in power is serious about improving the game, this is among the most glaring issues.
In his best season (2003), Matos’ old man slashed .303/.353/.458 with 13 HR and 15 SB in 109 games for the Orioles. That’s roughly a 20/20 full-season pace with a nice boost to your batting average. Luis the younger has more juice than his old man, and the game itself has changed to get more from elite-hands players like those in the Matos family. I’m not sure why he didn’t get promoted to High-A along with Marco Luciano, but a .313/.358/.494 slash line with 15 HR and 21 SB in 109 games is a wonderful outcome for a 19-year-old’s first crack at full season ball.
It wouldn’t be fair to invoke the name of Kid Griffey, but the ease of access between Veen and his power reminds me first of Griffey. People comped Veen to Christian Yelich a lot during draft season because he was the best player at that time and also he is, let’s say, similar in appearance, but those players aren’t like entities in many ways. Yelich was a gangly, contact-first guy who hit a million ground balls and still does, even as he learned to add enough loft in Milwaukee to catch a few more buzzes. Veen in a muscular masher who’s already adept at swinging for the fences (and the fences behind the fences). In 106 games this year, Veen slashed .301/.399/.501 with 15 HR and 36 SB. Tough to fathom why he spent all season in Low A.
Can’t believe this guy’s 21 until April 28. Feels like he’s been in my life since I was born, but that’s mostly because our timelines merged in the sense that I started this gig around the time he started sifting sands on Arrakis. In 106 games across two levels (AA and AAA), Thomas hit 18 homers and swiped 13 bags. He slugged .658 and hit eight of those home runs in 34 games in the late summer at Reno, which does fog the reality to some degree.
Valera started making noise on the field in 2021, posting an incredible .430 OBP in 63 games at High-A before moving on to AA for his final month. His final line in 86 games across the two levels: .260/.405/.505 with 19 HR and 11 SB. His selective aggressiveness and baserunning acumen should make him an asset in OBP leagues even if he’s slumping. He can get a little pull-happy at times, but that’s partly just him channeling the Cleveland coaching–a good sign for a great athlete who would be among the youngest players in AAA to open the 2022 season.
I haven’t been high on Lowe, and someday I’ll learn to stop making that pun. You let one pun in the window and low and behold they’ll take over the apartment. Lowe reached the summit this season, playing in two big league games, drawing a walk and smacking a single without making an out. He’s perfect. Could consider going out on top like George Costanza leaving a meeting. I still think the Rays would like to trade CF Kevin Kiermaier. His contract stipulates he be compensated at something like a fair market rate, meaning he’s expendable. In 111 games at AAA last year, Lowe managed a 13%/26.2% BB/K rate and a .291/.381/.535 slash line with 22 HR and 26 SB. The main reason I’ve been comparatively less enthusiastic about him was time and a grooved swing. Time meaning people pushing Lowe up lists since 2019, and here we sit on the verge of 2022 uncertain whether or not he’ll play, meaning now is probably the time to buy. He has nothing left to prove in the minors.
Razzball readers helped me get a better read on Pages, who I had bucketed as a fairly standard swing-and-miss corner type coming into 2021, when Pages flipped the script by cutting his K rate from 28.3% to 24.5% and increasing his walk rate from 9.3% to 14.3%. These improved swing decisions manifested in 31 HR and a .394 OBP in 120 games. A leap like this makes sense: Pages has always been young for his level, and his power has always come easily. Could be a monster if his approach continues to improve.
A 6’0” 191 lb right handed hitter, Pereira enjoyed an incredible season in 2021, covering three levels in just 49 games and slashing .303/.398/.686 with 20 HR and 9 SB. He’ll almost certainly open 2022 in AA and has a realistic chance to be a big leaguer by the second half. Here’s a link to me swooning over him in Prospect News: Everson Pereira Punching up, Victor Robles Rebounding. It seems unreasonable to expect him to thrive right away in the upper levels because he just hasn’t played that much professional baseball due to injury in 2019 and reality in 2020, but the guy just kept hitting last year in search of a level that could challenge him.
Bob the third had an impressive debut season, slashing .302/.393/.470 in 110 games with 11 HR and 34 SB across two levels playing against much older guys. He was 3.8 years younger than the average in High-A, so I’ll take his 18-game stretch there with a grain of salt. He did hit four home runs and swipe three bags at the level but slashed .205/.287/.410 and struck out 28.7 percent of the time. None of these outcomes represent his likely future–not the power or the speed or the strikeouts or the slash line. He traded some safety for power as he got comfortable in Low A and saw that approach exploited in his brief stretch at the next level. At peak, we’re looking at a plus-hit, plus-run type with just enough power and defense to be an everyday big leaguer.
I’ve been comparatively low on Dominguez from day one, but part of that is having a foot in the baseball card universe, where Dominguez’s 1st Bowman Chrome Autograph was selling for the cost of four Fernando Tatis Juniors before he ever set foot on an affiliated field, and it’s tough to shake such a look into the heart of the hype machine. Here’s a link to WonkaVision: Jasson Dominguez and the Search for Gold in Bowman if you’re interested in that kind of thing.
When other sites were putting 16-year-old Dominguez in their overall top tens, Razzball was pushing for CJ Abrams over him in that year’s first-year-player drafts. I share all this preamble because I think I’ll be the high mark on Dominguez by the time he’s in AAA–not because I’m going to fall in love with him between now and then but because I think the blowback from the early adopters will be fierce if he looks more human than Martian in 2022. I thought he did well this year, considering how long it had been since he’d played. An 18-year-old slashing .258/.346/.398 with a 105 wRC+ in 49 games in a full-season A league is impressive.
A 6’3” 190 lb centerfielder with a football build (he also played football in high school), Jay Allen is among my favorite bats in this year’s draft class. He was a gift for the Reds at the 30th overall pick, and as long as his price in First-Year-Player Drafts is even loosely connected to that real-life draft slot, I’ll be scooping him up on all my teams. In 19 games on the complex, Allen II slashed .328/.440/.557 with 3 HR and 14 SB. He was caught stealing once. This is what future roto studs look like at the lower levels. In a lesser system, Allen II would already be nudging toward the top.
Would be foolish to draw long-term conclusions from a 33-game sample, especially when a player gets chewed up in the gears of modern media. I can’t say for sure the when’s-he-coming-up dialog around Duran had a negative impact on him, but the BoSox dragging their feet and talking about sending him to the Olympics in a couple months so he can’t play in the majors now? That’s weird. Had to be weird when Duran was white hot in AAA awaiting his big chance. In just 60 games there, Duran hit 16 HR, stole 16 bases, and slashed .258/.357/.516. All in all, it was a wild season: Duran’s 2020 swing change produced more power than anyone expected, and even as he struggled in the majors, the outline of an impact roto hitter is easy to see.
Rojas is one of the few Phillies we should be buying right now in dynasty leagues. He finished the season on a heater at High-A Jersey Shore, slashing .344/.419/.563 in 17 games at a level where he was about three years younger than the league average. He’s a premium athlete at 6’1” 165 lbs, though I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s 20 pounds heavier and stronger than that today. Had been hitting the ball on the ground a lot before something clicked late. A season-long breakout could be in the cards for 2022, where he could open in AA if Philly wants to really push the envelope, which is their typical M.O.
A lefty bat with easy opposite field power, even as a 17-year-old against upper minors arms at the training site in 2020, Perez had some contact issues early in his first taste of pro ball but nothing too concerning. He slashed .333/.394/.575 with 6 HR and 2 SB in 32 games on the complex before spending the final 16 games striking out 36.8 percent of the time in A ball. He’s a muscle bound 5’10” listed at 160 lbs , but there’s just no way he’s that light today. Probably more like 185. He’s a rare offensive talent who could help us in every category at peak.
A 6’3” 195 lb plus athlete, Cowser takes an all-fields approach from the left side and clears out his lead hip well enough that he’s got power to the whole park, even if it’s more often doubles to left and homers to right. The 5th overall pick in the 2021 draft, Cowser got into the groove right away, hitting .500 for a week in the complex league before slashing .347/.476/.429 with 1 HR and 4 SB in 25 games in A ball. Rare profile here: double-plus hit with plenty of power, patience and speed to make music across all the categories in just about any setting.
Ramos embodies the strong-organization strategy in dynasty baseball, as he popped early enough to be added in just about any-sized league, but you had to be zeroing in on the Dodgers to some extent to notice it in time to add him because you won’t be alone in the strong-org strategy. Some teams’ prospects don’t rise in the ranks like others, and that’s just the media side that’s been well earned on the field in most cases. Ramos is a rare dude who has a chance to be 60 hit, 60 power, 60 run at peak. Invest accordingly.
Something of a meta-human at 6’6” 188 lbs and still growing, Alcantara came into his own in 2021, slashing .345/.423/.588 combined in the Florida and Arizona complex leagues despite being about two years younger than the average player there. He’s a five-tool player with the defensive chops to stick in centerfield. The phrase “sky’s the limit” exists to describe players like Kevin Alcantara.
Says he’s feeling good, and he’s got a clean bill of health entering 2022, so now might be a good time to inquire about big lefty bat’s availability in your dynasty leagues. He was coming off an incredible 16-game season at Arkansas and posting star-level exit velocities when his journey was waylaid. Here’s a quote from the article linked above:
“I had to see a lot of doctors,” Kjerstad said. “It wasn’t fun. It was pretty taxing mentally because I’m young. I never thought of being sidelined for something of that nature. The Orioles helped me see plenty of great doctors to give me a plan to follow. I followed those steps and was able to make it through. I’m back here playing and feeling great.”
Still a pretty hot button for fantasy purposes, but I think go ahead and draft him in a start-up this year if he falls and falls.
22. Michael Harris II | Atlanta | 21 | A+ | 2023
Speed and contact skills are the calling cards for Harris, but his plate discipline took a pretty nice leap in the second half this year as well. He’s posted a 12.9/17.9 K/BB percentage since August 1, slashing .288/.400/.432 with 2 HR and 9 SB over the 35 game stretch. He’ll open next year at AA and could push for some big league looks later in the season.
In 94 games at AAA in 2021, Siri slashed .318/.369/.552 with 16 HR and 24 SB. He still struck out 30.7 percent of the time, but nobody will care if he’s making that kind of impact, which is what he did in 21 games for the Astros, slashing .304/.347/.609 with 4 HR, 3 SB and a 34.7 percent K-rate. Everything happening here is interesting. Trouble is, Houston has more centerfielders than the team can field. Jake Meyers and Chas McCormick both look like capable major leaguers and cloud the outlook for Siri.
I’m sure this looks high to some people, and to be honest I’m struggling like crazy to find the right place for him on this list and my top 100 prospects for 2022. I think you could put him as high as fifteenth here. Can even make a case he’s not much different from Josh Lowe. Siri’s upside is 30/30. He has a non-zero chance to get there. If he does, it’ll be soon. He could hit five homers and swipe five bags in April and climb all the lists. Or he could get demoted and strike out 30 percent of the time in AAA again.
A 4th round pick in 2020, the 6’5” 215 lb Wiemer exploded onto the scene in 2021 with 27 HR and 30 SB across two levels. Yipes. His 34-game stretch at High-A breaks the brain a bit: .336/.428/.719 with 14 HR and 8 SB while maintaining an 11.8/23.7 percent BB/K rate. As seen in the rates, his swing is tighter and quicker than most huge humans. I might have him too low here. It’s fair to say he’s earned the top spot.
The actor? No, that’s “woods” like Tiger and lost in the. This guy might never get lost through the forest because he’s bigger than the trees. Listed at 6’7” 240 lbs, Wood is a defensive end playing center field. I have to be careful with this blurb because I am excited. A left handed hitter who throws right-handed, Wood brings to mind a muscled up Oneil Cruz, and if that doesn’t get your baseball blood pumping, let’s take a glance at his early outcomes. In 26 complex-league games, Wood slashed .372/.465/.535 with 3 HR and 10 SB. He did strike out 32 times (31.7%), but I’d be lying if I said I cared much at this point. In fact, I kind of hope the strikeouts keep his profile muted enough to make him a Supp-draft steal this winter.
Happy Valentine’s Day! Let ’em know you care!
We’ll cover the next 25 outfielders Wednesday.
Thanks for reading!
I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.