Baltimore’s final big prize for super-quitting, Holliday traversed four levels in 2023, climbing all the way to Triple-A for a few weeks and posting a 109 wRC+ there with 16 walks and 17 strikeouts in 18 games. He’ll begin 2024 with a chance to claim the opening day shortstop job.
A Texas-sized gift at the fourth pick in a loaded draft class, Langford laid waste to the minor leagues one level at a time, stopping at the complex league for three games before moving along to High-A for 24 games, Double-A for 12 games, and Triple-A for five games. He dominated at every level and might force an opening day debut with a good showing in spring training. He’s listed at 6’1” 225 lbs and doesn’t have much (if any) physical projection remaining, but that’s mostly irrelevant for a guy who has plus power and speed generate elite outcomes as is.
It’s fascinating to me that some prospect sites are straight-up punting on ranking professionals of a certain age from overseas. I don’t understand partly because comparing these prospects to established pros is kind of the whole point. It’s kind of the whole reason dynasty is unique in the fantasy baseball realm. We’ve had two features about Yamamoto, so I won’t say much aside from linking those except to say I think of Pedro when I watch Yamamoto. He’s incredible. The Dodgers are good at this and paid him as a top five major league pitcher.
Here’s a link to YOLOmoto: Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s Big Deal by Coolwhip.
Here’s a link to Yoshinobu Yamamoto: Monster On The Mound by everywhereblair.
A phenomenal athlete who generates unique torque, Chourio hit 22 home runs and stole 43 bases as a 19-year-old in a Double-A league that used a pre-tacked ball to start the season. Hypotheses vary on how much the tacky ball impacted offensive outcomes, but there’s little doubt it increased the difficulty level for hitters. The league swapped out that experiment for a different one after a couple weeks, but the ball was still . . . unique enough that it creates a little error bar and reverse-explained some of Chourio’s early struggles. Mostly, he was pretty great, slashing .280/.336/.467 with an 18.4 percent strikeout rate and a 112 wRC+ across 122 games. This earned him a promotion to Triple-A for the final six games, where he slashed .333/.375/.476 with just one strikeout. Given the contract he signed, he’s got open runway to claim a job in spring training.
Caminero smashed 31 home runs in 117 games across two levels, slashing .309/.373/.548 with a 17.1 percent strikeout rate in 81 Double-A games on his way to a late-season promotion to the show. The Rays look more crowded on the infield than they did when I wrote the team lists, so there’s a pretty good chance Caminero opens the season in Triple-A and comes up after a few weeks if he’s hitting well.
Carter ended the 2023 as a key piece and middle-order bat on a World Series winner. In 23 regular season games, he slashed .306/.423/.645 with five home runs and three stolen bases. His youth and incredible patience from the left side give him unique upside on offense and his easy athleticism gives him a high floor on defense. He enters 2024 as a nearly universal top ten prospect in baseball.
The snakes slithered into the World Series on the strength of Corbin Carrol’s fantastic rookie season and some dynamite outings from the starting rotation. Lawlar’s on the books with a chance to repeat Carroll’s rookie of the year feat and establish himself as an everyday player in the top half of a contending lineup. At 6’2” 190 lbs, Lawlar plays plus defense at shortstop and brings plus power and speed on offense. The hit tool was his only question mark, but Lawlar answered that with a midseason surge that landed him in Triple-A, where he slashed .358/.438/.612 with five home runs, three stolen bases and 12 strikeouts in 16 games. He joined the big league club in September but couldn’t keep the hits coming and batted (and slugged) .129 with a 32.4 percent strikeout rate in 14 games. Would’ve been nice to see him help enough to have an obvious job entering 2024, but a couple weeks of 0-fers is no big deal for a guy his age debuting during a pennant race.
8. Pirates RHP Paul Skenes | 21 | AA | 2024
Skenes gave up catching and quickly became the best pitcher in college baseball. At 6’6” 235 lbs, he wasn’t really built for crouching all day. What he was built to do is shove 100 mile per hour fastballs through the strike zone and bury unhittable sliders. The club jumped him up to Double-A for a couple of short outings, so it stands to reason that’s where he’ll open 2024, but this could be a situation where his stuff is just too dominant for the minor leagues.
9. C 1B Samuel Basallo | 19 | AA | 2025
Ranking O’s prospects is extra tricky right now because their big league lineup is filled with road blocks. Basallo has virtually zero chance of unseating Adley Rutschman while Adley is in town. Not the end of the world. He could mix in at first base and behind the plate and cover DH on some off days, but it’s not like those spots are wide open either. On his own merits, Basallo’s a fantastic prospect who obliterated a High-A league that was 4.2 years his senior, on average, slashing .333/.444/.688 with eight home runs, 19 walks and 20 strikeouts in 27 games, earning a trip to Double-A to close out the season. He’s probably too good for the team to trade, given Baltimore’s recent history of hugging every prospect with a pulse. So we wait. Even so, he’s tough to overrate, given the age-to-level outcomes and hulk-smash strength.
The first thing you notice about Colt Keith is his chest. Sorry, I don’t mean to put that on you. The first thing I notice is his chest. Shoulders. Upper arms. This dude is big, is what I’m saying. He’s listed at 6’2” 211 lbs and looks every bit that with some change, and it’s pretty much all muscle. The strength allows him to fire a tick late and still punish pitches to the opposite field. His swing is perfect for it. He’s always under control and flick-barrels off-speed with ease. He can also fire a tick early and absolutely wallop a pitch he can pull. I’m thinking of one screaming line drive off a low-inside-happy-zone pitch against Harrisburg that’s still going. You can just see everyone in the right-field stands watching and watching as the camera lingers and looks for the ball it lost off the bat. In 126 games across two levels in 2023, Keith hit 27 home runs and slashed .306/.380/.552. The Tigers have been playing him at second base, where he’ll be an All-Star if he can field at even a slightly below-average level. I actually had Jobe ranked over Keith in the system, but since then, Keith has signed a big contract and been all but handed the second base job.
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, here we have a Noelvi Marte blurb a while after Grey showed the love in his Noelvi Marte, 2024 Fantasy Outlook. Click that link to get a nice look at the man himself in three revealing videos. Marte, not Grey. Gotta join his only fans for that, I think. Grey’s not Marte’s. Anyway, the team needed Marte to hit right away, and that’s what he did, slashing .316/.366/.456 with three homers and six steals in 35 games. On the season, he went 14/24 in 124 games across three levels, maintaining an impressive strikeout rate every step of the way.
At 6’6” 240 lbs from the left side, Wood is always just a bit of contact away from a double and a barrel away from a bomb. Last winter, he was mostly untouchable in all my leagues. This time around, that shiny new bloom seems to be off the rose. I kinda get it. He slashed .248/.334/.492 in 87 Double-A games, but he also had 40 extra base hits (18 HR) and ten steals in about half a season as a 20-year-old in Double-A. I think I’m more impressed with him now than I was then.
13. Twins OF Walker Jenkins | 19 | A | 2026
In some draft classes, Jenkins would’ve been a contender to go first overall. In a class with Crews, Skenes and Langford, Jenkins and fellow high school outfielder Max Clark became windfall profits for teams with lottery luck. A left-handed hitter at 6’3” 210 lbs, Jenkins hit .333 with power for a couple weeks on the complex then looked like Chuck Norris in Low-A for 12 games, slashing .392/.446/.608 with six strikeouts and four walks. The fifth overall pick appears likely to sprint through the system.
Hey all you cats and kittens. These tigers are so loaded that you can pick any of three guys to lead off their prospect list. I’ll bet their top three lands between 15th and 35th on just about every public-facing list. Jobe gets the opening chapter here because he pairs impeccable command with incredible spin rates. His four-pitch mix is headlined by a slider he revs up over 3000 RPMs. In 64 innings across three levels in 2023, he posted an ace-level 0.98 WHIP and a preposterous 84-to-6 strikeout-to-walk rate. He took just one turn at Double-A but threw six shutout innings. He’ll probably look ready for the rotation in spring training but will probably wind up taking ten or fifteen turns in the minors before a mid-season debut.
Slugged .278 at Double-A, but it was just 20 games, and Crews doesn’t have as much experience with wooden bats as the average top five type. The second overall pick in 2023 after a decorated career with LSU, Crews hasn’t played in the typical wooden bat leagues. It’s hard to overstate how different it is to hit with wood versus aluminum or whatever the hell kid bats are made from these days, but I think Crews will adapt in a hurry. The club had him skip High-A for whatever reason. Maybe he should go there to open 2024. Or maybe he’ll have a nice spring and start hot in Double-A. Pretty wide range of outcomes here.
16. Guardians OF Chase DeLauter | 22 | AA | 2024
A gifted left-handed hitter at 6’4” 235 lbs, DeLauter could be a middle order mainstay and fantasy superstar. In 57 games spread across three levels, he slashed .355/.417/.528 with 30 strikeouts, 23 walks, five home runs and six stolen bases. He then extended his season by 23 games in the Arizona Fall League, where he slashed .299/.385/.529 with five homers and five steals. His blend of patience, power and contact skills are enticing and could land him in the majors late this season if Cleveland is contending. Hard to imagine they won’t be squarely in the mix given the relative weakness of the AL Central.
Anthony charged to the top of this group with a superb season in 2023. A left-handed hitter at 6’2” 200 lbs, Anthony slashed .272/.406/.466 with 14 home runs and 16 stolen bases in 106 games across three levels, finishing with ten dominant games in Double-A (.343/.477/.543) after slugging .569 in 54 games at High-A. I include the full-season line here along with the particulars because the full season tells the story of a player improving in a hurry. He slashed just .228/.376/.317 with 38 walks and 38 strikeouts in 42 games at Low-A but started driving the ball in Boston’s friendly High-A setting, where he drew 40 walks with 70 strikeouts (30.6 percent) in 54 games. He then struck out just six times in the ten Triple-A games. Man that’s a lotta stat salad. I’m just trying to say he’s a player in flux and reminds me a little of Ronald Acuna at this stage in the sense that he’s got more than one path ahead of him as a hitter and could become a total-package type who slashes .300/.400/.500 on the regular. He’s also quick enough to swipe some bags in the go-go era. Snagged 16 in 23 attempts this season but got caught just once in six tries between High-A and Double-A. I’ve got his ETA as 2025 here, but that can change in a hurry if Boston is competitive and Anthony is on his game.
Williams was fantastic for 36 games in High-A, slashing .299/.451/.567 with seven home runs, 12 steals, 32 strikeouts and 33 walks. He’d earned a midseason promotion by posting a .422 on base percentage in Low-A while improving throughout the season. If he hits in Double-A to open the year, the 5’6” 175 lb spark plug will be a top ten prospect in baseball by May.
19. Rays 1B Xavier Isaac | 20 | A+ | 2025
A big lefty bat at 6’3” 240 lbs, Isaac is more athletic in the box than most guys his size. He’s got good hips and fast hands, so lookout ladies and pitchers everywhere, Xavier Isaac Hayes is coming to an arena near you. He hit six home runs in just 12 High-A games after improving throughout the year in Low-A and recording a 14.9 percent walk rate and 21.3 percent strikeout rate. When a high school first baseman goes in the first round to a team that knows prospects, my ears perk up. It’s not only that he’ll have to hit his way to the majors that intrigues me, or that the bat will always have to carry the profile, but also the reality that most prospect lists won’t ever reflect his fantasy value because they prioritize defense.
Horton heard his name during the seventh overall pick in the 2022 Rule 4 draft, and he’s been making noise ever since. In 21 games across three levels this season, he pitched 88.1 innings and recorded 117 strikeouts with a 1.00 WHIP and a 2.65 ERA. Word around the north side is that they’ll be extremely active in free agency, and it’s hard to disagree after seeing the cash they’re shelling out for new manager Craig Counsell, but I hope they only block Horton for legitimate rotation options. I think he could win a spot out of spring training if they’d let him.
At 6’4” 256 lbs with a picturesque swing from the left side, Montes invites visual comps to Yordan Alvarez and embraces them, incorporating regular video study and modeling his own game after the Houston slugger’s. He cut his strikeout rate by eight percent between the Dominican Summer League (33.2%) and the Complex League (25.3%) then maintained the gain with a 25 percent strikeout rate in 33 Low-A games. He slashed .321/.429/.565 with seven home runs and a 165 wRC+ in that month-plus of full-season ball. There’s plenty of reasons to rank other guys higher than him on this list, especially on the probability or speed fronts, but I just kept moving Montes up this totem pole and couldn’t really convince myself that I’d take any of these guys over him in a dynasty league I thought would last a long time.
The Martian landed in New York on September 1, smashing four home runs in eight games before his season ended due to an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery with a side of an internal bracing procedure. If his elbow heals well, the 5’9” 220 lb switch hitter should be an option for the major league lineup by midseason. He wasn’t great across 109 games in AA (.254/.367/.414), but that was enough for a 118 wRC+. Can’t complain about that from a 20-year-old. Then he torched Triple for nine games, walking twice as much as he struck out. The plate skills seemed to be mid-leap when he got hurt, and he’s starting to feel a little underrated for the dynasty game.
Supreme contact skills from the left side give Merrill a fantastic base from which to develop his game over the next decade. He struck out just 62 times in 114 games across two levels last year, posting a 111 wRC+ in High-A and a 104 in Double-A despite being 4.3 years younger than the league average age. He’ll open in Triple-A and could look ready for the majors in April. There’s a chance the club trades Ha-Seong Kim and/or Jake Cronenworth this winter and opens an early avenue for Merrill.
PCA had posted a 106 wRC+ through 34 Triple-A games when he got promoted to his first major league opportunity. He was striking out in 29.7 percent of his plate appearances. His 136 wRC+ with 14 home runs and 27 steals through 73 Double-A games came with a 24 percent strikeout rate, and I suspect that will be the sweet spot for Crow-Armstrong’s early career. If he can keep the K-rate under 25 percent, we’ll want him in our fantasy lineups for his blend of speed, power and playing time. In 120 games across three levels, PCA hit 20 home runs and stole 39 bases.
25. Rangers SS Sebastian Walcott | 18 | A+ | 2026
An extreme athlete at 6’4” 195 lbs with double-plus power and easy plus speed, Walcott has a path to becoming baseball’s top prospect by this time next year. He’s smooth enough on defense to project a future at shortstop and jumped Low-A to join the High-A team as it headed toward the playoffs. In 35 games on the complex, Walcott slashed .273/.325/.524 with seven home runs, nine steals and 51 strikeouts. Anyone pumping the brakes on him is especially concerned with this last piece because Walcott has some swing-and-miss in his game that could become an issue if the contact skills don’t make a leap as he ages up.
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