For your viewing and thinking pleasure, I have played a game of Would You Rather using the entire prospect universe.

Or wait, am I thinking of the right game? Not that F, marry, kill game but the one where you have to decide on either/or propositions . . . there’s not sex stuff in that one, too, is there?

Sorry, I’ve been thinking about these young men a long time.

Hope you get some fun out of considering the sequence, reading some words, and playing your own (sex) games!

Here’s the Top 25 if you want to run the loop.

 

26. Kyle Tucker | OF | Astros
27. Brendan McKay | LHP | Rays
28. Forrest Whitley | RHP | Astros

These three were all top 25 at some point in my process, and each should get an fantasy-friendly big-league look in 2020.

Might all be available this off-season in dynasty leagues, too. A guy could do worse with his time than deciding whether he likes Tucker (or McKay or Whitley) enough to make a strong opening offer.

 

29.  Bobby Witt Jr. | SS | Royals
30.  Trevor Larnach | OF | Twins
31.  Drew Waters | OF | Braves
32.  Casey Mize | RHP | Tigers
33.  Matt Manning | RHP | Tigers
34.  Nate Pearson | RHP | Blue Jays

This whole group will be higher on most lists.

It’s not that I don’t like them.

Witt Jr. will be in the top ten this time next year.

Waters, Mize, Manning and Pearson will be in the majors.

The Larnach monster will be a lakeside legend in Scotland.

You will be in first place in your favorite fantasy league.

Ronald Acuña Jr. will be in the White House.

Hey! No politics!

I mean the fantasy baseball White House!

That’s what she said.

She did?

Hmm, maybe I didn’t hear her right.

 

35.  Corbin Carroll | OF | Diamondbacks
36.  AJ Puk | LHP | Athletics
37.  Luis Patiño | RHP | Padres
38.  Jeter Downs | SS | Dodgers
39.  George Valera | OF | Indians
40.  Luis Matos | OF | Giants
41.  Gilberto Jimenez | OF | Red Sox

Corbin Carroll has 70-grade speed with a 60-grade hit tool and could easily be top ten here by midseason.

Puk and Patiño are dominant arms their clubs might want to use in relief in the early going. They’re good enough to be great starters or hyper-elite firemen.

Jeter Downs got the L.A. swing treatment this Spring, popped 24 homers, stole 24 bags, and is looking like the kind power/speed dynamo that elicits itch drool. That said, these Dodgers haven’t been big on stealing. They have the money to buy whatever they want. It’s just good morals, really.

Valera is everyone’s favorite young baseball George. I’m not counting Jorges. Seriously though, this guy is going to be atop these lists until he graduates. He was here long before he played and might be here long after.

Luis Matos is perhaps the least publicized star-level talent in the minors. I think I’m in love.

If not Matos, it’s Gilberto Jimenez, whose 80-grade  speed combines with elite hand-eye to create something truly rare. The NY Penn League batting champion at age 19, Jimenez was 2.9 years younger than league average. That’s a college league. This is a special player.

 

42.  Sam Hilliard | OF | Rockies
43.  Shed Long | 2B | Mariners
44.  Monte Harrison | OF | Marlins
45.  Austin Hays | OF | Orioles
46.  Nick Solak | 2B | Rangers
47.  Kyle Lewis | OF | Mariners
48.  Brailyn Marquez | LHP | Cubs
49.  Nico Hoerner | SS | Cubs
50.  Cristian Pache | OF | Braves

Rich tier here where my taste for near-term, big-league  upside wafts up the list.

Where would Sam Hilliard rank if not a Rocky? His path to playing time might be paved, but Coors covers his only fantasy weakness: batting average.

Okay how bout where would he rank if we knew he’d be starting in Coors?

Top 20?

I know the Coors speculation game is fruitless and frustrating, but damn if this guy ain’t built for Coors Field and fantasy baseball in 2020.

Hilliard, the banquet beer.

Shed Long and Monte Harrison might not be this high elsewhere, but they’re on the escalator now. Three hot weeks at the right time can make a 5-tool guy like Monte the center of the helium-verse.

Trivia this week: how did Shed get to Seattle?

Jeopardy music.

Cut to Alex. Cut to Beck.

Where it’s at!?

If you said James Paxton three-way, you’re not far off.

If you said Sonny Gray three-way, you win the big prize! It’s the Shades of Gray book series signed by Grey!!

Solak, Lewis and Hays bring the wood to everyday opportunities in 2020. Hays and Solak get an edge because they’ll run some.

Marquez might not crack the top 100 on most lists, which makes plenty of sense because I fade pitching at every turn, but it also feels weird: how humdrum can we be about a 20-year-old lefty dominating high-A with a hundred mile-an-hour heater? I can’t even remember the last lefty who threw this hard. (Marquez has been clocked at 102 mph). Randy Johnson, maybe? Aroldis Chapman I guess, and heck, if that’s what you get from Marquez, you’ll take it, but I don’t think that’s the outcome. His arm speed and age-to-level opens the door to immense off-speed development.

Hoerner and Pache (coming this Fall on MLB) might lack the category juice to move the needle, but they’ve got a window toward regular MLB at bats in 2020.

Thanks for reading!

51-75 coming up around the bend!

31 Comments
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DRB
DRB
2 years ago

your lists and analysis are solid and interesting. Your humor? You’re trying too hard.

Dave
Dave
2 years ago

Where’s Bart?

NUX
NUX
2 years ago

My dood. Loving the posts and also the time you take to thoughtfully answer each comment.

I had a long post on your Top 25 article about a dynasty team I took over the other day.

After seeing your excitement for Luis Matos and Gilberto Jimenez, I just reached out to the leaguemate that rosters both of those guys. Hoping that he and I will match up in a deal in the coming weeks before the First Year Player Draft that we’ll have in January (3 Rounds).

He mentioned he will want some Pitching, but I feel like most of my prospects arms are too good to move off in this potential deal (Patino, Logan Gilbert, Deivi Garcia, DL Hall, etc).

But I can tell that you would def move both of Griffin Canning + Jeff Shark if that’s the ask, based off of this Top 50 Post. I still have Kyle Gibson, Freeland, Bundy… guys that we already talked about cutting, so they would def be made available to him.

I also mentioned that I’ll would be shopping the following 4 bats in the winter and would offer them up in this sort of deal too. Thinking that you’d agree that its smart to move some of these parts for a Luis Matos + Gilberto Jimenez return.

C: Contreras, William (ATL)
3B: Nunez, Malcom (STL)
OF: Conine, Griffen (TOR)
OF: Torres, Jhon (STL)

NUX
NUX
Reply to  NUX
2 years ago

Oh one more thing I wanted to check in with you about. What are your takes on these two young arms that I own in this league. I’m not entirely sure how to value them at the moment, as I’ve mentioned in the past, the Prospecting is a new thing to me.

King, Michael (NYY)
I saw him pitch this year for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Reading that he is likely a backend SP in the majors. What’s your take?

Bukauskas, J.B. (AZ)
I know he came over in the Greinke deal. I read a bit about him, but not a ton. What range would you put him at as far as overall fantasy prospects? Top 200?

The Itch
The Itch
Reply to  NUX
2 years ago

Thanks, knucks!!

So kind of you. I’m blushing.

I’m enjoying the comments in part because I’m doing my best to be concise and quick in the lists, so a lot of thinking lands on the cutting room floor. But here I feel invited to stretch my legs a little. I guess the thinking behind the ranking is often the question, so I sometimes find myself geeking out a little the way I do.

Also: you think I need a reminder about your build already!?!?

I would definitely do all those trades you’ve mentioned. Good read on that. Matos and Jimenez might not be “whatever-it-takes” types at the moment, but they’re much cheaper now than they will be soon.

How’d King look the game you were there? He’s super interesting, especially his age-to-level and how the Yankees added three strikeouts per nine after acquiring him in 2018. Crazy thing here: in 2017 as a Marlin, he pitched 149 innings in A ball. As a 22 year old with a 1.09 WHIP and a 3.14 ERA.

He didn’t get promoted, presumably, because he was striking out 6.4 batters per nine innings.

Even so, 149 innings (plus four from the previous year) for a college (Boston College, ACC, high-end competition) arm pitching well in A ball is, at best, a conservative development decision.

Yankees get him, he dominates the world climbs to AAA in 2018. Go figure.

Anyway, I really want to see what happens but wouldn’t walk away from a trade because a team wanted King.

Bukauskas was an Astro, and betting against Houston right now is unwise. I realize that’s too broad a brush, but he’s a first round pick some thought had the best fastball, slider combination in his class. It’s not great that they deemed him expendable, but they got Grienke in a World Series window, so it’s not like they sold low, and it’s still better that he was chosen and with them for a stretch than if he had no familiarity with their thinking.

All that said, his base is not repeated well, which makes a consistent release point elusive. His control needs work, and if he doesn’t get that base figured out, I’m concerned he’ll never be a starter. If the league values dominant pen arms, he’s still top 200 or close to it.

NUX
NUX
Reply to  The Itch
2 years ago

Thx as always man.

RE King: I’m more excited about owning him now after reading your take. I was too drunk at that AAA game to give you a coherent take myself. I promise to do better next time! I live 10 mins from the Iron Pigs stadium too, so I should be doing some more amatuer scouting now that I’m getting more into the Prospecting.

RE Bukauskas: I’m kind of tired of having to C/P this guys name at this point. I have enough trouble with that already owning Samrdjsziajaja on this team. We do value RPs, as we have Holds as one of our 7 Pitching Cats, so good to hear it wouldn’t tank his value. Also, there is a blurb from 15AUG about being shut down with Elbow Soreness, so now could be a bad time to try to get something for him.

I went back into the history of my team that I took over and this was the Trade that was made/the reason I own Bukauskas…

Gave: Luis Castillo
Got: Bukauskas, Kelenic, Griff Canning, Deivi Garcia

So two big time chips and two elbow problems for Luis Castillo.

Playing for 2021 was clearly the plan before I took over the team. It could be in a much worse way than it is, so I’m grateful he made moves like this at least. Anyways, thanks again for your assistance in turning this ship around.

Hearts and Hand-Holds,
Knucks

Dan
Dan
2 years ago

Hey, i have dj Stewart in a relatively deep 14 team dynasty…. he had a pretty forgettable rookie season, do you think he’ll be relevant next year?

Jason Collier
Jason Collier
2 years ago

Nicely done, itch! A real treat to get this sort of content when the rest of the sports world is focusing on other things.
I flipped my self proclaimed “super star” minor system this year in my 12 team dynasty keep forever league into a few pitchers that I was sorely lacking. I own Vlad, Hiura, Eloy, and Robles, all of whom I brought up this year to go along with a core of J Soto, A Mondesi, R Devers, L Castillo, J Berrios, and J Taillon. I traded away Y Alvarez, L Robert, G Lux, J Rodriguez, J Adell, Bo Bichette, A Kirilloff, N Lowe, and F Tatis in a couple trades for what amounted to be G Torres, F Lindor, P Goldschmidt, A Benintendi, T Glasnow, M Kopech, A Reyes, and M Clevinger. (pitching at a huge premium.) I feel good about what I got in return, but looking back… wow. I gave up a ton! While I will probably compete faster from a rebuild now, I need to restock my minors. I still have Marco Luciano and the 4th & 8th pick in the FYPD, but if you have any couple guys on the back half of the top 50-100 that you think could rocket up lists, let me know? Thanks man! BTW, I drafted or traded for all those minors guys BEFORE they blew up… I’m quite proud of it as I inherited a HORRID team 2 years ago :)

Jeff
Jeff
2 years ago

I’ve owned Lewis since he was drafted so I’d love for him to tap into some of that potential, but I think you’ll be the only person who ranks him in the top 100 let alone the top 50. Surely it can’t be because of his limited debut, can it?

Ronald
Ronald
2 years ago

I’m in an ottoneu dynasty keeper league. I am being offered $3 Sam hilliard for my $9 Frankie montas? Would you do it?

jose H
jose H
2 years ago

Where is C Joey Bart? He is not in the top 50? . I hope i missed him, because I have seven players from your list Lux, Robinson, Luciano, Gore, Waters, Patino and Marquez, and would only draft Lux and Gore ahead of Bart.

batflix
batflix
Reply to  jose H
2 years ago

But why?
#3 overall is pretty high considering Bart’s probably not even the best catching prospect currently

Harley Earl
Harley Earl
Reply to  The Itch
2 years ago

Itch,

This is a fantastic, well-thought out and insightful response. I once read that if you’re going to invest in a pitcher or catcher, be prepared to wait 7 years for them to arrive from the minors and actually provide competitive value. This actually goes right along with everything you just stated, just in a different way. There’s a lot of players you could be working through that spot rather than just holding Bart all that time.

My guess is you’re right, Posey plays out that contract to the end. As a Cardinals fan, I see this with Yadier Molina. He could be terrible the next two years. But the fan base would have a coronary if the organization tried to replace Yadi with a rookie. It will happen eventually, after the contract ends and Yadi retires. Something very similar to what will happen with Posey I suspect.

Good call.

Harley Earl
Harley Earl
Reply to  The Itch
2 years ago

Itch,

Thanks so much for the long and insightful reply! Another reason why I love this site so much is that most of the writers engage their readers. Grey is the Godfather of being engaged with this audience. Love that you responded the way you did and answered my question so thoroughly.

Now, as to what you said. I just about coughed up the broccoli I was eating when I read that about Brujan. HOLY COW. Mondessi? With batting average??? Damn!!!! I’ll take that all day and twice on Sunday!!!

I would love to trade Julio for a haul, but there are few teams in my league (dynasty) that will deal like that. They just don’t value prospects like some other leagues. I’ll probably be hanging on to Julio.

Also, appreciate your comments on Garcia, Groshans and Beer. That gives me a little more confidence than I had going into the off-season with them. Hoping Groshans can stay healthy next season!

Keep up the great work. Looking forward to your next piece!

Harley Earl
Harley Earl
Reply to  The Itch
2 years ago

LOL funny stuff.

Dr. Seuss (The Cat in the Hat) is my dynasty team’s logo. My team name is Green Eggs & Ham, so I’ve used that logo since inception. I’ve had it for about 20 years now. Glad that you noticed!

Looking forward to rankings #51-75!!!

Harley Earl
Harley Earl
2 years ago

Itch,

First, want to thank you for these prospects posts. Nothing like getting an early jump on prospects for next year. Love, love, love that you guys are doing these and have them out so quickly. Excellent work and great material here. So, keep up the good work!!!

Next, just wanted to add that I have Brujan, Julio Rodriguez, Luis Patino and Sam Hilliard out of the ones you’ve ranked so far. Brujan, Rodriguez and Patino I got in last year’s draft almost all undervalued at the time. I picked up Hilliard a month ago and he’s been a staple.

So, couple questions for you. What’s your ceiling for Brujan and especially Rodriguez? The more I read about Rodriguez the more he feels like a fantasy star. Hoping Brujan can develop into a Whit Merrifield type.

Also, just wonder if you like or how much you like Jordan Groshans (SS-TOR), Jose Garcia (SS-Reds) or Seth Beer (1B-Dbacks). I’ve got all three of them. I really like Groshans but I’m not as sold on Beer or Garcia yet.

Any insight you can offer would be greatly appreciated! Thanks again for the great work!

batflix
batflix
2 years ago

Curious why you felt Tucker is not a top 25 guy ?

batflix
batflix
Reply to  The Itch
2 years ago

thx for the reply!
I would like to follow up if you have some time.
You are not the first person I have heard say they have concerns about him running, but he has been running since being called up (5sb in 65ab). So while I get the gist of the idea, I’m not seeing it.

As far as being buried, I feel like we had the same concerns about Yordan because Houston is so stacked. And I find it hard to believe that Josh Reddick will keep him from playing. But anything is possible I guess.

In any case I don’t see how these things would keep him below Single A players and teenagers not named Wander.
Obviously you don’t hate him at rank 26 but, maybe my original question should have been , How is he not in your top ten? or even top-5? Some prospect fatigue perhaps? going 38/35 in 146 games between AAA & MLB is pretty good considering he slumped pretty hard at times (which may or may not have been related to attitude issues from what I hear and not a talent regression)

Thanks again for writing these prospects articles up. I know when people criticize or question your content in situations like this it can come of bad, just know that I am honestly trying to pick your brain while giving you some context about how I see it differently. Content like this is essential for some leagues and everyone putting in some work deserves recognition (esp when it’s free!).
~cheers

batflix
batflix
Reply to  The Itch
2 years ago

thanks again, appreciated the response !