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Dynasty Baseball Stock Watch: 10 Up, 10 Down

The developing story with the most significant dynasty baseball ramifications entering Opening Day surrounds two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani, who is currently under investigation by Major League Baseball after allegations surfaced earlier this month surrounding his former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara. His now-former interpreter was fired by the Dodgers after questions arose surrounding at least $4.5 million in wire transfers sent from Ohtani’s bank account to an illegal bookmaking operation that was the target of a federal investigation. There’s a lot to unpack with this complicated situation, and there are details that may never surface, but Ohtani read a statement to reporters prior to Opening Day that Mizuhara stole money and sent it to an illegal bookmaker. He also added that he’s never bet on baseball (or any other sport). At this juncture, all indications are that he won’t be placed on administrative leave while the league investigates, but it’s a situation fantasy managers should continue to monitor closely.

With spring training officially in the books, it’s time to take a quick trip through the freshly updated Fantrax Top 500 Dynasty Baseball Rankings to uncover hitters and pitchers whose value has changed the most over the last few months. Obviously, dynasty managers shouldn’t draw firm conclusions from spring training statistics, which is why these takeaways focus primarily on players who are stepping into more prominent roles or have expedited their timeline to the majors, or are poised to miss significant time due to injury (or suspension). Without further delay, here’s the first dynasty stock watch for 2024.

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Dynasty Baseball Stock Watch

10 UP

Wyatt Langford, OF, Rangers

Offseason: 16

Opening Day: 14

It might not seem like a significant jump on paper, but Langford seemingly cemented his spot as an upper-echelon dynasty baseball contributor this spring as the talk of spring training en route to locking up a spot on the Rangers’ Opening Day roster. The 22-year-old top prospect tore the cover off the ball this spring, batting .365 (23-for-63) with six homers and 20 RBI in 21 Cactus League contests. There might be some initial turbulence as he adjusts to everyday life in the majors, but he looks like an immediate five-category fantasy contributor and has already ascended into the top-15 range of these rankings from a trade value standpoint. Simply put, he’s answered every potential question entering spring training and legitimately looks like a potential fantasy superstar given the combination of his prodigious talent and Texas’ loaded lineup.

Oneil Cruz, SS, Pirates

Offseason: 49

Opening Day: 39

Few hitters cobbled together a more impressive performance this spring than Cruz, who posted an astronomical 1.072 OPS with seven homers and one steal in 51 plate appearances over 16 Grapefruit League contests. The fact that he showed up fully healthy and didn’t show any signs of rust after missing nearly all of last year due to injury is extremely impressive. The 25-year-old possesses off-the-metaphorical-charts raw athleticism and could make the leap to fantasy superstardom rather quickly this season. There’s a strong possibility he’s still not done rising up these dynasty baseball rankings.

Cole Ragans, P, Royals

Offseason: 76

Opening Day: 51

Throw out the unimpressive spring stats and focus entirely on the skills. Ragans broke out last year after a midseason trade gave him an opportunity in Kansas City’s starting rotation and he’s looked like a fantasy ace once again this spring. The 26-year-old southpaw routinely touched the upper-90’s with his fastball and piled up 21 strikeouts across 17 1/3 frames (five starts) in Cactus League action. He still needs to prove it over a full season, but Ragans looks like a potential fantasy ace, which is enough to push him into the top-50 range in these rankings given all of the uncertainty with the rest of the pitching pool.

James Wood, OF, Nationals

Offseason: 97

Opening Day: 84

Despite making a serious push to break camp in the big leagues, Wood is ticketed to open the 2024 campaign at Triple-A Rochester. The 21-year-old top prospect certainly turned some heads this spring in Grapefruit League action as offseason changes to shorten his swing led to an impressive .364 (16-for-44) batting average with four homers and three steals in 22 games. More impressively, he struck out just 13 times and drew 11 walks in 57 plate appearances. We need to see it over a longer period against high-level competition, but Wood has a chance to evolve into an elite fantasy contributor if his plate skills continue to improve.

Christian Encarnacion-Strand, 1B/3B, Reds

Offseason: 128

Opening Day: 87

Encarnacion-Strand figures to benefit the most from an avalanche of spring injuries (and suspension) impacting the rest of Cincinnati’s infield mix. The 24-year-old emerging slugger figures to play every day at first base following Noelvi Marte’s 80-game suspension after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance and a late-spring shoulder injury to Matt McLain. He struggled last year in his first taste of the majors, but showed some serious skills growth this spring, crushing five homers while only striking out seven times in 55 plate appearances over 16 Cactus League contests. There are some lingering questions regarding his strikeout propensity, but it’s relatively easy to forecast him easily eclipsing the 30-homer plateau in an everyday role due to his undeniable stratospheric raw power.

Spencer Jones, OF, Yankees

Offseason: 148

Opening Day: 116

It doesn’t take a decade of professional scouting experience to see why Jones is such an intriguing fantasy prospect, especially if everything comes together at the highest level. The towering 6-foot-6 slugger recorded astronomical exit velocities while launching some gargantuan homers this spring, and also displayed some sublime plate discipline as well, striking out just three times in 25 plate appearances. He’s expected to open the season in the upper minors and doesn’t turn 23 years old until mid-May. We’ve seen enough encouraging progress from a plate skills and contact standpoint to be extremely encouraged long-term.

Colt Emerson, SS, Mariners

Offseason: 186

Opening Day: 124

He’s still a hyperspace jump away from the majors, but the arrow is clearly trending upwards for Emerson, who drew rave reviews this spring in Mariners camp. The 18-year-old shortstop prospect was extremely impressive last year in his professional debut after being selected 22nd overall and figures to ascend to the upper minors by the conclusion of the 2024 campaign. It definitely feels like he’s just starting his meteoric rise in these rankings.

Victor Scott II, OF, Cardinals

Offseason: 200

Opening Day: 125

Let’s make something clear. It wasn’t the Cardinals’ original plan to have Scott starting in center field on Opening Day, but injuries to Tommy Edman (wrist), Lars Nootbaar (ribs) and Dylan Carlson (shoulder) rapidly expedited his timeline to the big leagues. We’re extremely optimistic about Scott long-term, which is why he ranks this high in our Top 500 list, but the 23-year-old speedster isn’t anything close to a finished product at this juncture of his development. The hype from fantasy managers in re-draft leagues is starting to get out of control, which is understandable considering Scott recorded a staggering 94 stolen bases across 132 games last year between High-A Peoria and Double-A Springfield. However, he’s still growing and developing as a hitter, which means fantasy managers shouldn’t expect an immediate fantasy superstar. He’s made enough progress over the last year that it wouldn’t be shocking to see him hold his own at the highest level, but some additional minor-league development time would likely be extremely beneficial for his long-term success. He could wind up being an outstanding buy-low candidate for dynasty managers if he struggles to open the year.

Jared Jones, P, Pirates

Offseason: 251

Opening Day: 150

He’ll continue to be overshadowed by a potential generational talent in teammate Paul Skenes, but Jones allowed just two unearned runs over 11 1/3 innings with a 10/4 K/BB ratio this spring to lock up a spot in Pittsburgh’s season-opening rotation. The hard-throwing 22-year-old righty doesn’t feel like he’s ready to make the leap to full-fledged fantasy ace status quite yet, but he’s talented enough to get there. The major reason he skyrockets up these rankings is that he obviously will open the year in the big leagues and doesn’t come with the typical workload restrictions that impact most young pitchers after eclipsing 120 innings of work in each of the last two years in the minors.

MJ Melendez, OF, Royals

Offseason: 377

Opening Day: 250

Melendez didn’t exactly light the world on fire this spring, but he finds himself batting in the middle of Kansas City’s rapidly improving lineup, and some of the underlying metrics from last year suggest that he’s on the precipice of a power breakout. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him reach the 30-homer threshold as an everyday outfielder and there’s always the possibility that he gets enough time behind the plate to regain catcher eligibility. There are very few players that I’m willing to go out on a limb for in these rankings, but this is one of them.


Eury Pérez, P, Marlins

Offseason: 32

Opening Day: 49

We’re not completely out of the woods yet, but fantasy managers received an extremely encouraging update last week regarding Pérez’s immediate outlook as he was not recommended for season-ending surgery and has already resumed a throwing program. The uber-talented 21-year-old right-hander, who was also plagued by blister and fingernail issues during spring training, will be brought along slowly during his ramp-up process but doesn’t appear to be facing an extended absence. The uncertainty surrounding the long-term health of his right elbow is enough to knock him back a handful of spots in these rankings to mitigate some of that risk.

Gerrit Cole, P, Yankees

Offseason: 26

Opening Day: 74

Cole’s unexpected elbow uncertainty provided dynasty managers with an unexpected mid-spring scare, but he doesn’t appear at risk of undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery, and is slated to kick off his ramp-up process sometime in early-to-mid April, barring any setbacks. The 33-year-old fantasy ace is tentatively to rejoin New York’s starting rotation sometime around late May or early June. There’s still a ton of uncertainty surrounding the long-term health of his elbow, but all indications are that he’s going to pitch this season. We’re forced to headge against the possibility that he’s unable to avoid surgery in a few weeks or months, but he appears likely to rise significantly in these rankings around midseason.

Matt McLain, 2B/SS, Reds

Offseason: 56

Opening Day: 89

There simply isn’t a clear timetable for McLain to return this season following surgery just prior to Opening Day to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. It’s a significant loss for dynasty managers, as the 24-year-old looked like a perennial five-category stalwart entering the 2024 campaign. Unfortunately, shoulder surgery is among the more complicated procedures from a long-term standpoint, so we’re unlikely to get a ton of answers until he resumes hitting at some point later this year. We saw enough last year to safely keep McLain in the top-100 overall range, but he’ll need to return healthy in order to revert to his previous top-50 status.

Jordan Lawlar, SS, Diamondbacks

Offseason: 69

Opening Day: 102

The fact that Lawlar wasn’t able to land a spot on Arizona’s season-opening roster this spring has little impact on his long-term outlook. However, he winds up dropping considerably after Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen confirmed just prior to Opening Day that Lawlar is expected to miss at least two months after suffering a ruptured UCL ligament trying to pick up a ball during a minor league spring training game that will require surgery. The fact that the 21-year-old shortstop, who was the sixth-overall selection in the 2021 MLB Draft, struggled last year in his first exposure to big-league pitching and is going to miss a significant portion of the upcoming season is definitely concerning. Yet, he’s still extremely young and is still universally regarded as one of the top prospects in baseball after posting a stellar .874 OPS with 20 homers and 36 stolen bases across 490 plate appearances in 105 games last year between Triple-A Reno and Double-A Amarillo. His power/speed combo upside still merits a borderline top-100 ranking, even if it’s going to take him some extra time to get back to the majors.

Noelvi Marte, 3B/SS, Reds

Offseason: 67

Opening Day: 96

Unsurprisingly, Marte experiences a precipitous drop in the latest update after receiving an 80-game suspension following a positive test for a performance-enhancing substance. The extremely talented 22-year-old top prospect boasts the skill set necessary to blossom into an elite fantasy contributor, but he’s going to wind up missing at least half of the 2024 season and is no lock to jump directly into Cincinnati’s crowded infield mix once he’s able to return. We’re a long way off from having any sort of definitive answers when it comes to projecting Marte’s long-term outlook.

Jhoan Duran, P, Twins

Offseason: 86

Opening Day: 98

Duran’s late-spring oblique strain came up out of nowhere and figures to cost him at least the first couple weeks of the season. As dynasty managers are aware, oblique issues can be really tricky matters, which makes it challenging to forecast exactly when the flame-throwing stopper will be ready to make his season debut. There should be a clearer return timetable established at some point over the next few weeks. In the meantime, he drops a few spots in these rankings, behind fellow closers Emmanuel Clase and Edwin Díaz, for now.

Devin Williams, P, Brewers

Offseason: 102

Opening Day: 126

It’s impossible not to dock Williams at least a handful of spots in these rankings with the news earlier this month that he’s going to wind up missing roughly three months after being diagnosed with two stress fractures in his back. The 29-year-old right-hander is among the most talented closers in baseball, but back issues can be extremely complicated matters. We’re not ready to drop him significantly until we get a sense of how his rehabilitation process is going. There’s a chance he’s fully healthy and pitching at an elite level again around the All-Star break, but if that doesn’t happen, look out below.

Kodai Senga, P, Mets

Offseason: 113

Opening Day: 140

It’s difficult to continue highlighting injured pitchers in this space, but it’s the grim reality of rostering them in dynasty leagues. Senga is being brought along slowly as he continues to recover from an early-spring right shoulder strain. The 31-year-old righty kicked off a throwing program earlier this week and is expected to rejoin New York’s starting rotation mix sometime in mid-to-late May, barring any setbacks. He’ll jump up a couple of spots moving forward if his rehabilitation process continues without any issues.

Shane Baz, P, Rays

Offseason: 117

Opening Day: 168

The unappealing combination of a delayed start to the season and inevitable workload limitations are enough to momentarily drop Baz behind some of the more appealing starting pitchers and top prospects from a dynasty standpoint. The 24-year-old righty is one of the most intriguing young talents in the sport, but he’s hardly pitched at all in the last two years. The talent is still worth speculating on, but he’s unlikely to make a tangible impact for fantasy managers this season, which makes it difficult to justify rostering him, especially for dynasty managers in win-now mode.

Bryan Woo, P, Mariners

Offseason: 163

Opening Day: 196

Last one, we promise. As of press time, we’re not completely sure whether Woo will wind up requiring surgery after landing on the injured list at the conclusion of spring training with right elbow inflammation. There’s a chance the 24-year-old righty makes a full recovery and rejoins Seattle’s starting rotation in a few weeks, but this drop in the rankings represents a temporary hedge against a worst-case scenario outcome. There should be some much-needed clarity on his status in the coming days.

For more of the great fantasy baseball rankings and analysis you’ve come to expect from FantraxHQ, check out our full 2024 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit! We’re here for you all the way up until Opening Day and then on into your championship run.

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