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MLB Prospects Spring Review/2020 Fantasy Outlook – National League

As recently as a week ago, I wasn’t expecting to write these pieces for another week or week and a half. But with the coronavirus running rampant around the world, Spring Training games for 2020 are done. As much as it sucks, it’s the right call. But even with two fewer weeks of game action, we still got a look at some prospects that have a chance to make an impact at some point in the 2020 season along with some other surprise performances. So let’s take a look at how they faired this spring and when we might be seeing them this season.

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MLB Prospects Spring Review/2020 Fantasy Outlook – National League

Arizona Diamondbacks

Kevin Cron (7/29, 3 HR, 3/6 BB/K): Still without an everyday spot, Cron did his best to power his way into more playing time, but will likely start in Triple-A or on the bench. Following a dominant 2019 in Triple-A, Cron’s offensive upside makes him worth monitoring in all fantasy leagues. Be ready to pounce if more playing time opens up for him.

Kevin Ginkel (1.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K): It wasn’t the best showing from Ginkel but the right-hander has closer upside and should be targeted in dynasty leagues or re-draft leagues with holds as a category.

Others of Note: Seth Beer and Daulton Varsho collected three hits each in limited action. Both are expected to debut later in 2020, but aren’t recommended re-draft stashes outside of leagues with very deep benches. Jon Duplantier only allowed two runs in six innings but also walked six. His command issues make him a risky asset in all formats.

Atlanta Braves

Cristian Pache (7/26, 2 HR, 3 SB, 1/11 BB/K)

Drew Waters (4/24, 0 XBH, 3 SB, 2/14 BB/K)

I’m grouping the dynamic Atlanta outfield duo together. While both possess considerable upside, there are many factors working against them providing significant 2020 fantasy value. First, Atlanta’s outfield is full with Nick Markakis, Marcel Ozuna, and that Ronald Acuña Jr fellow. Not to mention Ender Inciarte and even Austin Riley. So it’s likely going to take an injury or a significant drop in production from Markakis for either to see everyday at-bats this season.

Furthermore, both Waters and Pache are far from finished products. Waters has struggled mightily from the right side of the plate and has a subpar approach from both sides while Pache is still pretty raw offensively and likely won’t be a prospect that hits the ground running at the plate. Both are still good dynasty assets, but I’m not banking on much this season for fantasy purposes.

Ian Anderson (5.2 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K)

Kyle Wright (13.1 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 15 K)

Bryse Wilson (5.1 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 K)

I’ll group these three together as well. The trio of Ian Anderson, Kyle Wright, and Bryse Wilson have garnered a ton of prospect buzz over the last couple of years with Anderson and Wright finding themselves in some top-50 rankings as well. However, the Atlanta rotation is currently full to start 2020 after the signings of Cole Hamels and Felix Hernandez to add to Mike Soroka, Max Fried, and Mike Foltynewicz. Hamels was expected to miss opening day, but that was before the league suspended operations due to the COVID-19. If Hamels still misses time, Anderson or Wright should get a chance (Likely Wright) and are the top-2 here for fantasy purposes in 2020. Wilson might find himself in the bullpen before too long.

Chicago Cubs

Nico Hoerner (9/29, 2 XBH, SB, 5/4 BB/K): There’s not a lot to get excited about these days in the Cubs system, but one of their top overall prospects, Nico Hoerner, is set to make an impact for the big club after debuting down the stretch in 2019. With Jason Kipnis now in the mix, Hoerner’s playing time has gotten murkier, but Kipnis is well past his prime and hasn’t exactly been the most durable guy around. Expect Hoerner to start in Triple-A, but there’s a good chance he gets another chance to play regularly with Chicago this summer and has .280/20+ SB upside.

Cincinnati Reds

Jose Garcia (7/26, 4 HR, SB): One of the top prospect performances in spring training came from an unlikely source, but at the same time, from one of the fastest-rising prospects in the minors. Jose Garcia has been trending up over the last year or so as his offensive tools have really progressed to match his defense. He’s still over a year away from making an impact at the Major League level, but Garcia is a great target in dynasty leagues with .275/20/20 upside.

Tyler Stephenson (6/16, 3 2B, HR, 4/1 BB/K): Honestly, Tyler Stephenson is criminally underrated. In addition to his plus defense, Stephenson possesses plus power and should hit for a respectable average as well. He’s ready to make an impact in Cincinnati but the Reds are crowded at catcher. Keep an eye on him.

Colorado Rockies

Brendan Rodgers (3/7): After undergoing surgery last July for a torn labrum, Brendan Rodgers got off to a late start this spring while rehabbing and didn’t make his Cactus League debut until March 5th. Due to that, he only recorded seven at-bats and remains buried on the depth chart. So buried that he’s even looking up at the bone your Labradoodle buried in the back yard. If Rodgers somehow does get regular at-bats this season, he’d be worthy of a pickup due to his AVG/HR potential. But that’s far from a guarantee.

Sam Hilliard (6/34, 2 HR, 2/12 BB/K): Coming into the spring, Hilliard actually had a legit chance to start in left field on Opening Day. Crazy, right? This goes against everything Colorado seems to believe in (joking…. kind of). However, Hilliards frees winging ways were on full display and his starting spot is in question as we end spring training two weeks early. If that left field gig is still his, Hilliard is well-worthy of a late-round pic due to his power/speed upside. I’d advise monitoring this closely. Late-round picks like this can turn into fantasy gold.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Gavin Lux (8/29, 3B): While some are still concerned that Gavin Lux won’t play every day, I’m not. Sure he might not suit up for every single game Los Angeles plays this season, but he should see the bulk of the playing time at second base and is one of my top-10 dynasty prospects for a reason. At peak, Lux has .300+/25+/10+ upside and is one of the most polished prospects around. His combination of tools and polish makes me optimistic that he can hit the ground running and maybe even push top-100 overall value in 2020. Draft with confidence in the middle rounds.

Keibert Ruiz (0/10, 4 K): You can’t take anything away from 10 at-bats, but if anyone was expecting Keibert Ruiz to make an impact at the Major league level this season, I believe you’re going to be disappointed. The catcher position is Will Smith’s to run with moving forward.

Edwin Rios (8/27, HR, 2/11 BB/K): As of now, there’s absolutely no room at all for Edwin Rios, outside of a bench role with the Dodgers. But if a spot does open up, Rios would at least be on the fantasy radar as he’s shown the ability to hit for power and a solid batting average in the minors. Before hitting .270 with 31 homers last season, Rios had three straight seasons above .300.

Miami Marlins

Monte Harrison (8/20, 3 2B, 6 SB 5/6 BB/K): If you came up a bit light in the speed department in any of your drafts, you better be keeping Monte Harrison on your radar as the season progresses. We all know about the strikeout issues he’s had throughout his minor league career, but Harrison also possesses 20/30 upside and ran wild this spring. He’s one of the better in-season prospect speed additions for the 2020 season and isn’t blocked in Miami.

Lewin Diaz (7/23, HR): After a down 2018, Lewin Diaz bounced back in 2019 with a .270/27 line in 121 games including 64 at the Double-A level. That .270 mark is likely the top-end of his AVG range but there are 25-30 homers in Diaz’s bat and we should see him later on in 2020.

Other top prospects like JJ Bleday, Jazz Chisholm, and Jesus Sanchez each got a handful of games in as well with Chisholm and Sanchez going yard. All three are well within my top-100 overall but we likely won’t see any of them until much later in the season. The same goes for Edward Cabrera who allowed two runs in his four innings of work.

Milwaukee Brewers

Uhhh, there’s literally nothing of note here. This is the worst farm system in baseball with zero 2020 impact prospects. Moving on.

New York Mets

There’s not a ton of 2020 intrigue here when it comes to prospects. One that could debut later in the season is Andres Gimenez who just went through a down 2019 season, but did impress some out in the AFL hitting .371 with two homers and two steals in 18 games. If he’s able to bounceback and get back to the pre-2019 Gimenez, ther could be some NL-Only value down the stretch.

Philadelphia Phillies

Alec Bohm (9/22): While there wasn’t any extra-base power shown, Alec Bohm did rack up nine hits in 22 at-bats this spring. Bohm is coming off a solid 2019 where he hit .305 with 21 home runs in 125 games and has constantly proved that he’s an advanced and polished offensive talent that isn’t far off from making an impact in Philly. With his AVG/HR upside, Bohm is one of the best mid-season prospect stashes/targets for the 2020 season.

Spencer Howard (1 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K): While Howard didn’t get a ton of mound action due to a minor knee injury at the beginning of spring training, he was able to toss a scoreless inning in his one appearance, allowing two hits and striking out one. He’s one of the top pitching prospects in baseball and should debut at some point this summer.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Jared Oliva (6/28, HR, SB): Out of all the Pittsburgh Pirates prospects expected to play with the big club this season, Jared Oliva is the most intriguing to me offensively. Why? Oliva has performed well at every level and was one of the top hitters out in the Arizona Fall League several months back. There’s not a ton of power here, but Oliva has the skillset to hit around .270 with 30+ steals annually. And with center field wide open in Pittsburgh, Oliva has a chance to snag that spot and run wild in the second half.

Ke’Bryan Hayes (7/25, HR, 5/4 BB/K): I’ve been quite vocal about how I’m not high on Ke’Bryan Hayes for fantasy. Or, at least, not to the extent some are. He’ll have some value, I’m not denying that, but I’m not knocking people over to acquire him like parents on Black Friday in Walmart. Hayes projects as a .270/15/20 type for me, which still will have value in our fantasy world. Another positive for him is that he’s nearly MLB ready and Colin Moran isn’t exactly entrenched at the hot corner in Pittsburgh. We should see Hayes at some point this summer.

Oneil Cruz (5/23, HR, 1/11 BB/K): Without question, the 6’7 Oneil Cruz has the most offensive upside when it comes to Pittsburgh prospects, but he’s also far from a finished product. It’s been reported that he starts 2020 in Double-A and could maybe make his way to Pittsburgh later in the season. But with how patient Pittsburgh usually is with their prospects, I wouldn’t bank on that.

Mitch Keller (9 IP, 11 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 10 K): Mitch Keller followed up an up and down MLB debut in 2019 with an equally as turbulent spring training in 2020. But as I’ve mentioned before, Keller pitched much better than his 7.13 surface ERA would signal. At the very least, he should provide some late-round fantasy value this season and could realistically push top-50 SP value. Don’t let his 2019 debut and 2020 spring numbers scare you off.

San Diego Padres

Taylor Trammell (9/23, 4 XBH): A down 2019 season has dulled some of the shine with Taylor Trammell, but this is still a top-50 overall dynasty prospect for me with the upside to put up some .280/15/25 seasons down the road. Despite being in the upper minors, a 2020 debut isn’t a guarantee with all the outfield options in San Diego, but Trammell is a good buy-low target in dynasty leagues.

Jake Cronenworth (6/22): The name Jake Cronenworth might be new to some, but there’s some 2020 value here if he gets playing time. That’s not likely to happen without an injury or two but Cronenworth has a nice little AVG/HR/SB blend and would be worth picking up in deeper mixed leagues if he enters the Padres starting lineup at any point.

Edward Olivares (7/18, 3 XBH, SB): Remember how I said San Diego has a bunch of outfield options? Well, here’s another. Edward Olivares might be as highly-ranked as Trammell, but he’s shown an enticing power/speed blend with an 18/35 season in 2019 to pair with a .283 average in Double-A Amarillo. We could see him this summer in San Diego if they need an outfielder and Olivares would immediately become mixed league relevant if that happens.

On the pitching side of things, MacKenzie Gore got some work in and was drawing plenty of opening day roster buzz. But with spring training being cut short, it’s looking unlikely we see him that early. Still, we’ll be seeing Gore soon, so be ready. Luis Patino also got some work in, allowing three runs in one inning and Adrian Morejon got absolutely lit up to the tune of 10 earned runs over 2.1 innings. Both could play a role later in 2020, but are not recommended stashes, even in deeper leagues. On a brighter note, Michel Baez looked good in six innings of work and should play a role in the Padres bullpen this season.

San Francisco Giants

Joey Bart (7/16, 2 HR): After two separate hand injuries in 2019, it’s unlikely we see Joey Bart early in the season, but a mid-2020 debut remains a possibility. Bart flashed his immense raw power this spring for the Giants and his combination of power and ability to hit for an average in the .270 range gives Bart significant fantasy upside from the catcher position. As his ETA is still a few months away, Bart is not a recommended stash outside of deeper leagues/ However, with immediate C1 upside, you’re going to want to monitor him and pounce when his promotion to San Francisco appears imminent.

Mauricio Dubon (9/26, 2 HR, SB): Those selecting Mauricio Dubon late in drafts have to be happy with how he looked in spring training. I’m still hesitant on the 2019 power production continuing, but Dubon has the skills to put up a .270/15/15 season as San Francisco’s starting 2nd baseman this season. Just don’t expect many runs or RBI hitting 7th or 8th in a bad lineup.

Jaylin Davis (6/27, HR, 3/15 BB/K): Davis made a brief MLB cameo last season with the Giants but struggled in 17 games after tearing up both the International League (When with Minnesota) and Pacific Coast League to the tune of a combined .306/94/35/94/10 line in 126 games. The power is enticing, but his swing and miss tendencies and likely lower average limits his value to deeper mixed or NL-Only leagues if he does get a chance to start at some point in 2020.

St. Louis Cardinals

Dylan Carlson (10/32, 4 XBH, 6/5 BB/K): The buzz surrounding Dylan Carlson grew exponentially after a strong showing this spring. St. Louis still has a lot of outfield options but this is the type of talent you make room for. When St. Louis deems him ready, which is likely very soon, Carlson will be up and starting regularly. Due to that, he’s a great target to draft/stash in re-draft leagues and could return top-100 value once up due to his above-average hit tool and power/speed blend.

Nolan Gorman (8/26, HR): It was nice to see Nolan Gorman get as much playing time as he did this spring. It’s hard to take much from spring training performances as I mentioned in the intro, but we must not forget that Gorman remains a bonafide top-50 dynasty prospect with immense power potential.

Genesis Cabrera (6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K): His below-average command and control caused a move to the bullpen, but with an electric fastball and above-average to plus curveball, Genesis Cabrera has the potential to carve out some nice value in holds leagues. That might not be this season, but he’s one to keep an eye on.

Washington Nationals

Carter Kieboom (6/27, 6/9 BB/K): Rumors early in spring training had Carter Kieboom as the early favorite for the vacant third base gig following Anthony Rendon’s departure. A lackluster showing in spring training wasn’t exactly ideal (C’mon Carter), but I’m still a believer in Kieboom and still see him as the starting third baseman for Washington whenever the MLB season starts. His upside makes him worthy of a late-round flier.

Luis Garcia (9/21, HR): After rising up well into the top-50 of many prospect rankings, an uninspiring performance at Double-A dropped Garcia back down as quickly as he rose. With that said, Garcia has the tools to develop into a starter at the Major League level, but doesn’t excel in any one area offensively. He’ll likely return to Double-A to start 2020 but could be up in Washington later this season.

Media Credit: Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire, Cincinnati Reds, Charlie Marlow.

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