The holidays are fast approaching and I thought no better time to prepare my shopping list. I’m talking about prospects, of course. Think back to when you were a child. Those “shiny new toys.” Before the season, all these gifts are wrapped up and I’m trying to shake their boxes to see what is actually rattling around inside. What will they turn out to be? Sometimes you want a toy so badly and you hype it up in your mind only to be disappointed, throwing it away (to waivers) after a few weeks of under-performing. How quickly we forget how much FAAB our parents spent on last year’s gifts, only to be ignored this season in favor of these new toys. Oftentimes you’ll see these gifts perform a lot better after collecting dust in your basement for a year. However, the reason we get so excited is because these gifts have the potential to meet your lofty expectations, and in some cases exceed them!
This list indicates the age of the player on Opening Day and when I speak about draft price I am assuming a rotisserie or head-to-head category mixed league with deeper benches. To be eligible for the list, the player must have rookie eligibility entering 2019.
The following players I would draft in any format
1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3B, Toronto Blue Jays, 20) – this guy’s dad once hit a single off a pitch that bounced before the plate. I heard he’s legit too. No discussion necessary here. I’d be looking to target Vladdy in Round 4, but would spend a third round pick on him. In an auction, I’d be willing to spend up to a max of $28. Oh, and watch him go oppo taco off a tee at will!
2. Victor Robles (OF, Washington Nationals, 21) – Victor Robles is currently being undervalued because there is still a chance, albeit slim, Bryce Harper re-signs with the Nats. This isn’t going to happen. How quickly we forget he was leaps and bounds ahead of his younger counterpart Juan Soto a year ago. Robles was injured last season, but performed well in Triple-A where he had a total of 52 walks or singles and 14 stolen bases. When he was called up to the show, he was on a 600 at-bat pace to hit 27 homers and steal 27 bases. Robles is not without risk as we do not know where he will bat in the order and we all lived through Byron Buxton being an early draft pick last season. However, unlike his counterparts in this tier, there is a strong probability he is on his team’s Opening Day roster. With 20-20 upside, the risk is certainly acceptable to take a shot in Rounds 8-11 and I would pay up to $12 in an auction, particularly if I missed out on stolen bases.
3. Eloy Jimenez (OF, Chicago White Sox, 22) – Eloy should be up sometime in April. Scouts were concerned about his contact ability in his early prospect days, but he has since silenced the critics. I have him ranked third on this list below Robles because his debut could be delayed and he is not expected to contribute in stolen bases. I am somewhat concerned about the fact I do not project him scoring many runs in the White Sox lineup and caution you on his extremely high BABIP in the minors. If you want to bet on Eloy, you’ll likely need to spend a Round 8-11 pick, but I likely will not be spending much more than $10 in an auction.
4. Alex Reyes (SP, St. Louis Cardinals, 24) – Let’s remind ourselves of Reyes’s upside. He was arguably the top pitching prospect in all of baseball in 2017. However, he had Tommy John Surgery in early 2017 only to come back in 2018 for one major league start before tearing a lat (requiring season ending surgery). He did throw four shutout innings in that start, by the way. Let’s take a trip down memory lane as promised: 2016 he had a 1.57 ERA with a 10+ K/9 in his MLB debut. 2018 in his minor league tune up struck out 44 over 23 innings of 0.00/0.61 ball. The Cardinals will be cautious with Reyes this year (as they should be) and his role as a starter is not a lock. However, he has more upside than any pitcher on this list and should see MLB hitters in April. I would spend a mid-round pick on Reyes or up to $7 in an auction purely based on his upside.
5. Peter Alonso (1B, New York Mets, 24) – Peter Alonso had a breakout season in 2018. His plate discipline was spectacular and he clearly leapfrogged Dominic Smith on the depth chart. Peter is not known for his defensive skills, but neither are fantasy leagues. However, this could delay his debut. Alonso should have been up last season and I do not believe the Mets are justified in waiting much longer. The ceiling, the floor, and the path to the Majors reminds me too much of Rhys Hoskins. Hoskins was drafted two years earlier than Alonso and Peter could reach the majors two years later than Rhys at the same position. Compare their stat lines from their breakout last full seasons in the minors and note that Hoskins did his at Double-A while Alonso did his at Double-A/Triple-A. Hoskins was 38-116-.281, 95 runs and 71 walks and Alonso was 36-119-.285, 92 runs and 76 walks and a higher slugging percentage. I’m going to reach on Alonso in about the Rounds 14-15 range and would pay up to $7 for him. He is more valuable if your league has minor league spots.
6. Ty Buttrey (RP, Los Angeles Angels, 26) – There is a very good possibility Ty is the Angels closer in 2019. The Red Sox felt they did not need him to win the World Series and they were correct. However, that doesn’t mean he won’t be helpful in winning a fantasy championship. His 1.63 FIP and 11.02 K/9 in 2018 are nice results, and Buttrey has a repertoire that includes a triple-digit heater. With the closer landscape so uncertain, a pitcher with rookie eligibility is a safer bet for saves than you have on several other ball clubs. I’d spent $3-4 on him and probably draft him as the 20-25 relief pitcher off the board.
Update: Cody Allen has signed with the Angels and is likely to close for them
7. Francisco Mejia (C, San Diego Padres, 23) - Francisco Mejia had a poor batting average in his first taste of the show. However, he did show pop to pace to be in the top three catchers in homers. He has a plus hit tool but has not shown it yet in the show. Class A/A+ 102 games - .342 11 HR plus one of those 50-game hitting streaks everyone is doing these days. Double-A – 92 games .297 14 HR. Triple-A – 110 games 14 HR .293. Just about half other catchers (especially in two-catcher leagues) are negative value in rotisserie and when you are a plus hitter with power and MLB Pipeline’s No. 26-ranked prospect, you are an asset. I’d throw $2 at him in an auction and $5 in a two-catcher league. However, he remains a late-round target and he made his way to No. 7 on this list because of the position he plays.
The following players I would draft in a 12-team league or larger (i.e. the Astros tier)
8. Forrest Whitley (SP, Houston Astros, 21) – a 6’7” horse with a career K/9 exceeding 13. He also recently led the Arizona Fall League in strikeouts. The Astros GM promised us Whitley last season despite a 50-game suspension for non-performance enhancing drugs. He lied! I suspect Forrest will make his debut sometime in April or May and will not disappoint. McCullers, Kuechel, and Morton are likely gone. The Astros do have other options in-house, including Josh James, McHugh and even Brad Peacock. Even if they do make a big free agent signing, I do not believe this will stop Whitley from performing at a high level in the majors this year. I project him with a better ERA, WHIP and K/9 than Walker Buehler’s rookie season. The only concern I have is that his career-high in innings pitched is 92 innings in 2017. I do think he will be able to throw 140-150 innings and become extremely valuable in a rotisserie format. I see a scenario where he is shut down or skipped in August and September to save him for a playoff run. Hence, he is not as valuable in a head-to-head format. (Reason No. 87 rotisserie is superior to head-to-head: a superior talent loses value due to timing of contribution). I would spend a pick as early as Round 14 or up to $5 in a roto auction. In a H2H format, I likely would not spend more than $2. If 110 mph running throws are a category in your league, he’s a first rounder.
9. Josh James (SP, Houston Astros, 26) – James came out of nowhere last year. Something happened and I can’t help but like it. He struck out 200 batters in 137 innings. In his brief stint in the majors he posted a 2.35/0.96/11.3. His fastball velocity increased substantially, which likely played a big factor in his success. I believe he is being undervalued because he’s yet to officially win a spot in the Houston rotation. He should not have any innings limitations and could easily find his way starting a game in the Astros’ opening series. The Astros could find themselves with these big four righties in Verlander, Cole, Whitley and James. Similar to Whitley, I’d spend a 15th round pick or about $3 on James in either format.
10. Kyle Tucker (OF, Houston Astros, 22) – Unlike everywhere else, Tucker struggled upon being promoted to the Majors. You really cannot ignore a 20-20 season in 100 games in Triple-A while batting .332. There is also a clear path to at-bats in an incredible lineup. Tucker is a five-tool player with incredible pedigree, and MLP Pipeline’s No. 5 prospect entering 2019. It would be an enormous upset if he was not given the opportunity to perform in Houston this season. In any format with five outfielders, he is a must own for his upside and I would spend up to $3 on him in an auction. Otherwise, he is a late-round selection in a redraft league.
I would draft the following players in a 14-team league or larger, or 12-team league with deep benches or at least one minor league spot
11. Garrett Hampson (2B, Colorado Rockies, 24) – Trevor Story’s breakout, the possible/eventual emergence of Brendan Rodgers, and Ryan McMahon certainly make Hampson a risky proposition. A player that has hit .300 in every stop in the minors, has premium stolen base ability and could hit double-digit homers for a team that does NOT play its home games in Coors field is definitely interesting. I cannot deny the monstrous value that could be had drafting Hampson, however the playing time concerns are legitimate as was his .393 BABIP in the Majors last season. I would spend $2-3 on him or a Round 18-20 selection in leagues with a middle and corner infield spot.
12. Nick Senzel (3B, Cincinnati Reds, 23) – Senzel has lost some of his “shiny new toy” hype after he could have been promoted as early as 2017. However, a combination of injuries, a logjam in the infield and the Reds having no incentive to compete have delayed his promotion. It would be an enormous upset if he did not take his 70-grade hit tool to the Majors this summer. However, I do not see him up immediately even though there is talk of him playing in the outfield. His ceiling is reminiscent of Alex Bregman, but he’s unlikely to hit it in 2019. I’d be willing to spend a late-round pick or $2 on him if someone happens to nominate him before me.
13. Alex Verdugo (OF, Los Angeles Dodgers, 22) – I believe there is a good chance that Verdugo is traded. In fact, there is speculation he is traded to the Indians in a Corey Kluber blockbuster. If that is the case, he enters a team with a stacked lineup and a depleted outfield. Verdugo feels like a player with a safe floor if he sees consistent playing time. He has 20-homer power and an excellent hit tool. He’s a last round target in a standard league and likely a $1 player now—which could turn into a bargain later in draft season.
14. Nathaniel Lowe (1B, Tampa Bay Rays, 23) – Lowe moved quickly through the minors last season, hitting .330-27-102 overall. He’s a powerful left-handed hitting first baseman. The Rays have Bauers and Choi as options at 1B/DH. Bauers hit a mere .201 in a taste of the Majors last season but did show promising signs in the power and patience department. The conundrum is that Bauer, Choi and Lowe are all left-handed. Bauers hit .176 against lefties. Ji-Man Choi hit a cool .136 against lefties. Lowe, albeit in the minors, hit .313 against southpaws. There is a very real chance that Lowe becomes the everyday first baseman for the club early in the season. His home park and supporting cast will cause him to cost essentially nothing in redraft leagues if you want him.
15. Luis Urias (2B, San Diego Padres, 21) – Urias does not offer much in terms of power or speed, but if you throw $1 at him or your last round pick, you are hoping he bats at the top of the order and hits for a solid average. I wouldn’t recommend him except in deep leagues and likely as a floor compliment to another middle infielder with more upside, like his teammate Tatis. Urias has a 70-grade hit tool and has walked more than he’s struck out over the course of his career. However, he is a better real life player than a roto contributor.
16. Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS, San Diego Padres, 20) – This soon to be 20 year-old son of a former MLB player is not even assured to reach the Majors early in the year. I have a feeling that service time will be an issue with Tatis, but he should reach the Majors before the All-Star break. Shortstop is all clear for his arrival, however. Tatis did go 20-20 in the minors, but so did Scott Kingery (and Derek Fisher almost did it three times). And even if you do prove to be a star quality player, remember that George Springer and Nelson Cruz were 20-20 players in the minors too. The upside is tantalizing. In a 14-team league I believe you must gamble on this upside for a back end pick or $1. However, in a league with very deep benches or where you have a minor league spot, he becomes more valuable and I’d be willing to wager $3-4 on him in that case.
17. Mike Soroka (SP, Atlanta Braves, 21) – I’m becoming more convinced that Atlanta will move one of their talented young starting pitchers over the offseason. Besides Foltynewicz, I prefer Soroka the most—even over Newcomb. Toussaint and Gohara will likely battle for the fifth spot in the rotation after veterans Teheran and Gausman. Soroka appears polished for his age with excellent control. I compare him to Taillon, but it’s just a matter of how quickly he can get acclimated to the show. He can be had for $1 or for your last round pick.
18. Danny Jansen (C, Toronto Blue Jays, 23) – Double-digit homers and a neutral batting average from a catcher is surely an asset in a 14-team league. Jansen nearly walked as much as he struck out in Triple-A and has a nice floor in addition to a high ceiling (for a catcher). He should garner the majority of the starts behind the plate this season and would see his stock tick up even higher if the Jays unloaded Russell Martin.
I would draft the following players in 12-14 team leagues with either very deep benches or several minor league slots
(None of them are worth more than one of your last three picks or $2)
19. Brendan Rodgers (SS/2B, Colorado Rockies, 22) – Rogers should debut this year, but Story is locked in at shortstop and Hampson and McMahon are also there. Rodgers is the best talent, but we may not see him until June. However, his plus power and tasty home park make him a worthwhile stash. Much like Tatis, circumstance trumps talent.
20. Jesus Luzardo (SP, Oakland Athletics, 21) – This is the pitching version of Juan Soto. He rose up boards in 2018 and tore through the minors. I expected him up in September 2018, but that never came true. In 2019, I firmly believe Luzardo will be striking out more than nine batters every nine innings in the friendly Oakland-Alameda Coliseum. Conversely, this is a risky play because the A’s are not a lock to compete again, he should have an innings limit, and did struggle in Triple-A last season.
21. Austin Riley (3B, Atlanta Braves, 21) – The Donaldson signing hurt his value, otherwise he’s shown enough in the minors to be a power corner bat and would have been a must draft in a 14-teamer. However, we revert back to this if he’s traded to the Marlins, but I’m still not as excited about him as anyone ahead of him on this list even if he does have a path to playing time.
The following players are worth drafting in rounds 25-40 in a 50 round draft and hold league
22. Keston Hiura (2B, Milwaukee Brewers, 22) – Hernan Perez can keep second base warm. Keston hit five homers and stole seven bags in the AFL recently—in just 23 games. He’s going to hit for a high average with power and speed. The Brewers will want to put their best team on the field to win now and this includes Hiura. His proximity to the majors has him precede Bichette on this list despite a lower ceiling and less opportunity to bat high in the order.
23. Nick Gordon (SS, Minnesota Twins, 23) – Nick Gordon’s stock has lost some steam since he was the fifth overall pick in 2014. The brother of Dee does not have as much speed and has really struggled in Triple-A, slugging only .283. He does have a good hit tool and has more power than his brother, making him a nice floor piece in a league with spots to stash minor-leaguers. He should be with the club with a chance to earn every day playing time. Recall that Francisco Lindor had 40 Grade power when he was a prospect in 2014 and hit 2 homers in 59 games during his last stint in AAA. That is the same 40 grade power given to Nick Gordon as the #10 SS prospect on MLB Pipeline.
24. Bo Bichette (SS, Toronto Blue Jays, 21) – Bichette is the fourth player on this list who has legitimate MLB bloodlines from either their father or uncle (Guerrero, Tatis, Gordon). The Blue Jays have a logjam of talent up the middle in the Majors and minors. Gurriel is currently their starting shortstop with Travis at second base. The Jays just cut Troy Tulowitzki and flushed $38 million down the toilet so that is a sign that they want to see what Bichette and/or Biggio (another bloodline) can do sooner or later. Bichette has all the tools and plays a premium position. He or Gurriel could shift to second base when the obligatory Devon Travis injury occurs. If you are picturing him playing like his dad, you can stop now when I tell you he swiped 32 bases last year. On a sidenote, the Jays also have baby Conine and a baby Clemens in their farm system.
25. Touki Toussaint (SP, Atlanta Braves, 22) – A strikeout machine with durability issues and fighting for a rotation spot. My guess is that he makes over 20 starts for the Braves this year and has a 9+ K/9. He should hold inconsistent value in mixed leagues and is likely a player that is added and dropped by three or more teams throughout the year. Someone will reap the rewards, but you will be guessing as to when.
26. Jon Duplantier (SP, Arizona Diamondbacks, 24) – I have to be honest and admit that I projected Duplantier making his MLB debut last year. He throws strikes and has swing and miss stuff, but also has strikes against him. He has an injury history (shoulder) and—less worrisome—his team just signed Luke Weaver.
27. Taylor Widener (SP, Arizona Diamondbacks, 24) – Two plus pitches, an uptick in velocity, led the minors in strikeouts and held hitters under a .200 BAA. A converted reliever, he could just as easily enter a starting rotation that is looking likely to exclude Greinke and to be without Taijuan Walker for the first few months of 2019. Zack Godley probably does not have an extremely long leash. Widener has the floor/upside to contribute as a reliever too.
28. Jose Castillo (RP, San Diego Padres, 23) – 52 strikeouts in 37 IP, 0.91 WHIP since his June call-up. I believe he is next in line for saves after Kirby Yates as I expect him to outperform Stammen. Regardless, his rate stats could be valuable in various formats.
29. Dylan Cease (SP, Chicago White Sox, 23) – Of all of the starters on this list, Cease will excite me the most when he gets called up. The White Sox have shown a propensity to keep their prospects in the minors to bake a lot longer than other teams. Walks were what kept Kopech from reaching the Majors and about 3.5 per 9 leaves room for improvement. However, Cease dominated Double-A with a 13.4 K/9 and sub 1.00 WHIP. I’ll draft him over higher-ranked prospects with less upside, like Keller or any of the potential Tommy John returnees (Honeywell, Puk, Lamet, T Walker, Groome).
30. Chris Paddack (SP, San Diego Padres, 23) – If Paddack does not start for the Padres, I believe he has the best chance to be a Josh Hader asset for any team. He’s finally healthy and could bring his 95 mph heater and double plus change to the show. His ratios are minuscule but so are his innings pitched. There surely will be a limitation on innings, which may relegate him to the bullpen this season. If he gets a shot to start, he has considerable upside worth this draft price.
The following players are worth drafting in Rounds 40-50 in a 50 round draft and hold league (dart throws)
31. Jonathan Loaisiga (SP, New York Yankess, 24) – He should be the Majors in one way or another. The Yankees are active trading partners recently and I would not rule out this stud being dealt for Noah Syndergaard, for example. The Yankees current rotation is Severino, Paxton, Tanaka, Sabathia, Gray. This spells potential injury, injury history, pitching injured, old, trade bait or some combination of the above. Even if the Yankees bring in a Happ or trade for a Thor, Loaisiga has a good chance to get some starts on the Yankees or another team. He ranks below prospects still working through the minors because his minor league track record does not jump out to you, his season ended in injury, and his record at Yankee Stadium is far from pristine. ***Update: the Yankees are reuniting with Happ.***
32. Sean Reid-Foley (SP, Toronto Blue Jays, 23) – After a down year in 2017, SRF cruised through Double-A going 5-0 with a 2.03 ERA and was able to maintain a 10+ K/9 in Double-A, Triple-A, and the MLB. He pitched to under a 3.00 ERA in 2016, and if he can reduce the number of walks issued, he could become a very safe option in mixed leagues. With Happ/Estrada out of the picture and Stroman/Sanchez oft injured, there will be ample opportunity for young pitchers in Toronto during this rebuild.
33. Frank Schwindel (C, Kansas City Royals, 26) – Given the state of the catcher position, this is a risk that needs no calculation. Last season in Triple-A, he went .286-24-93 as an encore to his .329-23-97 season at Double-A/Triple-A. Note that his BABIP fell over 50 points in 2018 to .290. The caveat here is that in addition to not being in line for a starting position on the Royals roster, he was not protected from the Rule 5 Draft. With catcher eligibility, if he gets a chance to split time behind the plate and/or play 1B/DH, he could provide significant value.
34. Will Craig (1B, Pittsburgh Pirates, 24) – Craig had a decent season in Double-A, jacking 20 homers and compiling 102 RBIs. He was a first round selection in 2016 and nearly won the ACC Triple Crown in his junior year. He only hit .248 in Double-A but has historically had a good average throughout the minors. In his first season he walked more than he struck out, but demonstrated little of the power potential he was drafted for. In 2018, he found his power stroke and tied Peter Alonso for the home run lead in the Arizona Fall League with six, while slashing .304/.378/.570.
35. David Paulino (SP, Toronto Blue Jays, 25) – This 6’7” righty has been traded, had Tommy John surgery, and served an 80-game suspension. However, his fastball sits in the high 90s and he has a plus curve. The Jays rotation is not difficult to crack, so he should have every opportunity to show off his upside despite not being given the chance to start last season.
36. Brent Honeywell (SP, Tampa Bay Rays, 24) – Tommy John returnee No. 1. He would be a must draft in a 12-teamer if this was the beginning of 2018. He’s got nearly as much upside and floor as any pitcher on this list. Likely the No. 2 pitcher behind Whitley if he did not have a mid-season ETA with several rehab starts required in the minors.
37. AJ Puk (SP, Oakland Athletics, 23) – Tommy John returnee No. 2. He would have probably ranked very similarly last year pre-TJ surgery. He has huge K/9 upside, but with obvious risk.
38. Mitch Keller (SP, Pittsburgh Pirates, 22) – Keller has topped prospect lists for quite some time now but his 3.8 BB/9 rate in Triple-A did not mirror his 60-grade control assigned on MLB Pipeline. He has the potential to be a Top 30 starter in the future, but the Pirates can hold him back as he’s still relatively young and has not dominated the minors like some of his peers. He lacks upside compared to other starters on this list with respect to K/9 and wins has hurt his stock in a roto league. He falls lower on my list than most traditional prospect rankings.
39. Nick Neidert (SP, Miami Marlins, 22) – With a fastball topping out in the low 90s, his control and plus changeup facilitated a 25% strikeout rate in Double-A. You don’t need a locksmith to crack the Marlins rotation. He has maintained a BB/9 of under 2.0 the last three seasons and will be pitching in a great ballpark. His career-high in innings was set last season at 152, so being shut down should not be a concern. Neidert is an underrated prospect because of his team and lack of flash.
40. Michael Chavis (3B, Boston Red Sox, 23) – Chavis served a 50-game PED suspension after a monstrous 2017 campaign in which he hit 31 homers and crushed Arizona Fall league pitching—exceeding exit velocities of 113 mph. When he returned from suspension, he hit nine homers in 46 games across three levels (including Triple-A). The Red Sox are quite loaded, but he is an injury away from playing time and the Sox have shown a willingness to trade top prospects. If you drafted JD Martinez or Rafael Devers, it might be wise to “handcuff” them with Chavis with a late-round pick.
41. Nicky Lopez (SS, Kansas City Royals, 24) – He should get the first crack at the shortstop gig in KC, as he’s proven he’s ready for a chance with a decent average, excellent plate discipline, and above average speed. The last three seasons, he’s 24/28, 21/33 and 15/21 in stolen base attempts. Steamer does not think much of him, however.
42. Logan Allen (SP, San Diego Padres, 21) – After Lucchesi, there is a mixed bag of guys who throw balls. Lamet will not resurface until midseason and there are several upside arms ready to debut. Allen pitched very well in Double-A/Triple-A in 2018, posting about 9.0 K/9. He’s had excellent ratios and has been a strikeout pitcher throughout his career. We saw countless young pitchers emerge last season in the same way Allen can in 2019.
43. Christin Stewart (OF, Detroit Tigers, 25) – Much like the Jays, the Tigers are in complete rebuild mode, just with a worse farm system. Most positions are up for grabs. Stewart should be able to show off his power and patience combo with everyday at-bats, but his upside is limited as a three-category contributor at best.
44. Myles Straw (OF, Houston Astros, 24) – I could not leave him off this list as a Round 50 pick because he stole 70 bases last year! In a draft and hold, I feel that if you are going to be stuck using a bench player or someone that is not an everyday starter, he may as well get you the scarcest stat. If you have to plug him in for a week or two because you are out of options, those 2-3 stolen bases still hold value.
45. Rowdy Tellez (1B, Toronto Blue Jays, 24) – If you’ve seen Rowdy hit, the biggest shocker is that he stole seven bases in Triple-A. If someone has the video, please share. His stock took a big dip in 2017, but he bounced back in 2018 and made his way to the majors to slug over .600 in limited time. The Jays seem eager to push out all of their veteran players at this point, making any youngster next up on their depth chart intriguing.
46. Jorge Guzman (SP, Miami Marlins, 23) – Guzman struck out 101 batters in 96 innings with a 4.03 ERA. However, he went 0-9 so it shouldn’t be too much of an adjustment being called up in terms of winning percentage. Walks are a big issue for him, but his fastball is in the triple digits as a starter. I’d take a shot on him earning the closer role for the Marlins this year if he can reduce the free passes.
47. Michael King (SP, New York Yankees, 23) – King had great ratios in Triple-A and has built up enough innings to be very useful in deeper leagues. He could compete for the last spot in the Yankee rotation or wait for an injury or trade (or be traded). There is a chance he’s used in relief, but as the Yankees No. 22 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, he and his 1.15 ERA are flying way under the radar.
48. Michel Baez (SP, San Diego Padres, 23) – The last of seven Padres on this list. Quantrill and Gore didn’t even make it. It may be a viable strategy to compile young Padres starters in a 50 round draft. You’ll mostly likely hit on one or maybe two of Baez, Paddack, Allen, Lamet, or Quantril. Baez has a 70-grade fastball and is my fallback option of all the Padres here.
49. Justin Dunn (SP, Seattle Mariners, 23) – Please note the omission of Justus Sheffield and the inclusion of Justin Dunn on this list. Both are first round picks and have similar stats in the minors. Sheffield has been shipped off twice now, once for Andrew Miller and most recently for James Paxton. Seattle nearly drafted Dunn 11th overall in 2016 and Dunn has expressed motivation in “beating up the big dogs” and playing for an underdog team.
50. Dillon Tate (SP, Baltimore Orioles, 24) – The state of the Baltimore bullpen isn’t great and neither is their rotation. Tate is a former Top 100 prospect acquired in the Zach Britton deal. He’s been starting in Double-A with mediocre results. But at this point in a draft and hold, anyone who gets you innings is a win. He surpassed the 120 inning barrier in 2018 and earned a selection to the Eastern League All-Star team. Tate has the skill set to be an average starter or above average reliever. You can hit some value in two ways here and he makes the list mainly due to his proximity to the Majors. There is a non-zero chance he earns saves.
51. Jo Adell (OF, Los Angeles Angels, 19) – The youngest player on this list will turn 20 years old shortly after Opening Day. Adell and Wander Franco have the skill sets to ascend through the minors much like we saw Acuna, Soto and Vladdy do. Wander isn’t coming up this year. There is actually a third player that I feel can make this leap but I will wait to reveal him. But Adell did hit 20-15-.290 in under 400 at-bats across three levels (including Double-A). I would not wager he debuts in 2019, so you may wonder why I have a player on this list that I do not expect to make his major league debut until 2020...but what if he does? With a late pick, playing defense may be the best offense, because you do not want another team stashing this year’s Juan Soto. In this format, if you draft Dexter Fowler or Alex Gordon and they are forced into your starting lineup, you probably aren’t winning anyway!