10 Prospect Bounce Back Candidates

Ten prospects in need of a bounce back for 2024.

A prospect’s value, especially when it comes to fantasy baseball, can rise and fall at astonishing rates. As a result, it can always be tempting to drop prospect on your fantasy team that has struggled recently and seen their value depreciate and pick up a player’s stock who has been on the rise. Sometimes this can be the absolute right move while others it can be a knee-jerk reaction that costs you a valuable player.

Here we are going to take a look at 10 prospects that saw their value take a hit in 2023, either due to injury, sub-par performance, prospect fatigue, or some combination of the three. These prospects are listed in no particular order.

Be sure to head over to the Pitcher List Dynasty page for more prospect content.


Bounce Back Prospects for 2024


Miguel Bleis, OF, BOS


Bleis received some major helium heading into 2023so much so that many prospect lists had him in the top 50 overall, with the expectation that his trajectory could lead him to become a top 10 overall prospect by Opening Day 2024. Well, Bleis’ 2023 was lackluster and this hype, which was only 12 months ago, feels like it was half a decade ago.

That 2023 for Bleis included 31 games at Low-A as an age-19 player. He triple slashed just .230 AVG/.282 OBP/.325 SLG. with one home run and 11 steals, walking seven percent of the time while striking out nearly at a 27% clip. He suffered a shoulder injury in May and required season-ending surgery.

Bleis’ approach was a big question mark coming into 2023, and his performance didn’t indicate any type of improvement. But 31 games is such a small sample and the outfielder is still young enough to make up for lost time. Let’s not forget his 2022 breakout at the Complex Level, where he triple slashed .301 AVG/.353 OBP/.542 SLG in 40 games. His above-average power and speed give him one of the highest ceilings in the minors, but there still may be some growing pains here.


Daniel Espino, P, CLE


This one is obvious. If not for injuries, Espino would likely have exhausted his prospect eligibility long ago. The right-hander was tracking like potentially the top prospect arm in the minors before injuries have limited him to just 18.1 innings since the start of the 2022 season. Most recently, he underwent shoulder surgery in May.

Shoulder injuries are scary and it would be unwise to expect a perfect recovery. We should see Espino sometime this summer and if he looks healthy and performs anywhere close to the level that we saw from him in 2021, his value will skyrocket. After all, he’s still just 23-years-old.

If you need a refresher on just how ridiculous his 2021 was, here you go: Espino tossed 91.2 innings across Single-A and High-A, striking out 152 batters and walking just 39. That was good for a 30.1% K-BB rate. He looked even better in his 18.1 innings at Double-A in 2022, logging a ridiculous 45.6% K-BB rate. Yes, small sample and everything, but this is the talent we are dealing with.

When he takes the mound for a professional game, it will be the first time we have seen him in game action in over two years.


Druw Jones, OF, ARI 


Well, Jones is certainly a candidate to bounce back just given how much his prospect status has fallen in such a short period of time. Jones was the second overall pick in the 2022 draft and by the time that FYPD season came around, many preferred him to Jackson Holliday, who has indisputably become one of the best, if not the best, prospect in the entire sport. Jones, on the other hand, battled injuries and triple slashed just .238 AVG/.353 OBP/.327 SLG across three lower levels, with most of his games coming at Single-A. Constantly being looked at in comparison to Holliday certainly hasn’t helped.

The case for a bounce back for Jones is simple: he went into 2023 recovering from shoulder surgery and then missed two other two-month stretches of the season. He never was able to get into a rhythm. And while the performance was lackluster, we are still looking at a former No. 2 overall pick who only has 41 professional games under his belt. Eighteen months ago Jones was viewed as having an impossibly high ceiling. We aren’t that far removed from that, and a fully healthy campaign might be all that he needs to perform close to as expected.

He’s entering his age-20 season and now comes with a lot more risk than this time last year, but there is a good chance the manager in your league is fine selling him for cheap after 2023.


DL Hall, P, MIL


Hall’s bounce-back candidacy is more of a course correction of multiple seasons. He’s always posted high strikeout numbers but ever since bouncing between Triple-A and the majors in 2022, however, Hall’s walk rate has climbed. Last year in 56 frames at Triple-A, Hall had a 34% strikeout rate but it came with a 14% walk rate. His walk numbers were much better in the majors, but it was only 19.1 innings, and they all came in a relief capacity.

Hall seemed to be trending toward full-time reliever status, where he could certainly be dominant, but the trade from Baltimore to Milwaukee opens the door for Hall to return to a starter’s role. As of now, the 6’2 lefty with a dominant fastball is slated to open the season in the Brewers rotation. Milwaukee has been able to get the most out of their arms in recent years, so Hall has the potential to break out.


Andy Pages, OF, LAD


Pages had a power-fueled 2022 campaign where he belted 26 home runs in 132 Double-A games, while also walking at a nearly 11% clip. He hit just .236, but had a BABIP (.276) that was well below his career norms. He started 2023 off again in Double-A, triple-slashing .284 AVG/.430 OBP/.495 SLG with three home runs and seven steals in 33 games. That earned him a promotion to Triple-A where he appeared in one game before suffering a torn labrum. As a result, he missed the rest of the season.

Pages will likely kick off 2023 in Triple-A. He’s still just 23 years old and has done nothing but produce every step of the way throughout the minors. He is a righty power bat that draws walks and can add a few steals on the bases. He doesn’t have great contact skills, but his contact metrics were ticking slightly up in Double-A compared to the lower levels, so even though strikeouts will always be a part of his game, it might be easier to digest than initially suspected.


Kumar Rocker, P, TEX


It’s difficult to keep track of everything surrounding Rocker at this point, so here’s a refresherhe was one of the most famous college pitchers in recent memory, forming a well-known 1-2 punch at Vanderbilt with Jack Leiter. Following his junior year, the Mets selected Rocker with the 10th overall pick in the 2021 draft. The two sides never reached an agreement after the Mets reviewed Rocker’s medicals. Rocker later had surgery on his shoulder.

The following spring, he pitched for the independent league Tri-City Valleycats. I saw him in person, and his stuff looked electric. The Rangers took him with the third overall pick in the 2022 draft. He didn’t pitch that season, but did appear in the Arizona Fall League. He made six starts at High-A in 2023, posting a 3.72 ERA in 29 frames. His K-BB rate was north of 30% and his FIP checked in at 2.46.

Unfortunately, Rocker underwent Tommy John surgery in May. That puts him on track to return mid-to-late 2024. So if he does bounce back, it won’t be until later this year, but I would not be surprised at all if we see the righty return and throw 20 or so dominant innings and shoot back up prospect lists six months from now. He’s a great buy-low in most leagues, despite the worrisome medical history, as his stock has fallen considerably.


Robert Hassell III, OF, WSN


Hassell’s stock has fallen off a cliff ever since he was traded from the Padres to the Nationals. Once considered one of the headliners of the deal and one of the top prospects in the game, Hassell has struggled at the plate considerably. In 2023, he got into 121 games, most of which came at Double-A, and triple slashed .221/.324/.321 with nine home runs and 15 steals. He also ran a contact rate in the mid-60s.

If you’re looking for some evidence that Hassell can come back, it’s that he suffered a hamate injury in the Arizona Fall League in 2022. Those injuries tend to linger and, likely, he wasn’t fully healthy in 2023. I’m less convinced that Hassell can bounce back than I am of others on this list, but it’s possible and his stock has never been lower.


Alex Ramirez, OF, NYM


Ramirez had a breakout in 2022 between Single-A and High-A, hitting .281 with 11 home runs and 21 steals, all while playing in his age-19 season. Unfortunately, he failed to back that up in 2023, hitting .221 in 120 High-A games.  He did steal 21 bases in 27 tries, though, and his walk rate climbed significantly.

It’s possible that Ramirez’s down 2023 season was a result of him trying to be too patient at the plate. At High-A in 2022 he walked just 6.5% of the time, but that number climbed to 10.7% in 2023. It’s hard to knock someone for increasing their walk rate that much, but if Ramirez goes back to being more of a free swinger then we may see him do damage once again. The Mets protected him from the Rule-5 draft, so he is part of the 40-man roster.


Jake Eder, P, CHW


In 2021, Eder decimated Double-A hitters. The lefty started 15 games and registered 99 strikeouts in 71.1 innings. Oh, and he finished the campaign with a sparkling 1.77 ERA. Simply put, Eder had become one of the sport’s best pitching prospects, and he did so in an organization that has been able to maximize pitching talent in the last several years.

But toward the end of the season he required Tommy John surgery and missed all of 2022. He returned to the mound in June of 2023 but he wasn’t quite the same pitcher that we saw pre-surgery. He made nine starts within the Miami organization, six of which came at Double-A and three at Single-A, finishing with a 4.12 ERA and 15.8% K-BB rate. Those aren’t bad numbers, but a far cry from the elite results we saw in 2021. He was then the headline return for Jake Burger, and struggled in six starts at Double-A with the White Sox.

The hope for a bounce back from Eder is that another year removed from Tommy John will help him regain his 2021 form and velocity. He still has an elite pitch with his nasty slider, and although the move from Miami to Chicago is a development downgrade, he should get every chance possible to start with the White Sox, perhaps as soon as this summer.


Kristian Robinson, OF, ARI


It’s been a longgg journey for Robinson. At the end of the 2019 season, he was essentially a consensus top-20 prospect despite never playing above Single-A. He had torched the lower levels of the minors, showed off incredible power and speed, and was still only 18-years-old. Then a combination of the pandemic and legal troubles led to Robinson not appearing in a single minor league game until the middle of 2023.

For someone who had not been in game action for nearly four years, Robinson performed much better than you’d expect. He triple slashed .283 AVG/.382 OBP/.532 SLG with 14 home runs and 23 steals. Most of those games did come as a 22-year-old at Single-A and he did strike out north of 30% of the time due to poor contact rates, so there are some warts here, but given how much time he missed, Robinson has at least put his name back on the map.

The ceiling still seems high here, as Robinson makes a lot of hard contact and knows how to use his speed on the base paths. If he shows signs of being able to handle upper minors pitching then his stock will continue to rise.


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