Although the regular season is winding down, dynasty baseball never stops. The best time to gain a competitive advantage over the other players in your league is right now. Success never sleeps, and when everybody else is taking some time off, you can be preparing your team for the future.
The most difficult part of playing in dynasty leagues is keeping track of the hundreds of prospects playing every single day. Truthfully, at times, it can be a bit overwhelming. The good thing about keeping up with the dynasty team at PitcherList is that it makes that task a little bit easier.
To cap off the 2023 season, the team has worked hard to bring you a detailed list of prospects all dynasty managers need to keep their eye on. In the article below, there are two prospects from each team totaling 60 prospects to help take your dynasty team to the next level.
By: Jake Marsh (@jakemaish)
Ignacio Alvarez, 3B/SS, ATL
Ignacio Alvarez is a 20-year-old with an impressive hit tool and plate approach that creates a solid floor as a backup middle infielder with great batting averages and solid steal totals. He just finished his first full professional season where he posted stellar strikeout and walk rates (17.4% and 13.2%, respectively) at High-A. His upside will be determined by how much power he can develop, but even if he can’t get beyond a 15 HR season, his hit tool and defensive skills can create some playing time opportunities. He has good natural loft in his swing and he tends to pull the ball so there’s a solid chance he can make the most of his pop. There is a high potential for a breakout season in 2024.
Jhancarlos Lara, SP, ATL
Jhancarlos Lara has maybe the best slider in the lower minors. The pitch stays in the zone for an impressively long time as it approaches the plate, and then it dives off with tight horizontal break and good depth. Lara pairs it with an improving fastball that currently sits in the mid-90s that he can spot well on the edges of the zone.
The 20-year-old plays for a great pitching development organization and he should be able to develop a dependable third pitch to pair with his already impressive arsenal. There is some relief risk here with the two pitches and spotty command. However, he has improved his walk rate after each promotion he’s earned so far. Throwing a full season in High-A and maybe even Double-A will be a huge test for his command skills. He has the stuff to be an impact MLB arm by late 2025. Take a shot on his potential in dynasty leagues.
Victor Mesa Jr., OF, MIA
Victor Mesa Jr. just finished up a breakout Double-A campaign where he flashed 20/20 potential. He’s always carried the dynamic speed that can make him formidable on the basepaths, but this year he took a big step forward in his power production. Even before he started hitting homers consistently, his swing path naturally created a ton of fly balls. The problem was that his HR/FB ratio was less than five percent and most of those flyballs were converted into outs. As a result, his BABIPs and batting averages were poor. Now in 2023, he posted a 13.6% HR/FB ratio as he finally started to take advantage of his lofty swing path.
Even with this new power, he’ll still need to work on his overall hit tool to really turn himself into a potential top-100 prospect. The flyballs are still a potential issue, even with more home runs. He still carried a measly .287 BABIP and .242 batting average on the season, even though he hasn’t shown signs of concerning strikeout or contact issues. Watch for him to take another step in his development to optimize his launch angle. And if he does make strides again next year, look for him to appear higher in more dynasty rankings.
Karson Milbrandt, SP, MIA
Karson Milbrandt was drafted out of high school in the third round of the 2022 draft, and he earned a promotion to High-A in his first full professional season this year. At 19, he was the youngest pitcher on his team and one of the youngest in the league. His fastball already touches 94 and 95 miles per hour, with some definite room for growth there as he fine-tunes his delivery.
Miami has proven their ability to develop pitching prospects with polished deliveries and Milbrandt could be the next beneficiary. The results haven’t been overly impressive so far, but his improving fastball is paired with a big breaking curveball that’s advanced for his age, and he can mix in a dependable changeup as well. Dynasty baseball is about getting in on prospects before everybody knows about them. This could be your chance for Milbrandt.
Blade Tidwell, SP, NYM
Blade Tidwell is going to make his money off his fastball and slider. The fastball sits 94-96 with good carry and the slider sits in the mid-80s with an impressive mix of horizontal and vertical break. He also features a changeup and curveball that should be solid offerings to complement the primary ones.
The area in which he has to make the biggest improvement is command on breaking pitches. His fastball locations are pretty polished, but his slider and curveball locations can be erratic and inconsistent. If he can learn to hone in these pitches, then he can take a significant step forward next season and potentially make an MLB debut in the 2nd half.
Ryan Clifford, OF, NYM
Ryan Clifford is the lesser-known commodity of the prospect duo that the Mets received for Justin Verlander at the 2023 trade deadline. But Clifford can be an impact player in his own right. The 20-year-old first baseman and corner outfielder offers big power potential with a solid hit tool and plate approach. His season trajectory drastically changed after he was traded to the Mets organization – after the deal he hit .188 with a 89 wRC+ and a 36.4% strikeout rate. This can almost certainly be attributed to the abrupt change in scenery, and it could provide a nice buying window in dynasty leagues this offseason. He’s a potential 25-30 HR bat with the ability to consistently post OBPs north of .340.
Ryan Clifford with a 3-run home run for the Cyclones!
Clifford now has 3 hits on the day, 2 singles and a home run. pic.twitter.com/V6oJhYYQX1
— SNY Mets (@SNY_Mets) September 3, 2023
Gabriel Rincones Jr., OF, PHI
Gabriel Rincones Jr. just finished up his first professional season after being drafted 93rd overall in 2022 out of Florida Atlantic University. The left-handed outfielder showcased a well-rounded profile and made some improvements after a June promotion to High-A. While he doesn’t necessarily have a carrying tool, his 90th-percentile outcome is a 20/20 season in the Bigs. Efficiency is the key for him on the basepaths. Even though he’s not a natural burner, he was able to go 32/38 on SB attempts, which is good for an 84% success rate. With his 15 HRs and ISO of .179, he’s already shown some solid power numbers that can be built upon moving forward.
His triple slash against left-handed pitchers shows an expected dip in production. However, his plate approach actually improves against southpaws. Against RHPs, his strikeout rate is 25.6% and his walk rate is 10.9%. Against LHPs, his strikeout rate is 23.3% and his walk rate is 13.6%. This is a good sign that he could potentially avoid platoons later in his career.
Carlos De La Cruz, 1B/OF, PHI
Carlos De La Cruz offers big power potential in his 6’9” frame from the right side of the plate. He set a career-high in HRs this season, and it still feels like we haven’t yet seen what’s possible in that department for him. His stance is quiet and slightly open, and the violence in his swing is almost reminiscent of Jorge Soler.
His plate skills require some work, as he hasn’t posted a strikeout rate south of 27% or a walk rate north of 9.5% at a level where he has at least 100 PAs. With that being said, he’s improved his strikeout rate slightly with each of his promotions since 2021. It’s encouraging to see the tweaks and improvements, but he still has a good amount of work to do to be MLB-ready in that regard. The power upside in his bat makes him a worthy investment for dynasty managers.
DJ Herz, SP, WAS
DJ Herz was dealt to the Nationals from the Cubs in the Jeimer Candelario trade this July. With the Nats, he continued to improve his K-BB% which had already taken a drastic step forward at Double-A from 2022 to 2023. In 35.1 IP after the trade, Hertz posted a 36.1% K rate and a 13.6% BB rate.
The 22-year-old southpaw features a 90-93 mph fastball, 77-81 mph changeup, 81-85 mph slider, and 80-82 mph curveball. Against righties, he typically attacks with the fastball and changeup, while sparsely mixing in a few curveballs. In his most recent start on 9/16, he threw his first two curveballs as his first two pitches in the fifth inning against an RHB. The first drew an ugly chase and the second was spit on in the dirt, and then he followed it with a fastball up and out of the zone. Even though it created a 2-1 count, it’s a pitch sequence that should garner positive results when executed properly. It’s an encouraging sign when he previously only ran with just two pitch types against righties.
He mixes in his sweeping slider against lefties and typically sees great chase and whiff results on it. His changeup is heavily utilized against both lefties and righties and it’s probably his best pitch. It has great downward and arm-side movement and generates plenty of chases and weak contact. Overall, he’s not afraid to pitch inside and get weak contact and his stuff creates plenty of whiffs and chases for great strikeout potential. That potential is only limited by his command and fastball velocity, but his 4-seamer features good arm-side run and doesn’t get pummeled often.
He’s now thrown 126 IP in AA over his last two seasons, so I will expect to see him pitch in MLB in 2024 if he continues his current development pace. Right now, I would hope we see him prior to June but even before then, you’ll get some Triple-A Statcast data on him early in the season.
Cristhian Vaquero, OF, WAS
Cristhian Vaquero is a switch-hitting outfielder who has the speed and glove to stick in center for most of his career. His upside is dependent on how he continues to develop – as of right now he possesses a bevy of natural skills that can be assembled in an All-Star profile if it clicks. Vaquero’s raw power can be unlocked if he bulks up and fills out his 6’3” frame. His plate skills start with a walk rate consistently above 14% and the question lies in how his contact rates fare as he starts to hit more homers.
The 19-year-old’s stance features a moderate leg kick that turns into a toe tap in 2-strike counts. His natural side is from the left, where he has more power. His stance from the left is also slightly more open and his hands point the bat more towards the sky with less pre-pitch movement. He’s obviously more comfortable there, but he has plenty of time to solidify his RHB skills as he continues to develop.
His upside is a consistent power/speed threat with solid plate skills and a batting average that won’t hurt you. But there’s a very large range of outcomes here as there’s a lot of future development that we’re banking on. Regardless, he’s a great candidate to get his own hype train at some point in the next year or two. Investing now carries risk but I like the possibility of a nice payout.
By Steve Dwyer (@SteveDwyer23)
Josh Knoth, SP, MIL
The Brewers are known for getting the most out of their pitchers and might have found another gem to work with. After Josh Knoth posted video game-like numbers in high school with a 0.17 ERA including a 19-strikeout-perfect game, the Brewers decided to select him 33rd overall in this year’s draft. The only pitcher taken ahead of Knoth is Noble Meyer who is already firmly on dynasty manager’s radars.
Two pitching prospects that come to mind when watching Knoth are both Jackson Jobe and Chase Petty. Jobe, because both he and Knoth have a plus-plus off-speed pitch that can miss bats. For Jobe it’s a slider, for Knoth, it’s his +3000 RMP curveball that led him to 109 strikeouts in his final high school season. Knoth is a similar type of pitcher to Chase Petty when on the mound, both standing 6’1, 190 pounds. Both were highly drafted high-school pitchers with good athleticism and a repeatable delivery. While Knoth may not have the triple-digit velocity that Petty did when he was drafted, they both pitch aggressively on the mound.
The third pitch is lacking for Knoth currently, but he’ll be 19 years old until August of 2024 giving him ample time to work on that pitch. The Brewers will take their time developing Knoth, but he contains plenty of upside. He could be an underrated value in dynasty leagues during FYPDs.
Cooper Pratt, INF, MIL
First, the Brewers stole Knoth away from Ole Miss. Next, they stole Cooper Pratt away from the Renegades drafting him in the sixth round. There is plenty of projectability in Pratt’s 6’4” frame which is rare to see in a middle infielder.
In his short debut for the ACL Brewers, Pratt put up a .356 average in 45 at-bats. Good speed for a taller kid, the steals were on display as he swiped four bags in just 12 games. Pratt has a quick, whippy type of swing that allows him to hit the ball hard on the line. He squares up the ball well, which currently puts him as more of a hit-over-power prospect. The swing is beautiful and draws comparisons to a former Brewers great.
Here you can see the similarity between his swing and Ryan Braun:
Cooper Pratt and Ryan Braun, swing mechanics.
— David Gasper (@dgasper24) August 16, 2023
Pratt has the ability to play all over the infield. If he is able to stick at second base, his power frame and offensive upside create a ton of fantasy value at a typically thin position. Pratt is the type of profile that can easily catapult into the top 100 prospects if he starts strong in 2024. Dynasty managers should beat the curve and get in on him ASAP.
Hunter Barco, SP, PIT
A tall, lanky lefty, Hunter Barco pitched great in his career at Florida really blossoming in his final season. In 2022, Barco pitched to a 2.50 ERA with 69 strikeouts and only 34 hits allowed in 50.1 innings. Unfortunately, Tommy John surgery abruptly ended his collegiate career. The Pirates still liked the projectability of the lefty enough to take him in the second round of the 2022 MLB Draft.
Barco sits in the low 90’s with his fastball but has hit 94-95 in college. He also throws a slider that has more of a slurve action and a changeup to keep hitters off balance. The slurve is currently his best strikeout pitch, but his fastball remains underrated with the potential to add more velocity. Here is a look at the three-pitch mix that Barco put on display when he struck out 7 batters in 4 innings for Low-A Bradenton:
Hunter Barco had SEVEN strikeouts tonight! Didn’t walk a better.
4 scoreless innings.
— Christian✞ (@CWolfPGH) September 2, 2023
The Pirates have been cautious with Barco to start his professional career, limiting him to just 18.1 innings pitched between the FCL and Low-A in 2023. However, in that small sample, Barco has shown potential to be a key piece to the Pirates’ rebuild with 28 strikeouts and a 3.44 ERA. 2024 will provide a good look at the pitcher Barco can be for the Pirates in the years to come, but dynasty managers might be best served to get in on him now.
Shalin Polanco, OF, PIT
After signing for $2.35 million back in 2021, Shalin Polanco’s professional career has gotten off to a slow start. He struggled through his first two seasons but has finally shown signs of life this season. He slashed .242/.323/.439 this year with 12 home runs and 17 stolen bases. The power and speed combination is exactly what the Pirates have been waiting to see and have him poised for a major breakout in 2024. Watching him hit home runs off a lefty is a great sign:
— Florida Prospect Report (@FLProspectPod) June 28, 2023
His swing alone may or may not give me vibes of Yordan Alvarez. Polanco has all of the tools to be a 20/20 player. The biggest key is going to be making more contact. Polanco struck out over 28% of the time this season and needs to improve his pitch selection and patience. For dynasty managers looking for the next big breakout, Polanco is an interesting sleeper choice.
Victor Scott II, OF, STL
One word, speed. On the typical 20-80 scale, Scott might break that and register a 90 for his wheels. In just his second professional season, Scott currently leads the minor leagues with 95 steals. The former fifth-round pick has broken out in a big way in 2023. An aggressive hitter, Scott does not draw many walks but still hit over .300 this season. He added eight home runs which is just icing on the cake with his kind of speed.
His speed in the outfield allows him to profile as a plus defender. He covers an impressive amount of ground and even though fantasy managers do not care much about defense, his glove could help get him to the Major Leagues faster. He projects as a top-of-the-order hitter that could easily total 90-plus runs and 50-plus steals. Scott should get a chance to win the everyday centerfield job next spring and show the value he can bring to St. Louis.
Won-Bin Cho, OF, STL
Highly touted from South Korea, Won-Bin Cho has showcased his raw tools through his first two professional seasons. Cho first jumped on the scene with a showcase at Globe Life Park in 2020 where he was crushing home runs. The potential for plus power and speed makes Cho a must-watch prospect for dynasty managers.
In his first professional season, he slashed .270/.376/.389. A 98 strikeout to 64 walk ratio shows his advanced feel for plate discipline and pitch selection. The game power has yet to translate for Cho as he hit just 7 home runs this season but added 5 triples and 14 doubles. Hopefully, Cho can lower his ground ball rate (50%) in 2024 to allow his raw power to turn into more home runs. Speed was the best tool for Cho in 2023 as he swiped 32 bags and used that above-average speed defensively as well.
Looking at his 2023 splits, Cho was able to hit .277 against RHP and .241 against LHP. Not having a drastic split as a lefty against LHP is key to being a good and consistent hitter. Cho is likely to be tested in 2024 at High-A and potentially Double-A, but he could move quickly because of his ability to walk and maintain a low strikeout rate.
It’s worth mentioning that Cho has a plus-plus bat flip grade as well.
Jefferson Rojas, SS, CHC
One of the top international signings in 2022, Jefferson Rojas has played all but one game at the Low-A level in his age-18 season. In 70 games, Rojas held his own hit seven home runs, and stole 13 bases. These numbers are especially impressive when you consider that he was 2.9 years younger than his competition.
An aggressive hitter, with just 23 walks and 62 strikeouts in 2023, Rojas will need to improve his swing selection as he climbs up the minor leagues. As Rojas refines his approach, both his average and power numbers could skyrocket.
Defensively Rojas has the arm to stick at shortstop but given he is on the smaller side; second base may be a better fit long term. Listed at 5’10 and 150 pounds, Rojas will need to add weight and strength but given his age, there is still plenty of time for him to do that. Not 19 years old until April, Rojas could start the year at High-A and be a potential top-50 prospect by mid-season if the success continues. Dynasty managers need to get in on him early.
James Triantos, 2B/3B, CHC
Drafted 56th overall in 2021, Triantos was widely regarded as one of the better high school hitters. His professional career got off to a fast start as he slashed .327/.376/.594 with six home runs and three steals in the ACL. He was quickly living up to his reputation as an elite hitter. A trip to Low-A Myrtle Beach in 2022 did not produce the same eye-popping numbers as he hit just seven home runs in 456 at-bats. Despite a lack of power, he still stole 20 bases leaving plenty to be excited for in 2023.
At 20 years old, Triantos spent all of 2023 at High-A. The power has once again been lacking, but he hit .285 and most impressively only struck out 37 times all season. Triantos is looking more like a top-of-the-order hitter with excellent contact skills. 21 years old for all of 2024, Triantos will most likely make the jump to a full season at Double-A where he will continue to gain more attention in the dynasty community.
Triantos is likely to stick at either second or third base in the future. With Dansby Swanson and Nico Hoerner locked in up the middle, third base or maybe a corner outfield spot might be the best options for Triantos. Perhaps the best news for dynasty managers is that Triantos will report to the Arizona Fall League this offseason where we can get more looks.]
Ricardo Cabrera, SS, CIN
The Reds prioritized Ricardo Cabrera as one of their top international signings from 2022 inking him for $2.7. million. After batting just .253 in 150 at-bats in the DSL, Cabrera left much to be desired. Still, he was just 17 years old, and first impressions are not the definition of what a player can become. Cabrera still maintained the physical maturity to develop into much more.
Much like Jefferson Rojas, the success at a young age and an advanced level has put him on my radar. In 143 at-bats in the complex league, he slashed an impressive .350/469/.559 with 5 home runs, 4 triples, and 21 stolen bases. This was good enough to earn a late-season promotion to Low-A where the bat stayed hot slashing, .316/.519/.316 in 19 at-bats.
Defensively, Cabrera can play middle infield but there is a possibility of third base in his future. Cabrera has a long road to the Majors so who knows if the Reds will still have a plethora of young infielders. If it all works out for Cabrera, he’ll look to move at the same pace as Cam Collier and Carlos Jorge to join the group of Elly De La Cruz, Matt McLain & Noelvi Marte. This much talent for the Reds is a great problem to have. Do not let the talent at the Major League level overshadow the great potential of Cabrera in Low-A.
Alfredo Duno, DH/C, CIN
Another expensive international signing for the Reds, Duno signed for $3.1 million in 2023. The 6’2, 210-pound 17-year-old mashed in the DSL for his first professional season, showing why he was one of the top international prospects in his class.
Duno put together a slash of .303/.451/.493 with six home runs across 152 at-bats. Like Ricardo Cabrera, the strikeouts were a little high at 41, but Duno added 38 walks. Without detailed stats, the DSL can be deceiving, so we’ll hope to see the number of strikeouts go down for Duno in 2024 while maintaining the ability to work the count for a walk.
Duno has a ton of raw power thanks to his size, but he also showed his ability to run stealing six bases. The speed may not translate to steals at higher levels, but it’s important to see the athleticism for him to stick behind the plate defensively. Duno has the arm to throw out base stealers from behind the plate or from a corner outfield position if that move needs to happen. First base is likely to be an option before a move to the outfield, but Duno will have the chance to move up with the Reds as a catcher.
By: Martin Sekulski (@M_Ski22)
Cristofer Torin, 2B, ARI
Cristofer Torin was an under-the-radar International signee for the D’Backs in their 2022 class, lost in the hype surrounding Abdias De La Cruz, a consensus Top-50 International prospect. Torin played in 50 games last season in the DSL, slashing .333/.465/.434 with 21 steals and a 23.2% walk rate. As a follow-up, Torin is hitting .272 with four homers and 21 steals split between Rookie and Low-A this season. Torin walks (14.2%) as much as he strikes out (16%), and his power will come with physical maturity. Long-term, Torin should be a solid contributor with batting average, OBP, and steals, with a generous 10-15 homer upside at his peak.
Ivan Melendez, 1B, ARI
I’ve been around sports for a long time, but very few nicknames stand out more than the “Hispanic Titantic” moniker that belongs to Ivan Melendez. The former standout at the University of Texas was a 3rd Round selection by the Diamondbacks in the 2022 draft. During his Junior year at Texas, Melendez hit .387 with 32 homers and 214 total bases, both school records. As a result, Melendez won every National Player of the Year award in 2022, including the Golden Spikes award given to the best amateur players in the United States.
Since turning pro, Melendez has continued his power output, belting 33 home runs in his first 125 games. The problem for Melendez, however, is his lack of contact. With a 35.9% career strikeout rate, the swing-and-miss factor is a concern, although Melendez is hitting .272 this season and .258 for his professional career. The power is legit, and Melendez could easily be a 40-homer bat in the Majors.
NUMBER 3⃣0⃣ ON THE YEAR
NUMBER 12 IN AMARILLO
IVAN MELENDEZ WILL NOT STOP HITTING DINGERS pic.twitter.com/HvetAoAC7u
— Amarillo Sod Poodles (@sodpoodles) August 17, 2023
For fantasy purposes, Melendez will help with HRs and RBIs but don’t expect much beyond that. Melendez will certainly play first base in the big leagues, but he profiles as a DH long-term. First, base-only prospects are not the flashiest adds, but Melendez still holds plenty of value in dynasty formats.
Benny Montgomery, OF, COL
Benny Montgomery was a hot name entering 2023 after he finished 2022 with a .310 / .385/ .494 slash line. The 6’4″ wiry outfielder was a 1st round selection by the Rockies in the 2021 Draft out of high school. Montgomery has a fun profile, headlined by his 70-grade speed, although he hasn’t run as much as I anticipated before his arrival. His power is still developing, but with Coors as his home ballpark, he could have 20 homer upside. The knock on Montgomery is a very “busy” swing, leading to exploitation by experienced pitchers. Montgomery has yet to play beyond High-A but has struck out at a 30% rate, causing plenty of concern for his dynasty outlook. If he can keep the strikeouts down, Montgomery has the tools to become a solid outfielder in the future.
Dyan Jorge, SS, COL
Dyan Jorge is a sneaky pickup in dynasty formats, especially in deeper leagues. After defecting from Cuba in 2019, Jorge opted to hold off on signing with a Major League team before landing with the Rockies in 2022. In his debut season, Jorge starred in the Dominican Summer League, hitting .320 with four homers and 13 steals in 53 games. Jorge is considered a high-IQ player with elite instincts, especially as a runner. However, with a 6’3″, 170lb frame, Jorge must add muscle and strength to reach his power potential. At 20 years old, Jorge should leap High-A to start next season, and 2024 could be a breakout year for Jorge.
Joendry Vargas, SS, LAD
The Dodgers prospect train keeps rolling with 6’4″ Joendry Vargas, a talented shortstop from the Dominican Republic, added to the fray. Vargas was among the first signees from the January 2023 International class. As a 17-year-old this season, Vargas is destroying the Dominican Summer League, hitting .328 with seven homers and 19 steals in 48 games. Vargas has shown an impressive approach at the plate, walking as much as he’s striking out (14.4% BB, 14.9% K), and his hit tool is evident by his 24.2% line-drive rate. Vargas has loud tools, and it won’t be long before he is a consensus Top-100 prospect. If he’s available in your leagues, Vargas is a must-roster in dynasty formats.
Samuel Munoz, OF, LAD
While not as advanced offensively as his organizational cohort Vargas, outfielder Samuel Munoz is another name to watch for the Dodgers. Munoz signed in 2022 and immediately made an impact. Playing in the DSL as a 17-year-old in 2022, Munoz hit .347 to finish among the league leaders. This season in the Arizona Complex League, Munoz has a .273 average with two homers and nine steals over 52 games. While his power has not developed as quickly, Munoz has a solid hit tool and should come into double-digit homer potential with continued physical growth. The question for Munoz is his defense and positional landing spot, as he has below-average range and a “fringe” arm.
Nathan Martorella, 1B, SDP
Standing at 6’1″ tall, Nathan Martorella isn’t a typical first baseman by size but is by profile. The Padres fifth-round pick in 2022 has displayed plenty of patience and power in his first professional season, building upon his reputation following his selection from Cal Berkeley. Playing mainly at High-A this season, Martorella has 19 home runs and 171 combined runs and RBIs with a 16.8% rate walk rate. His short, compact stroke makes Martorella a prototypical power hitter, although scouts have concerns about his groundball rates (45%) and how that will translate to the pros.
Graham Pauley, 3B/2B, SDP
As great as 2023 has been for Martorella, his Padres’ teammate Graham Pauley has put up even more impressive numbers. The former Duke Blue Devil has rocketed up prospect lists after posting a 20/20 start to his professional career. Pauley was a 13th-round pick last summer and made quick work jumping from Rookie ball to Low-A.
Pauley returned to Low-A to open in 2023 but has jumped to Double-A this summer. In 127 games this year, Pauley is hitting .308 with 23 homers and 22 steals, adding 94 RBIs and 98 runs scored. Speed will not be a part of Pauley’s game at the next level, although his high baseball IQ and athleticism allow him to make the most of his ability. Pauley is a solid performer and gets a boost in OBP and points leagues. Dynasty managers should make sure he is firmly on their radars.
Rayner Arias, OF, SFG
If you’re not familiar with Rayner Arias, you soon will be. The Giants signed Arias to a $2.7M deal early in 2023 out of the Dominican Republic, showing confidence in the youngster. He is just 17 years old with a 6’2″ frame that is sure to grow. As the son of a former Minor Leaguer, Arias grew up in the game and has advanced feel and instincts, especially at the plate. In his first season in the DSL, Arias is hitting .414 with four homers and 21 RBIs in 16 games. He has walked 15 times compared to just 11 strikeouts and has four steals.
Rayner Arias has been insane in his first 15 games in the DSL. He went 3-5 today & was a homer shy of the cycle. It's now the fourth time that he's fallen a hit short of the cycle.
His AVG, SLG, OPS, and HR are in the top 5 in the DSL.
(old video tho)pic.twitter.com/0j0nsRtgzZ
— Giant Prospective (@giantprospectiv) June 27, 2023
Arias has drawn comparisons to a young Eloy Jiménez, producing power to all fields with massive EVs. We have all seen how quickly prospects with strong DSL debuts get scooped up in dynasty leagues. Get in early on Arias, as he will rise quickly in prospect circles.
Reggie Crawford, SP, SFG
Crawford was an intriguing player coming out of UConn in the 2022 Draft. As a pitcher, the left-handed throwing Crawford has a blazing, upper-90s fastball with a devastating slider and developing changeup. As a hitter, Crawford led his conference in homers and RBIs, tying the school records set by now Blue Jays’ outfielder George Springer. Crawford dipped to the 30th overall selection in the Draft after undergoing Tommy John surgery at UConn.
The Giants organization plans to utilize Crawford as a pitcher, and he debuted earlier this summer. Pitching at both levels of A-ball, Crawford tossed 19 innings with a 2.84 ERA and a 32:10 strikeout-walk ratio. I’d expect a significant increase in innings for Crawford in 2024, a full year removed from his surgery. The Giants have had recent success developing left-handed pitchers, including top prospects Kyle Harrison and Carson Whisenhunt. Crawford also appeared as a batter in seven games this season. Despite his ability to play the field, dynasty managers should anticipate using him solely as a starting pitcher.
By: LaMar Gibson (@InsideFastball)
Max Wagner, 3B, BAL
The lazy description for Wagner is as a poor man’s Coby Mayo. They both bring major right-handed thump but Mayo’s obviously a more advanced and refined hitter at a younger age. While Wagner posted a 27-homer season in his draft year at Clemson, he’s yet to fully tap into that same sort of output as a pro but that could also be due to his constant movement through the Orioles’ system.
Since being drafted 42nd overall in 2022, Wagner has yet to have a full season at one level. This can cause a prospect’s stat lines to do some tricks but looking at Wagner’s long stint at High-A, the home run total is encouraging. The stolen base totals are likely inflated by poor defense at the High-A level; it’s unlikely that he’ll reach even double digits at the major league level. Wagner seems like yet another O’s prospect on the cusp. The plate skills are burgeoning: a 42% swing rate coupled with a 70% contact rate isn’t overwhelming but it hints towards what could come next season.
Chayce McDermott, SP, BAL
McDermott came to Baltimore through the Trey Mancini deal after putting up some eye-catching numbers in the Astros’ lower minors. If there’s one nitpick with an O’s farm system that’s been filled to the brim with talent over the last 3 seasons, it’s that after the graduation of Kyle Bradish and Grayson Rodriguez, pitching is a bit thin. The move for McDermott was definitely to assist this area.
Since joining Baltimore, he’s continued to put up gaudy strikeout ratios. The numbers have stayed consistent as he has been promoted all of the way up to Triple-A Norfolk. The one issue that he’s had to battle is command of his fastball/curveball/slider mix, which has led to some ugly walk rates in 2021 and 2022.
Encouragingly, year over year, the stat line shows an improvement, reinforced by some basic areas of focus by Baltimore’s development staff, such as pitch efficiency per inning. After a 17.4% walk rate in his ‘22 Double-A season, McDermott posted a 15.3% rate at the same level in 68.1 IP before lowering it to 11.7% at Norfolk. Along the way, he’s kept his K rate at or above 30% and his SwStr at least 14%. While his slider isn’t as much of a wipeout pitch as Bradish’s, there are some similarities in their parallel paths to the majors as unheralded arms with question marks. Bradish seems to have finally stepped into his SP2 upside, perhaps McDermott could soon do the same.
Blaze Jordan- 1B/3B, BOS
One of the more well-known prospects of the shortened draft, thanks to his evocative first name, Blaze Jordan set hearts ablaze with reports of his light-tower power to all fields. However, after a couple of seasons in the lower minors, where he barely reached double digits for homers and began seeing his strikeout rate increase, Jordan seemed to fall off of many radars. A once shiny teenage prospect was abandoned for newer, shinier prospects.
This season, made up for any prospect fatigue as Jordan has not only converted his raw power to game power often (18 HRs combined), but he is making good contact (78%). Alongside a 10% swinging strike rate, Jordan could begin to see an uptick in his batting average, although he still has quite a bit to learn on patience. Having a walk rate under 10%, especially for a power hitter, is an incredibly difficult profile to make work in the majors. Other than that area, Jordan is finally looking like the middle-of-the-order threat needed in Boston.
I don’t know where the fuck it went, but this Blaze Jordan home run went really far. His first hit since getting promoted is a moon bomb. pic.twitter.com/CUXMWxVsNf
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) August 10, 2022
Isaac Coffey, SP, BOS
In the quartet of Boston pitching prospects (including Wilkeman Gonzalez, Angel Bastardo, and Yordanny Monegro), Coffey stands out for his very 3/4 release. He’s also been highly efficient. So far, across two levels Coffey is throwing strikes 51% of the time.
Drilling down on his Double-A performance, where he spent the back half of the year, his whiff rate settled in at a league-average level of 13%. As you might imagine, being in the strike zone without having above-average whiffs often has a cost, as Coffey allowed 22 HRs which ties him for 10th most allowed in all Minor Leagues. Coffey’s lack of separation between fastball and change-up movement could be neutralizing his unique release vs. more advanced hitters. That being said, Coffey still limits blow-ups. He posted a strand rate over 80% at both High-A and Double-A this season. Deploying a release point that is likely to give hitters fits in more limited action and a fastball/change-up mix with the potential to become more effective, Coffey presents a compelling case as a future bullpen ace.
Jared Serna, 2B, NYY
Signed for $10K out of Mexico and delayed for two years due to the pandemic, Serna was far from being on any dynasty radars. Even after having above-average seasons in the Dominican and Complex Leagues to start his career, the community did not catch on. 2023 should rightfully be pegged as his breakout.
He put up major power and speed totals in a notoriously pitching-friendly environment. Of course, anyone of Serna’s build is going to draw notice for how much he drives the ball, with a full-bodied swing that allows him to control the barrel in the zone and creates a fair amount of exit velocity (102.4 90th percentile) to drive balls. However, with a 49% GB rate, Serna is hitting worm burners in the infield far too often. Luckily, speed on the basepaths and overall plate discipline buy him time to refine his swing to get more lift.
The Yankees, finally assigned Serna to High A Hudson Valley in August. Suddenly Serna’s homers have vanished though contact percentage remains in the 80s (Serna rarely swings and misses as well). There are some rough parts to his game still but it’s easy to wonder what Serna could become in another 2-3 years as he learns how to drive breaking balls more often when he can’t ambush a fastball.
Justin Lange, SP, NYY
A comp round selection by San Diego from high school in Texas, Lange was traded to New York for Luke Voit. He was known as a live arm his senior year, as his fastball repeatedly sat in the upper 90s and occasionally broke 100 MPH. As a pro, he’s been able to use two fastballs, a sinker, and 4 seamer, to great success. The current money pitch is a cutter that’s proven to be nearly unhittable (27% SwStr, 51% Strike, and only has been hit into play 9% of the time).
Control, not just command, remains Lange’s biggest red flag. His walk rates continue to be well over optimal limits from the Complex League to Low-A. On the bright side, he has been successful in generating low BAA. His 2023 ended in High-A, pitching 12.2 innings to a mixed result of 16 Ks, 8 walks, and 8 ER. His SwStr rate also came down several points in that small sample. It’s possible there may have been some fatigue as Lange reached a new high in innings pitched, but it’s also important to watch if he’s able to return to generating lots of whiffs next season. If his fastball(s)/cutter combo continues to feature so prominently, Lange has the floor of an incredibly dominant high-leverage reliever for the next generation of Yankees.
Brayden Taylor, 3B, TB
The Rays made Taylor the 19th overall pick in this year’s draft. Taylor joins Tampa after three stellar years at TCU and has immediately gotten to work in Low A. The low batting average and 30% K rate will likely scare away some sticklers in your upcoming FYPD… don’t be one of them.
You’ll reap the rewards by selecting a sweet-swinging 3B with 25-30 HR potential and 7-10 stolen bases thrown in the mix.
Brayden Taylor’s first professional home run! pic.twitter.com/u9nuhQl4uo
— Milb Central (@milb_central) August 11, 2023
While he may never vie for a batting title, the batting average, and strikeouts are likely a by-product of an overly patient approach at a low level where umpires tend to have wider strike zones. The 38.5% swing rate and 11% swinging strike point to a hitter that has above-average plate discipline. Taylor is pulling the ball at an extreme rate (65%!!) but it doesn’t feel like a red flag. The profile contains major upside with an arrow pointing at rapid movement through the system; if you like what Colson Montgomery is doing, then Taylor should be right up your alley. Dynasty managers, Taylor is a must-buy.
Santiago Suarez, SP, TB
Suarez joined Tampa as part of the return from Miami in exchange for J.T. Chargois and Xavier Edwards. A teenager with a lively fastball, he also deploys a curveball with good vertical break. Being so young at 18 years old, it’ll be critical to see how he reacts to the innings being put on his arm, especially with Tampa’s history of openers, piggy-backing, and strict pitch limits.
He threw 39.2 IP in his stateside debut after throwing the same amount as a pro in the DSL last year. At the complex level, his K-BB% was just a percent off of his 2022 pace, with the only major difference being that he only started 3 of the 11 games he pitched. But in the 19.2 innings he logged at Low-A, after promotion in August, his swing-and-miss stuff seemed to take a major step back. Obviously, it’s a small sample for a young arm that was gassed but something still worth noting as a baseline for his 2024. Most encouraging of all is his walk rate: under 6% across three levels. He still has a far way to go but Suarez is a name to circle for deep dynasty leagues, his youth means any subsequent improvements will rapidly boost his value.
Jace Bohrefen, OF, TOR
A sixth-round pick from Arkansas by way of Oklahoma, Bohrefen’s swing has some striking similarities to fellow Arkansas alum and current OF of AL East rival Baltimore, Heston Kjerstad. Bohrefen keeps his hands higher but like the Orioles rookie, he uses a noticeable leg kick to trigger the start of his swing. The swing itself is impressive in its speed and ability to create loft on pitches, especially on the inner third. At Low-A Dunedin, Bohrefen produced a 90th percentile EV of 101.7. Those numbers could continue increasing as he fills out his projectable frame. There is something to be said for these counting stats being produced by a 3-year power 5 college bat in Low-A (2024 definitely will serve as a proving ground for him) but Bohrefen is doing what he can to jumpstart his pro career.
The slider gives him trouble, look for that to be an area of focus moving forward, but Bohrefen could be a steal both for Toronto as well as your dynasty team in FYPDs.
Cade Doughty, 2B/3B, TOR
While we are throwing out some swing comparisons, Doughty’s short swing echoes another LSU 3B in Alex Bregman. Unlike Bregman, Doughty lacks the same advanced contact skills and plate discipline. Looking at his game power outlook, the 18 HRs he hit this season coupled with his last two seasons at LSU (13 and 15 homers, respectively) add up to an encouraging sign.
Defensively, Doughty’s been splitting time between third and second, and his fantasy profile would significantly be boosted if he becomes a primary second baseman.
The floor for Cade Doughty is as a bench bat with an average in the .230s but the ceiling is 18-22 HRs as a versatile infielder. His 2023 season got off to a slow start, but he really turned things around later on slashing .260/.305/.506 from August 11th forward. Keep your eye on him in dynasty leagues.
By: Vincent Ginardi (@VincentgPL)
Juan Brito, 2B, CLE
Juan Brito is a hitter, and that hasn’t changed at all in 2023.
The middle infielder signed with the Colorado Rockies for just $60,000 as part of the 2018-19 international class and he’s done nothing produce at the plate ever since. As a 17-year-old in the Dominican Summer League in 2019, the switch-hitting Brito triple slashed .328/.403/.491 in 35 games. He put up similar numbers as a 19-year-old in the Complex League in 2021, triple slashing .295/.406/.432, and again as a 20-year-old in Single-A in 2022, posting a .286/.407/.470 slash.
This past offseason, the Rockies and Guardians completed a one-for-one prospect trade, with the former sending Brito to Cleveland in exchange for Nolan Jones. Jones has been a member of Top 100 lists in the past and was closer to the majors at the time of the trade, so the Guardians must have seen something they liked in Brito to make the deal.
Based on 2023 alone, Cleveland is probably happy with what they are seeing from Brito. He started the year in High-A, spending 35 games there and slashing .265/.379/.424 while walking more than he struck out. That earned him a promotion to Double-A where he has since played 87 contests, triple-slashing .276/.373/.444. Between both stops, he’s collected 14 home runs and six steals.
The most impressive part of Brito’s profile is that at every stop in his minor league career, he’s walked at a clip north of 10% while striking out at a rate less than 20%. His approach should translate at the big-league level. The question with him becomes whether or not he’s a better real-life prospect than a fantasy one. He doesn’t have a ton of power or speed – he’s just a good hitter. That gives him a good floor, but not the ceiling of a fantasy star. Still, dynasty managers should not forget about him because if the power comes, look out.
Jaison Chourio, OF, CLE
Obviously, you are familiar with the elder Chourio, Jackson Chourio, who has cemented himself as one of the game’s top prospects. But Cleveland’s Chourio, Jaison, has started to make a name for himself too.
The Guardians signed Chourio for $1.2 million in January 2022. As a 17-year-old, he spent the entirety of the 2022 season in the Dominican Summer League and triple-slashed .280/.446/.402 with 14 steals in 40 games.
In 2023, he logged most of his games at the Complex level, putting up a .349/.476/.463 slash with 19 steals in 39 contests. To close out the season, the 18-year-old Chourio is in Single-A, but he has only played in a handful of games thus far.
While the power hasn’t shown up in games yet for the switch-hitting Chourio, he will likely grow into it in the coming seasons, and his patience at the plate gives him an encouraging base to bet on. Chourio walked at a clip higher than 20% at both the Dominican Summer League and Complex League levels. He may not have quite the upside as his brother, but the younger Chourio will likely be considered a prospect on the rise this offseason.
Cristian Mena, SP, CHW
Mena is a bit of a divisive pitching prospect. On the one hand, he’s only 20 years old and finishing the year in Triple-A. Not many arms knock on the door of the majors at that age. On the other hand, despite some great outings, Mena is prone to blow-up starts, and the end result is an ERA that is higher than you’d expect from a pitching prospect who has moved this quickly through the minors.
Last year, he split 21 starts between Single-A and High-A, recording a 2.68 ERA at the former before putting up a 4.65 ERA at the latter. He later made three starts a Double-A to finish the campaign. This season, Mena has spent most of the year at Double-A, throwing 114 innings to the tune of a 4.66 ERA and a 16.6% K-BB rate. Similar to last season, Mena is now closing out the season at the next level.
In totality, Mena has a track record of striking out batters, though he also has a track record of walking too many hitters and allowing too many runs. Given his age, this gives him a wide range of outcomes, where he could become a high-strikeout starting pitcher with inconsistent performances (similar to someone like Dylan Cease) or he could be a relief arm. Only time will tell but given his quick ascension through the minors, we could see him in the majors in 2024. This alone makes him an arm to watch for dynasty managers.
Jake Eder, SP, CHW
The Miami Marlins selected Eder, a lefty starting pitcher, in the fourth round of the 2020 draft. Eder had a full-on breakout in 2021, making 15 starts at Double-A and compiling a 1.77 ERA and 99 strikeouts in 71.1 innings. His 25.1% K-BB rate was one of the best in Minor League Baseball
Unfortunately, he required Tommy John surgery and 2023 marked his return to the mound. The results have been mixed as he’s experienced a dip in velocity. Between Single-A and Double-A for the Marlins, the lefty threw 39.1 innings with an ERA north of 4.00 while striking out 48.
At this year’s trade deadline, Eder was dealt to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for Jake Burger. He’s only thrown 17.1 innings at Double-A in this organization, but the results have been…poor. Eder has yielded 22 earned runs while walking 15. On the plus side, he has struck out 22.
His strikeout upside still gives him a considerable fantasy ceiling but given what we have seen from Eder post-surgery, it’s a very real possibility that Eder ends up in a relief role. Next season will provide a better indication as Eder will be further removed from his surgery. If he rebounds, he could regain top-prospect status quickly. The potential is there to be a relevant dynasty asset. The question is just whether or not he will regain his pre-injury form.
Charlee Soto, P, MIN
The Minnesota Twins selected Soto with the 34th overall pick in this June’s draft. He has yet to appear in a Minor League game, so we won’t see him in a professional setting until 2024.
Despite that, it won’t be surprising to see Soto’s stock for First-Year Player Drafts start to trend upward this offseason. Soto is a 6’5 righty flamethrower whose fastball currently sits in the upper 90s. He is a former shortstop and now will be a full-time pitcher, so at this point he is all projection. However, his stuff and frame give him the look of a future starter.
With all high school pitchers, there is a high bust rate here, but the deeper you go in First-Year Player Drafts, the more risk you’re inherently going to run into. If you want to take a shot on upside, make sure to target Soto.
Tanner Schobel, INF, MIN
The Twins took Schobel with the 68th overall pick in the 2022 draft. He’s a smaller prospect, standing at 5’9, but has shown a good approach at all levels of the Minor Leagues.
The righty-hitting Schobel spent 28 games at Single in 2022, triple-slashing .242/.367.303 with one home run in six games. Most notably, he walked 15% of the time while striking out at a 19.2% clip.
In 2023, it looked like Schobel was fully breaking out – he kicked off the year at High-A and in 77 games he hit .288 while belting 14 home runs and swiping nine bags. That earned him a promotion to Double-A where he has struggled a bit. In 49 contests he’s hitting just .226 with two home runs and three steals. He’s still walking at a high clip, though, and while he’s not likely to ever be a fantasy star, there’s the potential here for the 22-year-old Schobel to develop into a high-OBP bat with modest pop and speed while playing all over the field.
Austin Charles, SS/3B, KCR
Charles was a hot name for dynasty leagues in the early months of the season. The Royals took the 6’5 Charles in the 20th round of the 2022 draft and he only played in three games at the Complex League last year.
He actually played fewer games at the Complex League this year, participating in two games before earning an early season promotion to Single-A in early June. That promotion, along with some strong performances in extended spring training, got the hype train going on Charles. He’s performed unspectacularly solid there triple slashing .230/.290/.356 with three home runs and 12 steals. Those aren’t the type of numbers that are going to jump off the page and scream “buy”, but they also aren’t surprising given how raw Charles is.
Essentially, Charles is a lottery ticket to dream on. His size and athleticism mean that he could blossom into a star.
— Preston Farr (@royalsminors) July 6, 2023
He’ll probably start 2024 as a 20-year-old in High-A, so he still has a long way to go, especially for a prospect without much of a performance track record. That being said, he was a hot name back in early June, the reasons to like him are still the same, and it’s likely that he can be acquired at a cheap price from a dynasty manager who looks at his performance.
Frank Mozzicato, P, KCR
You may remember Mozzicato – he somewhat unexpectedly went to the Royals with the seventh pick of the 2021 draft. Mozzicato is a 6’3 lefty with multiple offerings, and his professional career has been a bit of a mixed bag.
The lefty tossed 69 innings in 2022 – all at the Single-A level – and put up a 4.30 ERA with a 29.1% strikeout rate. That’s nothing to sneeze at, especially for a teenager getting his first taste of professional baseball. But his 16.7% walk rate was certainly concerning.
Mozzicato began 2023 in familiar territory – Single-A. He made nine starts there and fared a bit better – a 3.04 ERA with a 36.2% strikeout rate. The walks were still there – he checked in at a 14.5% clip – but it did mark an improvement from the year prior. The Royals promoted him to High-A and he took the rubber nine times and the results were ugly. In 36.2 innings, the former first-round pick finished with a 7.12 ERA and a 6.7% K-BB rate.
So where does that leave us? Mozzicato is still just 20 years old and has shown big strikeout potential. Unfortunately, the flip side of that coin is a barrage of free passes. This profile screams “reliever” to me, but if he can improve that walk rate to around 10 or 11%, he can emerge as a high-strikeout starter.
Wilmer Flores, P, DET
Yes, Flores is the brother of the other Wilmer Flores. But instead of playing on the infield dirt, the younger Flores has toed the rubber in the Detroit Minor League system the last few seasons.
The Tigers scooped up Flores after he went undrafted in the 2020 five-round draft. He’s looked like an incredible find since then. He spent most of the 2021 campaign as a 20-year-old at Single-A and put up a 22.3% K-BB rate and 3.40 ERA in 53 innings.
From there, the right-hander started 2022 in High-A, breezing through hitters there with a 1.83 ERA in 19.2 innings, before continuing his breakout at Double-A. He logged 83.2 frames at that level, finishing with a 3.01 ERA and 21.4% walk rate. Flores hasn’t been quite as sharp this season with a 3.90 ERA and 14% K-BB rate in Double-A.
Flores should get a rotation look for the Tigers at some spot in 2024 and he’s a good buy after a somewhat disappointing 2023. Injuries played a significant role and there is still plenty to like in his profile. You can read even more about Flores from a dynasty breakdown done earlier this season here.
Roberto Campos, OF, DET
The Tigers signed Campos back in 2019. Obviously, the pandemic led to an absence of Minor League Baseball in 2020, so we didn’t see Campos in a professional game until 2021.
He’s more or less held his own at every level so far, despite being a few years younger than his competition. He clocked in for 38 games at the Complex level in 2021 as an 18-year-old outfielder and put up a 96 wRC+ with eight home runs. Last season, he finished with a.258/.326/.385 triple slash in 112 Single-A games and this season he’s put up an almost identical line at High-A (.257/.313/.395).
The power hasn’t quite shown up yet (a .139 ISO this year), but it projects to for the 6’3 righty. The Tigers appear to have a deliberate plan with Campos – he has only played one level per year since entering the minors – so expect him to kick off 2024 in Double-A. That means he will be a 21-year-old in Double-A, so if his power does show up next year then his stock will quickly rise. He’s a prime dynasty league breakout candidate.
By: Matt Heckman (@heckman_matt115)
Zach Cole, OF, HOU
If there is one team that makes a living out of late-round draft picks or under-the-radar international signings, it is the Houston Astros. In 2022, the team selected Zach Cole in the 10th round out of Ball State University. Cole was known for hitting home runs and stealing bases throughout his collegiate career. He appeared in 55 games his final collegiate season hitting 13 home runs and stealing 20 bases. His power and speed have continued to be on full display since joining Houston’s organization. This season between Low-A and High-A, Cole hit 19 home runs and stole 37 bases. Power and speed are exactly what fantasy managers look for and it is clear that Cole has plenty of both.
The biggest concern for Cole is his hit tool. He struck out nearly 22% of the time in his final season at Ball State, and these concerns have carried over to the Major Leagues. While his left-handed swing comes with effortless power, it tends to get long at times and results in him struggling to handle velocity. His zone understanding is excellent (as evidenced by a career 13.1% walk rate). The issue is going to be making enough contact. If he can improve in this area, the power, swing path, and speed are all extremely enticing from a fantasy perspective. If things click next season, he will soar up rankings making now your chance to beat the rush.
Zach Dezenzo, 3B, HOU
How about an even later pick from the 2022 draft? The Astros selected another collegiate bat in the 12th round of the 2022 draft when they took infielder Zach Dezenzo. When evaluating Dezenzo, his size instantly jumps off the page. Standing at 6’4”, Dezenzo crushed 19 home runs in his final season with Ohio State. The frame for power is obvious, but what has really stuck out has been his willingness to run. After stealing just four bases in his four-year collegiate career, he stole 22 this season with the Astros. He really put his name on the map when he hit .407 with four home runs in 31 games to start this season at High-A before quickly earning the promotion to Double-A.
Studying Dezenzo’s exit velocity numbers from college and looking at his home run rates since being drafted, it is clear that he is going to hit for enough power to be fantasy-relevant from a corner infield position. The question left to be answered is whether or not he can keep his strikeout rate in check. After his promotion to Double-A, his strikeout rate jumped by over eight percent. While an adjustment period is to be expected, his strikeout rate continued to get worse throughout the 2023 season. Despite his flaws, Dezenzo is a power-bat that fantasy managers should have on their radars.
Luis Morales, SP, OAK
Luis Morales was Oakland’s biggest international signing from this past year. The recently turned 21-year-old pitcher defected from Cuba and signed for nearly $3 million. The lanky right-hander comes with a long delivery that features an over-the-top arm slot. Right now, his fastball is the money pitch and sits consistently in the mid to upper-90s. His secondaries currently consist of a slider, curveball, and changeup with the curveball having the most potential. You get a good look at the curve in the first strikeout below:
— Lansing Lugnuts (@LansingLugnuts) September 13, 2023
I first wrote a bit about Morales in a Top-100 prospect update earlier this season and the urgency for fantasy managers to get in now remains high. After pitching well throughout August for Low-A, Oakland decided to give him the bump to High-A to end the season. His first start was a bit rocky, but Morales rebounded nicely by throwing four scoreless innings of one-hit ball in his final start. Now with a full off-season to work with Oakland’s player development staff, we should expect to see significant strides in 2024. He is far from a finished product but has the potential to fly up boards next season.
Henry Bolte, OF, OAK
If you want to talk about raw skills, Henry Bolte should be the center of every prospect discussion. The Athletics fell in love with Bolte’s athleticism and ceiling during the 2022 draft process and selected him with their second-round draft pick. Standing at 6’3” Bolte is quiet at the plate with quick hands and a leg-kick that provides even more pop to his big frame. Unlike most prototypical power hitters, Bolte possesses a unique ability to hit the ball to all fields. In fact, he hits more balls the opposite way than he pulls.
— Stockton Ports (@stocktonports) August 8, 2023
As is typical for high-school draftees, with the upside comes plenty of risk. That risk comes from Bolte’s hit tool. On top of the already mentioned ground ball issue, Bolte has posted alarming strikeout rates early in his career. On the season Bolte struck out over 33% of the time, but the silver lining is that his strikeout rate was just 23.6% from August 15th forward. If Bolte can get more balls in the air and keep his strikeout rate down, there is clear 30/40 potential here. Players with upside like Bolte’s tend to rise fast and you do not want to miss out on him.
Caden Dana, SP, LAA
Slowly throughout the season, former 11th-round draft pick Caden Dana has started to gain more notoriety in the fantasy community. One of the most vocal leaders of the Dana hype train has been Nate Handy (@pitchingspecs on X). The more I have watched Dana and started to pay attention to him, the more I can understand why he is an easy profile to love. Standing at 6’4”, Dana repeats his delivery with ease and fluidity looking extremely “pitcherish” on the mound.
Montage of some good Caden Dana pic.twitter.com/3zl8diWRM3
— Nate Handy (@pitchingspecs) August 1, 2023
Many scouts believe that his fastball (which is already good enough to get by thanks to high spin rates) could continue adding more velocity as he continues to mature. The combination of his slider and curveball both profile to be at least average-out pitchers with the potential to be plus offerings. His strikeout rate has consistently sat above 31% despite being one of the youngest pitchers in High-A this season. The biggest question mark is whether or not his changeup will develop enough to give him a consistent pitch to attack lefties with. In his brief professional career, Dana has had far more success against righties than lefties which is something to monitor in his progression.
The Angels have proven time and time again that they are not shy to promote their prospects quickly through the Minor League system. Dana is only 19 but pitched extremely well in his first full professional season. Across his final three starts this season, Dana allowed just two earned runs pitching at least six innings in all three. His strikeout rate in those three starts was 34.1%. Dana is just starting to gain attention in the dynasty community, and he needs to be somebody you are keeping your eye on.
Jorge Marcheco, SP, LAA
The Angels signed Jorge Marcheco out of Cuba for $35,000 prior to the 2021 season. He pitched just nine innings in his debut season but struck out 20 batters without surrendering a walk. He followed up that strong performance in the DSL by striking out 36.7% of batters at the Complex Level in 2022 before earning an end-of-season promotion to Low-A. This season, Marcheco split time between Low-A and High-A and although the strikeout rate was not as impressive, his control managed to get even better. After walking just 5.9% of batters in 2022, he managed to lower this rate down to 5.4% this year.
As seems typical for control artists, Marcheco does not blow anybody away with velocity. His fastball routinely sits in the low 90s although nice extension allows the pitch to look even faster. One thing he has shown this year is the ability to manipulate his breaking pitches. None of the “stuff” blows scouts or batters away, but the overall package of Marcheco can be difficult to hit. Look at the way he manipulates his curveball to keep batters off-balance:
— Jared Tims (@Jared_Tims) August 31, 2022
Being a part of an underwhelming system and lacking the flashiest stuff, results in pitchers like Marcheco being overlooked. Despite lacking front-of-the-rotation upside, he is still a useful dynasty asset. He will gain more attention as he moves through Los Angeles’ system, but you can get in on him now.
Walter Ford, SP, SEA
An organization that has developed plenty of pitching over the last few seasons, Seattle has a chance to produce another exciting arm in Walter Ford. The team selected Ford 74th overall in the 2022 draft and signed him to an over-slot bonus to lure him away from college. Watch one video of Ford on the mound and it is easy to become enamored with his potential. The wind-up features a full arm extension down with a huge leg kick reminiscent of Tim Lincecum. This chaotic movement and constant hand movement help create deception and make it incredibly difficult for hitters to pick the ball up.
Ford’s fastball regularly sits in the low to mid-90s although he has shown potential to get it up even higher. He is still only 18 years old with plenty of time to continue adding velocity. His slider is already a solid pitch and the Mariners have become known for helping pitchers develop a sweeper to add to their repertoire. Ford pitched well in 22.2 innings at the Complex Level this season and put together two scoreless starts to end his campaign. In fact, if you take away his one appearance out of the bullpen where he gave up five runs in 1.2 innings, Ford would have had a 1.71 ERA on the season. There is a lot to like in this exciting arm including the organization he is a part of.
Tai Peete, SS, SEA
Here I am writing about Tai Peete again because he has quickly become my favorite non-top ten pick from this year’s draft. The 30th overall pick split 30 games between the Complex League and Low-A this season. During that time, he hit two grand slams and stole six bases giving fantasy managers a glimpse into his offensive potential.
Typically, Peete relies on a toe-tap to set up his swing and execute his timing. This is not rare for power hitters but what is rare, is his ability to adjust with two strikes. Despite being just 18 years old, Peete is already demonstrating the ability to adjust his approach to make more contact. His swing shortens and the toe tap becomes nearly unnoticeable. Peete already understands that swinging for the fences is great, but with two strikes it is better to make contact. This kind of maturity is rare for players his age and speaks to his developmental potential. He has the power and speed to be an impactful fantasy asset and his ceiling could grow even higher with improved contact skills.
Aidan Curry, SP, TEX
The shortened 2020 draft created an opportunity for teams to find value through undrafted free agents. The Rangers saw something in Aidan Curry and were able to persuade him away from a commitment to Bucknell with $20k. Curry is extremely lanky and has already had solid control of three pitches. His fastball sits 93-96 but consists of good carry-up in the zone. His slider is already an effective out pitch to righties although he still lacks some consistency in his ability to locate the pitch. Confidence in his changeup allows him to effectively attack left-handed batters as well.
The biggest issue with Curry throughout his professional career has been control. He walked 16.5% of batters in 2021, and 12.8% in 2022. This season though, Curry was able to limit the free passes and decreased his walk rate to 10.9%. Not only that, but it is reasonable to assume Curry got tired at the end of the season after setting career highs in innings pitched. Prior to his final two starts, he was only walking nine percent of batters. Based on arsenal alone, Curry projects as a mid-rotation arm with fantasy relevance. If he can prove his control improvements were legit in 2024, he could continue moving up prospect boards.
Braylin Morel, OF, TEX
Every season there are several players who fill up the stat sheet in the Dominican Summer League. A good 50-ish games or so does not mean that these players are going to become All-Stars, however, they are worth paying attention to. Braylin Morel’s 2023 showing certainly made him a name to keep on your radars. Across 47 games, Morel crushed seven home runs with a .344 batting average. He draws excellent power from his 6’2” frame and taps into even more on the pull side. At just 17, his swing path is already incredibly smooth and consistent which should help him to continue running high BABIPs.
If there is one concern moving forward it is his strikeout rate. He struck out over 24% of the time this season and has a swing that is prone to swing and miss down and away. His overall stance and swing remind me a lot of Nick Castellanos. Things go well for Castellanos when he shows a tendency to take pitches the other way and use the whole field. If Morel can develop that area of his game he could turn into a middle-of-the-order bat for Texas.