Final Verdicts on Vincent Ginardi’s Prospects Bold Predictions for 2023

A look back at the preseason prospects bold predictions.

Heading into Opening Day this spring, I laid out a list of 10 bold prospect predictions. In June, I took the temperature on those predictions with a midseason check-in. As outlined in the original article, these predictions were meant to be aggressive, with the idea that the thought process around the picks should be concrete, but that everything would need to perfectly come together for the outcome to be correct.

The 2023 season is in our rearview mirror, so it’s a perfect time to take a look back at how these picks played out. Moreso, let’s also dive into the players involved in these predictions to get an idea of what we can expect from them in 2024 and beyond.

1. Pitcher List’s 2024 Top 10 Dynasty Prospect list will include at least five prospects that were not included on the 2023 Top 100 ranking.

Right—a reminder that my first prediction was an overly complicated one and one that we can’t have a true verdict on until we release our preseason 2024 prospect list. What we do know is that this one should be close.

In Matt Heckman’s end of season list in September, three players that were not in the 2023 Top 100 made the Top 10—Wyatt Langford, Dylan Crews, and Paul Skenes. Now if we throw in Yoshinobu Yamamoto, we may already be at four and need just one more player to rise up the lists to give this prediction a check mark.

Who are our possibilities? Well, none of Ethan Salas (18),  Carlos Jorge (20) or Jonatan Clase (25) made our 2023 list and are knocking on the door, while other FYPD hitters Max Clark (25) and Walker Jenkins (39) aren’t too far off. Can any of these players rise enough to make the Top 10 by our preseason update? Time will tell. My bet is that the FYPD guys will continue to climb (as is typical when FYPD draft season heats up) and be the ones to potentially crack that Top 10.

Verdict: TBD, but maybe!

2. Elly De La Cruz is not considered a Top 50 prospect by the end of the season.

Yeah, as covered in the Midseason revisit, this was a disaster of a prediction. The idea was that the strikeout rates would continue to climb for Elly and prospect circles would start to turn on him. Obviously, that didn’t happen.

De La Cruz forced a promotion to the bigs following silly production in 38 Triple-A games. From there, he was a mixed bag at the MLB level, ultimately finishing with a .235/.300/.410 with 13 home runs and 35 steals in 98 games.

What does this mean for Elly going forward? His strikeout rate was tough to swallow (33.7%), and the average lower than you’d like to see. But this is also a 21-year-old with perhaps the loudest tools in the sport. A realistic outcome for 2023 is maybe something similar to Bobby Witt Jr.’s 2022 (.254 AVG, 20/30 season), but with more steals, and if things come together, some more like Witt’s 2023 (.275, 30/49).

In general, the strikeout rate presents some risk for De La Cruz, but he’s still a top 20 dynasty asset and has a ceiling that very few can reach.

Verdict: We knew this was a miss forever ago.

3. Brandon Pfaadt wins National League Rookie of the Year

If we go back in time to the spring of 2023, it was a popular idea to hop on the Pfaadt train. The right-hander was coming off a 2022 where he spent the second half of the season at Triple-A with excellent results – a 2.63 ERA and 20.8% K-BB rate in 60.2 innings. Regrettably, I ignored some red flags (like his history of allowing home runs at a less-than-desirable rate) and bought a ticket with this prediction.

Pfaadt bounced between Triple-A and the majors in 2023. He was fine in Triple-A, but the home runs bit him at the big-league level, leading to a 5.72 ERA in 96 frames. Needless to say, Pfaadt didn’t earn any votes for National League Rookie of the Year.

Looking ahead, there are some encouraging signs for Pfaadt for 2024 and beyond. For starters, Pfaadt was much better in following his third callup in the year, which came toward the end of July. The righty was up for the rest of the season after that and during that stretch, he had a 4.22 ERA and a 19.1% K-BB rate in 70.1 innings. That’s much more palatable, and something more in line with what I would expect from him next season.

In the midseason article, I threw a production comp of Tyler Mahle on Pfaadt—a high strikeout pitcher that occasionally allows too many homers. That still feels right to me, though I think there is a scenario where Pfaadt turns into an innings-eater version of that profile, which would be even better.

Verdict: Miss.

4. Ben Joyce leads the Angels in saves

Joyce didn’t earn a single save this season, so this one was nowhere close. The thought process wasn’t necessarily too far off though—the flame-throwing righty got the call in May and was immediately thrown into high-leverage situations.  But he only made five appearances before hitting the IL. He didn’t return until September.

In totality, Joyce only tossed 25.2 innings between Triple-A and the majors and the results were mixed. At both levels, he got his share of strikeouts but yielded far too many free passes (nine in 10 innings in the bigs). The walks were an issue during his collegiate campaign, too, so I wouldn’t expect them to go away anytime soon. There will be times when he looks unhittable and times when he can’t get anyone out.

For 2024, Joyce will likely begin the year in a high-leverage role. Carlos Estevez closed out games for the Angels in 2023, and should slot back into that role in 2024, but he is far from a sure thing and could be a potential trade candidate.

Verdict: Miss.

5. Josh Jung leads the Rangers in home runs

At the time of the midseason revisit, this prediction didn’t have the inner track, but it wasn’t in a terrible spot, either. At that time (mid-June), Jung had 13 long balls and was two off of the team lead.

Unfortunately, Jung fractured his thumb in early August and missed about six weeks of action. He still closed the season with 23 home runs, good for fourth on the Rangers, but it obviously took him out of the running for this prediction (and unfortunately for Jung, a shot at becoming the Rookie of the Year). He likely doesn’t beat out Adolis Garcia even without the injury, but it would be nice to see what his end-of-the-year total would have looked like if he was able to stay on the field for the whole season. The thought process behind this one wasn’t bad, so I can’t be too upset.

Looking ahead, there aren’t too many third basemen you’d rather have in dynasty leagues. In his 122-game rookie campaign, Jung hit .266 with 23 home runs. He will continue to hit in the middle of a good lineup, and, if healthy, should be a threat to hit 30+ home runs a year going forward, even if his walk and strikeout rates are a little concerning.

Verdict: Miss

6. Addison Barger continues to rake, becomes a consensus Top 30 prospect, and is traded midseason

This prediction never looked good. Barger battled an elbow injury and missed about six weeks of action. The end result was a fine but uninspiring .250/.353/.403 triple slash with nine home runs and five steals in 88 games.

Barger didn’t get moved at the deadline. He’s probably a borderline Top 150 prospect and could see some action at the big league level in 2024, depending on what Toronto does this offseason. He’s an ideal bounce-back candidate given that he dealt with an injury in 2023 and still returned a solid plate approach (a walk rate north of 13%).

Verdict: Miss.

7. Matt Mervis is not someone worth a roster spot in most dynasty formats by the end of the season

Note to self for next year’s bold prediction series: make sure the predictions are quantifiable in some way.

In some ways, this prediction was spot on. Mervis didn’t make the Opening Day roster, and when he did finally get the call in May, he struggled mightily, hitting .167 with a 32.7% strikeout rate and three home runs in 99 plate appearances. He spent the majority of the season at Triple-A and performed well there with a .282/.399/.533 triple slash and 22 home runs 100 games. The problem is we already knew that Mervis could hit Triple-A pitching.

Still, I’d expect there would be some mixed opinions on whether or not this prediction is correct, and it could ultimately depend on your league size. I personally don’t want anything to do with Mervis in any dynasty format, but there are probably others that feel different. He’s currently slated to be the starting first baseman for the Cubs, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they signed someone this offseason to take over the spot, just like they did a year ago. They have already been linked to Rhys Hoskins. If he starts the year in the minors yet again, it’s difficult for me to imagine most standard-size leagues having a team that is eager to roster him, but I could be wrong.

Verdict: I need a win, so I’m giving myself a correct verdict even if it’s debatable.

8. Nick Loftin hits at least 10 home runs and steals at least 10 bases at the MLB level in 2023

Loftin is yet another player who missed some time due to injury. In Loftin’s case, he missed all of June. This prediction falls short even if he stays healthy, but the injury made it impossible for him to force a callup before September.

All things considered, Loftin had a solid 2023. In 82 Triple-A games, he triple-slashed .270/.344/.444 and hit 14 home runs and stole six bases. He made 19 big league appearances during his September cup of coffee, hitting .323 and swiping two bags. Zero home runs and two steals is well short of the 10/10 prediction here, but there are still reasons to like Loftin in 2024.

The middle infielder walked at 9.5% rate at Triple-A, while striking out just 13.1% of the time. He also put up a career-best .175 ISO. The left side of the Royals infield is penciled in, but the second base job should be up for grabs. If Loftin wins the spot out of Spring Training, he’s an under-the-radar 15/15 threat.

Verdict: Miss.

9. Brice Turang finishes Top 10 in steals at the MLB level

Sigh. If Turang stays in the majors for the full season, he probably reaches this threshold. The middle infielder closed the year with 26 swipes, which was good for a tie for 18th best. There was a three-way tie for 10th most steals at 30. So Turang fell four short, and he was demoted for about four weeks in June.

The demotion was well-deserved, though. On the year, Turang triple slashed .218/.285/.300. That was good for a 60 wRC+. If he improves his offensive production at all, he’s worth a roster spot just for the value he can provide in steals alone. But I’m not overly confident there will be much improvement at the plate, and without any sort of uptick in production, he will be at risk of losing a full-time role.

Verdict: Miss.

10. Richard Fitts finishes the season as a Top 100 prospect

Fitts had a nice 2023—the right-hander logged 152.2 innings at Double-A, finishing the year with a 3.48 ERA and a 19.1% K-BB rate. There is an argument that he could be a Top-100 prospect based on his production.

But did he finish the season as a Top-100 prospect? I don’t think so. He didn’t make Matt Heckman’s final Top 100 for Pitcher List, and he’s absent from most other publications’ Top 100 as well. It feels like he got overshadowed by other Yankees pitching prospects like Drew Thorpe and Chase Hampton, and his below-average fastball velocity means he needs to make up for it everywhere else. He’s still a name to watch in 2024 and at some point, the production becomes impossible to ignore. Fitts was recently traded to the Red Sox as part of the Alex Verdugo package.

Verdict: Miss.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Account / Login