Tired of the same old groupthink that consumes the fantasy baseball community? Same here. Opinions are what make sports conversations great. Having your opinions challenged forces you to take a step back and reevaluate how you feel about certain players. Adding to that thought, reading one article about a prospect or player should not be the only resource used to properly evaluate a player. That is the idea behind this article. Each member of the Pitcher List dynasty staff has a unique opinion. Why not create an article that provides two different breakdowns of the same players? This article looks at four different prospects that Martin Sekulski and I disagree on. We each try to convince you that our side is the right outlook to have.
Head over to the Pitcher List dynasty page to check out the rest of the great work the team has been producing including write-ups on all 30 farm systems.
The Pro-Marsee Argument – Matt Heckman
Marsee’s name value has taken off over the past few months. The Padres’ sixth-round pick from 2022 put up phenomenal numbers in his first full professional season. Marsee finished the season with a 141 wRC+ between High-A and Double-A. His stock continued to rise after he slashed .391/.509/.707 in the Arizona Fall League this year. Is the hype surrounding Marsee warranted? Absolutely. Marsee has already become one of the safest prospects in minor league baseball. His understanding of the strike zone allows him to not only post incredible walk rates but also forces pitchers to attack him in zones where he can do damage. He sprays pitches to all fields producing tons of line drives and allowing his speed to do the rest. The floor is somewhere around a .270 hitter with elite walk rates. Sign me up for that.
The biggest knock (and what Martin is likely to hit on) is his perceived lack of true power. Standing at 6’0” and 180 pounds, Marsee is not the biggest, and the ball does not jump off the bat the same way it does for some other prospects. He prioritizes contact and plays to the gaps more than his pull side. So, let’s assume his critics are right and he caps off at around 15 home runs. I already mentioned his plus hit tool and now we can focus on speed. Marsee stole 46 bases last season plus another 16 in 24 AFL games. A modest projection of .270 with 15 and 40 lands him in the comp range of Nico Hoerner, Ha-Seong Kim, and Bryson Stott. Hoerner finished as the 33rd-best player in fantasy last season, Kim 55th, and Stott 60th.
Marsee has the dream profile for a leadoff hitter. His floor is a top-75 fantasy asset, and his ceiling is even higher than that. This was all done in his FIRST full professional season. If the power continues to develop, watch out. Buy the hype and be aggressive in acquiring Marsee in your dynasty leagues.
The Flip Side – Martin Sekulski
Jakob Marsee enjoyed a breakout season in 2023, culminating with being named MVP of the Arizona Fall League. We see an outstanding stat line, including double-digit homers, a high OBP, and significant stolen base output, but what does that look like in the future? Is this the coming of age for a future superstar or an outlier in hitter-friendly environments? My gut says it’s the latter.
My question on Marsee is, what does his floor look like? I’ll admit that some metrics look pretty solid, including a 90% in-zone-contact rate, and Marsee grades well above average in plate discipline, including a walk rate slightly higher than his strikeout rate. In spurts, Marsee has shown power, but mainly to the extreme pull side. His exit velocities (83.9 mph average EV, 99.5 mph 90th percentile EV) are well below average, and I have legitimate concerns that he can continue to reach these home run numbers, even to the pull side. To compare, Esteury Ruiz, Jake Fraley, and Jon Berti (BGSU shoutout!) are MLB players with equivalent exit velocities and players least likely to be impactful with the bat.
In addition, his splits against left-handed pitching are sub-optimal (.219 average, .700 OPS). That screams platoon outfielder, albeit on the strong side. If you tell me you’ll get a .260 average, 12 homers, 20 steals, and 120 combined runs and RBIs from Marsee, that’s just a fourth outfielder. Essentially, we have a similar platoon outfielder from Matt’s favorite team, Brandon Marsh, only with more steals. That’s not an exciting fantasy asset. Is it a solid profile? Yes. But is he rosterable in anything shallower than a 15-team league? My final concern is that he’s an average defender, meaning his bat has to earn him regular playing time, something I can’t envision.
Marsee is 22 years old, and yes, he devoured pitching at A-ball and looked good in a limited sample at Double-A. While the AFL is a fine showcase for prospects, this year’s talent pool, especially pitchers, was significantly down. With all that in mind, I just don’t see much upside left in the profile. If Marsee continues to perform as he climbs levels, I’m fully prepared to eat crow.
Luis Lara – OF, Milwaukee Brewers
The Pro-Lara Argument – Martin Sekulski
Lara is a lightning-quick outfielder from the Brewers’ organization who has quietly held firm inside my top 100 prospects. The Brewers signed him to a $1.1M bonus in the 2022 International class, adding the speedster to an already deep crop of outfield prospects, which included Jackson Chourio, Sal Frelick, and Joey Wiemer. In his debut, Lara created a footprint in the DSL, showing off his talents on both sides of the ball before his domestic debut last summer.
What Lara lacks in size (5’7″; 155lbs), he makes up in raw talent. He has established himself as a legitimate four-category contributor, including posting an OBP north of .370 with 30 stolen bases this past season across two levels. While his strikeout rate climbed slightly, 17.8% is phenomenal for his age, especially with a 12.8% walk rate. Having recently turned 19, he has yet to reach his physical peak, and I’d love to see added bulk and strength to his frame.
In my opinion, Lara has all the makings of a future leadoff hitter and a highly impactful fantasy asset. Even if the power is absent, Lara provides the on-base skills and speed to be a game-changer at the top of the Brewers’ lineup. Lara has easy 60+ grade speed, and I see a clear path to 30 steals. In addition to his offensive talent, Lara has flashed plus range and arm strength in all three outfield positions, cementing his place in the everyday lineup. I see a lot of similarities to Sal Frelick in Lara, and Frelick is poised to make an immediate impact in 2024. Lara is not far behind.
The Flip Side – Matt Heckman
Lara’s rise through prospect rankings is one of the more puzzling things for me to wrap my head around. Sure, Lara’s contact skills are impressive. At 18 years old, he posted swinging strike rates below 9% at both Low and High-A. His line drive rate and ability to use the whole field are both positives and bode well for his chances of posting solid batting averages at the Major League level. His raw athleticism stands out when you watch him swing and run which are both positives. However, this is where my praise for Lara ends.
Standing at 5’7”, projecting much of any power out of Lara is a stretch. Size is not everything and we have seen players like Jose Altuve overcome such an obstacle, but those stories are few and far between. However, the limitations of Lara’s power go beyond just his stature.
Lara has only hit a total of four home runs through 626 professional plate appearances. Home-run-to-fly-ball rate is one of the stickiest stats between minor and major league performance and Lara has never posted one above three percent. Even if Lara learns to tap into his pull-side pop more, his size limits the amount of projection available. His ceiling is capped at around 10 home runs which is disappointing. Lara did steal 30 bases last season, but he was also caught 10 times. His stolen base success rate through two seasons is just 68%. Lara developing more power would likely come at the expense of his speed which already feels overrated.
Athleticism is an important thing to look for in prospects, but the odds of Lara becoming a significant fantasy asset are low. His ceiling feels something like Maikel Garcia’s 2023 slash line. This is nothing for dynasty managers to get too excited about. He profiles as a better real-life player than a fantasy asset.
The Pro-Williams Argument – Martin Sekulski
The Mets made the most of their two first-round picks in 2022, nabbing a collegiate backstop, Kevin Parada, and a prep shortstop, Jett Williams. Williams, a diminutive middle-infielder, signed a $3.9M bonus and has rocketed up the prospect ranks since day one. Williams ascended three levels in 2023, culminating with six games at Double-A Binghampton. Overall, Williams finished his 2023 season with a .263/.425/.451 slash, belting 13 homers and adding 45 steals. The most impressive stat for Williams is that he was one of four teenagers to finish the season with 100+ walks (25.4% walk rate), joining Termarr Johnson, Jackson Holliday, and Harry Ford.
Williams is an exciting player with two plus carrying tools for fantasy, his elite hit tool, and his speed. The hit tool is his best, posting outstanding in-zone contact rates pushing 90%. Williams has an above-average approach at the plate, doesn’t chase often, and finds the barrel consistently. His .425 on-base percentage, boosted by his 25.4% walk rate, plays up in points leagues and in roto, where his speed will contribute significantly to stolen bases and runs.
The two arguments Matt will likely make are that Williams isn’t going to hit for power and that he’s undersized. While I agree that Williams is undersized (5’7″ on stilts), I have no concerns. People like to chirp about Jose Altuve and his size, but nobody has qualms about taking Altuve in the 2nd or 3rd round, even at age 32. As for the power, it will be just fine. Even if he produces 15 homers annually, his 30+ stolen base potential, plus a high batting average/OBP, is a desirable fantasy target. I have Williams firmly inside my top 25 prospects, and I can see a scenario where he can reach the top 15 by the end of 2024.
The Flip Side – Matt Heckman
The argument against Williams is a little bit more difficult to make. He is not going to be a bad fantasy asset. The path for him to be a solid asset is actually easy to see and I am sure reading Martin’s case for him makes dynasty managers even more excited. However, the hype has gone too far. Williams ranks inside of my top 150 but seeing him ranked inside of the top 20 in some places is insane to me. Dynasty managers should be selling high and here is why:
Williams is listed at 5’6” making him one of the shortest professional baseball players. As mentioned with Lara, stature is not everything, but it is ignorant to ignore it. Odds are not everything, but they are an important part of analysis. There are 780 players on active rosters each major league season. About 360 of those players are batters and figure another 40 players get a chance each year in a part-time role between Triple-A and the major leagues. Of these ~400 batters, exactly two are 5’6”. Another two are 5’7”. One percent of Major League batters in 2023 are 5’7” or shorter. The only one of those four players who has been consistently fantasy-relevant is Altuve. Williams has great speed and excellent plate discipline, but his game power is suspect and there are times he gets a bit pull-happy trying too hard to add more power.
Williams projects to be a fine player, but outside of OBP leagues, I struggle to see a path to him finishing as an elite fantasy option. Considering where most outlets have him ranked, he is going to be a major disappointment for dynasty managers. His ceiling is likely .270 with 15 and 40. This is the same as Marsee’s modest projection but Williams comes with a much steeper dynasty cost.
The Pro-Alcantara Argument – Matt Heckman
Alcantara is one of the more toolsy prospects you will see. Standing at 6’6”, his profile screams projection. His size and natural talent combine to give him plus speed and plus-plus raw power. His professional career has really taken off since the pandemic and he is fresh off another strong season in 2023. If everything clicks, dynasty managers will get a 30-home run, 15-steal bat.
The start of that sentence is what Martin is likely to hit on; “if”. There is some risk in Alcantara’s profile, but dynasty managers should be encouraged for 2024. After a slow start to 2023, Alcantara was dominant at the plate. From June 17th forward, he slashed .337/.425/.586. More notable to his development was the increase in walk rate. His strikeout rate remained steady throughout the season, but from that date forward Alcantara walked 13.2% of the time. From August 31st forward, Alcantara walked 16.7% of the time. There are contact issues here, but Alcantara’s improved patience at the plate will allow him more pitches to hit and help create a more stable floor.
Alcantara’s profile is easy to dream of. That dream is part of the reason he ranks so highly in my rankings. The other part of his ranking is the tangible improvements he has made throughout his professional career. The feeling is that he is on the verge of putting it all together and we can expect more stat lines like his strong finish to 2023. Watch this home run and try not to get excited about his potential:
— Ben Slotnick (@SlotnickBen) September 16, 2023
The Flip Side – Martin Sekulski
I can see the enamor with Alcantara. He’s a physical specimen at 6’6″, just under 200 lbs. The power is enticing, having reached double-digit homers the last two seasons, including 13 in 2023. Alcantara is athletic, moves very well, and is impactful on the base paths. His overall body of work is fine, considering he was 17 when he made his debut stateside (2019), and lost a year of development in 2020. However, Alcantara has many warts that have me questioning his long-term outlook.
This fall, I had the opportunity to see Alcantara in person in the AFL. In three games, including the Fall Stars game and Home Run Derby, I witnessed a player who looked unmotivated. Are there guys who don’t want to be there? Yes. Did other players look lackadaisical as well? Yes, of course. The issue I had with Alcantara is that he NEEDED that opportunity to show that he was developing.
In 2023, he posted a 27% strikeout rate at High-A, which is a concerning number. That comes on the heels of a 28.7% strikeout rate last season at Low-A. And, in a weak pitching environment at the AFL, Alcantara posted a 34.9% strikeout rate, finishing with 30 strikeouts in 86 at-bats. Now, we’ve seen players his size struggle with strikeouts (i.e. Elly De La Cruz and Oneil Cruz), but I don’t feel that Alcantara has the skills to make the necessary adjustments. As much as his power is an exciting carrying tool, I have serious doubts that he makes enough contact to reach his potential.
Entering his age-22 season, this could be a significant breaking point for Alcantara. We’ve seen these physical freaks come along often, and maybe Alcantara will become one. But the ability to adapt to your body and utilize your raw tools comes down to the desire to do it and the maturity to make changes. I have yet to see that from Alcantara, which is why I’m out on him as a top-100 prospect.
Photos courtesy of MiLB.com | Adapted by Aaron Polcare (@bearydoesgfx on X)