Every Sunday during the 2021 season, I will be posting a list of 10 hitting prospects to stash in redraft leagues. This is important because, despite this being a dynasty article, I am solely evaluating players for their ability to impact fantasy teams in 2021—and not beyond.
I know Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson were promoted to Triple-A Toledo, and while it’s an exciting time for the Tigers’ future no doubt, I’m not particularly confident either will be in the big leagues before April of 2022, so I have not added them onto this list. If you are looking to shoot the moon and can’t grab Witt, Greene and Tork are solid options alongside Brennen Davis, who I removed this week as I don’t see his big league debut happening before next season either.
I replaced Davis and the graduated Estevan Florial with Cleveland infielder Nolan Jones and Padres catcher Luis Campusano, two players who I think actually have a chance of not only getting called up but earning significant playing time in the final month of the season.
We are at (or maybe even past) the point in the season where there are not any obvious stash candidates who are expected to come in and start for their team right away. The Pitcher Stash list features guys who should come in and step into rotation spots, but there just are not very many obvious hitting candidates that fit that bill. Guys like Bruján and Lowe could easily come up and play reserve roles, which could carry fantasy value in deep leagues, but I don’t see a ton of guys who will really make a big impact down the stretch.
That’s not to say none of these guys are worth stashing, just that shortened rosters in September (from 26 to 28) and a longer Triple-A season makes it less likely some of these guys will get full big-league auditions like we are accustomed to seeing.
As always, read the advice and don’t just look at the rankings, as that gives additional context as to how to value these players in almost exclusively very deep redraft formats.
Without further ado, here is a look at the top 10 hitting prospects worth stashing in your redraft leagues.
1. Bobby Witt Jr., SS, KC — ETA September
Royals GM Dayton Moore made it clear a few weeks ago that Witt could force their hand with a strong performance at Triple-A, and so far he is performing as well as could be expected, if not better, which makes him our top stash candidate for the remainder of the 2021 season.
However, while he remains atop the list thanks to his tremendous upside, the Royals seem to be hedging their previous comments by saying it is hard to know if they will make any big promotions this season.
“So do we truly have the ability to give somebody an opportunity in September? And if not, we know they’re getting another close to 100 at-bats over the course of September,” Royals assistant GM JJ Picollo said last week. “So I think it’s totally different, and I think the dynamic has completely changed.”
Witt’s raw power is already well-known, along with his 60-grade speed, giving him true 30/30 potential at his absolute peak. Even with these cold water comments from Picollo, we do know Kansas City is not afraid to aggressively promote prospects, as seen by the Daniel Lynch promotion earlier this season. And even though they did not end up moving Whit Merrifield at the trade deadline, a reshaping of the roster could mean Witt’s promotion may be close – especially because he is getting reps at third base, a clear area of need on Kansas City’s big league roster.
Very few prospects have the potential that Witt does, and the few who do are either already in the big leagues or are less likely to be big leaguers in 2021 (Julio Rodríguez, Marco Luciano, CJ Abrams, Spencer Torkelson) which leaves Witt, who registers as an extremely high-risk, high-reward prospect stash in redraft leagues this season.
As talented as he is, I still would not recommend stashing him except in deeper (14+) formats, and even then it is only really worth it if you have deep benches and are willing to gamble a roster spot on someone who may not be up at all this year.
That final month, if we get it, could be absolutely electric though.
2. Seth Beer, 1B/OF, AZ – ETA Late August
It feels like Seth Beer’s best baseball season came way back when he was a freshman at Clemson, and while that may be true, he has been an extremely productive power hitter throughout his minor league career. Joining the Diamondbacks in the Zack Greinke trade back in 2019, Beer is currently slashing .294/.401/.527 with 15 home runs and excellent walk (9.1%) and strikeout (17.4%) rates for Triple-A Reno. Reno is of course a hitter’s haven, so his numbers should be taken with a small grain of salt, but this is still hard to ignore.
Beer’s lack of home run pop was a big concern earlier in the year, but he has been on an absolute tear lately – hitting seven home runs since July 26 along with a .370/.483/.712 slash line and similar plate discipline metrics. In fact, Beer has shown great plate discipline and contact skills throughout his minor league career, and there is plenty of optimism the power will remain solid, along with everything else.
The main issue is Beer’s positional flexibility or lack thereof. Beer played 10 games in right field back in 2018 but has otherwise only played first base and some left field. He is a better fit for an AL team with a DH, although rule changes in 2022 could give him a significant boost in regards to playing time.
For this year he is behind Christian Walker, Pavin Smith, and bench bats like Daulton Varsho and Drew Ellis for playing time in Arizona, but injuries or ineffectiveness could easily open up a spot for him to play somewhat regularly down the stretch – and considering the massive struggles of Walker and fellow veteran David Peralta, not to mention Arizona’s lack of contention this year, it makes sense to give the soon-to-be 25-year-old a look with the big club this season.
Those in deeper redraft leagues should consider grabbing Beer even before his promotion, as his dramatic improvement in strikeout rate and strong slash line and power potential could make him a must-own fantasy player in the final month or so of the season.
3. Jose Miranda, 2B/3B, MIN — ETA September
One of baseball’s biggest prospect risers this season has been Minnesota infielder Jose Miranda. Miranda, 23, has always been a solid bat-t0-ball hitter with modest pop and limited patience, but this year he has dramatically improved his pitch selectivity and his over the fence power, resulting in a season where he is hitting .336 with a .400 OBP and 24 home runs split between Double-A and Triple-A.
Our own Nate Handy wrote a fabulous breakdown on Miranda a few weeks ago, which I highly suggest reading if you want more information. What I can tell you is Miranda has the ability to impact fantasy teams as soon as he gets a chance at the big league level – but the question of when that will happen is tough to answer.
Josh Donaldson didn’t go anywhere at the trade deadline, so he will occupy third base for the rest of the season, and Minnesota has Jorge Polanco manning shortstop with Luis Arraez and Nick Gordon as other options in the system as well. Miranda has picked up some playing time at both second base and first base in Triple-A lately, and while his glove is probably his biggest weakness it would be silly if Minnesota used that as an excuse to keep his bat out of the lineup the final month of the season.
While Miranda is not currently on the 40-man roster, he is Rule 5 eligible this winter and seems like a lock to be added before then, which makes it less of a concern for this year – especially with two roster spots set to become available on September 1.
An injury or ineffectiveness should make room for Miranda at some point in the next few weeks, and the way he is impacting the ball right now would make him worth a roster spot in 12+ teamers right away. If you have room to grab him ahead of time, you won’t regret it.
4. Vidal Bruján, 2B/OF, TB — ETA Late August
The Vidal Bruján experiment didn’t last particularly long in Tampa, as the switch-hitting 2B/OF only saw 26 plate appearances in 10 games, hitting .077 with zero extra-base hits, zero walks, and one steal before getting sent back down to Durham. He was primarily coming off the bench with the big club, and the acquisition of Nelson Cruz and the return of Manuel Margot made playing time even harder to come by for the 23-year-old.
Despite the setback, Bruján remains near the top of this list because of his prospect pedigree, his positional flexibility, and his ability to steal bases which can be extremely valuable down the stretch.
Plus, Bruján has been absolutely killing it since his demotion. Bruján’s first game back with Durham was July 23, and since then the 2B/OF has slashed .357/.455/.500 with a 14.1% walk rate and a minuscule 7.1% strikeout rate. If that’s not enough to raise your eyebrow, Bruján also has 16(!) stolen bases on 17 attempts in just his last 22 games, giving him 31 stolen bags on the year. The sample is small, obviously, but Bruján looks like a guy ready to be back in the big leagues for good, and the fact he is playing some shortstop and third base, along with second base and the outfield, is a promising sign the Rays want to see his bat back in the show before the season is over.
Hopefully, these hot few weeks at Triple-A will lead to his return to the bigs and much better results for the rest of the year – although Tampa may struggle to find everyday playing time for the versatile switch-hitter by virtue of having so many versatile pieces already on their roster.
It may take an off-season trade for Bruján to find consistent playing time, which is a bummer, but even in a part-time role, the speedster could be a valuable bench bat in redraft leagues for the final few weeks of the season.
5. Jahmai Jones, 2B, BAL — ETA August
Unfortunately, the Orioles front office apparently didn’t care for the piece, as they have been content to let their second basemen slash a combined .213/.277/.318 this season, good for a league-worst 66 wRC+. The team opted to give a look to former Yankees/A’s/Padres utility player Jorge Mateo over Jones, and while he’s flashing nice speed his bat has been abysmal, just like everyone else who has stepped up at the keystone for Baltimore this year.
Meanwhile, even after a mini-slump this past week at Triple-A Rochester, Jones is still slashing .241/.343/.422 with 10 home runs, 10 stolen bases, an 11.5% walk rate, and a 23.1% strikeout rate. An oblique injury limited him to just 68 games so far, putting his full-season pace at well over 20 home runs and 20 steals on the year.
While I don’t necessarily expect Jones to be a 20/20 guy at the next level, he has the tools to be a five-category contributor right away – and even more so in leagues that count OBP. Baltimore should be playing their youngsters this season, they aren’t in contention by any stretch of the imagination, and Jones has proven without a doubt he is ready for the show.
I expect a call is coming very soon for the 24-year-old, and in deeper leagues, I would be all over adding him as soon as that happens – if not sooner.
6. Nolan Jones, 3B/OF, CLE — ETA September
Cleveland third baseman Nolan Jones has been on the periphery of making this list for months now, but I’ve resisted in part because his .224 batting average, 30.3% strikeout rate, and modest 11 home runs at Triple-A this year don’t scream “fantasy star” at least not right away. The presence of José Ramírez is obviously a factor as well, as there is not a clear path to playing time as long as he is still in the fold.
A few things have changed that push Jones up on to this list. One, he has seen a significant amount of action in right field at Triple-A, giving him more flexibility and potentially allowing him to fill a need for Cleveland at the big league level, and two, the team is currently playing Owen Miller full-time at first base. I don’t want to bag on Miller and his .159 batting average too much, but the team could use some more help for the rest of the season, even if they aren’t in contention.
Jones may not be lighting Triple-A pitching on fire, but he has posted very strong hitting numbers throughout his minor league career and still boasts an excellent .343 OBP on the year, with 10 stolen bases to boot.
Those in OBP leagues will definitely want to prioritize Jones in redraft and absolutely in dynasty, and even though he’s only played one game at first base this year it would not be a surprise to see him get the call (he’s already on the 40-man) for the final month of the season, likely in some kind of starting role at either 1B or RF or as a hyper-utility guy while Bobby Bradley is out.
7. Josh Lowe, 3B/OF, TB — ETA Late August
It’s not surprising that Rays’ outfielder Josh Lowe gets lost in the shuffle. On a team with prospects like Franco, Bruján, Walls, and a litany of dynamite young pitchers, Lowe sort of fades into the background. Hell, for a while he was the third highest-rated prospect with the last name Lowe in the system, behind both Nate and Brandon.
However, the 2016 first-round pick is starting to really make a name for himself now. The converted third baseman is now a full-time center fielder down in Triple-A Durham, and the power most in the industry were hoping to see finally peeked out in 2019 and is here in full force in 2021. Lowe is currently slashing .275/.353/.552 with 20 home runs and 19 stolen bases for the Bulls, rocking a .278 ISO and a 135 wRC+.
He’s been on an absolute tear lately, homering in three straight games while also going four straight without a single strikeout.
Despite the streak, those strikeouts probably aren’t going completely away anytime soon – but his combination of power, speed, and solid walk rates should make him a quality fantasy piece as soon as he is playing regularly. Regular playing time is of course the million-dollar question with Lowe, and any Rays player, because of their love of platooning and a pretty full outfield, especially with Nelson Cruz now entrenched at DH and Manny Margot on the mend, which is what pushed fellow prospect Bruján back into the minor leagues. Factor in the emergence of fifth outfielder Brett Phillips as a grand slam hitting machine, and you have a tough roster to crack for Lowe even if he is already on the 40-man roster.
Still, Lowe is not a bad option to stash in deeper redraft leagues, as he has plenty of tools to contribute right away if/when he gets the call.
8. Keibert Ruiz, C, WAS — ETA September
The Nationals made a huge move to replenish their depleted farm system at the trade deadline, sending Trea Turner and Max Scherzer to the Dodgers for a pile of prospects including right-hander Josiah Gray and catcher Keibert Ruiz.
Ruiz, 23, has already spent eight games in the big leagues with LA between 2020 and 2021, but the Nationals decided to start him out at Triple-A despite trading their starting catcher, Yan Gomes, to the Athletics in a separate deadline deal. It would be surprising if the team didn’t eventually give him a look this season, likely in September, although the presence of another recently acquired catching prospect, Riley Adams, is going to be a challenge after he was already promoted to backup Tres Barrera for the time being.
Ruiz was acquired with the intention of being the team’s long-term solution behind the dish, so I still expect to see him in the big leagues this year, but Adams’ presence does complicate his timeline for 2021 and beyond if he plays well.
Ruiz’s prospect stock dipped a bit after some aggressive promotions in LA’s system, but he has really turned things around at Triple-A this year, slashing .311/.381/.631 with 16 home runs in 52 games, while also homering and posting a 108 wRC+ through his first 13 games with Washington’s Triple-A affiliate.
Catchers are hard players to stash in redraft leagues, but Ruiz has the contact skills and power to contribute in four fantasy categories as soon as this season, and that alone makes him worth looking to stash in deeper formats.
9. Nick Pratto, 1B, KC — ETA September
Pratto, a first-round pick back in 2017, has torn the cover off the ball this season at both Double-A and Triple-A, hitting a combined 23 home runs with nine stolen bases, a walk rate over 15%, and a 148 wRC+.
Pratto has strikeout issues, which will impact his fantasy production at the next level, but the way he is hitting this year it is clear he could make an impact in the final month of the season if given regular playing time.
However, the Royals opted not to deal veteran Carlos Santana at the trade deadline, entrenching him at first base for the rest of the season. They would also have to add Pratto to the 40-man, although he would likely not last through the Rule 5 draft if they didn’t add him before December anyway. The team did move on from Jorge Soler, which potentially clears up some at-bats at designated hitter, which could go to Pratto if/when he gets the call.
Pratto may not be littering the pages of Top 100 prospect lists, but he looks like a prototypical three-true outcomes slugger in the midst of an excellent season, and that could make him a viable fantasy option this year, particularly for those in deeper OBP formats. At the very least, he’s worth keeping an eye on.
10. Luis Campusano, C, SD – ETA September
It feels like there is already a fair amount of prospect fatigue surrounding Padres backstop Luis Campusano, which is a little wild considering he hasn’t even turned 23 yet. Of course, when you play parts of two big league seasons and hit just .108 with a 20 wRC+ people tend to have an issue with that, even if it was across just 12 games and 42 plate appearances.
Campusano is getting his first taste of Triple-A pitching this year, after skipping Double-A entirely, and his .289/.363/.518 slash line with 13 home runs in 77 games is proof enough why he has made multiple appearances on top 100 prospect lists in his young career.
The Padres are currently set at catcher with Austin Nola and Victor Caratini on the big league roster, but Campusano has played some first base in his career and San Diego is not afraid to think outside the box with defensive positioning, making him a player to watch for the final six weeks of the season.
Campusano is more of a watchlist candidate than a full stash in redraft leagues at the moment, but should anything happen to either Nola or Caratini he would be worth a quick add. His power potential as a catcher would make him immediately valuable in fantasy leagues if he was playing regularly.
Removed: Brennen Davis
Graduated: Estevan Florial
Others given consideration: Joey Bart, Heliot Ramos, Spencer Torkelson, Riley Greene, Brennen Davis, Nolan Gorman, Drew Waters, Jeter Downs, Adley Rutschman, Oneil Cruz, Monte Harrison, Lewin Diaz, Oswaldo Peraza, Sherten Apostel
Photo from Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire | Design by Quincey Dong (@threerundong on Twitter)