Every Saturday for the abbreviated 2020 season, I will be posting a list of 10 hitting prospects to stash in redraft leagues. This is important, as I am solely evaluating players for their ability to impact fantasy teams in 2020—and not beyond.
This list will exclusively feature players who are not currently on major league rosters and will include my prediction for when they will be called up, what kind of impact we can expect from them, and how you should value them in various redraft formats.
Carter Kieboom topped the list last week after his brief demotion, and he is now entrenched as Washington’s starting third baseman for the remainder of the year. He’s only hitting .167 sine getting recalled, however, and at this point he’s probably only a target in deeper redraft leagues, while those in dynasty can hold and hope he shows some signs of life before season’s end.
Huff and Kirk interest me the most out of this group from a fantasy perspective, as catchers who can hit are always fun to find this late in the season. Huff has tremendous raw power while Kirk is more of a contact hitter, although both will need regular playing time to be worth a look outside of very deep leagues.
We’ve seen Harrison already, and Cameron seems like more of the same, while I’m not sure Ona or Smith will get enough playing time to hold fantasy relevance over the next few weeks.
This will be my last hitting stash article of the year, and I overhauled it pretty significantly. At this point in the season, stashing ‘what-if’ candidates like Wander Franco, Jarred Kelenic and Drew Waters just doesn’t seem worth it. It’s obviously a team-by-team basis, and if you need a miracle I can understand it, but I altered this list to be a more practical look at guys who are much more likely to actually contribute in the final few weeks of the regular season, although their ceiling – in many cases – is much lower.
To continue, if you have been holding Franco/Kelenic etc. I’m not saying you need to drop them immediately for guys on this list, just that I’d prefer to add them to my bench at this point in the season, rather than gambling on call-ups that seem less and less likely to happen by the day.
Despite those changes, the list remains filled with familiar names as we await some call-ups to impact our fantasy lineups down the stretch of this shortened season.
1. Vidal Brujan, 2B, TB — ETA September
Vidal Brujan caused a bit of a frenzy among the prospect community earlier this week when his posts on Instagram seemed to indicate he had been recalled by the Rays. In fact, he had just been added to the team’s taxi squad, although that certainly points to a much greater chance he gets a shot this season – particularly when he was added ahead of Franco.
I still don’t see an instant spot for Brujan in Tampa’s very crowded lineup, which features Willy Adames, Brandon Lowe, Joey Wendle and Mike Brousseau among their middle infielders. That does make me think he could get a look as a pinch-runner and spot starter for Tampa down the stretch, especially with his ability to hit from both sides of the plate and his potentially Gold Glove caliber defense at the keystone.
Still, Brujan might be worth adding in deeper redraft leagues even if he’s not playing every day, because he has something most (all?) fantasy players are craving this season: speed.
Brujan swiped 48 bases between High-A and Double-A in 2019, posting an OBP just above .340 and a 118 wRC+. He stole 55 in 2018, including 43 at A-Ball in just 95 games played. Normally I don’t put much value in stolen base numbers at the lower levels, as the quality of catcher is considerably lower than what will be seen in the MLB, but Brujan has legit wheels and could definitely be a guy who steals 25 or so annually when/if he’s playing regularly.
For this year he is worth a look in deeper redraft leagues if he gets the call, as he can provide fantasy players with a last ditch effort to add some steals down the stretch – although he won’t add anything to the power department.
2. Brandon Marsh, OF/1B, LAA — ETA September
The Angels made an entirely expected move at the trade deadline, sending veteran outfielder Brian Goodwin to Cincinnati for a pair of pitching prospects. While the team has looked at fellow prospects Matt Thaiss and (briefly) Jahmai Jones since then, now could be the time for them to turn to another top prospect, Brandon Marsh, to fill Goodwin’s spot and also team up with Jo Adell in Los Angeles.
Marsh, 22, hit .300/.383/.428 with seven home runs and 18 stolen bases in 96 games at AA in 2019, while posting an excellent 11.4% walk rate and a 22.3% strikeout rate.
Marsh has the raw power to contribute 25-30 home runs annually, save for one small issue: he doesn’t get nearly enough lift on the ball. After averaging a roughly five-degree launch angle for his minor league career, Marsh made mechanical adjustments that showed up in the Arizona Fall League last year, and when he gets a chance to show that in games, he could instantly be a five-tool player.
Marsh is best utilized as a center fielder, but as long as he is in the lineup in Los Angeles he is worth a look in 12+ team leagues, and that could be coming soon now that Thaiss/Walsh are getting looks for a team that is in contention for the first overall pick in the 2021 MLB draft.
3. Andrew Vaughn, 1B/3B, CWS — ETA Mid-September
I removed Franco, Kelenic and Waters this week but decided to keep Vaughn on the list. After all, the White Sox have shown a willingness to aggressively promote prospects in the past, and Vaughn’s advanced bat and the repetitions he has reportedly been taking at third base could create an opening for him at some point this season, particularly with the age and potential injury concerns surrounding Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Abreu.
The 22-year-old was the third overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft and is considered one of the purest hitting prospects to come into the pros in quite some time. Vaughn appeared in 55 MiLB games down the stretch in 2019, hitting six home runs with a batting average hovering over .250, but a stellar OBP in the .360 range.
Vaughn probably needs more minor league seasoning before he is ready for everyday big-league at-bats, but outside of Encarnacion and Abreu the White Sox are rather thin on 1B/DH depth—especially after jettisoning Nicky Delmonico and Zack Collins to their alternate site. Plus, the added ability to play third, if Chicago feels comfortable with his glove work, only makes him more likely to get a call.
The White Sox have among the league’s most powerful offenses, but adding Vaughn would strengthen their lineup from top to bottom, and while it may take an injury for him to play every day, he is worth keeping an eye on in all redraft formats.
Crazier things have certainly happened, and you won’t want to watch another team beat you in the finals after Vaughn hits three home runs in his first week in the show. Keep him on your watch list, and he’s a fine stash in deeper redraft leagues if you have an open bench spot.
4. Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B, MIN — ETA September
I almost removed Alex Kirilloff alongside Franco, Kelenic and Waters, because it will clearly take multiple injuries for him to get an everyday role in Minnesota, even more so now that Josh Donaldson is back from his IL stint. However, the first domino fell when Brent Rooker was called up to replace Max Kepler, who hit the injured list late last week, and I think Kirilloff could find his way onto the team as they look to make a push heading into the playoffs.
The Twins not only have a very full 28-man roster, even without Kepler, they have a plethora of other options at their alternate site as well, including Willians Astudillo, Lane Adams and fellow prospect Trevor Larnach, which is part of my apprehension here.
However, Kirilloff’s raw talent and potential fantasy impact is hard to ignore, even on a stacked Twins team. Plus, I think there’s a distinct possibility the slugger will be the next man up, if and when they need to add some oomph to their lineup or their bench core.
Kirilloff’s numbers at AA last year don’t exactly jump off the page, with just nine home runs and seven steals in 411 plate appearances, but he was dealing with a nasty wrist injury that likely sapped much of his power. When healthy, he will hit for average and for power, and if he finds himself anywhere close to a regular role in this Minnesota offense, he will be rosterable all over the place.
I’m not betting on that happening in 2020, but if I’m looking for a stash candidate in deeper redraft leagues, I can see taking a gamble here. Even if he’s a semi-regular coming off the bench, that could play in deeper formats.
5. Jared Oliva, OF, PIT — ETA September
A normal 162-game season would almost certainly have resulted in the 24-year-old Oliva getting a call-up to Pittsburgh, but the shortened year and the lack of a minor league season has jeopardized his chances of seeing the show until 2021.
However, after getting placed on the taxi squad earlier in the year, Oliva could be a prime candidate for a showcase over the final few weeks of the season, especially with Pittsburgh out of contention and with two of their outfielders, Anthony Alford and Phillip Evans, going on the IL in the last month.
Oliva is a speed-first fantasy option, having swiped 84 bases in 106 attempts in his minor league career. He spent all of 2019 at Double-A, hitting .277/.352/.398 with six home runs and 36 steals. After finally giving Ke’Bryan Hayes a call-up, it’s time for Pittsburgh to give Oliva a chance to play nearly every day.
If that happens, he’s worth adding for those in need of steals in deeper redraft leagues.
6. Taylor Trammell, OF, SEA — ETA September
When the Mariners acquired Taylor Trammell from the Padres, it was clear he was viewed as another long-term piece in an outfield that already features Kyle Lewis and will include Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez in the next few seasons.
However, Trammell’s time may be before either of them, as it stands to reason Seattle could give him a look over the last few weeks of the regular season, much like they did with Lewis in 2019.
While Kelenic only saw action in 21 games at AA last year, Trammell has played nearly a full season there, and despite being just 22 years old he is very close to ready for big league action. Trammell has not produced in the batting average department lately, but he hit 10 home runs and swiped 20 bags in 126 games at AA, and a recent swing change has helped him unlock some power, which could make him a real 15/25 type threat.
The Mariners finally outrighted Mallex Smith completely out of their 60 man squad, but they still have a handful of players capable of playing alongside Lewis, including Phillip Ervin, Jose Marmolejos, Jake Fraley and Braden Bishop. However, Trammell makes sense as a call-up for these final few weeks, and if you’re in need of some speed in deeper redraft leagues, I’d happily take a shot here.
7. Seth Beer, 1B/DH, AZ — ETA September
The Arizona Diamondbacks appear to have packed it in for the 2020 season, dealing Archie Bradley and Starling Marte at the trade deadline and acquiring a handful of prospects and one big leaguer, left-handed pitcher Caleb Smith.
The team already turned toward their elite farm system in the final month of the season, calling up first baseman Pavin Smith. While Smith is interesting in his own right, the most interesting potential Arizona call-up, at least from a fantasy perspective, is 1B/DH Seth Beer.
Beer, 23, blasted 26 home runs last season between High-A and Double-A, mostly in Houston’s organization before he came over to Arizona in the Zack Greinke deal. Beer has 60-grade raw power and has done a good job of tapping into it in games, and his excellent eye at the plate and decent bat-to-ball skills should make him a capable .270 hitter with a .350ish OBP and 25-30 home runs annually.
I hoped Beer would be the guy to replace Jake Lamb on the active roster, and while Smith is getting the first look I wouldn’t be surprised to see Beer with the big club soon.
For those in deeper redraft leagues, Beer is worth snatching up and stashing for what could be a fun, homer filled few weeks to finish off the 2020 campaign.
8. Jonathan India, 2B/3B, CIN — ETA September
The Reds made a somewhat surprising move in August, recalling young infield prospect Jose Garcia and installing him into their lineup virtually right away. Garcia has taken over as the team’s everyday shortstop, pushing Freddy Galvis into a utility infielder role.
The team could opt to bring up a new double-play partner for Garcia as well in highly-regarded infield prospect Jonathan India, a third baseman by trade who is earning great marks for his defense at the keystone.
The Reds sent an indication they are hoping to compete this year after they moved to acquire Brian Goodwin at the trade deadline, and India’s bat and defensive versatility could make him an upgrade coming off the bench in a semi-regular role down the stretch.
India, 23, hit 11 home runs and swiped 11 bases in 2019 between High-A and Double-A, along with a .767 OPS and a 132 wRC+.
While I don’t think he’ll ever light the world on fire as a fantasy asset, his positional flexibility makes him more appealing as both a corner and middle infield eligible player, and he has enough power and speed to be worthwhile in most fantasy formats, at least as a bench bat.
For 2020, I think he’s worth keeping an eye on in deeper redraft leagues, especially now that Cincy has turned to Garcia.
I wouldn’t be surprised if India is next, and if he does some good things over the next few weeks.
9. Jarren Duran, OF, BOS — ETA September
Momentum began building rapidly for 23-year-old Red Sox outfielder Jarren Duran to get a call for Boston this season, particularly after they dealt Kevin Pillar at the trade deadline. While the Red Sox front office did pour some cold water on those rumors, I still think there’s a chance the team gives him a look in the last few weeks of the campaign, particularly if he keeps hitting home runs at the team’s alternate site.
Duran is a speedster with good bat-to-ball skills who underwent a swing change that began to unlock some power—the ultimate recipe for prospect lovers to start sweating over. He’s reportedly hit five home runs in intrasquad scrimmages this season, and after slashing .303/.367/.408 with 46 steals across two minor league levels last year, with just five total dingers, it’s not hard to see why the added power would make him pretty appealing.
He’s still pretty raw, and I have concerns that plate discipline might be an issue, but if Duran does get the call he’ll be an interesting deep league sleeper—and one that I wouldn’t mind stashing in very deep formats to take a gamble on.
10. Sheldon Neuse, 2B/3B, OAK — ETA September
As of this writing, it is unclear if Oakland’s star third baseman – Matt Chapman – is going to be placed in the injured list, but if he is I expect Neuse to be the man who gets the call to replace him on the active roster.
Oakland is still very stacked around the infield, however, with Tommy La Stella, Chad Pinder and Vimael Machin all capable of filling in at third as needed. Still, even as a bench bat and occasional starter, I think Neuse could be worth a look for those in need of some thump in deeper redraft leagues.
Neuse can play first, second, and third, and he was a monster at AAA in 2019, blasting 27 home runs with 102 RBI and a stellar .317/.389/.550 slash line. His big league cameo did not go nearly as well, however, as he hit just .250/.295/.304 in 56 at-bats with the big club.
However, he has enough thump in his bat and showed a solid eye at the plate throughout the minor leagues, so there’s potential for him to be a four-category contributor – although the strikeouts are almost certainly going to keep piling up for the now 25-year-old infielder.
Graduated: Carter Kieboom
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)