A couple of reminders:
First. This is for 2020 only. This is not a list of the top prospects in baseball overall. This is specifically a list for redraft leagues and redraft leagues only. Second, this is a fantasy list. It is not a list of the top overall prospects. Defense matters because it allows a prospect to play, but this list is just about the pitchers and hitters who have a chance to provide fantasy value in 2020.
With those reminders out of the way, here’s a look at the top 10 fantasy prospects for the 2020 season.
1. Gavin Lux, 2B, Los Angeles Dodgers
2019 stats: 113 G, .347/.421/.607, 26 HR, 10 SB, 61 BB, 102 SO at Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City; 23 G, .240/.305/.400, 2 HR, 2 SB, 7 BB, 24 SO at Los Angeles.
Six players from last week’s list got the call. Not one of those players was named Gavin Lux. Frustrating. But, you have to stay patient at this point if you selected Lux. As I’ve said for what seems like an eternity now, there’s very little chance that there are players who have his upside that you would have on your bench in his place. It’s a bummer that we may not see his left-handed bat until September, but he can be a heck of a helper when he does get the call, and it still seems that this is more when than if.
2. MacKenzie Gore, LHP, San Diego Padres
2019 stats: 20 G, 101 IP, 1.69 ERA, 28 BB, 135 SO at High-A Lake Elsinore and Double-A Amarillo.
This list is now pitching heavy with so many hitters called up last week, and while there are some names below who might be more likely to get the call, Gore’s upside -- and floor -- is better than all of them. The word out of San Diego continues to be that the left-hander is throwing the ball better in summer camp now, and that’s not a surprise; he’s clearly the best pitching prospect in baseball. You may need to be patient, but Gore’s ability to help in every pitching category makes him worth said wait.
3. Ian Anderson, RHP, Atlanta Braves
2019 stats: 26 G, 135.2 IP, 3.38 ERA, 65 BB, 172 SO at Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett.
Anderson is one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, and a promotion to Atlanta appears to be coming soon. The right-hander has had no issues missing bats in the minors, and with three pitches that get grades of 60 or above on the 20-80 scouting scale, he has the arsenal to continue to miss them at the highest level. My one concern with Anderson is that his control has been an issue at times, but even if the WHIP is a little on the high side, he’ll be a recommended streamer against most lineups.
4. Matt Manning, RHP, Detroit Tigers
2019 stats: 24 G, 133.2 IP, 2.56 ERA, 38 BB, 148 SO at Double-A Erie.
Both Casey Mize and Turik Skubal have gotten the call up from the Tigers, and it certainly seems another of their top pitching prospects is close in Manning. Detroit is still kinda-sorta fighting for a playoff spot because everyone is in this weird year, but this is still a club that pretty clearly is more focused on the future than 2020. That should allow Manning to make his debut, and with three pitches that can miss bats, he has a chance to be a success right out of the gate. Fantasy players in deep formats should look to add too soon rather than too late.
5. Jarred Kelenic, OF, Seattle Mariners
2019 stats: 117 G, .291/.364/.540, 23 HR, 20 SB, 50 BB, 111 SO at Low-A West Virginia, High-A Modesto and Double-A Arkansas.
Let me get this out of the way: If forced to make a guess as to whether Kelenic debuts this summer or not, I’d bet against it. The Mariners can have him be a part of their roster -- assuming the service-time manipulations are still possible next spring -- until 2027 if they wait to promote him until the middle of April in 2021. Jerry Dipoto -- Seattle’s general manager -- recently went on the record and said that while they aren’t ruling out Kelenic, they’d prefer to have him develop fully before calling the outfielder up. We all know what that really means. Still, if you have a deep enough roster, I’d consider a Kelenic add because if he does get that promotion, the potential is as good or better than any prospect on this list.
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6. Logan Gilbert, Seattle Mariners
2019 stats: 26 G, 135. P, 2.13 ERA, 33 BB, 165 SO at Low-A West Virginia, High-A Modesto and Double-A Arkansas.
I’m leaning no on Kelenic getting the call. I’m leaning the other way on his teammate. Gilbert put up dominating numbers at each level in 2019 after being a first-round pick out of Stetson the previous season -- the same school that produced Jacob deGrom and Corey Kluber, if you’re into that sort of thing -- and is one of the most underrated fantasy pitching prospects in baseball. He’s a 6-foot-6 right-hander who gets his fastball into the high 90s, and he can miss bats with three different off-speed pitches. He also throws strikes, and the Mariners should give their top pitching prospect a look before the season ends. That’ll be a win-win-win for Seattle, Gilbert and fantasy players.
7. Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B, Minnesota Twins
2019 stats: 94 G, .283/.343/.413, 9 HR, 7 SB, 29 BB, 76 SO at Double-A Pensacola.
In terms of the ability to hit for average, there aren’t many better prospects than Kirilloff. The 22-year-old has a smooth left-handed stroke with a willingness to use the whole field, and his .283 average last year -- while solid -- is not indicative of his talent; he’s better than that. The 15th pick of the 2016 draft also is tapping into his plus power, and he’s fast enough to give you a handful of steals as well. He’s not a lock to get a promotion -- I don’t know if anyone but Lux is right now, and hey, we’re still waiting, did you know that? -- but if Kirilloff gets a chance to hit in that impressive Minnesota lineup, he’s more than worthy of a roster add.
8. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates
2019 stats: 113 G, .261/.334/.411, 10 HR, 13 SB, 49 BB, 92 SO at short-season West Virginia and Triple-A Indianapolis.
If not for the COVID-19 shutdown, there’s a very good chance that Hayes would already be up with the Pirates. Unfortunately, it did happen, and the infielder tested positive for the virus and missed a considerable amount of time due to it. He’s back at the alternate site now, however, and the third baseman is one of the team's top prospects with a chance to hit for average, steal some bases and also provide some sneaky power. He’s not a star, but if he gets the call, he’ll be worth an add for those who need corner-infield help.
9. Clarke Schmidt, RHP, New York Yankees
2019 stats: 19 G, 90.2 IP, 3.47 ERA, 28 BB, 102 SO at short-season GCL, High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton.
As you likely know, the Yankees have dealt with a plethora of injuries both in the lineup and the rotation. Schmidt can’t help the former, but he could definitely be a factor for the latter. The 16th pick of the 2017 draft, Schmidt underwent Tommy John surgery immediately after signing, but the 24-year-old has worked himself into position to call him one of -- if not the -- best prospects in the system. His curveball and change get plus grades, and his 93-95 mph fastball isn’t too shabby, either. Again, rookie hurlers are risky, but Schmidt has the stuff to succeed at the highest level if he gets the chance. He should.
10. Wander Franco, SS, Tampa Bay Bays
2019 stats: 114 G, .327/.398/.487, 9 HR, 18 SB, 56 BB, 35 SO at Low-A Bowling Green and High-A Charlotte.
Yep, it’s time. Franco is the top-overall prospect in baseball, and he’s just 19-years-old until March. The chances of him getting a call-up are extremely slim. All that said, I can’t leave him off the list anymore. First of all, he’s the best prospect in baseball. He has a chance to contribute in every category. Second, the Rays are in position to win the World Series. Based on what we saw this spring, there’s a very good chance he makes the Rays better right now. Being better is a good thing. The worst thing that happens if you add Franco and he doesn’t play is you wasted a bench spot. The best thing that happens is you have a winning lottery ticket, but with much better odds than the typical lotto. Is there risk? Of course, but the reward, to me, is worth it.