Farm Futures: Spring Training Prospect Mailbag

Farm Futures: Spring Training Prospect Mailbag

This article is part of our Farm Futures series.

Thanks to everyone who submitted a question for this month's mailbag! As always if you want to know my in-depth thoughts on the top 150 or so prospects, just check out their 2024 outlook at the top of their player page on the site.

Todd Whitestone: If the Cubs need an SP early in the season, how would you rate Ben Brown vs. Cade Horton? Also, if Will Warren (NYY) is given an opportunity to start in the majors, how would you assess his readiness?

Brown would need to improve his control to be useable as an SP this year, and I would still be skeptical of any perceived control gains until he turned over a big-league lineup multiple times on multiple occasions, at which point he'd already be rostered. Horton doesn't need to improve anything to have success in the majors, he just needs an opportunity. For what it's worth, it doesn't seem like he'll get that opportunity until May or June, based on the fact the Cubs won't have him working in big-league spring training games.

Warren seems pretty ready to me. I'd like him to throw to Jose Trevino rather than Austin Wells once he's up, and I wouldn't use him against the best offenses, but I'd bid on him in FAAB leagues if we found out he was coming up to join the rotation early in the season.

Trader Andy: What's the ETA for Victor Scott (STL) and what type of impact can he make?

Thanks to everyone who submitted a question for this month's mailbag! As always if you want to know my in-depth thoughts on the top 150 or so prospects, just check out their 2024 outlook at the top of their player page on the site.

Todd Whitestone: If the Cubs need an SP early in the season, how would you rate Ben Brown vs. Cade Horton? Also, if Will Warren (NYY) is given an opportunity to start in the majors, how would you assess his readiness?

Brown would need to improve his control to be useable as an SP this year, and I would still be skeptical of any perceived control gains until he turned over a big-league lineup multiple times on multiple occasions, at which point he'd already be rostered. Horton doesn't need to improve anything to have success in the majors, he just needs an opportunity. For what it's worth, it doesn't seem like he'll get that opportunity until May or June, based on the fact the Cubs won't have him working in big-league spring training games.

Warren seems pretty ready to me. I'd like him to throw to Jose Trevino rather than Austin Wells once he's up, and I wouldn't use him against the best offenses, but I'd bid on him in FAAB leagues if we found out he was coming up to join the rotation early in the season.

Trader Andy: What's the ETA for Victor Scott (STL) and what type of impact can he make?

Scott is an old school leadoff hitter type (more AVG than OBP, not as much pop as the typical modern leadoff hitter) who could hit eighth or ninth early in his career. He's going to run wild and bunt for hits, but he's willing to pull the ball in the air, which is important, as sometimes the 80-grade speed guys just try to make weak contact to the opposite field. His peak seasons could resemble those of Carl Crawford or Whit Merrifield, but it's not a guarantee he'll make enough of an offensive impact for a team to give him everyday playing time. It does seem like the Cardinals are holding center field open for him though.

Bennett Karoll: What is a realistic expectation for Colson Montgomery's (CHW) future? And you have to account for him being on the White Sox in this scenario...

I really feel bad for White Sox fans, because every couple months I get a question about Montgomery and I can smell their desperation for him to be a face-of-the-franchise type of star shortstop. That's not meant to be a knock on Montgomery, who I expect to have a long-ish career as an everyday player, which is a great outcome for any No. 22 overall pick, I just don't see superstar upside. He probably fits best at third base, but they'll keep him at shortstop as long as they possibly can (maybe even longer than that). He could produce similarly to Edouard Julien on offense, with his strong OBP skills and ability to hit for above-average power against righty pitchers the carrying tools, and he obviously won't be platooned like Julien has been.

L.A. Williams: What do you believe is keeping Dustin Harris (TEX) from cracking the majors? Will he need to leave the Texas organization?

He's just not better than their big-league options at the positions he can play. Texas is in a great position, as they've got a strong farm system and a loaded big-league roster, and better players than Harris have been shut out of the playing time picture in similar situations on other teams. So yes, he does need a trade or a jump in skill combined with an injury to someone like Nathaniel Lowe or Wyatt Langford to get a look this year.

LeolifeofRiley: Of these Padres outfield prospects, Samuel Zavala, Jakob Marsee, Graham Pauley and Dillon Head, who is best near-term and dynasty value? Have seen Marsee mentioned elsewhere either as a sleeper or a potential bust. Similarly, Pauley has gotten gotten some favorable notices recently. Zavala and Head are further off than those two. And how does Jackson Merrill possibly switching to the OF impact the situation?

One or both of Marsee and Pauley (who also plays on the dirt plenty) could be up this summer. I prefer Marsee because of how good he was in the Arizona Fall League and because he's a legitimate threat to steal 20-plus bases in the majors, but Pauley is probably the safest bet to be up this year if you had to pick one and that's all you cared about. I think Pauley is a utility player, but I haven't closed the door on him being carving out a bigger role, and Marsee has an OK shot at being a regular. Merrill is the superior talent to the four players you listed first, so it would make sense for him to jump those guys, which is what seems to be happening. I like Merrill at second base or third base, but those spots are spoken for, so that's why he's getting outfield work. He can probably handle left field, and Marsee is a solid center fielder, so that could be the long-term outfield with Fernando Tatis in right.

Zavala could be an Ian Happ type of fantasy producer in 2026 and beyond, but I don't think he leapfrogs the guys I discussed above in the near-term. Head is the upside lottery ticket of the bunch, but he's probably three-plus years away. My rankings will tell you who I like most for dynasty (Merrill. Gap. Zavala, Marsee, Head. Gap. Pauley.)

BG: What are your thoughts on Jackson Merrill (SD) and his potential impact this year?

OnlySportsFansFantasyAcademy: What are your thoughts on Jackson Merrill (SD) and Brooks Lee (MIN)? Can you provide some comps for both? Also, who do you think will stick at SS and contribute more this year?

Merrill is a better prospect than Lee and I expect him to debut sooner, so I like Merrill more for this year and beyond. He's not a burner, but he'll steal some bases (maybe 10-15) before he gets into his late-20s, whereas Lee could be close to a zero in the speed department. If we assume Merrill is up for most or all of the season, that'd be fun, but it'd also be ahead of schedule and would have more to do with the Padres' barren depth chart than Merrill kicking the door down. 

Long term, Merrill could be similar to his teammate, Xander Bogaerts (the Padres version, not peak Boston version), but in the short term, I'd have him projected similarly to Joey Ortiz with the Brewers, good but not great average (maybe .265) with around 10 homers and 10 steals while presumably hitting in the bottom third of the lineup. As for Lee, he could be similar to his teammate, Carlos Correa (healthy Minnesota version, not prime Houston version), hitting 20-plus homers with a solid enough batting average.

Paulmax: Am I wrong to stay away from Dodger pitching prospects? They just have sooo many good ones, plus they just landed Shohei Ohtani (for 2025), Yoshinobu Yamamoto, and Tyler Glasnow. It just seems like the odds are stacked against any of them landing in the rotation. I know Bobby Miller beat those odds, but that just means there's even one less spot for the others!

I've thought about this a few times this offseason, so I certainly see where you're coming from. Kyle Hurt is the most obvious example, as he might never be given a look as a big-league starter given how good his stuff plays out of the bullpen, and Gavin Stone is another one, although I think Stone will make double-digit starts in the majors this year one way or another. I'm not downgrading Emmet Sheehan or Stone for dynasty strictly because they're Dodgers and it's crowded, since they're big-league ready and it's still arguably the best team context to have once you're in the rotation. But I definitely downgrade Hurt, and the guys further behind in the farm system, as you can't assume that they'll get a look even if they do everything right.

Sedona: River Ryan (LAD) is ranked #19 on FanGraphs and #33 on Keith Law's top 100 list. He's #375 on yours... why are you so low on him?

As you probably know, I don't look at other lists, as I trust my process and don't want to be subliminally impacted by what I see, but I obviously saw the River Ryan frenzy on Twitter after he was ranked that high by those two analysts, both of whom I respect but whom I don't have a personal relationship with. 

Ryan is such an interesting case, because I generally believe in the phrase "hitters will tell you how good a pitcher is", and Ryan's K-BB% in the Texas League was mid-pack, not among legitimate prospects, but among all pitching prospects in the league. Obviously he's fairly new to pitching, but there's a reason why most converted position players end up in the bullpen. It's really hard to learn all the tricks of the trade quickly enough to develop as a starting pitcher. While Ryan's statistical output says he's a pretty boring pitching prospect in a super crowded system, we've got long-time evaluators and their sources saying he's got all these plus pitches, so it's a conundrum for dynasty players. I'll bump up Ryan in my rankings on the late-March update, since there's not that big of a difference between being 375 and 175, and I don't want my readers to give him away to someone who'd offer much more than my ranks suggest, but I'm not swayed that I should have Ryan in the top 100 or anything like that. I won't be stubborn about it if I see him actually translating the raw stuff into a more dominant performance in the minors, but I generally rank pitchers based on what they do against hitters (strikeouts and walks), not based on the pure pitch grades, and Ryan's statistical output was middling. Last year, 136 pitchers logged 70 or more innings at Double-A, and of those 136, Ryan's 13.1 K-BB% ranked 70th.

Ev B: How is the seemingly new approach to the way teams are handling prospects affecting your rankings, if at all? Proximity has typically been a major factor for you, wondering if anything's changed in that regard...

I still really care about proximity, especially with pitchers, and I don't think I need adjust the prospect rankings based on what teams are doing. It's not like all of a sudden teams are largely jumping their 18- and 19-year-old hitters to the majors. There's still a developmental process that every player has to go through. It's not like I'd have Junior Caminero ranked 12th instead of fourth if he hadn't made the big leagues last year. Talent is talent. The biggest impact for fantasy is in redraft, not necessarily dynasty, as redraft players need to know the minors better than before, since teams are trying to get as cheap as possible (production from pre-arb players), so there's less merit in purposely drafting old, boring players, because the league is getting younger every year.

David Scott: In a current draft, picking 480 total prospects, are there any super deep guys that you think may pop?

I get variations of this question all the time, and the answer is the same. The guys who I think may pop are already ranked highly. It's already baked into the rankings. There are deeper guys who could pop, obviously, but I'm not expecting them to really pop if I've got them ranked in the 300s. The younger and less experienced a player is, the more they could pop. If Paulino Santana (TEX) is awesome in his first two months as a pro, that will mean more for his stock than if a 24-year-old at Double-A is awesome in the first two months of the season. So if you're looking for guys who could be big risers, look for teenagers I've already got ranked pretty high (in the top 150-200).

Brandon Hawker: What are the differences between James Wood (WAS) now and Elly De La Cruz last year? Do you see a similar upside with both?

Elly De La Cruz was a top-10 prospect from July 2022, right when he was promoted to Double-A, until he graduated last summer. James Wood peaked on the rankings at No. 11 in July of 2022 when he was at Single-A with the Padres, and he's been in the 19-22 range since the end of the 2023 regular season. That obviously tells you I'm lower on Wood than I was on De La Cruz at the same time. The big reason for that is the steals. Wood has 48 steals in 231 pro games, and De La Cruz stole 47 bases in 120 games in 2022 alone, plus I think Wood will slow down quicker than De La Cruz will. The power and hit tool are fairly similar (when they were both at Double-A).

Michael Thomas: What do you think Oswald Peraza's role with the Yankees is this year and into the future?

He's a bench player to start the year, barring an injury ahead of him, and the hope is that he takes over at third base or second base whenever DJ LeMahieu stops getting consistent playing time or Gleyber Torres gets dealt (I wouldn't deal Torres, but he's been in enough rumors that we should consider it a possibility).

Ryan Keller: I'm looking for one or two guys that have top 25 prospect potential heading into 2025 but are not currently in your top 75. Ideally, I prefer prospects with a plus (or potential plus) power/speed combination...

If they've got plus power/speed potential and they're not in the top 75, then you're either going to be waiting a long time or there are some pretty glaring flaws elsewhere in the profile. Paulino Santana (TEX), Tai Peete (SEA) and Yophery Rodriguez (MIL) fit the general spirit of the question, but they've either not played at all (Santana), have only played in the Dominican Summer League (Rodriguez) or barely played after getting drafted last year (Peete). George Lombard (NYY), Eduardo Quintero (LAD), Dawel Joseph (SEA), Rayner Arias (SF), Felnin Celesten (SEA), Lonnie White (PIT) are some others.

Danny J: You are the high guy on Yophery Rodriguez (MIL). What visions of glory do you see?

He was good at everything in the DSL last year (unlucky on balls in play with a .253 AVG on a .289 BABIP, deserved an AVG around .300), and just seems like as safe of a bet as there is from the DSL crop to keep building momentum stateside. Obviously Milwaukee has had some success developing their international hitters in recent years, so that helps too. We're still kind of in the discovery phase with guys who have only played in the DSL, as it's a favorable hitting environment and the pitching is bad, in addition to the fact these are 16- and 17-year-olds, so they've got a lot of physical and mental maturation ahead. So I don't even attempt to come up with comps for those guys and I wouldn't even say I've got clear idea of what he will become, but he could definitely be a five-category contributor based on what he showed last year.

Michael O'Bryan: Can you really go wrong with the first pick in a FYPD when choosing between Wyatt Langford (TEX) or Yoshinobu Yamamoto (LAD)? Also does having a second first-round pick impact your decision with 1.01? i.e. I hold 1.01 and 1.06, how should this be approached?

You should take Walker Jenkins (MIN) or Matt Shaw (CHC) at 1.06, assuming Paul Skenes (PIT) goes in the top five picks. I strongly believe in Langford at 1.01 in a vacuum, but I could see a scenario, especially since I don't like trading, where I've got a truly loaded outfield and really need rotation help, or maybe it's a points format where someone like George Kirby is more valuable than Kyle Tucker, and in that case, Yamamoto should be considered at 1.01.

I'd recommend checking out my FYPD Blueprint article and FYPD rankings as well.

Rico S: When building a dynasty team, is it better to constantly build the bats to trade for pitching or mix a little? Specifically I have five stud outfield prospects and two picks high in this year's FYPD. Would you take two of the big OFs or one OF and Paul Skenes (PIT)?

I like Skenes more than Dylan Crews (WAS) straight up, and it's close enough between Skenes and Walker Jenkins (MIN), who I prefer slightly to Skenes, that I'd be fine going Skenes over Jenkins in your situation. I definitely wouldn't take Skenes over Wyatt Langford (TEX). 

In terms of your philosophical question, you can't completely ignore pitching when building. You definitely need to establish a core of good, young-ish position players, but you should supplement that by taking calculated shots on pitchers, and taking Skenes over Jenkins and Crews qualifies as a calculated shot worth taking if you don't need/want more outfielders.

Jim Delaney: Do you think that Jackson Holliday (BAL) playing second base is a long term move or just to get him in the lineup ASAP?

Shortstop defense is the worst part of Holliday's game, but he's young enough that he could still develop into an above-average defender there. He might even get there this year. Putting him at second base allows him to win a job on merit this spring, rather than forcing the issue and playing him at shortstop over guys like Gunnar Henderson or Jorge Mateo, who are better defenders now. I think we'll see Holliday play a little at shortstop this year, but I'm not sure if he'll play enough there in 2024 to hold that eligibility into 2025, but he could get it back in 2025.

DrOctagon Cards: Thayron Liranzo (LAD) has been getting a lot of buzz, but you have him ranked at the back end of the top 400. Too many catching prospects out there to roster him or is there something there?

I was too low on Liranzo in my last update — he should be around 200, just behind Moises Ballesteros (CHC) and ahead of Dalton Rushing (LAD). But I stand by the general sentiment. He's a much better real-life prospect than a fantasy one, since real-life lists not only don't care about the rules of fantasy baseball (only 1-2 starting catching spots), but they don't care about how long it will take a player to start providing fantasy value. Liranzo is also much better in OBP leagues than AVG leagues, which is another reason he's a more valuable real-life prospect. If I just said, Liranzo's upside is Francisco Alvarez, but you've got to wait three years for him, and something could go wrong along the way where he doesn't amount to much in fantasy, where would you slot that player on the ranks? That's basically the question with Liranzo.

Speaking of something going wrong along the way, I went back and checked Diego Cartaya's (LAD) production as a 19-year-old at Single-A and it was almost identical to Liranzo's, for what it's worth (very little, but I still felt a sense of deja vu). 

Netgolfer24: How much would you pay for Wyatt Langford (TEX) in an open auction, deep long-term keeper league where you add five dollars per year to his contract?

I'd like to get him for $20-$25, unless there's significant inflation.

Danny J: How do you see Gavin Williams doing this year in Year 2?

I think in 2025, Williams will be getting drafted where Grayson Rodriguez, Bobby Miller and Eury Perez are getting drafted this year. He could suffer an injury that puts a damper on that projection, but I fully expect Williams to pay off his current redraft price with good health.

Clint: Two names I've seen mentioned early on in spring training I'm curious about as potential sleepers: Will Benson (CIN) & Troy Johnston (MIA). Do you see either player making their clubs and/or having any value for 2024 in 12 or more team leagues?

This is an interesting combination of names, as Benson has already been good in fantasy and gets drafted in all serious mixed roto leagues while Johnston is 26 (turns 27 in June) and has never played in the majors. The Marlins are a complete mess in terms of organizational depth, so anything is possible with that depth chart, but Johnston is probably a Quad-A hitter. 

With Benson, league format is very important. He's much more valuable in The NFBC (two lineup periods per week) or in daily leagues, as you really want to sit him when the Reds are due to face lefties and/or when he's on the road against good pitching, but you want him in there for all home matchups against righties and all matchups against middling righties on the road.

JDubs: Is Tyler Black (MIL) an under-the-radar trade candidate? Wouldn't seem to have a place on a team that's going to need to rely on a potentially elite defense for run prevention...

I agree with everything you said except for the part about it being under the radar. They'd trade him if someone met their price, as he's a very difficult piece to build around, since he doesn't have the power for first base/designated hitter or the defense for third base/second base.

David M. DiCenzo: I doubled up on Texas SP prospects Jose Corniell and Aidan Curry in a recent rookie draft. What do you think their long-term chances are for rotation spots, given the age and health of the Rangers' staff?

I really love Corniell. He checks all the boxes of a future mid-rotation starter and there doesn't seem to be much hype. I particularly love his command at such a young age, and it's possible he adds a tick to his 94-mph fastball, which would allow him to be more than just a No. 3 or No. 4 starter for the Rangers. 

Curry has a similar ceiling, but is riskier, as there's only one stop on his resume with starter-level command and he's got more injuries in his past.

JoJo Despereaux: Which hit tool first prospects that have yet to display power do you think will start showing it this year?

I'd love to see Brayan Rocchio (CLE) be that guy, but I'm not betting on it. Jett Williams (NYM) already made strides there, but I think he'll keep proving doubters wrong this year. Curtis Mead (TB) is a strong candidate, but I think he's more of a 2025 power breakout bet. If Max Clark (DET) or Adael Amador (COL) do, they would probably finish the year as top-10 prospects, but I'm not predicting that for them. 

James Triantos (CHC) is my favorite answer here. I've heard he had a really strong offseason at Driveline, and that's on top of his Arizona Fall League exploits. Sal Stewart (CIN) is also bound to show a bit more game power this year or next, and I think Darell Hernaiz (OAK) has more juice than people give him credit for, so hopefully we see that this year in the majors.

The Shermanimal: Feels like there is a wide range of outcomes for Max Clark (DET). How do you value those different paths to value compared to say a Brock Wilken (MIL), where it's more like one obvious path?

Clark and Wilken are definitely two polar opposite FYPD hitting prospects. I've got Clark five spots ahead of Wilken on the top 400 because he's got the higher ceiling thanks to the 70-grade speed. There's no guarantee Clark even gets to 20-homer power, especially in that park, but he should get to 10-15 homer power. There's also no guarantee Wilken makes enough contact to hit .250, so while I see a chance for him to be a .265 hitter or so based on the strides he made in his last year at college, his hit tool is probably as risky as Clark's power tool.  

Todoubled: Any chance we see Roman Anthony (BOS) or Walker Jenkins (MIN) this year? If not this year, do they break camp next year?

They are each poised for late-August debuts if they play to their potential this year and stay completely healthy, unless there's just no argument for any of the Twins/Red Sox outfielders to see less playing time at that point. Then, they'd be in line to break camp with the big club in 2025, and that could even happen if they didn't get a late-season call this year. That said, I wouldn't be planning any of my moves around having those guys available to help me over the final five weeks of the season.

Trader Andy: What can you see Austin Wells (NYY) accomplishing in the Majors this year?

The biggest thing for Wells is to be a good enough defender behind the plate that it's not a part of the story with him. I could see a scenario where the Yankees pitchers want Jose Trevino back there and the Yankees front office wants Wells back there, with the manager stuck trying to serve both parties. In terms of fantasy production, I'd be thrilled with a .230 AVG, 18 home runs and a few steals, but I'm not sure he'll play enough to get to that homer total.

San Francisco Giants: Thoughts on Logan Henderson (MIL), Yoniel Curet (TB), and Reggie Crawford (SF)?

I touched on Curet and Crawford in last week's Relief Pitching Prospect Rankings article. They both have ninth-inning stuff. Curet needs to improve his command by at least a grade to get there, but I think Crawford could be getting high-leverage outs by the end of this season if he were to move to the bullpen right away (probably won't happen) and stay healthy (he's already hurt). I don't believe in either guy as a starting pitcher. 

I missed that Henderson was sitting 94-96 mph with his fastball in an inning of work this spring when I recorded the podcast (he was sitting in the 90-92 mph range last year). Just be careful here. It was just one inning, so he'll need to hold at least a 93-94 mph fastball during the season to be a legitimate pitching prospect. He does have a great changeup, which is why he was able to carve up younger hitters at Single-A. I'd still project him as no more than a No. 3 starter even if the velocity gains hold, but he'll be added to the top 400 in late March.

Manny Perez: Out of these players, who would be the most important player to draft for dynasty: Colt Emerson (SEA), Chase DeLauter (CLE), Roman Anthony (BOS), Brock Wilken (MIL) and Lazaro Montes (SEA)

In this order: Roman Anthony, Chase DeLauter, Lazaro Montes, Colt Emerson, Brock Wilken. That said, Montes/Emerson/Wilken are in the same tier, so I wouldn't try to hard to talk you out of mixing up that order.

Matt Singer: Lazaro Montes (SEA) or Brock Wilken (MIL) in an OBP dynasty?

Montes. He's got a higher ceiling and is 2.5 years younger. Wilken is probably safer — I'd be more willing to bet on him becoming an everyday player than Montes, but Montes has the upside to finish the year as a top-10 prospect, and I don't see that with Wilken.

Robert Leahy: Does quality starts instead of wins significantly change the value for any pitching prospects for you?

Not really — maybe you could slightly bump up pitchers on bad teams, since I do slightly downgrade close-to-the-majors starting pitchers on teams that project to remain terrible for a while, since they're less likely to get wins. The types of things that would make a player more valuable in QS than in W are the types of things I value anyways (going deep into games, sticking as an SP, being efficient with pitches), so it's kind of baked into the rankings.

Chris Kessell: I can only stash one of Bubba Chandler (PIT) or Noble Meyer (MIA) for dynasty, which way are you leaning?

I like Chandler more since I think the upside is the same (either guy could be the No. 1 pitching prospect in baseball a year from now), and Chandler has had more success in pro ball and is closer to the majors.

RagnaBTC: What do you think Michael Harris' peak will look like? Is he a potential 30/30 guy or is he more likely to stick as a 20/20?

He should be able to have some 30-homer/20-steal seasons. Usually the younger someone is, the more likely they are to reach those crazy high SB totals, so I don't think we should necessarily assume he'll get to 30 steals after stealing exactly 20 in his first two seasons, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if he went 30/30 this year. My cop-out answer is he's a 25/25 guy at peak.

Scoop: Does Junior Caminero (TB) make a fantasy impact at the big-league level THIS year?

Yes, but I don't know when. I'd be stunned if he was in the minors all season and I'd be stunned if he didn't make an impact (something like a .260 AVG, 25-HR pace) when he's up, but he could spend the first 2-3 months in the minors if the older guys are all producing. He could also make the Opening Day roster. Caminero is just a tough guy to predict from a playing time standpoint this year, which is why I don't have any redraft shares.

Artur Domingues: What prospect can you see shooting up rankings this year like Junior Caminero (TB) and Jackson Chourio (MIL) in years past?

I arbitrarily only looked at teenage hitters outside the top 40, and of that subset, Roderick Arias (NYY), Max Clark (DET), Leo De Vries (SD), Sebastian Walcott (TEX), Druw Jones (ARI), Aidan Miller (PHI), Josue De Paula (LAD), Paulino Santana (TEX), Arjun Nimmala (TOR), Tai Peete (SEA), George Lombard (NYY), Yophery Rodriguez (MIL), Jonny Farmelo (SEA), Dillon Head (SD), Eduardo Quintero (LAD), Joendry Vargas (LAD), Jose Perdomo (ATL), Dawel Joseph (SEA), Rayner Arias (SF), Felnin Celesten (SEA) are the best candidates in descending order. 

Charlie: How do you value prospect hitters coming off a season ended by injury? Specifically Zac Veen (COL) and Marcelo Mayer (BOS), but also just generally. I know you are not high on these guys for fantasy, but I am hoping they will bounce back and that poor performance was due to injury...

Yeah, it definitely didn't help Veen or Mayer's ranking that I already thought they were overrated pre-injury. With Mayer, I just don't see a high fantasy ceiling, and with Veen I see a very low fantasy floor. 

Just generally, it's very player-specific. Roderick Arias (NYY) and Rayner Arias (SF) had season-ending injuries last year, which prevented them from logging a larger sample and thus prevented them from climbing higher on the ranks. But I still like both of them a lot. Sorry that wasn't a more detailed answer, but I don't have a one-size-fits-all response. 

Sedona: Who do you think can be the next Eury Perez? I see Henry Lalane (NYY) ranked very high, but Jeter Martinez (SEA) not so much. Big difference between the two? Any others we should start grabbing?

Yeah, Lalane is probably my pick for the next Eury Perez, if forced to chose. Lalane is as exciting as a rookie-level pitcher can be, but you have to remember that it's more likely something goes wrong than that nothing goes wrong. Martinez is ranked very high in my opinion given that he's only pitched in the Dominican Summer League. I very rarely rank DSL pitchers, so the fact he's in the middle of the ranks is as big of a nod as I feel comfortable giving him. It's extremely rare for a pitcher to pitch well in the DSL and go on to make it as a successful big-league starter. Cristian Javier and Carlos Martinez (there might be one more I'm forgetting) were the only examples I could find from the last decade when I looked about a year ago.

Andrew Mason: Do you foresee any of the 2023 MLB Draft prep arms being big risers this year?

There will definitely be a few. My picks, beyond the obvious like Noble Meyer (MIA) if he stays healthy, are Josh Knoth (MIL) and Blake Wolters (KC).

Steven Cumberledge: I am a big Mason Miller (OAK) fan. Do you think he has long-term upside as a starting pitcher or do you think he will remain a closer in the future?

Miller has a ton of upside in ratios and strikeouts regardless of his role. I don't believe he'll be able to handle a full starter's workload, and the A's won't get an answer to that question this year, so I do think they will try to stretch him out next season unless he tells them he'd rather stick in the bullpen.

Mike: Chase Petty (CIN) reportedly is throwing 99-mph fastballs again and has arguably the nastiest slider in the minors. He will also be free of any innings limits in his outings this year. What is his "ceiling" projection and what do you think is his most "probable" projection moving forward?

Yeah, I saw him throwing that hard in a lab, but hadn't heard about him doing it against hitters in games. The biggest knocks on Petty are things outside of his control — his home park is bottom five for starting pitchers and last year the Reds had a bottom-five defense too by defensive fWAR. He has excellent control though, and I think I prefer him to Andrew Abbott straight up in dynasty, for instance. If he is indeed sitting mid-to-upper-90s in games and stays healthy, he'll keep climbing the ranks. You could say his ceiling is George Kirby, but instead of having a top-three home park like Kirby, he'd have a bottom-five home park, which would move him from an SP1 to an SP2.

Peter Muehlenkamp: Of the Reds' top pitching prospects, who has a chance to stay at SP and who is heading to the bullpen? And… who do you like in those groups?

Chase Petty and Rhett Lowder are definitely starters, assuming they don't deal with crazy injuries. Julian Aguiar is probably a starter too, but more of a No. 4 or No. 5. The jury is out on Connor Phillips, Cole Schoenwetter (who I loved pre-draft and like slightly less after his landing spot) and Adam Serwinowski. I like Petty the most of the likely SPs.

Coreyb3p: Who has the highest ceiling out of the following prospects, and can you see any being top five overall prospects: Samuel Basallo (BAL), Lazaro Montes (SEA), Jett Williams (NYM), Coby Mayo (BAL), Xavier Isaac (TB), Colt Emerson (SEA), Spencer Jones (NYY)

They've all got very high ceilings. I believe in Jones' hit tool the least, which is why he is ranked lowest. I'll say Williams has the highest ceiling, since I think his ceiling is essentially Jose Altuve/Corbin Carroll, and we've seen those guys go top-five in redraft. It's really hard for the no-speed guys (Basallo, Montes, Mayo, Isaac) to go top-five in redraft, and Emerson hasn't really shown us a clear picture of what his ceiling is yet, so for now I'd say he has the lowest ceiling of this group.

Ulysses: What organization has improved the most in player development and drafting in the last five years? Phillies? Orioles? Mariners?

Pretty clearly the Orioles. The Phillies don't dominate based on drafting and player development, they dominate based on excellent big-ticket moves, whether that be blockbuster trades like the one that got them J.T. Realmuto or excellent free agent signings like with Zack Wheeler. The Mariners might be second behind the O's, but Baltimore went from one of the worst to the best since Mike Elias was hired five years ago.

ElevenRI: What are your thoughts on Alexander Albertus (LAD)? Great numbers — another Dodger stud on the horizon?

Possibly. He was awesome as an older player in the Dominican Summer League and in a tiny sample in the Arizona Complex League. We'll get a much better idea about his upside this season, since both of his opportunities last year had some contextual issues that can lead to false positives. 

HighTek: I think some have criminally undervalued Robert Hassell (WAS). Skills are all still there. Also, what do you think of George Lombard (NYY)?

What skills are there with Hassell? His highest ISO since the trade is .113 in 15 games as a 21-year-old at Single-A and he's stolen 19 bases in a 158 games since the trade. He could still turn into a low-end regular, I wouldn't argue with you there, but I disagree with the term "criminally undervalued". Seems like the Padres either knew what they were doing when they sold high or the Nationals messed him up somehow or a combination of the two.

Lombard isn't someone who popped to me on video as an amateur, but enough smart people I know really love him and he's definitely got the type of raw tools we're looking for. He's a good lottery ticket in the second or third round of your FYPD.

Todoubled: Who is a late grab upside guy that's somewhat under the radar vet/prospect hitter/pitcher?

Liover Peguero (PIT) has much more upside than he's given credit for. He's got the tools to go 20/20 while playing every day this year. Here are six more on the pitching side of things:

Brian Mac: What is Carlos Jorge's (CIN) realistic ceiling and what would he need to do this year to be viewed as a top 50 prospect?

For absolute ceiling, I'll say Ozzie Albies, but maybe a more realistic ceiling is Bryson Stott. He kind of wore down last summer, which is fine, but he'll need to show the same type of production this year that he showed at Single-A, enough to project as at least a 15-20 homer guy in the majors. We know he can run and hit.

Chief Eth: Who are some buy-low prospects who you think could bounce back in a big way this year?

I'm more into going after guys who had good overall seasons and are still undervalued, as it's so easy for any decent prospect to put up good numbers as a hitter in this current minor-league environment (not enough good pitching) as long as they're at an age-appropriate level, so when a hitter struggles significantly, that's a red flag for me. When a pitcher struggles significantly, that's bad too, since it means their pitches aren't good enough or their command isn't good enough or both. 

That said, I'm still a big believer in Everson Pereira (NYY) the player, although I'm not a fan of his current team context after the Yankees traded for all those outfielders. I also think Colton Cowser (BAL) and Masyn Winn (STL) are significantly better than what he showed in the majors last year. Notice the guys I'm picking struggled in the majors, not the minors. Druw Jones (ARI), Jhonkensy Noel (CLE) and Anthony Gutierrez (TEX) are a few who are probably more in line with your question, but I'm less confident in them than I am Pereira, Cowser and Winn.

Manny Perez: What top pitchers will be at the forefront for 2025? Basically the new Yoshinobu Yamamoto...

I'm not sure when they'll come over, but Roki Sasaki is the big name everyone is waiting for. He'd be the No. 1 pitching prospect in baseball if eligible. It sounds like the winter of 2026 with him, but it's not impossible for him to be posted next offseason. The other big one is Shunpeita Yamashita, but we might have to wait even longer for him.

FantasyBaseballDisrupt: Why is everyone letting me get Elly De La Cruz circa ~ 20-28 and Noelvi Marte at ~ 165. Looking good for 40 bombs and 70 steals between them...

They are letting you get Elly because they don't want to take a player who will probably hit below .250 in the second round, since it's really hard to dig out of that hole without compromising the rest of your roster, and they're letting you get Marte because they're not certain he'll play every day.

Alan Seslowsky: What is the biggest mistake you see even experienced players make in drafts?

Drafting players they don't even like/believe in just because they "fell" in the draft. There aren't any "values" on draft day, because we don't know what the production is yet. The reason players who aren't good values remain with a somewhat stable ADP all offseason is because there's always a sucker who takes them before they fall too far.

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James Anderson
James Anderson is RotoWire's Lead Prospect Analyst, Assistant Baseball Editor, and co-host of Farm Fridays on Sirius/XM radio and the RotoWire Prospect Podcast.
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