There aren’t any no-doubt, future All-Stars among the many rookie place gamers who’re more likely to be on big-league rosters on opening day, however there are a variety of hitters who ought to be strong contributors in 2021. Several rookies have already tasted success on the main league stage and are good bets to proceed their manufacturing (Randy Arozarena, Ryan Mountcastle, Nick Madrigal, Ke’Bryan Hayes), whereas others are mature, big-league prepared prospects who had their arrivals delayed by the pandemic (Andrew Vaughn, Bobby Bradley, Alex Kirilloff, Taylor Trammell). Fantasy baseball house owners must be aware of all these potential sleepers, whether or not they’re in redraft leagues or keeper/dynasty leagues.
The rankings beneath constitutes an evaluation of 2021 influence and is proscribed to these gamers who’re more likely to open the season within the majors. As such, the underside of the listing consists of gamers who might not have a lot worth in a shallow redraft league. For these leagues, chances are you’ll wish to gamble on a higher-upside prospect within the hope that he will get a midseason promotion. I’ve included a half-dozen names to contemplate for such a technique
2021 MLB Top Prospects: Fantasy Baseball Rookie Hitter Sleepers
1. Randy Arozarena, OF, Tampa Bay. Arozarena had an historic submit season in 2020 and enters this yr with excessive expectations. There’s little question he’s an elite expertise, but it surely’s unlikely he’ll produce on the stage he did final fall. His electrical bat velocity produces elite exit velocity, and his good steadiness and direct swing path present the leverage for his plus all-fields uncooked energy. He destroys fastballs, however he’ll want to point out he can hit breaking balls extra persistently. I believe ’21 shall be a season of changes for Arozarena, however regardless of some ups and downs, he’s a superb wager to hit .270 with 25-plus house runs and 20 stolen bases.
2. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Pittsburgh. Hayes impressed in a late-season call-up final yr (.376 common with 5 house runs in 85 at-bats) and has continued to rake this spring. He’s in line to open the season because the Pirates’ starter at third base. Hayes has all the time had a plus glove, however final season he improved his steadiness that allowed him to extra successfully use his decrease half, creating a greater bat path and elevated bat velocity. He was additionally capable of keep a strong contact fee, which bodes effectively for his future efficiency. In 2021, he may hit .275 with 25 house runs whereas batting within the prime third of the Pittsburgh lineup.
3. Nick Madrigal, 2B, Chicago White Sox. Madrigal is coming back from offseason shoulder surgical procedure however made his Cactus League debut this week and may very well be prepared for common taking part in time shortly after the season begins. Madrigal is already among the best pure hitters in baseball and carried out as marketed in a late-season call-up final yr (.340 common in 103 at-bats). When wholesome, Madrigal shows elite contact abilities and plus velocity. He received’t hit for any energy, however he may compete for a batting title whereas stealing 20-plus luggage per season and taking part in plus protection at second base.
4. Andrew Vaughn, 1B, Chicago White Sox. Vaughn was thought-about the perfect hitter within the 2019 draft class, and regardless of very modest professional expertise since then, has impressed the spring and appears like he’ll open the season as Chicago’s on a regular basis DH. Vaughn’s hitting abilities are as marketed: Compact stroke, above-average all-fields energy, and good plate self-discipline. He nonetheless hasn’t totally tapped into his energy potential, however he may hit .275 with shut to twenty HRs and draw loads of walks in ’21. If he can higher use his decrease physique to create leverage and loft in his swing, he has the bat velocity to ultimately hit 30-plus house runs per yr.
5. Ryan Mountcastle, OF, Baltimore. Mountcastle performed effectively throughout his 2020 big-league debut (.333 and 5 house runs in 126 at-bats) and is projected to open the season within the Baltimore lineup. Mountcastle in all probability swings at too many pitches, though he doesn’t often chase out of the zone. At the identical time, he has nice hand-eye coordination and makes contact at a really excessive fee attributable to a wonderful swing path. His plus bat velocity and good steadiness produce constant arduous contact. He could be a little an excessive amount of on his entrance foot generally, which saps his energy however he has the abilities to hit .280 with 15-20 house runs. If he will be extra selective and keep again slightly extra, he may ultimately hit for extra pop.
6. Dylan Carlson, OF, St. Louis. Carlson was initially overmatched in a 2020 big-league call-up however he improved on the tail finish of the season and enters the spring favored to win a beginning spot in St. Louis. The switch-hitting Carlson has a bit extra energy batting lefthanded, however he exhibits good bat velocity and glorious hand-eye coordination from either side. With strong pitch recognition and plus uncooked energy, Carlson has the potential to hit .275 with 20-plus house runs and 10-15 stolen bases over a full season within the bigs. This yr, he in all probability received’t attain these numbers, however a .260 common with 15 house runs and 15 stolen bases is feasible.
7. Bobby Dalbec, 1B, Boston. Dalbec carried out effectively in a late-season debut final yr (.263, eight HRs in solely 80 at-bats) and is more likely to open 2021 as Boston’s starter at first base. Dalbec has plus uncooked energy, however he swings and misses (even on pitches within the strike zone) at an elevated fee. He feasts on fastballs, and when he makes strong contact his plus bat velocity produces good over-the-fence pop. His steep swing aircraft signifies that he received’t hit for common, however he may simply hit 20-25 HR over a full season — simply be ready for a batting common that sits near the Mendoza Line.
8. Bobby Bradley, 1B, Cleveland. Bradley struggled in a brief call-up throughout the 2019 season however enters this spring as the favourite to be Cleveland’s opening day first baseman. Bradley has an enormous swing that produces large energy and large strikeout totals. This yr he’s improved his swing path and is staying on the ball higher. He’s additionally extra agile and athletic at first base. It’s unclear whether or not he can maintain his present spring success, however his offseason changes give him some upside. If he can’t keep his newfound swing and improved contact potential, he’ll in all probability play half time and put up common energy numbers whereas hitting within the low .200s. If the modifications stick, he may hit .260 with 20 HRs.
9. Cristian Pache, OF, Atlanta. Pache made a quick big-league debut in late 2020 and shortly confirmed that he’s already among the best defensive heart fielders within the recreation. This spring he’s competing to be the Braves’ beginning heart fielder. Although he’s already an elite defender, Pache continues to be a piece in progress offensively. He has good bat velocity and strong uncooked energy, however he generally loses his steadiness on the plate and doesn’t have a constant swing path. Long-term, he the instruments to be an above-average big-league hitter, but when he wins the CF job this season I anticipate him to submit modest numbers in ’21 (.250 with 10 HRs and 10 SBs).
10. Alex Kirilloff, OF, Minnesota. Kirilloff is presently competing to be the Twins’ opening day left fielder and has proven flashes of his potential in Grapefruit League play. If I knew that he’d win the job, I’d rank him close to the highest of this listing, however the taking part in time query pushes him down. Kirilloff has battled accidents all through his professional profession, however when wholesome he’s a sophisticated hitter with above-average energy, good pitch recognition, and the bat velocity to deal with plus velocity. Whether he opens within the bigs or will get a midseason call-up, he ought to produce strong numbers (.270 with 15-20 HRs if he performs a full season) as a rookie.
11. Alejandro Kirk, C, Toronto. Kirk opened eyes in a brief big-league cameo final season (.375 common, HR, simply 4 strikeouts in 24 at-bats) and is off to a sizzling begin this spring. It’s unclear whether or not he can win a roster spot to open the season however he appears just like the catcher of the long run in Toronto. Kirk has nice plate self-discipline and a compact swing that produces above-average bat velocity and energy to all fields. He doesn’t have a lot expertise towards superior pitching and his protection is common, however he has the instruments to be a top-10 big-league catcher. If he will get 250-300 big-league at-bats this yr, he may hit .270 and slug 10 or extra house runs.
12. Ryan Jeffers, C, Minnesota. Jeffers had a strong big-league debut final season (.273, three HRs in 55 at-bats) and initiatives to be in a timeshare with Mitch Garver this season. Jeffers’ swing path and steadiness are common. He doesn’t have the leverage to drive the ball to the other area, however he has sufficient bat velocity to clear the fence on his pull aspect. He exhibits strong pitch recognition and hand-eye coordination that ought to enable him to hit for a modest common. If he will get half the begins in Minnesota this season he ought to hit .250 with 10-12 house runs.
13. Isaac Paredes, 3B, Detroit. Paredes noticed some big-league motion final season and initiatives because the Tigers’ opening day third baseman. Paredes has good pitch recognition and hand-eye coordination that enables him to make constant contact. It isn’t all the time arduous contact as a result of his steadiness and leverage are merely common. However, his swing path is direct, and as soon as he good points some expertise towards big-league pitching he has the bat velocity to drive the ball extra if he can enhance his steadiness. Over a full season in 2021, he ought to enhance on final yr’s numbers and hit round .260 with 10 HRs and a strong OBP.
14. Taylor Trammell, OF, Seattle. Trammell has been a extremely ranked prospect for years however hasn’t but turned his potential into efficiency. This may very well be the season that he lastly turns issues round. He’s off to a sizzling begin this spring and is presently the frontrunner to be the Mariners’ opening day left fielder. I’ve watched Trammell modify his mechanics each season for the previous few years, however this spring he has higher balanced and a extra direct swing path that has allowed him to faucet into his above-average uncooked energy. He’s nonetheless a dangerous wager on condition that he has but to exhibit sustained success towards superior pitching, however his uncooked instruments give him some upside. In a finest case, he may hit .265 with 15-plus house runs and 15-plus stolen bases in 2021.
15. Jonah Heim, C, Texas. Heim will in all probability be the Rangers’ No. 2 catcher this season and will put up strong offensive numbers. The switch-hitting Heim has good plate self-discipline and makes constant contact. He doesn’t have the leverage in his swing to hit for a lot energy, however he can spray line drives from foul line to foul line. In a part-time function he may hit .270 with round eight HRs.
16. Zack McKinstry, 2B/3B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers. McKinstry is anticipated to fill the utility function vacated by Enrique Hernandez and may see common at-bats. McKinstry has common instruments however exhibits good plate self-discipline and strong contact potential. His common bat velocity signifies that he received’t hit for a lot energy, however he may put up strong numbers (.270 common, .330 OBP, round 10 HRs) if he will get 300-400 at-bats.
17. Tyler Stephenson, C, Cincinnati. Stephenson regarded good in restricted big-league motion final season (.294 with two HRs in 17 at-bats) and initiatives to be the Reds’ No. 2 catcher this yr. Stephenson has a easy load and good pitch recognition that ought to enable him to hit for common and get on base. He doesn’t use his decrease half as a lot as he may, however he’s robust sufficient to generate good bat velocity with out a number of pre-swing motion. His steadiness isn’t perfect, which signifies that he doesn’t have a lot reverse area energy, however he has above-average pull-side pop. If he will get 150-200 at-bats, he ought to hit round .265 with near eight HRs.
18. Leody Taveras, OF, Texas. Taveras bought some big-league expertise late final season (.227 common, 4 HRs in 119 at-bats) and is the entrance runner to be the Rangers’ beginning heart fielder in 2021. The switch-hitting Taveras has elite instruments however hasn’t but developed the abilities essential to succeed on the main league stage. He’s extra fluid hitting righthanded, however he’s vulnerable to chasing pitches out of the zone and his swing path is inconsistent. He’s nonetheless growing and his uncooked energy has elevated, so he may ultimately be a median big-league heart fielder, however I’d be shocked if he hits above .250 or logs greater than 10 HRs with Texas this season.
19. Pavin Smith, OF, Arizona. Smith will doubtless break camp because the staff’s beginning proper fielder, however how lengthy he sticks in that function depends upon how shortly Kole Calhoun recovers from knee surgical procedure. Smith is a sophisticated hitter who ought to produce even in restricted motion (.270 with a superb OBP). At the second, he doesn’t have the leverage in his swing to hit for energy, however he has the bat velocity and power to develop common energy as he matures.
20. Brent Rooker, OF, Minnesota. If Kirilloff falters, Rooker may win a beginning spot or a platoon function in Minnesota. Rooker doesn’t have good steadiness, so he’s extra of a timing hitter who crushes the ball when he’s on time and swings by means of it when he’s not. His energy is legit, so he may produce a handful of house runs, however he’ll wrestle to hit greater than .240.
21. Dom Nunez, C, Colorado. Nunez ought to break camp because the No. 2 catcher for the Rockies. He doesn’t have lots of offensive upside, however taking part in in Colorado will give his stats a lift. Nunez doesn’t have nice steadiness and struggles towards breaking balls, however he has the bat velocity and power to drive the ball to the pull aspect. If he will get 200-250 at bats, he may hit about .220 with near 10 HRs.
22. Jazz Chisholm, 2B, Miami. Chisholm had a lackluster debut in 2020 after initially opting out of the season (.161 common with two HRs in 56 at-bats) and is battling for the second base job this spring with Miami. He might win the job, however I’m unsure he can maintain it. Chisholm doesn’t have good steadiness or leverage in his swing, which leads to a number of weak contact. He has the uncooked instruments to be a profitable big-leaguer, however he has lots of work to do on his mechanics.
23. Ha-Seong Kim, SS/3B, San Diego. Kim was signed as a utility participant and he might get that likelihood, however I simply don’t see him beating out Jurickson Profar for taking part in time and he has regarded overmatched in early spring video games. At this level he doesn’t appear to be a big contributor on offense in 2021.
24. Akil Baddoo, OF, Detroit. Baddoo has raked this spring and should make the Tigers roster after being chosen as a Rule 5 choose this season. He’s made headlines, but when he makes the roster he’ll be a fifth outfielder…and fifth outfielders don’t play a lot.
Best Bets for Midseason Impact
1. Wander Franco, SS, Tampa Bay. He’s the perfect prospect in baseball and has performed effectively this spring. It shall be arduous for the Rays to maintain him on the farm if he will get off to a sizzling begin.
2. Jared Kelenic, OF, Seattle. After starting camp with a shot at being the Mariners’ opening day left fielder, Kelenic sustained a light leg harm that in all probability now has him ticketed for the minors at first of the season. If Trammell stays sizzling, Kelenic is probably not promoted till midseason, but when Trammell struggles or doesn’t win the job, Kelenic may very well be in Seattle in April or May.
3. Luis Campusano, C, San Diego. Campusano may make the opening day roster given Austin Nola’s harm, however the rookie is extra more likely to get further minor league seasoning earlier than returning to the bigs. He’s an elite hitter and ought to be again in San Diego by midseason.
4. Joey Bart, C, San Francisco. Posey is the starter and Bart struggled final season, however the rookie has performed effectively this spring and is too good to stay within the minors for very lengthy.
5. Brandon Marsh, OF, Los Angeles Angels. Marsh has been coping with a shoulder situation this spring and can in all probability start the season within the minors. Given the state of the Angels makeshift outfield, he in all probability received’t keep there lengthy.
6. Josh Jung, 3B, Texas. Jung impressed in big-league camp earlier than being despatched down final week. The Rangers’ third base depth is skinny, and a sizzling begin by Jung may get him a fast name again to Texas.