2020 Top 101 Prospects for OPS Leagues (Early) by Trey Baughn November 29, 2019 Prospect season is around the corner, and while various rankings, reports, and even trades will continue to influence the ebb and flow of prospect opinions, it’s helpful to lay the groundwork for establishing this year’s fantasy prospect values as early as possible. The list below represents a very early look at the top 101 prospects in the game for fantasy leagues tailored specifically towards sabermetric scoring (where OPS, FIP, and wOBA are better indicators than AVG, ERA, and SB). For example, this list could be a resource for evaluating the value of prospects in Ottoneu points leagues (a separate post will follow ranking the top 101 prospects for traditional rotisserie leagues). Years ago I introduced the Scorecard system, my custom prospect ranking process, and I’ve continued to use this method for scoring and ranking this crop of 2020 prospects. In ranking these prospects I take into account the following factors: Scouting “Scouting” is everything that goes into evaluating the true talent of an MLB prospect. Age, ability, stats, rankings, “makeup”, and scouting reports all play a role here. It’s the input of information that causes you to ask about the player’s ceiling, their floor, and what might be realistic in between. What are the risks, and how serious are they? Is this prospect regarded more for their defensive talents than offensive? What MLB players might they compare to? What is their future value expectation and how likely are they to reach it? Royce Lewis scouts like a dream player (and #1 draft selection), but scouting alone hasn’t yet materialized into an elite on-field player, so there are other elements to consider when ranking him among the other top prospects in the game in this context. Scoring “Scoring” is honestly assessing whether the prospect’s skills and talents effectively translate to the specific scoring format of your fantasy league. It seems obvious, but I continually see fantasy owners fail to make this connection in the way they draft and value their prospects each season. While Drew Waters might be an exciting buy in a 5 x 5 auction, his value needs to be reassessed in the context of OPS leagues, for example. In order to be more successful in building our dynasty rosters, we need to always project value within the context of our specific league, which is what this rating is designed to consider. Impact “Impact” is more than just estimating a reasonable MLB ETA for your prospect. While isolating a realistic debut is helpful, it is far more important to give some thought as to when your prospect may actually contribute (in a significant way) to your team within the context of your fantasy format. Is it realistic to expect this prospect to need a significant MLB adjustment period? Will they play full time? Do you expect this prospect to be an above-replacement level contributor during the season in which your roster is built to compete? If not, you might be better served trading them away for MLB players that are already near peak performance. “Will this prospect truly improve my team when I need them most?” That’s what we’re getting at when rating “impact”, and players with a skill set that should allow them to succeed or adapt to MLB more quickly get a boost here. Due to his recent college success, Andrew Vaughn is a player that gets a slight bump in the impact category this year. Due to his recent long-term contract, Evan White also receives a bump, since it’s expected he will get a longer leash to make adjustments that many other prospects during their debut. Hype “Hype” is a measure of perceived prospect value within the industry (usually in the form of rankings or press) and especially within your own league. It has to do with the trend of a prospect’s value over time. Is it growing, like Julio Rodriguez, or is it waning after injury or a “disappointing” debut like Mitch Keller? The careers of these young players could go in any direction at this point, but perceived value is just as important as real fantasy contribution value. “Hype” is an attempt to measure the demand for this prospect within your league, which usually takes the form of constant trade interest, particularly in dynasty leagues. Being part of a large, live online baseball community like Ottoneu (where we have a dedicated Slack channel just to talk prospects, for example) gives me the advantage of “reading the crowd” more than most leagues. Brendan Rodgers is an example of another prospect the crowds seem to be backing away from this year, at least in terms of fantasy expectations. Cost “Cost” is the price at which a player is owned, both in the present and the future, and it can never be overlooked. Cost is always a variable in fantasy prospect valuation. Always. In keeper leagues, cost is usually a function of the draft round required to keep a player, or in auction leagues like Ottoneu, the salary at which you own the player for future seasons given a salary budget. Again, perception is reality within your league, as there may be a substantially different reaction (demand) to an $8 Adley Rutschman compared to a $3 Adley Rutschman. For these specific rankings below, I’ve assumed cost is neutral across all prospects, but would encourage you to always consider cost when calculating your own values. Again, these rankings below are early, and they are specific to fantasy leagues that lean towards sabermetric scoring systems. Fantasy prospect rankings are fluid, so some of these rankings will shift over the next few months as more information and analysis becomes available. Special thanks to the FanGraphs prospect team for all their hard work producing exceptional prospect content, including The Board, which now makes some of this research a lot easier. 2020 Top 101 Prospects (OPS) Rank Player Team POS Age FV 1 Jesus Luzardo OAK LHP 22.1 55 2 Wander Franco TBR SS 18.7 70 3 Gavin Lux LAD 2B 21.9 60 4 Jo Adell LAA RF 20.6 65 5 Luis Robert CHW CF 22.2 55 6 Michael Kopech CHW RHP 23.5 55 7 Julio Rodriguez SEA RF 18.8 50 8 MacKenzie Gore SDP LHP 20.7 60 9 Carter Kieboom WSN SS 22.2 60 10 Andrew Vaughn CHW 1B 21.6 50 11 A.J. Puk OAK LHP 24.5 55 12 Matt Manning DET RHP 21.8 55 13 Casey Mize DET RHP 22.5 60 14 Forrest Whitley HOU RHP 22.1 60 15 Dylan Carlson STL LF 21.0 50 16 Nate Pearson TOR RHP 23.2 55 17 Alec Bohm PHI 3B 23.2 50 18 Alex Kirilloff MIN RF 22.0 50 19 Dustin May LAD RHP 22.2 60 20 Adley Rutschman BAL C 21.7 60 21 Marco Luciano SFG SS 18.1 55 22 Kristian Robinson ARI CF 18.9 55 23 Jarred Kelenic SEA CF 20.3 55 24 Sean Murphy OAK C 25.1 55 25 Cristian Pache ATL CF 21.0 60 26 Royce Lewis MIN SS 20.4 65 27 Jordan Groshans TOR 3B 20.0 50 28 Ian Anderson ATL RHP 21.5 55 29 Brusdar Graterol MIN RHP 21.2 50 30 Luis Patino SDP RHP 20.0 55 31 Bobby Witt Jr. KCR SS 19.4 55 32 Spencer Howard PHI RHP 23.3 50 33 JJ Bleday MIA RF 22.0 50 34 Tarik Skubal DET LHP 22.9 45 35 Riley Greene DET RF 19.1 50 36 Brendan McKay TBR LHP 23.9 60 37 Brendan Rodgers COL SS 23.2 55 38 James Karinchak CLE RHP 24.1 40 39 Nolan Gorman STL 3B 19.5 55 40 Hunter Greene CIN RHP 20.2 50 41 Isaac Paredes DET 3B 20.7 50 42 Trevor Larnach MIN RF 22.7 50 43 Nick Solak TEX 2B 24.8 50 44 Evan White SEA 1B 23.5 50 45 Logan Gilbert SEA RHP 22.5 50 46 CJ Abrams SDP CF 19.1 50 47 Sixto Sanchez MIA RHP 21.3 55 48 Josiah Gray LAD RHP 21.9 50 49 Drew Waters ATL CF 20.8 55 50 Seth Beer ARI 1B 23.1 45 51 Alek Thomas ARI CF 19.5 50 52 Daulton Varsho ARI C 23.3 50 53 Vidal Brujan TBR 2B 21.7 55 54 Jonathan India CIN 3B 22.9 50 55 Taylor Trammell SDP LF 22.1 55 56 Corbin Carroll ARI CF 18.8 50 57 Heliot Ramos SFG RF 20.2 50 58 Oneil Cruz PIT CF 21.1 55 59 Jordyn Adams LAA CF 20.0 45 60 Jazz Chisholm MIA SS 21.8 55 61 Joey Bart SFG C 22.9 55 62 Deivi Garcia NYY RHP 20.5 50 63 Jasson Dominguez NYY CF 16.4 50 64 Jeter Downs LAD 2B 21.3 50 65 Nolan Jones CLE 3B 21.5 50 66 Ke’Bryan Hayes PIT 3B 22.8 60 67 Brennen Davis CHC CF 20.0 45 68 Daniel Lynch KCR LHP 23.0 45 69 Brady Singer KCR RHP 23.2 45 70 Nico Hoerner CHC 2B 22.5 50 71 Nick Madrigal CHW 2B 22.6 55 72 Yusniel Diaz BAL RF 23.1 50 73 Triston Casas BOS 1B 19.8 50 74 Jordan Balazovic MIN RHP 21.1 45 75 Keibert Ruiz LAD C 21.3 60 76 George Valera CLE CF 19.0 50 77 Kyle Wright ATL RHP 24.1 50 78 Mitch Keller PIT RHP 23.6 50 79 Justin Dunn SEA RHP 24.1 50 80 Jackson Kowar KCR RHP 23.1 45 81 Ronny Mauricio NYM SS 18.6 55 82 George Kirby SEA RHP 21.7 45 83 Travis Swaggerty PIT CF 22.2 50 84 Edward Cabrera MIA RHP 21.6 50 85 Tony Santillan CIN RHP 22.5 50 86 Kyle Isbel KCR RF 22.7 45 87 Corbin Martin ARI RHP 23.8 50 88 DL Hall BAL LHP 21.1 50 89 Geraldo Perdomo ARI SS 20.0 50 90 Liover Peguero ARI SS 18.8 45 91 Luis Campusano SDP C 21.1 50 92 Jose Garcia CIN SS 21.6 45 93 Jhoan Duran MIN RHP 21.8 50 94 Tyler Freeman CLE SS 20.4 45 95 J.B. Bukauskas ARI RHP 23.1 50 96 Jesus Sanchez MIA RF 22.1 50 97 Matthew Liberatore TBR LHP 20.0 50 98 Shane Baz TBR RHP 20.4 50 99 Grayson Rodriguez BAL RHP 20.0 50 100 Nick Lodolo CIN LHP 21.7 50 101 Brandon Marsh LAA CF 21.9 50 An early ranking of the top 101 fantasy prospects for 2020 in OBP/OPS leagues. If you have questions about specific prospects, feel free to discuss in the comments.