Welcome to Fantasy Baseball Prospect Watch! This weekly feature will list and give updates on the best minor-league prospects that are trending up, with a chance to make an impact in the MLB – and for your fantasy baseball teams – sooner rather than later.
Fantasy Baseball Prospect Watch Week 20
OF Wilyer Abreu, Boston Red Sox
Abreu has seen his stock rise to 17th on the Red Sox prospect rankings, and he is ready for his call to Boston. He is coming off a three-home run game on August 16th, which raised his home run total to 21 and his slash line to .272/.386/.531 with 61 RBI. He has made necessary adjustments to lower his K-Rate from 33% (2022) to 25% (2023) while maintaining his BB% right around 18%. While he has surprising speed, 2023 has seen his stolen base numbers drop from 31 (2022) to just six. This can be attributed to his focusing on getting more loft under the baseball and shooting the gaps for extra-base hits. Still, Abreu could be an under-the-radar prospect that pays huge dividends when called up to the Majors. While he may not carry superstar potential, he could be valuable as a fourth or fifth outfielder on fantasy rosters.
1B Abimelec Ortiz, Texas Rangers
Boom-or-bust prospects carry a lot of hype, and Rangers’ prospect Abimelec Ortiz is on the boom-or-bust radar given his pure raw power potential. This season, at 21 years old, Ortiz has already set career-best marks in home runs (27), RBIs (80), batting average (.295) and on-base percentage (.359). The power-hitting lefty will ultimately be destined for an everyday first base/DH role, and his power will be highly sought after should everything come together when he reaches the Major Leagues. One glaring issue is his strikeout total which currently sits at 32%. His swing-and-misses, as well as chases, will need to be tightened up, but this can be fixed as he learns how to manipulate pitching, especially versus righties, given he is a left-handed batter. He has 30+ home-run potential, and Abimelec Ortiz is a name to follow within the next two to three seasons.
LHP Tyson Guerrero, Kansas City Royals
Fantasy owners researching prospects will not find Guerrero’s name mentioned on Royals prospect lists, let alone any top-ranked prospect lists, but that could change after the 2023 season. Through 18 games (17 GS), Guerrero has a 3.45 ERA, a 1.08 WHIP and 121 strikeouts in 94 innings. His last start, on August 17th, saw him pitch five shutout innings, striking out eight while surrendering only two walks. His ability to hide the ball well during his delivery aids in the effectiveness of his fastball, which sits at 95 MPH. His power curve has been a plus pitch to garner swings and misses to end at-bats. Developing a complimentary third pitch will help him continue to rise through the minor league stops, and the lefty should reach AAA early into the 2024 season. Fantasy managers should consider Guerrero a back-end rotation starter with high upside.
RHP Paul Skenes, Pittsburgh Pirates
Generational arms move quickly through the minors, and it would not be shocking if the 2023 number-one overall pick reaches Pittsburgh in 2024. Since being drafted on July 9th, Skenes has featured in two innings while striking out three batters. With his fastball hovering between 97-99 and reaching 102 MPH, Skenese brings pure power to the mound, and his wipeout slider has registered numerous swings and misses. The development of his changeup will be the deciding factor in how quickly he reaches the Majors, but it has been a highly effective pitch when it is thrown in the strike zone. While the data is minuscule for his first two innings in the minor leagues, Skenes finished his 2023 season at LSU with a 1.69 ERA, a 0.75 WHIP and 209 strikeouts in 122.2 innings. In recent years, former generational pitchers Mark Prior and Stephen Strasburg only needed nine and 16 starts respectively before they were called up to the Majors. It is hard to argue that Skenes will need more than about 10 minor league starts before he arrives in Pittsburgh for the 2024 season. Skenes will be the most desired prospect pitcher in all league formats heading into next season.