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Fantasy Baseball Prospect Watch: A Star Is Coming To Chicago

Kyle gives an update on four prospects who could be fantasy baseball starters sooner rather than later.

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - OCTOBER 01: Pete Crow-Armstrong #52 of the Chicago Cubs up to bat during the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at American Family Field on October 01, 2023 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

Welcome to Fantasy Baseball Prospect Watch! This weekly feature will list and give updates on the best minor-league prospects who 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

OF Pete Crow-Armstrong, Chicago Cubs

The 16th overall prospect received a September call-up a season ago, appearing in 13 games. His call-up came after finishing his best minor league season, in which he slashed .283/.365/.511 with 20 home runs, 82 RBIs, and 37 stolen bases. The Cubs’ top prospect set career-best marks across the board, and he should find himself in Chicago by the All-Star break. A sore elbow caused him to miss a few games early into this season, but through 13 games the left-handed hitter has one home run and five stolen bases. Once Crow-Armstrong arrives in Chicago, he will be immediately worth adding in Redraft leagues. His quick, left-handed swing sees him use the entire field, which is directly correlated to his career minor league average just shy of .300. Prior to last season, the Cubs worked with their top prospect to pull more balls while increasing his power numbers. He is still known more for hit than power, but the changes allowed the outfielder to reach 20 home runs for the first time in his career. His call-up may be a few months out, but Crow-Armstrong has the makings of a perennial All-Star and giving the Cubs a much-needed top-of-the-order batter.

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SS Marcelo Mayer, Boston Red Sox

Nearly three seasons removed from being the fourth overall pick, Mayer has moved quickly through the minors and should arrive in Boston this season. Despite battling through a shoulder injury during much of last season, Mayer equaled his career-best mark with 13 home runs while setting a career high with 54 RBIs. He is starting this season at AA Portland, and he has gotten off to a quick start, slashing .357/.387/.500 with one home run and five RBIs in seven games. The young shortstop possesses average speed at best, but his high IQ on the basepaths should allow him to reach double-digit steals at the Major League level. Mayer will be sought after by fantasy baseball players looking for a power-hitting shortstop from the left-hand side of the batter’s box.

LHP Robby Snelling, San Diego Padres

2023 was Snelling’s first season in the minor leagues after the Padres used a first-round pick to draft the left-handed pitcher in the 2022 draft. His first minor league season was a success as he moved through three levels, finishing with a 1.82 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP, and 118 strikeouts in 103.2 innings. The lefty’s fastball sits in the mid-90s, but his curveball and changeup have separated him from other pitchers in the Padres minor league system. Projected as a middle-rotation starter, with upside, Snelling has made two starts for AA San Antonio, recording a 2.00 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP, and 10 strikeouts in nine innings. Should Snelling continue to see success with his advanced off-speed pitches, he should be a late-season callup in 2024 with a slight chance of reaching the Majors just after the All-Star Break.

RHP Rhett Lowder, Cincinnati Reds

The seventh overall pick and second pitcher in the 2023 Draft, Lowder could move through the minors at blazing speed and feature for the Reds during this season. With a mid-to-high 90s fastball and the best changeup in last year’s draft class, Lowder finished the 2023 season at Wake Forest by racking up 143 strikeouts in 120.1 innings. He did not pitch in any minor league games following the draft, but he has quickly found success in his two 2024 starts for A+ Dayton, posting a 1.00 ERA, a 0.88 WHIP, and 10 strikeouts in nine innings. The Reds have seen several starters endure injuries in recent years, and if they are serious contenders by mid-season and Lowder is showing no signs of a learning curve, the young righty could give Cincinnati a final push to finish atop the division or in a Wild Card spot. Once he arrives in the Majors, Lowder will be a player fantasy managers are willing to spend a high share of their FAAB budget on. His early command and stability and his off-speed pitches will set him up for immediate success at the Major League level.

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