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Prospect Roundup

Fantasy Over Reality Prospects

by Christopher Crawford
Updated On: January 19, 2021, 3:33 pm ET

It’s that time of year again. Everyone is dropping lists -- and that includes yours truly, the Top 100 prospect list will be available for anyone who orders our Draft Guide -- and those rankings can be particularly helpful for those who are looking to acquire prospects to help them in 2021 and beyond.

That being said, these lists are often not written from a fantasy angle, and because of that, the specific rankings can be a bit misleading. For instance, a player's defensive value obviously is more important to a player's ranking without fantasy implications, while the ability to provide stolen bases gets more consideration from the other angle.

Here's a look at six prospects -- three hitters, three pitchers -- who offer more fantasy potential than their "real-life" ranking might suggest. There are certainly more prospects than this who have this sort of profile, but consider these types when deciding if and when they deserve consideration for your fantasy keeper or dynasty roster.


Austin Martin, SS, Toronto Blue Jays -- As some of you know, I’ve ranked Martin ahead of Spencer Torkelson since before the 2020 Draft. That remains true in 2021 (spoiler alert), and that’s not an insult to Torkelson; he’s one of the best hitting prospects in the game immediately. But Martin’s fantasy potential is even greater. He can hit for average, he can hit for power, and his speed suggests he’s going to steal plenty of bases in the coming seasons -- something Torkelson is not going to do. The question with Martin is where he’s going to play, but from a fantasy perspective, that really shouldn’t matter. He’s a superstar if he does end up at shortstop, but even if he’s at third base or center, the upside here competes with all but a few prospects. 

Xavier Edwards, 2B/SS,  Tampa Bay Rays -- Edwards came over to the Rays in the deal that sent Tommy Pham to San Diego, and while Tampa Bay seems to manufacture this type of prospect, Edwards is one of the best of the ilk. He makes hard contact to all parts of the field, and his speed allows him to beat out anything he doesn’t hit hard on the ground -- or at least make it a close play. That speed also gives him a chance to be among the league leaders in steals someday. The “real life” questions are legit: like Martin, there’s no definitive defensive position, and because of his frame (5’10/175) and swing path, the 21-year-old isn’t likely to hit for power. Similar to Nick Madrigal, however, Edwards has a chance to be a real strong fantasy producer because he can be elite in two categories. 

Dillon Dingler, C, Detroit Tigers -- Every year I’ve done this, I’ve profiled a catcher who can run. It should be obvious why. Dingler was a second-round pick by the Tigers, and he’s a 22-year-old catcher out of Ohio State who has a chance to hit for decent average and power. The reason his fantasy profile is so high, however, is because he’s a lock to stick at catcher, and -- more importantly -- he’s a plus runner who can provide 15-to-20 steals, assuming he doesn’t have a dramatic loss in speed. Dingler should be a quick advance, and the fact he can provide some base swipes makes him arguably the most underrated player from the 2020 class. 


Max Meyer, RHP, Miami Marlins -- Yep, it’s another member of the 2020 class. Unintentional, promise. It’s weird listing the third-overall pick in this list, but as palpable as his real-life value may be, the fantasy potential blows it out of the water. This is a pitcher that can miss bats with three pitches, and he throws them all for strikes with command that suggests he’ll be able to locate them just fine. There are some who have concerns about Meyer’s size; he’s listed at 6-foot and that might be generous. That has some believing that his future is in the bullpen, and it can’t be completely ruled out just yet. That obviously would hurt his value, but his stuff out of relief could not only make him a quality option out of the pen, it could make him a legitimate elite closer. Meyer is generally considered a top 40 prospect from those I’ve spoken with on non-fantasy related lists, but he’s a legitimate top 25 option in fantasy leagues because of his ability to miss bats without issuing walks in the fantasy spectrum. 

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Hunter Greene, RHP, Cincinnati Reds -- Greene has become a volatile prospect despite being drafted with the second-overall pick in the 2017 draft. It’s not that hard to understand why; he hasn’t had much professional success with a 4.95 ERA in 72 1/3 minor league innings, and because of Tommy John surgery and the COVID-19 pandemic, he hasn’t thrown a competitive pitch since 2018. All that being said, Greene’s fantasy potential competes with almost any pitcher in baseball. He can touch triple-digits with his fastball, he shows a plus breaking-ball when he stays on top of it, and he is an outstanding athlete who repeats his delivery exceptionally well. The wide variety of outcomes hurts Greene on lists that don’t consider fantasy implications, but he’d still be a must-get in any format he’s eligible for. 

Deivi Garcia, RHP, New York Yankees -- Everything said about Meyer is true for Garcia, just to a lesser extent. Literally and figuratively. The height concern is there -- Garcia comes in at 5-foot-9, 163-pounds and there’s a good chance he was on his tippy toes and wearing a wet t-shirt during those measurements -- but there’s also a bit of a worry about his ability to throw consistent strikes. While those criticisms are fair, this is also a pitcher that has a swing-and-miss curve, a fastball that gets loads of spin with a quality slider and usable change for good measure. Again, Garcia could end up in the bullpen because of his diminutive stature, but he’s a potential closer if he does, and he’s a potential top-of-the-rotation starter if he remains in that role. 

Christopher Crawford

Christopher Crawford is a baseball and college football writer for NBC Sports EDGE and also appears on the Circling the Bases Podcast.