WATCHLIST: Previewing 2020's studs

The WatchList offers a weekly quick-hit look at position players and pitchers with potential to impact fantasy rosters throughout the 2019 regular season, whether that be due to injury or outstanding performance. The WatchList aims to illuminate prospects who are not regularly featured in "top prospect" columns, but rather, those prospects who are on the fringe of the HQ100 or lower. Call-ups are often difficult to predict, but these are players to keep in mind if your league rules allow minor-league pickups.

*All statistics current through August 29, 2019* | 2019 WatchList Production Tracker

Hitters

Daulton Varsho (C, ARI)
MLBA19 Prospect Grade: 8C
5x5 Impact Category: AVG

Our No. 4 ARI prospect heading into 2019, Varsho finds himself on the back-end of his best pro season to date since being taken in the second round of the 2017 amateur draft, slashing .298/.376/.520 with 17 HR and 21 SB in 103 G in AA. The 23-year-old doesn't possess an elite tool and therefore won't show up on many Top 100 lists this winter, but this is a bat that could touch all categories. A .300 hitter as a pro, Varsho makes plus contact (84% ct% in 2019) from a short, simple LH stroke. His fly-ball rate has increased with each step of the minors, and he could possess 20 HR impact at the next level, and his athleticism projects to yield 10-15 SB value, as well. He has a chance to stick behind the plate with an average arm and improving blocking skills and receiving, though his main PT roadblock moving forward is Carson Kelly (C, ARI).

Brandon Marsh (OF, LAA)
MLBA19 Prospect Grade: 8C
5x5 Impact Category: SB

A second-round pick back in 2016, Marsh has withstood a few minor injuries this summer that have likely pushed back his timeline to the majors, though his on-field production in between those tweaks has been quite good (.302/.387/.434, 7 HR, 17 SB in 91 G in AA). The 21-year-old outfielder possesses a well-rounded game headlined by plus speed and athleticism, projecting to have SB impact and versatility at any OF position right away. Aside from the speed, Marsh should be a contributor in AVG given his solid ct% ability and Eye, and he has even trimmed his strikeout rate by more than five points from last season with a jump to AA. His power shows more in BP than in games right now, and his batted-ball profile is still heavily ground-ball oriented, but Marsh could develop into average HR output as he learns to elevate more consistently.

Seth Beer (1B, ARI)
MLBA19 Prospect Grade: 7C
5x5 Impact Category: HR

Acquired by Arizona in the Zack Greinke trade last month, Beer was a collegiate standout over three years with Clemson and he has proved to be a quick study at the pro level, slashing .293/.395/.525 with 26 HR and 101 RBI in 118 G split between A+/AA this season. The 22-year-old 1B/OF projects to be a slugging middle-of-the-order bat with intriguing HR impact, as his game is predicated on plus raw power and big-time fly ball contact. Beer makes fringe-average contact and an at times long swing can make him susceptible to hard inside offerings, and his value could be enhanced in OBP formats given his penchant for walks (13-17% bb% from A+ or higher). Moreover, Beer is a limited athlete with questionable arm strength and could be relegated to 1B long term. The pressure to hit will be there, but he has the tools of a HR/OBP monster.

Ibandel Isabel (1B/OF, CIN)
MLBA19 Prospect Grade: 7E
5x5 Impact Category: HR

Looking for Aristides Aquino 2.0? You might just have your guy in Isabel. In his first full taste of the upper minors in 2019, the 22-year-old bashed 26 HR and slashed .243/.307/.518 across 91 games with Double-A Chattanooga. He's currently on the 7-day IL and hasn't played since August 7, but that shouldn't allow us to look past the impact he could have on rosters in 2020. The bulk of the value in this profile projects to be HR/RBI driven. He owns plus-plus raw power that plays to all fields and, staggeringly, posted a 44% hr/f mark in AA this year that was almost double the next closest mark for AA hitters. On the flip side, Isabel projects to be a potential liability in AVG and OBP with iffy ct% and below-average walk rates, and he will be limited 1B/LF defensively. If you need some raw power, and only raw power, this is your guy.

Brett Sullivan (UTIL, TAM)
MLBA19 Prospect Grade: N/A
5x5 Impact Category: SB

Tampa's 17th-round pick back in 2015, Sullivan brings to the table an intriguing combination of positional versatility (C, OF, 3B) and multi-category impact that should garner more interest in 2020. His second consecutive season in AA has witnessed growth in several categories, owning a .276/.330/.447 slash line with 10 HR and 21 SB in 97 games, and his plate discipline and OPS have improved markedly as the season has wore on. His skills complement one another, owning above-average speed for moderate SB impact, good pitch recognition (0.72 Eye), and elite contact (87% ct% in 2019). Sullivan's strong arm behind the dish has allowed him to see intermittent time as a catcher throughout 2019, and the Rays could eventually utilize him in that role. If not, he could profile as a 3B or corner OF type with largely overlooked AVG/SB upside.

Pitchers

Dylan File (RHP, MIL)
MLBA19 Prospect Grade: N/A
Realistic ETA: Early/Mid 2020

Owner of a 19-plus inning scoreless streak in AA a few weeks back, File has been one of the most productive pitchers yet to appear in AAA this season, going 15-6 with 3.26 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and stellar 8.3 Dom/1.4 Ctl mix across nearly 150 IP between A+/AA. The 23-year-old was a late-round draft pick out of a smaller school, so the hype wasn't exactly there for him coming into the pro ranks, but he possesses some skills capable of fantasy impact in 2020. He owns above-average marks in SwK (12%) and ground ball rate (46%) at AA and shows good control of three pitches. His fastball will hum in around 90-93 mph and his put-away offering is a plus slider in the high-70s, and he replicates his arm speed well on a change-up that projects to also be average. The Brewers will look to fix their rotation early in 2020, and File could be part of the solution.

Alex Wells (LHP, BAL)
MLBA19 Prospect Grade: N/A 
Realistic ETA: Late 2020

It's no real secret that BAL pitching has been historically bad in 2019. As such, Wells, one of the club's better pitching prospects, could be in a position to grab meaningful PT next season and also impact fantasy rosters. A former undrafted free agent from Australia, Wells rounded out 2019 with an 8-4 record and 2.81 ERA and 1.05 WHIP across 22 starts with AA Bowie. The hallmark of this profile is plus-plus command, which has manifested in the form of a 1.4 Ctl and 0.8 HR/9 over nearly 500 pro innings, and a 5.0 Cmd, to boot. Relying heavily on sequencing, Wells owns a fringe fastball around 88-91 mph and complements it with a plus change-up and an average 12/6 curveball. The upside here is limited with only a 8% SwK% in AA (league average is 11%), but a clean injury history, good ratios, and consistency show #4/5 SP potential.

Kris Bubic (LHP, KC)
MLBA19 Prospect Grade: 7C
Realistic ETA: Mid/Late 2020

KC's first-round pick last summer, Bubic's first campaign in full-season ball has been impressive, as he has pitched to the tune of a 10-5 record, 2.32/0.97 ERA/WHIP mix and owns the best K-BB% (22.4%) and HR/9 (0.28) among pitchers in the A+ Carolina League (min. 95 IP). The upper minors in 2020 will be a good litmus test for what's to come for the former Stanford standout, but this profile shows some upside. Supporting the Dom is a healthy SwK of 15% across nearly 150 IP in 2019, and his command has held opponents to a sub-.600 OPS while still maintaining above-average strike rates (66%) in that span. Bubic's fastball will sit around 89-93 mph and an advanced change-up will throw hitters off balance consistently, and his average curveball gives him three pitches with which to work. This is a lefty SP to monitor closely early next year.

Ashton Goudeau (RHP, COL)
MLBA19 Prospect Grade: N/A
Realistic ETA: Mid 2020

Goudeau signed an FA contract with COL last November after a mixed bag of a 2018 campaign (5.79 ERA, 2.00 Cmd) split between SP/RP with SEA, but this season has truly turned heads toward the 27-year-old, who despite missing time due to injury has seemingly reinvented himself (2.24 ERA, 7.17 Cmd in 15 GS). Chief among several things that make Goudeau intriguing moving forward is his proclivity for missing bats (14% SwK in 2019), a solid ground-ball foundation (43-44% since 2018), plus control (1.5 Ctl), and size (6-6, 205). His fastball will sit 90-93 mph, and he will put hitters away with a plus split-change-up and an average slider. His delivery is clean, low-effort and repeatable despite his stature. Health may be a concern moving forward, along with the general stigma attached to COL pitchers, but the upside is very intriguing here.

Daulton Jefferies (RHP, OAK)
MLBA19 Prospect Grade: 8D
Realistic ETA: Mid/Late 2020

A 2016 first-round pick out of Cal-Berkeley, Jefferies's pro career has been tormented by injury (TJS in 2016) and in inability to rack up consistent innings. This year, the A's have steadily worked him back into set three-inning spurts in AA, and the results have been promising (3.66 ERA, 10.1 Dom/1.0 Ctl in 64 IP). Jefferies has potential to impact fantasy rosters as a back-end SP with exceptional command and SwK ability, owning a career 1.1 Ctl as a pro and sub-30% ball-rate in 2019, as well as a 13% SwK as a starter. He shows pinpoint control of his 92-94 mph fastball, and he will blend in a plus fading change-up. His mid-80s slider acts as a cutter at times and his curveball will also be a usable fourth pitch. Proceed with caution when considering investing in Jefferies given his injury past, but the command/bat missing ability should garner some attention.


Click here to subscribe

  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.