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Fantasy Baseball Prospects Report: The 12 hitters who have improved their stock the most



Two weeks ago, I wrote about the 10 pitching prospects who have improved their stock the most, promising to do the same for hitters as soon as I got a chance.

Well, that day has arrived. My top five prospects to stash in redraft leagues — James Wood, Noelvi Marte, Christian Scott, Jasson Dominguez, and Jackson Holliday — would be exactly the same as a week ago, so I’ll once again depart from my usual Five on the Verge, Five on the Periphery format to highlight some prospects who I otherwise wouldn’t get the chance to.

And I’ll do two better this time, identifying not just 10 but 12 hitters who have made themselves into worthwhile Dynasty targets in the past two months.

All things being equal, Joey Loperfido would be among them, but the wind is out of the sails a bit after he thudded in his first stint-and-a-half with the big club. It’s still impressive how much he’s improved his exit velocities this year, giving him the look of the middle-of-the-order bat rather than a super utility guy, but the strikeout rate presents a significant hurdle to him meeting that potential.

Besides, I figured you’d prefer to hear about other players. A little Loperfido goes a long way.

Note: These players are listed alphabetically and not by order of priority.

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Kristian Campbell, 2B, Red Sox

2023 minors: .309 BA (68 AB), 1 HR, 4 2B, .911 OPS, 10 BB, 18 K
2024 minors: .330 BA (179 AB), 8 HR, 18 2B, 1.010 OPS, 30 BB, 50 K

Campbell was only drafted in the fourth round last year, having served as more of a table setter at Georgia Tech, but the Red Sox have tweaked his swing to unlock more power. He whips the bat through the zone to generate exit velocities as high as 113 mph to his pull side, but he still has the approach of a leadoff guy, working the count and taking his walks. He’s no standout defensively, which puts pressure on his bat, but it’s continued to shine following his move up to Double-A, where he’s batting .438 (14 for 32) in eight games.

2023 minors: .263 BA (357 AB), 14 HR, 19 2B, .814 OPS, 60 BB, 113 K
2024 minors: .333 BA (237 AB), 11 HR, 26 2B, 1.001 OPS, 21 BB, 47 K

Del Castillo’s offensive gains this year aren’t just a product of him playing at hitter-friendly Triple-A Reno. He’s boosted his average exit velocity to 91.4 mph and his max to 110.4 mph, which are readings akin to Josh Naylor and J.D. Martinez among major leaguers. He’s also cut down on his strikeout rate, from 27 percent last year to 18 percent this year. At this point, the main thing holding the 24-year-old back is his defense, but the bat shows such promise that he can afford to move out from behind the plate if necessary.

2023 minors: .254 BA (452 AB), 20 HR, .728 OPS, 25 BB, 125 K
2024 minors: .358 BA (226 AB), 18 HR, 1.081 OPS, 18 BB, 53 K

There’s a degree of fakeout in De Los Santos’ stat line given how hitter-friendly the Diamondbacks’ Double- and Triple-A affiliates are, but there’s no faking his 92.4 mph average exit velocity nor his 112.8 mph max exit velocity in his 20 games at the highest of those levels. The man can mash. With readings like those, he’ll be able to navigate a much higher strikeout rate than the 21.5 percent mark he’s put together so far, and he’ll eventually need to, judging by his exorbitant chase rates. Then again, look how far he’s already come while still shy of his 21st birthday.

2023 minors: .263 BA (278 AB), 4 HR, 6 SB, .730 OPS, 34 BB, 49 K
2024 minors: .329 BA (207 AB), 7 HR, 12 SB, 905 OPS, 15 BB, 36 K

If the Guardians were ever to succeed in developing another Jose Ramirez, he’d start out looking like Genao does now. Listed at 5-foot-9 and batting from both sides of the plate, just like Ramirez, the 20-year-old has been hit-over-power to this point, making mature swing decisions and spraying the ball to all fields. But the power has begun to tick up this year, and there’s speed to go along with it.

C.J. Kayfus, 1B, Guardians

2023 minors: .271 BA (59 AB), 4 HR, 5 SB, .971 OPS, 15 BB, 12 K
2024 minors: .354 BA (178 AB), 8 HR, 4 SB, 1.061 OPS, 29 BB, 42 K

The Guadians’ approach to hitting seems to be to find guys with good strike-zone judgment and bat-to-ball skills and then figure out the power later. Kayfus, their third-round pick last year, certainly fits the mold. He’s been a line-drive machine in his first full professional season, actually taking it to another level with an 11-for-24 (.458) performance following his move up to Double-A. There’s already hope for more power than advertised given how well he’s pulling the ball, and the Guardians’ willingness to try him in left field takes some pressure off the bat.

Luke Keaschall, 2B, Twins

2023 minors: .288 BA (111 AB), 3 HR, 11 SB, .891 OPS, 19 BB, 25 K
2024 minors: .327 BA (214 AB), 7 HR, 16 SB, .952 OPS, 39 BB, 40 K

Keaschall was already known in prospect circles given that he was the Twins’ second-round pick last year, but he’s elevated himself to a top-100 guy in his first full professional season. What stands out most is the plate discipline, his strikeout and walk rates both coming in at about 15 percent, but his instincts are a close second, allowing him to get the absolute most out of his power and speed. He won’t be a big exit velocity guy, but his fly-ball and pull tendencies should work in tandem to deliver respectable home run totals, as has been true between High-A and Double-A this year.

2023 minors: .303 BA (241 AB), 13 HR, 1.000 OPS, 54 BB, 76 K
2024 minors: .327 BA (220 AB), 13 HR, .989 OPS, 38 BB, 47 K

Chances are you’ve heard of Montes already and view him in a favorable light, but most preseason rank lists couldn’t bring themselves to put him in the top 100, citing concerns over his strikeout rate or some such. Well, here he is striking out only 17 percent of the time at Low-A Modesto. Even just the improvement to 25 percent last year was enough for me to rank him 55th at the start of this year, and now the major prospect publications are catching up. He’s still a ways off at age 19, but between his size, swing, and exit velocity readings, he has the look of another Yordan Alvarez.

2023 minors: .271 BA (424 AB), 18 HR, 12 SB, .819 OPS, 61 BB, 85 K
2024 minors: .286 BA (206 AB), 15 HR, 12 SB, .942 OPS, 28 BB, 39 K

What Ramirez did last year was easy enough to overlook given that he was a 21-year-old in A-ball, but this year, he has established as one of the premier power bats at Double-A, combining premium exit velocities with impressive plate discipline. He probably won’t be able to hack it behind the plate much longer, which is another reason why he may have been overlooked coming into the year, but by now, it’s clear the bat is potent enough to profile anywhere.

2023 minors: .286 BA (497 AB), 29 HR, .897 OPS, 59 BB, 163 K
2024 minors: .307 BA (192 AB), 11 HR, .935 OPS, 32 BB, 53 K
2024 majors: 3 for 23, 1 2B, 5 BB, 9 K

Nobody in the Guardians system hits the ball harder than Rodriguez, but the knock on him coming into the year was that he chased too much to get the most out of it. He’s made major strides with regard to working the count, though, seeing his walk rate skyrocket, and while his first taste of the majors in May turned out to be short-lived, he’s returned to the minors to hit .444 (16 for 36) with four home runs in eight games. The Guardians lineup is much improved, but one thing they still lack is a veritable right-handed masher. Rodriguez could be that for them.

2023 minors: .293 BA (443 AB), 0 HR, 94 SB, .718 OPS, 54 BB, 44 K
2024 minors: .368 BA (209 AB), 1 HR, 47 SB, .828 OPS, 18 BB, 21 K

Every couple of years, some prospect comes along who’s supposed to be the league’s reintroduction to the slap-hitting speedster, but what makes Simpson different from Vidal Brujan and Victor Scott is that he understands the assignment. He’s Willie Mays Hayes from the original Major League, not the divisive sequel, by which I mean he could not be less interested in hitting for power. He sells out for contact, striking out just 9 percent of the time between his two stops this year, and very little of that contact (somewhere around 25 percent) meets FanGraphs’ description of a fly ball. You can see what it’s done for his batting average. The best comp might actually be Juan Pierre, and while it’s still unclear if the modern game allows for such a player, Simpson presents the ultimate test case.

2023 minors: .209 BA (172 AB), 2 HR, 22 SB, .611 OPS, 23 BB, 43 K
2024 minors: .326 BA (95 AB), 5 HR, 9 SB, .986 OPS, 13 BB, 28 K

Veen was previously regarded as a top prospect, but after he hit .196 in his first 80 games at Double-A (spanning two seasons), most every prominent prospect ranker (myself excluded) dropped him out of the top 100. Sure, he was playing through a wrist injury all that time, but it was roundly dismissed as an all-too-convenient excuse. Well, he finally had surgery to address the matter, and sure enough, he looks like a stud again. Past comps for him ranged from Kyle Tucker to Cody Bellinger, and while those may be too lofty at this stage of the game (Joshua Lowe, perhaps?), it’s clear that Veen is a Dynasty asset again. 

(Note that Veen hasn’t played since May 18 because of a back strain, but he’s expected to return soon.)

2023 minors: .333 BA (99 AB), 1 HR, 4 SB, .866 OPS, 6 BB, 11 K
2024 minors: .438 BA (112 AB), 3 HR, 2 SB, 1.110 OPS, 3 BB, 12 K

While it’s true that Wilson was the sixth overall pick in last year’s draft, the Athletics reached for him a bit there. He did crack some preseason top-100 lists, but more for the real-world impact of being a high-floor bat at a premium position. He didn’t profile for power and wasn’t much of a speedster, so what good could he be for Fantasy? Well, all he’s done since then is out-hit every other minor-leaguer by 60 points even while climbing to Triple-A in his first full professional season. The Luis Arraez profile is a tough one to replicate, but Wilson has a special hit tool that’s deserving of our attention.

(Note that Wilson hasn’t played since May 15 because of a knee injury, but it’s considered minor.)





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