We’re down to a few weeks left in the MLB season. Prospects keep getting called up to the majors day after day. Some, like Jasson Dominguez will be future superstars but others like Kyren Paris and Nolan Schanuel will be solid MLB players. So while it’s easy to get swept up in all of the new players making their MLB debuts each week, we have to sometimes let players go by. Don’t worry, we’ll talk about the recent call-up by the Arizona Diamondbacks of Jordan Lawlar, Evan Carter with the Texas Rangers, and Heston Kjerstad with the Baltimore Orioles. Mainly though, we’ll be talking about my favorite under-the-radar prospects by position to give you a head start on getting them in your keeper and dynasty fantasy baseball leagues.
Recent Call-ups and Prospect News
Last week, needing a boost for their NL Wild Card chances, Arizona promoted Jordan Lawlar to the majors. Their top prospect, and a top-10 overall prospect, has all of the tools you’d expect of a prospect of his ilk. Lawlar has five above-average to plus tools at the shortstop position but the one that’s really shown up so far is the speed. Lawlar posted 76 thefts in 207 games in the minors with his 36 homers and a .291 average. He’s yet to give that boost to the MLB lineup they’d hoped (hitting .118 with just two singles in six games), however, the value here is looking at 2024. He should be the starting shortstop going into next year with Geraldo Perdomo being shifted to third base or the outfield in all likelihood.
Evan Carter — OF Texas Rangers
With the injury to Adolis Garcia, the Rangers called up their top prospect in Evan Carter. The lefty-hitting outfielder has an interesting mix of traits that see him with plus-Hit and plus-Speed tools along with above-average defense and an average Power skill. Over 108 games at three levels, mainly Double- and Triple-A, Carter was slashing .288/.413/.450 with 13 HR, 79 R, 67 RBI, and 26 SB. He’s looked good over five games so far in MLB with a .300 average and a homer while walking nearly as much as striking out. It’s that advanced plate approach that will help his numbers play up as well, especially in OBP leagues. Carter should really be a threat next year for a good chunk of playing time as the Rangers still have an unsettled outfield situation.
The 17th overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft is being called up to start against the Pittsburgh Pirates. It’s been an up and down minor league experience for Rutledge since being drafted. Part of that was to be expected, some wasn’t. The 6’8” right-hander came in with an electric high-90s fastball and needing to work on the secondary pitches. To a degree that’s still the case. He’s added a two-seamer to help keep the fastball from being as straight and increasing his ground ball rate. The slider and changeup and curveball have also improved but are still nothing better than MLB-average. For a guy with as much length in his delivery as he has, he gets hit a bit too much and doesn’t strike as many out as you’d hope. In the upper minors in 2023 he did post more than a K/IP with a respectable 3.71 ERA. Expect him to get knocked around in MLB the rest of this year before making a push for the Nationals’ rotation in spring training.
Heston Kjerstad — 1B/OF Baltimore Orioles
Yet another young, highly-touted, bat is up for Baltimore. He’s a top-25 prospect in all of baseball and is just as good with a bat in his hand as any of their young phenoms we’ve seen this year. Kjerstad does offer some intriguing position eligibility with the first base ability thrown in, and by the way is a solid defender there too. The second overall pick in the 2020 draft who lost the 2020 minor league season due to Covid and the 2021 season due to injury, has been lighting it up since. In his 187 MiLB games, he slashed .305/.382/.504 with 26 HR, 132 R, 92 RBI, and six SB with 46 doubles and 10 triples. He’s if definitely more of a Hit and Power guy than Speed as that grades out at below-average. Given his position eligibility a lack of steals isn’t harming his overall profile. He should be a starter for them next year making for an incredibly deep Orioles’ lineup and one that will be popular for fantasy baseball managers to mine.
Hitting And Pitching Prospect Sleepers
Jefferson Quero — Milwaukee Brewers
We’ve been dabbling in the Brewers’ farm system most of this year between their outfielders like Sal Frelick and Jackson Chourio and last week with Tyler Black. Now it’s Quero’s time for a spotlight. He was signed as a defensive catcher with offensive upside but now that upside is starting to be realized. At Double-A Biloxi this year, he’s slashing .264/.342/.445 in 87 games with 16 homers, 48 RBI, 47 R, and five SB. That’s all while throwing out 30.6-percent of would be base stealers in 2021. The defense will keep him on the field and the offense has a chance to shine as the still-just-20-year-old Quero develops.
I’m not sure how a guy capable of hitting 30 plus homers a year with a home park of Coors doesn’t get talked about, but here we are. Goodman doesn’t have a great Hit tool, that’s for sure. It’s at best below-average, or a 45-grade on the 20-80, but the Power tool is real. Over his 262 games in the minors, Goodman had 72 homers including back-to-back campaigns with 34 or more homers. He’s so under-the-radar no one even realized he was called up and has 14 games in the majors already with a .295/.333/.523 slash line with seven XBH and 13 RBI. There is swing-and-miss in his approach but when he makes contact it goes far quite often. Hard to look at a first baseman with plus power.
Joey Loperfido — Houston Astros
It’s not just the Tampa Bay Rays that like guys who play a lot of positions, Houston has those guys too. Loperfido is one. He was mainly a second baseman in college at Duke but has since been shifted between first, second, and the outfield in the Houston system. Sitting just inside my top-150, Loperfido has a nice compliment of tools between his above-average Speed, average Hit and Power, and average fielding profile. To put that into stats, since being drafted in the seventh round of the 2021 MLB Draft Loperfido has slashed .284/.382/.486 with 37 home runs, 153 runs, 145 RBI, and 58 steals in 241 games. His plate approach is solid too with a nice K-rate and BB-rate. The 24-year-old could be a sneaky offensive piece for the Astros next year much in the same way that Jeremy Pena was in his rookie year.
Shortstop is a loaded position in terms of prospects. For some reason though, despite being a top-40 prospect, Montgomery doesn’t get talked about a lot. Perhaps it’s because he’s in the White Sox farm system which tends to get dismissed too quickly. In his favor are plus Hit and Power traits to go with high-quality defense and decent speed. Sure, the stats don’t jump off the page but a .284/.457/.483 in 61 games in the upper minors this year is more than solid. The 21-year-old has had a bit of a tougher time getting to his power in games, 19 homers in 183 games, but it’s there once he gets more consistent launch angle. There’s also his approach which makes him very valuable in OBP leagues, just note the .457 OBP from above. Montgomery has tallied 121 free passes in those 183 games. He’s likely slated for a mid-2024 call-up for Chicago at his point but is an under-the-radar add for those in OBP leagues.
Justin-Henry Malloy — Detroit Tigers
Playing a full year at Triple-A in 2023 has been great for Malloy’s development, yet it’s still not getting him more widely noticed. Over 128 games at Triple-A Toledo, the righty is slashing .283/.423/.488 with 23 HR, 88 R, 82 RBI, five steals, and 24 doubles. Received from Atlanta in the Joe Jimenez trade, Malloy has been tried at third base and outfield in Detroit but the Tigers would prefer him to stick at third. There’s no clear answer at the hot corner for the Tigers right now which makes Malloy’s path easier too. The tools don’t jump off the page but an above-average Hit and Power tool give him enough offensive upside to be of help fantasy-wise at third base.
It used to be that power-speed prospects in Colorado where well talked about, what happened? Beck, the 38th overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft, has 55-grade Power and Speed tools with a tad below-average Hit tool. That used to be enough to get talked about. So would a 25-20 season split between High-A and Double-A. That’s exactly what Beck has done in 2023. The 22-year-old outfielder has been working on his approach at the plate but the Hit tool is still the biggest question of the package. The good news is that Coors Field can make up for that and it’s not like the above-average power and speed will go wanting at Coors either. Given the work on refining his approach, it might take him a tad longer to make it to Colorado but he’ll be a 25-25 threat when he gets there
The newest bumper crop of Padres’ prospects is coming and Snelling is a part of that. Taken in the Competitive Balance Round A in the 2022 MLB Draft, the lefty, a former linebacker, has the size to be a potential frontline starter. The trick will be whether his change-up develops into an above-average pitch or not. The fastball and slider are plus pitches already, so really the only thing left is to keep working on his off speed offering. Well, that and building up his innings load. Snelling has started 22 games for San Antonio over 103.2 innings while posting a 1.82 ERA and 118:34 K:BB ratio. It’s clear, since dating back to high school, that he is a capable strikeout pitcher but if he can’t get a better changeup, that limits the upside a tad.
We’ve all known the Cardinals to be quite good at developing talent and Hjerpe is yet another arm who should be getting more chatter than he is. While he was just drafted in 2022, in the first round, his left-handed four-pitch mix has been putting in work already at High-A Peoria. Over eight starts and 41 innings for the southpaw, he’s posted a 3.51 ERA, 51:25 K:BB ratio, and 1.24 WHIP. The velocity isn’t elite, but the deception in the delivery helps it play up across the board between fastballs and off-speed. We don’t expect to see elite velocity from southpaws but a low-90s fastball, upper-70s slider, and curveball, and low-80s change show that. If the deception in the delivery or tunneling of the breaking pitches doesn’t play as well, he’s more likely to get hit. That makes him more of a mid-rotation starter than a frontline option.
Anthony Solometto — LHP Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates have a history of being able to develop prep school arms. Solometto is the next in that line. Possessing an above-average three-pitch mix of a low-90s fastball, mid-80s slider, and low-80s changeup, the lefty is starting to make noise. The spin rates on the fastball and slider are impressive and make the ball dance more than expected. The changeup is still coming along given that he didn’t use it much in high school. Between 24 starts at High-A and Double-A Altoona in 2023, Solometto has a 3.26 ERA over 110.1 IP with a 1.19 WHIP and a 118:39 K:BB ratio. His control is getting better the more seasoning he gets on the bump in the minors. While he’s not a frontline starter, he is an innings-eating, strikeout threat in the middle of the forthcoming Pirates’ rotation.
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