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Fantasy Baseball 2020: Top Prospects to Draft for Opening Day Impact

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMarch 12, 2020

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - MARCH 10:  Luis Robert #88 of the Chicago White Sox bats against the Texas Rangers on March 10, 2020 at Camelback Ranch in Glendale Arizona. (Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images)
Ron Vesely/Getty Images

Nothing catches the eye of the fantasy baseball crowd quite like a top prospect.

He's new. He's exciting. And if you time his ascension right, he just might be the biggest reason you capture the crown this season.

But the way you value 2020's top prospects depends on your willingness to play the waiting game.

If you're practicing patience, you might prefer drafting and stashing the likes of Wander Franco or Jo Adell. But since you're a member of society in 2020, patience probably isn't your best attribute. You want instant gratification, and we're here to provide it by spotlighting the prospects ready to help your team from Opening Day.

                   

Luis Robert, OF, Chicago White Sox

The White Sox silenced all service time concerns with Luis Robert's promotion by inking him to a six-year, $50 million deal in January. Look for the South Siders to seek an early return on that investment from this power-and-speed source.

The 22-year-old could be a fantasy juggernaut. Last season, which he played predominantly in AA and AAA, he totaled 32 home runs and 36 stolen bases in only 122 games. He also posted a .328 batting average and reached base at a 37.6 percent clip.

Should fantasy owners bank on another 30/30 season? Not at all. His game needs work, especially with plate discipline. The less appealing portion of his 2019 stat sheet showed 129 strikeouts against only 28 walks.

But his ceiling can't be seen from the ground floor. His tools are tremendous. His stolen base potential alone is almost invaluable in today's market. In other words, he is worth a major investment, even if it entails some risk.

                     

Jesus Luzardo, SP, Oakland Athletics

There's no such thing as a can't-miss pitching prospect, but Jesus Luzardo is closer to that label than most.

The 22-year-old already enjoyed a cup of coffee at the major-league level, punching out 16 batters while allowing just five hits, three walks and two runs in 12 innings last season. Granted, he lost a lot of that campaign to injury, but if you're searching for stains on his resume, that might be the only one.

"Whatever flaws Luzardo has I'm not seeing," CBS Sports' Scott White wrote. "Three-plus pitches. Excellent command. His durability may be in question after he surrendered most of 2019 to injury, but he debuted strong and already has a rotation spot to lose."

Luzardo might be Oakland's ace, even if the franchise doesn't designate him as such. He will be a critical component of this rotation, and he can already help your fantasy team with strong ratios and a ton of Ks.

                

Dylan Carlson, OF, St. Louis Cardinals

Consider this an optimistic recommendation.

Dylan Carlson's Opening Day outlook isn't as certain as Robert's and Luzardo's, but it should be. The 21-year-old Carlson has posted a .323 batting average (.432 on-base percentage) with four extra-base hits in 11 games. He also has more walks (six) than strikeouts (five).

The problem is the Cardinals might be content to start out their more expensive veterans early and then bring up Carlson when they are comfortable starting his service clock.

"What Dylan's done up to this point has been amazing," Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak said, per KMOX's Tom Ackerman. "The key will be what others do as well."

The Cardinals have other options at outfield—including Lane Thomas, Tyler O'Neill, Harrison Bader and Dexter Fowler—but none approach Carlson's ceiling. He seems ready to start his realizing his potential. Last season, he clubbed 26 homers, swiped 20 bags and posted a .372 on-base percentage across 126 games at the AA and AAA levels.

If St. Louis does its part and clears the runway, Carlson is ready to take flight.

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