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Fantasy Baseball 2020: Full 1st-Round Mock Draft and Best Prospects to Target

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMay 1, 2020

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - MARCH 08:  Luis Robert #88 of the Chicago White Sox bats against the Kansas City Royals on March 8, 2020 at Camelback Ranch in Glendale Arizona.  (Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images)
Ron Vesely/Getty Images

It's more common than ever for prospects to make significant impacts in Major League Baseball.

Teams still manipulate service time to their benefit, but they have also gotten more willing to bring up their best young players in an attempt to help them make a push for the postseason. That benefits fantasy players who keep a close eye on the minor league scene and know what to expect from these young studs.

As the wait for the 2020 MLB regular season continues, here's a first-round mock draft for a standard 12-team league and a look at the best prospects to bet on having big impacts when games begin.

                          

2020 Fantasy Mock Draft

1. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels

2. Ronald Acuna Jr., OF, Atlanta Braves

3. Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

4. Mookie Betts, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

5. Christian Yelich, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

6. Alex Bregman, 3B, Houston Astros

7. Juan Soto, OF, Washington Nationals

8. Gerrit Cole, SP, New York Yankees

9. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies

10. Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians

11. Jacob deGrom, SP, New York Mets

12. Trea Turner, SS, Washington Nationals

                 

Luis Robert, OF, Chicago White Sox

One reason that Luis Robert should be the first prospect taken in every fantasy draft is guaranteed playing time.

Even though the Chicago White Sox haven't formally announced anything, Robert seems all but certain to start the season in the big leagues after signing a six-year contract extension in January before playing in an MLB game.

Another significant reason to bet on Robert is his preternatural ability to hit. The 22-year-old rose to the No. 3 spot on MLB.com's top 100 prospect rankings after posting a .328/.376/.624 slash line with 32 homers, 92 RBI and 36 stolen bases in 122 games across three levels last season.

Per The Athletic's Keith Law, Robert's swing has a load that MLB pitchers might be able to exploit with velocity on the inside part of the plate, but "the remainder of the tool package points to 30/30 upside with plus defense at a skill position."

Robert seems likely to start the year hitting in the middle of a White Sox lineup that already includes Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada and Jose Abreu. That core group has tremendous upside, with Robert capable of hitting for a high average, big power and adding 20-25 stolen bases.

If it all comes together out of the gate, Robert could become a top-10 fantasy outfielder as a rookie.

                       

Joey Bart, C, San Francisco Giants

Joey Bart looks to have been on the fast track to the big leagues since being drafted No. 2 overall by the San Francisco Giants in 2018. A broken hand bone cost him six weeks last season, but he still made it to Double-A and finished with a .278/.328/.495 slash line with 16 homers in 79 games.

Giants president Farhan Zaidi told the Giants Insider Podcast (h/t NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic) that Bart has the chance to open this season in Triple-A, assuming there is a minor league season.

If there's a downside to betting on Bart in 2020, being a catcher makes his climb up the ranks more difficult than that of a normal prospect. He has to be a good defender even before focusing on what his offense might look like. Per MLB.com, Bart has "continually" improved his defense in the minors to the point scouts view him as a potential Gold Glove winner behind the plate.

The Giants still use Buster Posey as their primary catcher, but eventually he will move to first base full time.

Bart can force the issue if he impresses the front office enough with his defensive ability and offensive potential. The Georgia Tech alum might be more of a power-first hitter out of the gate because of his swing-and-miss tendencies—he's struck out 118 times in 130 minor league games at the lower levels.

Given how weak the crop of fantasy catchers is across MLB, any player with a modicum of upside will be worth keeping an eye on. Bart is better than that and will force himself into San Francisco's starting lineup soon.

                  

Evan White, 1B, Seattle Mariners

One advantage that rebuilding teams have with their top prospects is the benefit of patience. There's no pressure to force a young player to perform if a club knows it's not chasing a postseason berth.

Much like the White Sox did with Robert, the Seattle Mariners took some suspense out of their decision with Evan White by signing him to a six-year contract in November even though he only has four games of experience at Triple-A.

White isn't regarded at the same level as Robert, but he's started to tap into some of the offensive potential that led the Mariners to select him No. 17 overall out of Kentucky in the 2017 MLB draft.

In 92 games at Double-A last season, White set a career high with 18 home runs. The 24-year-old had just 14 long balls in 138 games over the previous two seasons combined.

Law did note there is more development for White to do if he wants to reach his offensive potential:

"It's not a big-fly-power kind of swing, but should help him hit line drives with the right launch angle to put 20-plus into the seats. He's aggressive early in counts and could probably get to more power, at the cost of some contact, by becoming more patient and waiting for a pitch he can drive. His defense and pure hit tool, which is a 50/55 right now, makes him a near-certain regular, while that newfound power potential gives him a chance to be a half to full grade more."

The Mariners don't have anyone blocking White's path. Nor do they have any incentive to bail on him quickly if he gets off to a slow start.

As long as White remains the team's regular first baseman, he should be able to hit .280 with 15-20 homers and drive in 60-70 runs depending on how long the 2020 season ends up being.

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