Fantasy Baseball 2021 Rankings: Highlighting Top Prospects to Target

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMarch 23, 2021

Fantasy Baseball 2021 Rankings: Highlighting Top Prospects to Target

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Ke'Bryan Hayes' performance at the end of the 2020 MLB season provided a bit of hope for a Pittsburgh Pirates franchise that hasn't had much to celebrate recently. 

    The third baseman should have a full season in 2021 to showcase his talents for one of the worst teams in the league. 

    The projected success for Pittsburgh's top prospect should make him an enticing selection in the mid-to-late rounds of fantasy baseball drafts. 

    Atlanta Braves pitcher Ian Anderson had a larger stage to shine on last season, but we still have a small sample size for what he can do in at the major league level. 

    If we see the right-handed hurler deliver a similar output over a 162-game season, he could be one of the best value picks on the pitching market. 

Fantasy Baseball Prospect Rankings

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    1. Ke'Bryan Hayes, 3B, Pittsburgh

    2. Ian Anderson, SP, Atlanta

    3. Sixto Sanchez, SP, Miami

    4. Dylan Carlson, OF, St. Louis

    5. Casey Mize, SP, Detroit

    6. Alex Kiriloff, OF/1B, Minnesota

    7. Nick Madrigal, 2B/SS, Chicago White Sox

    8. Tarik Skubal, SP, Detroit

    9. Triston McKenzie, SP, Cleveland

    10. Spencer Howard, SP, Philadelphia

Ke'Bryan Hayes, 3B, Pittsburgh

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Hayes could start the season as the top-rated prospect in the major leagues. rates the 24-year-old as the No. 9 prospect in baseball, and he is the front-runner for that title after the Kansas City Royals optioned Bobby Witt Jr. to the minors. 

    The right-handed hitter took full advantage of the 95 plate appearances he had over 24 games at the end of last season. He hit five home runs, hit. 376 and recorded an OPS of 1.124.

    Entering Monday, Hayes had 15 hits over 37 plate appearances in spring training. Nine of those were of the extra-base variety. 

    Based off those totals and his last full minor-league season, his value will come through his extra-base hits and on-base percentage. He produced back-to-back 30-double seasons in 2018 and 2019 and kept his OPS over .750 and on-base percentage above .330 despite the jump up in competition from Double-A to Triple-A. 

    Hayes should be one of the tone-setters atop the Pittsburgh lineup with Adam Frazier. His run-scoring potential will depend on how much power Colin Moran, Bryan Reynolds and others can provide from the heart of the order. 

    Hayes' small sample size at the major league level and Pittsburgh's status at the bottom of the National League Central will not make him a high-round pick, but he could be considered a steal depending on where you land him.

    According to FantasyPros, his average draft position is 137. That puts him in the middle of the 11th round if you are in a 12-team league. 

    If you are willing to wait on a starter at the hot corner, Hayes could be the perfect player to add if you load up on stars at other positions. 

Ian Anderson, SP, Atlanta

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    Anderson took advantage of his opportunities at the end of the 2020 season due to injuries across the Atlanta rotation. 

    The 22-year-old went 3-2 with a 1.95 ERA and 41 strikeouts. He shined brightest in the postseason with 17 strikeouts over 11.2 innings in his first two starts.

    Anderson will not face the pressure of pitching at the top of the rotation. He is expected to slot in behind Max Fried and Charlie Morton. He could end up behind Mike Soroka when he returns from injury. 

    The small sample size from the right-handed hurler showed how effective he can be on the mound, but he won't be an incredibly high fantasy draft pick due to his lack of experience and rotation spot. 

    Anderson has an ADP of 93, per FantasyPros, so that should put him in the second tier of starting pitchers in most drafts. 

    If he replicated the strikeout-to-walk ratio (41-to-14) he had in 2020, his fantasy value will blossom as the year goes on and that could make him the best young pitcher in a group that includes Sixto Sanchez, Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal.


    Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference.