Ten Prospects To Watch for 2024 Fantasy Baseball

Keeping an eye on minor league talent can make all the difference in your fantasy league.

Joey Loperfido of the Houston Astros runs to second base against the Miami Marlins during the second inning in a spring training game at Roger Dean Stadium.
JUPITER, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 28: Joey Loperfido #83 of the Houston Astros runs to second base against the Miami Marlins during the second inning in a spring training game at Roger Dean Stadium on February 28, 2024 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

Maybe your team has gotten off to a slow start. You might be looking for another way to win, but trade proposals and dry waiver wire pickups haven’t done any justice. The almighty prospect could be your answer. 

Never forget just two years ago when Michael Harris II got called up in mid-May. Whoever picked him up instantly improved along with their chances of winning a fantasy title after he hit 19 homers and stole 20 bags. 

It is critical to study who is doing well in the minor leagues while also predicting when their call to the show will come. It may be hard to believe, but right now, the difference-maker in your league is probably somewhere in Triple-A, destroying the competition.

All the guys listed below will play in the majors at some point in 2024, and predicting their timelines is half the battle. Between playing opportunities, timing and talent, all of these guys have a chance to be the difference for your team.

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The question is, who will it be? 

Stats and rankings updated before games on April 22.

Jordan Lawlar / ETA June

If it wasn’t for an unfortunate jamming of the thumb and tearing of a ligament while taking grounders in spring training, I have no doubt Lawlar would be feasting on major league pitchers already. He underwent successful surgery and could be returning to the diamond in 8-10 weeks. If you have an open IL spot and need a player who does a little bit of everything, Lawlar is the answer. 

Last year in the minors, Lawlar contributed 20 homers with 36 stolen bases and an .874 OPS. The year before, it was 16 homers and 39 steals with a .910 OPS. If anything, that says consistency.

The only thing that will hold this guy back is playing time. However, Geraldo Perdomo is also injured and could get off to a slow start once he’s back. More importantly, the Diamondbacks’ shortstop job for the future belongs to Lawlar. In deep dynasty leagues, Lawlar should be added everywhere. Immediate 20-20 impact is hard to find on the waiver wire, get it while you can. 

James Wood / ETA May

The most potential on this list stems from Mr. Wood. It’s crazy to think he is only 21, yet he destroyed this year’s spring training. A 1.213 OPS almost had people thinking he was going to make the Opening Day roster. But let’s be real, we’re dealing with the Nationals. They are going nowhere this season, so saving all service time on Wood is exactly what they were going to do. However, once May comes around and service time doesn’t matter, be ready to pull the trigger on Wood. 

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The Nationals do not have a lot of outfield help besides Lane Thomas, so once Wood gets the call, I don’t think he will ever look back. So far this season at the Triple-A level, he has produced a .306/.412/.472 line with 5 steals.

Even though he is awfully young, I love his potential for no playing time concerns. A power and speed guy with everyday at-bats is great news for all fantasy general managers because most outfielders still available on the waiver wire don’t even play every day. Big potential equals a big payout. 

Chase DeLauter / ETA May

One of the only guys who outperformed Wood in spring training was DeLauter. My favorite thing about this outfielder and budding superstar is, again, very little playing time concerns. If you haven’t noticed, the Cleveland Guardians have very few options in the outfield besides Steven Kwan. It’s only a matter of time before DeLauter sees Progressive Field. 

While a lot of people are focused on several different prospects, DeLauter is quietly flying under the radar. I think this is simply because he only played 57 minor league games in 2023, and he never played over 34 games in college.

I’m here to let the cat out of the bag: This guy is special. A .520 average and 1.640 OPS over 30 spring training games should be a gigantic warning sign of what’s to come. If we’re talking player comparisons, DeLauter owns a swing like that of James Outman, though the talent and potential is levels above. I’m confident his arrival will come sooner rather than later, especially if the Guardians keep competing for a division crown in the AL Central.

Paul Skenes / ETA June

I was one of the few who thought Pittsburgh might surprise a lot of people, and so far, it looks as if I was correct. At this point in the year, it’s fair to say every observation comes too early, but this squad in this division looks as if it can compete. So, why not bring up the dirtiest pitcher in the minors? If the Pirates keep competing and see themselves as contenders, it shouldn’t be long for Skenes.

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Skenes was drafted ahead of Dylan Crews and Wyatt Langford for a reason; he’s got some heat. Try averaging 98 mph while topping out at 102 mph. His secondary stuff is also nasty, as his slider is a devastating whiff pitch and his changeup averages in the low 90s.

I’m not one for hype because, to be honest, nobody can go inside the mind of a young man and know exactly what he’s thinking or his confidence level. However, Skenes may have just as much hype surrounding himself as Stephen Strasburg once did back in 2010. The 6-foot-6, 235-pound college ace has already racked up 27 strikeouts through 12.2 innings with a 0.71 WHIP. That’ll play!

Joey Loperfido / ETA April

This Houston team is searching for a spark, and it could very well be down on the farm. Few players produced a 25/25 minor league season in 2023. Loperfido did just that in 124 games on his way to a .510 SLG mark. Rumor has it he could be getting the call anytime, so fantasy managers should be rostering as quickly as possible. 

In five outfielder leagues, Loperfido is a sneaky good addition who will immediately be inserted in a strong offensive lineup. Yes, the record doesn’t support that, but I will never be the one to question how good the Astros are. They still have an incredible roster with plenty of lineup protection. Loperfido could slot right into an outfield spot with Houston.

Additionally, his eligibility in the outfield and at second base is crucial for lineup flexibility, especially in these times of several significant injuries. His strikeout rate needs improvement, but a guy who is currently slashing .260/.359/.688 with 10 homers in 92 plate appearances is plenty of reason to take a chance. 

Christian Scott / ETA May

After New York’s early-season turnaround, vibes around the Mets are growing in a positive direction.

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When Kodai Senga and Tylor Megill were lost to injury, many thought Scott would get the call. Things don’t always go as expected, but it’s not crazy to think he’s next in line.

So far in Triple-A, Scott has posted a 26:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The strikeout upside is there, as evidenced by his 11 strikeouts per 9 innings in 2023.

The other thing I love about Scott? He doesn’t issue free passes. Like at all. In 87 minor league innings last year, he walked 12 batters. That comes out to one walk every nine innings. There’s something about a guy who goes after what he wants, and to Scott, that’s any batter who steps in the box. We all know how long the season is and how many pitcher injuries there will be, so rostering Scott is a smart move to boost the depth of your staff.

Dylan Crews / ETA August

It seemed as if Crews got lost in the shuffle that is Langford and Skenes. Yet, I’m sure the number two pick in the 2023 draft doesn’t mind dodging the spotlight, because who cares, right? It’s worth noting there is a reason the Nationals picked Crews over Langford. Many seem to forget about his incredible college career when he got off to a slow start in 20 games last year at Double-A. If you judge a 21-year-old on that many games, baseball isn’t the sport for you. 

In 2022, Crews put up a 1.153 OPS. The next year he somehow outperformed that to the tune of a 1.280 mark. He showed elite plate discipline in his time at Baton Rouge, leading the Division I level with 71 walks and cutting his strikeout rate from 18% to 13% over the span of just one year.

He doesn’t have a tremendous history of stealing bags, but that’s where people are sleeping the most. He’s got plus speed with the athletic prowess to achieve at least 30 bags per year. As we’ve seen with the new rule changes, steals are mostly effort and motivation these days. The good news about that? The Nationals have thieved the second most bags out of the whole league.

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Expect Crews to make a debut later this season, alongside James Wood. What a bright future for the Nasty Nats!

Cade Horton / ETA June

The top arm in the Cubs farm system has been balling throughout his minor league career. He owns a 0.98 WHIP along with 129 strikeouts through 99.2 innings pitched. In that time, he’s only let the long ball go seven times. Horton has a track record of dominating Double-A, and I don’t think it will take much time to break into the show once he’s promoted to Triple-A.

It’s only a matter of time before Horton is called up because Kyle Hendricks is faltering and the loss of Justin Steele stretched Chicago’s rotation thin.

Horton’s best weapon is a slider that is set up by his mid-90s fastball. He needs to improve a few of his secondaries if he wants to reach ace level, but the potential is definitely present. Keep an eye on when the Cubs promote their former Minor League Pitcher of the Year, because that .192 opponent average should be a sign of good things to come at Wrigley Field.

Tyler Black / ETA June

For all those looking for steals upside, let me introduce you to Mr. Black, a guy who took 55 bags in just 123 games last year between Double-A and Triple-A. Most players like this usually don’t provide an OPS over .800, but that’s not the case here. Black put up a .930 mark with 105 runs scored and 18 home runs. 

So far in 2024, Black has rocked all pitching. His 23 hits and 11 walks in 19 games will make it hard for the Brewers front office to keep him down long, especially with how versatile he can be. Being able to play anywhere in the infield is so valuable in today’s game.

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Black will soon produce for this young Brew Crew, though his playing time could be shady at first. However, the next-man-up mentality will be utilized, and you will be more than happy to have Black rostered. 

Hurston Waldrep / ETA July

The Atlanta Braves seem to keep finding ways to discover, foster, and retain young talent. Their next gem is a product that’s only getting better.

When you see a guy who has a 13.5 K/9 rate in college, eyebrows get raised. It gets even more fun when you find out Waldrep’s best offering is a splitter which produced massive swing-and-miss numbers while he was pitching as a Florida Gator. The command on his 99-mph fastball needs a bit of work, but that’s the case with most young hurlers. 

Spencer Strider being out for the year only increases the chances of Waldrep entering the Braves rotation. Chris Sale always has injury issues, and even though the team has been getting amazing production from Reynaldo López, one never knows how long a reliever-turned-starter will be able to keep it up.

There are some roadblocks present in the form of Darius Vines, Bryce Elder, and AJ Smith-Shawver (another prospect to keep an eye on). However, Waldrep holds the most true talent out of any of the options, and the Braves will not be afraid to give him a chance at some point during the summer.

Waldrep has only pitched 42.1 minor league innings, so look for him to get a little more seasoning before adding. I could see him up and ready post-All-Star break and at that point, every team in fantasy needs pitching depth. Plus, with the run support of this juggernaut Atlanta offense? Count me in!

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