Fantasy baseball drafts are off and rolling as Spring Training games are finally under way. This is one of my favorite times of year in the baseball world. You can watch your favorite team on TV, and in nine innings, get to see MLB All-Stars and 18-year-olds from A-ball play on the same field. Spring Training is a great time for MLB managers to get a gauge on what kind of talent they’re going to be working with for the upcoming season, and for the foreseeable future.
As such, MLB managers are tasked with deciding which of their current minor leaguers are ready to contribute at the big league level sooner rather than later. In Kansas City, Mike Matheny has taken over for a rebuilding team and should have plenty of options if he wants to add some youth to his roster. In this article I’m going to go through a list of players that are currently up for consideration for the big league roster and whether you should buy, hold, or sell for your fantasy rosters.
Brady Singer, RHP
Brady Singer has looked really, really good in his first couple of Spring Training outings. In his start against the Chicago Cubs the other day, he got Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, and Anthony Rizzo to ground out in a perfect first innings. Singer has fired three scoreless innings so far in his first big league Spring Training with four strikeouts and no walks. His slider looks sharp, he’s commanding his fastball, and all of the talk about Singer potentially winning the Royals fifth starter job from this offseason feels like a very real possibility at this point. Singer is not unanimously viewed as a top 100 prospect, even though he should be, so you may be able to get him on one heck of a discount at the moment. As long as the price is reasonable, you should be buying as much Brady Singer stock as possible.
Tyler Zuber, RHP
Tyler Zuber is arguably the best relief prospect that Kansas City has not named Richard Lovelady, and he showed off on Thursday against the Brewers. Zuber had both his fastball and curveball working for him, firing a tidy inning with a strikeout of Manny Pina that made Pina look silly. Zuber probably won’t start the year in the big leagues (though he seems capable of handling the task), but if the Royals trade Ian Kennedy during the season he could legitimately wind up as the team’s closer by September. I wouldn’t be giving up much to acquire Zuber in deep fantasy leagues, but if he’s available and you need relief help, his stock is definitely trending in the right direction.
Oh man. Tyler Zuber’s curveball is filthy. pic.twitter.com/JTXKnWxtI9
— Alex Duvall (@duvy_013) February 27, 2020
Erick Mejia, UTIL
Mejia is another guy whose impact will be minimal at the beginning of the 2020 season, but is seeing a steep rise in stock as Spring Training games roll along. He’s currently hitting .357 but has also hit a couple of balls hard right at defenders. Mejia stole 34 bases two seasons ago at AA, and provides a surplus of value defensively. He can legitimately play six positions on the field if need be, giving some versatility to both the Royals lineup and your fantasy lineup. Mejia won’t win you a league, but he can fill in an empty space on your roster and will probably get a chance to steal some bases as well, something I think the Royals will count on as the year rolls along.
Royals utility Erick Mejia is raking right now in the LIDOM playoffs. Through two games for Licey, he’s hit two homers and driven in eight runs. pic.twitter.com/wiEqSWhPex
Josh Staumont, RHP
Josh Staumont looks really, really good so far in Royals camp. He fired another hitless inning on Thursday against the Brewers, collecting his fifth strikeout in his third inning of work. Staumont reportedly hit 102 mph on the stadium gun in Surprise in his first outing, and while he has always been known as a hard thrower, he appears to be under more control of his fastball than in previous seasons. Staumont is another candidate to fill in as KC’s closer when Ian Kennedy is traded, but he should be in the bullpen mix starting on Opening Day, giving him a leg up on someone like Tyler Zuber.
The clutchest of times for your first career strikeout.#Royals rookie Josh Staumont whiffed Jake Bauers on three pitches to get out of a jam and extend the @Royals‘ contest with the Indians. pic.twitter.com/H5dGLOMBUE
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 26, 2019
Daniel Tillo, LHP
Tillo is a guy that I think will definitely wind up pitching in the big league bullpen in 2020, I just don’t think there will be high leverage situations for him right away. The Royals have Tim Hill, Richard Lovelady, and Gabe Speier as left-handed relief options for the time being, and Tillo may suffer from a bit of a road block as a result. With that said, he pitched well enough during the Fall League and for Team USA last offseason that I definitely think he warrants holding onto, I just wouldn’t be rushing to buy stock in him either.
— WBSC ⚾ #Premier12 (@Premier12) November 17, 2019
Richard Lovelady, LHP
I really, really like Lovelady as a potential back end of the bullpen arm for KC. My current fear is that the Royals are going to give Greg Holland and/or Trevor Rosenthal his roster spot to see if they can salvage any type of value from one of the journeymen. Lovelady will probably never be a closer, which hampers his value a bit, but if you’ve owned him for this long, don’t sell yet. I still think Lovelady has a valuable future in a big league bullpen, as early as 2020, I’m just not sure when that opportunity will come for him.
One thing to note about Richard Lovelady is the control. These are his first 2 pitches ever at Yankee Stadium, not an easy task, and he is right where his catcher wants him to be.
Hitting your spots can not be understated. #Royals @ProspectsLive pic.twitter.com/0YyQFzxjnN
— Kris Dunn (@KRSDunn) April 19, 2019
Nick Heath, OF
Nick Heath, much like Tillo, is a guy that I think is capable of stepping into a big league role on Opening Day. I’m just not sure if the opportunity will be there for him. Heath posted wRC+’s of 102 and 104, respectively, at AA and AAA last season while stealing a MiLB leading 60 bases in just 105 games. Heath is an elite defender in the outfield, using his 80-grade speed to track down balls not many can get to, which should help him find his way into KC’s lineup eventually. Unfortunately for Heath, I do think he’s going to be log jammed by the likes of Alex Gordon, Hunter Dozier, Whit Merrifield, Bubba Starling, and Brett Phillips for at least the first half of the 2020 season. Heath will get his time in the big leagues eventually, I just wouldn’t gamble on when that will be.
Nick Heath got picked off. Nick Heath still made it. pic.twitter.com/rC1knFm5XB
— Josh Norris (@jnorris427) October 12, 2018
Khalil Lee, OF
If you’re in a dynasty league with MiLB roster spots available, you need to be running to figure out how you can pick up Khalil Lee. If you’re just looking to improve your 2020 roster, I’d sit tight for now. Lee shows flashes of brilliance consistently throughout his career. He also shows flashes of being a 21-year-old kid, which, ya know, he is. Lee currently finds himself in the same boat as Nick Heath where there is a logjam of outfielders in front of him that KC will want to get a look at this year. When Lee finally gets his chance, he’ll be a fixture at the top of the Royals lineup. I’m not totally writing off the possibility that Lee could get an extended look after the All-Star Break, I’m just not excited about his chances either.
— Jack Johnson (@JohnyJ_15) February 27, 2020
I’m going to tell you about Griffin and Blewett in the same paragraph because they are both basically in the same sinking boat with one life jacket.
Griffin and Blewett both came into Spring Training needing to have a good camp in order to hold their value as prospects in this system. With Daniel Lynch, Kris Bubic, Jackson Kowar, and Brady Singer knocking at the door, Foster Griffin and Scott Blewett are in danger of being passed up quick fast and in a hurry. Blewett gave up four runs in one inning of work against the Brewers on Thursday and Griffin gave up four in his two innings of work on Wednesday. Neither pitcher has good enough stuff to afford command issues, and neither have shown excellent improvement commanding the ball since arriving in the upper levels of MiLB. I don’t think either of them are finished as prospects by any stretch of the imagination, but I’d be trying to salvage any kind of value possible if I owned them in fantasy leagues.
Emmanuel Rivera, 3B
I’m adding Rivera here just in case anyone reading this is in deeper dynasty leagues. Rivera has been one of the better hitting prospects in this system for the last couple of seasons, but I’d be selling his stock as quickly as possible. With the signing of Maikel Franco this offseason, and with Kelvin Gutierrez still waiting patiently for his turn, Emmanuel Rivera has no clear path to the big leagues. After posting a 79 wRC+ in the Texas League (AA) in 2019, Rivera has gotten his spring started off by hitting .125. With third base looking like it’s locked down for the foreseeable future, I’d be selling shares of Rivera for pennies on the dollar.
Gabriel Cancel, 2B/1B
Gabe Cancel has some potential value if he’s playing 2B every day, but that doesn’t look like it’s going to be the case for him moving forward. The Royals have Nicky Lopez and Whit Merrifield locked down at 2B for the foreseeable future, forcing the Royals to move Cancel around a bit if he wants to reach the big leagues in any capacity. The bat hasn’t looked good on its own this spring, but any move for Cancel, especially to 1B, significantly hinders his fantasy value. I’d try to be out in front of the imminent if I had him in fantasy leagues.