12 Popup Prospects You Should Consider Rostering In Dynasty

Image credit: Jhonkensy Noel (photo by Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images)

May was the first time dynasty players were able to gather fresh intel on minor league prospects in a competitive game setting since September 2019.

If you’re like me, you had your finger poised over the “add” button all month.

This post collects 12 of the more notable emerging prospect popups and deep cuts from May who you will want to consider rostering in dynasty leagues. The first few picks are more mainstream, but the list quickly ventures into hipster territory for those in the deepest of leagues.

The advanced metrics displayed are simply park-adjusted OPS+, similar to what you see at Baseball-Reference, and FIP, as you would see at FanGraphs. XB+ measures extra bases per plate appearance, indexed to league average, and SB+ measures stolen bases attempted per (estimated) times on first base, again indexed to league average.

1. Nick Pratto, 1B, Royals
Double-A Northwest Arkansas (Central)

101 PA: .308/.446/.731 (241 OPS+), 9 HR (273 XB+), 4 SB (185 SB+)

Pratto authenticated the swing alterations made last year at the alternate training site and showcased this year in spring training with his power display in May. Pratto clubbed nine home runs in Double-A as part of an opening month that included 19 walks and 23 strikeouts. You missed your chance to buy low on Pratto, but buying high is still a possibility. Age: 22

2. Oswald Peraza, SS, Yankees
High-A Hudson Valley (East) 

105 PA: .323/.400/.570 (170 OPS+), 5 HR (178 XB+), 15 SB (361 SB+)

You might be asking yourself where Peraza’s power came from, but only if you missed Yankees correspondent Brendan Kuty’s February report on the Venezuelan shortstop. After hitting four homers and slugging .340 in 2019, Peraza worked on elevating the ball last year when the minor league season was canceled. This season he is making the same hard contact as he always has—it’s just that now he’s elevating the ball and doing damage. Age: 21.

3. Jake Eder, LHP, Marlins
Double-A Pensacola (South)

20 IP: 0.45 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 34 SO, 11 BB, 8 H, 0 HR (1.66 FIP)

Eder recorded the final out of Vanderbilt’s national title-clinching Game 3 victory in the 2019 College World Series finals. He worked as a reliever that season in part because he tended to be wild. Eder remains a bit wild even as he has taken a giant step forward since signing as the Marlins’ fourth-round pick in 2020. This season he jumped all the way to Double-A to make his pro debut. He struck out 15.3 batters per nine innings in May, using a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a slider he commands and a developing changeup. Eder is clearly on a fast track. Age: 22

4. Alec Burleson, OF, Cardinals
Double-A Springfield (Central)

94 PA: .317/.394/.610 (193 OPS+), 7 HR (213 XB+), 2 SB (50 SB+)

Burleson was one of the best two-way players in the country at East Carolina before the Cardinals drafted him as an outfielder in the supplemental second round in 2020. The 6-foot-2 lefthanded hitter quickly advanced to Double-A Springfield this season, making him the first and so far only hitter drafted after the first round last year to move beyond Class A. Burleson has showcased a strong bat to go with better-than-advertised power. That combination could place him on a fast track to St. Louis. Age: 22

5. Jhonkensy Noel, 3B/1B, Indians
Low-A Lynchburg (East)

71 PA: .358/.380/.672 (182 OPS+), 5 HR (279 SB+), 0 SB

Hit in the hand by a pitch on May 23, Noel did not play the final week in May, but what he had done in the preceding three weeks marked him as an emerging prospect. The physical righthanded hitter has good bat speed and a short swing that he used to strike almost as many extra-base hits (11) as he had strikeouts (12). He has incredible raw power that he will increasingly access as refines his plate approach with experience. Age: 19

6. Kyren Paris, 2B/SS, Angels
Low-A Inland Empire (West)

78 PA: .297/.423/.516 (182 OPS+), 0 HR (154 XB+), 10 SB (307 SB+)

Paris was the youngest player at the Angels’ alternate training site last year, and while he struggled initially against older competition, he later found a groove. That adaptability helped the 2019 second-rounder jump from a three-game pro debut in the Arizona League to Low-A this season. Paris could grow into power in his 20s, but for now his game is centered on speed, gap power and a disciplined hitting approach. He is a good bet to stick as a middle infielder. Age: 19

7. Leonel Valera, SS, Dodgers
High-A Great Lakes (Central)

100 PA: .272/.320/.554 (149 OPS+), 6 HR (224 XB+), 6 SB (205 SB+)

In his sixth pro season since signing out of Venezuela in 2015, Valera made strength gains that have elevated his prospect stock this season. He hit six homers in May, exceeding his season total for 122 games at Low-A in 2019. Valera now shows impressive juice to all fields that could become more interesting still as he continues to sharpen his hitting approach. Age: 21

8. Angel Martinez, 2B/SS, Indians
Low-A Lynchburg (East)

70 PA: .286/.429/.518 (160 OPS+), 2 HR (183 XB+), 5 SB (154 SB+)

The 19-year-old Dominican middle infielder made a large jumps to crack an Opening Day roster this season. Martinez, who is the son of former big league catcher Sandy Martinez, spent 2019 in the Dominican Summer League and began this season in Low-A as a teenager on a very young Lynchburg team. By the end of May, the switch-hitting Martinez had worked his way into the leadoff role that showcased his disciplined approach with some power/speed potential. Age: 19

9. Korry Howell, OF, Brewers
High-A Wisconsin (Central)

102 PA: .326/.422/.616 (197 OPS+), 6 HR (205 XB+), 9 SB (174 SB+)

Fantasy players will take note of Howell’s early power and speed inputs—he swatted six homers and stole nine bases in 10 tries in May—but they should be just as focused on his increasing strength and exit velocities. Drafted out of junior college in 2018, Howell boasts the type of athleticism and frame to keep building on his early gains. He has a middle infield background but now plays strong defense in center field, giving him the versatility that major league clubs value. Age: 22

10. Matthew Barefoot, OF, Astros
High-A Asheville (East)

104 PA: .319/.375/.626 (179 OPS+), 7 HR (234 XB+), 10 SB (284 SB+)

The Astros loved Barefoot’s simple righthanded swing when they scouted and drafted him in 2019 out of Campbell, where he played his home games at Houston’s old High-A affiliate in Buies Creek, N.C. Barefoot fell flat in his pro debut and didn’t get to redeem himself in 2020, but he invested in a pitching machine and indoor batting cage in the offseason to get his career on track. What he has shown early in 2021 has been encouraging. Barefoot quickly hit his way out of Low-A Fayetteville thanks to a simple swing that allows him to elevate the ball with ease. Age: 23.

11. Eury Perez, RHP, Marlins
Low-A Jupiter (Southeast)

14 IP: 1.29 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 19 SO, 5 BB, 8 H, 0 HR (2.62 FIP)

The Marlins signed Perez out of the Dominican Republic in 2019 and made him the youngest player to appear an Opening Day roster in 2021. At 6-foot-8 he is also one of the tallest. Perez tops out near 98 mph and misses bats with his fastball and developing slider and changeup. His swinging-strike rate of 22.6% ranked fifth best in the minors among pitchers with at least four starts in May. All the caveats about teenage pitchers apply here, but Perez’s upside is tantalizing. Age: 18.

12. Mitchell Parker, LHP, Nationals
Low-A Fredericksburg (East)

24.2 IP: 2.92 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 43 SO, 11 BB, 14 H, 0 HR (1.97 FIP)

Parker finished May ranked second in the minors with 43 strikeouts, trailing only organization-mate Cade Cavalli. Both pitchers were products of the 2020 draft, Cavalli in the first round and Parker in the fifth out of junior college. Parker sits in the low 90s but his fastball plays up with plus riding action up in the zone. He pairs it with curveball to work south and also a splitter and changeup. Age: 21

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