Some prospects you know full well to draft in Fantasy. Jesus Luzardo and Luis Robert are obvious. Gavin Lux and Sean Murphy as well. Evan White and Carter Kieboom don't have the same sizzle, but each has the inside track on a starting job. Those who do draft them are expecting immediate returns.
For the 10 below, it's a different story. We don't know exactly when they'll be ready to contribute, but it could be soon. And it could be big.
Understand that not all of these prospects are worth stashing in every league, and if you try to pile multiple on your bench, you'll be handcuffing yourself in the near-term. But in leagues where more than 300 players are rostered, it makes sense for them to be among them.
Notable exclusions include Austin Riley and Nate Lowe, who've gotten too many big-league at-bats to still qualify as prospects. Riley may well win the starting third base job for Atlanta. Lowe I would probably slot eighth here given the playing time crunch in Tampa Bay.
1) Dylan Carlson, OF, Cardinals
2019 minors: .292 BA (489 AB), 26 HR, 20 SB, .914 OPS, 58 BB, 116 K
Carlson really opened eyes in spring training, overtaking Jo Adell for the No. 1 spot on this list. And with the Cardinals actually having an opening in their outfield, it's still possible he forces his way onto the opening day roster. Tyler O'Neill may have the early edge for the starting job, Carlson is the more rounded player, disciplined and offering speed to spare, and if the Cardinals deem him ready despite his limited stint at Triple-A last year, he could be one of the biggest beneficiaries of a universal DH spot.
2) Nate Pearson, SP, Blue Jays
2019 minors: 5-4, 2.30 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 101 2/3 IP, 27 BB, 119 K
No other pitching prospect generated the headlines Pearson did in spring training, looking completely unhittable against genuine major-leaguers. The Blue Jays are most interested in developing him responsibly, and as careful as they were about limiting his innings last year, he'll be walking a tightrope again this year. But obviously, a shortened schedule would help with that and also increases his chances of being on the major-league roster. In theory, he should be equipped for 130-140 innings, though whether his 80-grade, triple-digit fastball holds up deep into games remains to be seen.
3) Jo Adell, OF, Angels
2019 minors: .289 BA (305 AB), 10 HR, 7 SB, .834 OPS, 30 BB, 94 K
The Joc Pederson trade that never was briefly drew the ire of prospect hounds hoping to see Adell in the opening day lineup, but it wasn't a realistic scenario to begin with. Not only are there the usual service time considerations — i.e., the unwillingness of most every team to give away a year of control — but it's also not at all clear that he's ready. His move up to Triple-A and the arcade-like environment of the PCL last August met with a sad trombone as he hit .264 with a .676 OPS in 121 at-bats, and contact issues followed him in the Arizona Fall League. Adell has the upside for a Luis Robert-level breakthrough, and with the Angels expected to contend, they'll take him when it comes. But there's work to be done.
4) MacKenzie Gore, SP, Padres
2019 minors: 9-2, 1.69 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 101 IP, 28 BB, 135 K
The consensus top pitching prospect in baseball made only five starts at Double-A last year, so it stands to reason the Padres want to see more of him in the upper minors. Keep in mind, though, this is the same organization that awarded Chris Paddack a rotation spot last spring. He was coming off a 90-inning season, too, while Gore topped 100 last year. With a sneaky mid-90s fastball, plus control and a well-developed secondary arsenal, all bolstered by a high leg kick that adds extension to his already long frame, Gore should make quick work of whatever form minor-league ball takes this year, and the Padres, who are transitioning into contention mode, have already shown they're willing to pull the trigger when the time is right.
5) Nick Madrigal, 2B, White Sox
2019 minors: .311 BA (473 AB), 4 HR, 35 SB, .792 OPS, 44 BB, 16 K
Madrigal, drafted fourth overall in 2018, will be contending for the starting second base job once spring training gets going again, and the expanded rosters certainly improve his chances. He's kind of an odd fit in today's game, committing to making contact with little regard for power, but he does what he does exceptionally well, striking out just 21 times in his 163 minor-league games. And because he also stole 35 bases last year, there's hope he might contribute in that scarcest of categories, which in and of itself makes him worth earmarking for later in Rotisserie leagues that offer the requisite bench space. Even if Leury Garcia claims the starting job to start out, it won't last long, not with the White Sox looking to contend this year.
6) Michael Kopech, SP, White Sox
2018 minors: 7-7, 3.70 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 126 1/3 IP, 60 BB, 170 K
2018 majors: 1-1, 5.02 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 14 1/3 IP, 2 BB, 15 K
On the mend from Tommy John surgery, Kopech was able to make a start back in March and was clocked at 100 mph, reminding those who lost sight of him during the long layoff just how talented he is. He, of course, already has major-league experience, making a four-start debut before tearing his UCL in 2018, and while that final start with an achy elbow left him with crooked numbers, he was in the strike zone throughout that stint. It continued a transformation that spanned his final seven minor-league starts, when he walked only four for a 1.84 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 12.1 K/9. The White Sox rotation is seemingly full, but as soon as Kopech proves he's in good health, finding a spot for him figures to be a top priority. Dude was on the verge of something special.
7) Dustin May, SP/RP, Dodgers
2019 minors: 6-5, 3.38 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 106 2/3 IP, 29 BB, 110 K
2019 majors: 2-3, 3.63 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 34 2/3 IP, 5 BB, 32 K
May earned his spot with his performance late last year and into the playoffs, but the Dodgers are ridiculous with their pitching depth, adding Alex Wood to an already deep inventory. It allows them to put their top pitching prospect on ice for later, though expanded rosters could have him working in long relief at first. Whatever innings May isn't throwing now will leave him with more in the tank for later, when attrition will have taken its toll. There's some question as to how much of a bat-misser he'll be, but with ground-ball tendencies and plus-plus control, he's like a harder-throwing Mike Soroka with all the advantages of the Dodgers' supporting cast.
8) Ryan Mountcastle, 1B, Orioles
2019 minors: .312 BA (520 AB), 25 HR, .871 OPS, 24 BB, 130 K
Lest you think the introduction of the drag-resistant MLB baseballs made Mountcastle no more of a standout than anyone else at Triple-A last year, note that he was named MVP of the International League — which, it's also worth noting, didn't rise to the same level of absurdity as the Pacific Coast League. In an organization with something to play for, a prospect putting up those numbers at Triple-A gets a late-season look, but the 54-win Orioles of course had nothing to play for except service time manipulation. As soon as they've secured that extra year of control — or perhaps even sooner, with rosters likely to be expanded — Mountcastle will be on his way up to play one of the four corner spots. He doesn't walk much, but the hit tool is legit, making for a possible Nick Castellanos-like outcome.
2019 minors: .305 BA (475 AB), 21 HR, 30 2B, .896 OPS, 57 BB, 73 K
As easily as Bohm, the third overall pick in the 2018 draft, took to the high minors last year, it seems almost a foregone conclusion he'll make the climb to the big leagues this year, which has made for some controversy over whether the Phillies should shift Jean Segura or Scott Kingery to third base in the meantime. Kingery would most likely move to center field to accommodate Bohm, presuming everyone is healthy. It's just a matter of Bohm continuing to climb the latter, which should happen quickly. His bat control and strike zone judgment are especially impressive for a hitter his size, and both were on display before spring training was interrupted in March.
10) Brendan Rodgers, 2B, Rockies
2019 minors: .350 BA (143 AB), 9 HR, 10 2B, 1.035 OPS, 14 BB, 27 K
2019 majors: .224 BA (76 AB), 2 2B, .522 OPS, 4 BB, 27 K
Rodgers saw a little bit of major-league action last season before needing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder in July, and he was limited to DH duties early in spring training. By the time play actually returns, though, he has a chance to be full-go. But do the Rockies have a spot for him? They do have question marks all over the diamond, from Daniel Murphy's durability to the viability of Ryan McMahon, Sam Hilliard and Garrett Hampson, but it still seems like Rodgers would be confined to the bench if he were to make the expanded roster. Sooner or later, though, a spot figures to open up.