This week we're looking at 2023 Dynasty Baseball NL Central prospects and what their impact might be in the majors this season.
Two of the top overall dynasty baseball prospects are expected to debut in 2023, and there are several underrated players in the mix who you should be looking to acquire in your leagues.
Previously in this series, I covered the NL East Prospects and AL East Prospects. As a reminder, this series is taking a look at the prospects from each division that have the potential to play a somewhat significant role for dynasty managers this season (so don't complain that Jackson Chourio isn't in here).
Some of these guys might not impact your lineup until the year's second half, but you should keep an eye on all of them for any buying windows (or opportunities to sell).
2023 Dynasty Baseball NL Central Prospects
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Matt Mervis, 1B
Mervis put together an incredible 2022 campaign. Across three levels of play, he hit .309 with 36 HRs, 119 RBIs and a .984 OPS. He ranked No. 8 among all minor league batters in wRC+ (min. 400 PA), right behind Corbin Carroll and just ahead of Gunnar Henderson. He also led the Arizona Fall League with 6 HRs.
Matt Mervis (@mmervis12) had 36 home runs, tied for the third most in all of the minor leagues. The man they call M*A*S*H also leads the Arizona Fall League with six home runs.
— Prospects Live (@ProspectsLive) November 6, 2022
Most projections now have Mervis penciled in for 71 games with the Cubs in 2023. Hosmer posted a 0.3 WAR last season, and Mancini experienced some struggles with two teams. We'll see how long the Cubs can hold off on moving Mervis in at first. His price has already skyrocketed, so rebuilding dynasty owners can sell high with the most hype he'll likely ever have. Those contending should get a solid contributor soon.
Hayden Wesneski, RHP
Wesneski got a few starts in 2022 and looked good with a 2.18 ERA/3.64 xFIP. Unfortunately, the Cubs have multiple mediocre options to fill their starting rotation this year, and Wesnecki might be forced to wait for a bigger opportunity.
Projections see him getting at least 10+ starts. He's consistently posted 25%+ K rates in the minors, and his walk rates remain in check. Wesneski feels like a good buy-in dynasty leagues for owners who need a reliable mid- or back-end starter.
Elly De La Cruz, 3B/SS
He's arguably the highest risk/highest reward prospect in the game right now. De La Cruz went off last year, hitting .304 with 28 HRs, 86 RBIs and 47 SBs. He also posted a 30.8% strikeout rate, and the year before that mark hit 31% in Low-A.
Adjustments have to be made to continue that torrid pace into the majors. Now on the Reds 40-man roster, he'll hopefully get the coaching he needs to improve those strikeout and chase rates at the plate. Depending on how well Triple-A goes for him this year, we will likely see De La Cruz in the second half of 2023. Selling high on him in dynasty could mean missing out on a superstar, but there's plenty of risk at the moment.
Spencer Steer, INF
Steer batted .211 in 28 games last year during his first action with the Reds. The power metrics did not look good. Maybe that opens a cheap buying opportunity.
He can play all over the infield, so that can be a valuable asset for your dynasty team. His home run numbers look limited, but he has a solid plate approach and might get some help in Great American Ball Park. He's expected to get plenty of work in the majors in 2023.
Garrett Mitchell, OF
A 41.2% strikeout rate to kick off his MLB career is alarming, but he did hit .311 with 8 SBs and 136 wRC+ in 28 games. He also posted a 92.9 MPH average EV and a 99th percentile sprint speed. Is Mitchell actually an underrated buy right now?
Welcome to the show, #Brewers Garrett Mitchell
Hit .342/.435/.466 in his 85 PA in Triple-A
Had just 5 HR but stole 17 bases throughout his MiLB stops combined this season. Often posts double digit walk rates and posted a 21.2% K rate at AAA.
— Mike Kurland (@Mike_Kurland) August 28, 2022
The power has never really shown up for the 6'3" outfielder. He's still only 24 years old, though. Dynasty owners who need speed should be looking into his cost right now before any spring training hype potentially builds.
Brice Turang, 2B/SS
Turang doesn't really stand out in any particular fantasy category unless you're in an OBP league. He consistently posts double-digit walk rates. But his 13 HRs and 34 SBs at Triple-A in 2022 show some promise for his future potential.
RosterResource projects him as the Brewers starting second baseman right now. Similar to Mitchell, if you're looking for speed, Turang will get you some steals and possibly continue to work on his power game. He's yet to see MLB action, which could lower his cost even more if he struggles early on this season.
Sal Frelick, OF
The Brewers might have a type. Frelick is another Milwaukee hitter with good speed and limited power. His feel for the strike zone keeps getting better, as he walked more than he struck out at Triple-A last season.
Maybe he's a Steven Kwan-type with a bit more pop. He'll get you steals and always provide a high floor with batting average, plus elite OBP stats. Frelick probably won't be up until later in 2023, but his 2022 numbers might be overlooked by dynasty owners.
The hype train has long left the station. Rodriguez posted the highest batting average, OPS and wRC+ among all minor league catchers with at least 200 PAs. He hit .323 with 25 HRs and 95 RBIs across three levels. The Pirates could really use this switch hitter in the heart of their lineup today.
There's the Henry Davis question lingering that adds some uncertainty at catcher. Rodriguez spent time at first base, second base and left field in 2022. He only saw six games at Triple-A, so sadly we'll have to wait for Pittsburgh to decide to be slightly more competitive later in 2023. If you play with dynasty owners who haven't watched baseball in a year, maybe you could get Rodriguez for less than a fortune.
Luis Ortiz, RHP
There are at least eight players named Luis Ortiz in MLB systems right now, so just be careful you're clicking on the right one. Ortiz averages in the uppers 90s on both his fastballs. His slider has become his best swing-and-miss pitch. The command needs a little refinement, and then we could be looking at a solid starter in the Pirates rotation.
Most projections see him making 15 starts this season. I think dynasty owners are still sleeping on him. He's still available for free in plenty of leagues.
Luis Ortiz comps very closely to Hunter Greene in terms of pitch mix and velo. Ortiz's stuff is elite. According to @enosarris pitching+ model, Ortiz has the highest stuff+ of any starter(I know, small sample). Command can be an issue, but he has been impressive in 3 MLB starts. pic.twitter.com/Mo40AW8Ckl
— Chris Clegg (@RotoClegg) September 27, 2022
St. Louis Cardinals
Jordan Walker, 3B/OF
We all can't wait to witness that potential 80-grade power in the big leagues. Walker has only played up to Double-A so far, but there's plenty of speculation that he will be in the Cardinals lineup early in 2023.
Last season he hit .306 with 19 HRs, 68 RBIs, 22 SBs and a strikeout rate of 21.6%. According to Baseball America's scouting report, "During the 2022 season, 45% of Walker’s balls in play were hit at 95 mph or harder, and his 114.6 mph max exit velocity was in the 99th percentile among players 21 years or younger." Nolan Arenado isn't going anywhere, so Walker will end up in the Cardinals outfield. The asking price for Walker in dynasty leagues is probably laughable.
Matthew Liberatore, LHP
Out of all the players we've talked about so far, Liberatore had the worst 2022 performance. He pitched 115 innings at Triple-A and posted a 5.17 ERA (4.27 xFIP). The Cardinals started him in seven games and his numbers worsened (5.97 ERA, 4.93 xFIP). He wasn't stellar in 2021 either.
Hitters crushed his fastball last season, and the 11.2% walk rate in his stint with St. Louis is a red flag. Still as high as No. 4 in some Cardinals prospect rankings, Liberatore could improve his command and look the part of a mid-rotation starter. But the risk looks high right now. If you're a believer, the price is certainly low for dynasty owners. He's expected to hit double-digit starts in 2023.
Hope you enjoyed the 2023 Dynasty Baseball AL East Prospects. Check out more excellent Fantasy Baseball content from the F6P team!