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MLB rookies set to make the biggest fantasy baseball impacts in 2024

MLB rookies set to make the biggest fantasy baseball impacts in 2024

The 2024 MLB season features a key group of rookies who look poised to make their presences felt in fantasy baseball. The Yahoo Fantasy and Yahoo Sports MLB crews highlight the first-year players they're more hyped about ahead of Opening Day.

Wyatt Langford, OF, Texas Rangers

I’ll contribute to the hype on Langford, who offers a ton to be excited about. He has clubbed six homers while posting a 218 wRC+ this spring after annihilating pitching across all minor-league levels last year. The No. 4 pick in the 2023 draft, Langford possesses “70” grades in both speed and power, so he’s fantasy’s top prospect.

[Join or create a Yahoo Fantasy Baseball league for the 2024 MLB season]

Langford has admittedly beaten up on low-level pitching this spring, and prospects fail frequently, but his massive potential is worth the risk. He will open the year in Texas after his hot spring (he nearly made their World Series roster last season as a 21-year-old), and he’s likely to hit in the middle of the order right away.

Steamer projects Langford to post a 125 wRC+ as a rookie, and he’ll be helped by a home park that has boosted homers for righties by 12% the past three seasons, which is the fourth in baseball. Langford goes 25/20 and easily wins Rookie of the Year this season. He should be drafted as a borderline top-20 fantasy outfielder. — Dalton Del Don

Evan Carter, OF, Texas Rangers

Evan Carter is 21 years old, the No. 5 prospect in baseball, already a World Series champion … and he hasn't even played 30 games in the big leagues. Carter's path to the Rangers is unique and will be talked about for a long time. But despite all the postseason success, he's still a rookie!

Carter has a keen ability to get on base, and he's only going to continue to get stronger as the years go by. This season, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Carter lead the Rangers in average, on-base percentage, walks and even stolen bases. Wyatt Langford gets a lot of love, and rightfully so, but Carter should be a frontrunner for AL Rookie of The Year. — Russell Dorsey

Colt Keith, 2B, Detroit Tigers

I grant you the Rangers are the rookie hotbed in the American League, so I don't blame anyone for focusing there. But the Tigers also have a wave of young talent coming through, and Colt Keith is the latest name to know. Keith rocked a .306/.380/.552 slash line across two levels in the minors last year, with 27 homers in 126 games.

Detroit is so confident in Keith's future, it signed him to a six-year, $28 million contract in advance of his MLB debut. With no service-time chicanery to worry about, Keith can start the year in the majors. He's likely ready to conk 20 homers and hit for a plus average, making him a destination pick at Yahoo ADP 240. — Scott Pianowski

Jackson Chourio, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

We're just a few days past Jackson Chourio's 20th birthday, so he's at an age when expectations for his production at the major-league level should be almost nonexistent. If he can simply tread water as a rookie, it's a positive sign. But Chourio has been miles ahead of the normal developmental timeline to this point, which allows us to dream a little.

Last season, as a 19-year-old in the high minors, Chourio banged out 22 homers and stole 44 bases, delivering a .283 average and 51 extra-base hits over 128 games. It was just the fifth 20/40 season produced by a teenager at any minor-league level in the previous 65 years; Chourio and Ronald Acuña Jr. are the only players to pull off that feat at Double-A or above.

Chourio has reportedly made the Brewers' Opening Day roster, so no worries on that front. His speed is elite, he's remarkably advanced as a hitter, and he has had an excellent spring at the plate. Chourio profiles as a near-perfect, every-category, first-round fantasy weapon down the road. You can't have the NL Rookie of the Year conversation without mentioning his name. — Andy Behrens

Austin Wells, C, New York Yankees

The Yankees have a former first-round pick, 24-year-old catcher who hit 21 homers in 503 plate appearances across four levels last year — and somehow he feels overlooked and underrated?

In a late-season, 19-game sample, Wells looked the part of an every-day backstop who provides more value with the bat than the glove. He drew positive reviews from Yankees pitchers for his game-calling and receiving but has to improve against the running game to avoid being a defensive liability in the new steal-heavy MLB game. But even if the defense skews closer to meh than good, Wells will more than make up for it with his left-handed bat, which looks like a perfect match for Yankee Stadium’s short RF porch.

Worst-case scenario, he’s a better fantasy catcher than a real catcher, someone with defensive stink who starts 40 games a season but pops 25 bombs as a corner OF/DH the rest of the time. Best-case scenario, the Yankees have their catcher for the next half-decade. — Jake Mintz

Jackson Holliday, SS, Baltimore Orioles

What Holliday did in 2023 — not even a full year after graduating high school and being the No. 1 pick in the previous year’s draft — is mind-boggling. MLB.com’s No. 1 prospect scaled four levels of the minor leagues at age 19, hitting all the way to Triple-A, combining for a .323 batting average and walking 101 times to fuel a .442 on-base percentage. He was one of just eight minor leaguers to walk at least 100 times last year.

[2024 Fantasy Baseball Draft Rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP]

With 2023 AL Rookie of the Year Gunnar Henderson manning shortstop in Baltimore, Holliday slides to the other side of the keystone and will handle second base when he makes his debut. That eventual dual eligibility will make him extra valuable for fantasy, especially if he carries any part of the spring training numbers — a .326 average with a .998 OPS — into regular-season play. He’ll be a threat on the bases after swiping 24 bags last year, though his power might take some time to develop to get anywhere near the 316 lifetime home runs his father, Matt, hit in the big leagues. Jackson hit 12 homers in the minor leagues last year.

The Orioles have a loaded lineup of homegrown players, and Holliday is next in line to make a splash. He’s 20, and while he'll start the year in the minors, when he does come up, he'll likely start out batting low in the order. But be ready for him to be a budding power-speed star before he's old enough to legally buy a beer. — Jorge Martin

Kyle Harrison, SP, San Francisco Giants

The pressure might be lessened now that fellow left-hander Blake Snell is in the fold, but I am amped to watch a full season of Kyle Harrison in the big leagues. As someone who follows the amateur draft closely, I was simply blown away by how quickly he progressed from what he was as a prep pitcher at nearby De La Salle High School in Concord, California, to what he is now, as a 22-year-old already in a big-league rotation.

He has always had a funky angle with which to attack hitters from the left side, but the stuff has exploded in pro ball, and his fastball plays at such a special level at the top of the zone. I'm especially eager to see what adjustments he makes to his secondary stuff if big-league bats start to get used to his heater. He seems more than capable of making those tweaks as necessary, and he could be the key to San Francisco's suddenly star-studded rotation becoming truly elite. — Jordan Shusterman

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