Prospects. The biggest difference with how to value prospects is largely preference. Personally, I’m a big fan of going for guys who are closer to getting a shot in the big leagues. This doesn’t just mean they are more big league ready, either. How blocked they are for the parent club is also a large factor. Take guys like Alex Verdugo and Kyle Tucker. Both players have been on top 100 prospect lists for 3-4 years. Neither guy has made an MLB impact yet, but I believe both should be solid baseball players. Then you have a guy like Soto, who is (apparently) blocked, but the stars align and he goes from a virtual unknown to being a first round pick a year and a half later. Soto was largely unranked prior to 2017, and was top 25-50 pre-2018. Not only were the Nats loaded in the MLB outfield, he also had a more highly ranked and experienced prospect above him.
The point is that I prefer to go for guys up sooner rather than later. I do not like eating the opportunity cost of a bench spot for a guy who will sit for years. However, there are considerations to be made for how good/bad a player can be. A guy like Austin Hays can be a solid fantasy contributor. He could also be an afterthought this time next year. The good news is you’ll probably know which sooner rather than later. Two to three months from now there will be guys taking steps forward, guys worth adding. Guys like Mitch Haniger, Rhys Hoskins, or Eddie Rosario who don’t carry a ton of prospect clout, but get a shot and run with it (or are useful and turn into some real nice big league guys). You will want the flexibility to make those kind of moves when needed. This isn’t as applicable for leagues with dedicated minor league spots, but it is definitely a factor if your bench space is limited and you can roster MiLB or MLB guys in those spots.
One thing to note: Please don’t get hung up on the precise # a guy is ranked at. For example, I have Seth Beer ranked ahead of George Valera. If I was drafting a dynasty team today and looking at these guys, I may very well lean one way or the other based on a number of factors. The more prospects I can own, the more I prefer the safer guy (in this case, Beer). If I am limited and am looking for a real impact player I’d probably swing for the fence and trust my ability to cut/replace him with a safer minor leaguer on the bench if he isn’t panning out.
Without further ado;
32) Jordyn Adams – LAA (2021)
The good thing with Adams is he can stick in CF, looks like a hitter who can have 15+ homer pop, and can really run. We’re looking at a guy who can potentially be a 20/20 CF. With Trout likely leaving LAA, CF should be his for the taking in a couple of years.
31) Austin Hays – BAL (2019)
This is a perfect example of a guy with an immediate chance at playing time. I’m definitely one of the bigger Austin Hays apologists of my friends who like to talk prospects (as well as based on what I read online). Hays was a top 25 prospect heading into 2018 only to be dropped this year because of a down season. I’m inclined to give him a pass on 2018 given the small sample size and the injury. Not long ago (2017, actually) Hays batted .329/.365/.593 and slugged 32 homers in 128 games. He did this while only striking out 85 times. Baltimore is bad, and he should get a chance to play. Take an early shot on him, and if it doesn’t pan out cut him for the flavor of the week.
29) Daz Cameron – DET (2019)
Early in his career I felt Daz Cameron was over-rated. He was young and raw and carried a lot of clout because of who is dad is. Two sub-par years to start his career really scared guys off. However, over the last 2 years Daz has really started to come into his own. He walks a respectable amount, he’s not too much of a free swinger (though I’d like to see the K’s come back, they aren’t at a worrisome level), has hit for pop, and has done a good job on the basepaths. He’s also in line to make some immediate contributions, er, or at least get the opportunity to do so. Detroit is bad, very not good. Me no likey. I think Daz starts the year in AAA, but gets a shot with a summer call up. Those needing steals during the year would be wise to keep an eye on Cameron early on.
28) Khalil Lee – KC (2020)
Khalil Lee is a guy who can do a little of everything but doesn’t seem to excel at anything. There’s nothing wrong with that. His high BB% will give him a healthy OBP. His stolen base numbers are nice (around a 20-25 steal guy) but his caught stealing percentage is not good. If he can’t be more effective of a runner he may well get dialed back. The pop is there, but more of a 15-20 homer, instead of a 20-25+ homer guy. He’s a little farther away and I would pass on him for a higher upside guy a little further away, or for an immediate impact guy.
27) Brandon Marsh – LAA (2020)
Marsh has a lot in common with Khalil Lee. Healthy walk rate, not a prolific power bat or base stealer, but K’s could be a bigger issue. I prefer Marsh because his LAA supporting cast will likely be stronger if/when he’s in the big leagues. I also feel like there’s more HR upside for Marsh, even if he hasn’t shown it yet.
26) Bubba Thompson – TEX (2021)
I like keeping my eyes on players who can steal 30+ bags and offer 10+ home runs. They are so useful in categorical leagues, both head-to-head and roto. Bubba doesn’t walk much and K’s too much, both of which worry me. It’s not uncommon for a guy who can run like Thompson. Put the ball in play and run, that’s how Thompson likes to play it.
25) Leody Taveras – TEX (2020)
I am NOT a Leody Taveras guy. He’s a guy who really doesn’t have a stand out tool, and the things he does do are barely enough to keep him relevant. He’s not a strong avg or OBP guy. He doesn’t run a ton (~20 steal guy so far), and he doesn’t hit for a lot of extra bases. But there’s one thing to consider on top of the numbers: He’s been very young for each level he’s been in (averaging around 3 years younger than his comp across RK, A-, A, and A+ ball). So while his lack of strong numbers so far pushes me away, knowing how young he’s been draws me right back in. I’d like to see him head back to A+ this year and work his way to AA. If he can start to put it together he could jump 15+ spots on this list.
24) Christin Stewart – DET (2019)
C-Stew is having a strong spring and has a shot to break camp opening day with the parent club. He’s not going to run much and his R/RBI totals won’t be strong, even if things really go right. But he is a guy with a good approach at the plate, will take a walk, doesn’t K a ton, and has moderate to good pop. A 25+ homer season is not likely, but it’s reasonably possible. I like him more as a player for 2020, but I’d own him now just to take the chance on him figuring it out in the majors.
23) Brandon Lowe – TB (2019)
Spring training stats are meaningless. Yes, I agree. However, they are less meaningless when you’re looking at a guy like Brandon Lowe. The competition he’s going against are a mix of what he’d see in the minors and major league talent. Fact is, he’s raking right now and should be in line for opening day at-bats. He’s a guy we could see move all around the diamond. Multi-position eligibility + a strong BA at 20+ homer pop can be invaluable. His MLB debut was so-so, showing good power but struggling to hit for a decent average. I believe in the bat, even if I think his ceiling is relatively low.
22) Travis Swaggerty – PIT (2021)
Swaggerty was one of my favorite bats going into the draft last year. I love his tools. He may never have a super strong BA, but his hit tool should be league average. Swaggerty does possess above average pop and ability to run. If he can increase his hit tool and not be so suspect to striking out he could be a Benintendi-like bat.
21) Seth Beer – HOU (2020)
Beer was, in my opinion, the best bat in the draft last season. I do not think Beer sticks in the OF and ultimately ends up at 1B or DH. However, his bat will absolutely play there. 30+ homers and a .300+ BA are both attainable for this guy, and he should have a relatively high floor as a major league hitter. I also think we see him next season. Houston can be aggressive with their prospects, even if they are blocked.
20) Tyler O’Neil – STL (2019)
I really love O’Neil’s ability to mash. His hit tool isn’t completely atrocious, either. He’s not going to win any batting titles, but a 30+ homer season with a .240+ batting average is “within the Cards” (hue hue hue). He’s blocked from MLB at bats right now, but Bader and Fowler aren’t the kind of guys who block you for long when you keep mashing.
19) Trevor Larnach – MIN (2020)
While Beer was my favorite bat in the 2018 draft, Larnach had some consideration there. I rank Larnach higher because I believe he’s closer to the MLB and more likely to stick in the OF. Larnach can run a little, but I think that’s a part of his game that’s going to get lost as he turns into more of a slugger. 30+ HR seasons with a .290/.300+ batting average await, and a really strong OBP due to his ability to take a walk. A 2019 arrival, while unlikely, wouldn’t stun me.
18) Kristian Robinson – ARI (2021)
Just like the ‘ol Motley Crue song Tools, tools, tools… or something like that. Anyway, Robinson has plenty of them. Definitely a contender to move up this list quickly. Right now he’s a 20/30 guy in the minors and walks a good deal for a 17 year old. I think Robinson can be a 30/30/.280 guy when he starts to figure it out. The K’s are a little problematic right now, but given his age, I’m not worried yet. Any steps forward in that category would really push his value up to me.
17) George Valera – CLE (2021)
It’s really hard to rank a guy so far away. The upside and tools scream stud in the making. It’s really unfortuante an injury cut short his rookie ball season to six games. In those six games he had homered, doubled, stolen a base and walked 3 times vs only 3 K. This was as a 17 year old. A 2020 appearance in the majors wouldn’t stun me. We could see a Soto-like ascension here.
16) Estevan Florial – NYY (2021)
The K’s are still problematic. Otherwise, you can’t really question the tools. He walks a lot, he has 30+ SB potential and 20+ HR potential. He’s going to be hitting in a great stadium and could be a real fantasy star. How I feel about him reminds me of how I felt about Grady Sizemore back in the day.
15) Drew Waters – ATL (2021)
Atlanta has done a magnificent job drafting the last few years. I’m a big fan of Waters. I love just watching switch hitters. No, it means very little in fantasy, but I just like ’em. So sue me. One thing that really impresses me about Waters is that he cracked 57 extra base hits in 114 games last season and stole 23 bases. He was a doubles machine, and I think those can translate into 20+ homers. Pair that with his speed and strong BA and you’re looking at a potential strong fantasy contributor. When he gets a chance for playing time is debatable, but his ability to hit isn’t.
14) Yusniel Diaz – BAL (2019)
I loved it when he was traded from LA to Baltimore. Diaz isn’t a thumper, doesn’t hit for an exceptional average, and doesn’t run a lot. But Diaz is a very solid major league hitter. He’s a guy I really like for points leagues because his high BB rate and low K rate should help him play up. Hitting in Camden will be far better than his previous MLB parent club home. I wouldn’t expect a lot of steals or homers, but I think he can quietly be a solid contributor, and he’ll get a chance to do it now.
13) Cristian Pache – ATL (2020)
Pache hasn’t quite lived up to my expectations in the minors yet. I think what we’ve seen is just a glimpse of the player he can be, especially considering his very low stolen base total. Pache can really run and he plays great defense, this really helps him get into the majors sooner rather than later. I think as he ages his hit tool will become more polished, and we may see a .290 hitter that can hit 15-20 homers and steal 25+. He could push for playing time in Atlanta in 2019.
12) Jarred Kelenic – SEA (2021)
I keep talking about my favorite bats heading into the draft. I didn’t mention Kelenic, but I wanted to. He hit extremely well for a teenager in rookie ball. He started off very hot and, even after cooling down, still finished with a strong line. I think the sky is the limit for Kelenic. I don’t want to speculate on the kind of lines we can see out of him only because I don’t want to seem insane. He’s a very polished hitter for someone drafted out of high school, without a lot of swing and miss in his game and his ability to excel as a power bat and as well as a guy who can run.
11) Jesus Sanchez – TB (2019)
I don’t think Sanchez gets at-bats that matter for fantasy in 2019, but I do think he’ll get some. He’s played each level young and put up solid power numbers in his career, as well as good batting averages. He puts the ball in play quite a bit, but his upside may be limited if he doesn’t learn to take a few more walks. His bat may very well be special, but I think a (slight) approach change is needed to get him to that next level.
10) Luis Robert – CWS (2020)
I am just waiting for the power to show up. Robert is a guy who hits the ball LOUD when he hits it. Thumb and hamstring injuries limited his minor league experience so far. He’s probably not going to be a prolific home run bat, but I think 12-15 are the floor for him once he gets going, and that’s to go with 40 swipes. Again, this is assuming he can figure it out. The tools are there, and he was paid the second-highest amateur contract ever because he has the chance to be really special.
9) Alex Verdugo – LAD (2019)
Verdugo may be the most unexciting name on this list for me. I don’t think Verdugo is gonna be a guy who hits 20 homers or steals 20 bases. I could easily be wrong on either of those, but there’s nothing I’ve seen to suggest it. Playing time was partially freed up by the Puig trade. LA held on tightly to Verdugo in trade talks, so you’d think he’d get a shot as soon as he’s ready. He looks ready now, so it shouldn’t be long before he’s grabbing every day at bats.
8) Yordan Alvarez – HOU (2019)
Alvarez was quietly killing the ball last summer in the minors. Playing only 88 games but hitting 20 homers and 21 doubles, chipping in 6 steals and batting .293. He should get a shot in Houston at some point in 2019, but it may not be until 2020 if Tyler White continues to hit and Kyle Tucker excels when he gets a chance. Alvarez may be a guy who gets moved during the summer if Houston decides they need some starting pitching, which would probably be good if Yordan can go somewhere that affords him MLB playing time.
7) Taylor Trammell – CIN (2020)
I’m still waiting for the power to show up for Trammell. He’s got great speed for a guy his size and will be in a good hitters park when he gets his shot. The speed could easily be 25-30+ in the bigs. The high BB% should give Trammell the chance to hit high in the order. Really, he profiles well for a leadoff bat, and 15-20 HR pop and 30+ steals would be something to build around. The power may never get there, but the OBP and speed should always be strong, and he’ll have enough power to not be a drain there.
6) Kyle Tucker – HOU (2019)
Tucker has shown it in the minors. I think what “Ted” needs is a chance to play every day and not worry about if he’s sent down after an 0-4 game. Alex Bregman was a real drag on call-up, but he eventually put it together. I think the same will happen to Tucker once he can be afforded that at-bats.
5) Jo Adell – LAA (2020)
Adell is one of my favorite prospects. The power and speed could be elite on their own. You won’t find many MLB comps for a guy who can put up the kind of numbers he may be able to in those departments. The K’s are high, the walks are low, but he’s been very young for the levels he’s played in. He won’t come cheaply, but he’s worth the wait.
4) Victor Robles – WAS (2019)
Robles is only here because he should be the opening day CF and offers elite SB potential. I think his power #’s are a bit too low to justify a ranking this high, but he should be playing game 1 and on. He could give a team 50 steals, and that’s nothing to scoff at. Near double-digit homers with a good BA could make him a guy that wins you your league.
3) Nick Senzel – CIN (2019)
We should finally get to experience Senzel-Time in Cincy this year. Injuries (and vertigo) have plagued this guy, but his bat is ready. A full season line of 20/20 with a .300 BA would be about right in line with what he’s done in the minors. He probably fails to do any of those 3 things (on a per-game basis) but he’s got the skills to be a real plus play, especially in points-based formats.
2) Alex Kiriloff – MIN (2020)
Side note: I am super not happy with ESPN not having this guy in the player pool last year. However, I am super happy with how elite he was in 2018. 2016 was cut short, 2017 didn’t exist. After a long time off from baseball, Kiriloff killed the ball in A/A+ at age 20. A final season like of 20 homers, 44 doubles, 86 K, 38 BB and a .348 batting average in 130 games tells you all you really need to know. He’s an elite bat, and you need to roster him yesterday.
1) Eloy Jimenez – CWS (2019)
Ahh… loser of the good ‘ol service time lottery. There is only one MiLB bat more major league ready, and both should have been up last year. Jimenez possesses elite power with a very strong hit tool. I will not quibble about his low walk total, we can’t have it all. But he walks enough to not be an OBP drain and he absolutely smashes the ball. The Windy City is going to have a hard time keeping these balls in the park. I am legitimately excited thinking about how good he can be this summer. I don’t usually reach on prospects in a draft, but I will absolutely be drafting Eloy well before his ADP (~135, right around other OF’s Inciarte, McCutchen, and Peralta). Jimenez is a guy I’ll take in redrafts around pick 110-115, depending on how things have gone. In a keeper/dynasty format? Gauge up your leaguemates. If prospects went early before, he should be gone early.
I really enjoy speculating futures on prospects. I know that 2/3 of this list are going to fail to reach their potential. The ones that do can make a long term difference for your dynasty squads. Stay diligent, as these things change quick.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday March 3rd, 2019 from 8-9:45pm EST for episode #142 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. You can listen live on blogtalk, majorleaguefantasysports.com, or download the podcast on I-Tunes or any Android podcast app. Our topic this week is middle infield (2B/SS).
Our guest this week is Joel Gullo. Joel hosts a podcast at lennymelnickfantasysports.com.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore on Thursday March 7th, 2019 from 8pm – 9:30pm EST for the Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show. Call in number is 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. You can listen live on blogtalk, majorleaguefantasysports.com, or download the podcast on I-Tunes or any Android podcast app. This week we will discuss Starting Pitching for fantasy purposes.
Be sure to check out our Sunday night show March 10th from 8pm to 9:30pm EST. They will cover the Outfield.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Show Episode #167, 6/23/2019 Host Brian Roach, Jr., Co-Host Cole Freel, Guest Kevin Bzdek
Major League Fantasy Baseball Show Episode #169, 8/4/2019 Host Cole Freel, Guest Joe Iannone
@brandonziman You are more than welcome Brandon. You were a fantastic writer and a joy to work with. As we move through a very big transition for us hopefully we can continue to work with one anither.