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January 9, 2014

Fantasy Freestyle

The Top 50 2013 Signees for Dynasty Drafts

by Bret Sayre

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Once the holidays have moved on and the calendar has flipped, dynasty leaguers all start to crawl out of the woodwork to submit their rosters for the current season and draft the new group of eligibles to dream on. As Wooderson would say, "that’s what I love about these current-year draftees, man. I get older, they stay the same age.” The promise of the 2013 signees collectively pool together to give dynasty-league rebuilders new hope of contention and dynasty-league contenders new trade chips with which to get the pieces to put them over the top.

And while the 2013 crop isn't the strongest we've seen in recent memory, there are still high-upside options from which to choose. The slight quirk of this year is that the options with the most fantasy upside are, for the most part, not the high school players. In fact, only one of the top six players on this list fit into that category—which is a change of pace from last season, when Carlos Correa, Byron Buxton, and Addison Russell all fell into that space (and are all now top-10 prospects in the game). There is no prep arm with more impact potential than Jonathan Gray and no prep bat with more power potential than Kris Bryant. On the international front, just like last year, the crop is headlined by a Cuban hitter and a Japanese pitcher who have impact upside—though for fantasy purposes, they may be less exciting than Yu Darvish and Yoenis Cespedes. Then again, that's not much of a knock on Masahiro Tanaka or Jose Abreu, as you'd be hard pressed to find a one-two punch to match them in most seasons.

This is also the time of year that I get a lot of questions about trades involving draft picks. Like every other year, there is a drop-off after the first tier of players available, but 2014 drafts will see more dramatic tiering in the first round than we're used to. So when someone asks me on Twitter, “should I trade player X and a first round pick for player Y,” the answer is inevitably another question: What pick is that? There is a very sizable difference between the fifth pick and eighth pick in drafts this year, so even small differences matter. And to expound on that a little further, if you don’t have a pick in the top six this year (or top five if Tanaka is not available in your draft), it might be a good time to explore trade options. The biggest weakness of this class of fantasy prospects is in the midsection, and you can take advantage of that by dealing picks for players or pulling a Bill Belichick and securing more picks for 2015—which will have a much deeper draft pool.

These rankings assume a standard 5x5 rotisserie 16-team league where you can keep players forever without restriction. In a deeper league, guys like Mark Appel and Colin Moran will get a slight bump up, just like upside-driven names like Tim Anderson or Aaron Judge will get that same treatment in shallow leagues. “Get on with the list already,” you’re probably thinking and potentially saying out loud to your computer screens (although most of you probably went straight to the names first and are backfilling with the content). Don’t worry, I forgive you. But yes, the list (in tiers):

1) Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs
2) Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox
3) Masahiro Tanaka, RHP, Free Agent
4) Clint Frazier, OF, Cleveland Indians
5) Jonathan Gray, RHP, Colorado Rockies
6) Mark Appel, RHP, Houston Astros

Let’s start at the top. Despite Tanaka and Abreu heading straight to the majors and both having chances at stardom, I'm still taking Bryant with the first pick in drafts this year. As a rather polished college hitter, he's not going to be too far behind the pair as far as ETA goes, and the power is just too tantalizing to pass up. That said, it's certainly defensible to take any of the top three with your first selection, depending on how much you believe in the international products. Abreu could be pre-injury Kendrys Morales, but he also has lingering questions about ability to catch up to velocity and his hit tool. Tanaka could be a healthier and slightly better version of Hisashi Iwakuma and slot in as a very good no. 2 fantasy pitcher for your squad, but he's got a ton of miles already on his arm (without the support of a Darvish-like frame).

My love of Clint Frazier is well documented, and frankly, I very nearly put him ahead of Tanaka. It’s just the ETA that pushes him back. Then comes the big decision: Gray or Appel? It’s close and I’ve flip-flopped them a couple of times during the process of researching and making this list. In the end, Gray has the upside to overcome the Coors Field factor and I prefer his strikeout potential to Appel’s safety.

This is the part of the list where the fantasy values drop pretty dramatically.

7) Kohl Stewart, RHP, Minnesota Twins
8) Dominic Smith, 1B, New York Mets
9) Tim Anderson, SS, Chicago White Sox
10) Sean Manaea, LHP, Kansas City Royals
11) Hunter Harvey, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
12) D.J. Peterson, 3B, Seattle Mariners

The second group of six here certainly has potential, but it’s a real step down either in upside or safety. Stewart will get billing as the top name in this group, but he’s much closer to Smith’s value than Appel’s. Smith and Peterson both could be very solid fantasy bats, but since neither has huge power or stolen-base ability, their upsides are somewhat limited. The remaining three players have the upside you want, but all carry real risk. Anderson could be an Ian Desmond-type or he could flame out as a utility guy. Manaea has an injury history and though the reports are good now, he could see a setback. Harvey has a lot of upside, but his division and ballpark won’t help and he’s still a long way away.

13) Braden Shipley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
14) Hunter Renfroe, OF, San Diego Padres
15) J.P. Crawford, SS, Philadelphia Phillies
16) Austin Meadows, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
17) Alex Gonzalez, RHP, Texas Rangers
18) Colin Moran, 3B, Miami Marlins
19) Alexander Guerrero, 2B, Los Angeles Dodgers
20) Hunter Dozier, 3B, Kansas City Royals

The upside in this third grouping is underwhelming. Shipley and Renfroe lead the charge, as they both can reach that next level of prospect status by honing their skills—Renfroe in particular, as a potential power/speed combo (albeit one likely with a low batting average). I’m not the world’s biggest Meadows believer, at least not at a star level, but he’s going to be a fantasy contributor. Moran should be able to hit and starred at North Carolina, but his position and power potential are up in the air—that doesn’t sound at all like Dustin Ackley, right? And Guerrero is a gamble, just without the type of offensive payoff we generally see from Cuban defectors.

21) Reese McGuire, C, Pittsburgh Pirates
22) Trey Ball, LHP, Boston Red Sox
23) Rob Kaminsky, LHP, St Louis Cardinals
24) Devin Williams, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
25) Ryan McMahon, 3B, Colorado Rockies
26) Eric Jagielo, 3B, New York Yankees
27) Bobby Wahl, RHP, Oakland Athletics
28) Billy McKinney, OF, Oakland Athletics
29) Ian Clarkin, LHP, New York Yankees

There’s some talent still in the pool at this point, but once you get outside the top-20, it starts to drop off rapidly. If you’re looking for the most potential bang for your buck in this group, I’d look at numbers 24 and 25. Williams is athletic, but raw, and could take a nice step forward and solidify himself as the Brewers’ top prospect. McMahon is a guy who could hit for power and average—calling Coors Field home is just the icing on the cake.

30) Josh Hart, OF, Baltimore Orioles
31) Aaron Judge, OF, New York Yankees
32) Rafael Devers, 3B, Boston Red Sox
33) Chance Sisco, C, Baltimore Orioles
34) Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago Cubs
35) Marco Gonzales, RHP, St Louis Cardinals
36) Jonathan Denney, C, Boston Red Sox
37) Dustin Peterson, SS, San Diego Padres
38) Chris Anderson, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
39) Nick Ciuffo, C, Tampa Bay Rays
40) Austin Wilson, OF, Seattle Mariners
41) Gleyber Torres, SS, Chicago Cubs
42) Hunter Green, LHP, Los Angeles Angels
43) Travis Demerritte, 3B, Texas Rangers
44) Clinton Hollon, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
45) Jordan Paroubeck, OF, San Diego Padres
46) Ryne Stanek, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
47) Cord Sandberg, OF, Philadelphia Phillies
48) Corey Knebel, RHP, Detroit Tigers
49) Jason Hursh, RHP, Atlanta Braves
50) Tyler Danish, RHP, Chicago White Sox

The rest of this list is filled with lottery tickets (Judge, Devers, Jimenez, Hollon) and likely lower-level contributors (Gonzalez, Anderson, Knebel, Danish). If you’re counting on these guys for anything other than minor-league depth, it’s very likely to end in disappointment.

Bret Sayre is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Bret's other articles. You can contact Bret by clicking here

44 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links


This is really useful. One thing that could improve it further would be to add in some older international signings. In most leagues I play in, only the absolute top name guys (people like Jairo Beras) get picked in the year of signing, and most of the others are left until they do something in the minors. As an example, guys like Raimel Tapia, Amed Rosario, Alberto Tirado are all available in most leagues. If there's a way of producing an article like this including guys like these, that would be great.

Jan 09, 2014 04:46 AM
rating: 2

I agree. I'm not sure where you'd draw the line, but there are plenty of short season guys that are available in most leagues that are difficult to project where they would fit on this list. Along with those you mentioned, guys like Lewis Thorpe, Alex Reyes, and Francisco Mejia all seem like they should fit somewhere on this list, but I'm not sure where.

Jan 09, 2014 06:25 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

I'm happy to answer them as one-offs, but it's really tough to know who's owned and who's not. Even just in an assumed 16-team league (like what is used for this exercise), there's a huge difference if you have a 15-man minor league roster versus a 25-man.

I'd put Mejia and Thorpe towards the middle of the Shipley tier and Raimel Tapia in the Dominic Smith/Tim Anderson range. Reyes and Tirado would be lower, than Mejia/Thorpe, but likely still in that tier.

Jan 09, 2014 08:11 AM

Thanks for the response.

Jan 09, 2014 08:56 AM
rating: 0

Thanks for this list and all of your analysis, it's very helpful. My league has a salary cap and goes by player contracts, so Bryant, Frazier, etc. would cost me the minimum ($400K), whereas Abreu and Tanaka would cost much more. In that case, would you bump Frazier and Gray (or even Appel) above the expensive international signings, or still go for the MLB ready talent?

Jan 09, 2014 05:08 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

If you anticipate having salary cap issues, then yes it would. Much moreso for Tanaka though, as Abreu's salary is much less prohibitive. I'd take both Gray and Appel over Tanaka in that case.

Jan 09, 2014 08:12 AM

I'm way under the cap, actually (rebuilding a team I took over last year, finished third from last), so I'm all about weighing the potential MLB impact of Tanaka and Abreu over the long-term odds / delay of gratification of the top amateurs.

Jan 09, 2014 11:40 AM
rating: 0

What about Cuban defector Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, pitcher for Philadelphia?


Jan 09, 2014 05:17 AM
rating: 3
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

I'll be honest, Gonzalez was an oversight as I seem to have a serious blind spot for him. That said, I'm very bearish on him, and would have ranked him in the 30's on this list based on his risk factors and the likelihood he ends up in the bullpen.

Jan 09, 2014 08:16 AM

Thank you, Brett! This is fantastic! I mostly play in ESPN-hosted leagues, and many minor leaguers are not included in the ESPN player pool, so they aren't draft-eligible. A minor leaguer who has an unexpected breakout (like Alen Hanson last year) isn't added to the player pool - and thus the draft - until the following year. I expect there are others who play in ESPN leagues and are in the same boat.

So, where would you rank newly-ESPN-draft-eligible Gregory Polanco, Tyler Glasnow, CJ Edwards, and Henry Owens on this list? How about Michael Pineda?

Jan 09, 2014 05:20 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

Those players will all be ranked in the Top 100 Fantasy Prospects list coming out next month, but Polanco would be at least in the mix for #1 (but probably behind Bryant) and the rest of the guys would settle in the top of the second tier. As far as Pineda, the shoulder stuff scares me enough that unless he were more or less handed to me on a silver platter, I'll let him be someone else's problem.

Jan 09, 2014 08:14 AM

Thanks, really enjoy the list. Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez seems like an obvious omission from a list that goes as deep as this, is that just because of the wide variety of opinions on him? Also would be useful to consider where guys like Raciel Iglesias and Yoon Suk-Min might fit if they sign in the near future.

Jan 09, 2014 06:15 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

I addressed Gonzalez above, but for the other guys, I'm releasing a top 30 fantasy prospects list of solely players not yet in U.S. professional baseball. That includes future draft picks, and international players, and should get released in the next two weeks.

Jan 09, 2014 08:18 AM

A lot of people seem to be split on Austin Meadows. Some say his best tool is his speed, while others consider him more of a Jay Bruce type power-hitting corner outfielder. What are your thoughts on him?

Jan 09, 2014 06:22 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

I don't think he has the power to be Jay Bruce or the speed to be a difference maker there. I like him as a good all-around contributor, but not a fantasy star.

Jan 09, 2014 08:15 AM

I pick second in my draft. The person ahead of me has said that they will take Abreu and if that's the case, I'm still agonizing over whether I'd take Bryant or Tanaka. I'm thinking it will come down to what park/league Tanaka will be pitching in. But any information one way or the other could still sway me.

To be honest, I'm kind of hoping the person above me takes one of Bryant or Tanaka and makes my decision for me.

Jan 09, 2014 07:32 AM
rating: 0

I have the #2 pick in my league as well. It's NL only and I want Kris Bryant more than I can possibly express. I only hope the guy with the #1 pick doesn't have a BP subscription. Or a brain.

Jan 09, 2014 13:08 PM
rating: 0

I could see why a person with a brain could take any one of Abreu, Tanaka or Bryant. I prefer Bryant to Abreu because of the position scarcity, scouts have been able to get a better look at him and the quality of play in Single A is more regulated than the Cuban League. But the White Sox play in the most friendly ballpark in baseball for righthanded home runs, so Abreu's skills could perhaps play up a bit.

It's really hard for me to quantify how Tanaka will do. He profiles favorably in NPB statistics and pitching style to guys like Iwakuma or Kuroda. I think the wear on his arm might be a little overblown, he's already scheduled a physical. I'd feel great about him if a team like the Dodgers signed him.

Jan 10, 2014 07:44 AM
rating: 0

It's NL only so Abreu is out. I could re-evaluate once I know where Tanaka will be. With that, Bryant is clearly the best NL prospect available in our league.

Jan 10, 2014 15:04 PM
rating: 0

Hard to argue against these tiered rankings. Of course you could always make arguments to include such-and-such, but good rankings overall.

I think that the guy who is most likely to outproduce his tier is Reese McGuire, but he is so young and a long way away. I am very excited about him and his bat though

Jan 09, 2014 08:06 AM
rating: 0

Per a recent report on Abreu training in Fl, he's much more athletic than 1st percieved. He was a SS, then 3B in Cuba. He only moved to 1B when he just kept growing and to protect the bat. That's excactly the same story for..Miggy.

Jan 09, 2014 08:38 AM
rating: -1

How close are Tim Anderson and JP Crawford and how do they compare? I always mentally group them together, since they're prep shortstops with similar builds and were drafted back to back.

Jan 09, 2014 09:21 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

They're close. I think Crawford is the better real life player (and safer pick), but Anderson has the most substantial fantasy upside.

Jan 09, 2014 09:35 AM

Nice article. I been offered the #5 pick for my #8 pick and Matt Adams. I also have Goldschmidt, K Morales and Lind at 1b. Is giving up Adams worth the 3 spot move?

Jan 09, 2014 10:17 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

It's a good thought to move up, but not at the expense of Adams.

Jan 09, 2014 13:55 PM

You don't have Phillip Ervin in your top 50? That seems like an omission...

Jan 09, 2014 10:19 AM
rating: 2

I agree. He looked solid in a viewing I had of him in Low A. Actually, Hunter Renfroe was facing him. Looked like Renfroe had more power potential, but Ervin could more consistently create impact on the field. SSS, of course.

Jan 09, 2014 12:53 PM
rating: 0
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

Ervin was the last player cut for this list. I like him enough as a prospect, but my strategy is to shoot for bigger upside players and lottery tickets in the 30-50 range. That means mostly pitchers with a chance to jump and premium J2 hitters. Ervin's omission could make me look stupid, but it's not a pick that I would make in that range.

Jan 09, 2014 13:58 PM

Thanks for the reply.

In reality, nobody can afford to carry those lottery tickets for the 5 years it takes them to establish themselves and the majority completely flame out within a few years.

Jan 09, 2014 20:19 PM
rating: 0

Whether you can afford to carry them or not is entirely format dependent. Even if the majority do flame out, that doesn't mean that they aren't better bets than guys who don't have a high enough ceiling to be significant contributors even if they do make it.

Jan 11, 2014 17:52 PM
rating: 0

D.J Peterson = long term 3B?

Jan 09, 2014 11:07 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

If I had to put money on it, I'd say yes. Thankfully, I'm not putting money on it.

Jan 09, 2014 13:59 PM

What would you need to believe to take Frazier ahead of Abreu? I expect Tanaka and Bryant to go 1-2 in my league and I'm still not sold on Abreu over Frazier. Is it all about ETA (not that that's not important, but I can be patient)? Is Kendrys Morales pre-injury a slam dunk over Frazier?

Thanks, Bret!

Jan 09, 2014 18:57 PM
rating: 0

Not a dynasty league, but I am in an AL-only roto league with 17 reserve rounds. Many picks in the prior years MLB draft are still available for the upcoming reserve draft. Thoughts on 3B Mitch Nay and OF Nick Williams?


Jan 09, 2014 20:24 PM
rating: 0
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

I like Williams a lot--he's a borderline top 100 guy for me. Nay, not so much. The odds of him both hitting and sticking at 3B are not good.

Jan 10, 2014 13:47 PM

To which I say "nay-nay".

Jan 10, 2014 15:06 PM
rating: 0

If you could insert Odur into this list (points league) where would he slot for you?

Jan 10, 2014 14:43 PM
rating: 0
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

I'd have Odor ranked pretty closely to Appel.

Jan 11, 2014 17:54 PM

Gray and Bryant are not "prep" players unless I've had it backwards for years. Frazier is the top prep bat and I believe Hunter Harvey (H SQrd) is the top prep arm. From the college ranks, Bryant may be the biggest impact bat since...? Obviously, Gray since Strasburg or was Matt Harvey a college player? I honestly just want to make sure I'm not being an ass by stating Gray and Bryant are not prep bats.

Jan 12, 2014 23:44 PM
rating: 0
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

They're not prep players, but my point wasn't that they were, it was that there was no one from the HS ranks who had greater upside (which is uncommon).

Bryant isn't a once in ten or twenty years kind of bat, despite how he looks compared to the rest of this class. I'd say he's the best college bat since Anthony Rendon. Same with Gray--it's only been two years since Gerrit Cole went number one overall.

Jan 13, 2014 05:07 AM

Any thoughts on including Blake Taylor?

Jan 14, 2014 15:33 PM
rating: 0

Where do you slot Maikel Franco on this list?

Jan 16, 2014 09:30 AM
rating: 1

Knebel has the closer pedigree but as we've seen with guys like Paco and Storen there's no guarantee they will get the nod quickly nor be able to retain the role. So let me ask this way, for fantasy purposes, who else do you see as a back end type of arm from the 2013 summer classes (and signees to date)?

Jan 17, 2014 01:35 AM
rating: 0

If you inserted Taylor Lindsey where would he be for you?

Jan 18, 2014 08:46 AM
rating: 0
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Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Abreu, ... (01/09)
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