Previous entries in this series:
Up-the-middle players simply don’t have full-season debuts like Garcia’s age-17/18 campaign. A lot of projection is still required here, but I think he will grow into power without sacrificing average. He could be a .300 hitter who hits 20 homers and steals 15 bases—only Trout, Betts and Yelich did that last year.
32) Ralph Lifshitz, Prospects Live — Jonathan India, 3B, Reds
As both the man responsible for Prospects Live’s Cincinnati Reds and Cape Cod League coverage, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time researching India over the past 18 months. This has led me to an aggressive position on India’s future. Not only do I feel he was the best college player available in the 2018 draft, I think he might be the best overall position player. India is a strong, athletic, astute and intelligent player, blessed with elite bat speed and a swing catered to getting the most out of his pull-side power. While I wouldn’t expect him to reach Alex Bregman’s current production, there’s an element of Bregman’s profile in India. An all-around talent with the ability to move quickly through the upper reaches of the minors due to his polish. A future .275-.290 hitter with on base ability, 25-homer/15-steal upside. A three-year starter at Florida, India exploded his junior season, hitting .350/.497/.717 with 21 homers, 17 steals, and a 20% BB% in 68 games.
33) J.P. Breen, MKETailgate — Estevan Florial, OF, Yankees
I love power-speed fantasy prospects, and Florial is one of baseball’s best. Don’t be fooled by last season’s power numbers. A hamate injury sapped his home-run totals and he was only 20 years old in High-A. Florial has some serious swing-and-miss concerns, but if it comes together, he’s a power-speed monster who could benefit from a friendly ballpark in the Bronx. As is clear with my first three picks, I’m after offensive upside and am not too worried about floor. In fact, the Yankees’ youngster may be even more exciting than Jesus Sanchez, who I took just a few picks prior. Florial is a potential five-category contributor—just be aware that the average could plummet due to his strikeout numbers as he faces more advanced pitching. If that happens, it’s fair to then question how usable the power becomes. But still, if it comes together, it’s a top-50 fantasy player annually.
I seriously considered Jesus Sanchez and Luis Urias when I took Alex Verdugo seven picks ago, and I hoped one of them would get back to me. The other guy I looked at was Bart, and I’ll go for positional value here and grab the 20-25 home run catcher.
I’m almost guaranteed to be the high man at this point, but what I see is a player that’s guaranteed to stick at the six, a threat for 30 steals, and a guy I think can hit 20 homers. I’m aggressive on the power but there’s some untapped potential there and that’s the last thing that comes. He’s going to be a special player. He had a strong year as a 19-year old in Double-A, and that’s no small feat.
36) Jesse Roche, The Dynasty Guru — Nolan Gorman, 3B, Cardinals
Through 35 picks, just four pitching prospects are off the board. The mantra, “There is no such thing as a pitching prospect,” or TINSTAAPP, holds sway in this draft. In all drafts, you must prepare to adapt, shift strategy, and deviate from your own rankings. With pitching falling in mass, I will continue the trend. Luckily, my top hitting prospect from the 2018 Draft is still available! Nolan Gorman possesses huge, 70-grade raw power, and he has a swing geared to tap into every last ounce of it. In his debut, he blasted 17 home runs (.291/.380/.570) between the Appalachian League, where he outproduced Wander Franco, and Low-A. In fact, only Fernando Tatis Jr. has hit for as much power as Gorman at 18 years old in the pitcher-friendly Midwest League (.223 ISO) over the last decade. While swing-and-miss is a concern, he has quelled some doubts regarding his hit tool, showing progress with pitch recognition and handling off-speed pitches. Whether his hit tool continues to develop, however, will determine his ultimate offensive ceiling. For now, there is a lot of reason for restrained optimism.
37) Ben Carsley, Baseball Prospectus — Ryan Mountcastle, 3B, Orioles
The comp I keep coming back to for Mountcastle is Nick Castellanos. Just like the Tiger, Mountcastle is a bat-first “third baseman” who’s probably going to have to move down the defensive spectrum, but who has the offensive tools to fit right in even if he’s relegated to a corner OF spot. Mountcastle’s power generally steals headlines, but he’s also a very good pure hitter, and he’s had no trouble climbing the MiLB ladder despite some aggressive assignments for his age. There may not be true star potential here, but Mountcastle is among the safer bets in the minors to become a viable mid-round fantasy bat. Factor in his fantasy-friendly MLB ETA and a potential home ballpark of Camden Yards and there’s a lot to like here.
38) D.J. Short, Rotoworld — Jarred Kelenic, OF, Mariners
Kelenic is already looking like one of the most promising players from last year’s draft class. As evidenced by his pro debut between the GCL and the Appalachian League, the 19-year-old offers legitimate five-category ability and an advanced approach from the left side of the plate. Even if he doesn’t stick in center field, the feeling is that he should have enough pop for a corner. It was going to take a lot for the Mariners to part with All-Star closer Edwin Diaz, so it says a lot about Kelenic’s potential that he was the centerpiece of the recent trade with the Mets. It wouldn’t be surprising if he was a first or second round pick in this mock next year.
I certainly wasn’t looking for anything specific, but it was nice that the top player left on my board was a pitcher. Greene has a long way to go, but the stuff is filthy, and like my good friend Homestar Runner, he’s a terrific athlete. With an 80-grade fastball, a breaking-ball that flashes plus and a usable change, I think he can be among the best right-handed pitchers in baseball someday. You just have to be very patient.
40) Bret Sayre, Baseball Prospectus — Trevor Larnach, OF, Twins
The second-best dynasty prospect available in dynasty drafts this year, Larnach combines very hard contact with a strong approach at the plate. The concern with him up until his junior year at Oregon State was that his swing wasn’t geared for power, but after crushing 19 homers leading up to the draft, it was a concern no longer. With his high-end college track record, he should move quickly and bring his combination of average and power to Minnesota as soon as next year.
41) Wilson Karaman, Baseball Prospectus — Vidal Brujan, 2B, Rays
Brujan is an exciting dude. He popped up on the radar last winter, but after swiping 55 bags while walking almost as much as he whiffed across two levels of A-ball last year, he’s downright exciting to think about now. He’s a switch-hitter with a waft of plus hit tool summing from the two parts, and the specter of double-digit home run pop piles on top of the on-base-and-plus-speed profile to form a potent little prospect. It’s a Lorenzo Cain stat line vibe at second base, and a reasonably successful showing at Double-A this season will see him rocketing up into top-10 dynasty prospect status by this time next year.
42) Brent Hershey, BaseballHQ, — Keibert Ruiz, C, Dodgers
Ruiz is a rare bird; a catcher with a plus hit tool who struck out in only 9% of his AB in 2018 as a 19-year-old in AA. He’s yet to be slam-dunk in terms of power (just a .401 Slg), which needs to show up more to justify his pick here. But with the line-drive, bat-to-ball skills already present, and defensive skills that will keep him behind the plate, it’s not a stretch to envision a switch-hitter adding value in the BA and power categories at maturity as he gains more strength and experience.
43) Tom Trudeau, The Dynasty Guru — Xavier Edwards, SS, Padres
Edwards fell to the competitive balance round of last year’s amateur draft, but earned first round bonus money from the Padres and may have more fantasy upside than anyone else in his draft class thanks to 80 speed that he knows how to use. The 19-year-old may never grow into power and he may not be able to handle short, but he can fall back to second base or an outfield spot where his patience, speed and contact ability could allow him to play every day and afford him a chance to be a the next great stolen base force in fantasy.
44) Jeffrey Paternostro, Baseball Prospectus — Bubba Thompson, OF, Rangers
Since Craig (Twitter) gets two picks after this one, realistically there was no way Bubba was making it back to me. So although I have concerns about the hit tool projection—he is a toolsy Rangers prospect in Hickory after all—I’m going to jump on him here. The power/speed combo is potentially as good as the names that got popped in the first round, and Thompson is athletic enough that I’ll bet on the rest of the profile getting smoothed out in time.
45) Craig Goldstein, Twitter — Drew Waters, OF, Braves
This might be a skosh early for Waters but when you’re at the turn you need to grab the players you want, because the options you’re considering are never getting back to you. The athletic outfielder reached High-A in his first full season, flashing power and speed to go with a .300 average in Low-A. Potential five-tool outfielders often turn up with one or more of those tools missing by the time they reach the majors, but I’ve long been a Waters’ believer and I’m buying the overall skill set.
46) Craig Goldstein, Twitter — Yusniel Diaz, OF, Orioles
Diaz lacks the flash of most of the other names in this area of the draft, but he flashed some of his ability bashing two home runs in the Futures Game. He’s consistently been able to hit for average and has shown the ability to adjust repeatedly, turning on the ball more consistently in the second half and accessing his pull-side power. He’ll spray the ball all over the field if that’s what the pitcher gives him, and I think his future home park will aid in his offensive production. Pair all that with a reasonable timeline to reaching the majors and I think I obtain the type of value in this spot that I might have given up with the Waters selection.
47) Jeffrey Paternostro, Baseball Prospectus — Jazz Chisholm, SS, Diamondbacks
Most of what I wrote for Bubba also applies to Jazz. Jazz has actualized more of the raw power into game power already, and his glove is so good that there’s more of a major league floor here, even if it’s not necessarily a fantasy relevant one. He probably won’t get me quite as many steals as Thompson if both players work out, and there’s similar hit tool risk—Jazz swings hard—but I’m pretty happy with my wraparound picks here.
48) Tom Trudeau, The Dynasty Guru — Gavin Lux, SS, Dodgers
Lux is my favorite Dodgers fantasy prospect. He had been a steady performer at relatively aggressive minor league assignments before his breakout year in 2018, which . While shortstop is spoken for with the big club, Lux looks to be the heir apparent to [revolving door of Dodgers second baseman]. A 15/15 profile hitting with plenty of counting stats, a high batting average and strong OBP’s will play nicely.
49) Brent Hershey, BaseballHQ, — Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Pirates
I think we’ve begun to see the power of Hayes tick up, and his fantasy fortunes are likely to follow. Once only a contact-and-plus-D-at-third-base player, Hayes is now using his lower half better, putting more balls in the air, and has stepped up an already disciplined eye at the plate. While he likely won’t ever evolve into a slugger, he’ll stay at 3B with good BA/HR totals and has enough athleticism for double-digit steals, at least early in his career.
50) Wilson Karaman, Baseball Prospectus — A.J. Puk, LHP, Athletics
Look, I get it, drafting pitchers isn’t a “cool” or “smart” thing to do. But there comes a point in time when there’s just too much value on the board to ignore, and snagging a guy with Puk’s ceiling on the back end of his inevitable TJ waiting period with the 50th pick is one of those times. Before he blew out his elbow, Puk had the nastiest one-two combination in all the minor-league land, with a mid-90s heater that played up an obscene amount from the kind of arm angle and extension that only a 6-foot-7 monster can create. Add in a disgusting two-plane slider, and you’re talking about two 70-grade pitches on which to rest your cap. I’ll gleefully take the plunge on his frontline potential here.
51) Bret Sayre, Baseball Prospectus — Jahmai Jones, 2B, Angels
It wasn’t the greatest season of Jones’ professional career in 2018, but it was a successful one as he reached Double-A and transitioned from the outfield to second base. He’s still a toolsy and smart player, which are very useful attributes as he traverses the upper minors. His upside still looked quite a bit like Brandon Phillips, and another year into the defensive transition will allow him to focus more on his offense.
Taking two pitchers in a row is weird and probably silly, but I saw too much improvement from Toussaint in 2018 to not select him here. His fastball/curveball combination competes with pretty much anyone, and while he’s never going to have superb control, I think he’s going to throw enough strikes to start. There’s some value here in relief, but it’s his ability to miss bats as a member of a rotation that makes him so appealing.
53) D.J. Short, Rotoworld — Alec Bohm, 3B, Phillies
Well, this pick certainly isn’t on account of his pro debut. Bohm failed to hit a single homer in 158 plate appearances. But there’s a reason the Phillies selected him No. 3 overall last June and a small sample during his first taste of pro ball shouldn’t change the calculus that much. At the time he was drafted, the lanky 22-year-old was praised for his power potential from the right side and his ability to make contact. Speed likely won’t be a part of his game, but he’s the sort of bat that can play regardless of whether he sticks at third base or eventually finds himself at first base or a corner outfield spot.
54) Ben Carsley, Baseball Prospectus — Khalil Lee, OF, Royals
I know this is going to be higher than lots of people would have Lee, but I’m comfortable with that and didn’t want to risk him lasting another ~15 picks. I love Lee’s combination of an advanced approach, tremendous bat speed and stolen base upside. His MiLB numbers may not be super impressive to this point, but he’s been challenged fairly aggressively given that he didn’t turn 20 until last June. Lee hasn’t really brought his power into games yet, but he could threaten for 15-20 homers at maturity based on raw strength and bat speed. There’s some risk here to be sure, but Lee has multiple paths to value and could emerge as a well-rounded OF2/3 in his prime. I’m fine being the high man on him.
55) Jesse Roche, The Dynasty Guru — Nathaniel Lowe, 1B, Rays
A behemoth 6’4″ and 235 pounds, Lowe possesses a rare combination of double-plus raw power and an advanced feel to hit. This past year, he skyrocketed from High-A to Triple-A (.330/.416/.568). A true all-fields hitter, he has solid barrel control and effortlessly drives the ball to any part of the ballpark. Further, Lowe is far from strikeout-prone, with an excellent 8% swinging strike rate on the season. Overall, his hit and game power tools can both play above-average-to-plus, making him one of the best hitters in the minors. Following the trade of Jake Bauers, the path is clear for Lowe to assume the starting first base job as soon as 2019.
Ok so I was all set to take Nate Lowe here but Jesse blew that up, so I’ll pivot to Jones. Jones played most of the season as a 20-year old and his plus raw power started to show in game. In fact, over at Prospects Live our MinorsGraphs tool has Nolan Jones among the leaders in average flyball distance in all of the minor leagues, indicating even more power to come. Oh, I’ve written this much and haven’t even mentioned his 17% walk rate I’m full-season ball. Jones is a stud.
57) Jim Calls, MLB Pipeline (MLB.com) — Casey Mize, RHP, Tigers
I took the No. 2 pick in last year’s draft with my last pick so I might as well take the No. 1 pick with this one. I’m not surprised that 49 of the first 56 picks in this draft have been hitters, but I’m somewhat stunned that seven pitchers were taken ahead of Mize. I have some mild concerns about his elbow, though three of the seven arms previously taken already have had Tommy John surgery and a fourth may be headed that way. No one in the Minors combines stuff and polish like Mize, who will be in Detroit very soon.
58) J.P. Breen, MKETailgate — Mitch Keller, RHP, Pirates
I had my eyes on Jones and Lowe for this pick. With them off the board, though, I’ll pivot to perhaps the best pitching prospect left on the board. Keller walked a few more batters than what has been normal for him, but that’s likely a combination of reaching the higher levels of the minors and the lack of a true third pitch. Still, his fastball-curveball combination is dynamic. He’ll have a chance to be a fantasy workhorse in the near future with quality ratios and roughly 175 strikeouts on a yearly basis. The right-hander should make his big-league debut in 2019, barring unforeseen circumstances.
59) Ralph Lifshitz, Prospects Live — Victor Victor Mesa, OF, Marlins
The top international player from Cuba since Luis Robert defected, Mesa is from a historic baseball family on the island, and has been in the Cuban National Series since the age of 16. His standout season was the 2016-17 campaign with Cocodrilos de Matanzas where he hit .354/.399/.539 with 7 homers and 40 steals in 70 games. With a few seasons of workouts, the optimistic view is Mesa has added additional strength and power. From a quick scan of the body that seems to be the case. The defense is elite, with many I’ve spoken with close to Cuban baseball stating he would rank in the top 10 of defensive center-fielders at the MLB level now. This removes some of the substantial risk in this pick, as it’s easy to see him getting a shot in the Miami outfield by September of 2019.
There is zero consensus on who the third-best pitching prospect is after Whitley and Luzardo, but Manning is my pick. The stuff is really nasty and of little concern. If his command continues to improve, I think he could be an ace. As is, I think he will be a high-strikeout No. 2 starter. He could get the call this summer.
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