There’s a certain security in knowing that these prospect rankings (fantasy or otherwise) are just merely a snapshot of a moment in time. There’s nothing inherent in this moment right now that makes it any more important than one three days from now or one that happened two weeks ago. Yes, there’s a culmination of feedback both from the lovely fantasy and prospect staffs we have assembled here at Baseball Prospectus and external sources alike. And every piece of information, every game, every scout tidbit, every strong backing drives you closer and closer to what you believe is the truth. Yet, the truth only exists as long as this snapshot. Tomorrow, there will be new data that leads to a better truth. Or maybe it’s a worse truth. Either way:
Welcome to mid-season prospect rankings season, everyone. pic.twitter.com/MTaAp2ic1E
— Bret Sayre (@dynastyguru) July 6, 2016
Part of the reason for the fluidity of these rankings, even in a short period of time, is that the minor leagues are down overall right now—and there’s less separation than usual between the tiers of players you’ll see in just a few more minutes (I’m getting there, I promise). The highest tier is extremely truncated—you could (and I would) argue that it’s just one guy. The group of upper-minors bats and arms are shallow, and are filled with trap doors in their profiles. The lower minors are comparably deeper with talent, but after another down draft class in 2016, will continue to hinder the next wave of upper level talent.
That fluidity should be taken advantage of in your dynasty leagues as well. With less than usual separating the 30th-best prospect from the 70th, owners should not be afraid to improve their teams by using prospects as currency. Of course, I’d argue that owners should never be afraid to that, but we have lived through an era where it has felt like every top prospect has turned into a star.
Finally, a reminder of ground rules here. This list is designed for keep-forever dynasty leagues without salaries or contracts, and with separate farm systems. It’s based on a medium-sized league, generally around 14-16 teams, and assumes one catcher rather than two. Home parks and organizations are factored in, as well as paths to playing time, since fantasy owners do care about these things. And as far as the player pools go, we are including anyone with prospect eligibility (regardless of whether they’re in the majors or not), but not including 2016 draftees. Though if we were, this list likely would have included Corey Ray, Nick Senzel and Zack Collins. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Idlewild lately, which explains the self-indulgence of the framing below. I do not apologize for this.
That, as they say, is that. Let’s rank some prospects.
1) Yoan Moncada, 2B, Boston Red Sox (Pre-season Rank: 3)
Tell Me Ten Words: This guy takes “looks good in a uniform” next level
Hope Is Important: The only player on this list with no. 1 overall upside
Actually It’s Darkness: The tools end up overshadowing the baseball skill
2) Alex Bregman, SS, Houston Astros (Pre-season Rank: 28)
Tell Me Ten Words: It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s another Bregman homer.
Hope Is Important: The power sticks and he’s a five-category star
Actually It’s Darkness: Like The Good Matt Duffy if you believed in The Good Matt Duffy
3) Brendan Rodgers, SS, Colorado Rockies (Pre-season Rank: 14)
Tell Me Ten Words: An offensive shortstop in Coors Field? Sign me up please.
Hope Is Important: Tulo is a lazy fantasy comp, but it’s not all that far off
Actually It’s Darkness: He might not stick at short and he might only hit like Trevor Story
4) Trea Turner, SS, Washington Nationals (Pre-season Rank: 16)
Tell Me Ten Words: There’s no good reason he should’ve qualified for this list
Hope Is Important: Among middle infielders, only Jose Altuve and Jonathan Villar are pacing for 40 steals
Actually It’s Darkness: Maybe he’s just a .250-.260 hitter
5) Tim Anderson, SS, Chicago White Sox (Pre-season Rank: 10)
Tell Me Ten Words: I really, really hope you’re not in an OBP league
Hope Is Important: Maybe there’s more power here than we thought
Actually It’s Darkness: His ultra-aggressiveness is exploited and he’s unable to hit for average
6) David Dahl, OF, Colorado Rockies (Pre-season Rank: 19)
Tell Me Ten Words: Five-category hitters in Coors Field make for great investments
Hope Is Important: The improved approach and power cement towards the top of the Rockies lineup
Actually It’s Darkness: He’s more average across the board, even with the home park lifting him up
7) Andrew Benintendi, OF, Boston Red Sox (Pre-season Rank: 30)
Tell Me Ten Words: Short body, shorter swing, shortest time to majors, impact hair
Hope Is Important: A potential top-of-the-order hitter with 15 HR/20 SB/100 R upside
Actually It’s Darkness: Mighty power for his size might still only be doubles power
8) Victor Robles, OF, Washington Nationals (Pre-season Rank: 34)
Tell Me Ten Words: Did you ever know that you’re my hero? You’re everything
Hope Is Important: He’s a five-category star and the top dynasty prospect in 2018
Actually It’s Darkness: Maybe we’re getting a little too excited about an A-ball hitter
9) J.P. Crawford, SS, Philadelphia Phillies (Pre-season Rank: 6)
Tell Me Ten Words: Next to Bregman, the safest prospect to be fantasy useful
Hope Is Important: The over-the-fence power comes, and he’s great
Actually It’s Darkness: The over-the-fence power never comes, but he’s still good
10) Lucas Giolito, RHP, Washington Nationals (Pre-season Rank: 5)
Tell Me Ten Words: It’s finally a pitcher. I guess they are people too.
Hope Is Important: He stays healthy
Actually It’s Darkness: He doesn’t
11) Joey Gallo, 3B, Texas Rangers (Pre-season Rank: 8)
Tell Me Ten Words: When a 30 percent strikeout rate would be a panacea
Hope Is Important: The immense raw wins out over the immense swing-and-miss
Actually It’s Darkness: The contact issues keep him from holding an everyday job
12) A.J. Reed, 1B, Houston Astros (Pre-season Rank: 12)
Tell Me Ten Words: The top first base prospect is a large, large man
Hope Is Important: The power and average both play, turning him into a fantasy stalwart
Actually It’s Darkness: The power, sure. The average, not so much.
13) Clint Frazier, OF, Cleveland Indians (Pre-season Rank: 23)
Tell Me Ten Words: His game is finally catching up with his bat speed
Hope Is Important: Like George Springer but with a little less power
Actually It’s Darkness: I can’t hear you. La la la.
14) Austin Meadows, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates (Pre-season Rank: 24)
Tell Me Ten Words: When healthy, he’s one of the best all-around prospects today
Hope Is Important: He finally shakes that injury bug and there’s enough power for 20 homers
Actually It’s Darkness: Wait, he’s hurt again?
15) Julio Urias, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers (Pre-season Rank: 15)
Tell Me Ten Words: He was not alive when Idlewild played their first show
Hope Is Important: The guy has already showed he can miss a lot of bats as a 19-year-old. How much more hope do you want?
Actually It’s Darkness: He’s exposed over a long season, whenever he gets to the end of one
16) Alex Reyes, RHP, St Louis Cardinals (Pre-season Rank: 11)
Tell Me Ten Words: The stuff is superlative, but consistency is not his friend
Hope Is Important: The change comes and he’s an SP1
Actually It’s Darkness: He and his two pitches are relegated to either frustrating starter or elite closer
17) Bradley Zimmer, OF, Cleveland Indians (Pre-season Rank: 9)
Tell Me Ten Words: What was once safe suddenly doesn’t feel so safe anymore
Hope Is Important: He can bring the power/speed combination
Actually It’s Darkness: The suddenly extreme contact issues hold him back
18) Rafael Devers, 3B, Boston Red Sox (Pre-season Rank: 22)
Tell Me Ten Words: Struggles in April give the impression he’s regressing. He’s not.
Hope Is Important: Could be big-time hit and power from the hot corner
Actually It’s Darkness: Even a move to first wouldn’t be the end of the world
19) Nick Williams, OF, Philadelphia Phillies (Pre-season Rank: 13)
Tell Me Ten Words: I witnessed him draw three walks in a game. Truth.
Hope Is Important: The approach is trending up and allows him to barrel everything
Actually It’s Darkness: Major-league pitchers eat him up by making him chase
20) Aaron Judge, OF, New York Yankees (Pre-season Rank: 20)
Tell Me Ten Words: Kanye is wrong, one man can have all that power
Hope Is Important: His big frame belies a tight swing, and his patience becomes an asset
Actually It’s Darkness: His big frame yields a big strike zone, and his patience becomes a fatal flaw
21) Jorge Mateo, SS/2B, New York Yankees (Pre-season Rank: 33)
Tell Me Ten Words: The speed. The speed. The speed. The speed. The speed.
Hope Is Important: Enough strength to keep pitchers honest. Enough steals to win a category.
Actually It’s Darkness: We have to hear the old (and played) adage over and over that “you can’t steal first base”
22) Josh Bell, 1B, Pittsburgh Pirates (Pre-season Rank: 36)
Tell Me Ten Words: This switch-hitting first baseman looks ready to help Pittsburgh
Hope Is Important: It’s more hit than power, but the power is still above-average for the position
Actually It’s Darkness: He’s still better than that other Josh Bell
23) Blake Snell, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays (Pre-season Rank: 18)
Tell Me Ten Words: He’s literally helping you now unlike most of this list
Hope Is Important: The walks start to come down in time and he settles in as a SP2
Actually It’s Darkness: He’s as safe as any arm on this list, but pitchers, man
24) Dansby Swanson, SS, Atlanta Braves (Pre-season Rank: 27)
Tell Me Ten Words: If it’s not America’s Cup or Vampire Weekend, it’s crap
Hope Is Important: The sum of his parts makes him a top-10 shortstop
Actually It’s Darkness: Without any one category he can impact, he’s someone you’re happy with but on the lookout to replace
25) Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates (Pre-season Rank: 82)
Tell Me Ten Words: Good things come to those who wait, especially in Pittsburgh
Hope Is Important: He took the scenic route, but the stuff looks as good as ever and he’s here now
Actually It’s Darkness: He’s a pitcher with a long list of injuries. ‘Nuf said.
26) Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates (Pre-season Rank: 21)
Tell Me Ten Words: So many strikeouts, so many walks, so many possible outcomes
Hope Is Important: He has the natural size and stuff to strike out any batter in baseball
Actually It’s Darkness: More like WHIP it real bad, imo
27) Franklin Barreto, SS/2B, Oakland Athletics (Pre-season Rank: 32)
Tell Me Ten Words: Young for level? Check. Improving as he adjusts? You bet.
Hope Is Important: The infield eligibility sticks and he produces across all five categories
Actually It’s Darkness: When is Josh Donaldson a free agent again?
28) Raimel Tapia, OF, Colorado Rockies (Pre-season Rank: 41)
Tell Me Ten Words: If it’s in his time zone, he can make contact
Hope Is Important: He could yield a .300+ AVG with Coors-aided pop and early-career speed
Actually It’s Darkness: He will live and die by his hit tool even moreso than most prospects
29) Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago Cubs (Pre-season Rank: NR)
Tell Me Ten Words: He’s quickly jumped to become the best Cubs fantasy prospect
Hope Is Important: This could be the Jorge Soler Chicago has been waiting for
Actually It’s Darkness: Shield your eyes from the actual Jorge Soler
30) Amed Rosario, SS, New York Mets (Pre-season Rank: HM)
Tell Me Ten Words: After destroying the Florida State League, the upper minors await
Hope Is Important: He grows into his power and shows Mets fans what a real shortstop looks like
Actually It’s Darkness: Don’t do this to me. I wouldn’t do it to you.
31) Jose Berrios, RHP, Minnesota Twins (Pre-season Rank: 26)
Tell Me Ten Words: He surely won’t end his career with a double-digit ERA
Hope Is Important: Less nibbling leads to more efficiency and more success
Actually It’s Darkness: When was the last time the Twins actually developed a pitching prospect?
32) Ian Happ, 2B/OF, Chicago Cubs (Pre-season Rank: 45)
Tell Me Ten Words: All he’s done is hit since being drafted last year
Hope Is Important: He does enough to stick at second and pushes 20/20 with average
Actually It’s Darkness: I never hear the end of it from Ben and Craig
33) Willson Contreras, C/OF, Chicago Cubs (Pre-season Rank: 79)
Tell Me Ten Words: A victory for player development, he’s a true two-way catcher
Hope Is Important: His early-career power surge is a portender of a top-five catcher future
Actually It’s Darkness: At least he’ll stick and hit for average
34) Lewis Brinson, OF, Texas Rangers (Pre-season Rank: 17)
Tell Me Ten Words: He might really be the dynasty Prince That Was Promised
Hope Is Important: Five-category upside, with makeup that says he’ll just keep getting better
Actually It’s Darkness: Prophecies are like sword without hilts. They can suck.
35) Dan Vogelbach, 1B, Chicago Cubs (Pre-season Rank: 37)
Tell Me Ten Words: Might be the best hitter in the minors right now
Hope Is Important: He gets playing time and does his thing
Actually It’s Darkness: He lingers as Triple-A depth a la Ryan Howard
36) Raul Mondesi, SS, Kansas City Royals (Pre-season Rank: 61)
Tell Me Ten Words: If he wasn’t suspended, Mondesi might be 20 spots higher
Hope Is Important: The increased pop might actually be real
Actually It’s Darkness: Stolen bases are still a category, yo
37) Cody Reed, LHP, Cincinnati Reds (Pre-season Rank: 38)
Tell Me Ten Words: Oh it’s the slider that breaks your office’s web filter
Hope Is Important: The command sharpens and he punches out 200 over a full season
Actually It’s Darkness: Giving up a homer every 2.5 innings isn’t a great look
38) Willy Adames, SS, Tampa Bay Rays (Pre-season Rank: 54)
Tell Me Ten Words: The offensive shortstop is showing the power more in Double-A
Hope Is Important: The Jhonny Peralta vibe is strong with this one
Actually It’s Darkness: The bat is really going to have to max out if he slides to the hot corner
39) Ronald Acuna, OF, Atlanta Braves (Pre-season Rank: NR)
Tell Me Ten Words: A broken hand temporarily halted one of 2016’s biggest breakouts
Hope Is Important: The tools and fantasy potential is nearly endless
Actually It’s Darkness: Maybe we’re getting a little too excited about a guy who’s played in 30 full-season games
40) Jesse Winker, OF, Cincinnati Reds (Pre-season Rank: 25)
Tell Me Ten Words: Your hit tool is beautiful, no matter what they say
Hope Is Important: A plus hit tool, a good park and the potential for plus power is mighty attractive attractive, even in the outfield
Actually It’s Darkness: You need to hit for a high average or our words will bring you down
41) Gleyber Torres, SS, Chicago Cubs (Pre-season Rank: 44)
Tell Me Ten Words: The fourth Cubs prospect. There’s a Trueblood joke here somewhere.
Hope Is Important: The strong average let’s the rest of the offensive package play up a la Francisco Lindor
Actually It’s Darkness: The power and speed never really help as much as you need
42) Ryan McMahon, 3B, Colorado Rockies (Pre-season Rank: 29)
Tell Me Ten Words: Don’t look at his stat page. No, seriously. Please don’t.
Hope Is Important: The above-average hit and power tools play up at Coors
Actually It’s Darkness: The friendly confines of Asheville and Modesto were bigger deals that we originally thought
43) Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros (Pre-season Rank: 52)
Tell Me Ten Words: The breakout isn’t here yet, but the big upside remains
Hope Is Important: Wait, he has how many steals?
Actually It’s Darkness: Wait, he has how many home runs?
44) Ozhaino Albies, SS/2B, Atlanta Braves (Pre-season Rank: 64)
Tell Me Ten Words: Might be that “other” teenager to make majors this year
Hope Is Important: The hit and speed tools carry him to consistent top-10 positional showings
Actually It’s Darkness: The hit tool lags, leaving him in bad Jean Segura territory
45) Orlando Arcia, SS, Milwaukee Brewers (Pre-season Rank: 47)
Tell Me Ten Words: Such a good real-life prospect, you thought I forgot him
Hope Is Important: The Elvis Andrus path, without the unnecessary contract
Actually It’s Darkness: It’s 25 steals and very little else
46) Manuel Margot, OF, San Diego Padres (Pre-season Rank: 31)
Tell Me Ten Words: Better in real life, but still useful for our purposes
Hope Is Important: High average, many steals, many runs, more power later
Actually It’s Darkness: Meh average, many steals, some runs, no power later
47) Jose De Leon, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers (Pre-season Rank: 35)
Tell Me Ten Words: The strikeout numbers have stayed insanely high as he’s advanced
Hope Is Important: It could be only days before he’s helping the Dodgers push to a playoff spot
Actually It’s Darkness: The command never gets there and he’s an inconsistent SP4 (when healthy)
48) Hunter Renfroe, OF, San Diego Padres (Pre-season Rank: 99)
Tell Me Ten Words: Gaudy stats, many tools, but so much swing and miss…
Hope Is Important: A renewable power source
Actually It’s Darkness: A windmill
49) Jorge Alfaro, C, Philadelphia Phillies (Pre-season Rank: 58)
Tell Me Ten Words: Like The Sandlot always told us, #TheLegends never die
Hope Is Important: A decent average, plenty of pop and a dash of speed from behind the plate
Actually It’s Darkness: A bad average, some pop and broken dreams from the outfield
50) Brett Phillips, OF, Milwaukee Brewers (Pre-season Rank: 51)
Tell Me Ten Words: If Ryan Braun is Iceman, then Domingo Santana is Goose
Hope Is Important: Power plays up in Miller Park, making him a good OF3
Actually It’s Darkness: Replaces Mark Hamill as guy who does Joker laugh
Honorable Mention (in alphabetical order):
Brady Aiken, LHP, Cleveland Indians
Jake Bauers, OF/1B, Tampa Bay Rays
Trent Clark, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
Anderson Espinoza, RHP, Boston Red Sox
Derek Fisher, OF, Houston Astros
Jeff Hoffman, RHP, Colorado Rockies
Reynaldo Lopez, RHP, Washington Nationals
Jacob Nottingham, C, Milwaukee Brewers
Gary Sanchez, C, New York Yankees
Jake Thompson, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies
Special thanks to Ben Carsley for helping to write the few of these that were actually funny. Also to Craig Goldstein, Wilson Karaman, JP Breen, JJ Jansons, Greg Wellemeyer and George Bissell for their feedback.
Thank you for reading
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Also, was Rhys Hoskins in the convo for honorable mention? Guy has proved his power is real in AA this year. Due for a promotion to AAA, I imagine.
With Larry Walker barely getting 15% of the vote Tulowitzki has a 0% chance of making the HOF, it'll probably take 600 HR's to get a Rockies hitter in.
If you don't like my analysis don't worry about it, you won't see it again because I cancelled my membership the other day and after today I'm gone.
He's now tied the MLB record for homers and xbh by a rookie before the all-star break.
I'm pretty sure the Rockies will take it and let you keep your Crawfords and Turners and Arcias and Amed Rosarios.
He CAN walk (he had a 3 BB game recently, after someone here compared him to Jason Werth without the patience), but with 76 RBI in 84 games it looks to me like he thinks he's better off trying to drive in runs. And the 21 homers are mostly not fence scrapers -- which is good, considering what his home park might be.
I'm seriously confused about the knocks on him. Could it be they're holdover criticisms from the Renfroe with the longer swing that initially struggled at SA? Is he being held back by an OBP that tracks so closely with his BA? Is it the Petco factor?
Here's where I'm confused: A K rate below 20% for a power hitter w 52 XBH in half a season seems like a pretty good trade off, and I'm merely trying to reconcile higher rankings for other players based on something more concrete than simple selection bias. Eg., Eloy Jimenez has 73 K in 309 AB in A, while walking 19 times. That is, he has a higher K rate, a walk rate that also speaks to his being a run producer, and he's facing A ball pitching (at 19, granted, but that's a difference between college bats and other bats).
-- Yet there he is at #29, 20 spots higher than a guy showing more power and a better strikeout rate against more advanced pitching. And Renfroe is an excellent corner outfielder, to boot.
So I guess I'm curious how you come to slot one at 29 and one 49, when the one at 49 is producing against more advanced pitching? Is it age? Organization? Speed potential (if anything, you'd expect Jimenez would slow down as he fills out)?
I think the tell here was "24-year-old".
I get it. I just wanted to hear an explanation.
But then, he's tall. And he's a Yankee farm hand.
Of his 41 HRs since the beginning of 2015, 24 of them are of the CF/RCF/RF variety. That will play at Petco Park. The whole park factor thing will be proven a moot point quickly. Proven so by Wil Myers: 8 of his 13 HRs at home have been to CF/RCF/RF; 6 of those 8 were to RF. He isn't a pull-happy guy. LF and the dense ocean air is why RHH get a bad wrap at Petco.
Pitchers will have to throw strikes eventually. Renfroe has power to all fields. That is what is misconstrued. He is an advanced hitter. Also, please relax on the apples comparison with him and O'Brien. Peter has carried a 26%+ K-rate over his whole MiLB career. More appropriately, since the beginning of 2015 (O'Brien's AAA tenure with the DBacks) he's produced a K-rate of 25% in 184 games. Renfroe since joining AAA last August has a K-rate of 19% with 30 HR in 109 games to go along with 106 RBI. That's almost a RBI a game. He has proven to hit with guys in scoring position.
2016 RISP: 62 PA, 336/379/690, 11BB:28K
A better comp for him might be Adam Duvall with a better approach to all fields and similar power but not as much. So maybe a 270/310/530 guy (when he hits his stride in the majors) that will have Wil Myers and Margot hitting in front of him. RBI opportunities will be abundant.
I'm not saying you need to change your ranking or anything, but I do think the industry doesn't know the full story on Renfroe and eventually he will just prove guys wrong in the bigs. We see it all the time.
It's been my premise that the lack of walks is a function of where he bats in the lineup and the drive to push runs across. Renfroe has been an RBI machine since making an adjustment that brought him shorter to the ball.
His splits, which another poster pointed out, are deceiving: El Paso's PF is middle of the road for the PCL (and he doesn't hit especially well at Reno, which is tops). Meanwhile, it's Chukchansi Park that gives him fits, significantly affecting his away stats. Other than that, his homers are 12/9, and his triples evenly split at 2/2, and his doubles 17/10.
He seems to really like the batter's eye in El Paso.
Not even a single HR to the right of straightaway CF.
2016 (http://mlbfarm.com/player.php?player_id=592669&position=&split=&year=2016&txtStartDate=&txtEndDate=#spray) has 8 to the right of CF.
Where do you get your numbers that 24 of his 41 HR since 2015 have been to CF/RCF/RF?
8 this year out of 21, though, is quite significant.
Also, again, when you adjust for league and park, he has a WRC+ of 152, placing him in the top 7 for AAA and top 4 for those under 26 years of age. And now that Contreras and Bell have been called up, only Vogelbach has the edge in AAA players not 27 or over.
Bell and Vogelbach are inferior in the field, too.
It just seems to me if we're frequenting sites that use advanced metrics, they ought to trust the kind of data they claim to.
This of course is a fantasy ranking, so it makes sense to knick Renfroe for being slated for Petco. But overall rankings I'm seeing things that don't jibe with the numbers, so I'm trying to get a feel for methodology by speaking to those doing the ranking.
In all seriousness, what's your stance on him? Is the strikeout to walk ratio just not palatable enough for the top 50 or is it something else?
Right in my wheelhouse! Excellent list Thanks!