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Previous entries in this series:

Because there are so many outfield prospects to discuss we’re going to break down the 2016 prospects the 2017 and beyond group in different posts. Enjoy!

Byron Buxton, Twins
Buxton may have been usurped by Corey Seager on Bret Sayre’s Top 101 Dynasty Prospects List thanks to the latter’s uniquely high floor, but make no mistake about it; Buxton has the highest upside of any player in the minors. Injuries and insanely aggressive promotions stayed Buxton in 2015, but if you look past his horrendous MLB numbers you’ll see a 21-year-old who excelled in Double-A despite immature hit and power tools. I don’t expect Buxton to excel in AVG or HR this season, but he can swipe 40 bags if he gets 400 PA (which is likely, given his defensive prowess), and his natural gifts might allow him to at least bank an average in the .260 range. Once he acclimates to MLB life, a .300 average, 15-20 homers, and 50-plus steals remain in his reach.

Nomar Mazara, Rangers
It’s always tempting to go for the highest-upside prospects when partaking in a fantasy league, but there’s a lot to be said for betting heavily on the players with the best combination of upside and floor. In the outfield that’s Mazara, who brings 60-plus hit and power tools to the table as a soon-to-be 21-year-old who’ll be playing half his games in Texas. Mazara isn’t great defensively and he won’t contribute in steals, but Mazara should be a four-category monster who retains outfield eligibility through at least the first half of his career. He might spend a good portion of 2016 in the minors thanks to the Rangers’ depth chart, but given how often Shin-Soo Choo and Josh Hamilton are injured it wouldn’t be shocking to see Mazara get 300-plus PA in the majors. He could be an OF2/3 as soon as 2017.

Nick Williams, Phillies
I’ve been the BP high man on Williams since seeing him in spring training 2014, and while I’m almost never right it looks like this visually inhibited squirrel has found his nut. We gave Williams 60-grade hit and run tools and 50-grade power in the Phillies Top 10 list, and that’s a collection of assets that should interest every fantasy player, especially when the player who possesses them will play half of his games in Philadelphia. I am a true believer in Williams’ hit tool and think he’ll routinely challenge for .290 or better in the majors. He’s not a great base-runner despite his speed but he can aim for 15 bags, and he should be able to hit homers in equal measures. Williams will look awful at times, but I’m banking on his natural talent winning out here. He’s a future OF2 and I will own him in every league imaginable.

Aaron Judge, Yankees
It’s hard not to get excited about the prospect of a player with Judge’s natural power in Yankee Stadium, but don’t let Judge’s double-plus raw overshadow his overall profile as a very useful fantasy asset. Judge has proven to be a patient player with a decent hit tool throughout his time in the minors, and while he’s a very, very large son he has the athleticism needed to remain an outfielder. Add it all together and Judge is a potential four-category fantasy contributor who can routinely provide you with 25-plus homers without killing your average. It’s pretty rare for a Yankees prospect to be underrated, but in fantasy circles I think Judge might be. He’s going to strike out a lot, though, so if you’re in a points league, downgrade him a bit.

Bradley Zimmer, Indians
Zimmer’s strength is his total lack of weakness. The BP Fantasy Team gave him at least a 55 grade for every tool, including 60s for his hit and speed, and while Zimmer needs to prove he can hit in Double-A he’s a few hundred PA of success away from getting the bump to Cleveland; Michael Brantley is the only above-average regular in the outfield. Bret ranked Zimmer as the no. 9 fantasy prospect in the game, and while I think that’s too aggressive I get valuing his high floor. In terms of fantasy tools and potential production, Zimmer is the heir apparent to Hunter Pence, albeit with a slightly inferior hit tool.

Jesse Winker, Reds
The knocks on Winker center on his lack of standout power, that he’s limited to left field and that he won’t run much. That’s all well and good, but Winker can flat-out hit and I believe he’s an underrated dynasty league asset. Scouting the stat line isn’t a great idea, but Winker is a career .294/.399/.475 hitter in 1,712 minor-league PA. Those numbers are backed up by a 65-grade hit tool and 50-grade power tool, and that’s a combination I find mighty attractive. Winker should be in the majors at some point in 2016, and given that he’ll be playing frequently in the GAP he’ll be of immediate interest. He’s a probably OF2 in OBP leagues and OF3 in standard formats.

Max Kepler, Twins
Despite Kepler’s big frame, he’s not yet a homerun hitter. Actually let’s get rid of “yet,” because “yet” implies that he’s destined for plus power, and that’s not a sure thing for this 23-year-old German. Fortunately for us Kepler can contribute in the other four fantasy categories right away, as he possesses the hit tool to mash .280-plus, the patience to get on base and score runs and enough speed to swipe double-digit bags, too. All in all we could be looking at Eric Hosmer 2.0 (who Eric Hosmer is, not who we thought he’d be), and that’s a valuable contributor in just about every league. If some of Kepler’s doubles do turn into homers, he’s a potential OF 2/3 or CI option.

Hunter Renfroe, Padres
We all know that Renfroe has plus-plus, 30-homer power thanks to his massive frame and long swing. What we don’t know is whether the 24-year-old will ever learn to hit breaking balls, or if his hit tool will advance to the point where his power can truly shine through. Petco Park is likely to be a limiting factor as well, and when you add it all together it’s enough to make Renfroe a high-risk proposition despite his proximity to the majors. Given his age and well-rounded game (Renfroe is a good defender in right and can run a bit for a big man) he should get plenty of chances, but the early days of Renfroe’s MLB career could be ugly for fantasy owners.

Hector Olivera, Braves
Olivera’s profile was a lot more exciting at second or third base. Now that he’s a full-time outfielder, the Cuban should be worthy of rostering in most fantasy leagues, but that’s really about it. The hope is that he can hit .280 while challenging for 20 homers, but that’s Olivera’s upside, not his floor, and when you consider his lengthy injury history Olivera is a risky proposition. Don’t be fooled by his status as a high-profile international signing; at the end of the day we’re talking about a 30-year-old OF3/4 with poor contextual factors.

Rymer Liriano, Brewers
I just can’t quit Rymer. I know that the odds of him making an impact are slim, but the man did hit .292/.383/.460 with 14 homers and 18 steals in Triple-A last year, and I’ve always believed that type of upside (with a lower average) exists within him. It’s unclear how much playing time Liriano will receive in Milwaukee, but with Khris Davis out of the picture he’s got a better shot and while the Brewers are rebuilding, they should still have an ok offense. Don’t bank on Liriano for production this year, but I’ll be drafting him plenty in the late rounds as a high-upside bench OF option. He doesn’t turn 25 until June.

Brandon Nimmo, Mets
Nimmo should hit for average and reach base at a high clip thanks to his patient, measured approach. What he can’t do is hit for power or run, which is a bummer for our purposes. The hope here is that Nimmo is Nick Markakis 2.0, but there’s also a good chance he ends up slashing something like .275/.360/.400 with under 10 homers/steals, which would make him a nice buy in OBP leagues and waiver wire material in standard leagues with 16 teams or fewer. With four legitimate outfielders on the MLB roster ahead of him, Nimmo isn’t a great bet to see more than 200 PA this year.

Albert Almora, Cubs
Before the Cubs were the Cubs, Almora was seen as one of the bright young stars who would lead the North Side out of obscurity and into the light. While he’s still all but assured of an MLB career thanks to his defense and doubles power, fantasy owners have fewer reasons to be enthused than do Chicago fans. Almora has never reached double-digits in homers or steals in any season in the minors, and while he’s capable of hitting for a decent average he doesn’t profile to be so strong in that category that he’ll be worth rostering. Almora will be just 22 next season so there’s plenty of time for him to grow into some pop and refine his baserunning, but he’s likely to start his career as a no. 4 MLB outfielder and fantasy non-factor.

Roman Quinn, Phillies
Can Quinn stay healthy? If he can, his 80-grade speed and developing hit tool could make him a bonafide stud, a 40-plus steal monster in the mold of Ben Revere. If Quinn keeps missing time due to injury or his hit tool never takes a step forward, we’re looking more at a Jarrod Dyson-type asset, a part-time player who’s still interesting for our purposes because he can fly. Odubel Herrera was surprisingly decent in 2015, meaning Quinn might be blocked, but the rebuilding Phillies can use all the talent they can get and if Quinn hits well in Triple-A he could push for playing time this season. The hope here is that Quinn develops to the point where he can hit atop a lineup, but he’ll be a fantasy asset even if he’s a down-the-order hitter a la Billy Hamilton.

Peter O’Brien, Diamondbacks
O’Brien was to the catching position as Hanley Ramirez was to the outfield; miscast on a Hayden Christensen level. The former Yankee has now shifted down the defensive spectrum to outfielder, and while he’s limited there as well he’s not so bad as to preclude him from seeing any MLB time. That matters for us because of O’Brien’s plus-plus power, but given the length in his swing and the Joey Gallo-esque rate at which he’s likely to whiff in the majors, this is a player best left for 16-plus team leagues.

Others: Tyrone Taylor, MIL; Steven Moya, DET; Mallex Smith, ATL; Mac Williamson, SF; Boog Powell, SEA; Tyler Naquin, CLE; Charlie Tilson, STL; Reymond Fuentes, KC; Yorman Rodriguez, CIN; Socrates Brito, ARI; Scott Schebler, CIN

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kraigy1973
2/17
I gather BP has zero confidence in O'brien's return to catching? Supposedly he's going to catch this spring and has a shot to break camp as the #2 catcher or #3 catcher and backup 1b/Of. That's from the mouth of Matt Williams. If he can gain and maintain catcher eligibility, he's got the potential to be Evan Gattis lite---if he can find the ABs.
BenC22
2/17
I have absolutely zero confidence that O'Brien can catch
bhacking
2/17
Good information. I'm surprised more NL teams don't carry a guy who can be the #3 catcher. They would never start but be available as pinch hitting / game conditions dictate and would catch at most a few innings a week.
nikpin2720
2/17
Did the Rangers move Lewis Brinson to catcher?
BenC22
2/17
Yes
BenC22
2/17
Also, before anyone sees this and is confused, he'll be featured in Names for 2017 and Beyond tomorrow.
philtheez
2/18
What? wow. Need to do some research on that.
huztlers
2/18
He projects to move very well behind the dish although he will need to work on his catch-and-throw skills. recent reports have him sitting in the 2.5 sec range. Internal sources are confident in his ability to improve and the organization remains very positive regarding his potential as an offensive-minded catcher. He has a good chance to be the fastest catcher in the league if his receiving skills pan out.
BenC22
2/18
Alright, I'm not entirely sure what's happened here, but no, Lewis Brinson is not moving to catcher.
oldbopper
2/17
Brandon Nimmo has a tough row to hoe to get 200 AB's this season. There are actually 5 legitimate major league OF's ahead of him, not 4 as the article says. De Aza and Lagares as well as the starters but, after watching him for 2 years in the Eastern League, I have yet to see anything to get excited about and that is being kind.
BenC22
2/17
Did we read the same Nimmo blurb? I think I made it pretty clear I'm not excited either.

De Aza is fine but not special enough to block anyone worthwhile. But fine, he's a poor bet for even 100 PA.
boatman44
2/17
Hey Ben, I have held on to Rymer. coming on 5 seasons now. I thought when I drafted him in my dynasty league, he IS the next Andrew McCutcheon, but his year out through injury seems to have taken a large toll on what he was, still hopeful but more the next David Peralta would be realistic these days. sad face.
Muboshgu
2/17
I miss the days when you all gushed over Raimel Tapia. Now he doesn't even merit a mention here.
BenC22
2/17
He's not going to be up next year. He'll be featured tomorrow.
Muboshgu
2/17
Oh he's a "Name for 2017" isn't he? Just as long as I can hear Mauricio Rubio pronounce his name again and again.
jpthet
2/19
Oh, I miss the days when Arismendy Alcantara was relevant...
wilymo
2/17
dahl figures to come up before tapia, doesn't he, and dahl didn't even get a snapchat here
BenC22
2/17
If he can stay on the field, ya. Dahl will be featured tomorrow, too.
kenraty
2/18
Hey Ben, clicking on Boog Powell's name at the end of this article takes me to the OTHER one, you know, the one born in 1941. I suppose he is listed under his given name, which was Elrod or something?