Previous entries in this series:
- Get to Know Catcher Prospects
- Get to Know First Base Prospects
- Get to Know Second Base Prospects
- Get to Know Third Base Prospects
- Get to Know Shortstop Prospects
- Get to Know Outfield Prospects for 2016
Do you know what tool I suggest you bet on in dynasty leagues? You’re about to find out.
Clint Frazier, Indians
I’ll never fall out of love with Frazier’s bat speed. A long-time crush of Bret Sayre’s and mine, Frazier took a big step forward in 2015, hitting .285/.377/.465 with 16 homers in High-A and improving his approach as a 20-year-old after a down 2014 campaign. There are some concerns about his ability to recognize breaking balls and about how much his swing-and-miss will limit the utility of his power, but the upside with Frazier remains intact; this is a potential 25-homer, 10-steal OF2, and that might be selling his power a little short. He carries more risk than some of the other High-A/Double-A outfielders mentioned below, but he also has excellent hair.
Austin Meadows, Pirates
I can’t believe I’m typing this sentence, but it looks like Craig Goldstein was right and Bret and I were wrong; Meadows is the real deal. We gave Meadows a 60-grade on his hit and run tools and a 50+ on his power in the Pirates Top 10 list, and after raking in High-A last season he’s got to be considered an upper-echelon fantasy prospect. Because Meadows lacks explosive ability in any one area, he’s been undersold compared to higher-upside options who will follow him on this list. But with a well-rounded game, really good approach and potential 2017 ETA, it’s time to talk about Meadows as a legit top-25 fantasy prospect and potential OF2. The floor/ceiling mix is incredibly attractive here.
Lewis Brinson, Rangers
Brinson’s success is probably bad for the collective beliefs of dynasty players because it’s going to reinforce that it’s ok to fall in love with uber-raw, toolsy players. They usually don’t work out, but Brinson looks like he’s going to after his baseball skills took a massive leap forward over the past two seasons. With five tools, an abundance of athleticism and a clear ability to make adjustments, Brinson has the potential to reside in the 20-20 club for many seasons. He’s also got favorable contextual factors in Texas, should be given a long leash thanks to his defense, and could very well be a regular by 2017. There’s still work to be done here and Brinson’s swing-and-miss numbers are a bit concerning, but we’re looking at OF1 upside.
David Dahl, Rockies
Don’t give up on Dahl yet. Yes, the outfielder missed time yet again in 2015, but it’s awfully hard to ding a guy for being injured in an outfield collision. That Dahl’s injury was more of the freak and less of the chronic type this time around doesn’t lessen the blow of his lost reps, however, and it’s a bit disappointing that Dahl has just 302 PA above High-A four years into his professional career. When he’s on the field, Dahl still shows plus speed, an enticing hit tool and enough power to be very interesting in Coors Field. It’s unfair to call 2016 a make-or-break season for him—even if disaster strikes again, he’ll be just 22—but a convincing performance in Double-A and eventual promotion to Albuquerque could have him in line to be a top-10 dynasty prospect at this time next year.
Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox
You know the way Bradley Zimmer is valued right now? That’s how I envision Benintendi being valued at this time next year. Though he doesn’t necessarily have a carrying fantasy tool, Benintendi should be able to make across-the-board contributions, though in more of the 15/15 HR/SB variety than anything terribly glamorous. Still, a player with his offensive repertoire in Fenway Park is an awfully enticing proposition, and the former College Player of the Year has the look of a long-time OF3, possibly by as soon as 2017.
Victor Robles, Nationals
Can we interest you in some upside? With 70 speed, an advanced hit tool and the potential for decent power down the line, Robles checks every fantasy box other than proximity to the majors. Dynasty leaguers always need to use caution when investing in players who are likely three-plus years away from the majors, but if you don’t buy in on Robles now, you’re definitely going to miss your chance if you haven’t already. He’ll be just 19 this season but Robles a real shot at reaching High-A and is a potential OF1 if it all breaks right. Thanks to his speed, he’s probably got a floor as an OF4.
Raimel Tapia, Rockies
When in doubt, bet on the hit tool. Tapia doesn’t have a ton of power at present, still chases every pitch in his time zone and, as everyone on the planet has pointed out, has benefited from favorable contextual factors for much of his career. He’s also still hitting everything in site, still a plus runner and still profiles as a potential OF2, especially in Coors. Tapia is probably further away from reaching his potential than his statline suggests, but the ceiling we’ve been dreaming about for years now remains very much intact.
Manuel Margot, Padres
Margot was born to roam Petco’s spacious outfield with his plus-plus defensive profile. Unfortunately his new home is likely to kill any sort of meaningful power production Margot might have found in fantasy-friendlier pastures. Still, Margot is a potential 30-steal outfielder with a good hit tool and it’s entirely possible his glove will make him a big league regular at some point in 2017. He’s a better MLB prospect than a fantasy one, but he’s still a potential OF3 with a high floor as someone who’ll be roster-worthy in moderately sized leagues thanks to his speed.
Anthony Alford, Blue Jays
Alford finally focused on baseball full-time in 2015. Turns out he’s pretty good at it. The 21-year-old hit .302/.380/.444 in High-A after destroying Low-A, and he’s now firmly entrenched as a top-50 fantasy prospect. Between Alford’s plus hit tool, potential for high OBPs and 30-40-steal potential, the Denard Span comparisons are obvious. Span isn’t the sexiest name out there, but in his better years he’s a strong OF3. The upper minors will be a test for a player with Alford’s limited reps, but I see no reason to doubt him.
Brett Phillips, Brewers
I was tempted to put Phillips in the 2016 installment of this outfield prospects split, but even if he gets a cup of coffee in Milwaukee at some point this year he’s unlikely to make an impact until 2017. With plus speed, a potential above average hit tool and the potential for double-digit homer totals, Phillips is poised to serve as a moderate five-category fantasy contributor. It would be nice to see him walk more and he needs to prove he’s got power in a setting outside of the Cal League. That being said he figures to have a home park that will help some of his drives leave the yard, and his floor as an outfielder with a decent average and 20-plus steals is nothing to sneeze at.
Harold Ramirez, Pirates
When in doubt, bet on the hit tool. Find me a scouting report that questions Ramirez’s bat. You can’t. You’ll find plenty that cite his lack of power, potential for filling out and losing speed and his awkward profile as a likely left fielder, but everyone agrees: The dude can flat-out hit. I’m happy living with that type of carrying tool and hoping that he either grows into power or doesn’t lose his legs. If he does gain pop without losing speed, we’re looking at an OF2, however unlikely that may be.
Alex Jackson, Mariners
On the one hand, Jackson is a good bounce-back candidate. He was too damn talented coming out of high school to believe his .157/.240/.213 line in the Midwest League is indicative of his skills, and he’s got too much natural power to dismiss as a potential OF2/3. Plus, he’s still just 20!
On the other hand, Jackson is a Mariners prospect.
Derek Fisher, Astros
Fisher brings above average speed and power to the table along with a potentially above average hit tool and hey now let’s not talk about the glove. Although his average took a dip upon his promotion to High-A, Fisher did slug 16 homers and swipe 23 bases in 398 PA there. That’s not as impressive in Lancaster as it would be elsewhere, but those numbers do illustrate the type of power/speed combo Fisher could bring to your fantasy squad some day. I’m a fan.
Kyle Tucker, Astros
The fifth-overall pick from the 2015 draft, Tucker impressed with his baserunning acumen in Rookie Ball but it’s really his hit tool and power that are of interest for us. With a weird swing and many years of MiLB seasoning ahead of him, Tucker is a very high-risk fantasy prospect. The upside is as a 25-homer OF2, but you’ll need to be very patient.
Eddy Julio Martinez, Cubs
Yeah, I don’t know either. Martinez has the potential to be a five-category fantasy contributor, but it’s hard to determine the likelihood of him reaching such a lofty status, as well as his ETA. If one thing is for sure, it’s this: the Cubs have no reason to rush him. Bret ranked him as the no. 63 fantasy prospect in the game right now. If he busts, blame Bret.
Yusniel Diaz, Dodgers
Diaz is advanced for a player his age, bringing good hand-eye coordination, a solid idea at the plate and above average speed to the field. What he lacks right now is power, upper-echelon wheels and a clear major league ETA. Diaz has the look of a solid OF3/4 more so than a fantasy star, but if he grows into more power or if the bat plays stateside the way it did in Cuba, that could change.
Trent Clark, Brewers
When in doubt, bet on the hit tool. Many thought Clark was the best prep bat in the 2015 draft class, and while that’s not the highest praise in the world it accurately reflects the type of hit tool Clark brings to the table. Add in decent wheels, the potential for high OBPs and good contextual factors (though they barely matter when a prospect is this far away) and Clark is already a borderline top-100 name. If neck size in one of your fantasy categories, consider Clark the second coming of Mike Trout.
Billy McKinney, Cubs
And here is where “When in doubt, bet on the hit tool” reaches its limits. McKinney has hit for a good average at pretty much every stop, and few doubt his ability to reach base and hit for doubles power. But with little natural loft in his swing and no real speed to speak of, McKinney looks like a two-trick fantasy pony who’ll only be a factor in runs and average. That’s fine and all, but his very low fantasy ceiling pushes mitigates the attractiveness of his natural bat-to-ball ability.
Ian Happ, Cubs
The no. 1 overall fantasy prospect in Bret’s mind, Happ will hopefully appear in the Get to Know: Second Base Prospects edition of this series next year. He’s a switch-hitter with a lot of polish who could be a fast-moving OF4 or a slightly slower moving top-12 second basemen. Then again, he’s a Cubs college bat so he’s probably Craig Biggio 2.0.
Daz Cameron, Astros
Cameron is a good fantasy prospect but he’s definitely at risk of being overrated thanks to his last name, draft pedigree and rankings on non-dynasty lists. If it all comes together, Cameron will boast good averages, 20-plus steals and double-digit homers to profile as a strong OF3, sort of like 2015 Adam Eaton. He’s got a mature feel for hitting but he’s still a long ways away, and without a real carrying fantasy tool he’s unlikely to be a star for our purposes.
Cornelius Randolph, Phillies
He’s three or four years away, but Randolph has a strong hit/power tool combo, favorable projected contextual factors and a 70-grade name. He’s not fleet of foot but he’s a potential four-category fantasy stud, and Randolph is a must-own if you roster 125 prospects or more. In fact, he made Bret’s Top 101 Dynasty Prospects List and while I’m not quite ready to go that far with Randolph yet, he’s a justifiable inclusion.
Others: Garrett Whitley, TB; Starling Heredia, LAD; Magneuris Sierra, STL; Monte Harrison, MIL; Bubba Starling, KC; Carlos Tocci, PHI; Derek Hill, DET; Leonardo Molina, NYY; Luis Alexander Basabe, BOS; D.J. Davis, TOR; Gabby Guerrero, ARI; Nick Plummer, STL; Braxton Davidson, ATL; Michael Gettys, SD; Alex Verdugo, LAD; Stone Garrett, MIA; Christin Stewart, DET; Aristides Aquino, CIN; Vlad Guerrero Jr., TOR; Teoscar Hernández, HOU; Dustin Fowler, NYY; Desmond Lindsay, NYM
We Hardly Knew Ye (Fantasy Value)