Last year was the first year I published my own Dynasty Top 101 list on Baseball Prospectus. As I explained in that piece, I used to sort of complete with Bret Sayre when it comes to dynasty stuff. Then I heard the expression “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” teamed up with Bret at TheDynastyGuru.com and, three years later, I get to annoy you people at least twice a month at Baseball Prospectus.
That’s a long way of saying this isn’t the official Dynasty Top 101 list for Baseball Prospectus. You can find that here, and, except for the Dom Smith ranking, Bret has done a great job yet again. This list is mine and mine alone, and while there’s some overlap with Bret’s ranking—we do bounce everything off each other and Craig Goldstein—there are some distinct differences, as well as some differences between how I rank players now and how I used to.
First, I’ve gone even crazier on valuing high-upside starters and devaluing mid-rotation guys. After a study I did for the 2015 Futures Guide, in which I found a startling bust rate for top-100 SP prospects in dynasty, I’m wholly disinterested in owning pitching prospects who lack SP 2/3 upside (if they’re a few years away) or SP4 upside (if they’re ready now).
Second, I’m a little less willing to go all-in on some 2015 draftees and signees than Bret appears to be. This is probably because I value proximity pretty highly among non-elite talents, and because Bret knows more than I do. Plus, as much as the minors have thinned out, give me the intriguing prospect in High-A over the guy who’s in the DSL.
Third, I’m more aggressive on speed-based guys than Bret is. And finally, I’m still willing to sell my soul to anyone with a plus hit tool. If you can hit, I’m ranking you, even if that’s really all you can do.
With that wordy intro out of the way, please enjoy. While you have every reason to trust Bret’s rankings over my own, keep this in mind: Dom Smith isn’t listed here.
(BC15 = ranking on my 2015 top 101, BS16 = ranking on Bret’s 2016 top 101)
Every year we deal with a tier of three to five dynasty prospects who clearly stand head and shoulders above the rest. The lines are a little more blurred among the top nine-or-so prospects this year, but these four stand out to me for their upside (Buxton, Moncada, Giolito) and combination of upside and floor (Seager). Ranking Seager first overall continues my three-year tradition of choosing a player with the best mix of ceiling and probability (Xander Bogaerts in 2014, Kris Bryant in 2015) as opposed to opting for pure upside. Also, I like infielders.
5. J.P. Crawford, SS, PHI (BC15: 26 | BS16: 6)
6. Nomar Mazara, OF, TEX (BC15: 29 | BS16: 4)
7. Joey Gallo, 3B/OF, TEX (BC15: 7 | BS16: 8)
8. Tim Anderson, SS, CHW (BC15: 20 | BS16: 10)
9. Julio Urias, LHP, LAD (BC15: 14 | BS16: 15)
10. Nick Williams, OF, PHI (BC15: 32 | BS16: 13)
11. Steven Matz, LHP, NYM (BC15: 71 | BS16: 7)
12. Alex Reyes, RHP, STL (BC15: 87 | BS16: 11)
13. Trea Turner, SS, WAS (BC15: 60 | BS16: 16)
The minor leagues lost a lot of talent last year, but this is still a very strong group of “secondary” prospects. Crawford, Mazara, Urias, Matz, and Turner are all safe bets to be significant fantasy forces as soon as the second half of 2016 (Matz is now), while Gallo, Anderson and Reyes are all close and teeming with upside, albeit with more risk. Williams represents the halfway point between those two groups and is a personal favorite of mine, though he’s unlikely to be of much use until 2017. If you want to argue for Crawford, Mazara, or Gallo as a member of Tier 1, I’d listen.
14. Brendan Rodgers, SS, COL (BC15: NE | BS16: 14)
15. Jorge Mateo, SS, NYY (BC15: NR | BS16: 33)
16. Aaron Judge, OF, NYY (BC15: 35 | BS16: 20)
17. Bradley Zimmer, OF, CLE (BC15: 89 | BS16: 9)
18. Franklin Barreto, SS, OAK (BC15: 59 | BS16: 32)
19. A.J. Reed, 1B, HOU (BC15: NR | BS16: 12)
20. Austin Meadows, OF, PIT (BC15: 56 | BS16: 24)
21. Tyler Glasnow, RHP, PIT (BC15: 39 | BS16: 21)
22. Jose Berrios, RHP, MIN (BC15: 67 | BS16: 26)
23. Blake Snell, SP, TB (BC15: NR | BS16: 18)
24. Clint Frazier, OF, CLE (BC15: 46 | BS16: 23)
25. David Dahl, OF, COL (BC15: 17 | BS16: 19)
26. Lewis Brinson, OF, TEX (BC15: 97 | BS16: 17)
27. Rafael Devers, 3B, BOS (BC15: 79 | BS16: 22)
28. Dansby Swanson, SS, ATL (BC15: NE | BS16: 27)
29. Andrew Benintendi, OF, BOS (BC15: NE | BS16: 30)
30. Jose De Leon, RHP, LAD (BC15: NR | BS16: 35)
Here we have our first mega-tier composed of a unique mix of assets. Three high-upside shortstops—Rodgers, Mateo and Barreto—offer carrying tools in terms of their power, speed and average, respectively. A fourth shortstop, Swanson, lacks any one standout tool but is a well-rounded player who should move quickly. The seven outfielders here all have the potential to be top-40 options at their position by 2017, with Judge, Meadows, and Brinson decent bets to start making waves this year. I’m not as high on Reed’s hit tool as some others, but it’s hard to ignore his raw power and proximity to the majors. Devers’ defense took a step forward in 2015, and if he proves he can stick at third he might be a top-10 name at this time next year. Glasnow has the highest upside but is the riskiest play of any of the pitchers here, while Berrios and Snell could be top-50 SP options by the end of the year. De Leon isn’t far behind them.
31. Ryan McMahon, 3B, COL (BC15: 57 | BS16: 29)
32. Jesse Winker, OF, CIN (BC15: 25 | BS16: 25)
33. Victor Robles, OF, WAS (BC15: NR | BS16: 34)
34. Josh Bell, 1B, PIT (BC15: 24 | BS16: 36)
35. Brett Phillips, OF, MIL (BC15: NR | BS16: 51)
36. Raimel Tapia, OF, COL (BC15: 36 | BS16: 41)
37. Orlando Arcia, SS, MIL (BC15: NR | BS16: 47)
38. Alex Bregman, SS, HOU (BC15: NE | BS16: 28)
39. Sean Newcomb, SP, ATL (BC15: NR | BS16: 39)
40. Anderson Espinoza, SP, BOS (BC15: NR | BS16: 59)
41. Sean Manaea, SP, OAK (BC15: 70 | BS16: 42)
42. Cody Reed, SP, CIN (BC15: NR | BS16: 38)
43. Dillon Tate, SP, TEX (BC15: NE | BS16: 43)
44. Robert Stephenson, SP, CIN (BC15: 38 | BS16: 50)
There are a lot of fast risers in this tier, as well as a few prospects who are still good but who have stagnated. McMahon, Robles, Phillips, Arcia, Newcomb, Espinoza, and Reed certainly qualify as prospects on the upswing; only McMahon was on this list last year. Winker and Bell are both a smidge lower than in 2015, as they now look like decent contributors more than studs. Still, they’re pretty safe bets. Tapia holds steady after dismantling the Cal League like we thought he would. Manaea and Stephenson have no. 2/3 fantasy SP upside if they improve their command. Bregman has a nice combination of tools for a middle infielder, while Tate’s upside makes him relevant for our purposes. This may strike some as insanely aggressive for Robles and Espinoza, but like I said in the intro; I’m leaning toward upside and speed.
45. Jose Peraza, 2B, CIN (BC15: 40 | BS16: 46)
46. Manuel Margot, OF, SD (BC15: 86 | BS16: 31)
47. Max Kepler, OF/1B, MIN (BC15: NR | BS16: 40)
48. Jacob Nottingham, C, MIL (BC15: NR | BS16: 55)
49. Carson Fulmer, SP, CHW (BC15: NE | BS16: 65)
50. Kenta Maeda, SP, LAD (BC15: NE | BS16: 49)
51. Jake Thompson, SP, PHI (BC15: 61 | BS16: 48)
52. Grant Holmes, SP, LAD (BC15: 99 | BS16: 57)
53. Francis Martes, SP, HOU (BC15: NR | BS16: 69)
54. Gleyber Torres, SS, CHC (BC15: NR | BS16: 44)
55. Anthony Alford, OF, TOR (BC15: NR | BS16: 53)
56. Ozhaino Albies, SS, ATL (BC15: NR | BS16: 64)
57. Willson Contreras, C, CHC (BC15: NR | BS16: 79)
58. Gary Sanchez, C, NYY (BC15: HM | BS16: 67)
59. Dan Vogelbach, 1B, CHC (BC15: 73 | BS16: 37)
60. Harold Ramirez, OF, PIT (BC15: NR | BS16: 72)
This is a weird tier. I’m higher on Peraza and Ramirez, and lower on Margot and Torres, (from a fantasy POV) than most, which is why their rankings might look out of place. Nottingham, Contreras and Sanchez make a solid trio of catching prospects, the first for his power, second for his bat and third for his power and proximity to the majors. Kepler should contribute at some point in 2016, though his impact is likely to be modest. I once read a Denard Span comp for Alford and can’t get it out my head (from a fantasy POV). Albies could end up a top-25 prospect in a year or two, but I want him to get stronger first. Vogelbach is a trade to the AL away from being our next Kendrys Morales.
The pitchers here represent the final arms I’d be ok getting aggressive with in drafts for dynasty leagues. Fulmer is either a no. 2/3 starter or a closer. Thompson brings solid strikeout upside, while Holmes profiles as an all-around contributor. Lord knows what Maeda is, but at least we’ll find out now. If you’re going to bet on upside (note: only bet on upside with arms), Martes is a good choice. Every pitcher who follows is an acceptable own, but not someone I’d actively target.
61. Brandon Drury, 2B/3B, ARI (BC15: 90 | BS16: 62)
62. Raul Mondesi, SS, KC (BC15: 58 | BS16: 61)
63. Kyle Tucker, OF, HOU (BC15: NE | BS16: 52)
64. Eddy Julio Martinez, OF, CHC (BC15: NE | BS16: 63)
65. Amed Rosario, SS, NYM (BC15: 81 | BS16: HM)
66. Hunter Harvey, SP, BAL (BC15: 42 | BS16: NR)
67. Trevor Story, INF, COL (BC15: NR | BS16: 98)
68. Jeff Hoffman, SP, COL (BC15: 54 | BS16: 56)
69. Franklyn Kilome, SP, PHI (BC15: NR | BS16: 74)
70. Hunter Renfroe, OF, SD (BC15: 34 | BS16: 99)
71. Forrest Wall, 2B, COL (BC15: 96 | BS16: 85)
72. Jorge Alfaro, C, PHI (BC15: 49 | BS16: 58)
73. Kolby Allard, SP, ATL (BC15: NE | BS16: 90)
74. Brady Aiken, SP, CLE (BC15: NE | BS16: 91)
And here we have the “worried about the hit tool” group. Mondesi has speed and a glove that should keep him in the lineup, but … Renfroe and Alfaro have power and should matter in 2016, but … Tucker has crazy upside … but. You get the picture. Drury, Wall and Martinez are exceptions here; I like Drury’s bat but am not sure where he’ll play/if he’ll have enough power to matter. I simply copied Bret on the Martinez ranking, because ¯_(ãƒ„)_/¯. Whatever, Craig Goldstein, you were right about Wall. Story is attractive as an infielder in Coors who should be ready soon, while Rosario is attractive as an asset who should round into form as an all-around contributor from shortstop.
You need a strong stomach to put much stock into Harvey (injuries), Hoffman (Coors) or Kilome (distance from majors) at this point, but your reward could be a no. 2/3 SP. Your reward could instead (and will more likely) be crippling sadness. Speaking of crippling sadness, it’s Allard and Aiken! Go ahead. Draft them. I’m sure it will work out (it won’t). And yet, their upside is intoxicating.
75. Jomar Reyes, 3B, BAL (BC15: NR | BS16: 81)
76. Yusniel Diaz, OF, LAD (BC15: NE | BS16: 73)
77. Brent Honeywell, SP, TB (BC15: NR | BS16: 87)
78. Archie Bradley, SP, ARI (BC15: 15 | BS16: 83)
79. Jameson Taillon, SP, PIT (BC15: 28 | BS16: 82)
80. Nick Gordon, SS, MIN (BC15: 78 | BS16: 70)
81. Willy Adames, SS, TB (BC15: NR | BS16: 54)
82. Bobby Bradley, 1B, CLE (BC15: NR | BS16: 68)
83. Ian Happ, OF/2B, CHC (BC15: NE | BS16: 45)
84. Billy McKinney, OF, CHC (BC15: HM | BS16: 75)
And now we get to the “meh, good enough” arms. Honeywell lacks their ceiling but is in a great org and should be ready soon(ish). Ditto Taillon, though he’s a walking Swiss slalom course with his red flags. Don’t totally give up on Archie yet, just adjust your expectations and understand that he’s a high-strikeout, high-WHIP potential fantasy SP4—not a savior.
The bats here are fun. Reyes is a big boy who could take a big jump up the rankings if he hits again in 2016, sort of like Devers-lite (but not light). Diaz is attractive for his speed, Happ is attractive because he might move to second base and McKinney is attractive because he’ll hit .280-plus, even if that’s all he does. Gordon and Adames are nice buy-lowish shortstop prospect candidates, while Bobby Bradley stands poised to be the ever-elusive legitimate dynasty first base prospect.
85. Matt Olson, 1B, OAK (BC15: 94 | BS16: HM)
86. Rowdy Tellez, 1B, TOR (BC15: NR | BS16: HM)
87. Byung-ho Park, 1B, MIN (BC15: NE | BS16: 94)
88. Tom Murphy, C, COL (BC15: NR | BS16: 96)
89. Wilmer Difo, INF, WAS (BC15: NR | BS16: HM)
90. Reynaldo Lopez, SP, WAS (BC15: 80 | BS16: HM)
91. Luis Ortiz, SP, TEX (BC15: NR | BS16: 97)
92. Amir Garrett, SP, CIN (BC15: NR | BS16: HM)
93. Chance Sisco, C, BAL (BC15: HM | BS16: NR)
94. Derek Fisher, OF, HOU (BC15: HM | BS16: 78)
95. Javier Guerra, SS, SD (BC15: NR | BS16: NR)
96. Hector Olivera, OF, ATL (BC15: NE | BS16: 89)
97. Michael Fulmer, SP, DET (BC15: NR | BS16: HM)
98. Josh Hader, SP, MIL (BC15: NR | BS16: HM)
*Rymer Liriano, OF, MIL (BC15: 33 | BS16: NR)
99. Braden Shipley, SP, ARI (BC15: 41 | BS16: 95)
100. Aaron Blair, SP, ATL (BC15: 76 | BS16: 93)
101. Kyle Zimmer, SP, KC (BC15: 51 | BS16: 101)
While the minor leagues have (deservedly) gotten some flack for being thin this year, this isn’t a wholly unattractive group of back-of-the-101-type guys. Olson has big power that will matter if he can hit a little, while Tellez could be the heir apparent to Edwin Encarnacion if he lays off the Vogelbach diet. Park is here for his proximity and because it will anger Bret.
Murphy is a catcher in Coors (enough said), while Difo is a middle infielder with wheels (enough said). Fisher and Sisco are solid mid-minors prospects who could easily bust but will be fun to own if they don’t. I’m not entirely sold on Guerra’s power yet, but he’s definitely a shortstop and after a performance like his 2015 he’s tough to ignore. Olivera is boring now that he’s an outfielder, but he’s in the majors.
The pitchers here … man, the pitchers. I think this is really where you see the impact 2015 had on draining the minors; I wanted to shy away from this many so-so starter types, but the options below them just aren’t that appealing. Some of the shine is off Reynaldo Lopez, but he’s still a live arm with plenty of upside. Shipley looks more like a back-end fantasy option than anything special, but he’ll be ready soon, which is logic that also applies to Blair. Ortiz is stupid risky but has high upside, while Zimmer is stupider (official term) risky but is at least close. Fulmer might be a reliever, but he’ll miss bats in any role. Garrett and Hader are two lefties who have a low probability of mattering in fantasy, but when in doubt, gamble on lefties with good stuff. Or, you know, draft another hitter.
*Liriano was ranked 98 before he broke his face and I’m too sad to take him off the list.
Honorable Mention (Alphabetical Order)
- Yadier Alvarez, SP, LAD
- Christian Arroyo, SS, SF
- Daz Cameron, OF, HOU
- Trent Clark, OF, MIL
- Alen Hanson, INF, PIT
- Alex Jackson, OF, SEA
- Jorge Lopez, SP, MIL
- Trey Mancini, 1B, BAL
- Roman Quinn, OF, PHI
- Cornelius Randolph, OF, PHI
- Austin Riley, 3B, ATL
- Jhoan Urena, 3B, NYM
- Daniel Robertson, INF, TB
- Garrett Whitley, OF, TB
Graduated: Kris Bryant, CHC (1), Carlos Correa, HOU (3), Addison Russell, CHC (4), Jorge Soler, CHC (6), Miguel Sano, MIN (8), Francisco Lindor, CLE (11), Joc Pederson, LAD (12), Noah Syndergaard, NYM (13), Carlos Rodon, CHW (16), Blake Swihart, BOS (21), Aaron Sanchez, TOR (23), Dalton Pompey, TOR (27), Maikel Franco, PHI (30), Daniel Norris, DET (37), Michael Taylor, WAS (44), Stephen Piscotty, STL (45), Kyle Schwarber, CHC (47), Matt Wisler, ATL (52), Henry Owens, BOS (53), Aaron Nola, PHI (62), Chi Chi Gonzalez, TEX (63), Eddie Butler, COL (64), Mike Foltynewicz, ATL (65), Dilson Herrera, NYM (69), Eduardo Rodriguez, BOS (72), Michael Conforto, NYM (82), Brandon Finnegan, CIN (83), Steven Souza, TB (85), Luis Severino, NYY (88), Kevin Plawecki, NYM (92), Andrew Susac, SF (93), Jacob Lamb, ARI (100)
Dropped Off: Dylan Bundy, BAL (18), Jon Gray, COL (19), Alex Meyer, MIN (22), D.J. Peterson, SEA (31), Kohl Stewart, MIN (43), Mark Appel, PHI (48), Albert Almora, CHC (55), Tyler Kolek, MIA (66), A.J. Cole, WAS (74), Marco Gonzales, STL (75), Brandon Nimmo, NYM (84), Garin Cecchini :(, (91), Hunter Dozier, KC (95), Miguel Almonte, KC (98), Nick Kingham, PIT (101)
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