Previous entries in this series
We’ve got more than 40 names to get to, so let’s just get after it. There’s some big-time talent here. This is my Valentine’s Day present to you:
Names for 2017
Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox
We’re ranking Benintendi no. 2 overall in our top-101 dynasty list (spoiler alert, I know), but if you value floor and probability over ultimate upside, you might want him at no. 1. I always push dynasty players to look for great hit tools first, and Benintendi has a borderline 70 bat that’s ready to play now. He’s got so little MiLB experience that he might experience some bumps in the road at first—especially against LHP—but the ingredients are here for a long-term OF2 who’ll play higher in his best years. In his prime, I think he hits .300-plus, socks 15-plus homers, and flirts with 20 steals. He should score a ton of runs, too.
Austin Meadows, Pirates
Meadows and Benintendi are actually fairly similar prospects in dynasty formats, though the former has more power while the latter has a better pure hit tool. Still, Meadows is another potential five-category contributor (six if we count OBP), and while some of injury concerns are legit (the hamstrings), others are just dumb luck (the whole struck in face by baseball phenomenon that like 70% of Pirates players went through in 2016). Fight the prospect fatigue and embrace Meadows as a legitimate dude who could be your OF2 by next season.
Clint Frazier, Yankees
It hurt my heart when Frazier was traded to the Yankees, but I’ll take some solace in watching him mash taters in Yankee Stadium for the next half decade. Frazier is likely to be inconsistent, especially in the early years, but if it all clicks, we’re looking at a dude who can hit .270-plus with 25-plus homers and double-digit steals. In other words, I think he could basically be the next George Springer, as weird as it seems that there could already be a new George Springer.
Nick Williams, Phillies
I haven’t gone so far out on a limb for a prospect as I have with Williams since the Xander Bogaerts days, but I truly believe he’s going to hit and hit well. Williams has more pop than people give him credit for, and while he’s not a great base runner, there’s enough natural speed here for him to threaten for 10-15 bags a year. Williams is absolutely the type of prospect who might struggle in his first few MLB go-arounds, and that will cause people to hop off the bandwagon. I’ll be on for as long as humanly possible, though, because I think Williams is an OF2 in his best years. Even if he doesn’t reach his 100th percentile outcome, I think he could do what Stephen Piscotty did last year many times.
Raimel Tapia, Rockies
People love to nitpick with Tapia. He’s got a plus-plus hit tool, but. He’ll hit for a really high average, but. He can barrel up anything in his time zone, but. In the words of Not Brett Lawrie, to hell with those buts. Tapia is going to hit .280-plus for the majority of his career, and he could very well settle in as a .300-plus hitter. Despite his lack of base-running smarts he’s got enough pure speed to swipe 20-plus bags a year, and Coors should help his power play up to at least double-digits. Add it all up and you’re looking at a really solid OF2/3 who could play above that in his prime. Yes, please.
Lewis Brinson, Brewers
God, you’re gonna hate Lewis Brinson. You’ll love watching him play and you’ll be seduced by his power/speed combo and you’ll go all-in on him. Then he’ll struggle to hit, the homer and steal totals will drop and you’ll shake your head as he becomes a down-the-order, glove-first center fielder. You’re going to give up on Brinson after a year or two or three, and as soon as you do, it’s gonna click. He’s gonna hit 20 bombs and steal 30-plus bases, and the average will be tolerable, too. Some years he’ll be that guy, the OF1/2 you always knew he could be. Other years he’ll sink you, the OF5/6 you wasted your third-round pick on. You can ride the wave in dynasty. In redraft leagues? Good luck.
Manny Margot, Padres
Truly one of the safest prospects on this list, Margot is a lock to contribute in runs and SB, and he’ll contribute modestly in AVG in his best seasons, too. There isn’t really star power here thanks to the lack of big-time pop and the contextual factors, but if you told me Margot fell in the OF3-OF5 range for the next six-to-eight years, I wouldn’t blink. What he lacks in ceiling he makes up for in very high probability. A part of me is still sure he was traded for Cole Hamels.
Aaron Judge, Yankees
Ah look, another Judge who’s criticized for the way he exercises his power. Judge has some of the best raw and usable power in the minors, but he’s also got a ton of swing-and-miss to his game and a more questionable hit tool than most of the names who precede him here. If it all clicks we’re looking at a .260 hitter who can sock 30-plus dongers with regularity, but Judge’s hit tool, health and propensity for the K may conspire to keep him from reaching that ceiling. We’ll know soonish, though, because Judge is MLB-ready now.
Hunter Renfroe, Padres
I’ve always liked Renfroe, so it will come as no surprise that his strong 2016 performance has me leading his hype train once again. He’s gonna strike out too much and you might want to look elsewhere in OBP leagues, but for those of you hooligans who play in standard formats, Renfroe will produce. He’s got 30-homer potential, I believe he can hit .260-plus and he’ll even swipe a handful of bases for you. He and Judge are very different MLB prospects because of the latter’s patient approach, but from a dynasty perspective, these two aren’t so different. In fact, I like Renfroe’s hit tool better, and if the contextual factors were switched, I might prefer him for dynasty overall.
Bradley Zimmer, Indians
Zimmer has power and speed on his side, and he’s willing to take a walk, too. But he’s transformed from one of the safer names on this list to one of its premier “will the hit tool let the other tools play” conundrums. If it clicks, Zimmer might hit .260 with 20 bombs and steals each. If it doesn't, he might not play enough to get much past 10 of either. There’s a lot of variance here for a guy so close to the majors, and odds are that variance shows up on a year-to-year basis.
Jesse Winker, Reds
Perhaps more so than anyone we’ve covered on this list so far (but not everyone we will cover), Winker is a better dynasty prospect than IRL asset. I believe in the hit tool and think he’ll routinely push .280-plus in the majors. How much power that comes with is still an open question, and if Winker is really just gonna be a single-digit homer threat, he might not get enough playing time to matter. He battled wrist issues last season, though, and I’m choosing to believe that capped his power and that he’s at least got 15-homer juice in there. Winker will be a stronger play in OBP leagues.
Tyler O’Neill, Mariners
It’s tempting to just copy-paste Renfroe’s entry here, but seeing as O’Neill is a Mariners prospect, I only have so long to write about him before he turns into a pumpkin (sorry Meg). O’Neill has the big-time raw we look for in outfield prospects, and there’s a chance he pushes for 25-plus homers, even in Safeco. There’s also a chance he swings and misses too much for this to really work. Basically, he’s every mid-minors, non-elite, corner outfielder power bat ever.
Roman Quinn, Phillies
Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the second coming of Ben Revere
With 80-grade speed, not 75
Hardly a prospect is alive
Who can steal as many bases per year.
Albert Almora, Cubs
I constantly preach about the dangers of prospect fatigue, but dear lord am I tired of Almora. He’ll get playing time because of his glove and he’s got enough savvy and speed to swipe some bags, but I think we’re mostly looking at an empty-average bat who won’t get 500-plus PA a season, at least not unless he gets a change of scenery. There is still value here and he’s an easy top-100 guy, but Almora is boring at this point.
Brett Phillips, Brewers
If the inflatable duck nightmare sound vine was a person, it’d be Brett Phillips.
— Kevin Holden (@321cuekevin) February 26, 2016
He’s still a pretty good prospect in OBP formats. He’s more of a fringe-101 guy in standard leagues. “Let’s wait and see” isn’t super helpful, but …
Derek Fisher, Astros
Bradley Zimmer, but 15-20% worse.
Andrew Toles, Dodgers
Toles is fast, can hit a bit and is in the majors now, so we’ve got to pay some attention to him. He’s probably more of a part-time player (at least on a first-division team) than an everyday guy, though, and that limits him to NL-only usefulness for the time being. He might be worth rostering if he finds consistent playing time.
Harrison Bader, Cardinals
Bader seems like a short-side platoon OF, but he can run and he’s a Cardinal so he’ll probably be Jim Edmonds or whatever. I don’t think the power will play to where we need it to for Bader to be truly useful, but he could end up being an NL-only asset. Don’t let his Double-A stats trick you into believing he’s something he’s not.
Dylan Cozens, Phillies
I’m pretty sure Cozens can’t hit, but if he proves that he can even just a little, he’s got the power and speed to be a big-time dynasty asset. But again, that’s predicated on him hitting, and right now it looks like Cozens will be a strong-side platoon bat at best and a Quad-A dude at worst.
Names for 2018 and Beyond
Victor Robles, Nationals
Robles is the leader in the clubhouse to profile as the best fantasy prospect in the game next off-season. He’s got a potential 70 hit/run combo, might end up flirting with double-digit homers and has proven capable of dominating despite being very young for his levels. This might be the remix to Starling Marte. It might be even better.
Eloy Jimenez, Cubs
Plus-plus raw power? Check. Bat speed? Check. Good approach? Check. Great org for his development? Check. Jimenez really has it all from a dynasty perspective. He’s a future star, and if you told me he’d be a top-5 prospect at this time next year, it wouldn’t shock me. I know I just said there aren’t a lot of guys with true OF1 potential, but Jimenez is on that short list. It’s about time the Cubs caught a break with one of these guys.
Kyle Tucker, Astros
Tucker has a wonderfully high floor and a very respectable ceiling. He’s going to hit for average and he’s going to run a little bit. It really just comes down to power. If Tucker is more of a 12-15-homer guy, he’ll be an OF3/4 who bolsters your average and does enough across the board to help out. If he turns into more of a 20-homer guy, he could be a borderline OF2 in his better years and a true five-category contributor. II expect him to put up some gaudy stats in Lancaster and to be knocking on Triple-A’s door by season’s end.
Ronald Acuna, Braves
The Braves were the first top-10 we released at BP this year. That means they were the first top-10 I ever contributed to, which means Acuna was the second player I ever wrote a top-10 fantasy blurb for. In that blurb, I tried to throw a little bit of cold water on his dynasty value.
If I could go back in time, here’s what I’d say to young, naive, more innocent me: hahahahahaha. Acuna is a top-30 dynasty prospect. The minors are (relatively) bad and he is good. Go all-in on Acuna, because the upside is worth the risk.
Yusniel Diaz, Dodgers
Diaz is one of my favorite fantasy prospects in the mid-minors. He tends to get dinged because he doesn’t do any one thing extraordinarily well, but Diaz also lacks a real weakness. He has a good approach, strong pitch recognition skills, a solid hit tool and plus speed. He might slow down a bit as he ages, but he might also add some pop, which would largely make it a wash. He won’t carry your team, but I do think Diaz could be a long-term OF3, and I think he has a pretty high floor as a usable OF5.
Alex Verdugo, Dodgers
You’ve got to be impressed by what Verdugo did as a 20-year-old in Double-A last season, hitting .273/.336/.407 with 13 bombs in 529 PA. Despite that, I’m not sure Verdugo brings enough to the table in fantasy to get over the OF4/5 hump. His hit tool and approach are routinely praised, but he’s not a runner and his power might top out in the 15-homer region. If it does, Verdugo will be eminently rosterable as an AVG/R/RBI guy, but pretty unremarkable. That’s sort of his floor, though, and even if he can add even a little more pop he starts to become more intriguing.
Corey Ray, Brewers
Ray is riskier than many of the bats popped around him in the 2016 draft, but he also comes packed with much more upside. There’s a potential 30-steal, 20-homer outfielder in here, although we’ll need to see Ray’s bat play up in the mid-minors before we get too excited about such a future. Nick Senzel is the best dynasty asset who joined the professional ranks this June, but Ray is a comfy no. 2. Yes, I am concerned about his two first names.
Mickey Moniak, Phillies
Moniak isn’t the most exciting 1-1 draft pick in recent memory, but he’s still got the profile of an eminently usable fantasy outfielder. I compared him to the rich man’s Adam Eaton in our Phillies top-10 list, and I see no reason to change it now. He could end up having two carrying fantasy tools in his hit tool and his legs.
Blake Rutherford, Yankees
Another solid if unspectacular outfielder from the 2016 draft, Rutherford impressed in his first professional action, showing a well-rounded skill set in the Appy League. He’s more of a future OF3 than anything truly special, but if you put a left-handed OF3 in Yankee Stadium, very good things tend to happen. I like his balance of ceiling and floor.
Kyle Lewis, Mariners
If Lewis comes back all the way from his ugly knee injury, he’s a potential five-category talent who’ll lead the way with his bat and approach but sprinkle in some homers and steals. There’s no real fantasy star power here — are you sensing a theme with 2016 draftees? — but Lewis has all the ingredients of an OF3. He could move fairly quickly once healthy.
Leody Taveras, Rangers
Oh wow, a super toolsy Dominican prospect in the Rangers system. How weird. Taveras has the plus speed/hit tool combo that we crave. The power is a bit of an open-ended question and it will be for a while, as Taveras is only 18 years old. If you’re looking for a few guys who could take massive jumps up prospect rankings between now and June, he’s on the list.
Juan Soto, Nationals
When the Nationals top-10 list came out, I wrote that Soto was too far away to be a top-100 prospect. Now that the top-101 list that Bret Sayre and I are working on is complete(ish), I can tell you with confidence that Soto is actually a top-70 dynasty prospect. Yes, already. That’s how bullish Bret is on Soto’s power/hit tool combo, and I felt no need to stand in Bret’s way. You still have time to buy in on the ground floor, but it’s running out quickly.
Trent Clark, Brewers
I like Clark a lot as a buy-low prospect. His first full professional season was pretty uninspiring, but Clark should really hit. The lack of standout secondary tool precludes him from an OF1/2 future, but I think he could reasonably fall anywhere in the OF3-5 spectrum. Don’t let the bad first impression dissuade you.
Anthony Alford, Blue Jays
Another player who could use a bounce-back in 2017, Alford missed a good portion of last season with a dislocated kneecap (sounds fun!). That’s not super encouraging for a guy who’s main fantasy weapon is his speed, but Alford could lose a step and still profile as a dude who can swipe 20-plus bags a year. Unfortunately there’s not a ton else to see here, but Alford does have a little more pop than your average burner, and as a great athlete who’s still fairly new to focusing on baseball full-time, there’s always a chance it all clicks a little later than with most. He’s still a top-100 guy, but he won’t be next year if the performance doesn’t improve.
Luis Alexander Basabe, White Sox
Basabe has plus speed, the potential for plus power and a defensive profile that should keep him in the lineup on an everyday basis. Can he hit, thought? If it starts to look more like he can, he’ll be a top-50 guy at this time next season. If not, he might find himself in the dreaded “others.” Basically it’s good for fantasy if you’re a good hitter, is what I’m saying.
Jahmai Jones, Angels
You’ll need to be patient, but Jones has a carrying tool in his speed and could end up with more pop than you think. Don’t go crazy for him, but if you do have interest make sure you buy/draft ASAP, because he’s starting to become a household name in households with people who have a crippling addiction to dynasty leagues, AKA you and everyone else reading this.
Jorge Ona, Padres
This is lazy, but I’m lazy. Think Hunter Renfroe, but like three years ago and with a better swing.
Aristides Aquino, Reds
The more I learn about Aquino, the more I like him. He showed legitimate pop in the FSL as a 22-year-old, he’s a plus runner and he could reasonably reach the majors at some point in 2018. I said he’d be a top-175 prospect in the Reds top-10, but now that I’ve actually put together a rough top-200, he’s closer to the top-125 range. Buy, buy, buy.
Greg Allen, Indians
I get a real Brett Gardner vibe from Allen. That might not sound super exciting to dynasty league owners, but consider how few people really know about Allen and you can see why this starts to be a solid buy-low opportunity. We pushed Allen up to no. 5 on our Indians top-10, so people are gonna start catching on. Try to get in on the ground floor before they do; it won’t be that long until Allen is in the majors, anyway.
Alex Kirilloff, Twins
Ok I *literally* wrote about Kiriloff last Friday so you’re basically getting a copy-paste job from his top-10 entry: Kirilloff is already flirting with top-101 status. He’s got the potential hit tool/power combo we want to see from an outfielder, and while his Northeast pedigree means he might take awhile to get going, his ultimate upside is as an OF3.
Harold Ramirez, Blue Jays
I know I’m the high guy on Ramirez, but he Just. Keeps. Hitting. I fully acknowledge the lack of star power, and I know he might not play a ton because he doesn’t have much in the way of secondary tools. But if Ramirez does get playing time, I think he could do a Jesse Winker impression, albeit with a lower OBP. Not a great IRL player, but a decent fantasy one if the at-bats are there.
Magneuris Sierra, Cardinals
Dear lord there are a lot of outfield prospects in the NL Central. Sierra is really fast. Not many baseball players are really fast anymore (only 14 players had 30+ steals in 2016). Add Sierra’s speed to what reports indicate is a simplified swing, and you get a top-150 prospect despite the lead time.
Christin Stewart, Tigers
Sometimes it just comes down to personal evaluations. I know Stewart has big-time raw and that he’s not very far away from the majors, but I don’t think the hit tool will really play at the next level. I see a platoon bat here, and not a particularly enticing one. He’ll run into some impressive moon shots, though.
Taylor Trammell, Reds
He’s a toolshed who showed more polished baseball skills than people thought he’d have in his first professional showing. We’ve got a long way to go, but Trammell could rise fast.
Michael Gettys, Padres
It probably won’t work, but if it does work, we’re talking about a potential five-category contributor. Seriously though; it’s probably not gonna work.
Others: Jose Azocar, DET; Wuilmer Becerra, NYM; Will Benson, CLE; Jairo Beras, TEX; Daz Cameron, HOU; Franchy Cordero, SD; Dylan Carlson, STL; Donnie Dewees, KC; Steven Duggar, SF; Dustin Fowler, NYY; Pedro Gonzalez, COL; Zack Granite, MIN; Anfernee Grier, ARI; Monte Harrison, MIL; Brayan Hernandez, SEA; Derek Hill, DET; Thomas Jones, MIA; Ramon Laureano, HOU; Khalil Lee, KC; Desmond Lindsay, NYM; Eddie Julio Martinez, CHC; Seuly Matias, KC; Jhailyn Ortiz, PHI; Cornelius Randolph, PHI; Jesus Sanchez, TB; Isael Soto, MIA; Andrew Stevenson, WAS; Garrett Whitley, TB, Your Favorite OF Prospect Who I Forgot
We Hardly Knew Ye (Fantasy Value):
- D.J. Stewart, BAL
- Alex Jackson, ATL
- Billy McKinney, NYY
- D.J. Davis, TOR
- Courtney Hawkins, CHW (RIP Mort)
Thank you for reading
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