2017 RotoRob Top 80 Fantasy Baseball Prospects
It’s time, once again, for our annual Top Fantasy Baseball Prospects list. In this, our 13th annual list, we’ve again beefed things up things — going 80 deep for the first time. Note that these rankings represent our take on the top prospects prior to Opening Day. We apologize for our tardiness in getting these out, but life has gotten in the way lately. Stupid life! Still, our timing may be perfect for releasing this with Super Two status about to no longer be a concern, meaning that clubs will no longer be afraid to bring up their top prospects, so we’ll be seeing a lot of these dudes very soon.
This season, we’ve slipped to 33 returnees from our 2016 rankings (down slightly from last year’s 35), while the number of players graduating to the bigs from last year’s Top 75 prospects also slid (from 27 to 23).
The number of prospects that fell off the list this year soared from eight to 18, telling us that as we expand the list each year, we’re bound to include a few more misses. So sue us! Even a prospect as high as No. 29 from last year failed to crack this year’s top 80. Really? Yes! So that means there are 47 newcomers (up from 40 last year), which is only partially explained by us increasing from 75 to 80 prospects this season.
Graduating from last year’s top 75 list: Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers (1); Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins (2); Julio Urias, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers (5); Joey Gallo, 3B, Texas Rangers (6); Nomar Mazara, OF, Texas Rangers (9); Steven Matz, SP, New York Mets (10); Orlando Arcia, SS, Milwaukee Brewers (11); Trea Turner, OF, Washington Nationals (12); Jose Berrios, SP, Minnesota Twins (17); Raul Mondesi, 2B, Kansas City Royals (20); Tim Anderson, SS, Chicago White Sox (24); Jon Gray, SP, Colorado Rockies (26); Blake Snell, SP, Tampa Bay Rays (27); Alex Bregman, 3B, Houston Astros (28); David Dahl, OF, Colorado Rockies (33); Jake Thompson, SP, Philadelphia Phillies (37); Archie Bradley, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks (40); Jameson Taillon, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates (44); Aaron Blair, SP, Atlanta Braves (47); Jose Peraza, 2B, Cincinnati Reds (48); Braden Shipley, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks (53); Dylan Bundy, RP/SP, Baltimore Orioles (58); and Sean Manaea, SP, Oakland Athletics (67).
Dropping off the list this season: Robert Stephenson, SP, Cincinnati Reds (29); Jesse Winker, OF, Cincinnati Reds (35); Ryan McMahon, 3B, Colorado Rockies (39); Nick Williams, OF, Philadelphia Phillies (41); Brett Phillips, OF, Milwaukee Brewers (43); Grant Holmes, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers (46); Dillon Tate, SP/RP, New York Yankees (49); Billy McKinney, OF, New York Yankees (51); Mark Appel, SP, Philadelphia Phillies (52); Hunter Harvey, SP, Baltimore Orioles (54); Javier Guerra, SS, San Diego Padres (57); Alex Jackson, OF, Atlanta Braves (60); Daz Cameron, OF, Houston Astros (63); Carson Fulmer, SP, Chicago White Sox (64); A.J. Reed, 1B, Houston Astros (65); Brian Johnson, SP, Boston Red Sox (66); Cody Reed, SP, Cincinnati Reds (68) and Tyler Kolek, SP, Miami Marlins (73).
Now go get yourself a super jumbo coffee and sit down to enjoy our tome of prospects.
Last year’s rankings are in parentheses.
1. Andrew Benintendi, OF, Boston Red Sox (50): Talk about a dude making a quantum leap in a year’s time. Benintendi picked up right where he left off last year, and absolutely raked this spring, putting himself in excellent position to make a run at AL ROY honours. The No. 1 prospect in the game began the season with the BoSox, and is unlikely to ever see another day of minor league action again (unless it’s for rehab purposes). Benintendi is expected to improve the LF numbers in Boston, and seems poised to follow the great tradition of Red Sox left fielders from back in the day. And hell, the kid’s even got a good personality and excellent taste in women (see video below)
2. Dansby Swanson, SS, Atlanta Braves (16): Swanson dealt with some back woes this spring, but it’s not a major issue, and he’s expected to take a major step forward this year. He’ll be a big part of what should be a much better Atlanta squad in 2017. The one worry we have here is that Swanson’s strikeout rate rose from 14 per cent at High-A to 18.8 per cent at Double to 23.4 per cent in the majors. We can’t see him hitting over .300 with a contact rate that low, so keep an eye on that. Still, we have full confidence that Swanson will adjust, and after a very ugly April, he was much better in May. He will need to start using the whole field, instead of being such a pull hitter, to take the next step.
3. Yoan Moncada, 3B, Chicago White Sox (7): Moncada began the season at Triple-A, and the White Sox — who will likely suck this year, although so far are holding their own — won’t have a ton of incentive to bring him up, so we may have to wait until the second half for him to return to the majors. Once he arrives, so will the fun. There’s a reason Baseball America has this kid ranked as the No. 2 prospect. We’re nearly as high on Moncada and can’t wait to see what he’ll be capable of once he gets a wee bit more seasoning at the upper minors. The Chris Sale trade will soon start to look a lot better for the Pale Hose.
4. Alex Reyes, SP, St. Louis Cardinals (13): Upon his promotion last year, Reyes impressed us enough to earn a waiver wire recommendation in September. It was a great call as he was dynamite down the stretch despite more walks than we’d like to see. Unfortunately, he’ll miss all of 2017 in the wake of Tommy John surgery, but even so, he’s a top five keeper prospect in our books.
5. Gleyber Torres, SS, New York Yankees (31): The Yankees’ top prospect really shot up the list this year and proved he’s for real after a huge AFL showing (he won MVP honours) and a huge spring (.448 BA, 1400 OPS). New York is wisely taking it slow with this stud prospect, but when he gets the call (probably sometime this season), you need to be seriously aggressive with your FAAB bidding. The fact that Torres was recently promoted to Triple-A, where he’s already proving productive, suggests it will be soon.
6. Austin Meadows, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates (19): Pittsburgh’s 2013 first rounder (ninth overall) is knocking on the door of the majors, and if not for an injury last year, might have already made his MLB debut. The Bucs have a solid group of outfielders already installed, so it’s going to take a trade or free agency to open up a slot for Meadows, but he cannot be held back for much longer after showing such fine on-base skills at Double-A. His work at Triple-A suggests a tad more seasoning is in order, and with no immediate rush to bring him up, he’ll get that chance to marinate a bit more. After a rough first month at Triple-A, Meadows has really turned it on, so keep an eye on him as he’s making a case for a promotion.
7. Amed Rosario, SS, New York Mets (NR): The Mets have a couple of middle infield prospects that are nearly ready to make their MLB debuts, but Rosario is clearly the top man in that regard. He began the season at Triple-A after showing some pretty sweet extra-base sock at Double-A last year, and is hitting up a storm while showing tremendous productivity.
8. Victor Robles, OF, Washington Nationals (56): Robles hasn’t played above High-A yet and did not get invited to Spring Training this year, but don’t think that he’s not on the fast track. Just look at the jump he made from last year’s rankings a season after he flashed developing power at Class-A and then continued to perform well at High-A despite being just 19. There are some that don’t even rank Robles as a top 20 prospect, but we’re extremely bullish on him, especially given the lack of speed in today’s game. His BA is down a tad at High-A this year, but the power keeps developing.
9. J.P. Crawford, SS, Philadelphia Phillies (4): Crawford’s BABIP was up a smidge at Double-A last year before he was promoted to Triple-A for the majority of the campaign. While he’s slipped in the rankings this year, he remains a cornerstone building block in Philadelphia’s rebuild. Better yet, Crawford has already bonded with another key component of Philly’s future — outfielder Mickey Moniak. Crawford is again tackling Triple-A this year, and while we were expecting much better results, with the possibility of his first taste of the majors coming later this season and perhaps him even being in the running for NL ROY if he arrives soon enough, that is not going to happen. He got off to a dreadful start, but seems to be turning things around now.
10. Brendan Rodgers, SS/2B, Colorado Rockies (14): Rodgers made his full-season debut last year, gaining valuable pro experience, although his walk rate dipped with the move to Class-A. Still, we love his developing power, and after being named the South Atlantic League’s top prospect, he was clearly ready to take an even bigger jump this season, and that’s exactly what he’s doing, putting up video game numbers in High-A. Rodgers is ready for Double-A.
11. Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago Cubs (NR): The highest ranked newcomer on our list established himself as an extremely productive hitter in his first taste of full-season ball last year. Jimenez doesn’t have a glaring weakness, but he probably won’t be a major basestealer and his contact rates could prove problematic as he moves up the ladder. The Cubs’ top prospect dealt with a shoulder injury this spring, but regardless, he was unlikely to be a factor in the bigs until 2018. Jimenez has continued to hit for a high average at High-A since being activated.
12. Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (NR): Another newcomer, Bellinger hit the prospect list by hitting pretty well at Double-A last year before really going crazy in a few late-season games at Triple-A. He was back at Triple-A this year, and after flashing really fantastic power, was brought up to the Dodgers and continued to bash the long balls, proving to be one of the most sensational rookies so far this season.
13. Lucas Giolito, SP, Chicago White Sox (3): Giolito has dipped significantly this year as he failed to work as deep into his starts last season, although he did manage a winning record. His stuff is reportedly off the charts, but hasn’t really translated into dominating performances since he reached Double-A. Back at Triple-A this year, Giolito had a pretty ugly debut, and he’s no longer the obvious first choice the Pale Hose have to recall a starter, so we may not seem back in the bigs until the second half at this point. Still, age is on his side, and there’s tremendous room for growth here. The fact that he recently won the IL Pitcher of the Week award suggests he may finally be finding his stride at this level.
14. Tyler Glasnow, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates (8): Here’s another hurler that has slid in our rankings this season. Glasnow got some great innings in at Triple-A, but went winless and was hit harder in the majors. Despite his fantastic stuff, there’s no way he’ll survive in the Show until he addresses that walk rate. Still, this well-built hurler has the upside of a No. 3 starter, so be patient here while he works through his rookie inconsistencies.
15. Rafael Devers, 3B, Boston Red Sox (22): Devers upped his walk rate at High-A last year, earning a promotion to Double-A this season, where so far, he’s not hitting as well. Just remember that he started slowly last year too before making major adjustments in the second half, and we’re starting to see that already, as he’s batting nearly .300 in May. Devers work at third base this season hasn’t been as sharp, and that could slow his progress.
16. Willy Adames, SS, Tampa Bay Rays (42): Adames has been one of the Rays’ top prospects for a few years now, and he keeps rising in our rankings. We really like his developing power, but he’ll need to improve his contact skills to reach his full potential. Tampa Bay’s top positional prospect has seen his walk rate dip with the move to Triple-A.
17. Lewis Brinson, OF, Milwaukee Brewers (34): Texas’s first round pick in 2012 was dealt to Milwaukee at the deadline as part of the Jonathan Lucroy trade. Brinson wasn’t quite as impressive last year as he’d been in 2015, but in seeing more time at the upper levels, he’s moved up our list. So far this year, he’s hitting the cover off the ball, and is a definite candidate for an early promotion if this keeps up, although an early season finger injury slowed him down briefly, as he hasn’t been nearly as potent in May. Still, Milwaukee is loaded with outfield prospects, and Brinson tops them all.
18. Manuel Margot, OF, San Diego Padres (55): We like Margot even more than most experts, considering him a top 20 prospect. He made the Padres this spring, and seems poised to join the ranks of great young talents playing in the bigs. If Margot’s early-season strides in OBP are for real, he’s here to stay, but unfortunately he’s now hurt.
19. Ozzie Albies, 2B, Atlanta Braves (30): Albies has some serious speed, but since his promotion to Triple-A last year, his OBP skills have waned. Given that he has a career OBP of .375 in the minors, we imagine this is just a blip and that once corrected, he’ll be Atlanta-bound. The fact that he’s starting to string hits together is promising for a turnaround very shortly.
20. Nick Senzel, 3B, Cincinnati Reds (NR): Cincy’s first round pick last year racked up the total bases in his pro debut, proving to be a very productive hitter. The third best third base prospect in the game, Senzel has moved to High-A this year and started slowly, struggling to make contact compared to what he showed last year. But he quickly adjusted and is now absolutely blazing and likely due for a promotion shortly.
21. Francis Martes, SP, Houston Astros (NR): This righty may not be very tall, but he’s chunky enough to handle a heavy workload. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that his repertoire screams top starter. Looking to stash a nice potential impact arm that may pay dividends later this season? Martes is a fine choice, and he could be called up very shortly with Charlie Morton now out.
22. Clint Frazier, OF, New York Yankees (38): We recently saw the tweet below, but honestly aren’t sure that the Yanks wouldn’t be better off keeping their young talent — especially Frazier — as they attempt to rebuild on the fly. Of course, the Yanks acquired him in another deal — last year’s trade that sent Andrew Miller to the Tribe. Frazier missed some time last year, so his counting cats dipped, and he was slow to adjust to Triple-A this season, but his slugging has come around now as the Yankees’ future sure looks bright.
@MLBNetwork Clint Frazier Blake Rutherford Jorge Mateo Luis severino for Mike Trout
— Richie Vitaliano (@rVitaliano) April 17, 2017
23. Josh Bell, 1B, Pittsburgh Pirates (36): The Pirates’ 2011 second rounder finally made his MLB debut last year, coming with two at-bats of losing his rookie eligibility. He’s a high average hitter (.306 in 542 Triple-A at-bats), so don’t fret his early-season struggles in Pittsburgh. Bell’s contact skills will lead to big league success in time, and he’s starting to show signs of being more productive already.
24. Brent Honeywell, SP, Tampa Bay Rays (45): Blessed with tremendous command, Honeywell again showed his upside this year when he proved unhittable as he racked up the Ks at Double-A, earning a very quick promotion to Triple-A. A second round pick in 2014, his bread and butter is an old school screwball, and while he’s remained underrated so far, if his trajectory continues, he’ll soon be a household name. Stash him now, even if he’s having a tough time adjusting to Triple-A.
25. Anderson Espinoza, SP, San Diego Padres (NR): This recently turned 19-year-old Venezuelan righty is currently out with forearm tightness, which is never a good sign for a pitcher. But even if the worst happens, and this leads to Tommy John surgery, Espinoza could still be knocking on the door of the majors within, say, two years. Boston may rue the day it traded him for Drew Pomeranz.
26. Michael Kopech, SP, Chicago White Sox (NR): Boston’s first round pick in 2014 was traded to the Pale Hose as part of the huge booty the BoSox surrendered in the Chris Sale deal in December, and immediately this youngster beefed up an already fantastic cadre of pitching prospects Chicago has collected. Kopech has moved up to Double-A this season, and he’s already using his big-time heater to rack up the strikeouts (nearly two per inning through his first two starts, and still well over 12 per nine). This kid is going to move fast, but the White Sox will need to find rotation slots for all these hurlers first.
27. Jose De Leon, SP, Tampa Bay Rays (23): Acquired from the Dodgers in the Logan Forsythe trade, De Leon had a health scare as the end of the spring involving forearm tightness, so that’s something to monitor as he began the season at extended Spring Training. He was dynamite at Triple-A last year before getting rocked in his first taste of the big leagues, but he also had a couple of stints on the DL, so his ability to stay on the field is clearly an issue. De Leon is healthy now, and has been recalled to the majors to help out with an overtaxed bullpen.
28. Mickey Moniak, OF, Philadelphia Phillies (NR): A top 20 prospect on some lists, Moniak doesn’t quite rate that high for us, but he sure might after this year. Taken first overall last year out of a California high school (continuing the Phils’ recent trend of targeting high school hitters), he racked up a goodly amount of hits at Rookie ball last year before in 2017 shifting to full season ball, where the total bases are coming fast and furious in the early going. Moniak’s productivity is up as he’s delivering plenty of extra-base knocks at Class-A.
29. Josh Hader, SP, Milwaukee Brewers (NR): Here’s another kid that hadn’t really been on the Fantasy radar until last season when he absolutely dominated Double-A before getting his first promotion to Triple-A. Hader is back at Triple-A this season, and while he’s putting up some sweet hit rates, he’ll need to rein in the walks before he’s ready to jump to The Show. It would be nice to see him put up more shutdown outings before he gets the call.
30. Yadier Alvarez, SP, Los Angles Dodgers (NR): Alvarez was a virtual unknown when the Dodgers signed him out of Cuba in July 2015. He made his debut with the organization last year, and proved extremely difficult to hit. Although Alvarez’s first start at High-A was rocky, he mostly settled down after that and continues to garner plenty of attention as of the Dodgers’ top prospects.
31. Reynaldo Lopez, SP, Chicago White Sox (NR): Lopez is a prospect we liked enough to recommend as a waiver wire pick in mid-August, and it turned out as a quality choice as he racked up nearly a K per frame in August before proving tougher to hit in September. He had a great spring, but failed to make the White Sox and was sent down to Triple-A, where he struggled to win games early on, but continues to post dominant strikeout rates. Lopez will be back, and will again be worth a waiver wire claim when he does return. Again, it’s just a matter of so many good arms and not enough rotation slots for the White Sox.
32. Mitch Keller, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates (NR): At 6’3″, 195, Keller has a good pitcher’s frame, and he used it to make a major step forward last year, putting up a good record and a stellar ERA at Class-A before a one-start stop at High-A. Back at High-A this year, he was getting hit harder early on, but most of the damage was done in his season debut, and he’s since righted the ship. Keller’s really young, so much can go wrong, but so far, he’s right on track to hit the majors late next year. Unfortunately, he’s currently dealing with a back injury and it’s not as minor as originally anticipated.
33. Jay Groome, SP, Boston Red Sox (NR): Despite his tender age (18), Groome was promoted to full-season ball this year after an impressive, albeit brief, pro debut last season. His season debut was quite ugly, but this kid has some serious talent, and Boston really got a steal here when he slipped to No. 12 in last year’s draft. Groome has a chance to move quite quickly for a high school hurler, and he’s one of the top prospects in the Sally League, but will need to get healthy first as he’s currently out after that one start.
34. Francisco Mejia, C, Cleveland Indians (NR): Mejia has proved very productive, really breaking out in that regard last season. This kid can flat out hit and has shown great skill in throwing out runners, making a very positive impression in Spring Training. The move to Double-A this year has not slowed Mejia down as he continues to exhibit top-notch on-base skills and rack up the hits. But Cleveland will not rush its prized catching prospect, so it’s unlikely we’ll see him in the bigs until next year some time. Mejia’s only sub par skill is his speed, but he is a catcher, so what do you expect?
35. Corey Ray, OF, Milwaukee Brewers (NR): This young Chicago native made his pro debut last year, spending most of his time at High-A. Ray racked up some decent total base numbers and flashed his speed, but he was sluggish at the same level early on this season, slowed by October knee surgery. Now that he’s back to full strength, he’s putting up numbers and adding to our belief that Milwaukee is going to have an hell of an outfield very soon.
36. Ian Happ, 2B, Chicago Cubs (NR): The ninth overall pick in 2015, Happ is a switch-hitter that looked ready to taste the Show after putting on a hitting clinic this spring. Last year, he showed sweet extra-base pop at High-A and Double-A, earning a promotion this season to Triple-A, where his BA had slipped, but his power is was more impressive early on. Happ raised his BA, and then got promoted to the majors, where he raked early, but is now slumping badly.
37. Kyle Lewis, OF, Seattle Mariners (NR): The 2016 Golden Spikes winner, Lewis was Seattle’s first rounder last year, hitting well in his pro debut at Low-A before tearing his ACL in mid-July. It’s an injury that has lingered into this year, and will likely keep him out until around mid-season. But this is a kid that once healthy will be on the fast track. It’s highly unlikely, however, we’ll see Lewis in the bigs before 2018 given all the lost time.
38. Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros (72): Tucker enjoyed a breakthrough last year, piling up the total bases while flashing developing extra-base pop. Back at High-A this season, he’s not hitting quite as well, but shook off a slow start to put together a 10-game on-base streak. While he’s slumping again now, the fifth overall pick from 2015 will likely earn a promotion as soon as he finds a bit more consistency in his performance.
39. Blake Rutherford, OF, New York Yankees (NR): Taken 18th overall in last year’s draft, Rutherford hit extremely well in his pro debut, especially after landing in the Appy League. This year, he’s tackling full-season ball, and he’s finding it a bit more challenging, so his counting cat numbers are still modest and his K rate is up a tad. Rutherford was heating up towards the end of April, and while he’s cooled again now, we have no doubt he’s going to master this level in short order.
40. Franklin Barreto, 2B/SS, Oakland Athletics (18): Barreto dropped in our rankings this year after producing decidedly worse counting cat numbers at Double-A. Undeterred, he’s moved up to Triple-A this season and has looked amazingly productive in the early going, and leads the team in BA, hits, triples and total bases. The Barreto watch is now on in Oakland.
41. Kolby Allard, SP, Atlanta Braves (NR): Allard had a little trouble keeping the ball in the yard when he moved up to full season ball last year, but overall, his command was off the charts in his pro debut. Considered the best high school arm in the 2015 draft, he’s been aggressively bumped up to Double-A this year, and clearly, it was not a stretch, and he’s dominated through the first month. Not many high school arms move this fast, but at this rate Allard could be in Atlanta before the end of the season, especially when you consider how well he’s pitched in enemy territory (1.04 ERA).
42. Bradley Zimmer, OF, Cleveland Indians (21): Another player that dipped this year is Zimmer as his extra-base pop wasn’t quite as impressive at Double-A and Triple-A last year. His BA also slipped substantially. Back at Triple-A this season, he had bounced back nicely thanks to better contact. Zimmer was still whiffing too much, but nothing like last year, and his speed-power combination has us drooling. Cleveland summoned its first rounder from 2014 (14th overall) to bigs in mid-May and he’s come out hitting, making a case for more PT.
43. Riley Pint, SP, Colorado Rockies (NR): Colorado’s first round pick last year looks like a wise keeper league investment, with the usual caveats applied to Rockie hurlers. Pint was drafted out of a KC high school, wowing scouts with his triple-digit heater, before landing in the Rookie Pioneer Leaguer, where the losses piled up. He’s moved to full-season ball this year and has made the adjustments, but he continues to struggle to earn wins even with better peripherals. Be patient with Pint. He’s a special arm with massive upside potential, and it sounds like Colorado will do whatever it can to keep this asset out of trade talks (as the Rox are likely to be buyers this year).
44. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Toronto Blue Jays (NR): If not for his famous sire, Guerrero Jr. would have been completely off the radar for most Fantasy owners before last season. But after his impressive pro debut when he flashed nice contact skills and showed off great speed and fine base stealing instincts, he’s on the map. Shifting to full season ball this year, he’s taken his game to a whole new level, racking up the total bases while proving even more difficult to strike out. There’s a reason the Jays coughed up $3.9 million to sign this kid out of the Dominican in 2015.
45. Jeff Hoffman, SP, Colorado Rockies (32): Toronto’s 2014 first rounder slipped in the rankings after enduring some growing pains at Triple-A last year. Hoffman did make his MLB debut, but went winless in six starts and a couple relief outings. He finally bagged his first career win in his first start this year, looking extremely sharp early before hanging on for the W. Hoffman looked even better in his next start (albeit against a Phillies’ lineup that makes a lot of pitchers look good), earning another win. He has some serious K ability, which is exactly what he’ll need to survive with half his starts coming at Coors Field.
46. Nick Gordon, SS, Minnesota Twins (62): Gordon jumped up the list after taking a nice step forward at High-A last year, although the decrease in walk rate is a red flag. He’s taken that to a whole new level this year at Double-A, hitting better than ever, with a BA currently 12 points higher than he’s ever had as a pro. Gordon is shaking off a recent slump now and looks nearly ready for his first crack at the bigs.
47. Jorge Alfaro, C, Philadelphia Phillies (59): Alfaro made his big league debut last year, but failed to put up any counting cat numbers and struggled to hit for average in his brief time with the Phils. At Triple-A for the first time this year, he’s proving again to be one of the top catching prospects in the game, piling up the runs and hitting the cover off the ball. Early on, Alfaro was putting up the kind slugging percentage he’d never shown over a full season, but he’s slown down since. Still, given his consistency, he may soon be ready for an extended look in the majors, but with Cameron Rupp proving last year was no fluke, there’s no need to rush things.
48. Alex Verdugo, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (NR): If the Dodgers go after some pitching help this summer, Verdugo could be used as trade bait. He’s currently enjoying his first taste of the PCL, putting up plenty of total bases, but not building on the power surge he had last year. Still, Verdugo continues to make excellent contact as he has throughout his pro career, leading to a .304 BA through 1,340 career at-bats.
49. Hunter Renfroe, OF, San Diego Padres (NR): Raw power is Renfroe’s calling card, but his projected tools across the board are pretty damn solid. He’s been a staple in the Padres’ lineup this season, sitting just once so far. Renfroe’s extra-base pop hasn’t been as off the charts as it was during his brief look last year, but that’s no surprise. He was struggling to be productive as a rookie, but seemed to turn it on in May, so good for the Padres for being patient. We’re still immensely bullish on this kid’s future.
50. Tyler O’Neill, OF, Seattle Mariners (NR): After a breakthrough effort at Double-A last year, O’Neill really struggled out of the gates at Triple-A this season, but he’s turned things around lately. Still, he’ll need to do a way better job getting on base before Seattle comes calling. At this stage, we’re probably looking at 2018 before O’Neill gets his crack in Em City.
51. Amir Garrett, SP, Cincinnati Reds (69): This tall lefty was holding his own in his taste of the majors this season before being ptioned to Triple-A. Garrett was back in the Show just a week and a half later, but after two rough outings, landed on the DL. He was simply superb last year — especially at Double-A — earning a nice hike up the 2017 rankings.
52. James Kaprielian, SP, New York Yankees (NR): The Yanks’ 2015 first rounder clearly has tremendous talent, but is also struggles tremendously to stay healthy. He was limited to three brilliant starts at High-A last year, and will miss all of 2017 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in April. Despite all the health concerns, Kaprielian is a fantastic Dynasty league option, and he should be good to go early in 2018. If the Yanks stay patient, they could be rewarded in a big way here.
53. Triston McKenzie, SP, Cleveland Indians (NR): McKenzie put up video game like numbers at Low-A last year, earning a promotion to Class-A, where his record wasn’t quite as good, but his numbers were still impressive. Moved up to High-A this season, he’s doing much better, sporting an improved record with a phenomenal ERA while looking unhittable. McKenzie could move through the system very quickly at this stage.
54. Kevin Newman, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates (NR): Newman established himself as the Pirates’ top middle infield prospect after hitting to well at High-A before moving to Double-A. This season, he’s been asked to repeat Double-A, which is a tad surprising, but clearly warranted given his modest counting cats so far. We’re still believers (after all, most believed the Pirates really got a steal here when they grabbed him 19th overall in 2015), but we’ll need to see some progress soon if Newman is to remain on our list for 2018.
55. Braxton Garrett, SP, Miami Marlins (NR): MLB.com ranks Garrett in the top 40, but we were reserving judgment until he finally pitched professional after going seventh overall last year, but failing to get into a game until this season. So far, it’s been worth the wait as he earned his first pro win in just his second start and is looking damn unhittable at this point. Garrett could earn a bump up to High-A in fairly short order. There’s a reason he was the High School Player of the Year in Alabama last year.
56. Aaron Judge, OF, New York Yankees (15): Judge soared to 15 in our Prospect Rankings last year, but dropped substantially this time around after a season in which he didn’t hit as well at Triple-A and scuffled to put up many counting cats in his MLB debut. Well, clearly he took this personally because he not only made the team out of Spring Training, but he’s proceeded to average nearly a run per game and smack more homers against righties so far than anyone other than Mike Trout. Hell, the way Judge is spanking it, he might even challenge Trout for the MVP award this season. Sorry, Aaron!
57. Jorge Mateo, SS/2B, New York Yankees (71): Have we mentioned that the Yankees have done an amazing job of collecting a sweet cadre of top prospects? Until New York acquired Torres (No. 5, see above), Mateo was considered the team’s shortstop of the future. Perhaps that future will now be at the keystone corner instead, but Mateo won’t turn 22 until next month and is doing better in his second season at High-A, suggesting he may soon be ready for move up the ranks. His BA is more respectable this season, but we’d still like to see more walks. However, Mateo’s emerging power is intriguing and he all know he has some serious wheels.
58. Mike Soroka, SP, Atlanta Braves (NR): Soroka is currently toiling for a Double-A team that is jam packed with top prospects as the Braves’ rebuild is in full swing. He made his full-season debut last year and gained enough experience that Atlanta felt comfortable moving having him skip High-A. Soroka has plunked an abnormally high number of batters and is giving up more dingers this year, but is definitely justifying the team’s faith in him as Atlanta looks to expedite the process and move some of its prospects closer to the bigs.
59. Carson Kelly, C, St. Louis Cardinals (NR): Kelly made his MLB debut, getting into 10 games as a September call-up, but doing very little offensively with his limited opportunity. Still, he had a breakout year at Double-A and then flashed some impressive gap power at Triple-A. This season, Kelly is piling up the counting cats and taking it to the next level as an on-base threat. He’s ready for an extended look in the majors should the opportunity present itself.
60. Raimel Tapia, OF, Colorado Rockies (70): Tapia moved up the rankings this year after showing some sweet extra-base pop at Double-A and then even more power at Triple-A before hitting decently in his first look in the bigs. This season, he was making a mockery of Triple-A, recently earning another look in Colorado, where he struggled to make contact in his brief time with the team and was returned to the minors. Be patient with this youngster, as he has a chance to provide a serious boost in BA, power and speed. Tapia will be back in the bigs before the season is over.
61. Kevin Maitan, SS, Atlanta Braves (NR): Another Brave middle infield prospect?! This Venezuelan youngster is so young that he’s purely a Dynasty league option at this point, but the hype machine is definitely in full swing here. Maitan is a switch hitter and perhaps the best prospect his country has produced in many years — perhaps the best since Miguel Cabrera. Maitan has yet to play a professional game in his career, but the buzz surrounding him has already hit fever pitch as he was at one point considered the No. 1 International prospect in the 2016-17 class.
62. Erick Fedde, SP, Washington Nationals (NR): Fedde shifted to the bullpen at Double-A, but keeper league owners should not fret. It’s simply an area of need for the Nats right now, so they feel like they can fast track him to the majors this way, while also keeping his inning count in check. Fedde remains a solid prospect, although the fact his walk rate has risen this season is slightly worrisome. Still, with his improved groundball rates, he’s getting better results and as mentioned the move to the pen (whether temporary or not) will expedite his arrival in the bigs.
63. Yohander Mendez, SP, Texas Rangers (NR): Our choice for the Rangers’ top prospect, Mendez has continued to pitch extremely well at Double-A this year, but his record and bottom line results are a bit worse because of long ball issues and wildness. Still, he’s clearly capable of dominating at times, recently taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning. When the southpaw is commanding his heater, he can make batters look silly. Once Mendez finds a bit more consistency, he’ll be ready to take the next step.
64. Leody Taveras, OF, Texas Rangers (NR): Some consider Taveras to be Texas’ top prospect, but for our money, it’s neck and neck with Mendez. Generally a gifted defender, Taveras brings across-the-board skills to the table and he’s hitting well in his full-season ball debut. He has a chance to be a very productive player in time.
65. Luis Ortiz, SP, Milwaukee Brewers (74): Ortiz is a thick righty who dipped on some rankings this year, but we bumped him up a few slots after he went through High-A and Double-A, putting himself within shouting distance of the majors. Acquired from Texas in the Lucroy trade, Ortiz had been nearly impossible to hit at Double-A this year until fairly recently, so could be ready for another promotion soon.
66. Isan Diaz, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers (NR): Did we mention the Brew Crew has a hell of a lot of young talent on the way? Diaz got off to a sluggish start at High-A this year, but really turned it on at the end of April and into May, putting together a 12-game hit streak. This kid knows how to take a walk and he has impressive extra-base power for a second baseman. Diaz, who came to Milwaukee in the Jean Segura trade, is poised to move into the top 50 by season’s end, and could possibly force his way up to Double-A by then, too.
67. A.J. Puk, SP, Oakland Athletics (NR): Scouts drool over this lefty’s stuff, but the A’s are really babying him. He failed to record a win in his pro debut last year, mostly because he simply did not pitch deep into games. This season, Puk has moved all the way up to High-A and he’s holding his way, pitching mostly out of the rotation. Oakland’s first rounder from 2016 (sixth overall) has dominated at times, but we won’t get a sense of how good he’ll be until the training wheels come off, which we’re beginning to see as he’s started to periodically pitch past the fifth inning.
68. Sean Newcomb, SP, Atlanta Braves (25): Newcomb is getting close to being major league ready and with Bartolo Colon struggling, the opportunity may be coming sooner than expected. Last year, Newcomb looked very durable at Double-A and this season, he’s been even harder to hit even with the move to Triple-A. After a slow start at the level, Newcomb is cruising now, so even redraft league owners need to start considering him, as the Ks are really piling up.
69. Cal Quantrill, SP, San Diego Padres (NR): The Padres took Quantrill eighth overall last year (one of many Top 10 picks the Padres have made recently) despite the fact he was still recovering from Tommy John surgery at the time. He returned to the mound late last year, but the rust was evident, as he went 0-5, with an ERA well over 5.00. This season, Quantrill has been promoted to High-A and has been harder to hit as he puts some distance between himself and the injury. This is a kid that could move fairly quickly once he finds his groove, likely in the second half.
70. David Paulino, SP, Houston Astros (NR): Paulino could be used as trade bait if the Astros decide to go for it this year, and considering they are the best team in baseball as of late-May, they likely are going for it. He’s had some injury issues the last couple of seasons, but was dominant when healthy last year and looks sharp at Triple-A through his first couple of starts, averaging over a K per frame. Now that Paulino is stretched back out, Houston is expected to call him up, possibly to replace Mike Fiers in the rotation.
71. Luke Weaver, SP, St. Louis Cardinals (NR): The Cards brought up Weaver last year, but he did not exceed his rookie eligibility. While the strikeout rate he flashed in the bigs was mighty impressive, the bottom line results were not sharp. So St. Louis opted that the former FSU star get so more seasoning at Triple-A this year, and he’s absolutely dominated through seven starts, even if his K rate has dipped. Weaver’s ratio is off the charts (38 K/6 BB), leading him to a microscopic WHIP. He’s ready for another shot, and this time it will likely be for good.
72. Justus Sheffield, SP, New York Yankees (NR): Part of the package the Yanks received from Cleveland for Miller, Sheffield looks like he has workhorse, big winner type potential. We love that Sheffield improved his hit rates at High-A and Double-A last year, but it’s conceivable the Yanks move him before he ever gets to the bigs as they consider parlaying some of their prospects for a stud like Josh Donaldson.
73. Matt Manning, SP, Detroit Tigers (NR): Manning made 10 starts at Rookie Ball last year after being taken ninth overall in the draft (the second straight year the Tigers took a high school arm), but Detroit wanted to take it easy on the youngster this season, so he’s been at extended Spring Training and reports suggest his fastball was taking some time to come around. The tall righty is reportedly going to be assigned to an affiliate shortly, so he should fine by season’s end. Manning’s command last year was off the charts, so keep an eye on his progress this season.
74. Jake Bauers, OF/1B, Tampa Bay Rays (NR): We like Bauers more than most, and while he started slowly in his first season at Triple-A, he’s on fire now. Last year, he averaged a hit per game at Double-A, while this season it looks like his power is beginning to develop at Triple-A. Bauers is the type of player that won’t excel at any one thing, but provide very solid across-the-board numbers.
75. Sean Reid-Foley, SP, Toronto Blue Jays (NR): Reid-Foley arrived on the prospect map last year after he put up a sparkling ERA at Class-A and then upped his K rate in the second half at High-A. He’s struggling to adjust to Double-A, mostly because his wildness problem — an issue in 2015 that went away last year — is back. The good news is Reid-Foley is coming around recently, lasting more innings in a three-start stretch than he did in his first six this season. There’s tremendous potential here, but he’ll need to sharpen his control to take advantage of his skills.
76. Dominic Smith, 1B, New York Mets (NR): Smith emerged as a force at Double-A last year, showing durability while upping his walk rate and proving he’d do whatever necessary to drive in runs. Now in Triple-A, he’s racking up the total bases and hitting more homers, while also upping his BA (albeit, in the hitter friendly PCL). At this point, Smith has little left to prove in the minors and with the Mets unable to gain any ground in the standings, perhaps it won’t be long until he gets his first taste of the Show.
77. Zack Collins, C, Chicago White Sox (NR): Back at High-A this season, Collins has improved his strike zone judgment, which was already advanced. The White Sox’s first rounder last year (10th overall) put up some impressive counting cat numbers in his pro debut, and while his extra-base pop was down a smidge early on this season, he’s picked up the pace lately and continues to show signs that he’s going to be a very productive hitter in time.
78. Ronald Acuna, OF, Atlanta Braves (NR): Man, the Braves sure are stacked down on the farm. Acuna is hitting fewer fly balls this year as he looks to take advantage of his speed, which is legendary — leading him to the third highest total of steals in all of the minors (24). It’s working, as he continues to fly through the system, lasting just 115 at-bats at High-A before getting pushed to Double-A as Atlanta continues to be aggressive with its top prospects. Since arriving at Double-A, Acuna isn’t having as much success on the basepaths, but based on his track record, he’ll figure that out once he adjusts. We’re talking about a very young kid (he won’t be 20 until mid-December) that’s been promoted very rapidly. Expect him to soar up the charts in a year’s time.
79. Anthony Alford, OF, Toronto Blue Jays (61): Alford hit extremely well to begin this season at Double-A, earning a promotion to the majors, so he was someone to consider as a waiver wire pickup already. He struggled with injuries last year, leading to a poor performance at High-A, but healthy early this year, he looked ready to be an impact player. However, Alford needed surgery to fix a broken wrist and will miss 4-to-6 weeks, as injury has again kicked him in the pants.
80. Delvin Perez, SS, St. Louis Cardinals (NR): As the Cards’ first rounder last year, Perez has fans of the team very excited about his progress, but they’ll have to wait on this kid as he’s yet to be assigned to a team this season (likely because the level he’s ticketed to hasn’t begun play yet). He enjoyed a solid debut in the GCL, even if he failed to go yard. But make no mistake: this kid is a talented middle infield prospect that will wow Fantasy owners in time. Just be patient.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below which prospects you’re excited about this season.