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2016 Outfield Prospects and Dynasty Rankings - NL Central Edition


Our division-by-division run down of outfield prospects continues. We've already hit the NL EastAL East, and AL Central (also catchersfirst base, second base, shortstop, and third base). The NL Central is loaded with outfield prospects - 38 by my count. If you're looking to load up on future talent, this is a good place to start.

To see more of the same, be sure to also check out our awesome fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. We have tiered rankings and analysis across all positions, more of my MLB prospect rankings, dynasty/keeper league rankings and more.

The statistics reported are for the listed level only.

 

NL Central Outfield Dynasty Rankings

1. Austin Meadows (OF, PIT, A+)
Stats: 556 PA, .307/.357/.407  HR, 20 SB, 14.2% K rate, 7.4% BB rate
Age 20

Meadows received a brief call up to Double-A at the end of the 2015 season and held his own. A stint in the AFL was decidedly less successful. Overall, it was an encouraging first full season of game action for Meadows. He's a center fielder for now with a future in left field.

He's a potential five category fantasy contributor, although there are facets of his game that could use improvement. It was nice to see him using his speed on the base paths as there was some uncertainty about his ability to swipe bases. He now looks like a reasonable bet for 15 steals annually.

The development of his power, plate discipline, and contact skills will determine if he's a solid regular or a star in the making. Thus far, he has kept his walk and strikeout rates under control, but it may be at the expense of his in-game power. He has the tools to pop 20 or more home runs at his peak. He's still a couple months from turning 21, making him one of the younger players headed to Double-A.

2. Jesse Winker (OF, CIN, AA)
Stats: 526 PA, .282/.390/.433 13 HR, 8 SB, 15.8% K rate, 14.1% BB rate
Age 22

Winker was tantalizingly good in 2015. The patient approach, low strikeout rate, and flashes of power suggest he could be a top of the order threat. He'll head to Triple-A to start 2016 and may be big league ready by midseason. Don't be surprised if the club opts to evaluate other options with an eye towards an early 2017 debut for Winker. That way, they'll get an extra season of club control.

Great American Ball Park certainly aids Winker's future fantasy value. The homer friendly park should help his power play up. He doesn't profile to be a top home run hitter with maybe 20 park assisted big flies per season as an expected ceiling. Suspect defense may force him to move to first base sometime in the future, but he should hold up in an outfield corner for the near term. Don't be fooled by the eight stolen bases, he won't chip in with more than a handful.

3. Brett Phillips (OF, MIL, AA)
Stats: 98 PA, .250/.361/413 0 HR, 2 SB, 30.6% K rate, 14.3% BB rate (with Brewers)
Age 21

The stat line above is misleading. Phillips was dealt to Milwaukee at the trade deadline as part of the Carlos Gomez deal. To that point, he had 16 home runs, 15 stolen base, a robust triple slash, and a sub-20 percent strikeout rate. The transition away from his old organization seems to have hurt his production. An injury didn't help either.

Phillips could prove to be a better fantasy prospect than Winker, but there's a little more risk to his profile. His walk rates tend to jump around, hinting at an inconsistent approach at the plate. That's not automatically a bad thing, and it's encouraging to see his 2014 breakout gained steam right up until he was traded. The fantasy ceiling is a top of the order bat with about 20 home runs, 15 stolen bases, good run production, and a BABIP-fueled average.

He'll likely return to Double-A since he had mixed results at the level. A quick start could put him on track for a late season call-up. Keep in mind, the Brewers have every reason to hold him in the minors until late-April 2017 or later - including ludicrous outfield depth. That way, they gain an extra season of club control. If the contending Cubs could do it with Kris Bryant last year, the Brewers can certainly find the necessary excuses to tinker with Phillips' service time.

4. Harold Ramirez (OF, PIT, A+)
Stats: 344 PA, .337/.399/.458 4 HR, 22 SB, 14% K rate, 7.3% BB rate
Age 21

Ramirez draws praise for pure hitting ability. Despite good speed, he may be destined for left field duties due to an iffy arm. There are worries his bat won't quite carry him in an outfield corner. The Pirates added him to the 40-man roster last fall to protect him in the Rule 5 draft. As such, he could see a short call up this year.

High contact rates and above average speed offer the potential for solid fantasy production. He hasn't hit for much power as a professional. Scouts think he could eventually top out around 10 to 15 home runs a year.

Like Meadows, he'll open the year in Double-A. It'll be a good test of his hitting ability. A spike in strikeout rate will be an early sign to sell high.

5. Billy McKinney (OF, CHC, AA)
Stats: 308 PA, .285/.346/.420 3 HR, 0 SB, 15.3% K rate, 8.8% BB rate
Age 21

Surely the Cubs don't have more top prospects, right? McKinney's hit tool and plate discipline have carried him in his first three minor league campaigns. He doesn't have much power or speed giving him a fantasy ceiling similar to Joe Panik. To get there, he'll need to maintain his high contact rates. You'll be reliant on a top of the order role to create valuable run production.

McKinney doesn't really fit with his current organization - at least not as a starter. Some scouts wonder if he might not be a future fourth outfielder. If he hangs around Chicago, that's almost certainly his destiny. He's an obvious trade candidate.

6. Eddy Julio Martinez (OF, CHC, DNP)
Stats: Did Not Play
Age 21

A top international prospect from Cuba, Martinez is expected to be a fast mover despite a lack of professional experience. The 21-year-old is a five tool athlete with early comparisons to Andruw Jones. He's a high risk, high reward target for fantasy owners.

The available scouting reports are glowing, but he signed for only $3MM with the Cubs. That's comparable to the bonuses for the top Dominican and Venezuelan prospects, but they're often just 16 years old with very uncertain futures. Top Cubans typically earn much more despite international spending penalties. To me, that makes it sound like we're only reading the most glowing scouting reports. Keep an eye on his debut.

7. Eloy Jimenez (OF, CHC, A-)
Stats: 250 PA, .284/.328/.418 7 HR, 3 SB, 17.2% K rate, 6.0% BB rate
Age 19

A former top international prospect, Jimenez is still a long way from the majors. As such, he's still mostly projection. His contact oriented approach will play well throughout the lower minors, but he does need to start showing some in-game power.

Jimenez could be a future top prospect or a something a little more ordinary like McKinney. Since he's so far from the majors, he's only a top target for true dynasty formats - i.e. 20 teams and 40+ man rosters.

 

Other Prospect Names To Watch

Ian Happ (OF, CHC, A)

Happ, the ninth overall pick last June, had a strong debut. Across two levels, he hit nine home runs and stole 10 bases in 295 plate appearances. The switch-hitter is better from the left side of the plate and may have trouble with contact at higher levels. He should move faster than Jimenez, and many scouts prefer him to McKinney.

Mark Zagunis (OF, CHC, A+)

Zagunis could be the next Winker in the NL Central. Well, except he's old than Winker. Scouts have some trouble evaluating Zagunis because his superior plate discipline is coupled with roughly average power, speed, and contact skills. Everything could come together for him with a massive ceiling - think a low power Joey Votto - or he could settle into a fourth outfielder type role.

Phillip Ervin (OF, CIN, AA)

A former first round pick out of college, Ervin's career was derailed by a wrist injury. Now back on track, he features 15 home run power, 30 steal speed, and a patient approach at the plate. He's one of my favorite outfield sleepers.

Rymer Liriano (OF, MIL, AAA)

The former Padres farm hand had a 121 plate appearance trial in the majors during the 2014 season. He spent all of last season at Triple-A. Liriano looks like a high BABIP hitter with 15 home run power and some base stealing ability. Scouts question if he can make consistent contact. He may start for the Brewers with Khris Davis out of town.

Monte Harrison (OF, MIL, A)

The 20-year-old was solid in his second professional campaign. Split between two levels in the low minors, Harrison hit five home runs and stole 20 bases in 303 plate appearances. He was a little overexposed in Single-A where he posted a 41.8 percent strikeout rate in 184 plate appearances.

Magnueris Sierra (OF, STL, A)

The soon-to-be 20-year-old has performed well in three separate stints at Rookie ball. His first try at the Single-A level left him overmatched. The scouting reports read much more glowingly than his statistics. There's talk of five average or better tools with growth potential.

Albert Almora (OF, CHC, AA)

Back when the Cubs system was a little iffy, Almora was one of their top prospects. He's still in the minors, having spent most of his past two seasons at Double-A. He won't turn 22 for a couple months. His carrying tool is superior contact skills. Power and plate discipline have yet to fully develop.

Clint Coulter (OF, MIL, A+)

A first round pick back in 2012, Coulter has progressed step by step through the Brewers system. Once promising raw tools have coalesced into average power and contact ability. He's a breakout candidate at Double-A this year after surviving what's described as one of the toughest hitting environments in the minors.

Nick Plummer (OF, STL, R)

The 23rd overall pick of the 2015 draft, Plummer's supposed to hit for a solid average with a patient approach and decent speed. The selectivity is unusual in a high school draftee. He could be a top of the order threat, but he's half a decade from the majors.

Harrison Bader (OF, STL, A)

Bader, a 2015 third round pick, sprinted to a strong pro debut. He hit nine home runs, stole 15 bases, and batted a luck neutral .301/.364/.505 in 228 Single-A plate appearances. Look for him to move to High-A for the 2016 season.

Trent Clark (OF, MIL, R)

Clark was the 15th pick in the 2015 draft. His debut included 25 stolen bases in 252 plate appearances with a 15.5 percent walk and a 17.5 percent strikeout rate. The only thing missing was power. The 19-year-old could be challenged this year with an aggressive assignment.

Victor Roache (OF, MIL, AA)

Roache has 20 home run power and a few too many strikeouts for comfort. The former first round pick could be a future corner outfielder or a Quad-A type. He may reach the majors this season or next.

Tyrone Taylor (OF, MIL, AA)

There are two dimensions to Taylor as a prospect. Can he stick in center field, and can he hit for enough power to play anywhere else? He's a high contact rate guy with some upside for 10 home run power and 15 stolen base speed.

Jeffrey Baez (OF, CHC, A+)

Like many of the Cubs' outfield prospects, Baez is a slow moving former international prospect. Anyone viewing his line in Single-A would note the nine home runs and 34 stolen bases. Speed guy with a bit of pop, right? The scouting report I have says he's a plus raw power guy with fringy speed. At 22, he's on the old side of age appropriate for High-A

Demi Orimoloye (OF, MIL, R)

Orimoloye, 19, rose to the challenge of rookie ball. He hit six home runs and stole 19 bases in just 144 plate appearances. If it wasn't for scary plate discipline (2.1% BB%, 27.1% K%), he'd be much higher on this list. Huge breakout potential if he can learn to control the strike zone.

Keon Broxton (OF, MIL, AAA)

Broxton, 26, is a burner with enough power to be useful in Miller Park. He'll likely compete with Liriano for a starting job this year, but it'll be an indirect competition. Broxton may push Domingo Santana to an outfield corner. Broxton's downfall is huge contact issues - those are never good in a speed first guy.

Michael Reed (OF, MIL, AAA)

Reed is a guy who thrived in the lower minors. A feel for base running allowed him to outperform his average speed in the steals department. That often doesn't translate well to the majors. His power is described as fringy so he may only be a contact hitter. He's in the Brewers' battle for outfield reps.

Ramon Flores (OF, MIL, AAA)

Flores is also in the mix for major league reps, but he looks like a fourth outfielder. He doesn't have the speed or power of a fantasy asset, but he does offer plenty of contact.

Donnie Dewees (OF, CHC, A-)

Dewees, 21, was an early selection in the second round of the 2015 draft. He's a college guy with plus speed. He could surge up the list with a strong season. Scouts worry about his arm which may be limited to left field.

Charlie Tilson (OF, STL, AA)

Most would dismiss Tilson as a fourth outfielder, but there's always the chance this type of player gets a chance at a full time gig. He stole 46 bases last year with a high contact rate. A trip to the AFL went poorly. He has a spot on the 40-man roster.

Yorman Rodriguez (OF, CIN, AAA)

Rodriguez, 23, had a brief stint in 2014. Now the club is evaluating him for a regular role in 2016. He has the raw power to breakout in Cincinnati, but I don't expect rapid growth. Instead, buy low after he flops early in the season then plan to hang onto him for a couple years.

Aristides Aquino (OF, CIN, A)

Aquino, 21, has been in the Red system since 2011. He had a huge 2014 season against college pitchers. He didn't make any huge strides in 2015, but he didn't go backwards either. Despite developing slowly, scouts like his ceiling which could include power, steals, and a passable average.

Brandon Diaz (OF, MIL, A)

Diaz is a 70 grade runner with some feel for hitting. He's walked plenty in the low minors, but he'll need to prove he can continue to reach base against better pitching.

C.J. McElroy (OF, STL, A+)

McElroy is described as a raw 80 grade runner. Even if that ticks down to 70 grade future speed, he could force his way into a lineup for defensive purposes. He has very little power and doesn't make quite enough contact for a speed guy.

Scott Schebler (OF, CIN, AAA)

A former Dodgers farmhand, Schebler should get a shot at winning an outfield job this spring. His fantasy skill set may be better than his real world contributions. He can hit for power and run a bit, making him an excellent fit in Cincinnati.

Anthony Garcia (OF, STL, AA)

In a brief stint at AAA, Garcia held his own. He spent most of the year at AA where he was impressively patient, made plenty of contact, and flashed 15 home run power. He receives very little attention from scouts despite a spot on the 40-man roster.

Jose Osuna (OF, PIT, AA)

Osuna has the look of a good fourth outfielder. He can hit for a decent average with adequate power numbers. Sometimes, this profile can grow to be more than just a major league bench piece.

Willy Garcia (OF, PIT, AAA)

Scouts like Garcia's physical tools, but his plate discipline drags down his potential. If the light clicks and he starts to work the count better, he could be worth a look in deeper dynasties.

Adam Frazier (OF, PIT, AA)

Frazier doesn't drive the ladies (i.e. the scouts) crazy, but he does have plus contact skills. Although he can run a little, he'll never be confused with a rabbit. Often, this profile will turn into an org soldier, but sometimes they get a chance to stick around the majors for a time.

Barrett Barnes (OF, PIT, AA)

A former college pick who has moved slowly through the system, Barnes is a decent player with a mix of contact, plate discipline, and average speed. He's coming off his best season at the plate, but he's hardly worth following.

Danny Ortiz (OF, PIT, AAA)

A former Twins prospect, Ortiz could be a fifth outfielder as soon as this season. He's 26, so it's now or never. He has 15 home run power, but that's the extent of his fantasy potential.

 

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