2017 Outfielders: Top MLB Prospects for Fantasy Baseball

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Welcome back, RotoBallers. I've already looked at the top 10 prospects for each MLB team, and now I'll be breaking down impact prospects by position. Today I'm bringing you my top 15 outfielders - MLB prospect rankings for the 2017 fantasy baseball season.

The position of outfield is always a deep one, but this season it especially appears to be strong for rookies. Top prospect in baseball Andrew Benintendi will open the season with the Red Sox while the Padres figure to start a pair of talented outfielders. There’s also some other guys with tantalizing power/speed combinations like Derek Fisher, Bradley Zimmer and Austin Meadows who could have value later in the year.

Though outfielders often need to hit a ton to be considered valuable in redraft leagues due to the sheer number of talented outfielders, this year’s rookie class is arguably one of the strongest the position has seen in years. There is a ton of value to be had here and fantasy owners should be ready to jump on these star bats as soon as they get the call up to the big leagues.

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Top 15 Outfield Prospects for 2017 Fantasy Baseball

1. Andrew Benintendi (BOS, MLB)
Stats: 118 PA, .295/.359/.475, 2 HR, 1 SB, 8.5% BB rate, 21.2% K rate
ETA: Opening Day
Benintendi is not just the most valuable outfield prospect for 2017, he is the most valuable overall prospect for 2017 (*spoiler alert*). The Red Sox left fielder is guaranteed a spot out in a very potent Red Sox lineup right out of Spring Training and will be batting either second or third in their lineup this season. He is an absolutely elite prospect to own as he is guaranteed to hit for a high average while possibly posting a 20/20 season. And in the middle of Boston’s lineup, he may also drive in and score 100 runs.

2. Hunter Renfroe (SD, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 563 PA, .306/.336/.557, 30 HR, 5 SB, 3.9% BB rate, 20.4% K rate
ETA: Opening Day
With a number of injuries currently plaguing the Padres’ outfield, Renfroe is now a 100 percent lock to break camp with the club this season. He probably would have regardless, but the injuries help his case. The slugging outfielder is unlikely to replicate that .300 average in the majors as he is a bit too aggressive and may strike out a bit, but he will hit a ton of dingers even in pitcher-friendly Petco Park. Owners can expect him to bat cleanup behind Wil Myers and hit 25+ home runs with a .250+ average and 80+ RBI.

3. Manuel Margot (SD, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 566 PA, .304/.351/.428, 6 HR, 30 SB, 6.4% BB rate, 11.3% K rate
ETA: Opening Day(?)
If it wasn’t for a lingering knee injury that has cost Margot some Spring Training time, he would be No. 2 on this list. But as of right now, his starting status is in question. If he is healthy, he figures to start in center field for the Padres to open up the season and will likely lead off for the team. His speed and consistency in reaching base should help him stand out as an incredibly valuable fantasy product for the 2017 season.

4. Aaron Judge (NYY, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 410 PA, .270/.366/.489, 19 HR, 5 SB, 11.5% BB rate, 23.9% K rate
ETA: Opening Day
As we stand today, Judge will open up the season as the Yankees’ right fielder. And for fantasy owners looking for a consistent source of home run production, this comes as a welcome sight indeed. Judge is absolutely massive, standing at 6-foot-7, 225 pounds and draws comparisons to Giancarlo Staton for the size and raw power potential. In years past, he had tried to wait pitchers and just make contact, but lately, he has made a more concerted effort to try and hit the ball out of the ball park. As a result, he may not hit for a high average, but 30 home runs is a surefire possibility for the slugger in 2017.

5. Mitch Haniger (SEA, MLB)
Stats: 123 PA, .229/.309/.404, 5 HR, 0 SB, 9.8% BB rate, 22.0% K rate
ETA: Opening Day
Don’t recognize the name? Don’t feel too bad, he has not been commonly heralded as a top prospect. Haniger had for years labored in the minors, but finally in 2016 made some adjustments to his swing and scouts loved what they saw. A guy who once was a future bench bat will now start in right field for Seattle and stands out as yet another sleeper source of home run production. Scouts see him as a potential 25+ home run threat now who could get plenty of RBI opportunities now batting in a particularly stout lineup.

6. Bradley Zimmer (CLE, AAA)
Stats: 150 PA, .242/.349/.305, 1 HR,
ETA: Early May
There are few prospects on this lineup with more potential than this guy. Zimmer is big, standing at 6-foot-5, 205 pounds, athletic and possesses one of the best power/speed combinations in the minors. Now sure, he struggled through much of last season, even towards the end, but scouts noticed that part of his struggles may have been because of a change in his swing as he is working to improve on his strikeouts. Scouts loved the change he made and he wound crushing both the Arizona Fall League, but has also mashed in Spring Training so far. Those who watch him play liken the change to batters like Josh Donaldson who also struggled to make consistent contact and think it will have the same effect on Zimmer. If this is true and he makes it to the big leagues, his upside is just too valuable to pass up on.

7. Derek Fisher (HOU, AAA)
Stats: 118 PA, .290/.347/.505, 5 HR, 5 SB, 7.6% BB rate, 22.0% K rate
ETA: Late July
Fisher has posted 20/20 seasons in back-to-back seasons now while also taking a ton of walks and usually posting a solid batting average. George Springer, Josh Reddick, Nori Aoki and Preston Tucker figure to get the lion’s share of starts in the outfield this season for Houston, but Aoki and Tucker could easily struggle and Fisher could force his way up to the big league roster. Fisher will not hit for a high average, but few guys can match that combination of power and speed and he should prove to be very productive for fantasy owners.

8. Austin Meadows (PIT, AAA)
Stats: 145 PA, .214/.297/.460, 6 HR, 8 SB, 10.3% BB rate, 23.4% K rate
ETA: Mid-July
There was a time this offseason when it appeared Meadows was bound for the No. 2 spot on this list. Andrew McCutchen was on the trade list and it really looked like Meadows would break camp with the team. But McCutchen is still with the club, so Meadows will have to wait until a trade or injury happens. Should Meadows receive the call up, he would immediately become fantasy relevant in all leagues as he stands out as one of the most talented prospects in all of baseball. He could be a darkhorse NL ROY contender if he is promoted early enough.

9. Tyler O’Neill (SEA, AA)
Stats: 575 PA, .293/.374/.508, 24 HR, 12 SB, 10.8% BB rate, 26.1% K rate
ETA: Late July
Boy those stats from O’Neill really jump out on the page don’t they. The Mariners’ top prospect has an incredibly powerful bat and has been rising up prospect rankings for a long while now. The big issue for him is that the Mariners have a ton of outfielders and DH options right now, so he has some people to leap frog before he is going to be contributing to fantasy owners. But should an injury or poor performances slow an outfielder or two down, O’Neill could immediately become extremely fantasy relevant for his power upside.

10. Clint Frazier (NYY, AAA)
Stats: 108 PA, .228/.278/.396, 3 HR, 0 SB, 6.5% BB rate, 27.8% K rate
ETA: Mid-July
Frazier has several potential paths to playing time. An injury to anyone in the outfield or Matt Holliday would likely prompt a promotion to the big leagues, as would a poor season by Aaron Judge. But first Frazier will have to hit himself. He struggled in 2016 at the Triple-A level after posting some outstanding numbers at Double-A. He has an intriguing power/speed combination that makes him relevant in fantasy leagues, so he would absolutely be worth owning in fantasy leagues if he is given a chance to snag a full-time role with the ball club.

11. Lewis Brinson (MIL, AAA)
Stats: 93 PA, .382/.387/.618, 4 HR, 4 SB, 2.2% BB rate, 22.6% K rate
ETA: Early August
Yes, Brinson absolutely mashed Triple-A last season. No, that does not mean he is going to start with the team right out of Spring Training. The team is likely going to run with an outfield of Ryan Braun, Keon Broxton and Domingo Santana and only an injury, trade or poor performance could change that. Brinson is a talented enough prospect though that he might be able to force some changes if he dazzles at Triple-A again and shows improvements in his plate discipline. If he does get a chance to start in Milwaukee, he would be worth owning in all leagues.

12. Albert Almora (CHC, MLB)
Stats: 117 PA, .277/.308/.455, 3 HR, 0 SB, 4.3% BB rate, 17.1% K rate
ETA: Opening Day
Almora is probably the least exciting prospect on this list, but he has value nonetheless. While he likely will not provide much of anything in any category beyond batting average, Almora is going to start as the platoon outfielder for the Cubs in center with Jon Jay taking the strong-side of the platoon. In some leagues, all it takes is hits on a semi-consistent basis to have value and that’s where Almora is right now.

13. Jake Bauers (TB, AA)
Stats: 581 PA, .274/.370/.420, 14 HR, 10 SB, 12.6% BB rate, 15.3% K rate
ETA: Early June
Bauers finally started to show that his power potential was more than just potential in 2016 as he managed to set a career-high with 14 home runs. The Rays’ 21-year-old outfielder has an advanced approach to the plate and should have no trouble maintaining a high average in the majors. Power may still not be a plus-plus part of his game, and he won’t break camp with the team which will limit his value, but Bauers should hit enough to warrant ownership in some leagues.

14. Raimel Tapia (COL, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 110 PA, .345/.355/.490, 0 HR, 6 SB, 1.6% K rate, 10.9% BB rate
ETA: Early August
The Rockies are absolutely loaded in the outfield, which is why you have to go this far down to find Tapia. If he had a starting role with the club out of Spring Training, he would probably be in the top three of this list. But as is, he will have to wait for a trade or injury to open up a spot for him on the team. Coors Field really helps boosts the speedsters draft stock, but he has no value until a job opens up.

15. Jesse Winker (CIN, AAA)
Stats: 448 PA, .303/.397/.384, 3 HR, 0 SB, 13.2% BB rate, 13.2% K rate
ETA: Late July
That may not look like an overly disappointing season for Winker, but it certainly was. Not only did his power completely disappear, but he also lost a lot of time due to a wrist injury. Winker’s advanced plate discipline ensures he will have a high floor and should be at least able to hit for a high average if he reaches the majors, but until he starts flashing power again, his value will be limited to deep redraft leagues and dynasty leagues.

 

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