2017 Prospects: Top 30 Impact Rookies for Fantasy Leagues (Week 9)

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Hello everyone, and welcome to my weekly Top-30 Fantasy Rankings for Impact Rookies! In this series, I will be going over the top prospects in baseball and discussing which ones figure to have an impact for the rest of this fantasy baseball season.

I want to take this introduction paragraph here to apologize to all you baseball fans out there. Never in the history of my time playing fantasy baseball have I ever drafted Mike Trout, as I have never had the fortune of drafting first overall in standard draft leagues, and have never wanted to fork over the money in my auction drafts. Until this season.

I drafted Trout for the first time ever, and guess what? He got injured for the first time in his career. The Ed Sutelan curse is at it again. So my apologies to all you fellow Trout owners out there who are feeling the same pain on their fantasy rosters. Maybe I can help you replace Trout by recommending some solid prospects who may receive a promotion at some point in the near future.

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Top MLB Prospects - Fantasy Baseball Power Rankings

To be clear, this list is not the top 30 prospects in baseball. This is a list of the top 30 prospects who are likely going to rise to the major leagues and provide fantasy baseball value this season. The qualifications are simple: a player must not be on an active roster, they must have a clear path to the majors, and while they may have played in seasons prior to 2016, they must still have rookie eligibility. If a player is moved to the active roster of their team, they will be removed from this power rankings list and replaced.

 

1. Yoan Moncada (2B/3B, CWS, AAA)
Stats: 175 PA, .320/.400/.497, 6 HR, 10 SB, 12.0% BB rate, 28.0% K rate
ETA: Mid-June
Moncada spent just 11 days off the field, and returned to action Friday. He has been relatively quiet since returning, but don’t let that distract you from the overall picture of a guy hitting on all cylinders in the highest level of the minors. At this point, it’s only a matter of time until he is promoted to the majors. My guess is that he gets promoted days after the draft, at the latest.

2. Franklin Barreto (2B/SS, OAK, AAA)
Stats: 209 PA, .307/.351/.490, 6 HR, 3 SB, 5.3% BB rate, 27.8% K rate
ETA: Mid-July
Barreto is one of the few prospects on this list we know will be promoted, barring any drastic changes in performance/health. His near-lock of starting time in the second half of the MLB season combined with an outstanding power/speed combination for a middle infielder makes him an enticing fantasy option for owners looking for a spark down the stretch. If you start hearing Jed Lowrie’s name pop up in trade rumors, start grabbing Barreto in all leagues.

3. Austin Meadows (OF, PIT, AAA)
Stats: 200 PA, .262/.320/.372, 3 HR, 8 SB, 7.5% BB rate, 15.5% K rate
ETA: Late June
That injury to Gregory Polanco does not sound to be as bad as it initially looked, but we are still awaiting more updates on his condition. The severity of his injury will still not drastically affect the chances of Meadows receiving a promotion in the near future, but an extended absence could push them further into the cellar to the point where trading Andrew McCutchen is an after-thought. Meadows will likely see some starting time in June just before Starling Marte returns from his suspension - and based on his latest performances, he might actually be finally hitting his stride.

Just to briefly go over how he has done lately, in the month of May Meadows has launched a pair of homers, swiped six bags and posted a .317/.378/.465 slash line. And over the past week alone, he has a home run, two steals and a ridiculous .462/.500/.654 slash line. Safe to say, he has broken out of that extended slump he began the season in.

4. Lewis Brinson (OF, MIL, AAA)
Stats: 158 PA, .303/.392/.485, 4 HR, 5 SB, 11.4% BB rate, 21.5% K rate
ETA: Early July
It is getting to the point now where even I — a skeptic of Keon Broxton — am starting to be concerned that he’s not letting go of this starting center field job anytime soon. Though the strikeout-to-walk ratio remains atrocious, and he is striking out over a third over the time, he has produced a sound .303/.347/.539 slash line in May.

Meanwhile Brinson has continued to hit well at Triple-A, but he certainly could be doing better. Colorado Springs is arguably the friendliest Triple-A ballpark for batters, and yet he has just four home runs to this point (none since May 3rd). At this point, his best bet for playing time may be a Milwaukee trade or injury. I expect an extended Broxton cold streak to happen at some point, but fantasy owners can no longer simply count on Brinson to trample over Broxton on his way to the majors.

5. Tom Murphy (C, COL, DL)
Stats: NA
ETA: Mid-/Late June
Murphy is inching closer and closer to a rehab stint, but he’s not quite there just yet. He still has just a little ways to go before he’s quite ready for that. And his rehab stint could be a little on the longer side since he missed most of Spring Training. Regardless, the expectation remains that he will be ready at least before the All-Star break. And that power at the catcher position still seems really nice.

6. Gleyber Torres (SS, NYY, AAA)
Stats: 165 PA, .268/.370/.465, 5 HR, 6 SB, 12.7% BB rate, 17.0% K rate
ETA: Late July
The Yankees have decided to be a bit aggressive with their 20-year-old, franchise shortstop, promoting him to Triple-A after only 32 games at Double-A. And in an apparent effort to rush him to the majors, they are having him play a lot at third base where Chase Headley has produced a sad .231/.305/.389 slash line this season. Might Torres be their hot corner answer this season?

If someone came up to me and said “Torres is guaranteed to be promoted and start regularly this season,” then he would be in the top three on this list, purely on his upside. But the risk that he does not see any meaningful time this season remains a reason why owners should think twice before jumping out to stash him, and eat up roster space on an injury-filled year. Of course, if he does get that call up, he will bring power, speed and one of the best approaches to the plate scouts have seen out of someone so young in a while.

7. Rhys Hoskins (1B, PHI, AAA)
Stats: 200 PA, .315/.415/.643, 13 HR, 1 SB, 14.0% BB rate, 16.5% K rate
ETA: Mid-July
Just as quickly as Tommy Joseph went on a hot streak, he jumped off it. Over his past 12 games, he is slashing just .220/.267/.439. It’s not bad, especially considering he has still been a decent source of pop, but he will need to do better if he wants to keep the red-hot Hoskins down in the minors. At this point, there seems little doubt that Hoskins will make his debut this season and see meaningful time in the majors. One does not simply crush baseballs at Triple-A like he has and not get promoted to the majors.

8. Reynaldo Lopez (SP, CWS, AAA)
Stats: 53.0 IP, 4.08 ERA, 4.31 FIP, 23.4% K rate, 11.3% BB rate, 8.8% HR/FB, .232 AVG
ETA: Late June
Over his last six starts, Lopez has compiled a 3.58 ERA and 3.02 FIP despite giving up eight runs his last time out on the mound. It is painfully obvious that the reason behind Lopez staying in the minors at this point is purely based on service time. The White Sox don’t have a ton of great options going for them in their rotation right now, and could benefit from giving a potential franchise starting pitcher more looks in the majors. Once the White Sox gain this extra year of control over Lopez, expect them to quickly make the call for him to start on their team. Especially given Lucas Giolito’s sizable struggles this season, Lopez could be their best option to take up the fifth spot in their rotation.

9. Brandon Woodruff (SP, MIL, AAA)
Stats: 56.1 IP, 3.04 ERA, 3.99 FIP, 21.9% K rate, 5.7% BB rate, 8.5% HR/FB, .232 AVG
ETA: Late June
Much like the White Sox, the Brewers are not trotting out a great rotation on a weekly basis. Chase AndersonJimmy Nelson and Zach Davies have done their part - and Matt Garza has been effective at times. The return of Junior Guerra should help as well, but overall the rotation is nothing to write home about.

Meanwhile, Woodruff has dominated in a hitter-friendly home ballpark in Colorado Springs, while top Brewers pitching prospect Josh Hader has really struggled. Woodruff is no budding ace, but he could be a middle-of-the-rotation innings eater with the added bonus of decent strikeout totals. Once the Super Two deadline passes, he could be viewed as the top option to fill the fifth starter spot in Milwaukee if it opens up.

10. Derek Fisher (OF, HOU, AAA)
Stats: 219 PA, .337/.399/.592, 12 HR, 9 SB, 8.2% BB rate, 21.0% K rate
ETA: Mid-July
Fisher’s hopes for playing time in Houston continue to dwindle as players like Marwin Gonzalez and Jake Marisnick perform well in the outfield. Though Nori Aoki has not hit a lick, Carlos Beltran, Gonzalez, Marisnick, George Springer and Josh Reddick have all hit well enough to keep Fisher at bay. Given Fisher’s success in the minors and enticing skill set, he could be a promising trade chip for Houston in their pursuit of a starting pitcher. He has certainly hit well enough to warrant a starting role, and should he be traded away, he could start wherever he is sent. Given his power/speed combination, Fisher would certainly warrant an own in most fantasy leagues.

11. Amed Rosario (SS, NYM, AAA)
Stats: 224 PA, .354/.393/.519, 5 HR, 10 SB, 5.8% BB rate, 14.7% K rate
ETA: Mid-July
Like Torres, it is still difficult to figure out whether or not Rosario will actually be called up. He has hit more than enough to earn a promotion - but he is still so young, and the Mets just seem so reluctant to call him up. Other GMs have said they will promote their prospects at some point this season, but Rosario has received no such guarantee from his GM. He doesn't have much else to prove in Triple-A, but who knows with the Mets.

12. Lucas Sims (SP, ATL, AAA)
Stats: 50.0 IP, 3.42 ERA, 4.03 FIP, 25.5% K rate, 7.0% BB rate, 12.5% HR/FB, .201 AVG
ETA: Late June/Early July
Hey so, you know R.A. Dickey? The guy who was supposed to eat up innings for a young Atlanta team? Well, he has eaten up innings (averaging six innings per start), but they have been far from quality as he has posted an awful 4.65 ERA, 6.06 FIP with nearly as many walks as strikeouts. The entire Braves rotation as a whole has been pretty awful, despite using the same five guys every time out. Come the second half of the season, it would not be much of a surprise to see guys like Matt Wisler and Lucas Sims come up to the majors to provide some youth, and more high quality innings. Especially be sure to keep an eye on Sims, who has dominated over the bulk of this season (despite his two most recent outings being quite forgettable).

13. Zack Burdi (RP, CWS, AAA)
Stats: 18.2 IP, 4.34 ERA, 1.95 FIP, 33.7% K rate, 9.3% BB rate, 0.0% HR/FB, .213 AVG
ETA: Early July
The problem with relievers is that all it takes is one stinker of an outing to completely blow up that ERA. Before Sunday, Burdi had a 1.93 ERA. But two walks, three hits and five runs later, it is 4.34. Is it that big of a deal? Not really. Burdi still looks like the next franchise closer for the White Sox, and with relievers like David Robertson and Nate Jones potentially on the way out around the trade season, Burdi’s name could pop up on the list of guys competing for the second half closer role. Even if he is not used as a closer and instead is just called up as a relief option, his insane strikeout upside makes him a worthy own in many leagues.

14. Matt Chapman (3B, OAK, AAA)
Stats: 146 PA, .250/.342/.581, 11 HR, 4 SB, 12.3% BB rate, 30.1% K rate
ETA: Mid-July
Another player on a bad team blocked by a trade candidate, Chapman has a clear path to playing time. Trevor Plouffe should be traded, and Chapman would then be called up to start in his place. Sure, Plouffe hasn’t been great, but some team may want him as infield depth. Even if he isn’t dealt away, Chapman could just force the Athletics to push Plouffe aside and give rise to their youth movement. After all, a lineup of Barreto, Chapman and Khris Davis could actually be some fun to watch. Chapman may not hit for a great average, but he will more than make up for it with his power potential.

15. Ronald Guzman (1B, TEX, AAA)
Stats: 211 PA, .298/.365/.435, 5 HR, 1 SB, 8.1% BB rate, 16.6% K rate
ETA: Early July
Mike Napoli has endured an up-and-down season, with both cold and hot streaks. It will be interesting to see how he and Joey Gallo fit into the lineup following the return of Adrian Beltre. While Gallo may scare some Guzman owners, keep in mind that a trade or injury could open up a lineup spot so both Guzman and Gallo can start regularly. It is still unknown whether the Rangers will be buyers or sellers at the deadline, but either way, there are possibilities a plenty for Guzman to receive starting time in the second half of 2017.

16. Rafael Devers (3B, BOS, AA)
Stats: 173 PA, .288/.353/.506, 8 HR, 0 SB, 9.2% BB rate, 19.1% K rate
ETA: Late July
Add Devers to the list of “high reward prospects” alongside Gleyber Torres and Amed Rosario. There is far from any sort of guarantee that Devers will be promoted, but many in the baseball writing community believe it makes sense. If Devers had a guarantee of a starting role in the second half of this season, he would be a top three player on this list based on his insane offensive upside (for those of you wondering, the hypothetical top five would be Moncada, Torres, Devers, Barreto, Meadows). But until he has that guaranteed playing time, he is a risky stash in standard leagues where fantasy rosters have been filled with injuries.

17. Jeimer Candelario (3B, CHC, AAA)
Stats: 161 PA, .288/.385/.597, 7 HR, 0 SB, 12.4% BB rate, 23.0% K rate
ETA: Late July
One of the prospect trade chips on this list, Candelario seems like the one everyone can point to and say a trade is the most likely to happen. He most likely has no future in Chicago with the Cubbies, but he has what it takes to be a starting third baseman in the majors. He may not have shown it in his brief time in the majors, but he is actually a solid power hitter with many scouts giving his bat a 55-60, citing promising plate discipline and an ability to make plenty of contact. While he does not hit for enough power to warrant ownership in leagues with 10 teams or less, he could be a solid depth piece in 12-14 team leagues if a path to playing time opened up.

18. Jeff Hoffman (SP, COL, AAA)
Stats: 44.0 IP, 3.68 ERA, 3.94 FIP, 20.0% K rate, 8.4% BB rate, 4.9% HR/FB, .212 AVG
ETA: Late June
I always try to avoid listing Colorado pitchers, but a) Hoffman seems to be called up once every other week for a start, and b) he has looked very sharp when he has been in the majors. While the Rockies’ rotation has been surprisingly decent this season, guys like Tyler Chatwood and Tyler Anderson both have ERAs over 5.00 and FIPs over 4.00. The return of Jon Gray could possibly throw Hoffman’s MLB return plans into jeopardy, but until Gray does return, Hoffman remains a solid streaming option whenever he is promoted.

19. A.J. Reed (1B, HOU, AAA)
Stats: 208 PA, .271/.365/.459, 7 HR, 0 SB, 13.0% BB rate, 29.3% K rate
ETA: Late July
Like some other prospects on this list, Reed seems to have a clear path to playing time as a trade piece. Yulieski Gurriel has not been remarkable at first base, but he’s fairly expensive and has not been bad enough to be benched. Super-utility player Marwin Gonzalez could also step in and play first base if called upon. As Reed continues to strike out, it seems less and less likely the Astros will want to use him as their starting first baseman. With that said, should the Astros pursue a starter like Jose Quintana, Reed could be dealt over to the White Sox where he could see playing time. As long as he has tantalizing power potential, which he has despite only seven homers, he remains an intriguing fantasy prospect.

20. Luke Weaver (SP, STL, AAA)
Stats: 39.0 IP, 2.08 ERA, 3.22 FIP, 25.7% K rate, 4.1% BB rate, 7.9% HR/FB, .225 AVG
ETA: Early August (or earlier if any Cardinal pitcher gets injured)
I need to make this very clear. No matter how the five current starters for St. Louis pitch, Weaver will not get a chance to start unless someone gets hurt. And though Lance Lynn’s peripherals aren’t great (4.72 FIP, 4.23 xFIP, 0.3 fWAR), he still will hold onto that job for a long while thanks to a stellar and somewhat surprising 2.93 ERA.

But, should the Cardinals remain in the playoff hunt, and feel the need to upgrade a position at the deadline, Weaver could be an outstanding chip for them to deal. The Cardinals’ right-hander could potentially start with another team should he be traded, giving him fantasy appeal, especially if he proves capable of carrying over this Triple-A success into the majors.

21. Carson Kelly (C, STL, AAA)
Stats: 153 PA, .326/.405/.548, 7 HR, 0 SB, 10.5% BB rate, 13.1% K rate
ETA: Late July

22. Brent Honeywell (SP, TB, AAA)
Stats: 55.0 IP, 4.25 ERA, 3.37 FIP, 29.7% K rate, 4.8% BB rate, 15.1% HR/FB, .255 AVG
ETA: Early August

23. Patrick Weigel (SP, ATL, AAA)
Stats: 57.0 IP, 4.11 ERA, 3.36 FIP, 20.7% K rate, 7.0% BB rate, 6.6% HR/FB, .266 AVG
ETA: Early/Mid-August

24. Ozzie Albies (2B, ATL, AAA)
Stats: 217 PA, .266/.312/.387, 2 HR, 14 SB, 6.0% BB rate, 21.2% K rate
ETA: Early August

25. Francis Martes (SP, HOU, AAA)
Stats: 29.2 IP, 4.55 ERA, 5.46 FIP, 24.8% K rate, 16.6% BB rate, 12.5% HR/FB, .281 AVG
ETA: Mid-August

26. Yandy Diaz (3B, CLE, AAA)
Stats: 109 PA, .311/.417/.444, 2 HR, 0 SB, 15.6% BB rate, 15.6% K rate
ETA: Mid-July

27. Dominic Smith (1B, NYM, AAA)
Stats: 230 PA, .325/.378/.500, 7 HR, 0 SB, 7.4% BB rate, 15.7% K rate
ETA: Early August

28. Jae-Gyun Hwang (3B, SF, AAA)
Stats: 190 PA, .279/.295/.454, 4 HR, 3 SB, 2.6% BB rate, 20.0% K rate
ETA: Early August

29. Jacob Faria (SP, TB, AAA)
Stats: 51.2 IP, 3.48 ERA, 3.25 FIP, 35.8% K rate, 9.2% BB rate, 17.9% HR/FB, .208 AVG
ETA: Mid-August

30. Dan Vogelbach (1B, SEA, AAA)
Stats: 156 PA, .290/.397/.466, 6 HR, 3 SB, 14.7% BB rate, 19.9% K rate
ETA: Mid-July

 

MLB Rookie Rankings

1. Aaron Judge (OF, NYY)

2. Cody Bellinger (1B/OF, LAD)

3. Andrew Benintendi (OF, BOS)

4. Josh Bell (1B/OF, PIT)

5. Chad Pinder (SS, OAK)

6. Manuel Margot (OF, SD)

7. Mitch Haniger (OF, SEA)

8. Trey Mancini (1B, BAL)

9. Jordan Montgomery (SP, NYY)

10. Jorge Bonifacio (OF, KC)

11. German Marquez (SP, COL)

12. Hunter Renfroe (OF, SD)

13. Kyle Freeland (SP, COL)

14. Ben Gamel (OF, SEA)

15. Matt Davidson (3B, CWS)

16. Jharel Cotton (SP, OAK)

17. Jose De Leon (SP, TB)

18. Dansby Swanson (SS, ATL)

19. Eric Skoglund (SP, KC)

20. David Paulino (SP, HOU)