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2018 Prospects - Top 30 Impact Rookies for Fantasy Leagues (Week 1)


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.

What a debut for Shohei Ohtani? Aside from a rough second inning, Ohtani looked as advertised. He flashed dominant stuff on the mound with an incredibly overwhelming, high-octane fastball, a nasty splitter and a really promising slider. Plus he recorded his first major-league hit. It awaits to be seen what he does the rest of the season at the plate, but his mound debut was promising and should be an encouraging sign to fantasy owners as the season progresses.

One quick note: this will be the last week that last season’s statistics will be used for each of the players. No one has played a minor-league game just yet, so needless to say, I can’t use this season’s statistics. However, each level will reflect the place the prospect currently opens up the season, including if it is on the DL.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off. Exclusive access to our Draft Kit, premium rankings, projections, player outlooks, top prospects, dynasty rankings, 15 in-season lineup tools, and over 200 days of expert DFS research. Sign Up Now!

 

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 majors 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 2018, 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. Ronald Acuna (OF, ATL, AAA)
Stats: 243 PA, .344/.393/.548, 9 HR, 11 SB, 7.0% BB%, 19.8% K%
ETA: Early April
Everyone reading this is familiar with Acuna, so I’m going to keep this brief. He’s the best fantasy prospect in baseball and might have only a handful of days remaining in the minors. He might not be on this list next week. His true five-tool potential means he needs to be owned in nearly all leagues already.

2. Willie Calhoun (OF, TEX, AAA)
Stats: 534 PA, .300/.355/.572, 31 HR, 4 SB, 7.9% BB%, 11.4% K%
ETA: Late April
Placing Calhoun this high is assuming he will join Acuna with being held down in the minors early. The Texas Rangers have a better excuse for keeping Calhoun down in that he needs to improve his defense in left field, but like Acuna, Calhoun absolutely mashes every level of the minors he reaches and is clearly big-league ready from an offensive standpoint. He accumulated a handful of games last year that might keep him down in the minors a bit longer, but his bat is special enough and his path to playing time clear enough that he already makes for a worthy stash and will be a must own once he is promoted to the big leagues.

3. Gleyber Torres (2B/3B/SS, NYY, AAA)
Stats: (from AA) 139 PA, .273/.367/.496, 5 HR, 5 SB, 12.2% BB%, 15.1% K%
ETA: Late April
Neil Walker is currently the only player standing between Torres and a regular job in the majors. Walker was signed to become the starting second baseman for the New York Yankees, at least to open the season. His bat is not what it used to be and a team like the Yankees that needs to have the best lineup available now might not wait for his bat to heat up. There is little doubt Torres will hit in the majors given his ability to consistently drive the ball with authority and his plate discipline. He should hit for some power and swipe a couple bags while providing the Yankees with another gifted young player. Walker will hold Torres down for a time, but once promoted, Torres would be worth owning in most 10-team or deeper leagues.

4. Victor Robles (OF, WAS, AAA)
Stats: (from AA) 158 PA, .324/.394/.489, 3 HR, 11 SB, 7.6% BB%, 13.9% K%
ETA: Early May
Michael A. Taylor is off to a very similar start. He’s striking out a ton, hitting for a low average, providing sound defense and elite baserunning but overall struggling. Taylor can be a big-time producer, but he can also be a liability given the serious swing-and-miss issues he has. This season, however, he will need to minimize those issues as much as possible if he is going to keep Robles at bay. Robles does not swing and miss and combines the elite baserunning and defense with a much better all-around bat than Taylor. There is concern from some in the fantasy community that Robles might be another Manuel Margot, but the combination of the elite lineup he will play in plus the clear upgrade in power over Margot makes him look more appealing from a fantasy perspective. It should not be long till Robles reaches the majors, and one he does, he could be great outfield depth in 10-team leagues and a solid starting option in 12-team leagues.

5. Austin Hays (OF, BAL, AA)
Stats: (from AA) 283 PA, .330/.367/.594, 16 HR, 1 SB, 4.6% BB%, 15.9% K%
ETA: Late May
Hays was sent down to Double-A to begin the 2018 campaign, but it will not likely be for long. He absolutely mashed both Advanced Class-A and Double-A pitching in 2017, becoming the first player from the 2016 draft class to reach the majors. Though both Adam Jones and Trey Mancini will hold down their respective spots in center and left field, there is still a hole in right field that is currently just being filled by Colby Rasmus and Craig Gentry. Hays has the middle-of-the-order profile the Orioles could really benefit from in a contested AL East division this season, meaning that he will certainly be viewed as an upgrade over those two if he just continues to hit in the minors. If promoted, his well-rounded bat warrants ownership in most 10-plus-team leagues.

6. Nick Senzel (2B/3B/SS, CIN, AAA)
Stats: (from AA) 235 PA, .340/.413/.560, 10 HR, 5 SB, 11.1% BB%, 18.3% K%
ETA: Early June
Senzel was lower on the list last week due to uncertainty about his future, but watching Jose Peraza hit over the weekend gives me the belief he won’t be long for the starting shortstop position. Peraza looked lost at the plate against the Washington Nationals, and the potential development of his bat is the only thing keeping Senzel in the minors. There is no question Senzel will hit, and if Peraza continues to struggle, the Cincinnati Reds might promote him before the Super Two deadline. Senzel’s bat is incredibly gifted, and his combination of a plus-plus hit tool with plus power and above-average speed make him an exciting fantasy prospect to own. Once promoted, he would warrant owning in all leagues.

7. Franklin Barreto (2B/SS, OAK, AAA)
Stats: (from AAA) 510 PA, .290/.339/.456, 15 HR, 15 SB, 5.3% BB%, 27.6% K%
ETA: Late April
The question with Barreto really just comes down to when will he be ready for the majors. He was promoted last season and looked somewhat lost at the plate, struggling to make consistent contact and failing to put his impressive power/speed combination fully on display. Barreto currently sits behind Jed Lowrie on the depth chart, but the rebuilding Oakland Athletics will shift Barreto ahead of him if they deem the 22-year-old to be truly ready for the majors. In his second taste of Triple-A, he will need to reduce that strikeout rate and keep hitting for a high average. If he can do that, his ability to hit for power and steal bases enough to be a 15/25 batter makes him an exciting fantasy baseball prospect and one that would be worth owning in most 12-plus-team leagues.

8. Alex Reyes (SP, STL, 60-Day DL)
Stats: NA
ETA: Early June
It’s all about recovery right now for Reyes. He is still recovering from Tommy John surgery and is not expected to make his season debut until later in May, and there’s a chance he starts in the minors. The St. Louis Cardinals will likely take it slow with him and could leave him in the minors or use him in a bullpen role, but the extremely skilled right-hander has dominating stuff that would be a major boost to their rotation in their pursuit of a playoff appearance. He is an important arm to keep tabs on as the season progresses because he could be a future No. 1 starter worth owning in all leagues if he returns to the Cardinals’ rotation.

9. Austin Meadows (OF, PIT, AAA)
Stats: 312 PA, .250/.311/.359, 4 HR, 11 SB, 7.7% BB%, 16.0% K%
ETA: Mid-May
The signing of Corey Dickerson complicates things a bit for Meadows who at a point appeared to be the clear favorite to earn the bulk of playing time in the outfield after Andrew McCutchen was traded. Now with Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco and Dickerson, it appears the Pittsburgh Pirates are going to be comfortable leaving Meadows in the minors to prove he can stay healthy and hit before giving him the call up. Playing time will be found for Meadows if he can do all that, but given his injury struggles and rough 2017 season at Triple-A, he still has much to prove. His combination of a plus hit tool, above-average power and plus speed make him an exciting prospect for fantasy owners.

10. Francisco Mejia (C, CLE, AAA)
Stats: (from AA) 383 PA, .297/.346/.490, 14 HR, 7 SB, 6.3% BB%, 13.8% K%
ETA: Early June
There are few catching prospects coming up through the minors that hit like Gary Sanchez and Buster Posey, but Mejia is probably the closest to that level in the minors. He is not the power hitter Sanchez is, instead providing teams with one of the more promising hit tools from the position. His heavy-contact approach should translate to the majors and he could be a future 15-plus home run hitter if he is able to continue to tap into his raw power. The Cleveland Indians are trying him out at third base and in the outfield, but with the uninspiring duo of Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez behind the dish in Cleveland, it makes sense for Mejia to spend more time at catcher to eventually take over the position and provide the Indians with yet another strong bat for their lineup. He will start the season in Triple-A, but should be up in the big leagues with a role at some point over the summer.

11. Eloy Jimenez (OF, CWS, AA)
Stats: (from A+) 296 PA, .302/.375/.570, 16 HR, 0 SB, 10.1% BB%, 18.9% K%
ETA: Early July
Jimenez might be the second best hitter on this list behind just Acuna. He combines plate discipline with a plus hit tool and some of the best raw power in the minors, easily profiling as a middle-of-the-order slugger. Some have compared the 6-foot-4, 205-pound slugger to a smaller Giancarlo Stanton due to his package of tools. If he can provide that sort of value to fantasy owners, he would be worth owning in all leagues. It is expected he will debut at some point later this summer, which could provide teams with a great waiver wire add late in the season to help with a playoff push.

12. Dustin Fowler (OF, OAK, AAA)
Stats: 313 PA, .293/.329/.542, 13 HR, 13 SB, 4.8% BB%, 20.1% K%
ETA: Mid-May
Fowler put together an outstanding Triple-A campaign in 2017 that resulted in an early promotion, but a collision into the right-field wall tore up his knee and forced him to miss the remainder of the season. His injury was a disappoint to most who wanted to see the unheralded prospect play, given his meteoric rise and exciting numbers he had posted in the minors. Scouts have not always been sold on his power, but he began to show at least 15-homer pop last season to add to his plus speed. Fowler’s hit tool is promising given his ability to make consistent contact, but he doesn’t take walks and will need to make sure he can continue to just avoid striking out when he reaches the big leagues. Similar to Barreto, his teammate in Nashville, Fowler will be promoted once he is ready. He looked a bit behind during Spring Training and likely still needs some more time to get back to 100 percent. Once he does that, he could be a solid add in 12-plus-team leagues.

13. Luis Urias (2B/SS, SD, AAA)
Stats: (from AA) 526 PA, .296/.398/.380, 3 HR, 7 SB, 12.9% BB%, 12.4% K%
ETA: Early July
Urias currently sits behind a pair of intriguing middle-infielders at second base and shortstop in Jose Pirela and Freddy Galvis. Both intriguing power/speed upside, but have struggled to maintain consistency over their respective careers. Urias is very much the opposite. He is a consistent hitter for a high batting average, consistently registering a plus-.300 average at every level he’s reached. He lacks explosive power or electric speed, but some scouts believe he could make a swing adjustment and at least become a 10-15 home run hitter. His skillset does not lend itself to being a fantasy superstar or anything, but he could be a reliable bat to own in some 12-team leagues and deeper leagues.

14. Walker Buehler (SP, LAD, AAA)
Stats: (from AA) 49.0 IP, 3.49 ERA, 2.95 FIP, 32.8% K%, 7.7% BB%, 16.1% HR/FB
ETA: Early June
If there’s one thing the Los Angeles Dodgers have plenty of, it’s pitching depth. Every year, they enter the year with an enviable amount of pitchers at the top. However, by the middle of the summer, that depth seems to be tested with injuries. This season, it will not take too many injuries for Buehler to reach the majors. He is already on the cusp after rising up prospect lists in 2017 by dominating batters at every level of the minors he reached. He has a diverse repertoire of plus pitches with plus control that should help him stay in the big league rotation if he can stay healthy. Buehler will need to prove he can handle a starter’s workload — he’s never reached 100 professional innings. If he can secure a spot in Los Angeles’ rotation, Buehler would be worth owning in most leagues.

15. Luiz Gohara (SP, ATL, 10-Day DL)
Stats: (from AA) 52.0 IP, 2.60 ERA, 2.52 FIP, 27.7% K%, 8.3% BB%, 4.4% HR/FB
ETA: Mid-May
Once he returns to full health, Gohara has what it takes to be a frontline starting pitcher. He has an explosive, upper-90s fastball with a wipeout slider and solid control. Though he lacks a true third pitch right now, Gohara has shown no issues missing bats at nearly every level of the minors and scouts expect that to continue into the majors. Gohara is probably already the Atlanta Braves’ best option for a fifth starting pitcher once he recovers from his ankle injury, but they might opt to ease him back into the starting role or have him pitch a bit in the minors to work on his changeup. But with his strikeout upside, Gohara is an exciting fantasy prospect to own once he returns to the big leagues.

16. Michael Kopech (SP, CWS, AAA)
Stats: (from AA) 119.1 IP, 2.87 ERA, 2.83 FIP, 31.8% K%, 12.3% BB%, 5.2% HR/FB
ETA: Early June
Armed with a blazing fastball and one of the best right-handed sliders in the minors, Kopech is a future ace waiting to reach the majors. Like most flamethrowers, the only thing holding Kopech back so far has been control issues and the need to develop his changeup a bit more. He will open the season in Triple-A and should be in the majors as soon as the White Sox believe he’s ready. They were patient with both Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez last season and might be again with Kopech in 2018. Kopech is extremely talented and has immense strikeout upside, so once he is called up — even with control issues — he will be worth adding in most leagues.

17. Nick Gordon (SS, MIN, AA)
Stats: 578 PA, .270/.341/.408, 9 HR, 13 SB, 9.2% BB%, 23.2% K%
ETA: Early June
After Jorge Polanco was suspended, Gordon’s path to playing time became a lot clearer. Though Eduardo Escobar is starting at shortstop for now, Escobar is best suited to be a utility player while Gordon will be the better option at shortstop. Gordon has an above-average hit tool and should be able to post a .270-plus average. He does not bring much else with slightly below-average power and average speed, but he is a reliable bat who could be a solid No. 2 hitter in the Minnesota Twins’ lineup. He should not be owned in all leagues, but he would be a solid depth add in shallower leagues and could be a starting shortstop in some deep leagues.

18. Alex Verdugo (OF, LAD, AAA)
Stats: 495 PA, .314/.389/.436, 6 HR, 9 SB, 10.5% BB%, 10.1% K%
ETA: Late May
Verdugo is not the most exciting fantasy prospect. He is a solid defender with one of the best arms in the minors and a promising hit tool that should allow him to hit for a high average, but he does not hit for much power and is not particularly fast. Still, he seems a likely bet to see time in the majors this season whether it’s with the Dodgers or if he is traded away. His likely playing time and ability to hit for a high average give him a high floor and low ceiling. Verdugo would be a solid add in 14-plus-team leagues once he reaches the majors.

19. Chance Adams (SP, NYY, AAA)
Stats: 115.1 IP, 2.89 ERA, 3.76 FIP, 22.3% K%, 9.3% BB%, 7.3% HR/FB
ETA: Early August
Adams has done everything he can to prove he’s ready for the majors. He’s improved his control, spent plenty of time at Triple-A and has dominated hitters on a regular basis. However, the Yankees’ pitching has kept him down in the minors for quite a while. Injuries can always happen, but Adams has plenty of depth he needs to battle with in order to find a way to start in the majors. He could be a trade chip and it seems likely he’ll find his way to the majors at some point this season, but until then he’s not an elite pitching prospect that needs stashing. Once he finds innings in the majors, he could be a solid depth add for a lot of fantasy owners.

20. Max Fried (SP, ATL, AAA)
Stats: (from AA) 86.2 IP, 5.92 ERA, 4.08 FIP, 22.1% K%, 11.2% BB%, 10.1% HR/FB
ETA: Early June
Fried largely struggled throughout the 2017 campaign, but scouts remain high on his stuff. Despite control issues, Fried did enough to move from Double-A to eventually reach the majors and remain solidly on top 100 prospect lists. He boasts a plus fastball/plus curveball combination and can occasionally flash above-average with the changeup. Though not as highly regarded as pitchers like Mike Soroka or Kolby Allard, Fried is closer to being big-league ready and offers more fantasy appeal with his ability to strike batters out at a higher rate. If he is able to put it all together, he could be a solid depth piece in 12-plus team leagues.

21. Anthony Alford (OF, TOR, 10-Day DL)
Stats: (from AA) 289 PA, .310/.406/.429, 5 HR, 18 SB, 12.1% BB%, 15.6% K%
ETA: Early June

22. Christian Arroyo (2B/3B/SS, TB, AAA)
Stats: (from MLB) 135 PA, .192/.244/.304, 3 HR, 1 SB, 5.9% BB%, 23.7% K%
ETA: Early June

23. Jake Bauers (1B/OF, TB, AAA)
Stats: 575 PA, .263/.368/.412, 13 HR, 20 SB, 13.6% BB%, 19.5% K%
ETA: Early July

24. Austin Riley (3B, ATL, AA)
Stats: 203 PA, .315/.389/.511, 8 HR, 2 SB, 9.9% BB%, 24.6% K%
ETA: Early August

25. Mike Soroka (SP, ATL, AA)
Stats: 153.2 IP, 2.75 ERA, 3.19 FIP, 19.9% K%, 5.4% BB%, 6.8% HR/FB
ETA: Early August

26. Kolby Allard (SP, ATL, AA)
Stats: 150 IP, 3.18 ERA, 3.27 FIP, 20.8% K%, 7.3% BB%, 6.5% HR/FB
ETA: Early August

27. Steven Duggar (OF, SF, AAA)
Stats: (from A+) 133 PA, .270/.361/.470, 4 HR, 7 SB, 12.8% BB%, 31.6% K%
ETA: Early May

28. Magneuris Sierra (OF, MIA, AAA)
Stats: (from AA) 353 PA, .269/.313/.352, 1 HR, 17 SB, 5.7% BB%, 16.7% K%
ETA: Early July

29. Tyler O’Neill (OF, STL, AAA)
Stats: 557 PA, .246/.321/.499, 31 HR, 14 SB, 9.7% BB%, 27.1% K%
ETA: Early August

30. Dawel Lugo (2B/3B, DET, AAA)
Stats: (from AA) 557 PA, .277/.321/.424, 13 HR, 3 SB, 5.9% BB%, 12.9% K%
ETA: Early July

 

MLB Rookie Rankings

1. Shohei Ohtani (SP/DH, LAA)

2. Scott Kingery (2B/3B/SS, PHI)

3. Lewis Brinson (OF, MIA)

4. Ryan McMahon (1B, COL)

5. Colin Moran (1B/3B, PIT)

6. Miguel Andujar (3B, NYY)

7. Jesse Winker (OF, CIN)

8. Jack Flaherty (SP, STL)

9. Jorge Alfaro (C, PHI)

10. J.P. Crawford (3B/SS, PHI)

11. Brian Anderson (3B, MIA)

12. Tyler Austin (1B, NYY)

13. Brandon Woodruff (SP, MIL)

14. Chance Sisco (C, BAL)

15. Dan Vogelbach (1B, SEA)

16. Mitch Garver (C, MIN)

17. Victor Caratini (C, CHC)

18. Carson Fulmer (SP, CWS)

19. Billy McKinney (OF, NYY)

20. Boog Powell (OF, OAK)

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