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2018 Prospects: Top 30 Impact Rookies for Fantasy Leagues (Week 16)


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.

Happy All-Star Break everyone! The Home Run Derby was electric, the Futures Game was exciting and as of my writing this, the All-Star Game hasn’t happened, but I’m sure it will be great too.

Once the break passes though, it will be time to go into full playoff mode for a lot of these teams. Trades will be made, buyers and sellers will be determined and prospects will be promoted. For fantasy owners, this will be a telling time for the young prospects many have kept stashed for so long.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off, with exclusive access to our season-long articles, 15 in-season lineup tools and over 200 days of expert DFS research/tools. 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 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 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. Austin Meadows (OF, PIT, AAA)
Stats: 136 PA, .294/.336/.397, 1 HR, 8 SB, 5.1% BB%, 15.4% K%
ETA: Early August
To be honest, it’s about time Meadows was sent back down. It wasn’t like he was playing all that poorly, though he had slowed down after a hot start to his big-league career. He will return to Triple-A owning a .298/.333/.477 slash line with five home runs and four stolen bases in 48 games in the majors. He started to lose a lot of playing time as a result of a cold spell, but that was probably not the best solution for a young prospect. Instead, he will now head to Triple-A to receive regular playing time and try to snap out of the funk down there. He should be back in the majors before too long (especially if Pittsburgh decides to sell at the deadline and moves someone like Corey Dickerson). He has already proven he has the skillset to be a valuable fantasy contributor with his combination of hitting ability, raw power and speed.

2. Austin Riley (3B, ATL, AAA)
Stats: 268 PA, .304/.373/.538, 11 HR, 1 SB, 8.6% BB%, 27.6% K%
ETA: Late July
The Atlanta Braves are now in a heated battle with the Philadelphia Phillies for first place in the NL East. Try saying that to anyone at the beginning of the year and expecting them to believe you. The Braves’ lineup has been impressive with their young stars leading the charge. However, the team doesn’t quite have a right-handed, middle-of-the-order power bat a lot of other teams have. Riley is now back to Triple-A after an extended absence due to an injury. He hasn’t hit a home run yet in his first five games back, but he has only struck out twice. He seems like an obvious candidate to be called up in the coming days if he starts to turn it up a little bit more. Owners might have to deal with some strikeout woes if he is given the promotion, but the power output would likely help make owning him worth it.

3. Christin Stewart (OF, DET, AAA)
Stats: 340 PA, .255/.335/.497, 18 HR, 0 SB, 10.3% BB%, 19.4% K%
ETA: Late July
Even with Riley now healthy, there’s a chance he stays in the minors a little while longer. That doesn’t seem quite as likely with Stewart. The Detroit Tigers’ top position playing prospect, Stewart has improved across the board while maintaining his plus power output. He has little reason to still be in the minors and the Tigers don’t really have anyone to keep him out of left field in the majors. Once he’s back to full health, expect a quick turnaround to the majors.

4. Alex Verdugo (OF, LAD, AAA)
Stats: 259 PA, .350/.394/.517, 8 HR, 4 SB, 6.9% BB%, 14.3% K%
ETA: Early August
Verdugo’s name has often been omitted from trade rumors because of how much the Los Angeles Dodgers like this prospect. However, if given a chance to obtain both Manny Machado and Zach Britton in a deal, it might be too tough to pass up on. Verdugo has excelled at the Triple-A level and clearly has nothing left to prove. If he remains with Los Angeles past the trade deadline, his best hope of playing time will come in the form of an injury. Owners should be hoping the Dodgers aren’t totally unwilling to part with their top prospect.

5. Tyler O’Neill (OF, STL, AAA)
Stats: 215 PA, .300/.363/.647, 19 HR, 3 SB, 8.8% BB%, 24.2% K%
ETA: Early August
Like Verdugo, O’Neill does not have much left to prove at Triple-A and right now it’s just an abundance of talent in the majors that is keeping him down. The St. Louis Cardinals have called him up every time they need an injury replacement. However, if they decide they need to go out and acquire some talent at the deadline, O’Neill is probably one of the most attractive trade chips they have at the moment given his major-league-readiness. Like Verdugo though, if he remains with the Cardinals past July 31, his best hope for playing time will come from an injury to one of the four outfielders in St. Louis.

6. Peter Alonso (1B, NYM, AAA)
Stats: 380 PA, .276/.405/.532, 21 HR, 0 SB, 15.0% BB%, 21.6% K%
ETA: Early August
If you haven’t seen the home run Alonso hit in the Futures Game, you should probably go watch that highlight now. Or better yet, just look at the sky because there’s a chance it might still be flying. That home run is not anything particular new for Alonso, who has arguably put together one of the most impressive seasons of anyone in the minors. His Triple-A numbers still leave a bit to be desired, but considering it’s hitter-friendly Las Vegas, Alonso should start to put up some impressive numbers before too long. He should get a taste of the majors later this year and with the potential in his bat, he would warrant owning in most fantasy leagues if he starts over Dominic Smith at first base.

7. Willie Calhoun (OF, TEX, AAA)
Stats: 392 PA, .306/.357/.446, 8 HR, 4 SB, 6.1% BB%, 10.2% K%
ETA: Early August
Calhoun’s overall numbers look impressive enough as it is, but they are more impressive when considering the dreadful start to the season he got off to. He’s now hitting over .300 and is nearing 10 home runs after hitting only .260 with just a handful of home runs through the first two months of the season. He’s run into the surprising obstacle of a resurgent season from Shin-Soo Choo and the continued development of Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara. However, if the Rangers opt to sell high on Choo at the deadline, Calhoun seems the most likely replacement in the lineup. It remains to be seen what becomes of this, but Calhoun is now doing everything in his power to show he deserves a chance in the majors.

8. Kolby Allard (SP, ATL, AAA)
Stats: 104.1 IP, 2.85 ERA, 3.47 FIP, 19.1% K%, 7.3% BB%, 5.1% HR/FB
ETA: Mid-August
Now that Luiz Gohara has been demoted to Triple-A — more on that later — it looks like Allard is yet another step closer to reaching the majors. Allard has turned in a strong debut season at Triple-A, keeping the walks to a minimum while showing gradual improvements with missing bats. Most importantly, he just keeps runs off the scoreboard with his advanced pitchability. He doesn’t have the ceiling of Gohara because he will never be an elite strikeout pitcher, but he should be a more consistent option who will not have many major blow-up games. He’s not as exciting as some of the other pitching prospects on this list, but Allard would be a solid option for anyone to add if he gets a chance to start in Atlanta’s rotation.

9. Cedric Mullins (OF, BAL, AAA)
Stats: 402 PA, .298/.353/.489, 10 HR, 15 SB, 7.2% BB%, 13.4% K%
ETA: Late July
As soon as the All-Star Break passes, it is widely speculated the firesale in Baltimore will begin. Manny Machado is the clear trade chip on the move, but Adam Jones seems to be another player who could be traded to a contender. If he is dealt, Mullins figures to be his replacement in center field. Mullins has flashed an impressive power-speed combination this year at both Double- and Triple-A and should be able to carry that over to the majors. Even with the abysmal lineup around him, Mullins should be able to offer enough value batting at the top of the lineup to warrant ownership in some leagues.

10. Matt Thaiss (1B, LAA, AAA)
Stats: 385 PA, .288/.340/.511, 14 HR, 4 SB, 7.0% BB%, 19.2% K%
ETA: Early August
The Los Angeles Angels are in such a weird spot right now. They’ve been devastated by injuries, but it doesn’t seem right to sell when they have Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani back in the lineup. Still, they need to do something. One thing that might be considered is to promote Thaiss, who has knocked the cover off the ball at both Double- and Triple-A. Though Ohtani typically DHs and Albert Pujols is at first base, it would not be surprising to see the Angels go into a platoon between Thaiss and Pujols to help ease the young prospect into the majors while also giving fewer at-bats to the struggling Pujols. Thaiss would offer fantasy owners plenty to enjoy from the batting average standpoint while also adding a little bit of pop as well.

11. Kevin Newman (2B/SS, PIT, AAA)
Stats: 360 PA, .300/.352/.388, 2 HR, 22 SB, 6.9% BB%, 10.8% K%
ETA: Early August
If the Pirates do end up selling, the middle-infield combination of Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer seems fairly expendable. The two are both getting up there in age and might not be on the next competitive Pittsburgh team. Assuming those two are dealt, the logical replacements would be the double-play combination of Newman and Kevin Kramer in Indianapolis. Newman has impressed with the bat this season, clearing .300 with ease while also stealing a handful of bags. He might add a little bit of power in the hitter-friendly environment of the majors, but more than anything, fantasy owners can certainly be content with a reliable source of hits and stolen bases if promoted. Even if Harrison and Mercer aren’t moved, Newman should at least be given a taste of the majors at some point this season and could provide a little bit of value even if competing for playing time.

12. Danny Jansen (C, TOR, AAA)
Stats: 270 PA, .286/.409/.482, 8 HR, 4 SB, 13.0% BB%, 13.0% K%
ETA: Late July
Alonso wasn’t the only one with a home run in the Futures Game. In fact, there were a ton of players who displayed the power. Among them was Jansen, who has put together an impressive season at the plate this season at Triple-A. He has emerged from what was a crowded class of catching prospects in the Toronto Blue Jays’ system as the best one the team has and the likely mainstay behind the plate. The defense still leaves a little to be desired, but the bat is big-league ready. And if he gets a chance to go up to the majors later this summer, he should be given more of the playing time over the struggling veteran Russell Martin. He offers a consistent source of hits with some power at a position that has no real depth in fantasy leagues.

13. Francisco Mejia (C/3B/OF, CLE, AAA)
Stats: 331 PA, .279/.330/.429, 7 HR, 0 SB, 5.4% BB%, 17.5% K%
ETA: Early August
Mejia almost certainly will not see any meaningful playing time with Cleveland this season unless there’s an injury to Yan Gomes. Instead, Mejia’s name has been thrown around in trade rumors as someone who could be dealt for a reliever or to help the Indians fill a need. Mejia’s bat appears major-league ready, and at the very least, his arm is certainly capable of manning catcher. His receiving skills still need a little more refining, but a rebuilding club could likely put up with that enough this season to leave him in the majors and work on it with a big-league staff. Regardless of the position Mejia plays, any playing time he receives in the majors would be beneficial to fantasy owners who could count on a high batting average and a little bit of power.

14. Forrest Whitley (SP, HOU, AA)
Stats: 21.0 IP, 4.29 ERA, 3.24 FIP, 34.1% K%, 9.1% BB%, 10.0% HR/FB
ETA: September
Whitley left his last start early with an oblique injury and was placed on the DL. It remains to be seen how this injury affects his chances of a big-league call-up in September, but it will be interesting to follow. He could be seen by the Astros as someone who can help spell some of the starting pitchers and rest them for the playoffs while also giving someone innings in the majors before likely turning to him for starts next season. Even a brief taste of the majors for Whitley would be great for fantasy owners in need of some pitching depth in the playoffs.

15. Kevin Kramer (2B/SS, PIT, AAA)
Stats: 351 PA, .283/.342/.476, 11 HR, 7 SB, 7.4% BB%, 25.4% K%
ETA: Early August
The other part of the Pirates’ Triple-A double-play combination, Kramer has put up overall better numbers than Newman with the only caveat being that he has struck out more and received more batted-ball help. For both those reasons, it would be interesting to see which direction the Pirates choose if they only promote one of the two. My money is on Newman, but Kramer would also be helpful for fantasy owners if given a chance for regular playing time given his decent speed and average power that might play up at the big-league level.

16. Luiz Gohara (SP, ATL, AAA)
Stats: 32.2 IP, 5.23 ERA, 5.30 FIP, 20.8% K%, 9.4% BB%, 15.4% HR/FB
ETA: Early August
Gohara was sent down after a largely disappointing stint in the majors. He finished his time with a 5.95 ERA and 4.52 FIP, giving up too many home runs and occasionally walking himself into trouble. He still misses plenty of bats, which helps make him an interesting arm to follow in fantasy leagues. If he can correct himself in Triple-A, he has the ability to be a valuable piece for fantasy owners in search of more strikeouts.

17. Dakota Hudson (SP, STL, AAA)
Stats: 104.1 IP, 2.42 ERA, 3.64 FIP, 17.8% K%, 8.1% BB%, 1.3% HR/FB
ETA: Mid-August
Hudson showed during the Futures Game that he has the chance to be an electric starting pitcher. Scouts have always raved about his stuff despite the fact he’s never really racked up many strikeouts in his time in the minors. Still, he pitches effectively and has managed to keep runs off the scoreboard. He’s just an injury away from starting in St. Louis and also could be used as a trade chip if the Cardinals decide to buy at the deadline. He’s an intriguing arm to monitor for his high floor.

18. Michael Kopech (SP, CWS, AAA)
Stats: 88.1 IP, 4.48 ERA, 3.75 FIP, 31.1% K%, 14.5% BB%, 7.8% HR/FB
ETA: September
This up and down season for Kopech continues. He turned in one of his best outings of the year in his last start, lasting six innings with just one walk, one run and four hits with 11 strikeouts. It snapped a streak of 14 games pitched with at least two walks. Maybe it’s a sign of things to come, but owners shouldn’t yet get their hopes up. Kopech has been very inconsistent this season. He could be promoted to the majors in September and would provide fantasy owners with plenty of value with strikeouts. But the walks could always spring up and bite him again. He is about as much of a high risk/high reward player as there is in baseball.

19. Eloy Jimenez (OF, CWS, AAA)
Stats: 285 PA, .316/.372/.543, 12 HR, 0 SB, 8.1% BB%, 15.4% K%
ETA: September
Jimenez has clearly not struggled to adjust to Triple-A pitching. He has an impressive .314/.386/.490 slash line with a pair of homers in 14 games with Charlotte so far. The White Sox don’t necessarily have a ton to gain by promoting him any earlier than September, but seeing as how he will almost certainly be a mainstay in the lineup in 2019, it might be beneficial to give him a brief look in September to see how he handles big-league pitching. If given that chance, he should have little issues adjusting to the majors and could be a huge source of power for fantasy owners.

20. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3B/OF, TOR, AAA)
Stats: 245 PA, .404/.455/.662, 11 HR, 3 SB, 8.6% BB%, 9.0% K%
ETA: September
Guerrero will report to Triple-A once he returns to full health. Though it is still far from a given that he will be promoted, moving one step closer to the big leagues will certainly not hurt his chances. He is an exceptional talent who would be a true difference maker if he is given the chance to shine in the majors.

21. Franklin Barreto (2B/SS, OAK, AAA)
Stats: 217 PA, .232/.346/.464, 10 HR, 3 SB, 12.9% BB%, 32.3% K%
ETA: Early August

22. Ryan McMahon (1B, COL, AAA)
Stats: 190 PA, .257/.311/.469, 7 HR, 0 SB, 6.3% BB%, 26.8% K%
ETA: Early August

23. Luis Urias (2B/SS, SD, AAA)
Stats: 377 PA, .278/.391/.411, 6 HR, 1 SB, 14.3% BB%, 20.7% K%
ETA: September

24. Griffin Canning (SP, LAA, AA)
Stats: 75.2 IP, 3.57 ERA, 3.20 FIP, 28.3% K%, 10.8% BB%, 5.1% HR/FB
ETA: September

25. Drew Dosch (3B, BAL, AAA)
Stats: 263 PA, .287/.350/.439, 5 HR, 1 SB, 8.0% BB%, 25.9% K%
ETA: Early August

26. Justus Sheffield (SP, NYY, AAA)
Stats: 85.0 IP, 2.44 ERA, 2.92 FIP, 27.4% K%, 11.0% BB%, 4.5% HR/FB
ETA: September

27. Nick Gordon (2B/SS, MIN, AAA)
Stats: 383 PA, .283/.317/.431, 7 HR, 8 SB, 4.2% BB%, 17.0% K%
ETA: September

28. Victor Robles (OF, WAS, AAA)
Stats: 38 PA, .345/.500/.345, 0 HR, 6 SB, 21.1% BB%, 13.2% K%
ETA: September

29. Myles Straw (OF, HOU, AAA)
Stats: 421 PA, .319/.408/.388, 1 HR, 50 SB, 12.4% BB%, 16.4% K%
ETA: Late August

30. Carson Kelly (C, STL, AAA)
Stats: 208 PA, .286/.365/.434, 5 HR, 0 SB, 10.6% BB%, 11.5% K%
ETA: September

 

MLB Rookie Rankings

1. Ronald Acuna (OF, ATL)

2. Juan Soto (OF, WAS)

3. Gleyber Torres (2B/SS, NYY)

4. Walker Buehler (SP, LAD)

5. Jack Flaherty (SP, STL)

6. Miguel Andujar (3B, NYY)

7. Josh Hader (RP, MIL)

8. Shohei Ohtani (DH, LAA)

9. Colin Moran (1B, PIT)

10. Fernando Romero (SP, MIN)

11. Dustin Fowler (OF, OAK)

12. Ryan Yarbrough (SP, TB)

13. Willy Adames (SS, TB)

14. Jake Bauers (OF, TB)

15. Jesse Winker (OF, CIN)

16. Brian Anderson (3B/OF, MIA)

17. Christian Villanueva (3B, SD)

18. Harrison Bader (OF, STL)

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

20. Freddy Peralta (SP, MIL)




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