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2018 Prospects: Top 30 Impact Rookies for Fantasy Leagues (Week 20)


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.

Ronald Acuna cannot be stopped when leading off a ball game. He has been on a tear lately, seemingly launching home runs with ease every other game. Though he missed some time earlier this year, the former No. 1 prospect in the game has excelled in the time he’s been healthy and is making a strong case for NL Rookie of the Year despite Juan Soto’s breakout campaign.

There aren’t many other prospects likely to come up with the ability to impact the game like those two, though there are a pair of prospects who if called up could be close. It’s tough to say at this point if one or both of Eloy Jimenez and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. are promoted, but if there were assurances, both would be one and two on this list with the latter likely taking the cake. There are plenty of other prospects plenty valuable though who could really help rosters and whose names will be worth following during the stretch playoff run.

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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 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. Eloy Jimenez (OF, CWS, AAA)
Stats: 373 PA, .330/.378/.602, 21 HR, 0 SB, 7.0% BB%, 15.3% K%
ETA: September
The Chicago White Sox player development director told The Chicago Tribune that Jimenez is nearing a promotion to the majors. It’s not hard to see why. Jimenez has slashed .351/.393/.672 with a ridiculously low 12.4 percent strikeout rate so far through 35 games at Triple-A. He also already has 11 home runs, one more than the 10 he hit in 53 games at Double-A earlier this year. Jimenez is one of the most talented prospects in the game and is someone who could have a massive impact on the fantasy playoff race if he is promoted in September.

2. Austin Meadows (OF, TB, AAA)
Stats: 222 PA, .289/.329/.456, 5 HR, 11 SB, 5.4% BB%, 13.1% K%
ETA: September
The trade to Tampa Bay did Meadows’ short- and long-term fantasy value a lot of good. He appears probable to receive a lot of playing time in September and will probably begin the 2019 season as one of Tampa Bay’s starting outfielders. He has been mighty impressive since joining his new organization, already having bashed three home runs in just 11 games at Durham with a .333/.372/.718 slash line to boot. He has the power and speed to be exciting and the hit tool to offer a high floor, making him one of the more attractive fantasy prospects in the game right now.

3. Austin Riley (3B, ATL, AAA)
Stats: 370 PA, .299/.370/.506, 12 HR, 1 SB, 9.2% BB%, 28.1% K%
ETA: September
Riley has been a bit inconsistent this August, but over the weekend, he found a hot bat. He owns a .500/.529/.813 slash line over his past four games and could be getting hot just at the right time. The Atlanta Braves could use a powerful bat at third base, and Riley has seemed the most likely candidate to fill that void for a long time now. If he can work his way to the big leagues, his power would make him worth owning in plenty of leagues even if the batting average might lag behind a bit early on.

4. Peter Alonso (1B, NYM, AAA)
Stats: 490 PA, .287/.404/.567, 29 HR, 0 SB, 13.9% BB%, 22.7% K%
ETA: September
Alonso got off to a slow start at Triple-A, but it has not taken him too long to find his stroke. Over his past 22 games, he is slashing .356/.436/.747 with eight home runs. Though it is important to bear in mind Las Vegas is one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in the minors, Alonso has the track record now to back up the numbers. He has raked pretty much everywhere he has played this season, and those excellent numbers should be enough to carry him to the majors in September. If that happens, he should start semi-regularly and would be a must-own in all 12-plus-team leagues.

5. Christin Stewart (OF, DET, AAA)
Stats: 452 PA, .246/.341/.462, 21 HR, 0 SB, 11.9% BB%, 20.8% K%
ETA: September
Everything seemed to be looking up for Stewart, but a cold August has him heading down in the rankings. He has just one home run and has slashed a mere .190/.370/.286 since August 1. Stewart has not been aided by a .250 BABIP, but the power has disappeared for him in the final month before rosters expand. He should still see the majors in September, but he will need to turn his numbers around to prove he’s worthy of starting for Detroit. If he can do that, he offers fantasy owners enough power to be worth taking a look at down the stretch.

6. Luis Urias (2B/SS, SD, AAA)
Stats: 479 PA, .270/.376/.406, 8 HR, 2 SB, 12.9% BB%, 21.5% K%
ETA: September
There aren’t many prospects with a better hit tool than Urias, and it’s that tool that will likely carry him to a September promotion. According to The Athletic’s Dennis Lin, Urias is expected to join the next prospect on this list in San Diego before the year is over. If that is true, Urias has the chance to give fantasy owners a major boost given his bat and the potential for more power to come.

7. Francisco Mejia (C/3B, SD, AAA)
Stats: 400 PA, .282/.333/.428, 9 HR, 0 SB, 5.8% BB%, 17.0% K%
ETA: September
The move to San Diego immensely helped Mejia’s fantasy value, given that he had no clear path to playing time at catcher in Cleveland. Now with the Padres, he should be given a longer leash with his defense since his bat is clearly the best in the system at the catching position. In September, it’s possible the Padres opt to split time between him and Austin Hedges, a defensive first catcher, to see who’s more ready to take over the starting role in 2019. Even if he’s splitting time 50/50, Mejia has a potent enough bat that he would be worth owning in all two-catcher leagues and plenty other redraft leagues.

8. Michael Kopech (SP, CWS, AAA)
Stats: 120.1 IP, 3.81 ERA, 3.42 FIP, 31.0% K%, 11.6% BB%, 8.2% HR/FB
ETA: September
This dominant stretch from Kopech continues. In his past six starts, he has walked just four batters to accompany 50 strikeouts in 38 innings of work, all while maintaining a stellar 1.89 ERA. This has been his best stretch of baseball in his professional career and could be what buoys him to a September promotion and a few starts. He likely would have been up in the majors already had he not struggled mightily in June and early July. There are few pitchers in baseball who can match his tantalizing upside and if he gets his chance to make a couple starts in the majors, he would be an absolute must-own in plenty of redraft leagues.

9. Justus Sheffield (SP, NYY, AAA)
Stats: 107.0 IP, 2.19 ERA, 2.85 FIP, 26.3% K%, 10.4% BB%, 3.3% HR/FB
ETA: September
Outside of Luis Severino and C.C. Sabathia, the New York Yankees have not received the quality starting pitching they likely thought they would receive this season. Sonny Gray has been bad, Masahiro Tanaka has been inconsistent and several others have not been able to adequately fill in. Sheffield, the team’s top pitching prospect, has been dominant at both Double- and Triple-A and could be in line for a September promotion. He has plenty of strikeout upside and has done a better job of late keeping the walks done. Sheffield has front-of-the-rotation upside and could provide some stability to both the Yankees’ rotation and to any fantasy owners looking for some solid pitching for the postseason.

10. Alex Verdugo (OF, LAD, AAA)
Stats: 329 PA, .343/.392/.495, 9 HR, 6 SB, 7.6% BB%, 12.5% K%
ETA: September
Had Verdugo been traded at the deadline, he would probably the top name on this list if he was not already in the majors. He is as major-league ready as nearly anyone on this list and should probably be starting for some team right now. Alas, he plays for the Los Angeles Dodgers and their outfield depth has kept Verdugo at bay. He has the chance to steal some playing time in September and could provide value to fantasy owners even if he is not a full-time regular, but there are few players who took as big of a hit by not being traded in July as Verdugo.

11. Enyel De Los Santos (SP, PHI, AAA)
Stats: 110.0 IP, 2.62 ERA, 4.10 FIP, 22.2% K%, 8.2% BB%, 10.1% HR/FB
ETA: September
De Los Santos was briefly called back up to the majors, made a scoreless relief appearance and then was sent back down to the minors. He has not found much success in the majors this season, though admittedly that comes in a very small sample size. He has been dominant at Triple-A, however, where he has missed plenty of bats and maintained a low ERA despite allowing probably more home runs than would be best for him. He should see a handful of starts in the majors before the year is over and with his strikeout potential, he could be worth owning in some redraft leagues as pitching depth.

12. Ryan Mountcastle (3B/OF, BAL, AAA)
Stats: 338 PA, .297/.349/.484, 12 HR, 1 SB, 7.1% BB%, 17.5% K%
ETA: September
Mountcastle has turned in arguably his most impressive season to date. He is walking more than he ever has (7.1 percent) and has turned in a low 17.5 percent strikeout rate. Mountcastle has done all this while continuing to hit for plenty of power (.186 ISO and 12 homers). With the Baltimore Orioles looking toward the future, it could be worthwhile for them to give arguably their top prospect a look in the majors before turning him loose next season at the big-league level. His defensive home is still somewhat in question, but given the lack of depth now at third base and shortstop for Baltimore, it could remain a possibility that he starts there until the Orioles find a better long-term solution.

13. Victor Robles (OF, WAS, AAA)
Stats: 137 PA, .241/.368/.295, 1 HR, 15 SB, 14.6% BB%, 13.9% K%
ETA: September
It’s weird to see a player like Robles receive little batted-ball luck, but that has been the case so far at Triple-A for him. He has a low .231 batting average, largely due to his .262 BABIP. He has not hit the ball with as much authority and it’s possible the elbow injury is taking its toll on him so far. Robles would probably be the one in the majors right now instead of Juan Soto had he not gotten injured earlier this season, but Robles could still see the field before the end of the campaign. If he’s able to return to even close to full form when playing, he has the power and speed combination to be a huge boost to fantasy owners.

14. Luiz Gohara (SP, ATL, AAA)
Stats: 48.2 IP, 5.36 ERA, 4.81 FIP, 23.9% K%, 7.5% BB%, 16.1% HR/FB
ETA: September
Gohara is currently missing some time with a sore shoulder. Though it should not keep him out the rest of the season, it does not come at the best time for him since he really needed to start to show he could turn his fortunes around this season. He has been susceptible to the long ball despite missing plenty of bats. Gohara has plenty of upside given his elite swing-and-miss stuff, but he still needs to show he can harness it and miss bats in the zone. If he gets a chance to show that again in the majors, he could be at least worth taking a chance on for some teams needing strikeouts.

15. Franklin Barreto (2B/SS, OAK, AAA)
Stats: 265 PA, .245/.358/.495, 13 HR, 5 SB, 13.2% BB%, 31.7% K%
ETA: September
Barreto had been a solid utility player for the Oakland Athletics with Chad Pinder on the disabled list, but now that Pinder is healthy, Barreto will have to wait until September (or another injury) to return to the majors. Barreto’s numbers in the majors highlighted what he can offer, but also what he still needs to improve in. Though he slugged four home runs, he struck out 39.7 percent of the time and only walked 1.6 percent of the time. He has walked more and stolen more bases in the minors and still has the appeal of a future plus power, plus speed middle-infielder, but he needs to improve his plate discipline before he’s ready to be a regular in the big leagues. If he’s able to play even semi-regularly in the majors in September though, his upside is worth taking a flier on in some leagues.

16. Nick Kingham (SP, PIT, AAA)
Stats: 59.1 IP, 2.73 ERA, 3.02 FIP, 23.9% K%, 6.7% BB%, 4.8% HR/FB
ETA: September
Kingham has been sent back and forth between the minors and majors several times this season, but the acquisition of Chris Archer essentially sealed his fate to the minors until September. Though Kingham has looked reliable at times, he has looked shaky at others. He can miss bats, but often misses too much in the zone and can get burnt by the long ball. He should pick up a few starts in September as he looks to make an early case for the 2019 rotation though, and with his strikeout upside, he could be worth a flier in some leagues.

17. Matt Thaiss (1B, LAA, AAA)
Stats: 492 PA, .281/.333/.478, 15 HR, 8 SB, 7.1% BB%, 18.7% K%
ETA: September
The Los Angeles Angels decided to promote Taylor Ward, who has made an absolute mockery of pitching at all levels this season. Though this does not directly affect Thaiss’ chances of a promotion, it certainly does not help. The extra competition in the majors will not make things easier on the first baseman/designated hitter. With Shohei Ohtani and Albert Pujols still eating the majority of the playing time at Thaiss’ two positions, it’s tough to see where he might play if promoted in September. Though his bat could force the issue, owners are encouraged to wait and see just how much the Angels decide to use the slugging first base prospect.

18. Kevin Newman (SS, PIT, AAA)
Stats: 469 PA, .306/.352/.413, 4 HR, 28 SB, 6.2% BB%, 10.4% K%
ETA: September
Newman’s numbers have been very solid this season. They don’t jump off the page, but the Pittsburgh Pirates have to be satisfied with the way one of their top prospects has developed. Though Jordy Mercer remains on the team, the Pirates could opt to give the younger Newman a look at shortstop seeing as how he might be the frontrunner to start in 2019 given Mercer’s pending free agency. Should Newman see the field in September, he offers a promising hit tool and some speed to fantasy owners and could provide some middle-infield depth to teams in need of it.

19. Jesus Luzardo (SP, OAK, AAA)
Stats: 101.2 IP, 2.30 ERA, 2.78 FIP, 30.3% K%, 6.2% BB%, 6.8% HR/FB
ETA: September
Luzardo should have no business being on this list. He began the year at Advanced Class-A after all, and probably should have ended it in Double-A. But he has dominated each level to the point where he is now at Triple-A and looks nearly MLB ready. The 20-year-old southpaw could give the Athletics a boost in their hunt for a playoff spot and could be a huge boost to fantasy owners in all leagues. The uncertainty of whether the Athletics would promote him is the reason he remains lower on this list, but if he is called up, he would immediately be one of the hottest waiver wire commodities to own.

20. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3B/OF, TOR, AAA)
Stats: 327 PA, .400/.454/.681, 18 HR, 3 SB, 9.2% BB%, 9.8% K%
ETA: September
The numbers Guerrero has posted so far in Triple-A boggle the mind. A .395/.489/.763 slash line with four home runs, a 17 percent walk rate and 8.5 percent strikeout rate. It doesn’t get much better than that. Still, from a franchise perspective, it probably makes the most sense to keep him in Triple-A until mid-April and then gain that extra year of control over him. But Guerrero is really forcing the issue and could push for playing time in September if he continues to light up Triple-A pitching the way he has so far.

21. Forrest Whitley (SP, HOU, AAA)
Stats: 21.0 IP, 4.29 ERA, 3.21 FIP, 34.1% K%, 9.1% BB%, 10.0% HR/FB
ETA: September

22. Griffin Canning (SP, LAA, AA)
Stats: 93.2 IP, 3.56 ERA, 3.73 FIP, 25.8% K%, 10.2% BB%, 7.6% HR/FB
ETA: September

23. Drew Dosch (3B, BAL, AAA)
Stats: 325 PA, .273/.335/.416, 6 HR, 1 SB, 8.0% BB%, 27.7% K%
ETA: September

24. Carson Kelly (C, STL, AAA)
Stats: 291 PA, .287/.378/.434, 7 HR, 0 SB, 12.4% BB%, 12.7% K%
ETA: September

25. Sean Murphy (C, OAK, AA)
Stats: 277 PA, .291/.359/.506, 8 HR, 3 SB, 7.6% BB%, 16.2% K%
ETA: September

26. Justin Dunn (SP, NYM, AA)
Stats: 114.0 IP, 2.92 ERA, 3.05 FIP, 26.8% K%, 8.2% BB%, 5.9% HR/FB
ETA: September

27. Myles Straw (OF, HOU, AAA)
Stats: 519 PA, .293/.381/.353, 1 HR, 58 SB, 11.8% BB%, 17.1% K%
ETA: September

28. Spencer Adams (SP, CWS, AAA)
Stats: 133.0 IP, 3.99 ERA, 5.09 FIP, 14.4% K%, 9.0% BB%, 10.8% HR/FB
ETA: September

29. Jake Robson (OF, DET, AAA)
Stats: 480 PA, .298/.387/.454, 10 HR, 15 SB, 12.3% BB%, 24.6% K%
ETA: September

30. Brendan Rodgers (2B/SS, COL, AAA)
Stats: 433 PA, .271/.333/.477, 17 HR, 12 SB, 6.9% BB%, 19.4% K%
ETA: September

 

MLB Rookie Rankings

1. Ronald Acuna (OF, ATL)

2. Juan Soto (OF, WAS)

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

4. Shohei Ohtani (DH, LAA)

5. Harrison Bader (OF, STL)

6. Miguel Andujar (3B, NYY)

7. Jack Flaherty (SP, STL)

8. Walker Buehler (SP, LAD)

9. Lourdes Gurriel (SS, TOR)

10. Shane Bieber (SP, CLE)

11. Dereck Rodriguez (SP, SF)

12. Josh Hader (RP, MIL)

13. Seranthony Dominguez (RP, PHI)

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

15. Joey Lucchesi (SP, SD)

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

17. Willie Calhoun (OF, TEX)

18. Willy Adames (SS, TB)

19. Danny Jansen (C, TOR)

20. Cedric Mullins (OF, BAL)

 

 

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