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2018 Prospects: Top 30 Impact Rookies for Fantasy Leagues (Week 3)

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.

It continues to be the waiting game for Atlanta to call up its top prospect. It is passed the deadline for teams to have to wait to call up a prospect with new previous experience in the majors to gain that extra year of control.

That does mean though that guys like Nick Senzel, Ronald Acuna and Gleyber Torres are probably just waiting for that phone rather than waiting for the days to pass. It should not be much longer until some of the game’s top prospects reach the big leagues.

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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. Ronald Acuna (OF, ATL, AAA)
Stats: 41 PA, .139/.244/.167, 0 HR, 1 SB, 12.2% BB%, 34.1% K%
ETA: Late April
At this point, it is all up to Acuna to start hitting. He has passed the deadline needed for the Atlanta Braves to gain that extra year of control, but his struggles to start the season at Triple-A have — at least reportedly — given the Braves pause in calling him up. He’s one of the best prospects in the game for a reason, and it should not be long until he gets it going. His days in Gwinnett should be numbered.

2. Nick Senzel (3B/SS, CIN, AAA)
Stats: 46 PA, .233/.283/.389, 1 HR, 1 SB, 6.5% BB%, 23.9% K%
ETA: Late April
Even Bryan Price does not know why Senzel is in the majors. The Cincinnati Reds have been without third baseman Eugenio Suarez for a few days now and have moved ahead with Cliff Pennington and Alex Blandino at third base, an uninspiring pairing to say the least. Like Acuna, Senzel has not exactly lit up Triple-A, but it would be hard not to say he is better than Pennington and Blandino right now. He has what it takes to get it going soon and hit the ground running in the majors, so owners should expect to see him in Cincinnati shortly.

3. Gleyber Torres (2B/3B/SS, NYY, AAA)
Stats: 44 PA, .366/.386/.537, 1 HR, 1 SB, 4.5% BB%, 18.2% K%
ETA: Late April
You mean to tell me not every top prospect is struggling?! Torres has absolutely demolished Triple-A pitching through the first week-and-a-half and it might not be long until he reaches the majors. The New York Yankees’ lineup is stacked top-to-bottom, but it is not without its holes. Neil Walker, the Yankees’ current second baseman, has really struggled at second base and Tyler Austin has only really been serviceable at first base. Calling up Torres would at the very least solve the second base issues. At this point, Torres is really forcing the issue and Walker is not doing himself any favors by batting below .200. He is currently dealing with some back tightness, but it appears to be a very minor setback. Torres should be one of the top prospects to add in dynasty leagues with his promotion nearing.

4. Willie Calhoun (OF, TEX, AAA)
Stats: 52 PA, .265/.308/.388, 1 HR, 0 SB, 5.8% BB%, 21.2% BB%
ETA: Early May
Calhoun recently said that his starting at Triple-A to begin the year was “a slap in the face” and it is tough to disagree with that. Calhoun has done nothing but hit throughout his minor-league career. And now playing left field, he is not exactly playing at a defensive-heavy position. He is likely being held down for service time considerations, an issue that should resolve itself in early May when the Texas Rangers would gain an extra year of control. Calhoun is such a good hitter that he will not be expected to struggle once he debuts, but owners will just have to wait for that to happen. Just like the other three hitters preceding him, he will be worth owning in most leagues once promoted.

5. Austin Hays (OF, BAL, AA)
Stats: 46 PA, .233/.283/.372, 2 HR, 1 SB, 6.5% BB%, 32.6% K%
ETA: Early June
Colby Rasmus has been atrocious to start 2018 and Craig Gentry is not good enough to be a starter for them. Hays has not done himself any favors by not lighting up Double-A, but he is right now the best option to start in right field for the Baltimore Orioles. He offers a high-contact approach and plenty of power that should allow him to be a dynamic, middle-of-the-order hitter. Though Hays is in Double-A, the Orioles could still call him straight up from there instead of having him play in Triple-A — after all, they did that last year. He should be in the big leagues before too long and has the chance to be a .300-plus hitter with plenty of power, making him a strong add in 10-plus-team leagues once he is promoted.

6. Luiz Gohara (SP, ATL, AAA)
Stats: NA
ETA: Early May
Once Gohara returns to full health, he should be able to hop into the Atlanta Braves’ rotation. Though overall the starting five have been solid (except Julio Teheran), it is tough to say Gohara is not one of the best five pitchers in the system. He brings an elite fastball/slider combination and misses bats at an incredibly high rate, making him a very exciting fantasy prospect. Though the control is not where it should be, Gohara is still sound enough to jump into the rotation once healthy. It should not be too long until Gohara is healthy, and he is a dominant enough pitcher that he will warrant owning in all 10-plus-team leagues once healthy.

7. Jack Flaherty (SP, STL, AAA)
Stats: 13.0 IP, 2.77 ERA, 2.35 FIP, 32.0% K%, 4.0% BB%, 0.0% HR/FB
ETA: Early May
Flaherty allowed three runs over six innings in his last start, which was less impressive than his first two starts of the season. But if that is considered a bad outing, fantasy owners will certainly be excited by him. Flaherty does not profile as a top-of-the-rotation starter, but he has a well-rounded repertoire and the control needed to provide owners with a high floor and consistent production. It should not be too long until he is headed back to St. Louis to start in the team’s rotation again, especially if Adam Wainwright continues to struggle. He will be worth adding as a reliable starting pitcher in all 12-plus-team leagues once he returns to the big leagues.

8. Dustin Fowler (OF, OAK, AAA)
Stats: 48 PA, .250/.313/.273, 0 HR, 3 SB, 8.3% BB%, 16.7% K%
ETA: Early May
Fowler began the season at Triple-A so he could get his feet back under him after recovering from his knee surgery, but it will not be long until he is promoted. The Oakland Athletics don’t have a great center field option in the majors and Fowler is believed to be the guy for them moving forward. He offers a little bit of thump, some speed and an above-average hit tool that should allow him to bat at least .275 in the majors. Fowler won’t be the most exciting fantasy player and might struggle with consistency given his lack of plate discipline, but he will be worth adding in all 12-plus-team leagues once promoted.

9. Alex Reyes (SP, STL, AAA)
Stats: NA
ETA: Mid-June
The Cardinals have plenty of young pitching, but Reyes is the best of the bunch. He has the chance to be a true ace with explosive stuff and the ability to miss bats at an incredibly high rate. He is still recovering from Tommy John surgery and could be eased back into the big leagues, but he seems as likely as any to take a starting rotation spot once he is healthy. Fantasy owners might be wise to wait and continue to follow up on his progress before adding him, but he will be worth owning in most leagues once he’s back to St. Louis.

10. Walker Buehler (SP, LAD, AAA)
Stats: 13.0 IP, 2.08 ERA, 2.81 FIP, 29.6% K%, 7.4% BB%, 0.0% HR/FB
ETA: Early July
The Los Angeles Dodgers have enviable pitching depth, and it really starts with Buehler. The team’s top pitching prospect, Buehler has an arsenal of pitches worthy of the front of a rotation. He is probably major-league ready, but will need to wait for someone to either be injured or have an extended period of struggle. Rich Hill has been really bad to begin the 2018 season, but he will probably need continued issues for Buehler to take his place in the rotation. At some point this summer, Buehler should reach the majors, though his innings will be limited since he has not pitched over 100 innings in a season during his professional career. But if he reaches the majors, he will be worth owning in most leagues given his immense upside.

11. Michael Kopech (SP, CWS, AAA)
Stats: 10.0 IP, 0.90 ERA, 2.57 FIP, 27.5% K%, 10.0% BB%, 0.0% HR/FB
ETA: Early August
Kopech’s second start was less impressive than his first, but still strong nonetheless. He only struck out three batters and scattered five hits and two walks while allowing just one run over six innings. In his first outing, he went just four innings, but allowed only two hits and two walks while striking out eight batters. The stuff is absolutely filthy and it is clear the sky is the limit with his potential. The hard-throwing right-hander has wipeout stuff and would probably already be big-league ready, but he will stay in the minors until he improves his changeup and control. Still, he has a chance to be promoted at some point this summer and his strikeout upside makes him one of the best pitching prospects to own once it looks like a promotion is imminent.

12. Austin Meadows (OF, PIT, AAA)
Stats: 26 PA, .280/.308/.360, 0 HR, 0 SB, 3.8% BB% 19.2% K%
ETA: Early August
Meadows has put together a solid start to the 2018 season, but has not really blown the door down with his performance either. He’s hitting for a high average, not striking out and has played solid defense, but has not hit for power or stolen many bases to this point. If he is going to force his way to the Pittsburgh Pirates’ outfield, he is going to have to prove he could be a real boon to the lineup. Corey Dickerson could be traded away, which would likely warrant his promotion, but that is not something to be betting on just yet. Meadows has the power/speed combination and high floor bat needed to be a top-10 fantasy prospect to own, but he just needs to find the path to playing time.

13. Alex Verdugo (OF, LAD, AAA)
Stats: 42 PA, .341/.357/.610, 3 HR, 0 SB, 2.4% BB%, 16.7% K%
ETA: Early June
The Dodgers have always seemed to have a cluttered outfield with plenty of viable starters, and that has remained the case in 2018. Between Joc Pederson, Matt Kemp, Chris Taylor, Enrique Hernandez and Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers have had five players split time in the outfield. However, Pederson and Hernandez have both struggled, and Kemp’s success is clearly unsustainable given the strikeouts and high BABIP. Verdugo, on the other hand, has continued to hit Triple-A pitching extremely well and might already be one of the best outfield options along with Taylor and Puig. He might have to wait for his call to return to the show, but Verdugo is expected to spend plenty of time in Los Angeles this summer. And with his high floor of a high batting average with some power, he would be a solid depth add in 12-plus-team leagues.

14. Victor Robles (OF, WAS, AAA)
Stats: 15 PA, .385/.467/.385, 0 HR, 2 SB, 13.3% BB%, 6.7% K%
ETA: Late July
Robles hyperextended his elbow making a diving catch, but it could have been much worse for him. He will miss some time at Triple-A though, and it could be a little while until he is ready to return. It is too bad for him and for fantasy owners because the more time he spends hitting at Triple-A, the more likely he is to be promoted to the big leagues. Michael A. Taylor continues to struggle in left field, striking out well over 30 percent while batting below .200. Outside of catcher, he is probably the biggest weakness in Washington’s lineup. Once Robles returns to full health and continues to hit over .350, he should be able to force his way to the big leagues where he provides enough fantasy value to warrant owning in most leagues.

15. Brandon Woodruff (SP, MIL, AAA)
Stats: 11.1 IP, 1.59 ERA, 4.47 FIP, 15.2% K%, 13.0% BB%, 0.0% HR/FB
ETA: Early May
The Milwaukee Brewers sent Woodruff down after three big-league appearances in 2018, but it should not be long until he is back up in the big-leagues. Jhoulys Chacin, currently the Brewers’ No. 5 starter, as a 5.60 ERA and a 5.89 FIP over 17.2 innings of work to begin the season and offers little upside. Woodruff is not going to be a future ace, but he misses enough bats and should keep a low enough ERA to be fantasy relevant in 12-plus-team leagues once he returns to the big-league rotation.

16. Chance Adams (SP, NYY, AAA)
Stats: 13.0 IP, 4.85 ERA, 4.81 FIP, 25.4% K%, 13.6% BB%, 18.2% HR/FB
ETA: Early August
Nearly everyone except Luis Severino in the Yankees’ rotation has struggled to open the 2018 season, but that does not necessarily mean Adams is going to be considered for a while. Though Adams might be one of the better starting pitchers they have, he is unlikely to start over any of the Yankees’ veteran pitchers. An injury to any of the starters would send Adams to New York, and there’s always the potential for Adams to be used as a trade chip. There is no clear path to playing time right now, leaving Adams as someone worth knowing but not worth stashing.

17. Anthony Alford (OF, TOR, A+)
Stats: 13 PA, .200/.385/.200, 0 HR, 0 SB, 15.4% BB%, 23.1% K%,
ETA: Early July
Alford offers a lot from a fantasy perspective that fantasy owners would like to see. He is a fast player capable of stealing 30-plus bases in a season with a little bit of pop and enough of an ability to reach base to hit at the top of a lineup. However, his injuries have plagued him throughout his minor-league career and have limited him to start the 2018 season. The Toronto Blue Jays are not loaded with outfield depth, but they have enough to afford to take it slow with Alford. If healthy, he is probably a better option for them than Curtis Granderson or Randal Grichuk, but playing time is not guaranteed for him at this point. He could be a solid add, but wait until he is healthy and appears to have a shot at playing time.

18. Luis Urias (2B/SS, SD, AAA)
Stats: 48 PA, .268/.375/.366, 1 HR, 0 SB, 12.5% BB%, 18.8% K%
ETA: Early August
Urias has started off at Triple-A doing the same things he always does: hitting for a high average, walking a fair amount and keeping the strikeouts at a reasonable rate. Though not a power hitter or great runner, Urias offers a high floor as a high-average hitter playing at a middle infield position. He will probably need a trade at some point to clear up playing time at the big-league level for him to reach the majors early, but his bat is consistent enough to force his way to San Diego at some point this year. He won’t be worth adding in shallower leagues, but he could be a solid depth piece in 12-plus-team leagues.

19. Mike Soroka (SP, ATL, AAA)
Stats: 10.2 IP, 1.69 ERA, 1.11 FIP, 33.3% K%, 2.6% BB%, 0.0% HR/FB
ETA: Early July
It is tough to get off to a better start at Triple-A than Soroka. The 20-year-old right-hander has dominated batters with a sub-1.50 ERA and FIP to begin his season. For the first time since Rookie league, he is missing bats at a very high rate while continuing to maintain his microscopic walk rate. The combination of stuff and control has always impressed scouts, though he has never missed enough bats to profile as more than a No. 3 starter. He should debut at some point over the summer even with the Braves’ impressive pitching depth, and would be a solid add in 12-plus-team leagues once he reaches Atlanta.

20. Nick Gordon (SS, MIN, AA)
Stats: 38 PA, .361/.395/.500, 0 HR, 2 SB, 5.3% BB%, 13.2% K%
ETA: Early August
The Minnesota Twins continue to keep Gordon down in Double-A despite the fact he found success there last season and has continued to rake to start this season. Though Jorge Polanco — when he returns from suspension — and Eduardo Escobar are not exactly high-caliber shortstops, the Twins have not seemed to consider Gordon yet as someone who could take over at short over the summer. That could change if Gordon continues to mash pitching and continue that in Triple-A. But he certainly does not have the tools needed to be stashed and right now, he lacks the path to playing time. He could be a nice add if he reaches the big leagues, but leave him on the waivers until further notice.

21. Jake Bauers (OF, TB, AAA)
Stats: 38 PA, .235/.316/.353, 0 HR, 2 SB, 10.5% BB%, 21.1% K%
ETA: Early August

22. Francisco Mejia (C/3B/OF, CLE, AAA)
Stats: 43 PA, .250/.302/.450, 2 HR, 0 SB, 7.0% BB%, 23.3% K%
ETA: Early August

23. Christian Arroyo (2B/3B/SS, TB, AAA)
Stats: 27 PA, .200/.259/.240, 0 HR, 0 SB, 7.4% BB%, 18.5% K%
ETA: Early June

24. Kyle Tucker (OF, HOU, AAA)
Stats: 52 PA, .273/.273/.409, 1 HR, 1 SB, 13.5% BB%, 17.3% K%
ETA: September

25. Max Fried (SP, ATL, AAA)
Stats: 5.2 IP, 1.59 ERA, 2.74 FIP, 25.0% K%, 8.3% BB%, 0.0% HR/FB
ETA: Early July

26. Eloy Jimenez (OF, CWS, AA)
Stats: 73 PA, .353/.397/.559, 3 HR, 1 SB, 6.8% BB%, 21.9% K%
ETA: Early August

27. Tyler O’Neill (OF, STL, AAA)
Stats: 47 PA .432/.426/.932, 6 HR, 0 SB, 2.1% BB%, 21.3% K%
ETA: Early August

*Updated: It was announced Wednesday O'Neill will be promoted to the big-league roster while Tommy Pham is dealing with an injury. O'Neill will officially join the roster Thursday.*

28. Steven Duggar (OF, SF, AAA)
Stats: 41 PA, .250/.341/.278, 0 HR, 3 SB, 12.2% BB%, 31.7% K%
ETA: Late May

29. Kolby Allard (SP, ATL, AAA)
Stats: 9.2 IP, 3.72 ERA, 3.89 FIP, 19.5% K%, 7.3% BB%, 8.3% HR/FB
ETA: Early August

30. Jorge Mateo (SS/OF, OAK, AAA)
Stats: 45 PA, .244/.311/.293, 0 HR, 4 SB, 8.9% BB%, 31.1% K%
ETA: Early August


MLB Rookie Rankings

1. Shohei Ohtani (OF/SP)

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

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

4. Lewis Brinson (OF, MIA)

5. Jesse Winker (OF, CIN)

6. Brian Anderson (3B, MIA)

7. Miguel Andujar (3B, NYY)

8. Jorge Alfaro (C, PHI)

9. Ryan McMahon (1B/3B, COL)

10. Joey Lucchesi (SP, SD)

11. J.P. Crawford (SS, PHI)

12. Chance Sisco (C, BAL)

13. Tyler Mahle (SP, CIN)

14. Dan Vogelbach (1B, SEA)

15. Mitch Garver (C, MIN)

16. Christian Villanueva (3B, SD)

17. Carson Fulmer (SP, CWS)

18. Tyler Austin (1B, NYY)

19. Phillip Ervin (OF, CIN)

20. Yonny Chirinos (SP, TB)


More 2018 MLB Prospects Analysis