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Top 10 First Base Prospects - 2019 Fantasy Baseball Redraft Rankings


We're back with another list of 2019 impact prospects. Today the focus is on first base. While it is never fully stocked with quality depth, this might be the weakest the position has ever been heading into the season. With such a shallow group of options, it is important to know who will be called up and who can perform once they get the call.

A majority of first base prospects are finding themselves in two camps: those with big power in search of an adequate hit tool, and those with a good hit tool in search of adequate power. Prospects who successful combine both skills are few and far between. There are only a couple of these players on this list.

The pickins’ are slim at first base this year. Read below to see best options of the bunch. Find out who to speculate on and who should be avoided. If you are playing in deep draft-and-hold leagues, there might be a few more options for you.

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Top First Base Prospects for 2019

This list below is geared towards 2019 redraft leagues, and looks at the top MLB prospects and rookies who have the best chance to rise to the major leagues at some point in 2019 and provide fantasy baseball value this season.

To be clear, this is not our list of the top overall prospects in baseball. You can find those longer-term rankings in our dynasty prospects rankings and articles section, which take a look at the top prospects at each position regardless of their age or expected ETA in the majors.

 

1. Peter Alonso, New York Mets

ETA: April

Peter Alonso tops the list and for good reason.  He has the power and plate discipline to be a successful first baseman with the bat. He followed up a successful debut in 2017 with an all-out assault on Double- and Triple-A pitching. He torqued them up to the tune of 36 bombs, 112 RBI, and a .285 AVG in 2018. He also displayed a double-digit walk rate (11%) which attempts to offset the strikeout rate (26%) in Triple-A, which was eight points higher than his previous minor league career-high.

The one non-fantasy stat that affects fantasy is defense, and Alonso’s defense at first base has been called into question, which could affect playing time. If he can alleviate these concerns to start the year, he has an easy path towards playing time on the big league club. The Mets’ first base job is currently manned by a couple of players on the wrong side of 30 years of age. The Mets have also made improvements in the offseason which will help him generate production from the onset of his arrival. Alonso is standing by to receive his promotion and display his power and average on the big stage, to the delight of eager fans.

 

2. Nathaniel Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays

ETA: mid-2019

Up until 2018, Nate Lowe was a first baseman that felt out of place because he had a solid average but relatively no power, which is a staple for the position. Last season, he went on a whirlwind wrecking tour, pounding 10 homers at High-A and 13 bombs at Double-A. Just to make sure his message was clear, he even hit four homers in a taste of Triple-A at the end of the season. Across three levels, Lowe had a slash line of .330/.416/.568 and continued his doubles (32) entourage that he generated in past seasons.

Lowe’s plate discipline did not suffer with the increase in power. Actually, on the year, his walk (11%) and strikeout (18%) rates stayed at an excellent level. He proved that his contact skills are elite as well, with a meager eight-percent swinging-strike rate.

He will start the year at Triple-A and only has Ji-Man Choi standing in his way. It’s easy to say that Lowe has a chance of taking over the spot at mid-season if he can prove that the power he exhibited in 2018 is real.

 

3. Rowdy Tellez, Toronto Blue Jays

ETA: Already debuted

Rowdy Tellez has been hovering around for quite a while. He’s never forced the Blue Jays into action but currently, he is a Smoak/Morales-move away from claiming the first base job. Tellez was so dreamy after a 2016 season at Double-A where he hit 23 homers, 29 doubles, and a .297 batting average. The fantasy community went crazy looking at the raw stats. Then 2017 at Triple-A happened; it was a season that many saw as a letdown. However, those individuals are simply looking at the stats and not his circumstances. Prior to the start of the 2017 season, Tellez found out his mother had a serious medical condition. He played the best he could on the field.

In 2018, still dealing with terrible family concerns, Tellez returned to Triple-A and somehow regained some success with 13 bombs and a decent .270 average. What is more impressive is that he accomplished this despite the condition of his mother, who passed in August. In September, he was called up and in 70 at-bats, he hit nine doubles and four homers to go with a .312 batting average. Tellez remains the hitter he has demonstrated throughout the minors. He is a big power hitter with a solid average that also hits plenty of doubles. For 2019, Tellez will remain in the on-deck circle waiting for an opportunity to present itself with either a move/injury to Justin Smoak or Kendrys Morales. While we wait for him to gain regular playing time, applaud him for his performance despite the hardships he endured the last couple of years.

 

4. Evan White, Seattle Mariners

ETA: Late 2019

Evan White made a huge jump in the minors during 2018 from High-A to Triple-A at the end of the year. Most of the season was spent at High-A where he had a .303/.375/.458 slash line to go with 27 doubles, 7 triples, and 11 homers. White was brought up to Triple-A because the team lacked a first baseman and in 18 at-bats at Triple-A, he had four hits, two of which were doubles. Most of his successes at the end of the season were attributed to an adjustment at the plate to improve his hand placement and swing plane.

Thus far, he has proven to have plenty of doubles-power; we will have to see if that translates to over-the-wall power once he reaches the majors. If he can maintain the adjustments that provided more power at the end of the 2018 season, it shouldn’t be much of an issue. However, most of his power will likely come on the road as T-Mobile Park is not homer-friendly.

White’s foundation as a player is a solid hit tool with very good plate discipline and excellent defense at first base. With some power, there is little else standing in his way of becoming the future at the position for the Mariners. He will start the year at Double-A, but expect him up in the second half once the big league club continues its rebuild by trading current first baseman Edwin Encarnacion. If clarity is needed, Ryon Healy has demonstrated that he can easily be passed on the depth chart.

 

5.Bobby Bradley, Cleveland Indians

ETA: Late 2019

You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have…Bobby Bradley. Admittedly, that could be the description of many first base prospects these days. Power. Walks. Strikeouts. That is Bradley’s game. There is no reason to make it more complicated than that. For the last four seasons, he has averaged nearly 27 homers annually. That is the exact total he hit in 2018 combined between Double- and Triple-A. In a repeat appearance at Double-A, he had a .263 ISO with a very good walk rate (11%) and a strikeout rate (25%) that isn’t optimal. His .214 batting average was deflated thanks to a .226 BABIP, but ultimately we should be thankful if he provides a .230 AVG at the big-league level. In 128 at-bats in Triple-A, he saw his walks drop (7%), strikeouts skyrocket (34%), and his batting average rise to something that is easier to swallow (.254).

Bradley suffers from prospect fatigue because we’ve been talking about his name for a while. The Indians have a couple of options at first already in returned-veteran Carlos Santana and newly-acquired Jake Bauers. However, needs at other positions could cause roster shuffling that would provide an opening for Bradley, assuming he can come out of the gates strong at Triple-A in 2019.

 

6. Brent Rooker, Minnesota Twins

ETA: Late 2019

Brent Rooker started the 2018 season at Double-A, where he saw some of the first challenges of his short professional career. One thing that did not change was his power with 22 homers, but it came at the expense of his batting average (.254). A drop in BABIP to .316 was the likely cause of the reduction in AVG. Booker also hit 32 doubles and stole six bases, but the speed is not a reliable part of his game. Although Double-A offered new difficulties for Rooker, he did make improvements in some underlying stats. While the strikeout rate (26.4%) is a bit concerning, it is an improvement from his 2017 performance (29%). Additionally, he does have his fair share of strikeouts, Rooker negotiates for your confidence with an average amount of walks (9.9%).

Rooker is unique in that he is moving from the outfield to first base, instead of vice versa. The move demonstrates the amount of confidence the Twins have in his bat, even after offseason moves brought in a first baseman (C.J. Cron) and a super-utility player (Marwin Gonzalez), both of whom muddies the waters for Rooker. Assuming he will maintain his walk rate and continue to improve his strikeout rate, Rooker can be a valuable asset late in the season. Don’t be surprised if Rooker ultimately becomes a three-true-outcomes player with a batting average near .250. Even still, his value will continue to climb higher.

 

7. Josh Naylor, San Diego Padres

ETA: Late 2019

Josh Naylor demonstrated more power at Double-A in 2018 than he has in the past. However, he remains primarily an AVG/OBP guy. Naylor finished the year hitting 17 homers with a slash line of .297/.383/.447 in 574 plate appearances. Most impressive is that he walked (11%) nearly as much as he struck out (12%). As such, Naylor profiles as more of a contact hitter than a brute-force masher.

He’s made great strides in plate discipline as well as power during the 2018 season. However, he is poor defensively which restricts his position to first base. Therein lies the problem as he is blocked by circumstances. The Padres already have Eric Hosmer at first as well as Wil Myers who should be at first to maintain his health. The addition of Manny Machado helps to clog up the path and requires Naylor to explode to start the season for him to get a look this season.

 

8. Matt Thaiss, Los Angeles Angels

ETA: Late 2019

Matt Thaiss has already spent three years in the minors but has yet to demonstrate consistent power. He has always been known as a contact hitter with very good plate discipline resulting in a high average. The homers hadn’t materialized in any fashion until 2018. With a previous high of nine homers (2017), Thaiss set a new career-high with 16 bombs across two levels in 2018 (Double-A and Triple-A). To that, he added a combined 34 doubles, eight stolen bases, and a .280 batting average. That would appear like a good season, and for Thaiss, it is. However, it isn’t convincing enough to persuade fantasy owners to maintain any allegiance.

While Thaiss’ plate discipline has improved in some sense, it isn’t entirely positive. His strikeout rate across 400 at-bats at Triple-A was an impressive 17%; however, his walk rate (7%) also dropped 10 percent from 2017. A recent small increase in homers is not enough to justify complete confidence that he can take over the job for the Angels. If there were a reason to keep Thaiss on the roster, it would be that he is close to the majors. Thaiss has one of the most difficult paths to at-bats as the Angels already have Shohei Ohtani, Albert Pujols, and Justin Bour to rotate through 1B and DH.

 

9. Frank Schwindel, Kansas City Royals

ETA: Late 2019

If there was a surprise candidate to do better than their rankings, Schwindel would be the one. Despite an eye-opening performance during spring training of 2018, Frank Schwindel was back at Triple-A for the whole season. At 26 years old, he demonstrated that a repeat stay at Triple-A wasn’t necessary. He hit 38 doubles and 24 homers with 93 RBI and a .286 batting average. He doesn’t walk much (6.1%) but he doesn’t strikeout (13%) much either. The numbers by themselves seem exactly what is desired in a big-league hitter, let alone a first base prospect.

However, one of the limiting factors for him is his age; Schwindel will turn 27 years old during the 2019 season. Another is the Royals lack of interest or desire to give him playing time. Currently, the first base job is dedicated to Ryan O’Hearn to start the year. However, if O’Hearn or designated hitter Jorge Soler gets injured or start the year terribly, Schwindel might get the opportunity we’ve been anticipating. Of course, the decision would be helped along if Schwindel repeats his performance of 2018 in the Cactus League, where he shared the title for most homers.

 

10. Michael Chavis, Boston Red Sox

ETA: Late 2019

There are a number of players fighting for the last spot on this list. Chavis has demonstrated the offensive ability but he lacks the path to playing time. As we all know, you shouldn't make decisions based on that mantra, just trust the skills. For the skills to play, a move off the hot corner will be required and the likely destination is first base unless Rafael Devers’ defense continues to deteriorate.

Michael Chavis started the 2018 season late thanks to an 80-game PED suspension. Upon his return, he played five games at Low-A before reintegrating with Double-A, where he finished his breakout 2017 season. Chavis continued some of his success with six homers and a .303 batting average compared to .250 in 2017. Chavis also improved his OPS (.897). Unfortunately, his strikeout rate increased as well to 25%.

At the end of the season, Chavis had 34 plate appearances at Triple-A. In that time, he hit two bombs and had a .273 batting average. Unfortunately, it came with a 35% strikeout rate. Both of his batting averages in Double- and Triple-A were drastically elevated due to an inflated BABIP of .383 and .368, respectively. While Chavis has good numbers in the minors, he cannot attempt to replicate them in the majors without an opportunity. He might force the Red Sox to be imaginative to get him some playing time, but a change of scenery would be the best course of action.

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