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2018 Prospects - Top 30 Impact Rookies for Fantasy Leagues (Week 9)


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.

This was an underrated, but crazy week of prospect promotions. Franklin Barreto, Nick Kingham, Ryan McMahon, Max Fried and, of course, Alex Reyes were all promoted this week. So was Willy Adames, but he was sent back down. Shane Bieber also will be promoted Thursday.

The long list of prospects who have been called up — 40 who have occupied spots on this list are already in the majors — has thinned out the depth of prospects left to be promoted. There are still plenty of impact players waiting in the minors for mid-season promotions who could prove to be valuable to fantasy owners this season.

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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. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (1B/3B/OF, TOR, AA)
Stats: 207 PA, .433/.481/.713, 10 HR, 3 SB, 8.7% BB%, 9.7% K%
ETA: Mid-June
When Josh Donaldson exited Monday’s game early, I think everyone collectively held their breath in anticipation for if that meant there would be a promotion for Guerrero. The injury turned out to not be serious, so Guerrero will remain in the minors. At least, for now. Toronto is fast falling out of playoff contention and could use Guerrero either to put themselves back in the picture for that second Wild Card or call him up to begin serving as Donaldson’s replacement at third base if they move on from the All-Star, soon-to-be free agent. The closer we get to the beginning of the summer, the more likely it looks like Guerrero will be called up. If you don’t believe he will be promoted, you certainly don’t have to stash him. But you don’t want to be the team that had a chance at him and missed out. If he reaches the majors, he’s a must own in all leagues.

2. Nick Senzel (2B/3B/SS, CIN, AAA)
Stats: 97 PA, .271/.351/.459, 3 HR, 3 SB, 10.3% BB%, 21.6% K%
ETA: Late June
Senzel was cleared to return to Triple-A after dealing with vertigo for a time, according to MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon. Senzel should go back to raking just as he had before he was out and will likely put himself back on track for a mid-summer promotion. If he were to be promoted to the big leagues, it would likely be only to play second base if the Cincinnati Reds trade Scooter Gennett or decide that Jose Peraza needs to be out of the lineup. If he can stay healthy, Senzel is clearly major-league ready, both from a defensive and offensive standpoint. His bat would be one to plug in for lineups in all leagues.

3. Kyle Tucker (OF, HOU, AAA)
Stats: 218 PA, .282/.361/.447, 5 HR, 6 SB, 11.5% BB%, 20.6% K%
ETA: Late June
The Houston Astros have not had a great option for left field all season given the struggles of Derek Fisher, Marwin Gonzalez and Jake Marisnick. Tony Kemp has been playing well, but for a team like Houston that needs to take advantage of every season it has to try and win a title, it needs better than Kemp. That’s why it seems likely that once the Super Two deadline passes, Tucker will be given a chance to start in left. He has not been fazed by Triple-A pitching this season and has displayed his usual combination of a plus hit tool with plus power, while also putting his legs to good use. Owners might not expect a ton of stolen bases long term from Tucker, but the bat profiles as one that should slot immediately into the middle of the lineup and be productive. He has a high floor and high ceiling, making him a must-own in all leagues.

4. Willie Calhoun (OF, TEX, AAA)
Stats: 211 PA, .270/.322/.393, 4 HR, 0 SB, 6.2% BB%, 13.3% K%
ETA: Late June
The power is still not there for Calhoun, but over his past 11 games, he has started to swing it a bit more than he had to start the season. He owns a .326/.341/.465 slash line during that span. He was pulled from Monday’s game for not running out a groundout, which certainly does not look good for a guy who needs to do as much as he can to reach the majors. Still, if Calhoun keeps hitting at this rate, he should be back in the big leagues before too long. His bat should make him worth owning in plenty of fantasy leagues, especially if he starts to tap into his power again.

5. Michael Kopech (SP, CWS, AAA)
Stats: 51.1 IP, 3.86 ERA, 3.31 FIP, 31.2% K%, 11.5% BB%, 6.8% HR/FB
ETA: Mid-June
Kopech endured a tough stretch near the end of April and beginning of May, but he’s been money since then for Charlotte. He hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in any of his past three starts, recording a 2.00 ERA and 2.78 FIP over 18 innings. Oh yeah, and he’s striking out batters at a 33.8 percent clip. The walks are still a bit of an issue for him and he will probably need to string together a couple outings where he really keeps the walks out of the box score, but at this point, he’s simply overpowering Triple-A hitters. He’s certainly one of the best pitchers Chicago has in its system — he might be the best pitcher even at the big-league level — and stands as good a chance as any top prospect to receive a promotion this summer. He will come up with a fair amount of risk, but the upside is too great to pass up on in 10-plus-team leagues.

6. Willy Adames (SS, TB, AAA)
Stats: 185 PA, .306/.378/.450, 4 HR, 3 SB, 10.8% BB%, 22.7% K%
ETA: Late June
Apparently taking Chris Sale deep wasn’t enough for Adames to stay in the majors longer than three games. Admittedly, he wasn’t great overall, but it was way too small of a sample size to really make much of a judgment yet. Adames has crushed Triple-A this season and is putting together his best professional season. The Tampa Bay Rays have plenty of middle-infield options currently in the majors, but for a club that could be starting a rebuild of sorts, it makes sense to give Adames at-bats this summer given that he is the franchise shortstop. He will probably be up again before too long and given his hit tool, power and speed, he would be worth playing in most leagues.

7. Austin Riley (3B, ATL, AAA)
Stats: 194 PA, .324/.381/.580, 9 HR, 1 SB, 7.7% BB%, 27.8% K%
ETA: Mid-June
The Atlanta Braves are starting to compete a little bit earlier than schedule and it is due to the balance of its strong, young core they have in the majors with guys like Ronald Acuna, Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson and Sean Newcomb performing well alongside guys like Freddie Freeman, Nick Markakis, Ender Inciarte and Mike Foltynewicz. Since they are competing and have shown that they are willing to promote guys ready for the majors, Riley stands a good chance of reaching the majors after the Super Two deadline. Though his strikeouts have been an issue, Riley fills a position of need for them at third base and would be the right-handed power bat they need in the middle of their lineup. Riley could be a somewhat risky add because there’s a chance the batting average won’t be there for him if he strikes out, but the power is legit and he could see plenty of RBI opportunities in the middle of this potent lineup.

8. Shane Bieber (SP, CLE, AAA)
Stats: 65.1 IP, 1.10 ERA, 2.20 FIP, 25.5% K%, 1.3% BB%, 5.7% HR/FB
ETA: Thursday
It has already been announced that Bieber will be promoted Thursday to start for the Cleveland Indians. The current speculation is that he is just up for a spot start, trying to give Trevor Bauer an extended break. But Bieber could certainly make a strong case for himself with a strong start. Cleveland needs a strong fifth starting option and could certainly use bullpen help, something Adam Plutko might be better suited for than starting. Bieber is not a super risky start because he has exceptional control — possibly the best in the minors — and has improved his stuff to allow him miss some bats. His stay might be short-lived for now, but a strong showing could make him the sixth starter for the team and he could be back up after Plutko’s peripherals start to catch up to him.

9. Alex Verdugo (OF, LAD, AAA)
Stats: 114 PA, .308/.342/.458, 4 HR, 0 SB, 5.3% BB%, 15.8% K%
ETA: Mid-June
The Los Angeles Dodgers are in a weird spot. They are using Cody Bellinger a lot for center field and are thinking about acquiring a first baseman so they can move Bellinger to center permanently. This is weird because they already have someone who can play center and play it adequately defensively while providing a consistent bat someone like Joc Pederson doesn’t have. Verdugo has proven himself to be big-league ready and would probably be valuable to the Dodgers who have struggled mightily this season to receive production offensively from many key cogs in its lineup. He should be back in the majors at some point over the summer and would provide fantasy owners with a solid batting average, some decent power numbers and a stolen base here and there.

10. Jake Bauers (OF, TB, AAA)
Stats: 192 PA, .298/.372/.462, 5 HR, 8 SB, 9.9% BB%, 21.9% K%
ETA: Early July
You can tell Bauers is tired of being in the minors. Over his past 11 games, the 22-year-old is slashing .357/.426/.405 with a 10.4% rate of both walks and strikeouts. He appears to be more MLB-ready the further into the season he gets, and given Tampa’s struggles in the outfield, he figures to be an option for them to turn to pretty soon. Though not known as a fast player, he gets good jumps in the minors and could translate that to a handful of steals in the big leagues. He also offers fantasy owners above-average power and a bat that should hit for a solid batting average, making him a possible starting option to own in 12-plus-team leagues.

11. Kolby Allard (SP, ATL, AAA)
Stats: 56.0 IP, 2.09 ERA, 3.64 FIP, 17.1% K%, 6.8% BB%, 4.8% HR/FB
ETA: Late June
Like Riley, Allard has shown so far this season that he is MLB-ready. Though he is not an overpowering pitcher, he has mixed his plus offspeed pitches well with his average fastball and locates well enough to consistently get batters out. The problem for Allard is that starting pitcher is not a position of need for Atlanta. Even with Mike Soroka currently on the DL, the Braves are stacked with quality pitching options. Still, GM Alex Anthopoulos made clear earlier this season that Allard is just a phone call away, and it seems if another injury happens, Allard could be the guy the Braves turn to for a couple starts. He wouldn’t offer fantasy owners strikeouts like other pitching prospect, but he has a high floor and should be able to be worth starting in 12-plus-team leagues.

12. Anthony Banda (SP, TB, AAA)
Stats: 36.0 IP, 3.50 ERA, 2.72 FIP, 27.9% K%, 10.1% BB%, 3.0% HR/FB
ETA: Mid-June
Banda pitched well enough to deserve staying in the big leagues, posting a 3.68 ERA and 3.25 FIP over 14.2 innings of work — two relief outings, one start. The odd thing about his demotion then to follow is that unlike Atlanta, which has plenty of quality starting options, Tampa Bay does not. In fact, Banda is currently fifth in fWAR among pitchers who have made at least one start. The demotion was strange, but it shouldn’t be for too long. At some point, Tampa will promote him again and he should be a serious candidate to take over a rotation spot. He has a decent track record of strikeouts in the minors and could continue that into the big leagues, which would make him worth starting in 12-plus-team leagues.

13. Austin Hays (OF, BAL, AA)
Stats: 185 PA, .224/.259/.374, 6 HR, 5 SB, 4.9% BB%, 23.2% K%
ETA: Early August
Hays has what all prospects want but few often have: a clear path to playing time. The Baltimore Orioles have been awful this season and right field has been a huge gap for them. Hays would be the perfect fit for that hole if not for the fact he too has struggled offensively. His lack of patience only survives when he is able to make consistent contact, which he has not been able to do this season. He has still hit for some power and has stolen a couple bags, but he will need to improve much more if he hopes to be recalled up to the big leagues. The playing time is there to take and he could be a top fantasy prospect for owners if he does what scouts believe he can do. Hays just needs to show that he’s ready.

14. Luis Urias (2B/SS, SD, AAA)
Stats: 206 PA, .283/.398/.434, 5 HR, 1 SB, 14.1% BB%, 18.4% K%
ETA: Early August
Urias is one of those players who would love to have a clear path to playing time. He has shown at Triple-A, just as he has shown at every level, that he is one of the more advanced bats in the minors and that he could handle the majors. However, with Jose Pirela at second and Freddy Galvis at shortstop, there’s just not a clear path for Urias to play right now. Neither of those two have really impressed this season, but with neither have been below replacement level either. It would probably require a trade or an abysmal stretch by one of the two middle infielders to call up Urias to the majors. However, Urias would hit for a high enough average and possibly provide some at least passable power numbers to be worth owning in 12-plus-team leagues if he did get the promotion and the chance to start regularly in San Diego.

15. Steven Duggar (OF, SF, AAA)
Stats: 207 PA, .254/.333/.357, 2 HR, 7 SB, 10.1% BB%, 30.0% K%
ETA: Late June
Andrew McCutchen has been far and away the San Francisco Giants’ best outfielder this season, and that’s not saying much because even he only owns a .237/.353/.371 slash line. The Giants’ outfield has been a huge cause for concern this early in the season, and for that reason it seems plausible that Duggar will be given a shot to show he is better than the other scrubs sooner rather than later. Though Duggar has certainly not torn up the minors by any stretch of the imagination, he has been solid over his past 13 games, slashing.286/.310/.375 with three stolen bases. With his speed, defensive ability and the hit tool scouts believe will eventually show up, Duggar is worth a look for the Giants, and thus could be worth a speculative add in some leagues if he is given the promotion.

16. Danny Jansen (C, TOR, AAA)
Stats: 147 PA, .331/.438/.488, 2 HR, 4 SB, 12.9% BB%, 12.2% K%
ETA: Early August
Jansen seems to be almost exactly in the same situation as Guerrero right now. He is hitting like he needs to in order to be worth a look in the majors, but the glove is the only question. The Blue Jays intend to keep him behind the plate, but he needs to make some strides there before he’s major-league ready. Unlike Guerrero, he is not hitting the cover off the ball enough to really demand the consideration right now. But if the Blue Jays do decide to sell, Russell Martin could be on the block. Even if no wants him, which would be understandable, Jansen could still be called up just to get some MLB playing time, learn receiving skills from Martin while also providing Toronto with a better bat in the lineup. He is not stashable because there is still not enough certainty that he will be called up before September, but he would be worth owning in two-catcher leagues given the potential in his bat.

17. Nick Gordon (2B/SS, MIN, AAA)
Stats: 212 PA, .333/.377/.505, 5 HR, 7 SB, 5.7% BB%, 14.6% K%
ETA: Early August
Gordon was called up to Triple-A after slashing .333/.381/.525 at Double-A to start the season, and he is putting on a similar show in Rochester, slashing .333/.355/.400. Gordon has shown why scouts rave about his bat and believe there is some raw power in there, and he is also starting to show that he might have something to contribute with his legs. The path to playing time is not super clear with guys like Eduardo Escobar and Brian Dozier blocking him at his two primary positions right now and Jorge Polanco returning from suspension soon, but if the Twins decided to start selling anyone, a spot could be open for Gordon to fill. He is doing his best to prove that his bat is MLB-ready, and if he is able to carry over this production to the majors, he would be worth adding in almost all 12-plus-team leagues.

18. Corbin Burnes (SP, MIL, AAA)
Stats: 52.2 IP, 4.96 ERA, 4.35 FIP, 22.8% K%, 8.6% BB%, 8.9% HR/FB
ETA: Late July
The numbers with Burnes are somewhat deceiving. He has been pitching in the notoriously hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League in the painful home ballpark of Colorado Springs. Burnes is also not a particularly overpowering pitcher, which certainly hurts when pitching in a hitter-friendly environment. But Burnes has a well-rounded repertoire and plus control over all his pitches, which should help him to pitch well when not pitching in thin air. And with Milwaukee not receiving quality production out of Chase Anderson, Brandon Woodruff and Zach Davies right now, Burnes could be a solid option for Milwaukee to give starts to in order to stay in playoff contention. He might not bring a ton of strikeouts, but Burnes’ high floor would make him worth owning in 12-plus-team leagues.

19. Christin Stewart (OF, DET, AAA)
Stats: 199 PA, .285/.372/.570, 12 HR, 0 SB, 11.6% BB%, 19.6% K%
ETA: Early August
Stewart has done all he needs to do to prove he is worth calling up. He has trimmed his strikeouts down to below 20 percent, which was a big issue for him, while continuing to hit for the same level of power he has always done in the minors. He also has posted a solid batting average and on-base percentage thanks to his promising patience. The path to playing time is there for him with JaCoby Jones not doing quite enough to consistently hold down a spot in the outfield. For the rebuilding Tigers, someone like Stewart — who could be a future piece of the core — could really benefit from time in the majors as long as he’s mashing Triple-A pitching. Look for him to see time in the majors later this season and add him in some 12-plus-team leagues as a cheap source of power.

20. Eloy Jimenez (OF, CWS, AA)
Stats: 161 PA, .336/.379/.623, 9 HR, 0 SB, 7.5% BB%, 16.8% K%
ETA: September
This speculation is contingent on Jimenez continuing to hit when he gets called up to Triple-A. The White Sox are patient with their prospects and they have no reason to rush Jimenez to the big leagues this season. However based on how he has handled Double-A, he has made as compelling a case as anyone that he deserves at least a look in September. The White Sox are going to promote Jimenez to Triple-A before giving him a chance to face major league pitchers. If he handles the assignment well by keeping the strikeouts down and continuing to hit for an absurd amount of power, it will be tough to keep him in the minors when rosters expand. The Sox might opt to wait until after early April 2019 to give him the Kris Bryant treatment, so he is not a recommended stash. But he has the chance to be the biggest impact September call-up bat and could pay dividends for fantasy owners in their playoff runs.

21. Anthony Alford (OF, TOR, AAA)
Stats: 103 PA, .160/.233/.181, 0 HR, 2 SB, 5.8% BB%, 35.0% K%
ETA: September

22. Griffin Canning (SP, LAA, AA)
Stats: 40.0 IP, 1.35 ERA, 3.37 FIP, 29.9% K%, 12.7% BB%, 6.3% HR/FB
ETA: September

23. Francisco Mejia (C/OF, CLE, AAA)
Stats: 176 PA, .185/.249/.280, 3 HR, 0 SB, 6.3% BB%, 22.7% K%
ETA: September

24. Victor Robles (OF, WAS, AAA)
Stats: 15 PA, .385/.467/.385, 0 HR, 2 SB, 13.3% BB%, 6.7% K%
ETA: September

25. Magneuris Sierra (OF, MIA, AAA)
Stats: 187 PA, .243/.266/.277, 0 HR, 7 SB, 3.2% BB%, 23.5% K%
ETA: Early August

26. Zack Granite (OF, MIN, AAA)
Stats: 116 PA, .216/.304/.235, 0 HR, 6 SB, 11.2% BB%, 7.8% K%
ETA: Late June

27. Chance Adams (SP, NYY, AAA)
Stats: 44.0 ERA, 5.93 ERA, 5.23 FIP, 25.8% K%, 11.6% BB%, 16.7% HR/FB
ETA: Early August

28. Matt Thaiss (1B, LAA, AAA)
Stats: 211 PA, .298/.365/.543, 9 HR, 2 SB, 9.5% BB%, 18.5% K%
ETA: Early August

29. Dawel Lugo (3B, DET, AAA)
Stats: 186 PA, .262/.269/.333, 1 HR, 3 SB, 1.1% BB%, 14.5% K%
ETA: Early July

30. Jon Duplantier (SP, ARI, AA)
Stats: 35.2 IP, 2.52 ERA, 2.87 FIP, 28.5% K%, 7.6% BB%, 8.3% HR/FB
ETA: September

 

MLB Rookie Rankings

1. Shohei Ohtani (SP/DH, LAA)

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

3. Ronald Acuna (OF, ATL)

4. Walker Buehler (SP, LAD)

5. Alex Reyes (SP, STL)

6. Juan Soto (OF, WAS)

7. Jack Flaherty (SP, STL)

8. Miguel Andujar (3B, NYY)

9. Austin Meadows (OF, PIT)

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

11. Josh Hader (RP, MIL)

12. Fernando Romero (SP, MIN)

13. Tyler O’Neill (OF, STL)

14. Luiz Gohara (SP, ATL)

15. Dustin Fowler (OF, OAK)

16. Caleb Smith (SP, MIA)

17. Mike Soroka (SP, ATL)

18. Nick Kingham (SP, PIT)

19. Christian Villanueva (3B, SD)

20. Ryan Yarbrough (SP, TB)

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