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Top 30 Impact Rookies for Fantasy Leagues (Preseason)


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 might be one of the most star studded prospect lists to come out of the preseason in my time writing these lists. There are so many upcoming rookies like Ronald Acuna, Shohei Ohtani, Gleyber Torres, Nick Senzel and others expected to have major impacts on fantasy rosters in the upcoming season.

Although some of the names will not be on the list for too long, this will be an important series to stay caught up on as the season continues onward.

 

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: 243 PA, .344/.393/.548, 9 HR, 11 SB, 7.0% BB%, 19.8% K%
ETA: Early April
Many are complaining about Acuna being sent down to begin the season for the first 11 days and receiving the “Kris Bryant” treatment. However, Atlanta Braves’ fans should be happy given that those couple days will allow them to hold onto Acuna for another season. Fantasy baseball owners are likely going to be disappointed, however, because Acuna has the chance to be an absolute fantasy star. His power/speed combination is better than probably any other prospect since Mike Trout and his hit tool is also one of the best in the minors. Acuna is a gifted prospect and seems a near lock to be the NL Rookie of the Year. He should be owned in all leagues and highly sought after by teams that don’t have him.

2. Scott Kingery (2B/3B/OF, PHI, AAA)
Stats: 286 PA, .294/.337/.449, 8 HR, 10 SB, 4.5% BB%, 20.3% K%
ETA: Opening Day
Just when it looked like there was no path to starting time for Kingery, the talented second-base prospect was signed to a long-term extension and told he would crack the Opening Day roster before even having made his MLB debut. Kingery burst onto the scene in 2017, combining to hit 26 home runs and swipe 29 bags between Double-A and Triple-A while hitting above .300 overall. Scouts always knew Kingery would have a promising hit tool and would be quick enough to steal 30 bases per season, but the power was a bit of a surprise. However, scouts are buying into the adjustments he’s made and are convinced the power might be for real. Kingery likely won’t really compete with Acuna for the NL Rookie of the Year, but Kingery could be a 20/20 hitter this season with a .280-plus batting average while qualifying at multiple positions, making him a worthy add in all leagues.

3. Shohei Ohtani (SP/OF, LAA, NA)
Stats: NA
ETA: Opening Day
Ohtani entered the preseason as someone who could be the top player on this list. However, a rough spring and continued question marks about his ability to hit have plagued him and brought his value down a bit. The fascinating two-way player has shown throughout Spring Training that he has the stuff to dominate big-league lineups. Scouts still like the tools from an offensive perspective as well given his raw power and plus-plus speed, but there’s no doubt there is risk banking on him as a hitter separate from him being a pitcher. In leagues where he qualifies for both positions, his ceiling makes him one of the top prospects to own. In leagues where that is not the case, Ohtani is still a good enough pitcher and potential future ace that makes him worth owning in all leagues. The bat, however, should be questioned a little bit as the season nears.

4. Colin Moran (1B/3B, PIT, MLB)
Stats: 338 PA, .308/.373/.543, 18 HR, 9.2% BB%, 16.3% K%
ETA: Opening Day
Moran went from being a boring bench bat to one of the most popular sleepers for the 2018 season. Long heralded as a top prospect, Moran always showed the strong hit tool, but couldn’t hit for any power. Swing adjustments in 2017 allowed Moran to get under the ball more often and drive it with more authority, leading scouts to believe his power might now be for real. If he can prove the 2017 swing path was no fluke, Moran could be a darkhorse for NL Rookie of the Year with steady offensive production in the middle of Pittsburgh’s lineup. He should be a sleeper depth option in 10-team leagues and could be a solid everyday starter in 12-team leagues.

5. Lewis Brinson (OF, MIA, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 340 PA, .331/.400/.562, 13 HR, 11 SB, 9.4% BB%, 18.2% K%
ETA: Opening Day
Brinson was announced to be the starting center fielder for the Miami Marlins this week, instantly making him an exciting fantasy bet heading into the year. Scouts have long pegged Brinson as someone with tons of upsides based on his loud tools. Essentially a scaled down version of Acuna, Brinson’s power and speed tools are much better than his hit tool, leading some to believe he could be a 20/20 hitter in 2018 with a lower batting average. He will need to continue to show that his decrease in strikeouts last season were for real if he is going to post a higher average. But his ability to hit for power and steal bases from the top of the Marlins’ lineup will make him a worth while add as a depth piece in most 12-team leagues and some shallower leagues if he proves he can hit.

6. Ryan McMahon (1B, COL, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 314 PA, .374/.411/.612, 14 HR, 4 SB, 6.7% BB%, 16.9% K%
ETA: Opening Day
It appeared McMahon would start 2018 with the Colorado Rockies, but once Carlos Gonzalez returned, it no longer seemed like he would have a starting role. There is a lot to like about McMahon if he grabs a full-time role. He will call the most hitter-friendly stadium home and found a way in 2017 to lower his strikeout rate below 20 percent while batting above .300 with plenty of power. He hits the ball too much on the ground and struggles against southpaws, which will cap his batting average a little bit. But his power in Coors Field makes him an attractive fantasy asset if he can receive a regular gig in the big leagues. He could be viewed as a trade chip later in the year, but he will at some point this season see regular playing time. McMahon’s offensive upside makes him a worthy add in all 12-team leagues.

*Editor's note: Updated to reflect his status on Opening Day

7. Gleyber Torres (2B/3B/SS, NYY, AAA)
Stats: (from AA) 139 PA, .273/.367/.496, 5 HR, 5 SB, 12.2% BB%, 15.1% K%
ETA: Late April
Had he not injured his elbow last season and necessitated Tommy John surgery, Torres would likely not be on this list. The talented prospect began to shoot up lists as he continued to hit in the minors, demonstrating one of the best abilities of any player to consistently barrel up the baseball and drive it to all fields. He had also always been projected to hit for above-average power and hadn’t shown it until 2017 when he bashed seven home runs in just 55 games before his injury. He doesn’t have enough speed to steal 15-plus bases, but he could reach 10 in a given season. It should not be long until Torres supplants Neil Walker at second base with the New York Yankees and profiles as a potential .300 hitter with 20 home runs. Though he might not reach that ceiling in his first season, Torres will offer enough both in terms of batting average and power to be able to be plenty valuable to owners in redraft leagues in 12-plus team leagues.

8. Austin Hays (OF, BAL, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 283 PA, .330/.367/.594, 16 HR, 1 SB, 4.6% BB%, 15.9% K%
ETA: Mid-May
Hays and Torres are similar yet different. Both have promising hit tools and power, projecting to be high-average, high-power hitters with less speed than others at their respective positions. But both get to the end results in different ways. Torres is a patient hitter who does swing and miss on occasion, but seemingly always makes hard contact. Hays sacrifices hard contact for consistent contact, striking out well below 20 percent of the time but also rarely taking a walk. That is not to say he does not hit the ball with authority — he still does. But Hays has a little bit more risk because he relies so heavily on his ability to make contact that any issues with that could lead him to struggle whereas Torres, even if he strikes out, will still drive the ball enough to be valuable. However, most expect Hays to be a potentially dynamic outfielder who will slug in the middle of Baltimore’s potent lineup. He will begin the season in the minors, but should eventually crack the starting lineup, at which point he will be worth picking up in most 12-plus-team leagues.

9. Franklin Barreto (2B/SS, OAK, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 510 PA, .290/.339/.456, 15 HR, 15 SB, 5.3% BB%, 27.6% K%
ETA: Late April
Barreto has all the makings of an exciting fantasy prospect. Though he is not as highly regarded as a real-life prospect given his defensive questions, the 5-foot-10 middle-infielder has a promising power/speed combination that has typically seen him hit 10-15 home runs per season and swipe 20-30 bases. He does not walk much and as he reached the upper levels of the minors, he began to swing and miss at a somewhat alarming rate. However, he is only 22 years old and scouts still believe his hit tool should be good enough for him to hit at least .270 or higher. Given his exciting tools, Barreto should make a loud impact in fantasy leagues once he gets his chance to start at either second base or shortstop later this season.

10. Alex Reyes (SP, STL, NA)
Stats: NA
ETA: Mid-May
Another prospect like Torres expected probably not to begin 2018 on this list, Reyes went down with Tommy John surgery at the start of the 2017 season and missed the entire year. However, he is now coming back from the surgery and should be in the majors before the summer begins. His high-octane stuff will lead to a lot of strikeouts, and early struggles with control have gone down enough to mostly silence those who believe he is destined for the bullpen. Given that he is just bouncing back from the surgery, Reyes could spend time in the minors and the bullpen during the season as he tries to work his way back to the rotation. His high strikeouts give him a nice fantasy floor and mean that he will have value even if he struggles with control. He could be an ace for fantasy owners, but the expectation should be that he will go through somewhat of a learning curve in his first full taste of the big leagues. Owners in 12-team leagues should pick him up, but he could be worth adding in shallower leagues in the event he starts to put it all together.

11. Willie Calhoun (OF, TEX, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 534 PA, .300/.355/.572, 31 HR, 4 SB, 7.9% BB%, 11.4% K%
ETA: Early May
All Calhoun has done throughout his professional career is mash. He is an incredible hitter who makes a ton of consistent contact, is expected to hit for a high average and should mash for easy 25-plus-homer power. The question with him has always been on the defensive side of things. He used to play second base, but now he is going to be sent to left field. The move to the outfield will obviously be a damper on his fantasy value, but owners are going to have to be satisfied just to give his bat a chance to reach the majors. For now, he will return to the minors to work on improving his defensive ability. Once he is promoted, his bat is so special that he will need to be added in most leagues.

12. Jack Flaherty (SP, STL, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 85.1 IP, 2.74 ERA, 4.10 FIP, 25.1% K%, 7.1% BB%, 10.8% HR/FB
ETA: Opening Day
Flaherty is not the same explosive prospect Reyes is. He doesn’t have the strikeout potential or high-octane stuff. Everything he throws grades out as only average or above-average, though he does throw four different pitches. However, his control and ability to wield his arsenal has helped him find plenty of success throughout his MiLB career. Now, Flaherty will begin 2018 in the St. Louis Cardinals’ rotation. His control and above-average repertoire means he has a high floor and low-to-medium ceiling, but the guaranteed spot in the rotation makes him a valuable depth arm to own in redraft leagues.

13. Victor Robles (OF, WAS, MLB)
Stats: (from AA) 158 PA, .324/.394/.489, 3 HR, 11 SB, 7.6% BB%, 13.9% K%
ETA: Late June
Originally viewed as a candidate to start in left field or center field given the uncertainty of Adam Eaton’s and Michael A. Taylor’s health, but Eaton and Taylor will both be ready for the Nationals and Robles will begin at Triple-A. Considered one of the top prospects in baseball, Robles profiles as a future leadoff hitter based on his plus hit tool, average to slightly above-average power and plus-plus speed. For a time Robles was viewed as someone who could be a future 20/30 hitter, and while he still could reach that lofty ceiling, his power is still a ways off from that. Robles might be major-league ready, however, and fantasy owners would expect plenty of runs scored based on his placement near the top of the lineup with a high batting average and plenty of speed. He would be worth owning in most leagues once he receives the promotion.

14. Miguel Andujar (3B, NYY, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 250 PA, .317/.364/.502, 9 HR, 3 SB, 6.8% BB%, 13.2% K%
ETA: Early May
The Yankees could be absolutely loaded with infield talent by the time the playoffs roll around. Between Didi Gregorious at short, Torres at second, Greg Bird at first and Andujar at third, the team will have a near unstoppable lineup. Andujar might be one of the more unheralded players in the group, but he has plenty of offensive upside. He always made plenty of hard contact, but last season he began to drive the ball for home-run power. Andujar is a solid defender at the hot corner, which will help his case to crack the starting lineup at some point this season. Scouts believe he should hit .270 or higher in the big leagues with 20-homer pop, and hitting in that lineup, Andujar is more than worthy of being added in 12-team leagues once he is promoted to the big leagues.

15. Jesse Winker (OF, CIN, MLB)
Stats: 137 PA, .298/.375/.529, 7 HR, 1 SB, 10.9% BB%, 17.5% K%
ETA: Opening Day
Cincinnati Reds fans have been extremely excited about the prospect of Winker beginning 2018 in the majors since he debuted last year. Though he never showed much power in the minors, Winker proved that he has enough to make a bandbox like Great American Ballpark work to his advantage and give him some power he might not have. Though he probably tops out at 20 home runs, Winker will provide fantasy owners with one of the highest floors of any outfield prospect, boasting incredible plate discipline and a hit tool that should allow him to easily hit over .290 in the big leagues. Winker will start as part of an outfield rotation between Billy Hamilton, Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler, but it might not be long till he forces one of those three out of a regular spot. His lack of power raises concerns in shallower leagues that he might not pay off, but owners in some 12-team leagues and certainly deeper leagues could find plenty of value in Winker.

16. Tyler Mahle (SP, CIN, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 59.1 IP, 2.73 ERA, 3.25 FIP, 21.2% K%, 5.4% BB%, 6.8% HR/FB
ETA: Opening Day
Mahle joins Winker as high-floor Reds prospects that will begin the season in the majors. Though not an explosive arm, Mahle has shown the ability to generate consistent outs and maintain a respectable strikeout rate. He has a mid-90s fastball with plenty of movement that can be a plus pitch for him and a slider that serves as his top outpitch. The sinking action on his fastball, slender frame and innings-eating mentality draw comparisons to Mike Leake, which would be a solid arm for fantasy owners to have. Mahle will not be a strikeout artist in the majors, but he should get the job done on a consistent basis and keep the ball on the ground enough to avoid being harmed by Great American Smallpark.

17. Austin Meadows (OF, PIT, AAA)
Stats: 312 PA, .250/.311/.359, 4 HR, 11 SB, 7.7% BB%, 16.0% K%
ETA: Mid-May
The trade of Andrew McCutchen to San Francisco cleared the way for Meadows to a starting outfield spot in 2018. Now it is just up to him to prove he is ready and healthy for the spot. The toolsy prospect has always drawn rave reviews from scouts for a plus hit tool, above-average power and plus speed while grading out as a solid defender. However, injuries and inconsistent seasons have plagued him throughout his professional career. If he can stay healthy and put his tools to work, he should reach the majors in no time. Once there, he would be worth owning in most 12-team leagues.

18. Nick Senzel (2B/3B/SS, CIN, AA)
Stats: 235 PA, .340/.413/.560, 10 HR, 5 SB, 11.1% BB%, 18.3% K%
ETA: Mid-June
The third Reds’ prospect to land on this list, Senzel is by far the most exciting. Senzel has done nothing but mash pitching since he was drafted second overall back in 2016 and now is on the cusp of a big-league role. The Reds will not have him in the majors to begin the season, partly because of service time and partly because of a crowded infield, but the uber-prospect will eventually see time in the big leagues at either second base or shortstop if either of the two starters struggle. Senzel’s high floor and ceiling of a .300-plus batter with 20-plus home runs and a 15-plus stolen bases make him one of the most exciting fantasy prospects in the game, and one fantasy owners should consider stashing until his promotion and owners in all leagues will want to add as soon as he is called up.

19. Jorge Alfaro (C, PHI, MLB)
Stats: 114 PA, .318/.360/.514, 5 HR, 0 SB, 2.6% BB%, 28.9% K%
ETA: Opening Day
There is a lot to be excited about with Alfaro. He is a catching prospect expected to start to begin the year and has plenty of pop in his bat. The risk with him is that he lacks plate discipline and strikes out too much for his own good. Alfaro is not going to hit for a high average because of that, but the hope from fantasy owners is that he hits for enough power and holds down the starting job. In two-catcher leagues, Alfaro is worth owning simply because he has more offensive upside than a lot of other catchers in the league, but he comes with plenty of risk.

20. J.P. Crawford (3B/SS, PHI, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 556 PA, .243/.351/.405, 15 HR, 5 SB, 14.2% BB%, 17.4% K%
ETA: Opening Day
Crawford is not the most exciting prospect from a fantasy perspective. His power has not shown up as much as some expected it to and his hit tool has left a lot to be desired. However, Crawford will begin the year as the Phillies’ starting shortstop and has the plate discipline needed at least to give him a high on-base percentage. He also still has the tools needed to be a solid fantasy with a likely 2018 ceiling of a .270 batting average with 15-20 home runs. Batting at the bottom of Philadelphia’s lineup will not help him produce much counting stats, but there is value in having a guy who just has guaranteed playing time. He is a solid middle-infield depth option in shallower leagues and a decent starter in deeper leagues given the upside he has.

21. Francisco Mejia (C, CLE, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 383 PA, .297/.346/.490, 14 HR, 7 SB, 6.3% BB%, 13.8% K%
ETA: Early June

22. Eloy Jimenez (OF, CWS, AA)
Stats: (from A+) 296 PA, .302/.375/.570, 16 HR, 0 SB, 10.1% BB%, 18.9% K%
ETA: Early July

23. Brian Anderson (3B, MIA, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 137 PA, .339/.416/.602, 8 HR, 0 SB, 8.8% BB%, 19.7% K%
ETA: Opening Day

24. Luis Urias (2B/SS, SD, AA)
Stats: 526 PA, .296/.398/.380, 3 HR, 7 SB, 12.9% BB%, 12.4% K%
ETA: Early July

25. Walker Buehler (SP, LAD, MLB)
Stats: (from AA) 49.0 IP, 3.49 ERA, 2.95 FIP, 32.8% K%, 7.7% BB%, 16.1% HR/FB
ETA: Early August

26. Luiz Gohara (SP, ATL, MLB)
Stats: (from AA) 52.0 IP, 2.60 ERA, 2.52 FIP, 27.7% K%, 8.3% BB%, 4.4% HR/FB
ETA: Mid-May

27. Nick Gordon (SS, MIN, AA)
Stats: 578 PA, .270/.341/.408, 9 HR, 13 SB, 9.2% BB%, 23.2% K%
ETA: Early June

28. Brandon Woodruff (SP, MIL, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 75.1 IP, 4.30 ERA, 4.44 FIP, 21.5% K%, 7.7% BB%, 10.7% HR/FB
ETA: Opening Day

29. Michael Kopech (SP, CWS, AAA)
Stats: (from AA) 119.1 IP, 2.87 ERA, 2.83 FIP, 31.8% K%, 12.3% BB%, 5.2% HR/FB
ETA: Early August

30. Chance Sisco (C, BAL, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 388 PA, .267/.340/.395, 7 HR, 2 SB, 8.2% BB%, 25.5% K%
ETA: Opening Day

 

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