2017 Prospects: Top 30 Impact Rookies for Fantasy Drafts

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Hello everyone, and welcome to my pre-season 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 season is not even underway yet, and already there have been some major value changes for fantasy baseball prospects. Alex Reyes’ stock disappeared as he was shut down with Tommy John surgery, any Reds’ pitching prospect has seen an increase in value with injuries to Anthony DeSclafani and Homer Bailey, Brett Lawrie was released (which could open up a door for a certain second base prospect), and several Rockies pitchers are now going to open the season on the DL which could open the door for guys like German Marquez and Jeff Hoffman.

This is the first and only pre-season Top-30 Fantasy Rankings for Impact Rookies article, but this will become a weekly article series once the season is underway. Almost everyone in the Top-10 will drop out of the list as most of them figure to debut with their club on Opening Day, so enjoy seeing these names while you can.

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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 2016, 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. Andrew Benintendi (OF, BOS, MLB)
Stats: 118 PA, .295/.359/.476, 2 HR, 1 SB, 8.5% BB rate, 21.2% K rate
ETA: Opening Day
It’s so tough not to give this to Moncada, but Benintendi is about as low-risk as they come. He is disciplined, he makes consistent contact and he possesses a power/speed combination that is likely to result in at least a 15/15 season, possibly even a 20/20 season. Plus, he is guaranteed to open up the season as the Red Sox left fielder while batting either second or third. He is going to be the favorite to win the AL Rookie of the Year award and should be the best fantasy rookie by season’s end.

2. Yoan Moncada (2B/3B, CWS, MLB)
Stats: (from AA) 207 PA, .277/.379/.531, 11 HR, 9 SB, 13.0% BB rate, 30.9% K rate
ETA: Late-April
Plain and simple: no rookie is more dynamic than Moncada. He can do it all. Need him to steal 40 bases? He’ll do that. Need 25-30 home runs? He’ll do that too. The only problem with him is that he still has a bit of a long swing and needs to cut down on the swings and misses. He strikes out too much right now, and the White Sox will likely opt to have him prove he can lower his strikeout rate before he is called up to the majors. But rest assured, he will spend the overwhelming majority of 2017 in the majors and should be a high-impact bat at second base for fantasy owners.

3. Josh Bell (1B/OF, PIT, MLB)
Stats: 152 PA, .273/.368/.406, 3 HR, 0 SB, 13.8% BB rate, 12.5% K rate
ETA: Opening Day
Bell has the same allure as Benintendi: low-risk. The Pirates’ switch-hitting first baseman is incredibly disciplined as evidenced by the fact he has only once struck out more than 16 percent in a full season of work, while still maintaining a walk rate north of 10 percent and an average at .280 to .300. The one knock on Bell has always been an apparent lack of game power, though he is now starting to translate his raw power into home run production and should be able to blast at least 20 bombs in 2017. Combine that with a very high chance of hitting above .280 (possibly .300) for the whole season and a regular starting position in a potent lineup, and you’ve got a guy who should provide fantasy owners with a ton of production.

4. Hunter Renfroe (OF, SD, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 563 PA, .306/.336/.557, 30 HR, 5 SB, 3.9% BB rate, 20.4% K rate
ETA: Opening Day
There’s a lot of reasons to be nervous about Renfroe. He has poor plate discipline and his top fantasy asset is his power bat, which will now call pitcher-friendly Petco Park home. But most scouts believe he should be able to crush it in San Diego regardless of the deeper outfield fences and he has always been a good contact hitter which should allow him to at least post a batting average north of .250. He is all but guaranteed the starting right field gig in San Diego and should be a valuable prospect to fantasy owners looking for some home runs and RBIs.

5. Dansby Swanson (SS, ATL, MLB)
Stats: 145 PA, .302/.361/.442, 3 HR, 3 SB, 9.0% BB rate, 23.4% K rate
ETA: Opening Day (?)
Swanson has a question mark next to his ETA right now only because he is currently dealing with a back injury right now. He is probable for Opening Day, however, a welcoming sight I’m sure for fantasy owners. Swanson is not the most dynamic prospect in baseball, but he should be a solid bet to hit over .280 with a chance at posting a 15/15 for the Braves. He is their franchise shortstop and will get ample opportunity to solidify his title right from Opening Day if he is healthy. He should bat near the top of the Braves’ lineup, making him a fine source for runs scored as well.

6. Tom Murphy (C, COL, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 321 PA, .327/.361/.647, 19 HR, 1 SB, 5.0% BB rate, 24.3% K rate
ETA: Opening Day
I could just as easily copy and paste the entry for Renfore into Murphy’s slot, subbing out only the words ‘outfielder’ for ‘catcher’ and ‘pitcher-friendly Petco Park’ for ‘hitter-friendly Coors Field.’ Both those word changes sound amazing, why isn’t he further up on this list? As of right now, Murphy is only guaranteed part-time catching duty to start the season and his plate discipline issues are arguably worse than Renfroe’s leaving him as a possibility to bat below .250. But with a power bat like Murphy playing in a position with scarce offensive talent like catcher, he has to warrant ownership in most leagues in spite of the limited playing time.

7. Manny Margot (OF, SD, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 566 PA, .304/.351/.426, 6 HR, 30 SB, 6.4% BB rate, 11.3% K rate
ETA: Opening Day(?)
Like Swanson, Margot’s Opening Day status is in question because of an injury he is currently dealing with. But if he can get over it (most believe he will), he has the chance to be a prime source of stolen bases for fantasy owners. The Padres’ future center fielder has always demonstrated the ability to steal 30+ bases in a given season while hitting at least .270, making him a strong candidate to lead off for San Diego. Expect stolen bases, a high batting average and plenty of runs scored from the 22-year-old outfielder.

8. Aaron Judge (OF, NYY, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 410 PA, .270/.366/.489, 19 HR, 5 SB, 11.5% BB rate, 23.9% K rate
ETA: Opening Day
Another guy who will open the season with his big-league team, Judge will start for the Yankees in right field. Judge has solid plate discipline, but he tends to swing and miss a bit too much as he tries to generate too much power. But boy oh boy does he generate a ton of power. He could be a 30-homer guy in 2017, valuable even with a poor batting average. His contact troubles could force him back down to the minors if they prove too severe, but he will get every opportunity to prove he can hit at the big-league level.

9. Dan Vogelbach (1B, SEA, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 581 PA, .287/.410/.495, 23 HR, 0 SB, 16.7% BB rate, 17.9% K rate
ETA: Opening Day
The biggest knock on Vogelbach is that he lacks athleticism. But who cares about athleticism, this is fantasy baseball. All we care about is production and Vogelbach has proven that he can produce great numbers. He is disciplined at the plate and has enough power to be an easy 20-homer guy for the Mariners. Even being limited to first base, Vogelbach should be valuable enough to warrant owning in redraft leagues.

10. Lucas Giolito (SP, CWS, MLB)
Stats: 21.1 IP, 6.75 ERA, 8.21 FIP, 10.9% K rate, 11.9% BB rate, .295 AVG
ETA: Late April
Giolito is a tantalizing pitching prospect with the chance to be one of the game’s top pitchers. All he needs to do is find confidence at the major-league level. He dominated both Double- and Triple-A in 2016 and has proven that most of his command issues are behind him. Giolito still has the nasty stuff and now is in the system of a team with little pitching depth to really hold him back if he’s ready. If he gets the call up, be ready to snag him as he could be a breakout candidate in 2017 and emerge as the next ace of the Chicago White Sox.

11. Tyler Glasnow (SP, PIT, MLB)
Stats: 23.1 IP, 4.24 ERA, 4.26 FIP, 22.9% K rate, 12.4% BB rate, .247 AVG
ETA: Late April
The right-handed equivalent of Blake Snell, Glasnow’s strikeout stuff puts him in a very similar situation as the Tampa Bay Rays’ southpaw. Both are unlikely to solve their command issues and will need to work out the kinks at the big-league level. Fortunately for Glasnow, he has the pitching guru Ray Searage to coach him through is issues. His elite stuff should allow him to put together a ton of dominating outings, but he will also have a clunker here and there where he completely loses control and walks himself out of starts.

12. Franklin Barreto (2B/SS, OAK, AAA)
Stats: (from AA) 507 PA, .281/.340/.413, 10 HR, 30 SB, 7.1% BB rate, 17.6% K rate
ETA: Early May
The only player in Top-15 with no MLB experience, Barreto is on the verge of changing that in 2017. The only real threat standing between Barreto and a starting role with Oakland is Jed Lowrie. And come on, that’s not really much of a threat. If Barreto hits like he is capable of to begin the season, he should be the Athletics’ starting second baseman by the beginning of May. And with his outstanding power/speed combination for a middle-infielder, he should be plenty valuable for fantasy owners.

13. Reynaldo Lopez (SP, CWS, MLB)
Stats: 44.0 IP, 4.91 ERA, 3.92 FIP, 20.9% K rate, 11.0% BB rate
ETA: Late April
Lopez has the high-octane fastball and a sharp, biting curveball, but he still has some more work to do in the minors putting the finishing touches on his command and changeup before he is ready for a full-time starting role. Still, his ability to miss bats should be valuable once he reaches the majors again and he should be a valuable arm to own in most redraft leagues.

14. Jharel Cotton (SP, OAK, MLB)
Stats: 29.1 IP, 2.15 ERA, 3.76 FIP, 20.5% K rate, 3.6% BB rate, .185 AVG
ETA: Opening Day
The only area Cotton experienced any issues with in 2016 was with the long ball. Other than that, Cotton was about as perfect as you could be. He missed bats at a high rate and kept the walks to a sub-8 percent rate all season long. Cotton does not have the stuff to continue to completely dominate the majors like he has the minors, but he should still be a solid No. 3 starter for the A’s and a reliable arm for fantasy owners in 2017.

15. Mitch Haniger (OF, SEA, MLB)
Stats: 123 PA, .229/.309/.404, 5 HR, 0 SB, 9.8% Bb rate, 22.0% K rate
ETA: Opening Day
A favorite sleeper candidate among many, Haniger will begin the season as a starting outfielder for Seattle in the middle of a deep lineup. He made adjustments to his swing last season and became an outstanding power hitter with a patient approach. He could be a potential .270/20/10 outfielder in 2017 for the Mariners.

16. Bradley Zimmer (OF, CLE, AAA)
Stats: 150 PA, .242/.349/.305, 1 HR, 5 SB, 14.0% BB rate, 37.3% K rate
ETA: Late April
Don’t let those Triple-A numbers fool you, this is a new Bradley Zimmer. Like Haniger, he made some tweaks to his swing last season. Unlike Haniger, he made them in the middle of the season and not at the beginning. He was getting familiarized with his new swing and Cleveland allowed him to work though his issues. Now he is hitting better than any Cleveland bat thus far in Spring Training and is putting himself in Opening Day talks. Zimmer will likely need to prove himself first at the Triple-A level, but with his new approach, it appears it won’t be long till he talks his tantalizing talents to the majors where even debuting in Late April, he could still post a 20/20 season.

17. Amir Garrett (SP, CIN, AAA)
Stats: 67.2 IP, 3.46 ERA, 4.14 FIP, 19.7% K rate, 11.3% BB rate, .198 AVG
ETA: Opening Day
With injuries to Homer Bailey and Anthony DeSclafani, Garrett is now among the two favorites to open the season in the Cincinnati rotation. He has yet to debut in the majors and could be a major sleeper candidate for strikeouts and a reasonable ERA. Garrett has the stuff to get big-league hitters out and should not be too fazed by the highest stage in his rookie campaign.

18. Cody Reed (SP, CIN, MLB)
Stats: 47.2 IP, 7.36 ERA, 6.06 FIP, 18.7% K rate, 8.3% BB rate
ETA: Opening Day
Reed had a terrible debut in the majors, largely due to his inability to avoid the long ball. But READ too deep into those numbers (sorry), he still possesses a ton of potential. For starters, he will open the season in the Reds’ rotation and is only 23 years old with one of the best fastball/slider combinations among left-handed pitching prospects. He could be a sleeper heading into 2017 redraft leagues.

19. Amed Rosario (SS, NYM, AA)
Stats: 237 PA, .341/.481, 2 HR, 6 SB, 8.0% BB rate, 21.5% K rate
ETA: Mid-May
Rosario has done nothing but improve each and every year. He has gone from a small-time prospect to the future at shortstop for the Mets. He has demonstrated an ability to make consistent contact while also flashing 20+ stolen base speed. The Mets don’t have many great bats right now and will need all the help they can get if they hope to continue to keep up with the Nationals in the NL East and Rosario is just that bat. Expect him to dominate Triple-A early and warrant a promotion by the middle of May, if not before.

20. Matt Chapman (3B, OAK, AAA)
Stats: (from AA) 504 PA, .244/.335/.521, 29 HR, 7 SB, 11.7% BB rate, 29.2% K rate
ETA: Early May
Looking for dingers? Chapman is just your guy. He is a future Gold Glove third baseman with immense power potential as evidenced by his total of 36 homers in 2016. He will not begin the season with Oakland and will instead likely work to improve his plate discipline, but they may opt to shift Ryon Healy to designated hitter or first and promote Chapman by the beginning of May.

21. Cody Bellinger (1B/OF, LAD, AAA)
Stats: (from AA) 465 PA, .263/.359/.484, 23 HR, 8 SB, 12.7% BB rate, 20.2% K rate
ETA: Early June

22. German Marquez (SP, COL, MLB)
Stats: 20.2 IP, 5.23 ERA, 4.26 FIP, 15.3% K rate, 6.1% BB rate, .315 AVG
ETA: Opening Day

23. Rafael Devers (3B, BOS, A+)
Stats: 546 PA, .282/.335/.443, 11 HR, 18 SB, 7.3% BB rate, 17.2% K rate
ETA: Early June

24. Josh Hader (SP, MIL, AAA)
Stats: 69.0 IP, 5.22 ERA, 3.81 FIP, 29.3% K rate, 12.0% BB rate, .241 AVG
ETA: Early May

25. Jose De Leon (SP, LAD, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 86.1 IP, 2.61 ERA, 3.24 FIP, 32.5% K rate, 5.9% BB rate, .190 AVG
ETA: Mid-May

26. Willy Adames (SS, TB, AA)
Stats: 568 PA, .274/.372/.430, 11 HR, 13 SB, 13.0% BB rate, 21.3% K rate
ETA: Early June

27. Derek Fisher (OF, HOU, AAA)
Stats: 118 PA, .290/.347/.505, 5 HR, 5 SB, 7.6% BB rate, 22.0% K rate
ETA: Late June

28. Austin Meadows (OF, PIT, AAA)
Stats: 145 PA, .214/.297/.460, 6 HR, 8 SB, 10.3% BB rate, 23.4% K rate
ETA: Mid-July

29. Ronald Guzman (1B, TEX, AAA)
Stats: 94 PA, .216/.266/.330, 1 HR, 0 SB, 6.4% BB rate, 24.5% K rate
ETA: Early May

30. Bruce Maxwell (C, OAK, MLB)
Stats: 101 PA, .283/.337/.402, 1 HR, 0 SB, 7.9% BB rate, 23.8% K rate
ETA: Mid-May

 

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