MLB Ready Prospects: Top 30 Fantasy Rankings for Impact Rookies (Week 15)

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Of course just a few days after I write my recently promoted prospects article and say that no major prospects will be promoted before the All-Star Break the Pirates promote first base prospect Josh Bell and the Nationals promote Trea Turner. And did you see Bell’s grand slam against the Chicago Cubs the other day? Both those guys figure to have major impacts both for their real team and for any fantasy teams willing to own them. Well now with the All-Star Break upon us and my boy Adam Duvall set to take his swings in the Home Run Derby, I think I can safely say that there should not be any more major roster moves. Now the days following the break on the other hand will be another story entirely and I fully expect to see some roster shake-ups before the trade deadline. Teams will need to gauge needs and find out if they can fix their problems with internal solutions or if they will need to make deals to fix their ailments.

One quick note to add. A guy to keep an eye on in fantasy leagues is Austin Hedges. The Padres catcher is tearing it up at Triple-A to the tune of a .389/.434/.786 slash line with 14 home runs and some very promising plate discipline numbers. He does not make this list because he does not qualify as a rookie, but he is still worthy of a stash.

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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. Alex Bregman (SS, HOU, AAA)
Stats: 323 PA, .309/.416/.603, 19 HR, 5 SB, 10.2% K rate, 13.6% BB rate
ETA: Post-All-Star Break
Talk about starting off Triple-A with a bang! In eight games so far, Bregman is slashing .389/.421/.889 with five home runs, a 5.3% walk rate and 18.4% strikeout rate. He is truly doing everything in his power to warrant a promotion to the majors and he may soon receive it. Though Luis Valbuena is absolutely killing it right now at third for the big league club, he is a well below-average defender and could be shifted over to play first or DH and take over for the struggling trio of Evan Gattis (at DH), Marwin Gonzalez and A.J. Reed (it is really painful to see him struggle, but he is just having too tough of a time trying to make contact). With the Astros now only 6.5 out of first place in their division, they only need a slight bit of help to really push them over the edge and a guy like Bregman could be just the player to do it. I would be very surprised at this point to see them roll into August without him on their roster.

2. Lucas Giolito (SP, WAS, AAA)
Stats: 71.0 IP, 3.17 ERA, 3.32 FIP, 9.13 K/9, 4.31 BB/9, 0.25 HR/9, 1.42 WHIP
ETA: Post-All-Star Break
In what I considered to be a very surprising move, the Nationals opted to promote Lucas Giolito from Double-A rather than Austin Voth from Triple-A in spite of the fact that Voth was doing better at the higher level. But Giolito quickly showed off why he was more deserving of the call up. He allowed only one hit and two walks over four shutout innings in his rain-shortened debut. Though he had just one punchout, there was still plenty to love about what he did. Then came his next outing against the Mets and he was kicked around to the tune of seven hits, four walks, two homers and four runs (all earned) while striking out four in 3.2 innings of work. After that start, he was optioned to Triple-A, but mostly just in an effort to keep him working through the All-Star Break. My guess is that he will be back almost as soon as the break ends. He should still be owned in all leagues.

3. Manuel Margot (OF, SD, AAA)
Stats: 379 PA, .299/.349/.422, 4 HR, 23 SB, 9.5% K rate, 6.3% BB rate
ETA: Post-Trade Deadline
With the Padres having already made it clear that they are willing to deal Matt Kemp and Melvin Upton away and eat some of their salaries, it appears that one of their replacements would wind up being Manny Margot in the outfield. Acquired from the Red Sox in the Craig Kimbrel deal, Margot has just been a pure hitter and base stealer since he started playing professional ball and that has not changed with the new organization. The 21-year-old is one of the more patient hitters in the minors and has enough speed to swipe 25+ bags in the majors. In San Diego, his speed plays particularly well in that expansive outfield. As a guy who is likely to hit at the top of the lineup, he could be a very reliable source of batting average, stolen bases and runs scored. He could be one of the few major impact bats remaining for fantasy owners.

4. Jose De Leon (SP, LAD, AAA)
Stats: 29.2 IP, 3.03 ERA, 3.67 FIP, 13.35 K/9, 3.34 BB/9, 1.21 HR/9, 1.08 WHIP
ETA: Post-All-Star Break
The Dodgers’ once promising rotation is starting to crumble. Julio Urias has about reached his innings limit and will now go to the bullpen at Triple-A, Clayton Kershaw is now on the 15-day DL, Hyun-Jin Ryu was mashed in his return from the DL, Kenta Maeda has a 5.40 ERA in his last three starts and now the rotation’s success appears to hinge on Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy and Bud Norris. For a team that needs to compete and catch up fast, it makes no sense not to promote Jose De Leon. They need an impact arm and a guy who struck out nine over 6.1 innings of work in his last time out certainly fits that description. While he may still need some time to try to go longer in his outings (6.1 innings is his new single-game high in innings pitched for this season), his dominant stuff should reach the majors shortly after the break where he will start for the Dodgers. When promoted, he warrants owning in all leagues.

5. Orlando Arcia (SS, MIL, AAA)
Stats: 360 PA, .267/.323/.395, 7 HR, 12 SB, 16.4% K rate, 7.2% BB rate
ETA: Late July
The pieces just seem to be filling in perfectly for Arcia to receive a promotion. All except one, which I will get to later. First the good news for him. He has been taking reps at second base and all of a sudden the right-handed bat in the Brewers’ second base platoon, Aaron Hill, is traded to the Red Sox. The hot-hitting Jake Elmore (owner of a .320/.428/.380 slash in Triple-A) was promoted to take his place on the roster, but that should not necessarily be enough to stop Arcia from reaching the majors eventually. Now onto the bad news. In his past 12 games, Arcia owns a rather pedestrian slash of .220/.339/.320. While he has brought his walk rate up, he is also striking out more. If he can get things going again, he could get a chance to reach the big leagues this season and start to have an impact, but he will need to get going soon or else the Brewers might just wait until next season to promote him.

6. Robert Stephenson (SP, CIN, AAA)
Stats: 88.0 IP, 3.89 ERA, 4.71 FIP, 7.67 K/9, 4.70 BB/9, 1.13 HR/9, 1.32 WHIP
ETA: Late July
The Reds need some help for their rotation and at this point, it seems likely Robert Stephenson will be the next arm they turn to for that assistance. Bob Steve has not dominated Triple-A quite as much as I’m sure the Reds would like, but they can’t keep running Brandon Finnegan out there who has clearly run out of gas as he is now only four innings shy of tying last season’s innings pitched total, also his career high for a season. John Lamb has been roughed up of late as has Cody Reed (though in fairness to Reed, two of his four career starts have come against the Cubs). Stephenson has gone at least six innings in each of his past three starts and has been striking out batters at an 11.29 K/9 rate during that span. He also has a 3.93 ERA and 3.67 FIP in those starts. Homer Bailey will also be up soon to provide some much needed insurance to this team, but Stephenson is a high upside arm who is just on the cusp of being ready to regularly face big league hitters. He would be worth owning in 12+ team leagues.

7. Jose Berrios (SP, MIN, AAA)
Stats: 83.1 IP, 2.59 ERA, 3.20 FIP, 9.18 K/9, 3.24 BB/9, 0.65 HR/9, 1.04 WHIP
ETA: Post-All-Star Break
Have you ever stopped to take a look at what the Twins’ rotation has done this season? If not, I will enlighten you on their numbers so far. Only one starting pitcher (qualifies must have more than 10 innings out of the rotation) has an ERA below 5.00 and no starters own a FIP lower than 4.00. They have been absolutely awful. With that said, Ervin Santana has a 1.33 ERA and 2.44 FIP in his last three starts and has built up some solid trade value. And if Santana or anyone for that matter is dealt from the rotation, it appears that Jose Berrios would be given a second shot at filling the hole. He has a 1.26 ERA and 2.87 FIP in his last 35.2 innings pitched (five starts). And if you were wondering about his command, don’t worry, he has a 2.52 BB/9 rate in that time. The Twins weren’t competing when they gave him his debut so it seems probable that they are not afraid about his service clock at this point, just as long as he will provide them with solid production. Owners are advised to approach him with a bit of caution, but also to keep in mind that when he was promoted earlier his walk rate was around the 4.00 mark and it appears that he has really reigned it in. He could be about ready to provide owners and the Twins with ace levels of production once he returns to the big leagues.

8. Jake Thompson (SP, PHI, AAA)
Stats: 104.2 IP, 2.58 ERA, 3.89 FIP, 6.19 K/9, 2.67 BB/9, 0.77 HR/9, 1.14 WHIP
ETA: Late July
Another guy who needs to come in and help an ailing rotation, Thompson has been extremely sharp this season for the Triple-A Lehigh Valley Pigs. I know I’ve mentioned his success since June 5, but his numbers since then just keep getting better and better. After seven shutout innings in his last outing, Thompson now has a 0.73 ERA and 3.14 FIP in that time span. And as I’m sure I’ve mentioned in the past, the reason for that rather high FIP is not due to control issues (2.19 BB/9 and 0.18 HR/9 in that span), but rather an extremely low strikeout rate 4.93 K/9. With Aaron Nola struggling in his past couple of starts and a few pitchers likely to be dealt at the deadline, Thompson seems the perfect guy to come up and help solidify a spot int their staff. Thompson and his strikeouts or lack thereof do not possess near the upside of some of the other arms on this list, but rather it is his high floor that is worth owning. He is a true bulldog and should provide Mike Leake levels of production in the majors.

9. Gary Sanchez (C, NYY, AAA)
Stats: 247 PA, .286/.328/.489, 9 HR, 5 SB, 14.6% K rate, 4.9% BB rate
ETA: Post-Trade Deadline
One of the many guys on this list whose value hinges on the trade of another player, Gary Sanchez is invaluable if Brian McCann is traded and worthless if he is not traded. Sanchez could provide production equal to or greater than what Willson Contreras is doing right now for the Cubs and for fantasy owners because Sanchez has much more power than Contreras. While it is true that he may not get as many RBI chances as Contreras does because he hits in a far worse lineup, his ability to mash bombs gives him a lot of potential upside. Owners in desperate need of help from the catcher position could stash him and bank on the Yankees selling McCann, but the risk that the Yankees’ starting catcher might not be dealt should be sufficient enough to keep most owners in single catcher leagues from stashing him for now.

10. Jesse Winker (OF, CIN, AAA)
Stats: 242 PA, .283/.376/.376, 3 HR, 0 SB, 14.0% K rate, 13.6% BB rate
ETA: Post-Trade Deadline
With Jay Bruce likely to be moved in the near future, the Reds will have a hole in their outfield that needs filling. That hole appears likely to be filled by Winker once he recovers from his wrist injury down at Triple-A. Though he has not shown much pop in the minors, his strikeout-to-walk ratio is incredibly promising and it bodes well for future success in the majors. There is the possibility that Scott Schebler takes over the role of right fielder as he has himself put together quite the solid season down in Triple-A, but my guess is that Winker will be the guy given the first look at the job. If promoted, he will need to exhibit the ability to hit for some more pop than what he has done so far. But with him being a reliable source of batting average production and his likely position in the two hole of the Reds lineup gives him enough value to warrant owning him in 12+ team leagues. Should he start hitting for more pop, he is a guy who could be worth owning in 10+ team leagues.

11. Andrew Benintendi (OF, BOS, AA)
Stats: 351 PA, .311/.376/.526, 7 HR, 14 SB, 10.3% K rate, 9.1% BB rate
ETA: Post-Trade Deadline
The Red Sox have a great bat at seemingly every position except for left field. With Chris Young now on the DL and Brock Holt and Bryce Brentz currently making up the platoon in the outfield, the team has a glaring need for some help out there. That’s where Andrew Benintendi comes in. The seventh overall pick in the 2015 draft has been on another level since June 24, slashing .392/.466/.745 with a 1.00 BB/K ratio (12.1% walk and strikeout rates) with three home runs and two stolen bases in that time span. Scouts have often talked about how this kid is a pure hitter who is going to be a potential Silver Slugger in the outfield.

According to the Boston Herald, Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombroski remarked on how Benintendi was not ready to hit MLB pitching (this was back when he had a .246 average at Double-A) earlier in June, but added, “Generally if you can perform well at the Double-A level, you can perform well at the big league level. . . I have jumped many a players in my career from Double-A to the big leagues. I have no problem with that.” Benintendi is currently crushing Double-A and looks about ready to break out in the big leagues.

12. Josh Hader (SP, MIL, AAA)
Stats: 81.0 IP, 2.56 ERA, 2.71 FIP, 11.56 K/9, 3.67 BB/9, 0.33 HR/9, 1.21 WHIP
ETA: Late July
When the Brewers traded Aaron Hill to the Red Sox, they acquired another Aaron, Aaron Wilkerson, who has been pitching very well this season. Wilkerson owns a 2.44 ERA and 3.16 FIP in 48.0 innings and could receive a look later this season with Milwaukee. This could prove to slow down Josh Hader and his path to the majors as the southpaw has not quite pitched as well in Triple-A. In his 24.0 innings at AAA, he owns a 6.38 ERA, 4.14 FIP and troublesome 5.25 BB/9. Though the Brewers’ rotation could certainly use an upgrade, they will not be looking to start the service time clock on a guy who has struggled as mightily as Hader has. If he does not right the ship soon, he may not reach the majors until 2017. At this point, he should not be stashed.

13. Alex Reyes (SP, STL, AAA)
Stats: 41.1 IP, 4.35 ERA, 3.74 FIP, 13.28 K/9, 4.35 BB/9, 0.87 HR/9, 1.35 WHIP
ETA: Late July
Reyes turned in arguably his sharpest outing of the season on July 4 when he went 6.2 innings and allowed only one run on three hits with two walks while striking out nine. Unfortunately for him, there are a couple of factors working against him. First, between June 7 and June 28, he had compiled a 7.32 ERA in 19.2 innings of work (five starts) with a very nice 11.90 K/9, but a very dismal 5.03 BB/9. Second, the Cardinals starters have been sharp of late with only two starters owning an ERA above 4.00 and only one with a FIP above 4.00 in the past 30 days of work. It sounds more and more at this point like if a promotion for Alex Reyes is going to happen, it will be for him to come in and serve as more of a bullpen piece, possible spot starter. With that said, he has the talent to eventually force his way into the rotation and could be a major help to both the Cardinals and to fantasy owners, but at this point he is probably not worth stashing unless a Cardinal pitcher is hurt.

14. Hunter Renfroe (OF, SD, AAA)
Stats: 373 PA, .335/.362/.611, 21 HR, 3 SB, 18.8% K rate, 4.0% BB rate
ETA: Post-Trade Deadline
If both Matt Kemp and Melvin Upton are dealt, one can be assured that just like Manny Margot, Hunter Renfroe will also see time in the majors. Where Margot is a speedster with little power, Renfroe is a slugger and corner outfielder with little speed. The concern with Renfroe is his lack of plate discipline and his power which does not play as well in Petco as does Margot’s speed. But he should still hit enough to warrant owning in most leagues once promoted. He appears to be second on the list for the Padres in the order of who is promoted first, but if he does get a chance he could certainly be another impact bat for fantasy owners.

15. Joey Gallo (3B/OF, TEX, AAA)
Stats: 238 PA, .255/.382/.571, 15 HR, 1 SB, 29.0% K rate, 16.8% BB rate
ETA: Post-Trade Deadline
Gallo had been in the middle of a very promising season at Triple-A, but has since started to show some signs of reverting to his old ways. Between May 31 and June 15, he had not gone a single game without striking out and had struck out a grand total of 20 times (34.5% of the time). In fact since May 31, he has struck out 42 times (35.3% rate) while only hitting six home runs and slashing .231/.328/.500.

With the swing-and-miss being the major drawback to Gallo, owners have to expect that cold stretches like this will happen from time to time. But if he can continue to show his 40+ home run potential when he plays, he will continue to have value in most leagues. At this point though, much like the first baseman next on this list, his value hinges on a trade or an injury.

16. Dan Vogelbach (1B, CHC, AAA)
Stats: 345 PA, .312/.426/.547, 15 HR, 0 SB, 18.8% K rate, 15.9% BB rate
ETA: Post-Trade Deadline
As mentioned in last week’s rankings, Vogelbach has value if and only if he is traded away. With the deadline coming up, owners in deeper fantasy leagues who have an NA spot open may want to consider stashing the first base prospect as he has proven in both this season and throughout his Minor League career that he is a tremendous hitter. He has consistently shown 20+ home run power and has exhibited tremendous plate discipline, giving him quite a high floor at the big league level. If he were to be traded, it is likely he could get a starting role with his new ball club almost immediately. Of course, owners interested in stashing him must know that obviously there is a lot of risk involved in this because it requires a) for him to be traded and b) for him to be traded to a team in need of a first baseman or designated hitter.

17. J.P. Crawford (SS, PHI, AAA)
Stats: 367 PA, .267/.323/.395, 7 HR, 12 SB, 16.4% K rate, 7.2% BB rate
ETA: Early August
This season, the shortstop position has been manned entirely by Freddy Galvis. And there is nothing wrong with that except that . . . well, he is Freddy Galvis. He plays solid defense, but also provides awful offense which is not even worth owning in 20 team dynasty leagues. That .229/.259/.367 slash line? Appalling. Meanwhile, J.P. Crawford got off to an awful start at Triple-A, but has really turned it around as of late, slashing an impressive .351/.402/.457 with a home run and a pair of steals since June 15. And though his walk rate in that time span is still lower than his strikeout rate, both are manageable (6.7% BB rate and 11.5% strikeout rate) and neither are concerning. With the Phillies 11 games out of first and seven games under .500, they are clearly no longer in contention, but they are a team with a history of calling up their prospects when they are ready rather than for service time reasons (see Aaron Nola in 2015). I think that he will replace Galvis at short shortly after the trade deadline and at that point, he will be worth owning in most fantasy leagues.

18. Willy Adames (SS, TB, AA)
Stats: 348 PA, .266/.366/.441, 8 HR, 9 SB, 20.7% K rate, 13.2% BB rate
ETA: Late July
Though Daniel Robertson is already at Triple-A (and I know I had him on this list last week), it has begun to sound more like Adames will receive the call. The Rays have had awful production at short with below average defense from all three of their starters and only one of the guys at shortstop is batting over .200 (and still he is batting below .250). Adames would be a major improvement both defensively and offensively for the Rays. For fantasy owners, he provides a little bit of power, speed and would likely hit at the top of the order for the team. Though it is very possible that the Rays will opt to go with Robertson instead simply because he is at Triple-A, owners should not necessarily view Robertson as a guy worthy of owning because he does not provide enough in the way of anything. And for what it’s worth, the Tampa Bay Times believes that Adames would be the first name called up between the two. If Adames is promoted, he could be worth owning in 12+ team leagues.

19. Aaron Judge (OF, NYY, AAA)
Stats: 370 PA, .261/.357/.469, 16 HR, 5 SB, 23.2% K rate, 11.4% BB rate
ETA: Post-Trade Deadline
Last Friday, Judge came up limping after grounding out in his game against the Rochester Red Wings. Until more is known about the injury, fantasy owners should avoid stashing the powerful outfielder as it is unknown at this time how severe the injury is. The fact that he was just limping is a positive sign that it may not be severe, but it is still too early to speculate.

20. Gavin Cecchini (SS, NYM, AAA)
Stats: 283 PA, .325/.401/.454, 4 HR, 3 SB, 12.0% K rate, 11.3% BB rate
ETA: Post-All-Star Break
With Kelly Johnson, Wilmer Flores and Jose Reyes playing solid baseball now at third for the Mets, it is beginning to look a little less likely that we will see Cecchini promoted to fill in at third. Cecchini himself is absolutely tearing it up right now in his past 23 games slashing a .353/.450/.553 line with two bombs, a stolen base, a 15.0% walk rate and only an 11.0% strikeout rate. He remains on the list because if any of those aforementioned guys slips up or if the Mets feel like they need help anywhere else around the diamond (like shortstop which has been an issue lately), he will likely be the first name called up to help. But as of right now, he is only worth stashing in deeper dynasty leagues.

21. Jordan Patterson (OF, COL, AAA)
Stats: 282 PA, .318/.418/.464, 3 HR, 7 SB, 21.3% K rate, 12.8% BB rate
ETA: Post-Trade Deadline

22. Dansby Swanson (SS, ATL, AA)
Stats: 350 PA, .285/.374/.443, 6 HR, 10 SB, 16.6% K rate, 11.1% BB rate
ETA: Early August

23. Anthony Banda (SP, ARI, AAA)
Stats: 91.1 IP, 2.86 ERA, 3.30 FIP, 9.76 K/9, 3.25 BB/9, 0.69 HR/9, 1.40 WHIP
ETA: Post-Trade Deadline

24. Carlos Asuaje (SS, SD, AAA)
Stats: 372 PA, .323/.386/.463, 5 HR, 7 SB, 12.6% K rate, 8.9% BB rate
ETA: Post-Trade Deadline

25. Nick Williams (OF, PHI, AAA)
Stats: 332 PA, .283/.320/.453, 8 HR, 5 SB, 24.4% K rate, 5.1% BB rate
ETA: Early August

26. Yandy Diaz (3B, CLE, AAA)
Stats: 337 PA, .304/.408/.425, 6 HR, 10 SB, 16.0% K rate, 14.8% BB rate
ETA: Late July

27. Austin Meadows (OF, PIT, AAA)
Stats: 238 PA, .296/.346/.592, 8 HR, 11 SB, 16.4% K rate, 7.6% BB rate
ETA: Mid-August

28. Aaron Wilkerson (SP, MIL, AAA)
Stats: 92.1 IP, 2.14 ERA, 2.96 FIP, 9.94 K/9, 2.44 BB/9, 0.68 HR/9, 1.02 WHIP
ETA: Late July

29. David Dahl (OF, COL, AAA)
Stats: 360 PA, .296/.380/.529, 15 HR, 16 SB, 23.6% K rate, 11.4% BB rate
ETA: September Roster Expansions

30. Scott Schebler (OF, CIN, AAA)
Stats: 238 PA, .295/.349/.521, 10 HR, 1 SB, 18.5% K rate, 5.5% BB rate
ETA: Early August

 

MLB Rookie Rankings

1. Corey Seager (SS, LAD)

2. Nomar Mazara (OF, TEX)

3. Trevor Story (SS, COL)

4. Willson Contreras (C, CHC)

5. Aledmys Diaz (SS, STL)

6. Kenta Maeda (SP, LAD)

7. Michael Fulmer (SP, DET)

8. Tyler Naquin (OF, CLE)

9. Jon Gray (SP, COL)

10. Dae-Ho Lee (1B, SEA)

11. Steven Matz (SP, NYM)

12. Trea Turner (2B, WAS)

13. Blake Snell (SP, TB)

14. Seung Oh (RP, STL)

15. Tyler Glasnow (SP, PIT)

16. Jameson Taillon (SP, PIT)

17. Junior Guerra (SP, MIL)

18. A.J. Reed (1B, HOU)

19. Josh Bell (1B/OF, PIT)

20. Lucas Giolito (SP, WAS)

 

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