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Welcome back, RotoBallers. I'll be breaking down impact prospects by position. Today I'm bringing you my top 15 outfielders and MLB prospect rankings for the 2018 fantasy baseball season.

Every year, there is a strong crop of fantasy prospects who rise up to get a chance to shine in the majors. This season, however, there seems to be the best depth of outfield prospects to be called up in a very long time with some serious star power at the top.

Everyone knows the names Ronald Acuna and Shohei Ohtani. Both will see plenty of time in the big leagues this season as was to be expected. However, outfielders like Victor Robles, Eloy Jimenez, Austin Meadows, Austin Hays and Anthony Alford all are expected to receive promotions to the majors this season, making this list incredibly star studded and full of potential impact outfielders. So without any further ado, here at the top 15 outfield prospects for 2018 redraft leagues.

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Top 15 Outfield Prospects for 2018 Fantasy Baseball

1. Ronald Acuna (ATL, AAA)
Stats: 243 PA, .344/.393/.548, 9 HR, 11 SB, 7.0% BB%, 19.8% K%
ETA: Early April
The term five-tool player is thrown out there lightly sometimes. It is not in the case of Acuna. Long viewed as just a toolsy outfielder who needed to put everything together, Acuna exploded in 2017, crushing every level of pitching he reached: High Class-A, Double-A and Triple-A. He demonstrated Gold Glove-caliber defense in center field with a plus-plus hit tool to accompany near-top-of-the-scale power and speed tools. Acuna showed off the ability to drive the ball to all fields with power that profiles as 25-30-plus home-run pop. He complements that thunder with enough speed to swipe 40-plus bags every season. Mike Trout comparisons have already been thrown out. That is not quite fair to the 20-year-old Acuna just yet, but he is probably the best prospect to rise to the majors since Trout did in 2012. His service time will be manipulated by sending him to the minors for the first week-and-a-half or so until his promotion, but he should be drafted fairly early in all leagues. There is little doubt in the industry that he is an exceptional prospect.

2. Lewis Brinson (MIA, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 340 PA, .331/.400/.562, 13 HR, 11 SB, 9.4% BB%, 18.2% K%
ETA: Opening Day
Brinson has been given a golden opportunity in 2018 to impress fantasy owners. He was going to have no chance in Milwaukee to show off his impressive skillset, but in Miami he should begin the season as the team’s starting center fielder now that every other outfielder on the team is gone. Owner of perhaps the second-best power/speed combination in the minors, Brinson could immediately be a 20/20 outfielder or better in 2018. Part of the question will come down to whether or not he can improve his hit tool. Though he has upped the walk rates, strikeouts have plagued Brinson’s career and did so again in the majors in 2017. There is a lot of potential for him to become an exceptional pickup for fantasy owners who missed out on Acuna (or who want both). There is some risk here that he might need more seasoning in the minors, but his power/speed combination warrants owning in most leagues.

3. Austin Hays (BAL, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 283 PA, .330/.367/.594, 16 HR, 1 SB, 4.6% BB%, 15.9% K%
ETA: Early April
Despite being just a third-round draft pick in 2016, Hays turned heads the following season at both Double-A and Triple-A, forcing the Baltimore Orioles to make him the first player from that class to reach the majors. He hit well over .300 at both levels while combining to hit 32 home runs. Though he is no burner on the basepaths, Hays more than made up for his shortcomings in speed defensively and should be able to remain in the outfield and not have to move to first base or DH. The concern surrounding Hays comes from his inability to take a walk, but he balanced it out in the minors by keeping his strikeout rate below 20 percent. He will need to do that in the majors to keep his batting average up, but if he can do that, his ceiling of a steady .290-plus hitter with 25-plus home runs in the middle of the potent Orioles’ lineup should make him an exciting fantasy pickup in most leagues, especially given that he could begin 2018 in Baltimore.

4. Victor Robles (WAS, MLB)
Stats: (from AA) 158 PA, .324/.394/.489, 3 HR, 11 SB, 7.6% BB%, 13.9% K%
ETA: Early May
People are upset that Acuna is being sent down to the minors to begin the season. Someone who shined so much in the minors, is clearly the best option to start in Atlanta and who crushed baseballs in spring training should not be sent down. The same cannot be said for Robles. While he might be better than Michael A. Taylor, he is not better than Bryce Harper or Adam Eaton and he has never played in Triple-A, so it seems reasonable to start him there for now. However, it will surprise no one if that is a short stint in the minors. Robles has the steady bat to hit over .300 with speed to swipe 40-plus bags per season. He also has enough raw power that he should be able to hit 15-plus home runs per season. Robles could benefit from a touch more minor-league development, but his upside vastly exceeds Taylor’s. It won’t be long till he reaches the majors and starts in either left or pushes Eaton over to left to patrol center field. Robles is an exciting prospect with a high floor that should make him a worthy own in most leagues and strong stash option.

5. Willie Calhoun (TEX, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 534 PA, .300/.355/.572, 31 HR, 4 SB, 7.9% BB%, 11.4% K%
ETA: Late April
Calhoun was a lot more exciting back when his bat had the chance to play at second base. However, now that he is shifting to the outfield, fantasy owners should still view Calhoun as one of the top rookie outfielders for the upcoming season. Though short at 5-foot-8, Calhoun generates exceptional power with a quick bat and smooth swing that should translate into 25-homer power at the big-league level. Unlike most young sluggers, Calhoun makes a ton of contact, which should lead to a high batting average, but admittedly caps his on-base percentage upside due to the fact he doesn’t take many walks. He will begin 2018 in the minors to continue to improve his defensive skill, but the bat is absolutely ready. He should join the likes of Nomar Mazara, Adrian Beltre, Rougned Odor and Joey Gallo in the big leagues shortly into this season to form one of the best power-hitting lineups in the majors.

6. Jesse Winker (CIN, MLB)
Stats: 137 PA, .298/.375/.529, 7 HR, 1 SB, 10.9% BB%, 17.5% K%
ETA: Opening Day
You would be hard pressed to find an outfielder in the minors with better plate discipline than Winker. He has consistently walked at incredibly high rates while keeping the strikeouts to a minimum. This has always helped Winker hit for a high average and post high on-base percentages in the minors. His biggest issue has always been that he never was able to translate his raw power into production. However, in his first taste of the big leagues, he blasted seven home runs in the matchbox known as Great American Ballpark, as many home runs as he had hit since the start of 2016 in the minors. Winker will begin the 2018 season in the majors as part of an outfield rotation with Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler, but he has the ability to carve out a permanent role for himself. Winker has always been viewed as a leadoff option for the Cincinnati Reds, profiling similar to Shin-Soo Choo back in 2013 for Cincinnati. Between the chance for 20 home runs, a ton of runs scored batting leadoff in a potent lineup and an incredibly high on-base percentage, Winker is someone who should be owned in some 10-plus team leagues and all 12-plus team leagues.

7. Austin Meadows (PIT, AAA)
Stats: 312 PA, .250/.311/.359, 4 HR, 11 SB, 7.7% BB%, 16.0% K%
ETA: Early May
Like Robles, few are complaining that Meadows has been sent back to the minors. The talented outfielder has struggled to remain healthy, and his health issues plagued him throughout the 2017 season, preventing him from putting together the type of season many expected of him. Meadows had no real path to playing time in 2017, which was part of the reason calls never became too loud for him to be called up. However now in 2018, there is a clear opening for him in center field after Andrew McCutchen was traded. Even with Corey Dickerson now with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Meadows should join Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco once he is deemed ready. If healthy, Meadows will flash 20/20 potential with both plus power and speed. The 22-year-old also is an incredibly patient hitter for his age and should consistently post high walk rates and keep the strikeout rates low. His peak is something of a .300 hitter with 20 home runs and 25 stolen bases. Fantasy owners would gladly take that, especially if he is batting near the top of Pittsburgh’s lineup. Owners will need to be patient until he gets the call, but the upside is there for an exciting fantasy contributor with plenty of upside.

8. Shohei Ohtani (LAA, NA)
Stats: NA
ETA: Opening Day
Ohtani would have ranked much higher on this list had he not struggled both at the plate and on the mound this spring. Though it’s tough to gauge actual talent just through Spring Training and this is his first taste of American baseball, it is not a promising start for the uber-prospect. Questions have persisted about Ohtani that he might strike out too much to really be a two-way player and that he might have to be moved to the mound full time. He does possess plus power and plus-plus speed, which would make him an exciting outfielder if the two-way experiment works out. But so far, there is little evidence to say that it will. In leagues where Ohtani is two separate players, fantasy owners should approach with caution. There is the potential for an extremely toolsy player. There is also the potential for a player who can’t hit enough to receive regular at-bats and will quickly just be shifted to the mound permanently. In leagues where he qualifies as both, he is still an exciting player who deserves to be owned because his stuff should play in the majors.

9. Eloy Jimenez (CWS, AA)
Stats: (from A+) 296 PA, .302/.375/.570, 16 HR, 0 SB, 10.1% BB%, 18.9% K%
ETA: Early June
There has not been as potent of a power-hitting outfielder like Jimenez in the minors since Aaron Judge. Admittedly, that’s not a long time and Jimenez might not have that much power, but there’s no doubt he has the best chance of any prospect to be a future 40-homer hitter with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Acuna providing him with the most competition for most raw power. On top of the prodigious power is a hit tool that has steadily improved and could help him hit near or at .300 when at his peak. The question will be if he can keep the strikeouts low enough. Scouts believe he has made the progress necessary to do just that in the majors. Only 21 years old, Jimenez still needs time to develop in Double-A and Triple-A, but a midseason promotion should be in line if he continues to rake as he did last season in the minors.

10. Alex Verdugo (LAD, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 495 PA, .314/.389/.436, 6 HR, 9 SB, 10.5% BB%, 10.1% K%
ETA: Early May
Verdugo is not exactly the most exciting prospect from a fantasy standpoint. Though scouts believe he has enough raw power to be a future 15-plus home run hitter, Verdugo has reached double-digit home-run totals just once in his three full seasons of playing time. However, his hitting ability is a clear plus tool for him and scouts believe his combination of plate discipline and consistent, line-drive-oriented approach should allow him to hit for a high average. A strong defender, Verdugo’s glove and arm will get him to the majors, but for fantasy purposes, he is really only a high average bat with a handful of stolen bases. However, all he needs to do is add a little bit of loft and he could be a .300 hitter with 15-plus home runs and 10 stolen bases per season. The high floor and likelihood of him claiming a starting outfield spot before long makes him a potentially solid player to own. The chance for the solid power and speed make him a worthy own in some 12-plus team leagues.

11. Anthony Alford (TOR, MLB)
Stats: (from AA) 289 PA, .310/.406/.429, 5 HR, 19 SB, 12.1% BB%, 15.6% K%
ETA: Early June
Alford would probably not qualify for this list had he not broken a hamate bone in his hand. He appeared likely to claim a spot in Toronto’s outfield in 2017, at first reserve and possibly better if he continued to excel. But the injury forced him to recover and then return to the minors. Now, he appears on the outside looking in for a spot in Toronto’s infield, not to mention he now has a strain in his hamstring. Health has been a consistent issue for Alford, who has never recorded more than 107 games in a season. When healthy, his plus hit tool and plus-plus speed give him a profile of a future leadoff hitter with some pop. He now just needs to stay healthy and excel at Triple-A to force his way back to the majors for good. If he can do that, he’d be worth owning in 12-plus team leagues.

12. Jake Bauers (TB, AAA)
Stats: 575 PA, .263/.368/.412, 13 HR, 20 SB, 13.6% BB%, 19.5% K%
ETA: Early June
Bauers is an intriguing prospect. Scouts have projected him to have an above-average hit tool, average power and below-average speed. However, in 2017, he did not hit for a high average, did not produce much power, but stole 20 bags in just 132 games. Despite not showing the tools scouts expect out of him, Bauers has the patience and all-fields approach needed to hit for a high average at the big-league level. There is raw power in his 6-foot-1 frame that he has already started to tap into and that could develop into 20-homer pop. With Tampa starting to rebuild, Bauers is a young player who should start to see some regular at-bats in the majors during the 2018 season. If he can put everything together, he could profile as a solid regular OF3 in 12-team redraft leagues.

13. Dustin Fowler (OAK, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 313 PA, .293/.329/.542, 13 HR, 13 SB, 4.8% BB%, 20.1% K%
ETA: Late April
Off to a hot start at Triple-A, Fowler forced his way to the New York Yankees’ big-league roster, but collided into the outfield wall and tore his ACL in the first inning of his debut on June 29, ending his season. He has recovered from the injury, but has looked a bit off during Spring Training and might need to spend some time in the minors before he’s ready to take over in center field for Oakland. He has an above-average hit tool, solid power and plus speed, which makes him a fantasy prospect worth keeping tabs on. It should not be long until he forces his way into the big-league lineup where he profiles as a No. 2 hitter with 20/20 upside. Fowler will need to improve his patience at the plate to keep up the high average, but his power/speed and potential for regular at-bats make him a solid own in 14-plus team leagues and potentially even shallower leagues.

14. Steven Duggar (SF, AAA)
Stats: (from A+) 133 PA, .270/.361/.470, 4 HR, 7 SB, 12.8% BB%, 31.6% K%
ETA: Opening Day
The San Francisco Giants have struggled to find consistent production from its outfield over the past several seasons, stemming largely from injuries, veterans who have not panned out and a lack of prospect depth. While Duggar is far from a top 100 prospect, his bat profiles as a solid No. 2 hitter in a lineup with his above-average hit tool and plus speed. Scouts view him as someone who should be able to hit .270-plus and steal 25 bags per year while driving 10-plus home runs. This season, he figures to begin the season in a platoon with Austin Jackson in center field and could become the full-time starter if he does well and Jackson struggles. He is not explosive, but he should be a reliable depth option in shallower leagues and a potential starter in 14-plus team leagues.

15. Magneuris Sierra (MIA, MLB)
Stats: (from AA) 353 PA, .269/.313/.352, 1 HR, 17 SB, 5.7% BB%, 16.7% K%
ETA: Mid-May
As was discussed with Brinson, the Miami Marlins’ outfield is completely wide open for anyone with any form of talent. Sierra might not be the top prospect in the system, but he has an average hit tool and is one of the fastest players in the minors, making him a clear leadoff candidate in the big leagues. He lacks patience and does strike out a fair amount for someone like him, so the 21-year-old could use some time to improve his approach down in the minors before he gets another shot at the big leagues. Sierra will see plenty of time in the majors this season, it just is a question of whether he can hit enough to put his speed to use and force his way to the top of the lineup. He could be a solid 12-team add if everything falls into place for him.

 

More 2018 MLB Prospects Analysis