Fantasy baseball is a game where you want to gain more value than you give up. Whether it be at the draft table, in a trade, or as a waiver pickup. Essentially everything (league type, size, categories, team construction, etc) is relative, but one thing that is not relative is the impact that some prospects can provide. Every year, a player (or several) gets called up and over performs at the highest level possible. These guys can be hard to find, but sometimes can be staring at you for months on waivers before getting called up. This regular article will hopefully keep you at the top of the standings by giving you a leg up on your league mates. Here are my top 5 prospects coming into 2018 (leaving off Ohtani because I dont view him as a “true prospect”).
Ronald Acuna – Where to start with this guy? I guess we can discuss how he passed through the Braves MiLB system at the speed of light. In 2017, as a 19 year old, he advanced from A+ to AA to AAA. He didn’t even bat an eyelash at any of the upgrade of pitchers at each level. He finished the season with an absurd .325/.374/.522 triple slash line and added 21 homers and 42 stolen bases on top. This is a guy I could easily see as a first round pick as early as 2019-2020. Get him in your dynasty or keeper leagues, but do not forget about him in seasonal leagues either. He might take 2 or 3 weeks to get the call, but I guarantee you will be kicking yourself when you miss out on the next Puig/Trout/Hoskins phenomenon.
Nick Senzel – I wrote a little about Senzel recently, when I wrote about draft values with current ADP data. I even called Senzel “Goldschmidt-lite”. I’ll probably get plenty of flack for being that bold, but I really believe that he can be that guy. I know the power hasn’t translated to homers yet (just 14 in 119 games in 2017), but his .560 slugging percentage at AA (57 games) makes me know he is a special hitter. He is also pretty athletic and has decent speed. In 187 career MiLB games, Senzel has stolen 32 bases. Granted, most of them are against guys who may or may not be catchers for very long, but the point remains. He has the ability and the want to steal bases. He also has a clear pathway for playing time and can easily compete with Acuna for NL Rookie of the Year.
Alex Reyes – Call me a homer if you want. I really don’t care. I honestly think Reyes is the best pitching prospect in the baseball right now. Has plus plus stuff and a very imposing frame (baseballreference.com has him listed at 6-3 175, but I would estimate that weight to be about 50 lbs light…at least). Reyes is returning from a TJ injury, but what pitcher isn’t these days? He has front of the rotation stuff and should fill “the Andrew Miller role” early in the season, per the Cardinals. That can limit his upside for this season, but he will have quality innings when he pitches. In his first trip to the show, Reyes posted an elite 1.57 ERA with 52 Ks in 46 IP. I expect huge things from him in years to come… and in 2018.
Victor Robles – Remember last season when the Nationals gave away all of those prospects for Adam Eaton? Well, the one thing the front office kept repeating is “We will not trade away Victor Robles”. Currently, the Nationals outfielder is knocking on the door of an everyday spot on the MLB roster. Speed is his biggest asset, and has the ability to steal 40+ bags in his prime (27 SB in 114 games in 2017). When he grows into his body a little more, he should be able to tap into some extra power as well (10 HR in 2017). He is the definition of a five tool player. Comparable player type is Starling Marte with more pop.
Lewis Brinson – Coming into last season, Brinson was a rising star. Some leagues he was drafted fairly high as a speculative pick. Somehow after posting .331/.400/.556 (!) triple slash at AAA, his prospect status has cooled a bit. Brinson is a freak when it comes to raw talent. He has the entire package, and now that he’s a Marlin, he has a pathway to full time MLB at bats. Brinson struggled mightily in his first go around of MLB, but I think he can make the adjustments that are necessary to take his game to the next level. If he can bring some of that AAA magic to MLB in 2018, he could be one of the best values in the draft (ADP 300+).