There’s a certain level of fun that is attached to the word ‘prospects’. As the prospects themselves have hope that they get the call to the bigs, fantasy players also have hope that they can add one of these guys midseason and reap the benefits.
However, this season has many ‘rookies’ or ‘prospects’ that are already well resepected in the fantasy community. Well enough to be drafted very highly in fact! They may be rookies by title, but they have the established resumes of a veteran in the eyes of the fantasy world. Justified or not, that’s just the facts.
The other prospects listed are certainly on the brink of relevance too. One common trait between these prospects was that many of them were involved in big time trades over the last two seasons. When you see the names of the players that they were traded for, you will understand just how valuable these guys can be if they reach their potential.
Can they find some of that potential as early as 2017 though? Time to find out.
2017 Fantasy Baseball Top 10 Prospects
Andrew Benintendi, Boston Red Sox
Alright, this one is obvious. Benintendi will see a substantial amount of playing time for Boston. The question now is where will he bat in the order?
RosterResource tabs him as the two-hole hitter, which should make him an elite run producer. He hasn’t hit less than 0.290 at any stop of his minor/major league career. His power-speed combo are to die for and batting between Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts certainly doesn’t hurt.
Look for Benintendi to shine in his first full season in the big leagues.
Dansby Swanson, Atlanta Braves
I could almost just copy and paste what I wrote for Benintendi here for Swanson. But I won’t!
Swanson should also hit second for his respective lineup according to RosterResource. However, his offensive prowess isn’t quite what Benintendi’s is. His place in the Braves lineup has more to do with the Braves lack of a true No. 2 type hitter.
Ender Inciarte is great for leading off, but doesn’t have nearly enough power to bat elsewhere. Freddie Freeman is too good of a three-hole hitter to move up. Then it’s a bunch of ‘meh’ after that. This isn’t to say that Swanson isn’t fit for the second spot, but he does benefit from the rest of his squad’s batting profiles.
I wouldn’t put him in the offensive class of Benintendi. Something like 0.270 with decent power and speed is reasonable. That might warrant drafting him as your middle infielder.
Manuel Margot, San Diego Padres
Those of you looking for speed late in drafts, look no further than Margot. I touched on him briefly in my stolen base targets earlier this preseason.
The Padres received Margot in the Craig Kimbrel trade with Boston a year ago. Part of a nice rebuilding process in San Diego, Margot is expected to see everyday at-bats in 2017. In the minors, he was a base-stealing machine, accounting for 50 steals in 188 games between AA and AAA. He has great contact rates and should hit for a high average.
His upside is specifically in steals, although if he can work his way up the lineup ladder, he could gain run production as well. He regularly gets drafted outside the top 250 and I’m willing to make the gamble on someone who could boost my stolen base totals.
Yoan Moncada, Chicago White Sox
Acquired from Boston in the Chris Sale deal, the White Sox will be anxious to include Moncada in their immediate future. He’s a speedy player with tons of raw ability – he just needs to put it all together.
Yes he can hit for power and steal bases, but it would be ignorant to bypass his horrendous strikeout-prone ways. He struck out in 25% of his plate appearances across A+ and AA ball in 2016. That’s an ugly K% for the majors, let alone the minor league level. That profile normally doesn’t translate well, but again he is still a raw, young talent.
Expect the White Sox to at least give him major league run next year to see what they have. It may not be until after the All-Star Break, but he could be a huge impact in the way that Trea Turner came up for the Nationals late in the 2016 season. Watch list this man!
Hunter Renfroe, San Diego Padres
We talked about the speedy outfielder of the Padres – now let’s talk about the power guy.
Renfroe is sort of your replacement level outfielder nowadays. He won’t hit for a great average, but the power is nice. His walk rate in the minors wasn’t where you want it to be. I think his playing time will be limited at first and he will have to play his way into regular at-bats. Perhaps a platoon with Travis Jankowski is in order?
Renfroe is actually going ahead of his teammate Margot in drafts. Don’t follow the ADP here – leave Renfroe for someone else to handle. He gives me a Corey Dickerson vibe (the Tampa Bay version, not the Colorado version).
Jharel Cotton, Oakland Athletics
Oakland flipped Rich Hill to the Dodgers for Cotton just before the trade deadline in 2016. I wrote most of what I wanted to say about Cotton in my starting pitcher preview. Just to ensure that he has a secure spot in his rotation, let’s analyze the Oakland pitching staff.
The obvious returners are Sonny Gray and Kendall Graveman. Those guys have the experience and the A’s will certainly want to give them the innings. Then, we have Sean Manaea, who should get another crack at the SP3 role after an up-and-down rookie season. Andrew Triggs and Cotton should round out the starting five with Chris Bassitt eligible to return from injury sometime midseason.
I don’t see anyone the A’s could possibly throw out there that could supplant Cotton. He will get all the run he can handle and I am a believer in his upside.
Jose De Leon, Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays recently acquired De Leon as part of the Logan Forsythe deal with the Dodgers. They will have choices to make in the rotation upon his arrival.
De Leon had an even better minor league career than Cotton did. He regularly surpassed the 30% K-rate threshold at every stop and shows great control. It’s a wicked arsenal, including a nasty slider-curve combination.
As mentioned before though, there might not be a spot for him come Opening Day. Beating out Matt Andriese is his best bet and I don’t think that’s a walk in the park like others do. However, he is also an Alex Cobb injury or Jake Odorizzi trade away from contributing. Now those odds I enjoy! He will be a must-own player come late May in the fantasy world.
Lucas Giolito, Chicago White Sox
The White Sox acquired Giolito in the blockbuster trade involving the Nationals and Adam Eaton back in December of 2016. He had sort of a weird year in 2016 with varying results across three levels. Don’t let this distract you from his numbers in the pre-2016 phase of his development.
I still believe in Giolito long term. Now, I’m not banging my chest saying he’s going to be an ace or anything. However, I do think he can be a solid SP2 or SP3 on a real life staff. Translated to fantasy terms, he has SP4 potential come time for his call-up. When exactly will that call-up be? There are definitely pitchers he can jump after Carlos Rodon and Jose Quintana. Hell, Quintana will probably get traded within the next few months.
I could see myself betting on Giolito in 2017. I likely won’t draft him, but if he is someone I anticipate getting the call, I could stash him in late April or May.
Tyler Glasnow, Pittsburgh Pirates
Glasnow should be in the Opening Day rotation for the Bucs. I’m not completely sold on him becoming a fantasy contributor just yet though.
Don’t get me wrong, he has a blazing fastball and great strikeout upside. I’m just not buying stock this season due to his walks. The guy had a 5.21 BB/9 over three levels last season. In the minors, you can get away with that if you are striking out the rest of the hitters you face. In the majors though? Those guys are going to exploit you big time. If fantasy owners expect him to have anything below a 1.35 WHIP, you are out of your mind.
Don’t give me the Ray Searage argument either – Searage can’t ask the umpire to expand the strike zone. I need to see some development of command first before buying in.
Luke Weaver, St. Louis Cardinals
Weaver has the makings of becoming a solid starting option for the Cardinals down the road. His strikeout-to-walk ratios were incredible in 2016. The real question is if he can force his way into the rotation in 2017.
If history tells us anything, it’s that there are no injury-averse hurlers in the Cardinals rotation. Alex Reyes is already out for the season with Tommy John surgery. Are we really expecting Lance Lynn, Michael Wacha, Adam Wainwright, and Carlos Martinez to stay healthy? Hell to the nah.
Weaver should be the next man up and, if his 3.34 xFIP is any indication, he should be an extremely enticing add early in the season.