Hello Fantasy Baseball Fans! I got great news! Pitchers and catchers are reporting this week! You know what that means, right? Baseball is right around the corner and I can hardly wait!
With the promise of a new season and expectations comes high hopes for your favorite teams. What players did they sign this offseason? Who is coming back from an injury? The biggest and most exciting preview into your favorite team is who is the next hot prospect coming up? Which prospect will dazzle us this season like Ronald Acuna and Shohei Ohtani did last season? Will we finally see Vladimir Guerrero Jr.? Are outfielders Eloy Jimenez and Victor Robles ready to live up to their lofty expectations?
Of course, those types of questions are typically asked of your favorite teams. However, fantasy owners are also looking for the next hot prospects. We want to be the first one to select Juan Soto or Walker Buehler and then brag all the way to the championship.
Who are this year's top fantasy prospects? The wait is over! I breakdown the Top 10 prospects that you should select for this season that will hopefully allow you to boast that you were the owner to be savvy enough to select them and ride them to your title! Let's dive into the 2019 Top 10 Fantasy Baseball Prospects.
2019 Top 10 Fantasy Baseball Prospects
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Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Toronto Blue Jays
No. 1 is Vladimir Guerrero Jr., our first consensus top overall prospect since Kris Bryant. https://t.co/KjxE5ehyxu
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) February 17, 2019
What hasn't been said about Vladimir Guerrero Jr.? Vlad Jr., MLB Pipeline's No. 1 overall prospect, hit .381 across four minor league levels in 2018, with 20 homers and 78 RBI. The Minor League Hitter of the Year. led the minors in batting average (.381), slugging percentage (.636) and OPS (1.073). He struck out just 9.3 percent of the time in 2018 while walking 9.1 percent. In his career, he amazingly has more walks than strikeouts!
Unfortunately, there is an excellent possibility that Guerrero will start the season in Triple-A, but he will not be there long. Because of baseball's archaic service time rules, Guerrero is doubtful to make the team out of Spring Training. Players escape team control with six years of service time to be eligible for free agency. "One year" is defined as 172 days in the majors out of the 187-day season. If the Blue Jays trap Guerrero in the minor leagues for just 15 days, he remains under team control for an extra year.
Once the service clock is expired, the number one prospect in baseball is projected to be the Blue Jays third baseman. There is nothing above him on the depth chart with Brandon Drury penciled in as the starting third baseman. Drury, acquired from the Yankees in the J.A. Happ deal, played just 18 games last year hitting .176.
The Steamer Projections has the soon-to-be 20-year-old for a slash line of .306/.368/.511 and putting up an extremely impressive 4.7 WAR. That would also include 22 home runs, 30 doubles, and 75 RBI in 138 games played. Without a doubt, these numbers are lofty expectations. Vlad Jr. should be drafted in the single-digit rounds and is a Top 10 third baseman in 2019.
Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago White Sox
"It's one of my goals," Eloy Jimenez said about winning the American League Rookie of the Year award. "But what's important right now is get to the Majors first."
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) February 16, 2019
MLB.com rates Eloy Jimenez as the No. 3 prospect in baseball behind the Blue Jays’ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr. His ceiling is purely based upon his offensive production. He raked Triple-A pitching last season, batting .355 with a .597 slugging percentage and a .996 OPS.
Jimenez, acquired in exchange for Jose Quintana, owns the rare combination of plus-power and a plus-hit tool. The 22-year-old owns a career 107 wRC+ and possesses insane raw power.
To obtain another year of control, the White Sox will have to leave Jimenez in the minors for 20 days this season. Once completed, the Sox will look for Jimenez to join a lackluster outfield. In 2018, the White Sox had the lowest outfield bWAR in the American League at -6.4. Whoever they decide to place in the outfield on Opening Day is just keeping the place warm for Jimenez to take over.
Supposedly, his defense is what is keeping him in the minors. While he may never win a Gold Glove, his passable defense will not distract from his offensive prowess. Steamer Projections currently have the 22-year-old Jimenez hitting 21 home runs with a .293/.342/.502 triple slash over 485 plate appearances. He should be a top-125 pick in fantasy drafts, and the wait is over.
Victor Robles, OF, Washington Nationals
We’ve gotten a taste of what Víctor Robles brings to the @Nationals.
Now he’s MLB’s No. 4 prospect. pic.twitter.com/3GPMzxzjyd
— MLB (@MLB) January 27, 2019
Victor Robles is one of the brightest prospects in all of baseball and is ranked No. 4 prospect overall by MLB Pipeline. With all of the Juan Soto hype last season, it's easy to forget that Robles was ranked higher than him across the board in prospect rankings. The outfielder possesses all five tools including being a plus defender in the outfield.
The only thing holding back is his ability to stay healthy. He debuted toward the end of the 2017 season. In 2018, he hyperextended his elbow early in the season; he dazzled in his 59 at-bats. Robles slashed .288/.348/.525 with three home runs and a triple. He had a very good .370 wOBA and a 131 wRC+.
Because of the number of at-bats he has had so far in his career, he still qualifies as a rookie, and he's already National League Rookie of the Year favorite. With the huge potential void in the Nationals outfield with the loss of Bryce Harper, Robles has a clear path to playing time in the outfield.
Robles has the potential to be a gold glover in center field and hit .280-.300 every season while swiping 40+ steals per season. The Nationals will have one of the best young outfields in baseball and Robles will be the biggest addition to the team and your fantasy rosters.
Fernando Tatis, Jr., SS, San Diego Padres
This top 5 though.
1. Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres
2. Wander Franco, Rays
3. Bo Bichette, Blue Jays
4. Royce Lewis, Twins
5. Brendan Rodgers, Rockieshttps://t.co/va4lzzDWdm
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) February 17, 2019
Fernando Tatis Jr. is currently the No.1 prospect for the San Diego Padres. MLB.com’s Prospect Watch has Tatis Jr. as the number two overall prospect behind only Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Fangraphs also put him second overall behind Toronto’s future third baseman. Tatis became the youngest player ever in Midwest League history to hit at least 20 homers and steal 20 bases in a single season at just 18-years-old. He then made the jump straight to Double-A San Antonio in 2018. The youngster posted a .286/.355/.507 slash line while hitting 16 home runs with 43 RBI’s in 88 games. His season was cut short because of a thumb injury, but he is one of the more valuable prospects in baseball entering 2019.
If the Padres give the 20-year-old an opportunity in 2019, it likely either comes in June, given Super 2 considerations, or late in the season. The Padres have no real reason to rush him to the big leagues, and he can resume refining his skills in the minors. RosterResource suggests that second baseman/shortstop Luis Urias will handle the shortstop position for San Diego this season, but he has long been projected as more of a second base fit. The signing of veteran Ian Kinsler pushes Urias to shortstop for the time being. At third base, the Padres have Greg Garcia projected as the favorite for Opening Day third base job. This list of players is not very impressive, and Tatis Jr. easily could outperform each of them at the plate and with the glove.
In dynasty formats, he easily should be rated in the top five especially considering his position of shortstop. With the development of a potential impressive Padres lineup, the upside of 20/20 players and top-tier player at his position is well within Fernando Tatis Jr.'s reach.
Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) January 27, 2019
Kyle Tucker is considered the top hitting prospect in the Astros' farm system. He comes into the 2019 season with missing some of the hype of his rising star. Tucker joined the Astros last summer, and in 64 at-bats, he hit .141/.236/.203 with four RBI and one stolen base but struck out just 13 times. Please don't be alarmed; the 22-year-old outfielder has it all. Thankfully, his debut numbers won't be used to determine long-term success at the big-league level.
Tucker is a consensus Top 10 prospect in all of baseball. He dominated the Pacific Coast League before his call-up last season. In 100 games, he had a .990 OPS, 24 HR, 93 RBI, and a 155 wRC+. He cleaned up his swing last season when he slugged .528 compared to his average of .408.
Tucker still possesses loads of talent and potential. He will start in AAA this season as George Springer, Josh Reddick and newly signed Michael Brantley are the likely starting outfield on Opening Day. Of course, Brantley is an injury waiting to happen, and Reddick hit below .250 last season, so the potential opportunity is available.
Fantasy owners should expect Tucker to be with the Astros around the All-Star break. With that hit tool, it's hard to believe that he will not get into the lineup at DH or to take over in the outfield. Nice player to stash on your bench. If one of the outfielders gets injured, a perfect hot waiver pickup that can pay huge dividends.
Nick Senzel, 3B/2B/OF, Cincinnati Reds
— Mark Sheldon (@m_sheldon) February 14, 2019
Nick Senzel is the No.1 prospect in the Cincinnati Reds organization, and his major league debut is probably the most anticipated of any other prospect since Jay Bruce.
His third professional season came to an abrupt end as he fractured his finger in June. The injury required surgery to repair, and he missed the remainder of the season. He finished the year with a .310/.378/.509 slash line.
His .310 career batting average in the minors along with his ability to play second or third base ranks him currently as the No. 6 overall prospect, according to MLB.com. However, the Reds are ready to move the top prospect to the outfield to make room for him. With Eugenio Suarez entrenched at third base for the next six seasons and Scooter Gennett handling second base, the Reds believe that all indications show that Senzel “will” be the center fielder. Even John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reported that David Bell sees him as the favorite right now.
Senzel has never played the position before so the Reds can use at least Spring Training. They can sacrifice the first 15 games or so and gain an additional year of service time before the right-handed hitter becomes a free agent.
Keep a close eye on the developing fantasy story. The availability to play Senzel at second or third base while accumulating stats in the outfield is perfect in leagues with larger lineups and provides championship flexibility. His addition may give the Reds the best offense in the National League. It also can provide a huge upgrade in counting stats across the board.
Forrest Whitley, P, Houston Astros
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) January 27, 2019
There is one player that the Houston Astros refused to include in any of their trade talks and that was 6'7" right-hander Forrest Whitley. Whitley is MLB Pipeline's top pitching prospect, and FanGraphs currently has the promising 21-year-old as baseball’s top pitching prospect.
He possesses four above-average pitches highlighted by a fastball/curveball combo that is unrivaled. His best being the fastball where he throws 92-97 mph with great control. He combines that with a 12-6 curveball, slider and changeup. All of which have great movement and accuracy.
The only inconsistency is his delivery. The Astros have him pitch only out of the stretch, but is stuff is pro-ready and dominant. The Houston prospect had everyone buzzing with his strong Double-A numbers. His 2017 stats included a 15.95 strikeout-per-nine innings and a .82 WHIP. He carried on at the same level in 2018, after he was suspended for 50 games due to a violation in the drug policy, he owned a WHIP below 1.00 and a strikeout percentage greater than 30 percent, per FanGraphs.
Whitley has lofty expectations, and his upside is that of a true ace. The Astros do not have an opening in the starting rotation in 2019, so we will probably see him starting the season at AAA. He will work on his windup and adding strength. We will see Whitley sometime this season, just a matter of when. Fantasy owners should keep a roster spot open for Forrest Whitely.
Peter Alonso, 1B, New York Mets
"Every day he goes to the field, sweat is just pouring off him. ... You can just see he's not going to be a backup player."#Mets' prospect Peter Alonso is eager to show what he can do in Spring Training: https://t.co/brlf3pjvRG pic.twitter.com/vU4TagaTLr
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) February 9, 2019
Peter Alonso is the New York Mets' second-best prospect, baseball’s best first base prospect, and a player that Mets fans can't wait to see in New York. In 2018, Alonso hit a tremendous 36 home runs, 119 RBI, and was the Minor League player who hits the most regular season home runs. In three seasons in the minors, Alonso has slashed .290/.381/.560 with 70 doubles, 59 home runs, 203 RBI, and an OPS of .940.
The Mets like every other team are protecting their assets and manipulating service time to gain an extra year of control of their top prospects. Therefore, we will see the Mets break camp with veteran Todd Frazier at first base. He is coming off a below-average season, where he hit .213 with 18 homers. Frazier will keep the first base position warm for Alonso, then being reduced to a bench/role player once Alonso is with the big club.
One glaring weakness for Alonso was his poor defensive game. However, New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway called Peter Alonso "probably the most improved defensive guy" Mets coaches have seen "in a long time." That coincides with what many scouts have described as major strides in Alonso's defensive game over the past 12 months.
Peter Alonso will be the Mets starting first baseman early this season. He should provide better stats than Frazier, and while that isn't saying much, at least you know you will get his at-bats. I project Alsono will hit .250/.320/.478 triple slash with 20 home runs, a good corner infielder for your deep leagues.
Bo Bichette, SS, Toronto Blue Jays
"Bichette is going to make an impact at the plate, with the potential to compete for batting titles in his prime."
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) January 23, 2019
Bo Bichette is ranked as Toronto's No. 2 overall prospect by MLB Pipeline, the son of former big league slugger Dante Bichette, and a super talented shortstop who could push for a big league job later this season. It looks like he will start the season in Triple-A, a level that he has to experience.
The buzz about Bichette started following a 2017 season. He flirted with hitting .400 and eventually produced a .362/.423/.565 slash line. In 2018, Bichette played 131 games in Double-A and slashed .286/.343/.553 with a prodigious 43 doubles, 11 home runs, and 74 RBI, while also adding 32 stolen bases.
Once again, the service-time manipulation game reared its ugly head. The Blue Jays will play that game with Vlad Jr.'s infield teammate, and we might see him in June with Super 2 considerations likely or late in the season promotion.
Bichette is probably not someone you should target in redraft leagues for this season. In dynasty formats, Bichette will be gold with the projections of playing with and hitting in front of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Watch the waiver wire. If the Blue Jays start going downhill fast, we could see Bichette sooner than we think.
Brendan Rodgers, 2B, Colorado Rockies
"We think that he has a real chance to be an impact player, with the bat and with the glove."#Rockies manager Bud Black on 22-year-old Brendan Rodgers, #MLB's No. 10 prospect: https://t.co/Axv4n5gt4p pic.twitter.com/R7GY6xjiVw
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) February 19, 2019
Brendan Rodgers is the best prospect in the Colorado Rockies system. He has the versatility to fill in at either shortstop or second base. He's got power, speed, and defensive ability that the Rockies are looking for this season.
The Rockies have a gaping hole at second base after the departure of three-time Gold Glove second baseman DJ. LeMahieu to the New York Yankees. The Rockies are holding an open competition for the second base job between Garrett Hampson, Ryan McMahon, and Rodgers. Rodgers, baseball's No. 10 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline, is being included as a legitimate competitor at second base. However, he doesn't own pro experience compared to his competition with zero MLB games and only 19 games in Triple-A.
In his 19 games at Triple-A last season, he totaled 69 at-bats and posted a .232/.264/.290 slash line. He also spent some time on the disabled list while taking care of a shoulder that kept him from participating in the Arizona Fall League and probably impacted his performance in Triple-A.
MLB.com continues to be the high organization on Rodgers, ranking him 6th in minor league baseball with a 60 FV grade. Brendan Rodgers has the perfect opportunity this spring to take over the Rockies second base job. This is a position battle to keep an eye this spring and throughout the later summer months. Any Rockie hitter is good to own in fantasy.
Check out the rest of our 2019 Fantasy Baseball content from our great team of writers.