The 2016 MLB Draft will be held on June 9, 2016, and for fantasy baseball, that means a huge influx of talent is about to join the player pool. Leading up to the draft, I will be ranking the top players for fantasy, and writing about anything that might catch my eye in general, like deep sleepers. Keep in mind that value can change post-draft depending on what team/ballpark a player gets drafted to. For an extreme example, you should upgrade hitters drafted by Colorado and downgrade pitchers. How players perform once reaching pro ball can also have a big impact on their value. With all that in mind, here are the Top 5 2016 MLB Draft Fantasy Baseball Prospects:
1) Kyle Lewis Mercer, OF – Elite bat speed, power, and athleticism is just about all that you can ask for in a top fantasy prospect, and Lewis possesses all three. The 6’4’’, 195-pound Lewis has jacked 17 homers in back-to-back years, and he is triple-slashing .419/.547/.753 in 53 games in the Southern Conference this season, a middle of the pack D1 conference. I wouldn’t be surprised if that 195-pound weight is outdated, though, because Lewis is built like a solid rock, and when he steps up to the plate, he does so with bad intentions. Just check out this quick video to see the talent we are dealing with here. There are a lot of moving parts in his swing, and he is still a bit raw, but I don’t even think those things are negatives. He is only 20 years old, and if he is this good already, imagine how scary good he can be with continued refinement and improvement. Lewis is the guy I want with the top pick in fantasy drafts.
2) Corey Ray Louisville, OF – Ray presents the best power/speed combo in the draft, as he is slashing .327/.400/.583, with 13 homers, and 36 steals in 53 games in the ACC, one of the best conferences in D1. He has top end bat speed, athleticism, and base running ability, and he is a 5-category producer who is bound to hit atop a Major League lineup in a few short years. He doesn’t have the physicality of Lewis, but considering the tougher competition he has faced, and more well-rounded production, I can see a case for Ray being #1 overall, as well.
3) Zack Collins Miami, C – Collins smashed 11 homers as a 19-year-old freshman in the ACC in 2014, and he has kept raking since then. He is slashing a ridiculous .379/.555/.641, with 10 homers in 48 games this season, and there are no questions about his advanced bat. The only question is if the 6’3’’, 225 pound Collins can stick at catcher, but for fantasy, that would just be icing on the cake. Being able to mash is much more important, and he can obviously mash. Ignore his relatively low ranking on real baseball draft lists, because defense actually matters in real baseball, but in fantasy, not so much. Collins is the type of fast moving college hitter who can pay dividends for your fantasy team very quickly.
4) Will Craig Wake Forrest, 1B/3B – Craig is another “unathletic,” poor defensive player who just destroys the highest levels of D1. He has blindingly fast bat speed, and is triple-slashing .417/.551/.826 with 13 homers in 40 games in the ACC. He also leads all of D1 in slugging percentage. At 6’3’’, 235 pounds, Craig has been criticized for his soft body and speed that you can time with a sundial, but actually being able to hit is much more important than just looking the part; Craig is in the mold a Lance Berkman. Once again, ignore the low ranking on real draft lists due to his defensive concerns, Craig should be treated as one of the top hitters in this draft class for fantasy baseball.
5) Riley Pint HS, RHP – If I’m taking a risky high schooler, I’m going all the way, and taking the riskiest of them all. Pint has by far the most electrifying stuff in the draft (skip to the 45 second mark), and it is not just his upper 90’s heater with great movement, but also his excellent, deceptive changeup. His biggest problems are that his delivery is a bit of a mess, and his control and command are all over the place, but safe high school pitcher is an oxymoron to me, anyway. The 6’4’’, 210-pound Pint has raw ability that you can’t teach, and after the top 4 college bats are off the board, I want the player with the highest upside and most freakish talent.
2016 MLB Draft Fantasy Baseball Prospect Rankings: Complete Top 30
By Michael Halpern
Twitter: Imaginary Brick Wall (@ImaginaryBrickW)