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 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 2016 MLB Draft Fantasy Baseball Prospect Rankings: 11-21:
11) Anfernee Grier Auburn, OF – Grier looks like he has two tree branches for arms, and he uses that power to absolutely crush the baseball. He is slashing .359/.451/.547, with 10 homers, and 19 steals in 55 games in the SEC so far this year. There are some strikeouts in his profile, but the power/speed combo is too much to ignore, and Grier has the potential to be a fantasy stud. He is a young 20 years old with his birthday in October, and I’m tempted to move him up even higher.
12) Mickey Moniak HS, OF – Moniak is considered the best pure high school hitter in the draft. He has a loose and easy swing that sprays line drives all over the field, and he pairs that with plus speed. While his slight build leads to some questions about his ultimate power potential, Moniak is a good bet to hit for high average with 15+ steals. If he bulks up and adds more power down the line, he can truly be a special player.
13) Nolan Jones HS, SS/3B – The 6’,4’’, 200-pound Jones has a quick swing that is geared for both average and power. He is one of the best athletes in the pool, and he recently gained 30 pounds of muscle. He is likely to end up at 3B long term, but the bat profiles just fine there. If you are looking for an upside power hitting corner infielder, Jones is your guy.
14) Heath Quinn Samford, OF – The 6’3’’, 220 pound Quinn can flat out hit. He loads his hands well and creates excellent bat speed with his swing. It has resulted in him absolutely dominating the Southern Conference for 3 straight years, doing his best work this season, slashing .350/.460/.691 with 19 homers in 55 games. While the Southern Conference is only a middling D1 conference, Quinn also performed very well in the Cape Cod League last year, slashing .317/.384/.486 with 4 homers in 39 games. He might not be able to completely keep up his mammoth homerun power on the next level, but he has some to spare, and I might actually be a little too low on him at #14.
15) Joey Wentz HS, LHP – Wentz is another high upside high school pitcher in a draft jammed packed with them. He has an easy, athletic delivery which he fires a 90-95 MPH fastball from, and he pairs that with an above average curveball and changeup. Wentz is also a good enough power hitting first baseman that he is considered a legitimate prospect there too. In other words, the guy is an elite athlete who can do anything on a baseball field. There is some risk here as with any high school pitcher, but he has the potential to be a top of the rotation starter.
16) Taylor Trammell HS, OF – Trammel very well may be the best pure athlete in the draft. He could have played college football after rushing for 2,479 yards and 36 touchdowns on route to winning Georgia’s Offensive Player of the Year Award this season, but he chose baseball instead. His best tool is plus, plus speed, but the bat has potential too, displaying vicious bat speed (54 second mark) and the ability to hit for both average and power. He is higher risk than even your typical high school player, because he is still raw after splitting his focus between football and baseball, but he has the potential to end up the best player in this draft. I’ll take the risk at this point in the rankings.
17) Eric Lauer KENT ST, LHP – Lauer might be the safest college pitcher in the draft. He has absolutely dominated the MAC, putting up a pitching line of 0.81/0.77/109 in 89.1 IP. He throws a traditional 4 pitch mix, but his fastball sits in the low 90’s, and he doesn’t have a real put away pitch. If he threw his fastball in the 93-96 MPH range, he might be the top pitcher in the draft, but without that big fastball and/or put away pitch, I can’t justify placing him higher than 17th. If you hear reports of added velocity at any point before the draft or into his professional career, I would jump on Lauer very quickly.
18) Braxton Garrett HS, LHP – Garrett is like the less advanced version of Lauer, except with higher upside being that he is 2 years younger. He throws a low 90’s heater that he pairs with a good curveball and developing changeup. If you prefer the upside of Braxton to the safety and proximity to the majors of Lauer, I can see flipping these two.
19) Bryan Reynolds Vanderbilt, OF – Reynolds is a high floor, low ceiling college bat who hit very well in the SEC this year, slashing .322/.455/.593, with 12 homers, and 6 steals in 53 games. He strikes out a bit too much, and while he does have opportunistic speed, he is far from a burner. Reynolds is a nice college bat to scoop up at this point in the rankings.
20) Matt Manning HS, RHP – The 6’6’’, 185-pound Manning is the son of former NBA player Rich Manning. His best pitch a big fastball that sits in the mid 90’s, with recent reports having it all the way up into the upper 90’s. He pairs that with an inconsistent curveball and changeup. Manning is your prototypical projectable high school starter, and I can see wanting to bet on his big frame and big fastball.
21) Blake Rutherford HS, OF – I have to admit that I am not the biggest Rutherford fan. He is a year older than many other players from his high school class and he did not take a step forward in the power department this year. He is obviously immensely talented and the guy can hit, so I readily admit that I might end up being too low on him.
By Michael Halpern
Twitter: Imaginary Brick Wall (@ImaginaryBrickW)