Over one month of the Minor League season is in the books, and it is time to take a look at some of the notable fantasy baseball prospect risers from my preseason Top 100 Fantasy Prospects post. This list does not include players that were unranked, but have now cracked the top 100. I’ll have a separate post for them next week. Players like Bobby Bradley (#18) and Josh Hader (#21) are both off to excellent starts, but they are not included in this write-up, either, because I was so high on them to begin with. Andrew Benintendi (#8), Trea Turner (#23), Dansby Swanson (#25), and Alex Bregman (#26) are also not included for similar reasons. Enough with the small talk, here are the early season top 100 fantasy baseball prospect risers:
Graduates: Corey Seager (#1) LAD, SS, Byron Buxton (#2) MIN, OF, Steven Matz (#10) NYM, LHP, Nomar Mazara (#19) TEX, OF (25 AB until official), Trevor Story (#30) COL, SS, John Lamb (#40) CIN, LHP, Jon Gray (#100) COL, RHP
Brendan Rodgers (#24) COL, SS – The 3rd overall pick in the 2015 draft, Rodgers played well in his professional debut at Rookie ball (.273/.340/.420), but didn’t exactly dominate. The raw talent was huge and the scouting reports glowing, so while I wanted to be a little cautious coming into the season, I didn’t want to be too cautious. I was too cautious. Rodgers is straight beasting Single-A right now, slashing .363/.429/.637, with 7 homers, and 2 steals in 28 games, and it easily launches him into the top 10, maybe even into the conversation for #1 overall.
Victor Robles (#35) WASH, OF – Triple-slashed .352/.445/.507, with 4 homers, and 24 steals in 61 games splitting time between Rookie ball and Low-A in 2015. The scouts loved him so much it almost seemed like they had to physically restrain themselves in their write-ups of him. I trusted the huge numbers and the universal praise, and ended up ranking him relatively high. I wasn’t high enough. The 18-year-old Robles is doing exactly the same thing in full season ball this year (.345/.434/.500) and the restraints are now completely off when writing about this kid. He is one of the premiere prospects in the game, and moves right into the top 10 with Rodgers.
David Dahl (#47) COL, OF – Injuries have been a recurring problem in Dahl’s young career, and it resulted in a subpar season in 2015. He has always been a tooled up player, and he will call Coors Field his home, so he still cracked my top 50 in the preseason. This season has been a completely different story, as he is healthy and those tools are translating to monstrous numbers at Double-A, where he is slashing .280/.375/.602, with 9 homers, and 11 steals. I even graced him with the nickname Double-D a few weeks ago, because of the enhanced power he is displaying this season. Dahl is a top 20 prospect right now.
Harrison Bader (#51) STL, OF – One would have thought I was already absurdly high on Bader, seeing that not a single other prospect list even had him ranked, but gosh darnit, I was actually too low. He cranked 2 more homers on Tuesday, and his slash line at Double-A sits at a silly .379/.425/.605, with 7 bombs, and 4 steals. Bader moves up to somewhere in the top 30.
Jameson Taillon (#86) PIT, RHP – Nobody had any idea of what to expect from Taillon after not pitching for two full seasons coming off Tommy John Surgery, but we know what to expect now, and that expectation is dominance. He is running circles around Triple-A hitters in the early going, putting up a line of 1.69/0.78/32 in 37.1 IP. I would still like to see how his arm holds up the deeper into the season we go, but there is no doubt that Taillon is flying up the rankings. He sits comfortably within the top 30.
Ian Happ (#50) CHC, 2B/OF – I was debating whether or not I wanted to include Happ on this list, as he is definitely a riser, but has cooled off considerably since I wrote about him in my Week 3 rundown. He is striking out a lot at High-A, and hasn’t displayed huge power or speed, either. Having said that, he is still slashing .287/.393/.470, with 4 homers, and 5 steals in 31 games, and has a decent chance of maintaining 2B eligibility in some capacity once he reaches the big leagues. Happ will certainly move into the top 40.
Ozhaino Albies (#75) ATL, SS – Albies is a riser based almost solely on the fact he is moving through Atlanta’s system far quicker than I could have anticipated. He was an 18-year-old in Single-A putting up nice numbers last year, and now he is all of a sudden knocking on the door of the big leagues, after dominating Double-A and being promoted to Triple-A. My original projection on him hasn’t changed, but his ETA has, and Albies sits somewhere in my top 40.
Matt Chapman (#94) OAK, 3B – The question in the off season was how many of those 23 homers in 80 games at High-A were for real, and how many were Cal League inflated? We now know that they were all very real. Every single one of them. Playing in a pitcher’s park at Double-A this season, Chapman has mashed 9 dingers in 32 games, and has a .903 OPS. He is becoming one of the very best power hitting prospects in the game, and jumps all the way into the top 50.
Tyler O’Neill (#78) SEA, OF – Like Bader, O’Neill was another player who I was extremely high on compared to other prospect lists, and like Bader, I was still too low. O’Neill has been cruising through Double-A this season, triple-slashing .322/.383/.557, with 6 homers, and 2 steals in 29 games. His K% is down a bit, and his BB% is up a bit. Most importantly, he is still hitting the crap out of the ball when he makes contact. He is a top 50 prospect.
Renato Nunez (#73) OAK, 3B – Nunez can just flat out hit. He has elite bat speed, plus raw power, and has put up good numbers at every level. He has continued that this season at Triple-A, slashing .284/.341/.526 with 6 homers in 31 games. He currently plays 3B, but will likely end up at 1B or DH. I probably should have been higher on Nunez in the preseason, and he easily cracks the top 50.
Cody Reed (#65) CIN, LHP – Another riser who I probably should have been higher on in the preseason. The 6’5’’, 225-pound Reed throws a big fastball and a nasty slider that has K upside written all over it. He is off to a great start at Triple-A (24.2 IP, 4 ER, 16 Hits, 5 BB, 25 K) and has a direct path to the majors. Welcome to the top 50, Cody Reed.
Brent Honeywell (#71) TB, RHP – The 21-year-old Honeywell’s dominance in a pitcher’s league at High-A isn’t all that surprising, but it is too much to ignore. He has put up a pitching line of 1.30/0.84/46 in 41.2 IP, and while I don’t think this has him flying up the rankings, the performance deserves to be recognized. He easily moves into the top 60, and possibly top 50.
Tyler Jay (#98) MIN, LHP – Jay was a total unknown coming into this season, with Minnesota converting him from a reliever into a starter. There have been a few bumps along the road, but his season line now stands at 3.03/1.19/30 in 32.2 IP at High-A, and he hasn’t given up an ER in his last two starts, striking out 13 batters in 13.1 IP. His BB/9 also sits at a respectable 2.8 on the season. I’ve seen enough to move him into the top 60.
*2016 Top 100 Fantasy Baseball Prospect Fallers coming tomorrow
By Michael Halpern
Twitter: Imaginary Brick Wall (@ImaginaryBrickW)