Top 100 season is not until early February, but nobody said anything about doing a top 35. Without further ado, here are the 2016 End of Season Top 35 Fantasy Baseball Prospect Rankings:
1) Yoan Moncada BOS, 3B/2B – Struggled with contact in his first 20 MLB PA (60% K rate!), but has unmatched 5-category upside. Prime Projection: 108/22/85/.275/.362/.479/30
ETA: Will likely compete for 3B job in Spring Training. Worst case scenario he is the next man up at Triple-A.
2) Andrew Benintendi BOS, OF – Not gonna lie, it hurts a little bit as a Yankees fan that the top two players on this list are both Red Sox. Only silver lining is that I’m really happy Boston fired the guy who built this Red Sox team and farm system. Prime Projection: 93/21/97/.300/.367/.477/11
ETA: Three months ago
3) Brendan Rodgers COL, SS/2B – Power showed up this year with 19 homers in 110 games at Single-A. OPS was much higher at home than on the road (.978 vs. .682) but I just call that good ole’ fashioned practice for Coors Field. Prime Projection: 89/27/103/.281/.338/.495/7
ETA: Cup of coffee in 2018. DJ LaMahieu will be a free agent after the 2018 season, so Rodgers looks to have a wide open spot in 2019, either at 2B, or at SS with Trevor Story moving to 2nd.
4) Alex Reyes STL, RHP – Averaged 96.8 MPH on his fastball in his MLB debut, to go along with a plus curveball and an 88 MPH changeup that looks more like a normal pitcher’s two seam fastball. If you watched his Futures Game performance, you realized this was a man against boys. Prime Projection: 3.18/1.18/237 in 204 IP
ETA: Will compete for a starting job in Spring Training, but St. Louis hasn’t been afraid to use their top pitching prospects in relief during their rookie season.
5) Lucas Giolito WASH, RHP – If you’ve waited this long for Giolito, you are not about to give up now. He had an up and down year in the minors and got hit around in the majors, but the plus fastball/curveball combo is still intact. Prime Projection: 3.25/1.15/217 in 209 IP
ETA: Washington has good rotation depth, so he will likely start the season in Triple-A before the inevitable injuries/ineffectiveness opens a rotation spot for him.
6) Tyler Glasnow PIT, RHP – Glasnow and Giolito are basically tied for me, but gave the edge to Giolito because Glasnow’s 5.2 BB/9 is one huge red flag. His stuff is unhittable, so once he learns to repeat his delivery and improve his command, the sky is the limit. Prime Projection: 3.15/1.19/222 in 200 IP
ETA: Will depend on free agent signings, but the door is wide open for him to win a rotation spot out of Spring Training.
7) Dansby Swanson ATL, SS – Safe 5-category production from the SS position. Was one at-bat short of losing rookie eligibility, slashing .302/.361/.442 with 3 homers and 3 steals in 129 MLB at-bats. Prime Projection: 89/18/83/.282/.346/.458/16
ETA: 10 weeks ago
8) Austin Meadows PIT, OF – Working through an orbital bone fracture in the beginning of the season and hamstring injury mid-year, Meadows still managed to significantly up his power output and slash a respectable .266/.333/.536 with 12 homers and 17 steals in 87 games split between Double-A and Triple-A. Andrew McCutchen is the only thing between him and a starting job. Prime Projection: 96/20/86/.293/.351/.470/14
ETA: In a classic prospect blocked situation. It will take a trade, injury, or NL DH to get him in the lineup.
9) Victor Robles WASH, OF – The 19-year-old Robles slowed down a bit at High-A after dominating Single-A, but he still flashed 5-category upside that only Moncada can top right now. Prime Projection: 96/16/77/.289/.339/.449/30
ETA: Type of prospect that can be up in a hurry. Wouldn’t be surprised if he was starting sometime in 2018.
10) A.J. Reed HOU, 1B – Rough MLB debut was a major bummer (.532 OPS), but if it’s any consolation, he did rake in the PCL (.924 OPS). I’m still fully on board with him becoming a big time power hitter, it just might not happen as quickly as I originally hoped. Prime Projection: 79/30/100/.269/.351/.499/1
ETA: Will have to earn playing time with a Houston franchise that is stacked with talented hitters. Has ability to carve out an everyday role vs. righties in 2017, but may struggle to find at-bats vs. lefties. Should have an everyday 1B/DH job available in 2018 if he performs.
11) Lewis Brinson MIL, OF – Struggled in the first half due to a shoulder injury, but exploded in the PCL after being traded to Milwaukee. Plate approach took a step back this season, so Milwaukee’s new front office will have to prove they are as good at developing talent as they are at acquiring it. Prime Projection: 82/24/86/.262/.329/.473/17
ETA: Could win the CF job of out Spring Training, but likely needs a few more months of seasoning at Triple-A.
12) Jose De Leon LAD, RHP – Biggest concern is that he will be too homer prone, and giving up 5 homers in his first 17 MLB IP did not exactly alleviate those concerns. He did dominate in the PCL with a pitching line of 2.61/0.94/111 in 86.1 IP. Prime Projection: 3.41/1.16/208 in 190 IP
ETA: MLB ready, but Los Angeles has a number of different rotation options. Working him in as a long man/2-3 inning reliever next season isn’t out of the question.
13) Josh Hader MIL, LHP – Couldn’t overcome possibly the worst pitching conditions in professional baseball, Colorado Springs, but absolutely destroyed Double-A earlier in the year. Maintained his nasty, strikeout stuff all season. Prime Projection: 3.34/1.18/196 in 185 IP
ETA: Probably isn’t a great idea to send him back to that pitching hell hole, but Milwaukee has enough mediocre pitching options ahead of him that it might be inevitable for the first couple months of the season.
14) Raimel Tapia COL, OF – Elite hit tool with plus speed and a little power playing at Coors Field. Cut strikeouts almost in half this season too. Prime Projection: 92/14/70/.305/.333/.442/19
ETA: All 3 Colorado outfielders are injury prone (Dahl, Blackmon, Gonzalez), plus, Blackmon and Gonzalez are both candidates to be dealt this off-season. Worst case scenario, a full time gig should open up when Gonzalez’s contract runs out after this season.
15) Brad Zimmer CLE, OF – Strikeouts spiked at Triple-A (37% K% in 150 PA), but the explosive power/speed combo is too good to pass up. Prime Projection: 87/20/80/.255/.340/.453/24
ETA: Clearly needs more work at Triple-A. Should still be able to debut at some point next season, likely in the 2nd half.
16) Derek Fisher HOU, OF – Repeated in Double-A and Triple-A what he did in A-Ball last year. Contact issues remain, but like Zimmer, the power/speed combo is an enticing one for fantasy. Prime Projection: 81/23/85/.259/.342/.459/17
ETA: Fisher and Zimmer are almost prospect doppelgangers right now. Like Zimmer, he should debut sometime in the 2nd half of 2017.
17) Nick Senzel CIN, 3B – I covered Senzel in my 2016/17 Top 40 Dynasty League First-Year Player Draft Rankings, but here is a cool video I found of him plowing into a catcher when he was 10 years old. Prime Projection: 90/20/90/.282/.354/.469/14
ETA: Should be on the Bregman/Benintendi/Swanson timeline, which means he will show up in the 2nd half of next season.
18) Eloy Jimenez CHC, OF – The athletic 6’4’’, 205-pound Jimenez has the scouts drooling over him, and the stats at Single-A to back it up. Prime Projection: 85/28/96/.281/.335/.490/8
ETA: 2019. There is no obvious opening for him in Chicago, but a lot can change between now and when he will be big league ready, including the uniform he is wearing.
19) Tyler O’Neill SEA, OF – I’ve been hyping O’Neill for about a year now, and the rest of the prospect world has finally caught up after he improved both his K% and BB% as a 21-year-old at Double-A. Prime Projection: 79/27/90/.265/.321/.480/9
ETA: Seattle’s mediocre OF options leaves the door wide open for him as soon as Seattle thinks he is ready. Could be as soon as June 2017, or as late as June 2018.
20) Zack Collins CHW, C – I covered Collins in my 2016/17 Top 40 Dynasty League First-Year Player Draft Rankings. Prime Projection: 78/26/87/.269/.364/.485/2
ETA: Should be on the same track to the bigs that I think Senzel will be on. Working on catcher defense could delay him a bit longer.
21) Kyle Tucker HOU, OF – Power started to emerge towards the end of the year, which tacked on to the advanced hit tool, plate approach, and surprising speed he displayed earlier in the season. Standing a lanky 6’4”, there is likely even more power coming down the line. Prime Projection: 94/21/86/.286/.357/.468/16
ETA: 2019/2020. Houston is in no rush to call him up, and there is plenty of development time to go for the 19-year-old.
22) J.P. Crawford PHI, SS – Continued to display an advanced plate approach despite being more than five years younger than his competition for most of the season. I understand being turned off by his lackluster home run and steal totals, but he is a sure bet to stick at SS and is knocking on the door of the bigs. Prime Projection: 96/13/62/.282/.371/.403/17
ETA: Freddy Galvis is keeping the seat warm until Crawford is ready, which should be sometime in the 2nd half of next season.
23) Tom Murphy COL, C – Ranked 32nd overall on my top 100 back in February, Murphy went on to easily handle the PCL (1.008 OPS in 303 at bats), and then did more of the same in his September cup of coffee (1.006 OPS in 44 at bats). He is going to strike out a lot, but Coors Field and his positional value gives him a major boost. Prime Projection: 70/27/85/.256/.312/.467/2
ETA: Starting job is his for the taking in 2017, but I would still expect some kind of time share with Tony Wolters.
24) Willie Calhoun LAD, 2B (kinda) – Has an almost unmatched combo of contact and power, cranking 27 homers with a 65/45 K/BB in 132 games at Double-A. Most of his power is to his pull side, so smart defenses will be able to limit his BABIP. Prime Projection: 78/26/89/.278/.324/.475/2
ETA: Defensive concerns make his ETA murky. Howie Kendrick’s contract is up after next season, so if Calhoun improves his defense to an acceptable level, he can be starting for Los Angeles as soon as 2018.
25) Aaron Judge NYY, OF – Strikeout rate exploded in the Majors, but has a history of struggling at a new level before making adjustments. His 6’7’’, 275-pound frame is both a gift and a curse when it comes to hitting a baseball. Prime Projection: 80/28/92/.254/.336/.474/6
ETA: 2017 Opening Day starting right fielder.
26) Clint Frazier NYY, OF – Struggled at Triple-A in 30 games, but handled his business at Double-A, slashing .276/.356/.469 with 13 homers and 13 steals in 89 games. Has legendary bat speed and Instagram game. Prime Projection: 84/23/86/.280/.343/.479/10
ETA: Definitely needs more development time at Triple-A, plus, there is no obvious spot for him as long as Gardner, Ellsbury, and McCann are still on the roster. Post trade deadline 2017, or early 2018 is my best guess.
27) Franklin Barreto OAK, SS/2B – Stat line doesn’t particularly stand out (.763 OPS), but his performance as a 20-year-old in a pitcher’s park at Double-A is a legitimate step forward. Sticking at SS would be a big help, but that isn’t a sure bet. Prime Projection: 89/17/81/.285/.337/.450/19
ETA: It sure seems like Oakland has their foot on the pedal with Barreto, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the 2nd half of next season. The more conservative estimate would be a few months into the 2018 season.
28) Bobby Bradley CLE, 1B – Would have liked to see him take a step forward with his hit tool, but maintaining his homer/walk/strikeout profile as a 20-year-old at High-A will have to do. Prime Projection: 80/33/106/.250/.366/.510/3
ETA: 2019. Don’t think he will be fast tracked because there will likely be adjustments to make as he faces more advanced pitching in the upper minors.
29) Josh Bell PIT, 1B/OF – Power took a step forward this year while maintaining his plus hit tool. Looked strong in his MLB debut too, slashing .273/.368/.406. Prime Projection: 78/19/88/.288/.345/.458/4
ETA: Likely to get at bats at 1B and corner outfield this year, before taking over at 1B full time when John Jaso’s contract runs out after this season.
30) Jesse Winker CIN, OF – Maintained elite hit tool and plate approach in Triple-A. Power dropped off a cliff, but that can be blamed on battling a wrist injury all season. Prime Projection: 87/20/90/.292/.373/.487/4
ETA: Will probably begin the season in Triple-A and be the first OF up if/when one of the starters get hurt or struggles.
31) Ian Happ CHC, 2B/OF – Solid power/speed combo with a good plate approach, but has some contact issues. Is completely blocked in Chicago, and could be used as a super utility guy in his first few seasons. Prime Projection: 85/19/76/.273/.358/.447/13
ETA: Late season call up next year before slowly being worked into the lineup in 2018.
32) Hunter Renfroe SD, OF – Was a bit of a mixed bag at Triple-A (PCL), jacking 30 homers, but striking out 20% of the time and walking a measly 3.9% of the time. Hit 4 homers in his brief 11 game MLB debut. Prime Projection: 74/26/91/.263/.304/.470/5
ETA: 2017 Opening Day starting right fielder.
33) Rafael Devers BOS, 3B – Was too pull happy early in the season, which led to a disastrous first two months at High-A, but turned it around in the second half when he went back to hitting frozen ropes all over the field. Still some projection left on his homerun power. Prime Projection: 83/23/98/.287/.332/.483/7
ETA: Will be interesting to see what Boston does with Moncada and/or Pedroia when Devers is ready, which should be around 2018/2019 if things go relatively well.
34) Gleybor Torres NYY, SS – Has been getting rave reviews in the Arizona Fall League where he is slashing .308/.426/.590 with 3 homers. The power has certainly arrived for the 19-year-old Torres. Prime Projection: 82/21/87/.277/.346/.467/13
ETA: The Yanks have been known to be relatively conservative with their hitting prospects, so I wouldn’t expect him until the 2nd half of the 2019 season.
35) Cody Bellinger LAD, 1B/OF – Significantly improved both his walk and strikeout rate at Double-A while maintaining his considerable power. Prime Projection: 77/24/91/.268/.357/.480/6
ETA: Is lining up perfectly to take over 1B when Adrian Gonzalez’s contract runs out after the 2018 season.
By Michael Halpern (@MichaelCHalpern)
Twitter: Imaginary Brick Wall (@ImaginaryBrickW)