It is still the preseason in prospect land. That means, like many others have for major leaguers, I am going to give some bold predictions. Only difference is, with my predictions they, are only going to involve prospects.
These aren’t necessarily what is most likely to happen. These are a combination of what I think this player could do plus how much I like a player. For example if I predict a 30 home run season from someone I may think he is likely to hit 23-25, but 30 is a possibility and I like his power. If said player hits 28 I think the point is proven.
Now on to the predictions. They will be done by division, and some will get a bonus one if I struggled on who I really wanted to write my prediction on.
American League East
Hunter Harvey finally stays healthy enough to pitch 100 innings with a K/9 of 11 and an ERA under 3.0. This one isn’t off to a good start with his groin injury.
I really wish Harvey was starting the season in AA. If he was I think he had the chance to crack the subpar Orioles rotation at some point this season.
Boston Red Sox
Yoan Moncada will have a 20/60 season in the minors on his way to being the minor league player of the year. In 81 games last year Moncada hit eight homers and stole 49 bases, and that came while hitting only .229 in his first 2 months. He is on a path to stardom in the big leagues.
New York Yankees
Jorge Mateo steals 100 bases in his last full minor league season. His speed is elite and the Yankees still haven’t found a shortstop to replace Jeter. Mateo will shine again this season before getting a call to the big leagues in mid 2017.
Tampa Bay Rays
Blake Snell will strikeout a combined 200 batters between the major and minor leagues. He tore through the minors last season, and I expect him to get a lot of time there again this year, racking up crazy strikeout numbers as the Rays slow play his call to the big leagues.
Toronto Blue Jays
Sean Reid-Foley bursts onto the scene with 200 strikeouts and is involved in a deadline deal as the Jays trade for a rotation arm for a 2016 World Series run. He would be a more interesting name already if it wasn’t for his elevated ERA; he had 11.7 K/9 in 2015.
American League Central
Chicago White Sox
Tim Anderson will steal 25 bases in the majors this season. I don’t think Jimmy Rollins is horrible, but this isn’t the Jimmy Rollins from Philadelphia anymore, and as a team looking to compete they will do anything they can to improve the roster.
Bradley Zimmer has 10 homers and 25 steals in the minors at the end of June and gets called up to the big leagues when the Indians realize how bad their outfield is. While he doesn’t have extreme splits, he will form a platoon with Marlon Byrd and play mostly against right-handed pitching. Even in a part-time role, he will steal 15 bases during his time in the majors this season.
Steven Moya’s strikeout rate reaches 33 percent and he begins to fall off the prospect radar. Finally a negative prediction. There are far too many strikeouts and not enough power for me to get excited. At 24 years old the prospect shine is fading.
Kansas City Royals
People will finally understand the difference in Raul Mondesi’s fantasy and real life potential while he has another season hitting under .250. His glove is elite, but unless you’re in a single league move on.
Byron Buxton will have the fourth best rookie season for the Twins, while not lasting the entire season in the majors. I love Buxton’s future potential, but let’s remember that in four seasons since becoming a pro he has only played more than 72 games once, averaging only 80 games in those seasons. The 2016 season isn’t Buxton’s time, but it might be the best time to buy him after he struggles.
Bonus: Adam Brett Walker hits 35 homers while striking out 200 times.
American League West
While everyone is screaming to get A.J. Reed to the big leagues, J.D. Davis will quietly have another 25 homer season with an average around .290.
Los Angeles Angels
To be honest I can’t even come up with a bold prediction. The prospects are unexciting and I don’t like any of them enough to attempt a good prediction.
From the time of his promotion until his final start, Sean Manaea will be the Athletics best fantasy pitcher. Sonny Gray is obviously great; he was an all-star and in the running for the Cy Young, but Manaea has much higher upside in terms of strikeouts.
No Seattle prospect will be on a top-100 list by midseason. Like the Angels, I really don’t like this system. I am over Alex Jackson and D.J. Peterson at this point.
Joey Gallo has a sub .250 average with 200 strikeouts, and plays less than the 36 major league games he did in 2015. He has power – we all know that, but he strikes out a ton. The future has 40 plus homer upside. A season like this screams buy low in dynasty leagues.
National League East
Kolby Allard will surpass Dansby Swanson as the Braves top fantasy prospect by season’s end. While there is a lot of safety and predictability in Swanson, he lacks true elite fantasy upside. Allard will probably be on an innings limit this season, but I expect to see him put up some eye-popping numbers in the low levels.
Bonus: Mallex Smith will lead the Atlanta Braves in stolen bases.
In his first full season Josh Naylor hits 25 home runs with an average above .290. This is the beginning of a long stretch of power for Naylor.
New York Mets
Steven Matz wins the NL Rookie of the Year. This might not be super bold, but on an expected innings limit with baseball’s top prospect (Corey Seager) in your league expected to play a full season, it might not be expected. On his way to the award he will strikeout 180 batters while keeping his ERA under 2.75.
Nick Williams and Jake Thompson will make the majors before JP Crawford. While doing this, Williams will be the Phillies second best fantasy player for 2016 value. During that MLB stint Williams will hit .300 with 10 homers and 10 steals.
Victor Robles hits below .280 with less than 10 homers in his first season playing above low-A. Robles has been tearing apart the minors the past two seasons, but look where it was at. A lot of people do damage in rookie leagues and then flame out once they face advanced pitching. I have Robles as a top-50 prospect, but I am trying to keep expectations realistic.
National League Central
Dan Vogelbach finally figures out how to use his 6’0” 250 point body to hit for power and hits 25 home runs while keeping the average above .270. Vogelbach will also get off to a hot start and get a cup of coffee this season in a DH role or as a September call up.
Reds fans will be saying Johnny who by midseason when Cody Reed gets called up and strikes out 100 batters in his first stint in the majors.
Brett Phillips will hit above .300 for the third straight season while going 20/20. I don’t think the speed is fantastic, but he has stolen a combined 40 in the last two seasons. All Phillips needs to do is hit a couple more home runs to reach that glorious 20/20 plateau. Don’t get me wrong, I love Phillips, but that might be the perfect time to sell him if he reaches 20/20. Everyone loves a 20/20 player, but his value will probably not go up a lot more over a couple of homers just to reach that 20 homer mark.
Josh Bell won’t make the roster until September. After originally buying the Bell getting called up hype I am starting to think it doesn’t happen until roster expend. The Pirates used John Jaso in the leadoff spot and David Freese in the 3-hole to start the season. Freese is expected to move into a first base platoon once Kang returns squeezing Bell out of the picture for the penny-pinching Pirates.
St. Louis Cardinals
The 100 MPH pitchers Junior Fernandez and Sandy Alcantara will both strikeout at least 10 batters per nine. Their fastballs will help jump their K rates and increase their values. It never hurts to invest in Cardinals pitching, especially when they can hit triple digits on the radar gun.
National League West
One of my favorite relief pitching prospects, Silvino Bracho, has more than 90 strikeouts with an ERA under 2.00 and WHIP under 1.00 in his first full MLB season. He will be everyone’s Hunter Strickland in 2017, the shiny prospect everyone expects to close when the closer struggles.
Brendan Rodgers shows off his power potential and leads all minor league shortstops in home runs with at least 25. The power is great in general — for a shortstop, the potential is elite.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Jose De Leon leads the minor leagues in strikeouts. He struck out 163 in 114 1/3 last season, good for a K/9 of 12.8. I don’t think he gets promoted this season unless it is late as a September call up. The “open” spots at the back-end of the rotation won’t be there for long.
Bonus: Cody Bellinger has another 30 home run season and becomes the top first base prospect by the start of next season.
San Diego Padres
Michael Gettys (sort of) reaches his potential and has a 20 homer 25 steal season while striking out 175 times. There are a ton of holes in his swing, but the power and speed potential from him are so enticing. He was a big add in dynasty prior to the 2015 season and fell off the radar a bit last season after a dreadful first full season.
San Francisco Giants
Clayton Blackburn will make some surprisingly helpful contributions for fantasy. Can you say vague prediction? Blackburn is far from an elite prospect; the strikeouts are non-existent and he is kind of blocked in the Giants rotation. With injuries and or ineffectiveness, Blackburn will eventually get in the big league rotation and provide a sub 3.50 ERA filling in.
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