2017 Top 20 First Base Prospects

We kicked off our prospect rankings last week with a look at the catcher position, and we continue along the infield looking at first base today. Joining me again for this year’s rankings is our very own Andy Germani. Our rankings will be consolidated to give you our final site rankings, but you can see where Andy and I ranked them in the table as well.

These are fantasy rankings, and I remind you that Andy and I are not scouts, just simply heavy followers of baseball prospects. We hope you enjoy the rankings!

Rank Player Team Age ETA Andy Paul
1 Cody Bellinger Dodgers  21 2017 1 2
2 Josh Bell  Pirates  24 2016 3 1
3 Dan Vogelbach Mariners  24  2016 4 3
4 A.J. Reed  Astros  23  2016 5 4
5 Yulieski Gurriel Astros  32 2016 2 8
T6 Dominic Smith Mets 21  2017 7 6
T6 Rowdy Tellez  Blue Jays 21  2017 6 7
8 Matt Thaiss Angels 21  2018 9 5
9 Bobby Bradley Indians 20 2018 8 9
10 Trey Mancini Orioles 24  2016 10 11
11 Rhys Hoskins Phillies  23 2017 12 10
12 Chris Shaw  Giants 23  2018 11 14
13 Sam Travis  Red Sox 23  2017 14 12
14 Tyler Austin Yankees  25 2016 15 13
15 Josh Ockimey Red Sox 21  2018 13 N/A
T16 Jake Bauers Rays 21  2017 N/A 15
T16 Peter Alonso Mets  22 2018 20 16
T16 Josh Naylor  Padres 19  2019 17 19
19 Edwin Rios Dodgers  22 2018 16 N/A
T20 Jhailyn Ortiz  Phillies 18  2020 N/A 17
T20 Casey Gillaspie  Rays 23  2017 18 20
x Ronald Guzman Rangers  22 2017 N/A 18
x Ryan O’Hearn Royals 23  2018 19 N/A

Who is your favorite prospect to break out in 2017?

Andy: I have Dan Vogelbach pretty high already, but I still think people are sleeping on him a little bit because he hasn’t had a huge season yet. He finally showed some power, albeit in the hitter friendly PCL, has always been able hit for a decent average, and has had a nice walk rate at every stop in his career. I don’t think Vogelbach is ever going to be a 30 home run hitter on a consistent basis, or maybe ever, but his ability to hit for a solid average with a strong walk rate will make him a great asset in OBP and points leagues. He should get a nice opportunity to show what he can do at the MLB level this year. Based on that he would also be a qualifier for the next category for me.

Paul: Matt Thaiss could do some serious climbing up the prospect lists in 2017 if he can develop a little bit of power. One of the best pure hitters in last year’s draft, Thaiss is at serious risk of losing any fantasy relevance with his move from behind the plate. This concern likely presents an opportunity to fantasy owners. I’d gamble on the hit tool and hope that average power shows up. With his catching days behind him, he could move very quickly through the Angels system.

What prospect could make a surprising
contribution to fantasy teams in 2017?

Andy: If we are going surprising, or at least semi surprising, I would go Trey Mancini. As of right now the Orioles have an open DH spot. They could still sign someone to fill that spot, but right now I think Mancini is the guy to fill it. He might not start the year there, but by sometime in May he should be getting regular at bats. Mancini has hit for a great average at every level with enough power to keep you interested. If he gets a full season of at bats, 500 plus, he could hit .280 plus with 15-20 homers.

As of right now there is no guaranteed playing time so if you have a really early draft I wouldn’t be banking on him starting, but you can probably get him at a really deep discount right now in redrafts.

Paul: We’ve estimated that 13 of our top 20 First Base prospects could see playing time in 2017, so there’s no shortage of possibilities here. I like Josh Bell first and foremost for 2017, followed by Dan Vogelbach and Yulieski Gurriel. As for a surprise contribution, I’m going to go out on a limb and say Rowdy Tellez of the Jays. Toronto is going to need some power in that lineup, and Justin Smoak is clearly not the answer. Kendrys Morales is no regular first baseman, leaving Steve Pearce as the right-handed complement. They’re going to need someone to step up, and a big start from Tellez in AAA would put him firmly in place to be that person. 

What lesser-known prospect should fantasy owners
put on their radars now?

Andy: I don’t know if he is really lesser known, but Matt Thaiss is a new name some people might not be aware of. A catcher in college, that won’t play there in the majors, Thaiss had one of the best hit tools in the draft. He might get downgraded a bit because people are on the “he won’t have as much value at first as he did at catcher” kick. And yes, that is true, but it doesn’t mean he won’t have value. I see him being similar to Vogelbach in a few years. Someone who is going to have a nice average and OBP, but isn’t going to blow anyone away with the power. He is about as safe as you can get when it comes to someone who was drafted in the past year.

Paul: A lesser-known prospect from New York is kind of an oxymoron, but I’m going with Peter Alonso anway. A broken finger cut his season short, but not before posting a .266 ISO in his first thirty professional games. There’s some natural power that still needs to show itself in games, but Baseball America recently ranked him as one of the draft’s top power hitters, so it’s there. Dominic Smith is clearly ahead of him in the team depth chart, but Alonso is 6 months older and could move quickly through the Mets system. He’s a big right-handed hitter without Smith’s athleticism, but the bat just might be enough to carry him.

What prospect would it not surprise you
if he fell significantly in the next year?

Andy: Usually I feel like I have a pretty obvious, or at least obvious to me, choice. I had a tougher time here. If I have to pick one it is probably Bobby Bradley. The classic big power big strikeout prospect that we like because he could flirt with 40 homers someday. Right now he has a 29 percent strikeout rate, which isn’t good, but also isn’t a death nail. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Rhys Hoskins come back to Earth after a huge power season in a great hitters park. That doesn’t mean I think he will be terrible, I just don’t see him hitting 30 homers at the major league level.

Paul: As a fellow Canuck, I was pretty excited about Josh Naylor a year ago. He had just been drafted 12th overall, and he had the kind of power that doesn’t come around very often. He’s been aggressively pushed, ending last season in High-A at just 19 years old. So what’s not to like?  He’s already a big boy with little projection left to his frame. His lack of athleticism means his 70 power needs to get into games, but his swing and miss profile makes it unlikely. He also stabbed a teammate in an alleged prank, which to me raises some questions about his character. There’s just a lot of risk here, and with that comes a decent shot that he could be forgotten about in a year’s time. I hope not, eh. 


Come back next Friday when we will publish our Top 25 Second Base Prospects.

2017 Prospect Rankings
CatcherSecond BaseThird BaseShortstopOutfieldStarting PitcherTop 100

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Written by 

Fantasy Baseball player since 1987. Creator of Fantasy Assembly, yet just fortunate enough to be a part of it.

6 thoughts on “2017 Top 20 First Base Prospects”

  1. Gillaspie is waaaaay too low – especially for a fantasy ranking. Switch hitter, easy path to PT, power and patience.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I don’t necessarily disagree, as there was very little separation for me between slots 10 and 20. He had a fantastic season and if he can continue with the high contact, he could make for an interesting fantasy player. I could have put more stock in 2016, but if that hit tool doesn’t play up, I’m not sure we’ll see the power either. Being so close to the bigs should be a plus, but I probably didn’t rank him that way – I’m just not sure how high he can break into the 1B ranks. Sometimes these rankings play out how much you should roster certain players. If spots are limited for example, going for broke is perhaps a better choice. (that’s how things get muddled when ranking for fantasy)
      Appreciate your reading and for sharing your thoughts. I really wouldn’t argue with you if you had him at 10.

    2. Little late here.

      In brief, I agree with Paul for the most part here. I put more into the previous years than 2016. I want to see the average again. If he can show me .270 plus again he will move up a good bit for me.

      Also similarly to what Paul said, once I got to maybe #12/13 I started going for the guys I am willing to go for broke on. Gillaspie just wasnt super high on that list for me.

  2. Great Write up and rankings. Where would you rank Zack Collins as a 1B if he were forced to change from Catcher?

    1. For me somewhere in the back half of the top 10. I have already mentally moved my ranks around a little bit from what this list has.

      I think he would be maybe number six or seven. Firmly behind the top group but towards the top of that next tier of guys.

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