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!
|T6||Rowdy Tellez||Blue Jays||21||2017||6||7|
|13||Sam Travis||Red Sox||23||2017||14||12|
|15||Josh Ockimey||Red Sox||21||2018||13||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.
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
Catcher – Second Base – Third Base – Shortstop – Outfield – Starting Pitcher – Top 100
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