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Prospect Values: First Base

So we are past the catcher position. I can exhale and move on to a more exciting position.

I referenced it last week with catchers, but it tells a much different story with first baseman.

My prospect success rate article from last season was very good for the first base prospects. First base prospects came in at an astonishing 49 percent success rate. That might not seem that great, but it was light years ahead of the second best success rate, 36 percent.

I think the primary reason for this is that the first base prospects that get ranked in the top-100 at Baseball America are there because of the bat. Other positions they will favor defense and speed, while at first base if you aren’t able to be an above average hitter you won’t get near the top-100.

For the guys on the back-end of our lists that probably doesn’t mean much of anything, but for the guys in the top half that should make the top-100, your chances of getting a future fantasy asset is better here than you are going to get anywhere else.

If you have any questions on any players feel free to ask about them in the comment section below or on Twitter

Note: Just because a player isn’t mentioned doesn’t mean I like or dislike them; I just feel like their current value falls in line with what it should be.

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If you are looking for the top-20 prospect first base rankings click here. We will continue to have prospect rankings on Friday’s and my values the following week.

Overvalued

Josh Bell – As a Pittsburgher I love and am really excited about Bell. I worry about his fantasy value playing first, and I don’t really know when he will get consistent at bats. The Pirates have a few options to play at first between Jaso, Freese and Bell.

While his 2017 playing time might not be a lock, of the guys on the prospects lists no one really has great hopes for 2017. Where my concern with Bell falls is that what will he really be?

Right now it looks like in a good year he is going to hit 18-20 homers with a .280-.290 average. No one is tossing that player aside or ignoring him. I just think people are expecting a lot more. What I think many are thinking, hoping, for is he develops more power and becomes a consistent 20-25 homer player with about a .280 average.

I don’t think the big power outburst ever comes consistently; maybe there is a year or two over his career he hits 25, but I would call that more of a surprise than an expectation.

I think a lot of people will have Bell comfortably in the top-50 and possibly in the top-25. If you shop Bell now you can probably get a pretty good return. First base is always an easy position to fill with decent numbers. Even the bad guys can hit .260 with 25-30 homers.

Rhys Hoskins – I haven’t seen many, maybe any, analysts or scouts overrate him so maybe he isn’t super overrated. I have him here mainly because I think people are going to do offseason research on some of the lesser known players and see 38 home runs and value him pretty highly.

Hoskins has never come close to showing that kind of power before; he hit 17 in the exact same number of at bats in 2015. Reading plays very well to power and he took advantage of it.

The strikeout rate is manageable, even good in past seasons, so there is hope for him to be a fantasy asset in the future if you can’t get anything for him.

I would like to move him before he gets out of the hitter friendly Reading. I think he ends up being more of what he was in 2015 than the flirting with 40 home run player he was in 2016.

He will be 24 on opening day, and I don’t think the Phillies are in any hurry to bring him along to the majors, proof being that he spent all of that 38 home run season in AA.

Dominic Smith – Smith reminds me of a Josh Bell lite. I think he can hit .300 at the major league level or at least .290 year in and year out. The issue with him, similarly as with Bell, is the power.

I worry more about Smith’s power than I do with Bell. In over 1,800 minor league plate appearances he has just 25 homers. With Bell I think 18-20 is a reasonable expectation. With Smith I think that might be his ceiling.

Power does typically get developed last, so maybe Smith does have more power coming. Or maybe the power “coming” for him was going from six homers in 2015 to 14 in 2016.



Good Values

Matt Thaiss – Thaiss was a 2016 draft pick so depending on your league that could either boost or diminish his value based on how well your league tracks guys from the previous year’s draft. Those that followed the draft might be turned off a little by his immediate move from catcher to first.

Thaiss hit .338/.427/.518 in his college career topped off by a .375/.473/.578 season. Thaiss only struck out eight percent of the time in college with an 11 percent walk rate to go with his 20 homers.

He is a very advanced hitter and I think he is going under the radar a little bit. The move to first base helps speed up his timeline because he doesn’t have to spend time in the minors learning all the ins and outs of the catching position. 

If I could go back and redo my rankings I think he deserves to be up a few more spots.

Trey Mancini – I am a little surprised how low people are valuing Mancini, I slightly regret my ranking at 10th as well.

Mancini made a brief appearance in the majors last year. I am not going to analyze the sample at all, but it was a good five games.

Throughout the minors he has shown the ability to hit for a good average, hitting no worse than .282 and reaching as high as .341. The difference between Mancini and the likes of Bell and Smith above is Mancini has already developed some power.

Mancini hit 20 and 21 homers the past two seasons while hitting .282 and .341. I don’t think many people are viewing him near someone like Josh Bell when I think he will do very similarly in the majors, where he might start in 2017. He doesn’t walk a ton, but doesn’t strike out much either.

Dan Vogelbach – I really like Vogelbach and wrote about him in our first base rankings.

Vogelbach is a lot like Thaiss, but he has already made it to the majors. I view him as a high .280s hitter with some nice power.

He routinely hit for high teens power in the minors before finally breaking the 20 home run barrier last season on his way to the majors.

Vogelbach had just about an even strikeout to walk ratio in the minors last season with 97 walks and 101 strikeouts. The walk total comes to a crazy 17 percent walk rate. This was not just a 2016 thing. Vogelbach had 336 walks to 393 strikeouts. Just a two percent difference between his strikeouts and walks.

I love the hit tool and I really think the 20 plus power sticks. In points and OBP leagues I think he is going to be very valuable.

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If you have any questions or players at a position I haven’t gotten to yet also leave them in the comment section below and I can do some digging and maybe they will be included when I get to that position.

Previous Prospect Values
Catcher Second BaseThird BaseShortstop Outfield pt 1Outfield pt 2 – Starting Pitcher

 

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Andy Germani
I am a lifelong Pittsburgh sports fan and a graduate from Penn State. Baseball was my first love and I still play to this day in an adult baseball league. I always love helping people with their questions on Twitter so feel free to follow me and ask questions.
Andy Germani

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5 comments on “Prospect Values: First Base

  1. What are your thoughts on Casey Gillespie and Sam Travis? Both guys know how to hit and they could both get some playing time in the bigs. I feel like they are under the radar.

    • Gillaspie I didnt rank super highly in my list. Travis is a few spots higher.

      Travis has shown the ability to hit for average but last years ACL injury kept him from being a few spots higher on the list. The power might come along later but I think he gets to 12-15 in good years with maybe 18 in his peak years which isnt ideal if you are investing in a prospect unless you are in a deep league. I think the safety with the hit tool is there if you are looking for a safe guy in the back half of the first base ranks.

      If you are playing the upside game between these two, Gillaspie is the guy you want. He has shown some power already and last year added a decent average to go with it. I think his ceiling could be 20-25 homers with a .270 average. What holds me back with him is I dont know if I buy the average jump which might keep his homers closer to 20 than 25. However if he does keep the .270 plus average he could be a big asset. If you are looking to buy him now could be the last time to buy him cheap as a prospect.

      • Thanks Andy for the timely response! I think Gillespie has some AL only appeal if/when someone gets hurt this year. The Rays have a lot of high K low BA guys and could use Gillespie’s approach in the lineup.

  2. Thaiss is a Los Angeles Angel …. might want to get rid of that Jose Abreu part.

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