We continue our prospect rankings this week with a look at the outfield position. If you hadn’t noticed, we’ve changed things up this year by giving you more of the players that matter (30 shortstops, outfielders, and starting pitchers) and less of those that don’t (20 catchers).
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!
|1||Andrew Benintendi||Red Sox||22||2016||1||1|
|26||Anthony Alford||Blue Jays||22||2018||29||20|
|27||Luis Alexander Basabe||White Sox||20||2019||N/A||19|
Who is your favorite prospect to break out in 2017?
Andy: Yusniel Diaz had a terrible start to the season hitting just .253/.328/.376 through the middle of June. He falls into the category of guys I like to invest in because of nice second half numbers. With MLB players I try to ignore first half versus second half numbers, but with still learning and adjusting prospects, if you can show me you can make adjustments to increase your slash line to .295/.340/.466 I am impressed. Also remember Diaz is just 19 and put up some pretty gaudy numbers as a 17-year-old in Cuba, .348/.447/.440. Right now the power is one of those potential tools that you hope he can develop at some point. The speed I think will be useful, but I don’t know if he gets to the 20 steal numbers some are predicting for him.
Paul: There are a ton of great choices here, including Andy’s choice of Yusniel Diaz. Leody Taveras has the tools to move up, but he’s just 18 and may see some bumps in his first taste of full-season ball. Corey Ray and Kyle Lewis are my next choices but they’re both coming off knee injuries that may slow them down at least to start. Mickey Moniak and Blake Rutherford find themselves in similar positions to Taveras, leaving me with Luis Alexander Basabe as my choice. Basabe has big-time tools with plus speed and power, and he really turned things last year, hitting .296/.358/.483 after June 1. He was hidden in the Red Sox system and ironically, he’s not somewhat hidden in the White Sox system. This year could be his coming out party, even after one that saw him hit 12 home runs and steal 25 bases. If he can do that in AA, we’re looking at a pretty exciting prospect.
What prospect could make a surprising contribution
to fantasy teams in 2017?
Andy: Jesse Winker has very little standing in his way to providing solid numbers this season. I don’t see Winker as a league winner or anything like that, but .280 and a 20-25 home run pace should be good enough. I wasn’t buying on him as a guy who could hit for average; then he hit .303, but with next to no power. Winker battled a wrist injury last year and it could have been the reason for the drop in power. When he gets called up (I would expect once the deadlines pass) he can be a nice contributor to a fantasy roster. In leagues where less than 50 outfielders are owned he might not be a hot commodity, but 12-team roto where 60 or more outfielders are started he will be useful.
Paul: I don’t think it will be a surprising contribution at all, but I feel like people are sleeping on Manuel Margot. He’s being drafted as the 80th outfielder off the board and has so much more potential than that. It’s fine to question his counting stats in that weak Padres lineup, but he should be leading off, hitting for average which should net him a healthy amount of runs and stolen bases. Margot makes a lot of contact, which should help him assimilate nicely into the major leagues. We should see plenty of big performances from outfield prospects this year; to me, Margot is the safest bet to help your fantasy team.
What lesser-known prospect should fantasy owners
put on their radars now?
Andy: Michael Gettys figured out how to manage a decent average while striking out a ton last year – maybe he can do it again. There is no doubting his speed and his potential power; the doubt has always been his hit tool. While that is not the best thing to have in doubt, Gettys should have a chance to show what he can do in AA this year. Many have compared him physically to Mike Trout. Not in talent, but in terms of size and speed. Full potential Gettys could end up hitting .270 with 20 homers and 30 steals. He could also hit .220 this year in AA and I wouldn’t be surprised. There is risk here, but I don’t see anyone that is going to play most of the year at AA or higher that has his potential that you can freely add off most waiver wires.
Paul: That Nationals’ Juan Soto is just 18, and I had a difficult time sneaking him into my personal top 30. He is exactly the type of player you should be monitoring now though before he explodes over the next couple of years. Soto has some pretty flashy tools, including the hit tool which should help the modest power play up. It’s early and a lot can go wrong which is why he didn’t quite make the cut for me, but that doesn’t mean I’m not paying close attention to him. You should too.
What prospect would it not surprise you
if he fell significantly in the next year?
Andy: This crop of outfield prospects is so deep it is hard to really find a guy that will bust. My typical guys to pick are high K guys, and that would be Hunter Renfroe. He might end up being this year’s Byron Buxton in the sense that he has redraft hype going into the season, disappoints with high strikeout numbers, then gets send back down for more seasoning. His 30 homers and .306 average were decent jumps up from his previous high of 21 and .272, but it came in the hitter friendly PCL. In his defense, he did fix his strikeout problems a little bit last year. I think Renfroe will be fine for the most part, but if I had to pick one guy from my top-20 it is him.
Paul: It’s always tough to find the best prospects at each position and then pick which one is not going to make it. In this case, I’ll take a shot with Tyler O’Neill of the Mariners. Now, O’Neil has a ton of power, hitting 56 home runs over the past two seasons. The trouble is the bat, as he has struck out 28% over that time period. Things won’t get easier for him as he moves up, so either he makes the needed adjustments allowing his power to play, or he doesn’t and settles into a bench role. As always we hope for the best, but the floor here isn’t necessarily an everyday player. He’s got a lot of work to do.
Come back next Friday when we will publish our Top 30 Pitching Prospects.