We’ve made it. Over the last month, we’ve counted down prospects 100 to 21 and have now reached the top-20. These men are the best of the best. The most elite prospects the minor leagues have to offer. Men and women of all ages duke it out every season to have guys like this on their fantasy teams. This is what we’ve all been waiting for, so let’s cut the chit-chat and get right into it.
Can you hear the guitar riff and drums in the background?
“IT’S THE FINAL COUNTDOWN!”
Previous Top-100 Dynasty Rankings
DYNASTY PROSPECTS 20-1
20. Hunter Greene, SP, Cincinnati Reds, ETA 2021
2017 (RK): 4.1 IP, 12.46 ERA, 2.08 WHIP, 2.1 BB/9, 12.5 K/9
There really needs to be a fastest pitch contest between Hunter Greene and Michael Kopech. Greene possesses as much upside as any pitcher in the minor leagues, and that all starts with his heater. He sits in the upper 90s with a clean delivery and hits triple-digits with regularity. The rest of Greene’s arsenal is merely average, but he has plus potential once he starts honing his craft. After all, this will be Greene’s first season as a full-time pitcher. No more batting practice or fielding drills at shortstop. That should allow Greene to focus on developing his potentially nasty slider and work on his change-up. The great thing is that Greene already has plus control, so if he can develop his arsenal, we’re looking at a potential top-10 fantasy SP someday.
19. Willie Calhoun, OF/2B, Texas Rangers, ETA 2018
2017 (AAA): 486 AB, 27 2B, 6 3B, 31 HR, 4 SB, 93 RBI, 80 R, .300/.355/.572/.927
2017 (MLB): 34 AB, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R, .265/.324/.353/.677
Calhoun is a perfect example of why you never judge a book by its cover. When you look at him, you’d probably expect a slap-hitting little speedster with not much power, and you’d be 110% wrong. He might only be 5-foot-8 and 190 pounds soaking wet, but Calhoun can mash home runs in bunches. Over the last two seasons, Calhoun has socked 58 home runs and 52 doubles in 989 combined at-bats. On top of that, he makes solid contact and hardly ever strikes out, which bodes well for his batting average going forward. Calhoun’s offense would look a heck of a lot better at second base, but .300 with 30 home runs plays well at any position.
18. MacKenzie Gore, SP, San Diego Padres, ETA 2020
2017 (RK): 21.1 IP, 1.27 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, 14.3 K/9
Allowing an earned run happens almost as frequently as Haley’s comet for Gore. Seriously. Over his final two seasons in high school, Gore allowed only three earned runs in 157.2 innings pitched. For all of you wondering, that’s a 0.17 ERA. Gore possesses four plus pitches, starting with his low to mid-90s fastball that should add a little velocity as he matures and fills out. He pairs that with a looping mid-70s curveball, tight slider, and plus-changeup with two-level fade. That 2020 ETA might be a tad conservative given Gore’s advanced feel for pitching and poise on the mound. Barring something unforeseen, Gore’s going to become an ace in this league and a top-20 fantasy SP in short order.
17. Lewis Brinson, OF, Miami Marlins, ETA 2018
2017 (AAA): 299 AB, 22 2B, 4 3B, 13 HR, 11 SB, 48 RBI, 66 R, .330/.400/.562/.962
2017 (MLB): 47 AB, 1 3B, 2 HR, 1 SB, 3 RBI, 2 R, .106/.236/.277/.513
His Major League debut last season might have been a disaster, but don’t let that shy you away from Brinson’s 30/30 upside. The headliner in the return package for Christian Yelich, Brinson now has a clear path to everyday playing time starting immediately on opening day. The jury is still out on Brinson’s hit tool and what type of batting average he’ll hit for at the major league level. He’s been all over the place in the minors, going from .332 to .268 to .331 the last three seasons. Overall, Brinson has hit .287 with a .353 OBP during his minor league career with a 25.5 K%. It’s unlikely he has any .330 seasons in the Majors, but a .280 average with plenty of 20/20 seasons (or better) appear to be in the cards for Brinson.
16. Forrest Whitley, SP, Houston Astros, ETA 2019
2017 (A/A+/AA): 92.1 IP, 2.83 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 3.3 BB/9, 13.9 K/9
For a high school prep arm, Whitley shows polish and poise well beyond his years. He’s already made it all the way to Double-A in just one full professional season and has gotten better at every level so far. His K rate jumped from 13.0 in Single-A, to 14.4 in high Class-A, to 16.0 in Double-A. Whitley racks up the strikeouts mostly with his mid to upper-90s fastball and hard hammer curve, both of which are plus-plus offerings. That’s not all, either. Whitley also features an above average change-up with fade and a hard slider with late movement. All of the pieces are in place for Whitley to become a future Cy Young award winner and top-10 fantasy SP.
15. Gleyber Torres, SS/2B/3B, New York Yankees, ETA 2018
2017 (AA/AAA): 202 AB, 14 2B, 7 HR, 7 SB, 34 RBI, 31 R, .287/.383/.480/.863
This might seem like a conservative ranking for Torres. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great player and will likely have a long career in the Major Leagues, but after watching him play, he doesn’t scream future fantasy stud to me. First off, I’ve seen 70-grade hit tools thrown around for Torres, and that’s just flat out too high. He profiles as a .300 hitter but not anyone who’s going to win a batting title someday. The power is blossoming, but don’t expect any 30+ home runs seasons out of Torres. While the speed is merely average, Torres is smart and shows good instincts on the bases. All in all, Torres has the makings of a .300/20/25 type of player, which is great, but not a fantasy stud like a lot of people make him out to be.
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14. Brendan Rodgers, SS, Colorado Rockies, ETA 2019
2017 (A+/AA): 372 AB, 26 2B, 18 HR, 2 SB, 64 RBI, 64 R, .336/.373/.567/.940
If only the Colorado Rockies could develop some good pitching prospects. Rodgers is another in a long line of high-upside hitting prospects ascend this farm system over the last several seasons. He combines a plus hit tool with plus power and should be a middle-of-the-order fixture one he gets his feet wet at the Major League level. Rodgers doesn’t have much speed, but the bat is why you want him. A .300/30 middle infielder is tough to come by, and Rodgers is one of those rare few.
13. Bo Bichette, SS, Toronto Blue Jays, ETA 2019
2017 (A/A+): 448 AB, 41 2B, 14 HR, 22 SB, 74 RBI, 88 R, .362/.423/.565/.988
Bichette might be the best pure hitter in the minor leagues right now. All he’s done in his first 530 professional at-bats is post a .372/.427/.591/1.018 slash line with 18 homers, 25 steals, 110 RBI, and 109 runs scored. Did I mention he won’t be 20 for another few week, too? On top of his elite hit tool, Bichette’s power is developing thanks to incredible bat speed that allows him to drive the ball hard to all fields. Bichette is far from a burner, but he is quick and instinctive enough to steal 20-30 bases annually. So, we have ourselves a 25/25 threat that should hit well above .300 most seasons. Where’s the line to sign up?
12. Alex Reyes, SP, St. Louis Cardinals, ETA 2018
2017: Missed Season due to Injury
Damn it, Tommy John! Mind your own business, would you? The 2017 season was supposed to be Reyes’ coming out party but instead was a year or surgery and rehab for arguably the top pitching prospect in the game. Reyes features three plus pitches, headlined by a high-90s heater that can touch triple-digits with regularity and 12-6 hammer curveball that generates plenty of strikeouts. He complements those two pitches by mixing in a plus change-up that sits in the upper-80s with good movement that reminds me of Felix Hernandez’s change-up. Unfortunately, the control is a work in progress, and we’ve yet to see how he’s going to bounce back from elbow surgery. However, Reyes has just as much upside as any pitcher in the minors and should be a fixture in the Cardinals’ rotation for years to come.
Alex Reyes got a serious amount of drop with his Curveball this weekend pic.twitter.com/iWg1jcfwR6
— Nick Pollack (@PitcherList) September 5, 2016
11. Royce Lewis, SS, Minnesota Twins, ETA 2020
2017 (RK/A): 204 AB, 8 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 18 SB, 37 RBI, 54 R, .279/.381/.407/.788
A slight surprise as the #1 overall pick last June, Lewis did his best last season to make the Twins brass look smart for taking him there. Lewis was on a 50-steal pace last season and showed a veteran-like approach at the plate with a 25/33 BB/K rate. The elite speed and plus hit tool are Lewis’ best attributes. If he continues to develop as a hitter, there should be plenty of .300/40 seasons in his future. However, the development of his power will determine just how great Lewis can be as a fantasy shortstop. He currently has more gap power than home run power, but he figures to add more power as he matures and fills out his 6-foot-2 frame. In time, Lewis should become a 20+ home run hitting threat.
10. Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros, ETA 2019
2017 (A+/AA): 464 AB. 33 2B, 5 3B, 25 HR, 21 SB, 90 RBI, 70 R, .274/.346/.528/.874
It’s amazing how quickly a player can shoot up prospect rankings once he starts hitting for power. After hitting just 12 home runs over his first 664 professional at-bats, Tucker more than doubled that in 2017, cranking 25 over outfield fences. On top of that, he roped 33 doubles and five triples for an XBH% (extra-base hit %) of 49.6%. Most above-average power threats have percentages at or above 38%. Tucker is also a force on the bases, averaging 38 steals per every 600 at-bats thus far in his minor league career. The hit tool might not be plus, but Tucker has made good strides at the dish and profiles as a .280 hitter as a pro to go along with his 30/35 upside.
9. Michael Kopech, SP, Chicago White Sox, ETA 2018
2017 (AA/AAA): 134.1 IP, 2.88 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 4.4 BB/9, 11.5 K/9
If it weren’t for some guy named Shohei Ohtani, Kopech would be the top pitching prospect in the minors. Any discussion regarding Kopech starts with his two elite offerings. First is his high-90s heater that hits triple-digits with ease and causes radar guns to malfunction. He pairs that with a filthy high-80s slider that is basically unhittable when it’s on. Those two pitches alone make it so Kopech’s floor is an elite closer. That’s the worst-case scenario here. Kopech also throws a change-up with good sink but is very inconsistent with the pitch. If Kopech can develop that change and improve his shaky control (career 4.5 BB/9), we’re likely looking at a fantasy ace for many years to come.
8. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, San Diego Padres, ETA 2019
2017 (A/AA): 486 AB, 27 2B, 7 3B, 22 HR, 32 SB, 75 RBI, 84 R, .278/.379/.498/.877
Many elite shortstop prospects have dazzled us over the last decade, and Fernando Tatis Jr. is set to join them very soon. The second-generation player has impressed at every level despite being only 18 for the entire 2017 season. His tools are plus across the board, and he figures to grow into more power as he matures. Tatis shows advanced discipline and a good approach at the plate, which helped him lead the Midwest League in walks last season with 75. It’s not out of the question for him to develop into a .300/35/30 force at the shortstop position.
We haven’t had a teenager make his Major league debut as a teenager since Bryce Harper and Jurickson Profar in 2012. Something tells me that drought might end later this season. Senior was a decent player in his time, but Junior has all the tools to be head and shoulders better than his father was.
7. Nick Senzel, 3B, Cincinnati Reds, ETA 2018
2017 (A+/AA): 455 AB, 40 2B, 3 3B, 14 HR, 14 SB, 65 RBI, 81 R, .321/.391/.514/.905
Mark my words, Nick Senzel will win more than one batting title during his Major League career. This is exactly what a 70-grade hit tool player looks like. Senzel makes great contact, has great plate coverage, and can drive the ball to all fields while keeping his strikeout rate below 20%. Don’t expect to see Senzel near the top of the leaderboard in home runs or steals, but he’s above average in both categories and should settle in as a 25/25 threat to go along with a batting average well north of .300. Senzel’s upside is very high, and his floor is even higher.
6. Shohei Ohtani, SP/DH, Los Angeles Angels, ETA 2018
2017 (JPN): 25.1 IP, 3.20 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 6.8 BB/9, 10.3K/9
2017 (JPN): 202 AB, 16 2B, 8 HR, 0 SB, 31 RBI, 24 R, .332/.403/.540/.942
Ōhtani Shōhei wa hontōni okashīdesu. That’s a rough Google translation for “Shohei Ohtani is really freaking good.” Let’s forget about all the headaches Ohtani caused everyone by being a legit two-way player and focus on the plethora of positives. Ohtani is a force at the plate with plus raw power and more speed than meets the eye. He covers the plate very well, but has also been prone to strike out at a high clip with a 27.0% K rate for his career in the Japanese Pacific League.
While he’s a fine hitter, Ohtani’s abilities on the pitching mound are what’s going to make him a star. He combines a mid to upper-90s fastball with a plus-plus slider and splitter, and he can throw all three offerings at any count. Ohtani also features a curveball and change-up, both of which should be at least average pitches for him. The control can be shaky at times, but he has vastly improved there and had a sub-3 BB/9 in each of his last two full pitching seasons in Japan. Ohtani has a decent chance at becoming the best pitcher ever to come out of Asia.
For more on Ohtani, check out my breakdown of him right before he signed with the Angels.
5. Luis Robert, OF, Chicago White Sox, ETA 2019
2017 (RK): 84 AB, 8 2B, 3 HR, 12 SB, 14 RBI, 17 R, .310/.491/.536/1.027
Ranking a player this high after just 84 minor league at-bats might seem a tad crazy. But I can assure you, I was 100% sober when putting my rankings together. I might be a little drunk on Robert’s talents, but that’s another story. Ever since I first saw video on Robert in Cuba, I dubbed him “The Moncada of the Outfield.” He has all of the same tools as Moncada with a better hit tool and overall approach at the plate. There are some holes to Robert’s swing, but he offsets that by drawing a lot of walks and making consistent hard contact.
Robert’s plus raw power is beginning to show up more frequently in games, and he should be a 30+ home run hitter in time. That’s not even his best tool, either. Robert is a difference maker with his legs and should have some 40-steal seasons in his future. The 2018 season will be his first full season in the states. This is a fair warning to all the minor league pitchers. The Luis Robert freight train is full speed ahead. Don’t be surprised if Robert tops these rankings next spring.
4. Victor Robles, OF, Washington Nationals, ETA 2018
2017 (A+/AA): 430 AB, 37 2B, 8 3B, 10 HR, 27 SB, 47 RBI, 73 R, .300/.382/.493/.875
2017 (MLB): 24 AB, 1 2B, 2 3B 0 HR, 0 SB, 4 RBI, 2 R, .250/.308/.458/.766
Go sit down at your PS4 or Xbox, put in MLB18 the show, and make the most prolific leadoff hitter you can within reason. There’s a good chance that player you created is a lot like Victor Robles. On top of his gold-glove caliber defense, Robles has a plus hit tool, developing raw power, and elite wheels. The man might even give Anthony Rizzo a run in the hit-by-pitch department.
Robles makes hard contact to all fields and has the looks of a .300 hitter that can also steal close to 50 bags per season. The power might never be elite, but with Robles’ strength and quick wrists, hitting 20+ a year shouldn’t prove too difficult. After skipping Triple-A altogether in 2017, it will be interesting to see if he wins a starting job out of spring training. The most likely scenario is him back in Triple-A for a little more seasoning before being set loose on National League pitchers.
3. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Toronto Blue Jays, ETA 2020
2017 (A/A+): 437 AB, 28 2B, 13 HR, 8 SB, 76 RBI, 84 R, .323/.425/.485/.910
Major League Baseball is a better place when there’s a Vladimir Guerrero patrolling the diamond. Seven years after his father’s retirement, Vlad Jr. is knocking on the door of Major League stardom. And as scary as this is to say, Junior has the chance to be just as good as senior was. As you can see in the clip below, their swings are very similar and produce hard contact without selling out.
— Emily Waldon (@EmilyCWaldon) January 28, 2018
Senior had four seasons where he walked more than he struck out and never had a K rate higher than 14.0%. His son is well on his way to being that same type of hitter with 109 walks to just 97 strikeouts so far in his minor league career. Guerrero squares the ball up well and is growing into his power stroke that should generate plenty of 30-40+ home run seasons to go along with elite batting averages. Junior is on his way to becoming a fantasy stud at the third base position.
2. Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago White Sox, ETA 2018
2017 (A+/AA): 333 AB, 22 2B, 19 HR, 1 SB, 85 RBI, 54 R, .312/.379/.568/.947
If you were to tell me that only one current minor leaguer was going to join the exclusive 500 home run club, I’d bet every penny I own on Eloy Jimenez. This type of power doesn’t come along every day, folks. He’s the only man on this list that has the ability to hit 50+ home runs AND over .300. That’s a rare feat, but if anyone can do it, it’s Jimenez. Jose Quintana is a fine player and all, but the Cubs are going to regret trading away this powerhouse. Jimenez has explosive bat speed and generates good loft on his swing. Basically, everything he hits is a missile. What more is there to say? Jimenez should be blasting baseballs over the fence in the south side of Chicago later this summer.
1. Ronald Acuna, OF, Atlanta Braves, ETA 2018
2017 (A+/AA/AAA): 557 AB, 31 2B, 8 3B, 21 HR, 44 SB, 82 RBI, 88 R, .325/.374/.522/.896
It has been said that Ronald Acuna is the only thing Chuck Norris is afraid of. What Acuna did to minor league pitching last season was just mean. It’s like he was Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez playing against everyone else in The Sandlot. Honestly, I would happily give up one of my limbs to have Acuna on all of my fantasy teams. Well, maybe not, but you get the idea. Acuna is one hell of a talent.
The best part about Acuna is that he keeps getting better. His power is becoming more and more apparent and should develop into 30+ homers per season to go along with 40+ steals. He can strike out a bit too much, but he cut down his K rate at each level last season. Acuna has a quick swing and makes hard contact to all fields, so expecting many .300+ seasons is wise. There’s not much Acuna can’t do from a fantasy perspective. If anyone can give Mike Trout a run for his money, it’s Acuna. And that’s the bottom line, ’cause Stone Cold said so.
Thank you for reading another edition of Dynasty Dugout here on Fantrax. I hope you can use this article to your advantage and get a leg up on your fellow league members. Got a question that I didn’t cover here? Follow me on Twitter @EricCross04 and ask there.