As we get closer to the top of these rankings, I’m finding it harder and harder to limit how much I write about each prospect. Can you really blame me? These aren’t your run-of-the-mill prospects in this article. No, sir. These are elite stud prospects with tantalizing upside that are about to explode all over the MLB landscape.
As you’ll see pretty quickly, the terms “ace-caliber” and “elite tools” enter the discussion plenty of times below. You won’t find any power or speed-only players below, either. As we continue to inch closer to the top-10, the skillsets become more well-rounded with fewer holes.
To give you a tasty appetizer before the main course, seven of the eight pitchers below recorded a K/9 above 9.0 last season. The one who didn’t was barely below that at 8.0 and has a lot more strikeout potential in his lively right arm. For the hitters, nine of 12 had an OPS of .797 or better, and the ones who didn’t had their seasons cut short due to injuries. Saying there’s a crap ton of elite talent here is like asking me if I want butter on my popcorn at the movies. Damn straight I do for 10 bucks a bag!
Previous Top-100 Dynasty Rankings
Dynasty Prospects 40-21
40. Anthony Alford, OF, Toronto Blue Jays, ETA 2018
2017 (A+/AA/AAA): 278 AB, 15 2B, 5 HR, 19 SB, 26 RBI, 43 R, .299/.390/.406/.797
2017 (MLB): 1/8 with a double.
Elite speedsters that can handle the lumber don’t come along too often. Alford swiped 19 bases in only 278 at-bats last season, which is roughly a 40-steal pace over a full season. What’s even more impressive is that he got caught only three times and has an 82.4% success rate as a base stealer in the minors. And like I mentioned, he’s much more than just a base stealer. Alford has hit just under .300 in two of the last three seasons with the .236 average in 2016 appearing to be the outlier. He also had a dominant showing in the Mexican Pacific Winter League, hitting .352 with two homers and eight steals in 105 at-bats. Alford’s plus hit tool and solid plate discipline are going to land him atop a lineup in the very near future. That should happen at some point this summer.
39. Kevin Maitan, SS, Los Angeles Angels, ETA 2020
2017 (RK): 162 AB, 8 2B, 2 HR, 2 SB, 18 RBI, 15 R, .241/.290/.340/.629
This one is strictly upside based. Maitan has a plus hit tool and 30+ homer pop, but he is years away and has as many question marks as anyone. Firstly, his conditioning leads many to think his position is at the hot corner as opposed to shortstop. Hit bat will still play well there, but .280/30 looks a lot better with SS next to it. Maitan is a below average runner but shows enough instincts on the bases to steal 10-15 bags in a season. If you love upside grabs, Maitan is a great fit for you.
38. Triston McKenzie, SP, Cleveland Indians, ETA 2019
2017 (A+): 143.0 IP, 3.46 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 2.8 BB/9 11.7 K/9
Someone needs to feed this man a cheeseburger or two. At 6-foot-5, 165 pounds, McKenzie looks like a giant French fry on the mound, but don’t let that slender frame fool you. He gets plenty of mustard on his heater, which sits in the 92-94 range but can touch 96-97 when needed. His curveball is his best off-speed pitch with solid two-plane break that induces plenty of whiffs. While not as strong as the other two offerings, McKenzie throws a change-up with fade that has flashed plus potential. He has the arsenal to be a No. 1 or No. 2 starter someday, but durability/frame questions might not let him reach that level.
37. Francisco Mejia, C, Cleveland Indians, ETA 2018
2017 (AA): 347 AB, 21 2B, 14 HR, 7 SB, 52 RBI, 52 R, .297/.346/.490/.835
2017 (MLB): 2/13 with an RBI
The main focuses of most modern-day catchers are pitch calling, framing, defense, and throwing out runners. That’s not the case with Francisco Mejia. He does have a rocket arm, but Mejia is an offense-first type of catcher. With the exception of Single-A in 2015, Mejia has hit at least .282 at every level in the minors and .293 overall. There’s more to him than just a plus hit tool, too. Mejia won’t ever be Gary Sanchez with the stick, but his power is developing and has 15-20 homer pop in that bat. How he develops his defense behind the plate will determine his long-term position. Let’s hope he can do enough to stay behind the dish.
36. Mitch Keller, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates, ETA 2019
2017 (A-/A+/AA): 116.0 IP, 3.03 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9, 9.0 K/9
Let me start off by saying that Keller screams No. 2 MLB starter to me. He throws a mid-90s heater that can touch 98, with solid control and an advanced feel for pitching. However, that’s where the elite qualities stop. Keller throws two off-speed pitches, a curve and change-up. The curve is more of a 12-6 curve than one with two-plane break and has flashed plus-potential, just not consistently. If Keller can continue to improve that pitch and develop his change-up more, he might be able to become an ace-level hurler. At the very least, he’s a safe No. 2 or 3 starter that can eat up innings.
35. Michel Baez, SP, San Diego Padres, ETA 2019
2017 (RK/A): 63.2 IP, 2.54 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 1.4 BB/9. 12.6 K/9
The temptation to put Baez higher was overwhelming. The massive 6-foot-8 right-hander throws a blazing heater that sits in the 94-97 range and pairs that with three other average to above average off-speed pitches. So why isn’t he higher? Well, there are a couple of reasons. Firstly, that fastball might come in hot, but without much movement. He’s effective when using in up in the zone, but once it starts coming down, it becomes a hittable pitch. Furthermore, none of his off-speed pitches are deemed as plus. His slider has plus potential, but lacks consistency and can be flat at times. If Baez can turn that into a whiff-inducing pitch and continue to control his arsenal well, he has ace upside.
34. Kyle Lewis, OF, Seattle Mariners, ETA 2019
2017 (RK/A+): 187 AB, 6 2B, 7 HR, 3 SB, 31 RBI, 29 R, .257/.329/.412/.740
Lewis was arguably the biggest boom or bust pick in the top half of the first round in the 2016 draft. He had a great end to his collegiate career, albeit at a smaller baseball school in Mercer University. After signing quickly, Lewis got off to a hot start in low Class-A, hitting .299/.385/.530/.915 with three homers and three steals in 117 at-bats. And then the torn ACL happened which sidelined him for almost a full calendar year. Lewis didn’t have much time to shake off the rust in 2017, recording only 187 at-bats with moderate numbers. The tools are all here to become a .280/30/20 player in time, but he’s going to have to prove he can handle advanced pitching in the upper minors.
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33. Austin Meadows, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates, ETA 2018
2017 (RK/A-/AAA): 318 AB, 22 2B, 5 HR, 11 SB, 46 RBI, 53 R, .261/.323/.384/.707
All of the stars aligned for Meadows to break into the Pittsburgh outfield in 2018. Just two weeks into the season, Starling Marte was suspended for 80 games. Unfortunately, Meadows got off to a horrible start in Triple-A and was deemed not ready by management. Almost 10 months later, I’m still not sure if he’s ready for the bigs. For some reason, Meadows can’t figure out Triple-A. At every level of the minors, he’s hit above .300. However, in Triple-A, that average plummets to .239. Meadows is a great pure hitter with plus speed and blossoming power, but there are a ton of question marks surrounding him, including his health. The shine on his prospect star might have faded a bit over the last 12 months, but he’s still a .300/25/30 threat if he can manage to stay healthy and get over the Triple-A hurdle.
32. Sixto Sanchez, SP, Philadelphia Phillies, ETA 2020
2017 (A/A+): 95.0 IP, 3.03 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 1.7 BB/9, 8.0 K/9
Sanchez has been one of the biggest risers over the last two seasons. In 2016, he registered a 0.50 ERA in 54.0 innings. For those who don’t like math, that means he gave up only three runs those 54 innings. Count ’em with me … one, two, three. That’s it. His WHIP wasn’t too shabby, either, at 0.76. Sanchez followed that dominant showing up with another sub-one WHIP in 2017, but with a much more human 3.03 ERA.
Sanchez gets the job done by limiting baserunners better than 99% of pitchers in the minors. He has plus-control of his arsenal, which features a mid to upper-90s fastball and a curve/change-up mix that both are already above average with plus potential. If Sanchez can continue to develop his off-speed pitches and generate more whiffs, he has staff ace and top-20 fantasy SP upside in the future. Just remember, he’s still only 19.
— Josh Norris (@jnorris427) July 24, 2017
31. Estevan Florial, OF, New York Yankees, ETA 2019
2017 (A/A+): 420 AB, 23 2B, 7 3B, 13 HR, 23 SB, 57 RBI, 77 R, .298/.372/.479/.850
Meet the new crown jewel of the New York Yankees farm system once Gleyber Torres graduates to the big leagues. Florial is still a couple of years away from the Major Leagues, but his upside is becoming drool-worthy, mostly thanks to his elite speed. He swiped 23 bags in 31 attempts last season and should become a 40+ SB threat once he develops more as a base stealer. The power isn’t as great as the wheels, but Florial continues to get stronger and looks like a 25+ home run hitter in time, especially as a lefty in Yankee Stadium. There are some holes in his swing that cause him to strike out at a higher clip, which will likely keep the average in the .260-.280 range as opposed to .300+. For an MLB comparison, think a young Carlos Beltran.
30. A.J. Puk, SP, Oakland Athletics, ETA 2018
2017 (A+/AA): 125.0 IP, 4.03 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 3.5 BB/9, 13.2 K/9
Every time A.J. Puk takes the hill, it’s what I like to call, “majestic chaos.” You never know if he’s going to dominate or implode. However, there’s no denying the ace upside that Puk possesses. It all starts with his electric fastball and nasty whiff-generating slider. The fastball sits in the mid-90s consistently and can touch triple-digits at times, while the slider sits in the upper 80s with late break and strong two-plane movement. You see that insanely high strikeout rate above? That’s due to these two pitches. It’s easy to envision Puk turning into a Robbie Ray-caliber starter with elite strikeout totals. His control and change-up development will determine whether or not he blossoms into a fantasy ace.
29. Scott Kingery, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies, ETA 2018
2017 (AA/AAA): 543 AB, 29 2B, 8 3B, 26 HR, 29 SB, 65 RBI, 103 R, .304/.359/.530/.889
Can’t say I saw this power breakout coming. After hitting just eight measly homers in his first 783 at-bats, Kingery mashed 26 last season in 543 at-bats. However, a lot of that was aided by the hitter-friend confines in Double-A Reading where he hit 18 homers in 278 at-bats. The 15-20 home run pace he had in Triple-A is more indicative of the type of power hitter he’ll be in the future. That doesn’t sound as impressive, but when you factor in an above-average hit tool and 40+ SB wheels, Kingery becomes much more of an attractive prospect. It doesn’t get any better than this for second base prospects right now.
28. Juan Soto, OF, Washington Nationals, ETA 2020
2017 (RK/A): 111 AB, 6 2B, 3 HR, 1 SB, 18 RBI, 18 R, .351/.415/.505/.919
If Juan Soto doesn’t win a batting title in the next decade, I’ll be shocked. This kid has arguably the best hit tool in the minors and an advanced approach for someone his age. Through 301 career minor league at-bats, he’s hit a whopping .362 while striking out only 38 times. Soto has also displayed plus-raw power to all fields and should start clearing more fences as he matures and adds power. The wheels are merely average, but Soto is smart enough on the bases to turn into a 20+ SB threat.
27. Brent Honeywell, SP, Tampa Bay Rays, ETA 2018
2017 (AA/AAA): 136.2 IP, 3.49 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 2.3 BB/9, 11.3 K/9
This is a player where the saying, “he throws everything but the kitchen sink” definitely applies. Honeywell has a dynamic five-pitch arsenal that includes three plus offerings and one more (slider) that is average to above average. His fastball sits consistently in the 92-94 range with sink and can add a few more ticks when needed. The second of three plus pitches for Honeywell is a fading changeup that he can throw to both righties and lefties consistently. And then we have his best pitch, a screwball. Yes, you heard me right. I have to give props to anyone that can throw a good screwball because anytime I try to throw the pitch, it feels like I need Tommy John surgery afterward. This diverse arsenal, which Honeywell controls very well, will likely place him atop the Rays rotation within a few seasons.
26. Austin Hays, OF, Baltimore Orioles, ETA 2018
2017 (A+/AA): 523 AB, 32 2B, 5 3B, 32 HR, 5 SB, 95 RBI, 81 R, .329/.365/.593/.958
2017 (MLB): 60 AB, 3 2B, 1 HR, 0 SB, 8 RBI, 4 R, .217/.238/.317/.555
This is the best outfielder names Hays since Willie Mays Hayes in the first Major League movie. I know they’re spelled differently but still pronounced the same, so I’m going to run with it. All Austin Hays has done as a professional is hit, hit, hit, and then hit some more. A plus hit tool, above-average raw power, and decent wheels are the main reasons to get excited here. Right field is all his at Camden Yards this season, so don’t be surprised if he sneaks a .280/25/10 season in on us and finishes high in the AL Rookie of the Year voting.
25. Ryan McMahon, 1B/2B, Colorado Rockies, ETA 2018
2017 (AA/AAA): 470 AB, 39 2B, 4 3B, 20 HR, 11 SB, 88 RBI, 74 R, .355/.403/.583/.986
2017 (MLB): 3/19 with a 2B
Another good Colorado hitting prospect … stop me if you’ve heard that one before. It’s like déjà vu, but we don’t mind that, do we? McMahon started out at the hot corner, but he’s kind of blocked by a guy named Nolan Arenado there. As a result, he looks destined for first base, which is where he’s gotten most of his playing time lately. There’s a chance he could wind up at second base, too, but his lack of defensive range will likely keep him at first. Wherever he ends up playing, McMahon’s bat will play just fine. He has plus power from the left side and a strong, clean swing that generates plenty of loft and carry. His discipline and approach at the plate have gotten better over the years, which should lead to some .300+ seasons to go along with 30+ HR and double-digit steals playing in the hitters’ haven that is Coors Field.
24. Luiz Gohara, SP, Atlanta Braves, ETA 2018
2017 (A+/AA/AAA): 123.2 IP, 2.62 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 3.2 BB/9, 10.7 K/9
2017 (MLB): 29.1 IP, 4.91 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9, 9.5 K/9
There’s a very strong possibility that I like Luiz Gohara more than you, your league mates, and even the Atlanta Braves. Gohara is a big southpaw with arguably the best left-handed heater in the minors. He pairs that with an equally as nasty wipeout slider that makes batters look downright foolish at times. However, like with several others on this list, Gohara’s change-up and control are lagging behind. Gohara will start 2018 in the Braves rotation after an impressive cup of coffee last season and at the very least will provide elite strikeout numbers this season. Don’t let that 4.91 ERA fool you as his FIP was only 2.75. If Gohara can develop that change-up into a plus offering and also limit the free passes, watch out. If that happens, there’s top-10 fantasy SP upside here.
Luiz Gohara with 3 unhittable pitches vs Philadelphia. pic.twitter.com/54ba9fx3oH
— Stephen (@b_outliers) November 19, 2017
23. Walker Buehler, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers, ETA 2018
2017 (A+/AA/AAA): 88.2 IP, 3.35 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 3.1 BB/9, 12.7 K/9
2017 (MLB): 9.1 IP, 7.71 ERA, 2.04 WHIP, 7.7 BB/9, 11.6 K/9
This is the point in the rankings when it starts getting really tough. Everyone from here on out is elite. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Buehler probably deserves to be in my top-20, but I couldn’t bring myself to put him ahead of the other elite prospects in front of him. He was a polished collegiate pitcher that needed only 93.2 innings to get to the Major Leagues late last season. Buehler was able to ascend the Dodgers’ system rapidly thanks to a devastating four-pitch arsenal that features a mid to upper-90s fastball and two plus breaking balls (slider and curve) that create plenty of whiffs. His change-up lags behind, but it has proven to be at least an average complementary offering for him. Be prepared to see the name Buehler behind the name Kershaw in the Dodgers rotation very soon.
22. Jo Adell, OF, Los Angeles Angels, ETA 2020
2017 (RK): 203 AB, 11 2B, 8 3B, 5 HR, 8 SB, 30 RBI, 43 R, .325/.376/.532/.908
The Angels look like they might have drafted a future star when they selected Adell as the fifth high schooler off the board at No. 10 overall in the 2017 MLB amateur draft. Adell is already one of the most tantalizing power/speed threats in the minors, and he’s not even 19 yet. He truly has a chance to put up video games numbers in the ballpark of 30+ homers and 40+ steals if he continues to develop and hone his elite tools. The hit tool has some questions here, but Adell has already made great strides in just over 200 minor league at-bats, making solid contact and cutting down on the strikeouts. There likely won’t be any batting titles in his future, but averages in the .280-.300 range seem very attainable.
21. Taylor Trammell, OF, Cincinnati Reds, ETA 2019
2017 (A): 491 AB, 24 2B, 10 3B, 14 HR, 41 SB, 77 RBI, 80 R, .281/.368/.450/.819
Ladies and gentlemen, Carl Crawford is back! Okay, maybe not. But when you look at their tools, it’s easy to draw that comparison, right down to the weak throwing arm. I’m not talking about the crappy Red Sox version, either. This is elite Devil Rays speedster Crawford we’re talking about here. Trammell possesses .300/20/50 upside with maybe even a tad bit more in the power department. However, he does have his struggles, particularly his almost non-existent power against southpaws. Nonetheless, Trammell is a prospect you’re going to want plenty of stock in as he ascends the ranks to fantasy stardom.
CHECK BACK NEXT TUESDAY FOR THE TOP 20 PROSPECTS
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.