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Top 40 First Base Prospect Rankings for 2023 and Beyond

Welcome to my top fantasy baseball prospect rankings breakdown series. In this series, I will break down each position’s top prospects, giving you a deep dive into the top 5 and five additional names to target in deep leagues. My goal is to help you get your minor league systems into shape with upside MLB prospects that can help you now as well as set you up for long-term success. Let’s dive into my top 5 first base prospects and 5 deep league names to keep your eyes on. Later on down the page you’ll find my top 40 first base prospect rankings for 2023 and beyond.

More great fantasy baseball advice and analysis: Waiver Wire & FAAB Recommendations | Daily MLB Injury Report | MLB DFS Picks | Line-up Analysis | Dynasty Rankings and Strategy | MLB Bullpen Updates | MLB Player Props | Prospect Rankings & Analysis | Fantasy Baseball Risers and Fallers

The Top 5 Prospects To Stash

Kyle Manzardo, TBR

Out of Washington State University, Kyle Manzardo was selected by the Rays in the second round of the 2021 draft. Like Vinnie Pasquantino before him, Manzardo has done nothing but walk a ton and crush minor league pitching since making his debut. In 2022 Manzardo played at A+ and AA, slashing .327/.426/.617 with 26 doubles, 22 HRs, and 81 RBIs in 93 games. Manzardo had just a 16.2% strikeout rate in 2022 against a walk rate of 14%. That’s right, a batter that walks almost as much as he strikes out. That’s insane. Manzardo is starting the season at AAA Durham and figures to be in the majors by the season’s end though I won’t be surprised to see him in a Rays uniform by the All-Star break.

Matt Mervis, CHC

Fitting the mold of Triston Casas and Manzardo, the Cubs first baseman of the future continued his quick rise through the Cubs organization in 2022. Combined, Mervis slashed .309/.379/.605 with 40 doubles, 2 triples, 36 HRs, and 119 RBIs in 137 games played across A+, AA, and AAA. The strikeout rate (19.5%) and walk rate (7.9%) got better as he moved up each level in 2022. The bat-to-ball skills are strong with Mervis as he has an easy swing and the ability to barrel the ball for power. With 78 extra-base hits in 2022, there is a lot to be excited about if you are a dynasty manager. With the Chicago Cubs assigning Mervis back at AAA Iowa to start the season it won’t be long until he will be in the infield of the friendly confines.

Christian Encarnacion-Strand, CIN

The Cincinnati Reds are hoping they traded for their first baseman of the future when they dealt Tyler Mahle to the Minnesota Twins. The 23-year-old Encarnacion-Strand busted on the scene in 2022 showing massive raw power, hitting 32 home runs in 122 combined games. Christian slashed .304/.368/.587 with 31 doubles, 5 triples, 32 HRs, and 114 RBIs in A+ and AA for both the Twins and Reds. Solid bat-to-ball skills and high barrel rates contributed to his video-game-like extra-base hits.

His league average 24.9% combined strikeout rate showed solid plate discipline though the walk rate needs work as 6.63% tells me he is using high contact rates to inflate the OBP numbers. Starting the season out on the 7-day IL, Encarnacion-Strand is assigned to AAA Louisville, leaving him a breath away from making his MLB debut at the Great American launching pad.

Deyvison De Los Santos, ARI

The Arizona Diamondbacks signed Deyvison De Los Santos back in 2019 out of the Dominican Republic. Deyvison wasn’t able to make his pro debut till 2021 due to the Covid shortened season but showed enough at the complex to keep him stateside and rise to finish the season at A- Visalia. De Los Santos ascended three levels in 2022 while slashing .306/.348/.499 with 29 doubles, 22 HRs, and 106 RBIs in 126 combined games. In A+ Hillsboro the strikeout rate inflated to 32.5% far and away the highest of his career in 38 games; though he typically sits around 24%.

With a 7.2% walk rate for the season De Los Santos needs to work on taking more walks like he did in the 10 games to finish off the season in AA. Currently the Diamondbacks have De Los Santos back at AA giving him a track to make his major league debut in 2024.

Jhonkensy Noel, CLE

Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2017, Jhonkensy Noel is an intimidating figure at the plate, standing at 6’3” and 250 pounds. Noel barrels the baseball at a high rate and with his quick hands through the zone it’s easy to see why he is one of the most feared power hitters in the Cleveland organization. In 2021 Noel skyrocketed up first base prospect rankings with his quick rise through three levels, slashing .340/.390/.615 with 14 doubles, 19 home runs, and 66 RBIs in 70 games finishing the season at A+ Lake County.

Jhonkensy rode this hot season into the 2022 season where he struggled to hit for average and saw his strikeout rate jump to 31.1% (up from 22.7% in 2021). Combined over three levels, Noel slashed .229/.310/.489 with 26 doubles, 32 home runs, and 84 RBIs in 133 games. There is no doubt that the power is legit as he should be a 35+ home run bat at the Major League level but his success is going to hinge on cutting the strikeout rate and increasing the walk rate in 2023. The Guardians will start Jhonkensy Noel in AAA Columbus to start the season and could get a chance at his major league debut this season.

*Because Tyler Soderstom was written about in the Top 40 Catching Prospects article he has been skipped in this top 5 to deep dive into another prospect.

Deep League Names To Watch

Tyler Locklear, SEA

Tyler Locklear was taken in the second round of the 2022 draft by the Seattle Mariners out of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Right out the gates, he started slugging his way up draft boards. Locklear is a 6’1” 210-pound first and third baseman that has big raw power that set off alarm bells in his 31-game pro debut. Locklear slashed .285/.366/.504 with 7 HR and 31 RBIs in 123 at-bats in Rookie ball and A- Modesto. With no-doubt plus-power in the aggressive right-handed swing, the tool scouts will be most focused on is his hit tool as he moves up the ladder and faces more breaking pitches.

Regardless of the possible hit tool concerns I believe there is 30+ home run power. If that average can sit at .250-.260 you have a top 10 dynasty first baseman on your hands for less than the top five first basemen cost right now.

Grant Lavigne, COL

This might be one of the most underrated players on my first base prospect rankings. Colorado prospects seem to get overlooked most of the time due to the perception of the development history of the Rockies organization. Personally, I have come around to see that there are several hidden gems in this system and one that has been overlooked is Grant Lavigne. Not known for massive power, Lavigne seemed buried by slugger Michael Toglia, but Lavigne put together a solid campaign in 2022. After ascending two levels, Lavigne slashed .283/.379/.423 with 23 doubles, 5 triples, 10 home runs, and 62 RBIs in 125 combined games at A+ and AA.

Lavigne changed his approach in 2022 with a focus on hitting for average and not trying to sell out for power, letting his bat-to-ball skills shine. The walk rates have been solid throughout his minor league career, never dropping below 12.7% at any stop. With the strikeout rate averaging 25.7%, Lavigne sits at major league average, an encouraging sign going into the 2023 minor league season. Currently the Rockies have Lavigne back at AA Hartford where he should be able to get everyday playing time and make his way to AAA Albuquerque to finish his age-23 season.

Niko Kavadas, BOS

One of the sneakiest draft picks in Chaim Bloom’s tenure in the Red Sox organization was grabbing Niko Kavadas in the 11th round of the 2021 draft. Kavadas impressed with his power at Notre Dame, breaking a school home run record in 2021, and led the Cape Cod League in home runs in 2019. Kavadas hits the ball extremely hard which was evident when I watched him play at A- Salem. The left-handed swing was quick through the zone and the raw power was on full display.

In 2022 Kavadas ascended three levels, finishing the season in AA Portland. In 120 combined games, Kavadas slashed .280/.443/.547 with 25 doubles, 26 home runs, and 86 RBIs in 393 at-bats. Walk rates for Kavadas have been well above average throughout his minor league career and averaged 19% in 2022 while the strikeout rate was inflated once he got to AA Portland (40% in 24 games). Typically this strikeout rate has sat in the 24.6% range which sits at league average so this will be a focus for Kavadas as he starts the season back at AA Portland.

Dominic Canzone, ARI

Deep league stash is the main reason to target Dominic Canzone. The Diamondbacks OF/1B prospect had a solid season in 2022 ascending three levels to finish the year in AAA Reno. Canzone slashed .299/.367/.541 with 25 doubles, 22 home runs, 89 RBIs, and 15 stolen bases in 106 combined games. The plate discipline was solid for Canzone as he walked 10.5% of the time and had a 21.0% average strikeout rate. With the proximity so close for Canzone he should be getting his opportunity to make his major league debut with the Diamondbacks in 2023.

Nathan Martorella, SDP

If you are looking for under-the-radar prospects to stash, check out Natan Marorella with the San Diego Padres. Fantrax has Martorella rostered in only 2% of leagues so it’s likely he is available on your waiver wires in deep 20+ leagues. Drafted in the 5th round of the 2022 draft out of California Martorella had a .333/.424/.511 slash line with 11 home runs and more walks than strikeouts in his final season at Cal. Once in the Padres system, Martorella ascended two levels, slashing .322/.421/.511 with 8 doubles, 3 home runs, and 21 RBIs in 28 combined games played.

At A- Lake Elsinore Martorella held a 16.7% walk rate with a 20.8% strikeout rate in 72 plate appearances showing the solid plate discipline he had at Cal could translate to the professional level. The Padres have assigned Martorell to A+ Fort Wayne to start his age-22 season and should be a candidate to move quickly if he hits the ground running.

Top 40 Fantasy Baseball First Base Prospect Rankings

RnkPlayerPos.TeamAgeETAPrev. Rnk
1Kyle Manzardo1BTBR23202415
2Tyler SoderstromC/1B/OFOAK21202350
3Matt Mervis1BCHC24202333
4Christian Encarnacion-Strand3B/1BCIN23202484
5Deyvison De Los Santos3B/1BARI19202482
6Jhonkensy Noel1BCLE212023183
7Samuel BasalloC/1BBAL182025NR
8Michael Toglia1BCOL24Debuted205
9Ivan Melendez1BARI232024212
10Blaze Jordan3B/1BBOS202025153
11Tyler Locklear3B/1BSEA222024286
12Yainer DiazC/1BHOU24Debuted190
13Jordan Diaz1BOAK22Debuted274
14Lazaro MontesOF/1BSEA182026123
15Xavier Isaac1BTBR192026217
16Grant Lavigne1BCOL232024NR
17Niko Kavadas1BBOS242024204
18Dominic CanzoneOF/1BARI252023NR
19Luis MiesesOF/1BCHW222024NR
20Spencer Horwitz1BTOR252023337
21Heriberto HernandezC/1B/OFTBR232025325
22Robert Perez Jr1BSEA222025345
23Rainer Nunez1BTOR222025321
24Sandro Gaston1BHOU202024371
25Dominic Keegan1BTBR222026NR
26David McCabe3B/1BATL232025NR
27Wilfred Veras1B/3BCHW202025NR
28Joey LoperfidoOF/1B/2BHOU232024NR
29Blaine Crim1BTEX252023NR
30Nathan Martorella1BSDP222026NR
31Bryce Ball1BCHC242024NR
32Mason Martin 1BPIT232023366
33Alex Binelas1B/3BBOS222025NR
34Miguel PalmaC/1BHOU212025NR
35Rafael Cruz3B/1BMIN192026NR
36Daniel Montesino1B/OFSDP192026NR
37Damiano Palmegiani1B/3BTOR232025NR
38Aaron Sabato1BMIN232024NR
39Cristian Santana3B/1BCIN262023NR
40Brandon Lewis1BLAD242023NR
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  1. Ryan says

    IMO, not including Andres Chaparro is a pretty big oversight.

    1. Richard Haake says

      Hey Ryan thank you for reading my article. Don’t worry I have you covered Andres Chaparro for the Yankees will be in my third base rankings. I agree not having him in this rankings series would be a massive oversight! Appreciate you bringing him up sir!

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