Top MLB Prospects to Stash for Fantasy Baseball (Hitters)
When it comes to MLB prospects, the first month and a half of the 2019 season has been a whirlwind. It all started with Fernando Tatis Jr and Chris Paddack making the opening day roster in San Diego, then transitioned into Vladimir Guerrero Jr in late-April, and most recently, Corbin Martin taking the hill for Houston yesterday. No matter who it is or when it happens, everyone is looking to grab the next hot prospect before they come up. That’s why we’re here today. There are plenty of MLB prospects raking in the upper minors just waiting for their chance to contribute at the Major League level. While this list is quite long, I’ve limited this list to the 10 prospects I anticipate making the biggest impact the rest of the way along with their projected ETAs.
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MLB Prospects to Stash – Hitters
1. Yordan Alvarez, OF/1B, Houston Astros
At this point, I’m not considering anyone else for this spot. Austin Riley might be up first, but no one currently in the minors has the same combination of average, power, and potential 2019 MLB playing time that Yordan Alvarez does. After going 2/4 with ANOTHER home run yesterday, Alvarez is back up over .400, sitting at .402 with 15 home runs, 12 doubles, 47 RBI, 32 runs scored, and a 1.358 OPS in 31 games. There are a few paths to playing time for Alvarez, but the most likely scenario has him taking over at first base or DH. Yuli Gurriel is hitting .285 with minimal power and Tyler White hasn’t done much of anything this season. It shouldn’t be long before Yordan overtakes one of those two, likely White, and you’re going to want him on your team when that happens. The time is now to stash Alvarez. ETA: Late-May/Early-June
Yordan Alvarez is a run-producing machine.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) May 12, 2019
2. Austin Riley, 3B, Atlanta Braves
Outside of Yordan Alvarez and Luis Robert, there haven’t been many hitters better than Austin Riley this season. And if you just look at the past few weeks, NO ONE has been hotter than Riley. It’s like Babe Ruth entered Riley’s body and is playing like he’s still pissed that Colonel Rupert didn’t give him a shot at managing the Yankees. Over his last 17 games, Riley has mashed 12 home runs with a cool .400 average, 26 RBI, and 21 runs scored. Those are video game numbers right there. He’s even now received four starts in left field which can only help speed up his arrival to Atlanta as Josh Donaldson is both healthy and performing well. ETA: Late-May
3. Keston Hiura, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers
While everyone and their mom has been raving about Alvarez, Luis Robert, and Austin Riley lately, Keston Hiura has quietly been cruising to the tune of a .333/.406/.706/1.112 slash line with 12 doubles and 11 home runs in 36 games. The added power has sure been nice and hasn’t come at the expense of his batting average which is always a plus. But one thing that has taken a step back this season is Hiura’s strikeout rate, jumping from 19.3% in 2018 to 27.5% this season. That’s not something that has me overly worried however and shouldn’t impede his arrival to Milwaukee.
No, Hiura’s arrival is largely dependent on when Milwaukee realizes they’d be better off moving Travis Shaw and his lowly .168 batting average to the bench or trading him out of town entirely. I expect a move to me made within a month or so to get Hiura up to Milwaukee. ETA: June
4. Nate Lowe, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays
While his debut didn’t go as poorly as Kieboom’s, Nate Lowe hit only .257 with no home runs during his brief cameo with Tampa Bay earlier this month. He likely would have gotten a longer look if Austin Meadows had needed to miss more time, but Meadow’s return eliminated the need for an additional lefty bat in the lineup and sent Lowe back to Triple-A Durham. Lowe was one of the top hitters in the minors last season, hitting .330 with 27 home runs and was hitting for power and average before his promotion earlier this season. Neither Ji-Man Choi (1B) or Avisail Garcia (DH) are major roadblocks, so a cold streak by either of them and/or continued success at Triple-A by Lowe will likely have the slugging first baseman back up with the Rays. ETA: June
5. Carter Kieboom, SS, Washington Nationals
Well, Carter Kieboom in Washington didn’t quite go as planned, but there’s still plenty of potential value in this bat for the rest of the season. Even when Trea Turner returns, Kieboom can slide over to second base and lock down that position moving forward, especially if the Nats continue to not get much out of that position offensively. “But wasn’t that the goal with this last promotion?” Yes, yes it was. Remember, not all prospects succeed out of the gate. Just forget about the 5/39 stint with Washington and remember that Kieboom is hitting .346 at Triple-A with a 1.110 OPS with 11 extra-base hits, four homers, and 21 RBI in 22 games. He’ll be back. ETA: June/July
6. Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros
A frigid cold start at Triple-A coupled with all of Houston’s current outfielders hitting well doesn’t make it seem like a promotion is coming any time soon Kyle Tucker. He also has Yordan Alvarez going full beast mode, but it looks like his path to playing time will be at 1B/DH and not the outfield as it will be with Tucker. Unfortunately, when I said Houston’s outfielders are hitting well, I meant they’re all hitting .315 or above and hitting for power as well. Luckily for Tucker, he’s snapped out of his funk, hitting .378 with five home runs over his last 10 games, but it’s likely going to take an injury or a big slump from Reddick for Tucker to get regular at-bats with Houston. ETA: June/July
7. Cavan Biggio, 2B/OF, Toronto Blue Jays
Out of the 10 prospects on this list, none have a clearer path to playing than Cavan Biggio does. The Blue Jays are currently rolling with Brandon Drury (.203 AVG) at second base, Billy McKinney (.240) in right field, and Teoscar Hernandez (.197) in left. Not good. Biggio, on the other hand, is hitting .327 and has more walks than all three of the aforementioned trio combined. His 20/20 pace from last season has carried over into 2019 as well with six homers and four steals this far. With his defensive flexibility – has played games at 3B (17), 1B (6), 3B (6), and RF (2) – and offensive performance so far, I can’t imagine Biggio remains in Triple-A much longer. But then again, this is the Blue Jays were talking about. ETA: June
8. Luis Urias, 2B, San Diego Padres
We all knew Luis Urias could hit for average and now he’s showing that there’s more game power in his potent bat than he’s shown in the past. He had teased us all with his raw power, but this is the first time that raw power has shown up consistently in games. Urias is now up to 10 in 22 games after hitting eight in 120 games last season. Sure, you could say that this is PCL aided, but his eight last season also came in the PCL. Eventually, the Padres are going to realize that Ian Kinsler’s tank is seemingly empty and bring Urias back up to play second base in San Diego. He might not quite have the upside of others on this list, but Urias’ ability to hit for average and chip in a little power can provide some nice value from your MI/UT spot. ETA: Late-May/Early-June
9. Brendan Rodgers, 2B/SS, Colorado Rockies
Whether you blame the players for not hitting or the Rockies for not figuring out consistent playing time, the Ryan McMahon/Garrett Hampson combination isn’t working. With two hits yesterday, McMahon raised his average to .232 and Hampson is below the Mendoza line at .194. Many fantasy owners, myself included, invested in these guys after hot springs and got burned. Unless one of them gets hot in a hurry, Brendan Rodgers is going to boot them right out of the way and take ahold of the starting second base gig in Colorado. Rodgers has hit for both power and average throughout his minor league career and has been enjoying his best season to date, hitting .333 with 17 extra-base hits, seven homers, and a .993 OPS in 33 games. If current performances by all three continue, Rodgers will be up sooner rather than later. ETA: June/July
10. Monte Harrison, OF, Miami Marlins
I could’ve gone several different ways, including Nicky Lopez and his .353 average, nine steals, and 20/5 BB/K ratio. But out of all the prospects left, Monte Harrison looks to have the best combination of offensive skills and the clearest path to playing time. Harrison is the definition of a mixed bag. He’s averaged 20 home runs and 28 steals over the last two seasons but his porous plate approach and swing and miss tendencies have caused his batting average to fluctuate. The good thing? Harrison’s strikeout rate has improved from the 36.9% mark he posted last season and he’s currently hitting .282 with five homers and 10 steals. The bad news? He’s still striking out 31.1% of the time in 2019.
With Miami heading for 100 losses and currently starting Jon Berti, Garrett Cooper, and Harold Ramirez in the outfield, Harrison’s path to playing time isn’t exactly obstructed in any way. Expect him up by the all-star break, providing a nice power/speed blend. ETA: June
Others to Monitor
American League: Oscar Mercado, OF, CLE | Alex Kirilloff, 1B, MIN | Jo Adell, OF, LAA | Luis Robert, OF, CHW, Jorge Mateo, SS, OAK | Bobby Bradley, 1B, CLE | Ryan Mountcastle, 3B, BAL | Nicky Lopez, SS, KC
National League: Josh Naylor, 1B, SD | Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, PIT
Photo/Video Credit: Mary Holt/Icon Sportswire, MLB Pipeline.
Eric Cross is the lead MLB/Fantasy Baseball writer and MiLB prospect analyst for FantraxHQ and has been with the site since March 2017. In the past, he wrote for FantasyPros and FanSided. He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) and a contributor in the best-selling Fantasy Baseball Black Book. For more from Eric, check out his author page and follow him on Twitter @EricCross04.
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