Dynasty Dugout: First-Year Player Draft Rankings Version 2
Like I’ve said many times before, if you play in a dynasty league, your work is never done. Okay, we might not put effort/planning in every single day of the off-season, but it’s never too early to get a jump start on next season. And for most of you, that means your annual first-year player draft some time this offseason, which is why we’re here today. After my initial rankings earlier this summer, I’m going to go over my updated Top-25 today and mix in some players trending in certain directions.
Don’t worry, version three will have my full updated Top-100 in a month or two.
First-Year Player Draft Trending Prospects
Grant Lavigne (1B – COL): Take Gorman out of the equation and Grant Lavigne was the most impressive prospect for me from this draft class so far. Yes, even over guys like Bart and Beer. Lavigne displayed incredible plate discipline and coverage, hitting .350 with a 17.4% walk rate. The home run total is lower than expected, but he swatted 13 doubles to go with his six dingers and still projects as a 30-plus home run hitter. What was even more unexpected was his 12 steals in 19 attempts. Mr. Lavigne has some solid wheels for a 6’4, 22o-pound first baseman. He might hail from a small New Hampshire town, but Lavigne looks poised to become a fantasy star.
Kyle Isbel (OF – KC): Some will see a college bat beating up on the lower minors. Me? I see a speedster with a blossoming hit tool and more power upside than he lets on. It will be interesting to see how he fairs against more advanced competition, but the early returns are good.
Blaze Alexander (SS – ARI): With a name like Blaze, you better have some decent wheels. Luckily, Alexander lives up to that name with plus speed that translated into 10 steals in his first 210 at-bats. But speed is far from his only noteworthy tool. Alexander has displayed above-average raw power thanks to plus bat speed and quick wrists. There’s still some swing and miss tendencies here, but there’s a lot to like about his abilities at the plate.
Cal Stevenson (OF – TOR): We always need to take Gulf Coast League and Appalachian League numbers with a grain of salt, but it’s hard to not get excited when you see a .511 OBP. No, Barry Bonds didn’t transform back into a prospect, if that’s what you’re thinking. Stevenson has displayed an insanely good plate approach and plus speed with 21 steals in 214 at-bats. There’s not much power to speak of here, but the early returns on Stevenson are incredibly promising. Don’t be surprised to see him hitting leadoff for Toronto down the road.
Brock Deatherage (OF – DET): In addition to having a killer last name (Pun intended), Deatherage had a killer professional debut (Okay, I’ll stop). Deatherage gave pitchers nightmares from the get-go, racking up 21 extra base hits and 19 steals to go along with a .326 average in 230 at-bats. Deatherage’s quick wrists and balance at the plate lead to a ton of hard contact. How much power he’ll hit for is still up in the air, but the hit tool and speed are both very evident.
— Prospects Live (@ProspectsLive) August 23, 2018
Kyler Murray (OF – OAK): The more I think about it, the more risky Murray seems to me. The raw tools are all there, don’t get me wrong. But the risk that surrounds him cannot be ignored. Murray has yet to play a minor league game as this summer and fall has been occupied by playing QB for the University of Oklahoma. He’s arguably the biggest risk/reward pick you could make in your FYPD if you exclude all the 16 and 17-year-old international signings.
Jeremy Eierman (SS – OAK): I’m not picking on the Athletics, I swear. However, I’ve seen this show before in Oakland and wasn’t a fan. You know, the show about the middle infielder with some pop and speed, but a questionable hit tool and plate approach. Sound familiar, Franklin Barreto? Eierman likely has some 15/15 or 20/20 seasons in him, but I can’t see that average getting above .250 or so.
New Top-25 First-Year Player Draft Rankings
1. Nolan Gorman (3B – STL), Previous – 3
2018 Stats (RK/A): .291/.380/.570/.949, 13 2B, 17 HR, 12.4 BB%, 27.7 K%, 237 AB
Where’s the time machine when I need it? If I had one, I would go back to June and kick myself in the butt for ranking Gorman 3rd in my initial rankings. My heart wanted to rank him 1st, but my head ended up winning out, putting two college bats ahead of him. There’s no doubting who the top dog from this draft class is now. There were 445 position players drafted back in June. Not a single one of them had more home runs than the 17 Gorman clobbered in just 237 at-bats. Strikeouts will always be a part of his game, but Gorman’s hit tool is coming along nicely and he can draw a walk when needed. ETA 2020/2021
Two more homers for #STLCards No. 3 prospect Nolan Gorman last night, and the 18-year-old slugger now has 15 in 50 @MiLB games. No one from this year's #MLBDraft has more dingers than the @Cardinals' first-rounder: https://t.co/7gkSwwQkGl pic.twitter.com/agqFLxTF0O
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) August 21, 2018
2. Jonathan India (3B – CIN), Previous – 1
2018 Stats (RK/A): .240/.380/.433/.813, 9 2B, 6 HR, 6 SB, 15.2 BB%, 23.9 K%, 150 AB
There’s one number that really impressed me about India’s professional debut. It’s not the power or speed he displayed, but rather that the patient approach he displayed during his last collegiate season at Florida carried over to the minors. India drew a walk in 15.2% of his plate appearances this season. That resulted in a strong .380 OBP, despite only hitting .240. Throw in a near 25/25 pace and there’s a lot to like about India moving forward. ETA 2020
3. Jarred Kelenic (OF – NYM), Previous – 4
2018 Stats (RK): .286/.371/.468/.839, 10 2B, 6 3B, 6 HR, 15 SB, 10.4 BB%, 19.9 K%, 220 AB
It didn’t take long for Kelenic to put that tantalizing blend of power and speed on full display. In just 220 at-bats, Kelenic racked up 22 extra-base hits and 15 steals while showing a solid plate approach as well. Those 15 steals came in just 16 attempts, too. He’ll need to add some loft to his line drive swing if he wants to eclipse 20 home runs consistently, but his current .280 15 HR/30+ SB profile will play just fine in fantasy leagues. ETA 2021
4. Nick Madrigal (2B – CHW), Previous – 2
2018 Stats (RK/A/A+): .303/.353/.348/.701, 7 2B, 0 HR, 8 SB, 4.0 BB%, 2.0 K%, 155 AB
Today’s number of the day is five. That’s the amount of times Nick Madrigal struck out in his first 173 plate appearances as a professional. Not very often when you can count a player’s strikeout total on one hand. But that’s what makes Madrigal such a valuable dynasty piece. He might not have superstar upside like others around him in these rankings, but he’s arguably the safest bet to become a solid Major League starter. That’s not to say he’s boring offensively either. Madrigal has arguably the best hit tool from this draft class and the speed to steal 30-plus bags annually. If only he could hit for a tad more power. ETA 2020
5. Joey Bart (C – SF), Previous – 9
2018 Stats (RK/A-): .294/.364/.588/.952, 15 2B, 13 HR, 2 SB, 5.7 BB%, 20.6 K%, 204 AB
All that offensive potential I talked about back in June certainly translated into statistical production from Bart in his first taste of professional ball. Sure, you’d like to see him work a walk more often, but he’s hitting for a high average and plenty of power. ETA 2019
6. Alec Bohm (3B – PHI), Previous – 5
2018 Stats (RK/A-): .252/.335/.324/.659, 6 2B, 2 3B, 0 HR, 3 SB, 7.6 BB%, 14.6 K%, 139 AB
As of now, Bohm seems to have left that plus raw power of his back at Wichita State. Not a single dinger in his first 158 plate appearances and only eight extra-base hits overall. On the plus side, he did strike out just 14.6% of time, which is a positive sign. Don’t let this power outage from Bohm scare you off. This is still a very talented hitter capable of hitting for a high average and plenty of power. It will come. ETA 2020
7. Casey Mize (RHP – DET), Previous 6
2018 Stats (RK/A+): 11.1 IP, 3.97 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 1.6 BB/9, 8.7 K/9
Regardless of your league size, Mize is the only pitcher I would consider taking with my first round selection if not in the Top-5 or so. He only got a few starts in after signing, but shouldn’t take long to get to the Detroit rotation. All the boxes get checked here if you’re looking for a fantasy ace. ETA 2020
8. Jordan Groshans (3B/SS – TOR), Previous – 7
2018 Stats (RK): .296/.353/.446/.799, 13 2B, 5 HR, 7.2 BB%, 17.9 K%, 186 AB
Not much to see here. Groshans played as expected, hitting for a solid average with some pop. There’s more power upside in that bat too once he fills out and adds some loft to his swing. This is an extremely talented hitter capable of hitting over .300 with 30-plus home runs annually. ETA 2021
9. Seth Beer (OF – HOU), Previous – 11
2018 Stats (A-/A-A+): .304/.389/.496/.885, 14 2B, 12 HR, 8.4 BB%, 16.5 K%, 260 AB
His defense still needs work, and likely always will, but Beer is doing exactly what we expected him to do at the plate. What’s most impressive to me so far is the plate discipline he’s shown, keeping his strikeout rate at a modest 16.5%. If Bart isn’t the first hitter to reach the Majors from this draft class, it’s because Beer beat him there. And when he does arrive, pencil in some .280/30 seasons from the man with the very marketable last name. ETA 2019/2020
10. Trevor Larnach (OF – MIN), Previous – 10
2018 Stats (RK/A): .303/.390/.500/.890, 13 2B, 5 HR, 3 SB, 11.9 BB%, 15.8 K%, 152 AB
After his first few months as a professional, there’s a lot to like about what Larnach has shown. He’s hitting for both power and average while showing an advanced plate approach. He even chipped in three steals for good measure. Expect Larnach to be one of the quickest movers in this draft class. ETA 2020
11. Victor Victor Mesa (OF – Unsigned), Previous – 8
2018 Stats: DID NOT PLAY
After months of deafening silence on the Mesa front, the Cuban star is now one step closer to signing with a Major League team. Major League Baseball granted free agent status to him and his little brother, Victor Mesa Jr., late last week. The Baltimore Orioles are rumored to be trying to sign both Mesa brothers. Stay tuned. ETA 2020/2021
12. Grant Lavigne (1B – COL), Previous – 23
2018 Stats (RK): .350/.477/.519/.996, 13 2B, 6 HR, 12 SB, 17.4 BB%, 15.5 K%, 206 AB
See above. ETA 2020/2021
13. Xavier Edwards (SS – SD), Previous – 21
2018 Stats (RK/A-): .346/.453/.409/.862, 8 2B, 0 HR, 22 SB, 15.9 BB%, 12.8 K%, 159 AB
A contact-first hitter with blazing 70-grade speed. What’s not to like? You won’t get much power here, but Edwards is already one of the top speed threats in the minors with a developing hit tool and plate approach that are approaching 60-grade. ETA 2020/2021
— Vinnie Cervino (@vcervinoPG) March 8, 2018
14. Nico Hoerner (SS – CHC), Previous – 17
2018 Stats (RK/A-/A): .327/.450/.571/1.021, 2 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 6 SB, 15.0 BB%, 6.7 K%, 49 AB
Sorry Cubs fans, your farm system is trash right now. Hoerner is arguably the top prospect in this system already after just 49 at-bats. Granted, it was a strong showing, but again, it’s just 49 at-bats. Hoerner’s plus speed and hit tool are going to shoot him up through this system fairly quickly. ETA 2020
P.S. – Someone needs to make bumper stickers that say “Honk if You’re Hoerner”. Just saying.
15. Travis Swaggerty (OF – PIT), Previous – 14
2018 Stats (A-/A): .239/.322/.383/.705, 10 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR, 9 SB, 9.6 BB%, 25.3 K%, 201 AB
It would be a real shame if Swaggerty doesn’t develop into an All-Star with a last name like this. Please, baseball gods, let Swaggy-T blossom into a 20/20 threat with a solid batting average. All the raw tools are there, make it happen. ETA 2020
16. Marco Luciano (SS – SF), Previous – 13
17. Kyler Murray (OF – OAK), Previous – 12
18. Matthew Liberatore (LHP – TB), Previous – 24
19. Jordyn Adams (OF – LAA), Previous – 16
20. Brady Singer (RHP – KC), Previous – 15
21. Parker Meadows (OF – DET), Previous – 19
22. Kyle Isbel (OF – KC), Previous – 62
23. Greyson Jenista (OF – ATL), Previous – 18
24. Orelvis Martinez (SS – TOR), Previous – 27
25. Tristan Casas (3B – BOS), Previous – 20
Eric Cross is the lead MLB writer and prospect analyst here on FantraxHQ. He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. For more from Eric, check out his author page and follow him on Twitter @EricCross04.