For the longest time, the first base position has been considered an offensive juggernaut. Well, maybe not as much recently but this position is on the verge of an influx of prospect talent. It’s possible that five of my top-11 here could debut in 2022 and plenty more in 2023. So while this position for prospects isn’t quite as tantalizing as catcher, there’s still plenty of talent. Leading the way in these top-30 first base prospect rankings is the 2020 #1 overall pick.
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Top-30 Dynasty First Base Prospect Rankings
1. Spencer Torkelson, DET
2021 (Hi-A/AA/AAA): 121 G, 530 PA, .267/.383/.552, 29 2B, 30 HR, 5 SB, 14.5 BB%, 21.5 K%, .285 ISO
Once again, we have a prospect alone in the top tier at his position. It’s plausible to argue for the duo below to be included in this tier as well, but neither can replicate the offensive production and upside that Spencer Torkelson brings to the table. The 2020 #1 overall pick came as advertised in his first professional season in 2021. Tork cranked 30 home runs and 29 doubles in 121 games with a .552 SLG and .285 ISO.
Spencer Torkelson AFL mix.
No HR in my three live looks, but had six hits (all below) with a few hard-hit balls. Used the entire field well
— Eric Cross (@EricCross04) October 17, 2021
With easy plus or better raw power and a swing that generates plenty of natural loft, it’s not hard to envision 30+ homers annually for Torkelson in Detroit as a middle-of-the-order stud. He’s also shown an average to above-average hit tool and the ability to draw walks at an exceptional clip as well (14.5%) while keeping his strikeout rate in check (21.5%). With Tork’s .270+/.370+/35+ upside, he’s easily a top-10 fantasy prospect and top-5 in OBP formats.
2. Tyler Soderstrom, OAK
2021 (Lo-A): 57 G, 254 PA, .306/.390/.568, 20 2B, 12 HR, 2 SB, 10.6 BB%, 24.0 K%, .262 ISO
I’m including Tyler Soderstrom here as I believe there’s a decent chance that first base will be his primary defensive position down the road due to the presence of Sean Murphy behind the plate. However, I think there’s a chance, at least early on, that Soderstrom can play enough behind the plate to retain eligibility. My blurb on Soderstrom can be found in my top-30 dynasty catcher prospects article.
3. Triston Casas, BOS
2021 (AA/AAA): 86 G, 371 PA, .279/.394/.484, 15 2B, 14 HR, 7 SB,. 15.4 BB%, 19.1 K%, .205 ISO
The Red Sox top selection in the 2019 MLB draft, Triston Casas had a solid season in 2021. The hulking first baseman didn’t break out until his September explosion, but held his own all season in Double-A before his stint with Team USA. In that red hot September, Casas slashed .323/.471/.754 with seven home runs in 19 games, earning him Double-A Northeast player of the month honors. That success earned him a cup of coffee in Triple-A and carried over into the Arizona Fall League as well.
— Eric Cross (@EricCross04) October 16, 2021
His below-average speed and athleticism limit Casas to first base longterm, but his solid hit tool, higher walk rate, and huge power should allow him to stand out at the position offensively. Casas is a player I saw 15+ times in 2021 and while the overall stat line doesn’t stand out, I was rather impressed with his at-bats. He can make the necessary adjustments when behind in the count and rarely looks overmatched. Basically, Casas is Tork with 95% of the offensive ceiling.
4. Miguel Vargas, LAD
2021 (Hi-A/AA): 120 G, 542 PA, .319/.380/.526, 27 2B, 23 HR, 11 SB, 8.3 BB%, 16.4 K%, .207 ISO
Despite him ranking well within my top-100, Miguel Vargas remains one of the most underrated prospects in baseball. Which is rather surprising given the organization he plays for. After debuting back in 2018, all Vargas has done is hit, hit, and hit some more. However, up until 2021, not much game-power had materialized. In 2018 and 2019 combined, Vargas hit .314 in 788 plate appearances but with only seven home runs to go with it. That high AVG continued in 2021 at.319 and Vargas added 27 doubles and 23 home runs as well. About time!
Vargas has always displayed plus raw power, but struggled to translate that into game power with his higher groundball rate. That all changed in 2021 with the highest flyball rate of his professional career by a wide margin. With his contact skills, plate discipline, and raw power, Vargas has a real chance to develop into an above-average offensive corner infielder at the Major League level with .275+/25 upside. Fast-forward to mid-2022 and he could be even higher in my rankings.
5. Jhonkensy Noel, CLE
2021 (RK/Lo-A/Hi-A): 70 G, 290 PA, .340/.390/.615, 14 2B, 19 HR, 5 SB, 5.9 BB%, 21.4 K%, .275 ISO
If you looked up “hitting machine” in the dictionary, you’d see a picture of Jhonkensy Noel looking back at you. And yes, I’m sure everyone under the age of 25 just called me a boomer or said “who the bleep still uses a dictionary?” Google it then you young whippersnappers. The point is, Noel can mash. As a 19-year-old, Noel terrorized Lo-A pitchers with a .393 average and 11 homers in 38 games, earning him a mid-season promotion to Hi-A where he excelled as well. Noel is overly aggressive at the plate and I’d love to see that walk rate tick up, but he doesn’t strike out much and can drive the ball with authority consistently to all fields. If you’re in an OBP league, I’d flip him and Pratto here, but regardless, Noel is a top-50 caliber prospect thanks to his .270/30+ upside.
6. Nick Pratto, KCR
2021 (AA/AAA): 124 G, 545 PA, .265/.385/.602, 28 2B, 36 HR, 12 SB, 15.2 BB%, 28.9 K%, .337 ISO
Entering the 2019 season, Nick Pratto was my 136th ranked prospect for fantasy purposes. Then, a stomach-turning 2019 season (.191/.278/.310, 9 HR, 472 PA) pushed him outside my top-400 before a dominant 2021 gave me whiplash when I vaulted him up inside my top-100 for the first time. The profile warrants this ranking and Pratto is doing his best to make 2019 look like an outlier.
Pratto might not have the AVG ceiling that Noel has, and projects as more of a .250-.260 type of hitter, but the elite walk rate gives him a considerable boose in OBP formats. In those leagues, Pratto would be 4th for me at this position. His plus raw power and solid speed could make him a Paul Goldschmidt-lite type of player that can post around 25-30 homers and 5-8 steals annually at peak. Just don’t be surprised if the AVG is notably lower than Goldschmidt’s level
7. Dustin Harris, TEX
2021 (Lo-A/Hi-A): 110 G, 466 PA, .327/.401/.542, 21 2B, 20 HR, 25 SB, 10.1 BB%, 15.7 K%, .215 ISO
We’re now entering the Twilight Zone. And by Twilight Zone, I mean the section of the rankings where we’ll find the biggest breakouts at this position from the 2021 season. Leading the charge in this breakout section is the Rangers Dustin Harris. After hitting for a high average in 2019 with minimal power, Harris’ power took a massive step forward in 2021. Across 110 games in Lo-A and Hi-A, Harris cranked 21 doubles and 20 homers to pair with 25 steals and a stellar .327/.401/.542 slash line.
While those 25 steals need to be taken with a grain of salt, it’s worth noting that Harris is an average to above-average runner and could be one of those rare corner infielders that can chip in double-digit steals annually early in his career. Add in an above-average to plus hit tool and above-average power, and you have a well-rounded offensive first base prospect that could post some .275+/20+/10+ seasons down the road. Harris is 100% for real.
8. Curtis Mead, TBR
2021 (Lo-A/Hi-A/AAA): 104 G, 458 PA, .321/.378/.533, 38 2B, 15 HR, 11 SB, 7.4 BB%, 15.5 K%, .212 ISO
Another relative unknown outside of deeper dynasty leagues entering 2021 was Curtis Mead. The former Phillies farmhand quietly put together an impressive showing in 2021 with 55 extra-base hits, 11 steals, and a .321/.378/.533 slash line in 104 games. Mead doesn’t possess big-time corner infielder power, but the profile is strong throughout with .280/15+/10 potential longterm. He played both corner infield spots in 2021 which is ideal flexibility in this Tampa Bay organization as the two spots they aren’t crowded at are the corners. Mead will likely continue to be undervalued a bit as he doesn’t have that one standout tool that most desire, but don’t let yourself fall into that group. Mead is a very good hitter that will find a role somewhere in the Majors, whether that’s with Tampa Bay or elsewhere. We could be looking at a Jeff McNeil type of player.
— Eric Cross (@EricCross04) October 15, 2021
9. Vinnie Pasquantino, KCR
2021 (Hi-A/AA): 116 G, 513 PA, .300/.394/.563, 37 2B, 24 HR, 6 SB, 12.5 BB%, 12.5 K%, .263 ISO
It was a banner year for breakout prospects in the Kansas City organization. While everyone already knew about Nick Pratto and MJ Melendez prior to 2021, Vinnie Pasquantino was a relative unknown. Well, not anymore. Pasquantino did everything you could want from a top first base prospect in 2021. Hit for average? Check. Hit for power? Check. Show patience while limiting strikeouts? Check.
Not only did Vinnie P hit an even .300 with 64 extra-base hits and 24 homers in 116 games, but he also recorded as many walks as strikeouts (64) this past season. His ability to hit for 25 homers annually with a higher AVG/OBP makes Pasquantino a very attractive fantasy prospect, especially at a position that has lost a bit of it’s luster over the last half-decade. It’s going to be interesting to see how Kansas City handles this inevitable C/1B/DH logjam with Pasquantino, Pratto, Melendez, Sal Perez, and even Mondesi too.
10. Juan Yepez, STL
2021 (AA/AAA): 111 G, 434 PA, .286/.386/.586, 29 2B, 27 HR, 1 SB, 11.8 BB%, 18.9 K%, .300 ISO
As was the case with Pasquantino, Juan Yepez went from off the radar to a top-100 caliber prospect in 2021. And me seeing Yepez live out in the AFL made me extremely confident in his 2021 minor league performance. Yepez is a dude and one that should contribute at the Major League level at some point during the 2022 season. The 23-year-old Venezuelan native hit .286 in 2021 with 56 extra-base hits in 111 games and was one of the top performers in the AFL as well with a .302/.388/.640 line and seven dingers in 103 plate appearances.
— Eric Cross (@EricCross04) October 15, 2021
Yepez profiles as an above-average hitter with above-average power as well. He played both infield and both outfield corners during the 2021 season, which should be beneficial to him in the long run as St. Louis has no glaring openings at the moment, especially at first and third. The NL adopting the DH in 2022 would be huge for Yepez.
11. Blaze Jordan, BOS
2021 (RK/Lo-A): 28 G, 114 PA, .324/.368/.590, 8 2B, 6 HR, 1 SB, 7.0 BB%, 18.4 K%, .266 ISO
Although his 2021 season consisted of a mere 28 games, that’s all it took to vault Blaze Jordan up into some top-100 rankings. The 18-year-old has long been known for his prestigious power, but the hit tool and approach were question marks and allowed him to fall to the Red Sox in the 3rd round of the 2020 draft. I’m not sure 28 games ie a big enough sample size to quiet those concerns, but Jordan’s .324 AVG and 18.4% strikeout rate are a phenomenal start. On the flip side, he only walked 7% of the time, but again, small sample size. If Jordan can at least sniff a 50-grade hit tool longterm, his elite right-handed raw power would make him a major power source at Fenway Park with the potential for 30-homers annually. He’s going to be one worth monitoring closely in 2022.
12. Seth Beer, ARI: He’s far from the sexiest pick around, but Seth Beer is a solid hitter with .270+/20+ upside at the MLB level and could get some run in 2022 if the NL adopts the DH. Don’t sleep on him just because he brings zero speed and doesn’t have the big hit/power profile.
13. Michael Toglia, COL: Despite a 22/10 season in Hi-A/AA, most viewed Toglia’s 2021 as a down performance given his .228 AVG and 28.5% strikeout rate. However, Toglia turned things around in the AFL with a decent showing and still can get to a 50-hit, 60-power profile in my eyes if he cuts down on the strikeouts. Coors Field will help too.
Michael Toglia with another home run, his 2nd in two days. A moon shot to RF.
— Eric Cross (@EricCross04) October 17, 2021
14. Anthony Garcia, NYY: If you’re looking for a player in this tier that could be inside my top-50 by the end of 2022, you’ve found him. The 6’5/204 Garcia has mammoth raw power and cranked 14 homers in 39 games with a .306/.444/.678 slash line. The upside here is massive.
15. Jonathan Aranda, TBR: Aranda had a very impressive 2021 campaign, maybe even more than Curtis Mead. The 23-year-old hit .330 with 14 homers and five steals in 100 games between H-A and Double-A and has a profile that’s not far off from Meads.
16. Alex Binelas, BOS: Acquired in the Hunter Renfroe trade, Alex Binelas fell down draft boards after a lackluster final collegiate season. But he turned things around in the minors with a .309 AVG and nine homers in 36 games. There’s a solid hit tool here with plus raw power.
17. Aaron Sabato, MIN: It was a year of extreme’s for Sabato. On one hand, the hulking first baseman hit only .202 with a .32.1% strikeout rate. But on the other hand, he posted a 19.8% walk rate, .373 OBP, and 19 homers in 107 games. There’s definitely some swing and miss to his game, but that K rate was inflated a bit due to his passive nature getting him into frequent 2-strike counts. There’s a path to him being a Low-AVG, High-OBP power bat.
18. Daniel Montesino, SDP: Montesino might be my favorite in this tier and he’s definitely my top pick to rise above this tier in 2022. In his 56-game professional debut, Montesino hit .316 with four home runs and a 17.7% walk rate. He has some projection left and has flashed intriguing raw power already with a solid hit tool as well.
19. Bryce Ball, CHC: A mid-season trade sent Ball from Atlanta to Chicago but his struggles in Hi-A continued. In fact, his performance was nearly identical before and after the trade: A low .200 AVG, solid power, and a high walk rate. He’s going to need to make more consistent contact to reach the Majors, but the power is enticing.
20. Mason Martin, PIT: There was building hype surrounding Martin entering 2021 but he took a step back across the board, hitting for less AVG and power while seeing his walk and strikeout rates take a turn for the worse. A 34.3 K% and 26.5 K-BB% are phenomenal for a pitcher, but not so much a hitter.
21. Blaine Crim, TEX | 22. Kyle Manzardo, TBR | 23. Junior Caminero, TBR | 24. Jordan Viars, PHI | 25. Niko Cavadas, BOS | 26. Wes Clarke, MIL | 27. Christian Encarnacion-Strand, MIN | 28. Colton Welker, COL | 29. Luken Baker, STL | 30. Tyreque Reed, BOS
It drops off overall in this tier, but the first seven are still intriguing for various reasons. If you’re looking for a breakout in this tier, I’d target Caminero, Viars, or Clarke.
Media Credit: Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire
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