You don’t really care about prospects, and I get that. You’re a redraft player, and probably a damn good one. You don’t want a top 100 list where half the guys won’t sniff a major league field for the next 2 years +. You need the right now, the rookie nookie, the sleepers in the waivers. The ones waiting in the weeds until the call comes, and the earliest bird plucks them minutes before the rest of the league, to a collective of moans and groans. This is the song of the RCL rookie scavenger. The man beating you to Trea Turner by 3 minutes, the guy who stashed Alex Bregman on and off for a month. You need to beat him this year, let this be your map, and the Twitter/MLB/Traderumors alerts be your batphone. I think I just mixed metaphors. Whatevs!!! You get the jist. Behold! The Top 25 Rookies for 2017 Fantasy Baseball. By the by, this list is 100% 2017 focused, so ETA, lack of a platoon or temporary fill-in status matters. I don’t care what he’s going to be in 2 years. THAT DOESN’T MATTER!!! It’s all about the right now, the present. I’m listening to Right Now by Van Halen. I’m wearing white jeans. I’m holding up signs that say, “Right now someone is drafting Ian Desmond unaware of his injury”. It’s that real.
1. Andrew Benintendi, OF Red Sox: Y’all can call me cray cray, but I’m going down with the ship. You know what? Funk this jazz, I’m going to summon my former self to battle these fools. People be yapping about 12 home runs/I’m on a kamikaze mission chopping manbuns/damn son/snitches always knock the hustle/meanwhile, Benni third, flexing 20 lbs of muscle/how else can I get it into their brains?/mans GOAT status do his whole workout with chainz/gainz is inevitable, power’s more than projectable/next offseason he’s going to be a one man tractor pull/you can say it’s hype and I’m a homer/but I’ll have the last laugh in ‘tember rocking sweatpants with a boner.
2. Hunter Renfroe, OF Padres: Do you like home runs? Do you play in a standard 5×5, and think OBP is for the birds? If so, I have the prospect for you. If it wasn’t for Benintendi Da God Emcee, we’d be ranking Renfroe at the top of the charts. Value wise he’s head and shoulders ahead of Benintendi. One’s going between pick 75-110 in RCL’s, the other is going after pick 225. That’s not to say I don’t think Benintendi is a better player, just saying it wouldn’t surprise me if the gap between them in terms of value was less than 150 spots. Will break camp with San Diego, and hit in the middle of the order.
3. Manuel Margot, OF Padres: It looks like he’s healed, and the recent news on Alex Dickerson might make an opening day ETA not out of the question. If he gains the opening day job, it’s his for the next 5 years +. Could be a dynamic top of the order run producer. Makes hard contact, and everyone hits more homers in the majors, right?
4. Dansby Swanson, SS Braves: Maybe these ranks are all about the flow, Beni got flow, Dansby got flow. Coincidence? I think not. He’s really really safe, or at least seems that way. Wouldn’t surprise me if he finds his way into a top 10 SS season. I’m not betting on it, but he should be on the fringes of mixed 12 team leagues from the jump.
5. Aaron Judge, OF Yankees: He’s hitting this spring, is he ready to finally come of age, and bring the boom we’ve all been waiting for? He just may be, I’ve been grabbing him in the last round of many redrafts.
6. Josh Bell, 1B Pirates: Back on the field following a knee injury, and has a great shot to make the team out of camp as the everyday first baseman. I’m not sure I see the power hitter many hope for, but he could be a very solid Eric Hosmer type player, only with no speed. Meaning he won’t hurt you, but you’re always going to want more power. He’s a perfect CI/Util type of player.
7. Dan Vogelbach, 1B Mariners: The Jelly Donut of Swat has a higher floor than many realize, but the ceiling is dependent on the power. He’s always had elite on base ability, and solid bat to ball skills. Don’t sleep, sleep is the cousin of death.
8. Robert Gsellman, RHP Mets: He better get the 5th starter job, because I’m heavily invested. Made tweaks to his delivery last year, and all of his pitches played up following. He’s a groundball machine, and the park and division couldn’t be friendlier. Hopefully his elbow stays healthy, and one of his teammates doesn’t. Is that wrong?
9. Lewis Brinson, OF Brewers: Looking good in the spring, and at the moment he’s blocked. It only takes one injury, slump, or trade, and Brinson comes dancing in. He’ll bring power, he’ll bring speed, you’ll have to ask Phil Bick(ford) the weed.
10. Bradley Zimmer, OF Indians: Am I the only one seeing Zimmer maybe breaking camp? I’m serious, I think he may push Naquin to left until Brantley is back. I know the later is playing minor league games soon, but still I don’t know. Zimmer’s their best defender in the outfield, possibly their best baserunner, and he looks to be reaping the benefits of a swing adjustment this spring.
11. Yulieski Gurriel, 1B/3B/OF Astros: The rust is wearing off, do we see a breakout from Yuli in 2017. Those that believe in Gurriel will say he can hit anywhere from 3rd to 6th, others will sell you the Cuban hype. But in the middle we stay calm, we just drop bombs, asking where we come from, Razzball slums.
12. Raimel Tapia, OF Rockies: The injuries are piling up in Colorado. One more outfielder down, and we’re talking about Tapia time!!!! He’s still raw in a lot of ways, but he knows how to put the bat on the ball. That works better in Coors than anywhere else. Except the moon, it works great up there according to MLB The Show 2007.
13. Jharel Cotton, RHP Athletics: Missed tons of bats in the minors, so far that hasn’t translated in his limited major league exposure. Has a bit of a homer problem too, but he has a good fastball, and an elite secondary offering in his changeup. A good back end of the rotation starter for your H2H, deep league, and dynasty teams.
14. Koda Glover, RHP Nationals: He’s been stellar so far this spring, allowing 2 baserunners, and striking out 8 over 5 scoreless frames. I think he’s a great potential closer flier at the end of drafts, and a good gamble for some nice relief innings in RCL type formats.
15. Tom Murphy, C Rockies: Halph can’t have anything nice, so of course Murphy gets hurt. Broken forearm be damned, because if he doesn’t hurt himself, Murph is #2 behind Benintendi. Should still be a factor at some point this season, but it may not be until July. Hands, Wrists, Arms, and Elbows: The Story of the 2017 Colorado Rockies.
16. Mitch Haniger, OF Mariners: Was a burnout prospect this time last year, then he stopped hanging out with Tim Lincecum and Phil Bickford. Blew up the Southern League and PCL, before hitting Arizona. Haniger was the player that put the Seattle side over the top in the Walker-Segura deal, and so far Haniger is making it look like his 2016 breakout was no fluke. Mashing the ball this spring to the tune of .444/.500/.806 with 7 XBHs, and 2 steals. He might be too low, but I’m playing it safe, just in case it strikes midnight, and Hanig-time turns pumpkin on us.
17. Jesse Winker, OF Reds: Not sure if he breaks camp with the Reds, but he’s hit well in the spring, and he’s as polished a hitter as there is in the minor leagues. On base machine, the hope is his lack of power in 2016 was due to a wrist injury. Outside sleeper for NL Rookie of the year if he gets the at bats and can flash 12-15 homer pop. Look to Winker when he gets the call as a chance to fix your batting average.
18. Josh Hader, LHP Brewers: Assigned to minor league camp on Tuesday. Bummer. Here’s the thing, he was good, and the Brewers have no reason to start his service clock….yet. He’ll be up some time in June, striking out lots of fools, and destroying your ratios on occasion. He’s a rookie pitcher, what more do you want?
19. Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF Dodgers: I love Bellinger, hell I ranked him 6th in my Top 100, but he’s still a year away from really breaking through. There’s a solid chance he exceeds his limits this year, mostly as an outfielder, before taking the reins at first from A-Gon. So far strikeouts are an issue this spring, maybe Halp is right about his uppercut swing, or maybe Bellinger always sucks until June 1st.
20. Lucas Giolito, RHP White Sox: He’s been worse than what the numbers have shown this spring, and there seems to be more and more questions popping up about Giolito by the day. Could be this generation’s Archie Bradley, for those of you too young to remember Archie Bradley, he was a good prospect once, now he’s a AAAA pitcher. Wait Bradley is only 24?
21. Yoan Moncada, 2B White Sox: Wha wha whatttttt? Why’s Moncada so low? Shutup, and I ‘ll tell you. He’s not fully baked. Needs to go back in the oven (AAA) for a little more crisping. You’ve seen the moments of brilliance, and the strikeouts in spring training. He needs more time, I’m not ready to panic and pull the Buxton/Soler alarm yet though.
22. Tyler Glasnow, RHP Pirates: I worry that Glasnow never puts it all together and becomes the dominant pitcher we all envision. Was the highest rated pitcher on my Top 100 at #13, but he’s looked awful this spring. There’s whispers that maybe he does end up in the bullpen long term.
23. Luke Weaver, RHP Cardinals: He’s returned from his back spasms, and so far looks like he’s on the losing end of a battle for the last rotation spot with Trevor Rosenthal and Michael Wacha. Here’s the thing, there’s like a 0.0% chance all of those goons in the Cards rotation stay healthy.
24. Austin Meadows, OF Pirates: Voted most likely to pull a Trea Turner if and when he gets the call. I’ve resigned myself to the belief that Cutch ain’t getting traded, and Meadows will marinate in Indy for at least 3 months, if not the full year. For this reason Meadows sneaks to the back of the list. If Cutch is traded tomorrow, Meadows jumps to the 2 hole.
25. Jose De Leon, RHP Dodgers: Is the shine off De Leon a little? I’m not saying he’s a bad player, but he’s certainly not as good as I thought he was a year ago. He misses bats, but the hard contact, and health is an issue. In a similar situation to last season, and he needs to perform, the Rays have plenty of arms on the farm.
26. Casey Gillaspie, 1B Rays: Outside of Casey Gillaspie’s mom I might be his biggest fan. Lacks bat speed, but he makes up for it with an excellent understanding of the strike zone, and plus power. The switch-hitting first baseman should see some time in Tampa this summer.
27. Amir Garrett, LHP Reds: I didn’t think he’d break camp, but that might have changed after an outstanding spring. I’m expecting some serious struggles at times for Garrett. His control has long been an issue, and Cincinnati is not the easiest place to pitch, particularly for young arms.
28. Reynaldo Lopez, RHP White Sox: He can touch 100 on the gun, and he’s loved in some circles, but I don’t see it. Lopez looks like a bullpen guy to me. However, he should get a rotation spot, and has a shot to be a relevant player. He’s pitched the most innings for the White Sox this season, and it looks like he’s in the good favors of manager Rick Renteria.
30. Trey Mancini, 1B/OF Orioles: I wish the Orioles would stop signing power hitters with no real position and give Mancini a shot at everyday at bats. He went ham on ’em at the end of 2016, and could do the same should the O’s sustain injuries to Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo.
31. Yohander Mendez, LHP Rangers: Already optioned to the minor leagues where he’ll open the season at AAA Round Rock. Should be the first call when the Rangers need reinforcements to their rotation. I don’t see him as a high ceiling player, but he could be a useful mid-rotation arm down the stretch this year.
32. T.J. Rivera, INF Mets: Has a shot to see some time at first base for the Mets, this is an absolute long shot, but he did look good in his limited time in Flushing last season, slashing .333/.345/.476 in 113 at bats.
Butterfly Effect: Those that need a string of situational occurrences in order to earn playing time. Might be injuries, or just a service clock thing, but something’s gotta give. This are listed in no particular order.
J.P. Crawford, SS Phillies, Franklin Barreto, SS Athletics, Nick Williams, OF Phillies, Amed Rosario, SS Mets, Tyler O’Neill, OF Mariners, Ozzie Albies, 2B/SS Braves, Erick Fedde, RHP Nationals, Derek Fisher, OF Astros, Willy Adames, SS Rays, Willie Calhoun, 2B Dodgers, Clint Frazier, OF Yankees, Francis Martes, RHP Astros, Nick Senzel, 3B Reds, Alex Verdugo, OF Dodgers, Tyler Beede, RHP Giants, Ty Blach, LHP Giants.