It’s a busy time in the world of prospecting, as I and many others that cover the Minor Leagues crunch on mid-season lists, we’re also inundated with new prospects to research, project, and rank. The hardest part is trying to balance the handful of categories, or types, these players fall into. First we have the college hitters; usually the highest floor options in terms of fantasy, we’ve seen quite a few of these types return nearly immediate value over the last 5-7 seasons in dynasty leagues. Next we have the high upside prep hitters; another category that has done well of late, notables like Royce Lewis, Jo Adell, and Brendan Rodgers fall into this bucket. Prep bats offer some of the highest upside, but the floor can be pretty low. The next variety is July 2nd hitters; a group with a long and exciting track record, but due to the age of these prospects, there’s a high rate of failure, and a good chance many of them fall off expectations quickly. While there are major red flags, you still think to yourself “that upside tho”. The next three flavors are all pitchers, and each of them offers their own set of unique benefits and challenges. College pitchers, are the closest to the finished product, but you get a lot of “strike-throwing-so-so-stuff” types, and those types of players are available on every wavier wire from here to Beijing. Then we have Prep Arms, the most deceptive of investments. If you read enough prospect ranks, scouting reports, and particularly draft coverage you’ll find yourself enamored with some of these arms. Think MacKenzie Gore, Riley Pint, Jason Groome, or Forrest Whitley, that’s a very up and down record of success. The final bucket is one that I don’t bother paying too much mind to in most dynasty formats, July 2nd pitchers. Really, there have been some great arms to emerge from this bucket, but it often takes two years until we even know which arms really have any MLB projection. All this to say, my ranks are heavily influenced by this simple mantra. Draft hitters, add pitchers from the wavier wire. That’s the process, and it’s not to say it’s perfect, but more often than not I find myself filled with regret after drafting a pitching prospect. I am not saying that Casey Mize isn’t awesome, he is, and if this were a “real-life” list I would have ranked him first or second, but if I’m entering a draft today, there’s for sure 3  hitters I take in front of him. It’s fine if you disagree, but process is process. Below is the early version of my first year player draft ranks. I reserve the right to change my mind over the coming months, and plan to update these in early to mid-October.

First Year Player Draft Ranks (2018 MLB Draft and July 2nd)


1. Alec Bohm, 3B Phillies | Round 1, 3rd overall – The best combination of hit and power in the draft. Advanced college hitters in the top ten have a strong track record. The bat speed, understanding of the strike-zone, and easy power allow his bat to play even if he’s moved to first base long term. ETA: 2020

2. Jonathan India, 3B Reds | Round 1, 5th overall – Elite bat speed, good feel to hit, improving power and approach, India took a huge leap forward in 2018. Neck and neck with Bohm for the first spot, no one else was in consideration. There’s a better shot India sticks on the left-side of the infield, but Bohm’s potential offensive ceiling is just slightly higher. ETA: 2020

3. Nick Madrigal, 2B White Sox | Round 1, 4th overall – A spark-plug player, with high energy, an aggressive hack, speed, and gap power. Madrigal should hit near the top of an MLB lineup in the not-too-distant-future. Played second at Oregon, but might get a shot at short in the pros. ETA: 2020

4. Casey Mize, RHP Tigers | Round 1, 1st overall – I’ve moved Mize all over my ranks, everywhere from third to twelfth, but ultimately I believe Mize will be the rare, fast-rising, high-impact college arm. They’re few and far between, but armed with four above-average to plus pitches, velocity, and swing and miss stuff, Mize has that upside. A top 10 pitching prospect in the game from the jump. ETA: 2019

5. Trevor Larnach, OF Twins | Round 1, 20th Overall – A beautiful combination of plate discipline and power, Larnach had one of the biggest hits in Oregon State history just a few weeks ago. This was another moment in the outfielder’s storybook 2018. His breakout dates back to last summer when he hit .308 on the Cape, and he carried that momentum into the spring slashing .348/.463/.652 with 19 homers and 77 RBI in 68 games for the Beavers. A 15.8% Bb% over the course of the season was nothing new for Larnach, but the .175 point jump in ISO, pushed him into another stratosphere. Lefty power from a prototypical 6’4 220 lbs frame, the Twins first rounder is one of my favorite players in this year’s class. ETA: 2020

6. Nolan Gorman, 3B Cardinals | Round 1, 19th Overall – My top prep player in 2018 first year player drafts is known for his prodigious power, and famously quick hands. There’s some swing and miss concerns, due to some holes in his swing, but nothing that can’t be ironed out. He was up and down this spring, and there are concerns he sticks at third, but the power is special. ETA: 2022

7. Victor “Victor” Mesa, OF Unsigned | International Free Agent 2018 Class – Still yet to sign, and unlikely for at least a few months, Victor Victor is one of the top young talents to leave Cuba over the last few seasons. The son of Cuban legend Victor Mesa, Victor Victor is a similar player to his father, who led the Serie Nacional in stolen bases 14 times, while hitting 270+ homers. That combination of speed, up the middle defense, and above average power makes Victor Victor a potential fantasy stud. Baseball America’s Ben Badler compared him to Victor Robles. There’s always risk with Cuban players, but the track record is strong with Mesa. ETA: 2020

8. Jarred Kelenic, OF Mets | Round 1, 6th Overall – A cold- weather outfielder, with a quick lefty stroke, and five tool potential. Kelenic’s feel to hit might be as good as anyone in the class, with great barrel control and strike-zone awareness. There’s some questions regarding just how much power and speed he’ll develop, but they’re easy to project to average or better grades. ETA: 2022

9. Jordan Groshans, 3B Blue Jays | Round 1, 12th Overall – A player with natural feel for the barrel, and raw power driven by an extra quick bat. This Spring, Groshans quieted his lower half, toning down his leg kick and adjusting his hands. The results have been harder contact, a more direct path to the ball, and better plate coverage. At 6’4, 200 LBS he has a good build, and the athleticism to stick on the left-side of the infield. The Jays have had an eye for talent of late, and Groshans is just the latest addition to a system already stacked with infield depth. ETA: 2022

10. Kyler Murray, OF/QB Athletics | Round 1, 9th Overall – The coolest story in the 2018 draft, Murray will lead Oklahoma’s football team this fall, before joining he Athletics. There’s a lot of projection to be done with Murray as he’s never been a full time baseball player. He did improve his pitch recognition in 2018, laying off breaking balls that used to give him fits. Possibly the highest fantasy ceiling if everything clicks, but these types are always an adventure (i.e. Anthony Alford). ETA: 2022

11. Jordyn Adams, OF Angels | Round 1, 17th Overall – Another two sport star, the Angels lured Adams away from a commitment to play football and baseball at UNC. Side-note: His father is defensive line coach for the Tarheels. On the diamond Adams is a dynamic talent with 80 grade speed, average power and improving strike-zone awareness. If the Angels can sharpen his skills, Adams can develop into an elite leadoff hitter. ETA: 2022

12. Travis Swaggerty, OF Pirates | Round 1, 10th Overall – There’s some who would place the former South Alabama Star well within their Top 10. Personally I prefer the upside of the high school bats, and Kyler Murray. That speaks to the depth of this class more than anything else. Swaggerty sports an 80 grade name, and a bag of fantasy relevant tools. A lefty bat with sneaky pop, and a polished approach. He can get on base and can use his speed to push for extra bases, as well as leg out hard grounders. The speed should play in that sense, but he’s more of an above average base-stealer than a burner. In other words I wouldn’t expect any 20/20 seasons in his future. He fits the leadoff profile, but he’ll need to cut down on some of his swing and miss. Overall I see Swaggerty as a .270/.350/.450 hitter with 18-22 homers and 8-12 steals. ETA: 2020

13. Joey Bart, C Giants | Round 1, 2nd Overall – One of the best catching prospects in years, Bart is a sure thing to stick behind the dish. His plus power, strike-zone awareness, and feel to hit make him a possible elite hitting catcher. I’m not one to bet on catchers, but if Bart fell to me here I’d take him. I think as high as fifth you have a legitimate argument, but any higher is a gamble on a catching prospect. I know, I know, I ranked like a gillion prep bats just now. ETA: 2020

14. Greyson Jenista, OF Braves | Round 2, 49th Overall – The MVP of the 2017 Cape Cod League, Jenista is a lefty bat, with on base ability, power, and sneaky athleticism. There’s some swing and miss concerns due to breaking ball woes, but he can square a fastball with the best of them. College teammates with Alec Bohm at Wichita State, where he slashed .309/.446/.475 with 9 homers and 12 steals in 2018, while walking (19.1%) more than he struckout (15.7%). There’s a nice all around skillset, and debatable plus-plus raw power. That’s a fantasy stud in the making if it all translates. Lessens the blow on Braves fans after missing out on Carter Stewart. ETA: 2020

15. Seth Beer, 1B/OF Astros | Round 1, 28th Overall – After starting his college career when he could have been a senior in high school. Beer slashed .369/.535/.700 with 18 homers, winning Baseball America’s Freshman of the year award. He’s never quite matched the batting average he flashed that season but he’s hit 38 homers over the last two campaigns. He’s wasted no time getting acclimated to pro-ball, destroying the New York-Penn League, before seeing promotion to full season Quad-City, where he’s presently slashing .379/.471/.448 through 9 contests. We’ve known of Beer for a long time, and if you’re in an open universe league, he was likely owned years ago. ETA: 2019

16. Brady Singer, RHP Royals | Round 1, 18th Overall – Singer has a lengthy college track record, two plus pitches, and a pitchers build. It’s somewhat puzzling that he dropped to 18, but outside the top 5 few teams were willing to meet his demands. The righthander’s ceiling really depends on the development of his changeup. If he’s able to develop that third pitch to his already deadly combo he can be a top of the rotation type. ETA: 2020

17. Nico Hoerner, SS Cubs | Round 1, 24th overall – A floor pick in some ways, Hoerner has a good track record of success, not only at Stanford but in the 2017 Cape League where he hit .308 with 6 homers. There’s untapped power, and a good combination of contact and approach. He’s an average runner, but he’s not a big base stealing threat. Should likely move off short, and slide over to second. ETA: 2020

18. Jeremy Eierman, SS Athletics | Round 2, 70th Overall – A steal for the A’s at 70, where they scooped him and paid him $1.3m, well above the pick slot. His track record at Missouri State was very good on both sides of the ball. He made some adjustments to his swing this year, adopting more of a crouch, but it resulted in less power, which was not the desired outcome. He’s a good base-stealer with 38 steals-on-43 attempts the last two seasons. The questions still surround his bat after poor showings on the Cape in consecutive years. An excellent defender and should stick at the shortstop position. ETA: 2020

19. Xavier Edwards, SS Padres | Competitive Balance Round, 38th Overall – A switch-hitter with a contact focused approach that fits his greatest asset; top-of-the-scale speed. He’s never going to be a home run hitter, but he might grow into a little more power. In all likelihood he’ll end up a table setter with a good average and tons of steals like a Dee Gordon. I really like Edwards, and would be willing to gamble on him. ETA: 2022

20. Noah Naylor, C Indians | Round 1, 29th Overall – The younger brother of the Padres Josh Naylor, Noah is a different body type and hitting style. He’s more of an elite contact guy, than elite power, though some scouts put his hit tool tops in the draft. He’ll likely move off catcher, and slide to third base, but his bat should play enough to stick there, particularly if his power ticks up to plus. A great gamble to take outside the top 15 players in first year player drafts. ETA: 2022

21. Cole Winn, RHP Rangers | Round 1, 15th Overall – The best prep arm in the draft emerged from the California prep ranks, dazzling with a low-mid 90’s fastball, a plus 12-6 curveball, and a slider he’s showing improved feel and shape on. High school righthanders are a tough bet this early with lots of college arms left, but I really believe in Winn’s upside. ETA: 2022

22. Matthew Liberatore, LHP Rays | Round 1 16th Overall – A lefty with a advanced understanding of pitching and a real competitive fire, Liberatore was the top lefty and prep arm on many lists. His four-pitch mix is led by a plus low-70s curveball, and plus mid-80’s changeup. His fastball sits low 90’s but has shown 96 in flashes. He added a slider this spring, it’s a work in progress, but Liberatore’s pitchability gives me confidence he can develop it. Overall a good stash for deep dynasty leagues where pitching is scarce. ETA: 2022

23. Marco Luciano, SS Giants | International Free Agent: $2.6 Million Bonus – When I spoke with Ben Badler of Baseball America a few weeks ago on the Baseball Show (shameless plug: You should be watching this!) he was raving about Luciano’s offensive upside. He described his power as effortless, from a compact yet explosive swing. His power has shown in games, and he uses the whole field driving balls the opposite way with authority. He has slightly above average speed, and should stick at short for now, though the move to third is reportedly eventual. There’s some swing and miss concerns, but the reports of late have noted noticeable improvement in that area. ETA: 2023

24. Tristan Casas, 1B/3B Red Sox | Round 1, 26th Overall – An elite power bat likely headed to first base at one point, but not until he gets some surgery on his thumb. The injury will keep him out for the rest of 2018, but what Sox fans have to look forward to is a plus-plus power bat with the ability to grind-out at-bats. He’s big at 6’4 240, but works hard to maintain his weight. ETA: 2022

25. Shane McClanahan, LHP Rays | Round 1 Compensation, 31st Overall – Lefties that hit 100 consistently on the gun are few and far between, and that’s exactly what McClanahan is. His command leaves a lot to be desired, as do his secondaries, though they can flash plus. He mixes a changeup and slider with his heater, with the changeup widely considered the better of the two. He’s already missed a season due to Tommy John, and isn’t the biggest guy in the world, so there are reasonable durability issues. If it all comes together he could be up there with Mize for the best pitcher in the class, but there’s a wide range of outcomes. At worst he could develop into an elite bullpen option for the relief-happy Rays. ETA: 2020

26. Jeremiah Jackson, SS Angels | Round 2, 57th Overall – Explosive bat speed, good feel to hit and above-average raw power make Jackson’s hit-first middle infielder profile a good bet in fantasy. He’ll likely move to second long term. ETA: 2022

27. Connor Scott, OF Marlins | Round 1, 11th Overall – An exciting all-around player, with speed, athleticism, developing power, and the ability to stick in the middle of the field. Scott is a grade A specimen, and a product of the same high school that produced Kyle Tucker and numerous others. He gets Tucker comps due to the athleticism and bat path, but his swing is rawer than Tucker’s coming out of Plant High, and it’s noticeable how little of his lower half he uses. If he improves at the plate and reaches he maximum potential this could be a great pick for the Marlins. That’s an unlikely outcome as there is inherent risk. ETA: 2022

28. Logan Gilbert, RHP Mariners | Round 1, 14th Overall – A big righty that lit up the radar guns last summer during his Cape League tenure, Gilbert did not have the same velocity in 2018. His secondaries are iffy, with two breaking balls, neither of which are very sharp, and an under used changeup. There’s some projection and a big 6’6 frame to dream on, if his Cape League stuff returns he can develop into a frontline guy. ETA: 2020

29. Steele Walker, OF White Sox | Round 2, 46th Overall – The former Oklahoma standout has a great track record hitting with wood bats, and a nice floor as a hit tool corner outfielder. His power is likely average, with below average foot-speed that might stick him in left. He has the bat, and elite hand-eye coordination to hit for a high average year after year. A safe pick after the top names are gone. ETA: 2020

30. Tristan Pompey, OF Marlins | Round 3, 89th Overall – A switch-hitter with power from both sides of the plate. Pompey is yet to tap into his tape-measure batting practice raw, but he rips line-drives all over the field. He’s not an elite runner but he will pick his spots. Might really out perform his draft slot, with great rewards for his fantasy owners. ETA: 2020

The Rest Of My Top 50

31. Nick Schnell, OF Rays | Round 1 Compensation, 32nd Overall
32. Alek Thomas, OF Diamondbacks | Round 2, 63rd Overall
33. Griffin Conine,  OF Blue Jays | Round 2, 52nd Overall
34. Jackson Kowar, RHP Royals | Round 1 Compensation, 33rd Overall
35. Joe Gray, OF Brewers | Round 2, 60th Overall
36. Parker Meadows, OF Tigers | Round 2, 44th Overall
37. Brice Turang, SS Brewers | Round 1, 21st Overall
38. Noelvi Marte, Mariners | International Signing
39. Orelvis Martinez, Blue Jays | International Signing
40. Jameson Hannah, OF Athletics | Round 2, 50th Overall
41. Juan Guerrero, SS Rockies | International Signing 
42. Jairo Pomares, Giants | International Signing
43. Mike Siani, OF Reds | Round 4, 109th Overall
44. Josh Stowers, OF Mariners | Round 2, 54th Overall
45. Grant LaVigne, 1B Rockies | Competative Balance Round, 42nd Overall
46. Ryan Weathers, LHP Padres | Round 1, 7th Overall
47. Jake McCarthy, OF Diamondbacks | Competative Balance Round, 39th Overall
48. Ethan Hankins, RHP Indians | Round 1 Compensation, 35th Overall
49. Anthony Seigler, C Yankees | Round 1, 23rd Overall
50. Brennan Davis, OF Cubs | Round 2, 62nd Overall

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