Way back in the late fall, I released my Original edition of the first year player draft rankings. So, it’s been awhile since I first wrote those, and ranked these players out. I figured it was about time to update those now-dated ranks. The question you may be asking yourself is “Ralph, why are you so handsome, and also what’s changed?” Well I’ll tell you, I “gots somes” experience now. Because, over the last month plus I’ve had several first year player drafts, meaning I “gots somes” actual real life draft knowledge to draw from. Not to mention my ever-evolving opinions and evaluations of players. So what better time to update the rankings, and give you an idea as to where my heads at after reviewing all of these youngins over the course of my team by team prospect rankings. I’ve fallen in love with some, soured on others, and been introduced to players I previously overlooked. If these rankings are too late for your league’s draft, my apologies, and I understand your angst. We’re deep into draft season, meaning our collective sweatpants smell of rot and butt cheeks, it’s okay to be ornery. I’ll make it easy, use small words, and discuss lots of wildly inaccurate and inappropriate expectations to put on a teenager. It’s all good though because it’s in the name of fantasy baseball.
1. Nick Senzel, 3B | Reds | Age: 21 By far the consensus number one choice in drafts. I’ve seen Maitan go ahead of him in a couple of leagues, but Senzel is the choice in my eyes. He hits for average, he hits for some power, he runs well, and he gets on base, he’s also not far from the majors IMO. Those are my reasons, and I’m sticking with them.
2. Kyle Lewis, OF | Mariners | Age: 21 If not for a knee injury we might be talking about the clear number one player in First Year Player Drafts. The injury was significant as he’s just beginning to run on flat ground now. Before the injury he was the possibly the best hitter in the draft, and offered the best hit tool/power combo.
3. Zack Collins, C | White Sox | Age: 22 The bat is right there with Senzel and Lewis, and it would’t surprise me if he’s the best of the group. Will stick at catcher for now, but I’m split on whether that helps his value (scarcity) or hurts his value (wear and tear). Elite on base skills, true power, lots of hard contact.
4. Mickey Moniak, OF | Phillies | Age: 18 Everyone will tell you that Moniak is a Christian Yelich clone, a good defensive up the middle type, and a bunch of other euphemisms that mean “better in real life”. Here’s the problem, they’re not accounting for the major leaps in ability we’ve seen from Moniak over the last 18 months. He added 20 pounds of muscle in the offseason, and is focused on hitting for more power.
5. Corey Ray, OF | Brewers | Age: 22 Somewhere JB is screaming about the Brewers taking another outfielder, but make no mistake Ray’s worth the investment. His power/speed combo was the top in the draft, and he could end up a dynamic fantasy player one day.
6. Jason Groome, LHP | Red Sox| Age: 18 I wasn’t going to avoid the homerism any longer. The off the field whispers have quieted to silence, and the hammer curve and mid-90’s fastball remains. Sky’s the limit type of upside.
7. Kevin Maitan, SS | Braves | Age: 16 If upside is your thing then Maitan is the pick for you. That goes for any pick from #1 right on down. He draws Hall of Famer comps, already has legendary pedigree, and there’s at least three guys in every dynasty league that will say he’s the new Miggy.
8. Blake Rutherford, OF | Yankees | Age: 19 The natural ballplayer with the sweet lefthanded stroke. Rutherford might be built for Yankee Stadium, as he one day might be able to take advantage of the short RF fence with pull power. He looks like he has the defensive chops to stick in center, and should move quickly for a prep prospect.
9. A.J. Puk, LHP | Athletics | Age: 21 Let’s just get this out of the way, I’m not Puk’s biggest fan, and at times leading up to and following the draft I was his biggest detractor. However, he’s a 6’7 lefty with some funk, and stuff. The control may never be great, but if he falls to you at 9 grab him.
10. Delvin Perez, SS | Cardinals | Age: 18 Sure you could worry about the PED thing, or you could embrace it and recognize the immense talent he possesses. Might have the highest ceiling of any position player from last year’s draft.
11. Lucas Erceg, 3B | Brewers | Age: 21 The second round pick had a huge game on Sunday hitting 2 homers including a grand slam. An advanced college bat that dropped in the draft due to off the field concerns. Gets lots of Chase Utley comps, take that for what it’s worth. A good sleeper for those picking a little later, just have to hope everyone is drafting prep pitchers.
12. Braxton Garrett, LHP | Marlins | Age: 19 Following Tyler Kolek’s recent TJ the Marlins took it extra cautious with Garrett. Holding him back from any innings in the minors, in order to preserve his arm/elbow/shoulder/boyish charm. Possesses the best/second best hook in the draft only next to Groome, and has a solid low to mid-90’s heater. He’s rather safe for a prep pitcher, and still has some projectability.
13. Heath Quinn, OF | Giants | Age: 21 An under the radar college player from the same conference as Kyle Lewis. Continued to put up elite production in proball, won me all my Northwest League Only leagues. He’s got a quick bat, nice raw power, and good on base ability. If he can cut down on the strikeouts he’ll be golden.
14. Adrian Morejon, LHP | Padres | Age: 19 A lefty out of Cuba the Padres spent $11 million to sign, throws two different changeups, with a low to mid 90’s fastball. Looking forward to seeing him in pro ball some time in 2017.
15. Cal Quantrill, RHP | Padres | Age: 21 Looked brilliant at times in his return to the mound last summer. He has a wide range of outcomes with injury risk, number 1 upside, and durability concerns. In a nutshell, plenty of good, plenty of bad.
17. Justin Dunn, RHP | Mets | Age: 21 His loose athletic delivery and live arm saw him rise up draft boards, but the questions remain if he’ll ultimately progress as a starter. His plus fastball and slider mix looks a lot like an elite pen 1-2 punch, Dunn’s future role will be determined by his fringe change or curve developing into an average major league offering.
18. Matt Thaiss, 1B | Angels | Age: 21 Excellent plate discipline, good bat to ball skills, and 20 home run upside make him a safe pick, with a hope for a little more. Handled an assignment to A Ball with ease.
20. Bobby Dalbec, 3B | Red Sox | Age: 21 Had an up and down college career as a power hitting two way player for Arizona. It was all sunshine, rainbows, and homers for Dalbec in proball, as he took the New York-Penn League by storm.
22. Jorge Ona, OF | Padres | Age: 19 He was reportedly rusty as all get out during instructs, but the power upside is evident. Some have dismissed him, he had a year off from competitive baseball, he needs his timing back.
23. Josh Lowe, 3B | Rays | Age: 19 One of the best pure hitters in the 2016 draft prep ranks, and possibly one of the best natural hitters in Tampa’s system. He’s got plus raw power, good approach, but needs to cut down the whiffs.
24. Ian Anderson, RHP | Braves | Age: 18 I don’t see a fantasy stud the way many due. Looks like a very solid option, and a high floor prep arm, I don’t however see front of the rotation upside. More Porcello than Scherzer.
25. Taylor Trammell, OF | Reds | Age: 19 Hit well in the Pioneer league fresh out of the draft, brings as much untapped potential, and upside as any player in the draft. He has some power projection, but the Reds may choose to mold him into a future leadoff hitter with his elite wheels.
26. Lourdes Gurriel, Jr. INF/OF | Blue Jays | Age: 23 There’s split opinions on Gurriel’s upside. Some see a utility infielder, some see a power speed player with strong bloodlines, and multi-position eligibility. My opinion slides from one to the other depending upon the day.
27. Dakota Hudson, RHP | Cardinals | Age: 22 The big college arm from Mississippi State has one of the funkier deliveries you’ll see, which leads to some injury questions. However his stuff, and ability remain unquestioned. Cards just keep taking what the draft gives them, Perez and Hudson are two of the better value picks of the first round.
28. Riley Pint, RHP | Rockies | Age: 19 Is it fair that I doc Pint as much as I do for being a pitcher in Colorado? I’m not sure it is. Had he ended up in a plce like Oakland, San Diego, or even Detroit, he’d be ranked ahead of Puk. Worth the gamble, if you’re willing to accept you’ll never be able to trade him for what he’s worth.
29. Forrest Whitley, RHP | Astros | Age: 19 A huge prep pitcher with good swing and miss stuff, have to trust the Astros will get the most out of his ability. Had some body concerns but has worked hard to firm himself up.
30. Bryan Reynolds, OF | Giants | Age: 22 One of the most decorated college bats in the draft, Reynolds was amongst the best position players on Vanderbilt’s team this past season. He dropped to the second round and the Giants scooped him up. Brings some power and speed to the table, I have some approach questions personally, as we didn’t walk as much in proball, and struckout a lot.
31. Alec Hansen, RHP | White Sox | Age: 22 After receiving 1.1 buzz heading into the 2016 collegiate season, Hansen performed badly, lost tons of his stock and dropped to the second round. Opinions are split, I’m not the highest, and I’m not the lowest. The upside is there in many ways he’s A.J. Puk several picks later.
33. Randy Arrozarena, OF | Cardinals | Age: 23 If I told you I knew exactly what to expect I’d be lying. What I’ve been told to expect is a speed and contact guy, with line drive contact to all fields. I trust the Cardinals scouting department, and player development teams to get the most of Randy Rice.
34. Alex Kirilloff, OF | Twins | Age: 19 Started pro career with a bang in the Appy League winning the league MVP while slashing .306/.341/.454 with 7 homers, and more runs (33) and RBIs (33), than strikeouts (32). Too bad offseason TJ will keep him on the shelf until 2018.
35. Joey Wentz, LHP | Braves | Age: 19 One of the top two way players in the draft, I’ve not soured so much on Wentz, as much as I’ve acknowledged the risk, and fallen in love with a few players ranked behind him in October. Still has the elite stuff, and the hook is as good as any in this draft.
36. Fredius Nova, SS | Astros | Age: 17 Signed for $1.2 million out of the Dominican Republic, receives a lot of Hanley Ramirez comps, but he’s one you’re going to have to wait on. I’m more inclined to wait in league’s with deep minors, and more inclined to draft teenagers after the first 30 picks. Good bat speed, uppercut swing, and failed PED tests. What’s not to like?
37. Mitchell White, RHP | Dodgers | Age: 22 Nice find by J-FOH via Wilson Karaman of Baseball Prospectus. A second rounder with not a lot of buzz, but the scouting reports are golden. Good results in his first 22 pro innings, could move fast.
38. Norge Ruiz, RHP | Athletics | Age: 23 A small right-handed “bulldog” starter out of Cuba, that a few sites ranked as the top arm in the International class. I’m not sure how much of that is proximity over projection, because Ruiz is nearly Major League ready. His arsenal features a plus mid-90’s fastball with late movement, a plus changeup, and above average offerings in the slider, and splitter. He enjoyed a successful three year career in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, posting a 2.55 ERA in nearly 375 innings.
39. Lazaro Armenteros, OF | Athletics | Age: 17 Back to back Cubans on the list, and admittedly they’re both here as a bit of the unknown. Lazarito has a wide range of scouting grades, and opinions are very split within the scouting community. Some say this is a 55-60 grade player in hit tool/power/speed, other’s claim it’s all hype.
40. Chris Okey, C | Reds | Age: 22 What a class in 2016 for the Reds, they have five players on this list. The best catching prospect in this list who in all likelihood will stick at catcher. Solid career at Clemson, showed power in pro debut. More than likely ends up a power hitting catcher who can take a walk.
42. Will Benson, OF | Indians | Age: 18 If you’re playing the upside game Benson should be right in your wheelhouse. Top of the charts bat speed, plus raw power and speed, make him a potential fantasy superstar. Jason Heyward is the popular comp.
43. Cody Sedlock, RHP | Orioles | Age: 21 He features a four pitch arsenal, led by a mid 90’s fastball with sink, two above average breaking pitches in a slider and curve, and an average change that’s still a work in progress.
44. Eric Lauer, LHP | Padres | Age: 21 Polished college lefty with a historic college career at Kent State. A four pitch arsenal and an easy, repeatable, and athletic delivery, make him a likely fast mover through the minors.
45. Jordan Sheffield. RHP | Dodgers | Age: 21 I love this kids college pedigree as a Vandy starter, but I love his arsenal of weapons even more. Mixes one of the top fastball’s in the draft, with a nice breaking ball, and a Mussina style circle change.
46. Nolan Jones, 3B | Indians | Age: 19 Struggled to make contact in his first run through proball, but the raw power and hitting ability are there. Don’t sleep just because of the first impression.
47. Vladimir Gutierrez, RHP | Reds | Age: 20 Highly rated Cuban pitching prospect, heard about the great stuff, have also heard bullpen concerns.
48. D.J. Peters, OF | Dodgers | Age: 21 At 6’6 225 lbs, he’s a athletic specimen in an outfield full of them in Ogden with Mitch Hansen, and Cody Thomas. Peters slashed .351/.437/.615 thats a .263 ISO.
49. T.J. Friedl, OF | Reds | Age: 21 One of the stranger stories to come out of the 2016 draft season, Friedl managed to slide under the radar, as many teams were unaware of his availability to be drafted. Showed well with the USA National team, and signed with the Reds. Speed/contact player with future leadoff hitter written all over him.
51. Luis Almanzar, SS | Padres | Age: 17 Considered by many leading into the July 2nd signing period to be the top player available from the DR. I prefer Nova, but that’s all going off tape, and scouting reports. So the jury is still out.
On The Bubble: Zack Burdi, Kyle Muller, Joe Rizzo, Khalil Lee, Cionel Perez, Victor Garcia, Dane Dunning, Yasel Antuna, Ronnie Dawson, Cole Ragans, Gavin Lux, T.J. Zeuch, Mason Thompson, Akil Baddoo, Carter Kieboom, Jesus Luzardo, Nick Solak, Daulton Jefferies, Kevin Gowdy, Logan Shore, C.J. Chatham, Ben Rortvedt, Brandon Marsh, Sheldon Neuse, Alex Speas, Nonie Williams