It’s my favorite time of the year, the time when I start to research the first taste of pro-ball for all recent draftees, and prepare for the first year player drafts in several of my leagues. Depending upon the league the rules can vary, but by in large, you’re picking players from the recent draft, the July 2nd International class, and the remaining players on the free agent pool. I’m going to be breaking this post into two parts, first the Top 25 today, followed by the next 25 on Sunday. If my math is right I’m ranking 50, but I had to use my hands three times, and my toes twice. Plus I have to double count my fourth toe, because I lost my pinkie toes after starting Kevin Gausman early in the season. So toe math aside, if you’re in a 12 team league with limited minors (5-10 per team), this is the only post you’re going to need. Ya dig? Moving on, I have to say, now that I’m finished with the top 50, and I’ve researched each team’s draft class from top to bottom, this year’s crop is far more interesting that I thought. There’s tons of talented hitters with combinations of power, and speed, high end power arms from all levels of amateur ball with ace upsides, and some talented bats in the middle infield. These rankings are subject to change, but it’s unlikely, as all of these players are done with competitive baseball for the season. Feel free to chime in with players you love, players you think will bust, and the players you hope to see in the next 25. Thanks for reading, and good luck in all your first year player drafts this off-season.
He was the last of the 8 figure international signees, and he offers one of the more intriguing profiles in fantasy. In many ways a classic 5 tool Cuban bat, with power, speed, approach, and some question marks
The top overall pick in the 2017 draft brings 5 tools to the table at a premium position. Between Robert and Lewis the higher floor belongs to the shortstop, but Robert has another level of upside as a potential 30/30 candidate. I can’t see Lewis reaching that height, but he’s not far off. A peak season of .280/25/25 isn’t out of the question.
The third overall pick in the draft might arguably be the better prospect between he and fellow superstar hurler Hunter Greene. A lefty with an arsenal of four above average or better pitches, a prototype frame, and great athleticism that allows him to repeat his off the wall mechanics. Gore dominated rookie ball, and could be one of the more hyped pitching prospects of all time when he finally reaches the bigs. Elite talent.
The most discussed player from last June’s draft, Greene played mostly as a position player in his pro debut, but has pitched more in fall instructs. So far the results haven’t been good. He mixes a fastball that can touch 100, with two breaking balls that look more average to fringe at the moment. Random note: His father is a well known private investigator that does work for A-List Hollywood actors. In other words, Greene’s father is Ray Donovan.
Quite possibly my favorite bat in the 2017 draft, Adell came into pro ball with lots of hit tool question marks, but quickly silenced critics with sub 25% k rates and solid walk rates across two levels of rookie ball.
Ranking 85th in my midseason top 100, Hiura has been solid through his first half a season of pro-ball. He’s just returned to the field recently, playing 3 games at second at the end of the season, and has done the same in fall instructs. If you’re unaware of Hiura’s elbow injury do some googling. Hiura was one of the best college bats from the 2017 draft, pairing excellent contact, with plus approach, and above average power. If he can tap into more of his raw power, then Hiura has a chance to be a stud fantasy player. If he doesn’t he’ll be similar to later career Dustin Pedoria with a little more pop.
No player from this June’s draft has done more to raise their prospect profile than Ramos. At just 17 years old, Ramos had a dominant showing in Arizona vs older competition. The 19th overall pick generates plus power from his elite bat speed, and pairs it plus speed. Despite the great numbers, Ramos has a ways to go still at the plate, he strikes out too much (31.8%), and was very lucky on balls in play (.500 BABIP). Regardless this is a supremely talented player.
Though he was ranked behind players like Pavin Smith and Brendan McKay heading into this June’s draft, Rooker has had arguably the most impressive showing of any player entering pro-ball in 2017. After just 22 games at rookie level Elizabethton Rooker earned promotion to high A Fort Myers of the Florida State League. From there he hit 11 homers in 40 games and slugging .552 splitting time between first and the outfield. There’s 40 homer pop potential in Rooker’s bat.
Didn’t pitch a ton after a long college season, but many thought Wright was the best college player in the draft. He has a plus fastball that sits 92-95, with sink, touching 97 when he needs it. His secondaries are led by his plus curveball with nice two plane movement, and an average slider. He should move quick, but in a stocked Braves system just how quickly he ascends is hard to peg. Looks like a sure fire number three with the upside of a number two starter
It’s not often that a first base only prep player goes in the first round, let alone the first 15 picks in the draft, but that’s the case with the Royals Nick Pratto. He ranked 184 on my mid-season top 200, and 12th overall in my pre-draft prospect rankings. The former California prep star has loose wrists, all fields power, and feel to hit. For this reason he gets loads of Joey Votto comps. I’m sure to be a bit higher than most on Pratto, but he may have the highest upside on this list. He’s still three plus years away, so he’s not the right fit for every league, but you should be aggressive in going after Pratto in first year player drafts of deeper dynasty formats.
I guess you might say I sweat the Brewers style, and I prolly do. But they just keep trading for, drafting, and developing talented players. Lutz is the next in a long line. A complete hitter with plus contact skills and power, Lutz looks like a prototypical middle of the order hitting corner outfielder.
One of the better athletes, if not the best high school athlete in the draft, Thompson offers potential 5 category upside. A 60 grade runner, Thompson’s loose right handed swing shows potential for more power, and consistent contact.
Insane bat speed, raw power, and a plus runner, Beck is one of the more toolsy players in the draft class. Unfortunately he’s also one of the most raw, and he struggled at times in rookie ball. The tools are all there, but he’s going to need time.
Good all-around college shortstop that knows how to hit. Swing is more geared for line-drive contact, but Warmoth made improvements to his game power year over year at North Carolina. So it stands to reason he could tap into more. Should move quickly, could be up in Toronto by mid-2019.
Another good all around hitter from an ACC school, much like Warmoth, Haseley could be a fast mover seeing the majors by 2019 if all goes well. Reminds me of Jacoby Ellsbury, brings speed, contact, and gap to gap power.
The Tigers rested Faedo after he threw 123.2 innings as the ace of the Florida team that won the national championship. After starting slow in the spring as he recovered from off-season knee surgery, Faedo began to regain the giddy up on his fastball. By the end of the season Faedo was working 92-94, and touching 98 on occasion. His fastball has great action and movement, making it tough to barrel up. Which is why the returned velocity is such a boost to his value. He throws an excellent slider, that gives him a true out pitch. From time to time he mixes in an average change.
17. Chris Seise, SS Rangers | Level: Rk | 2017 Stats: .284/.330/.400, 3 HR, 36 RBI, 6 SB
What a draft Texas had with 3 prospects in my Top 25. While Seise doesn’t have the upside of Thompson or Crouse, he’s still a high end offensive talent in the middle infield. The shortstop dominated in Arizona before struggling upon promotion to the Northwest League, but still managed to end strong there, and showed the ability to adjust. Contact, developing power, and some speed.
Let’s just get this out in the open, I’m a little nervous about Smith’s power translating to pro-ball. While Smith’s production wasn’t bad, and he did manage to connect for his first homer in a playoff game a couple weeks ago, 3-4 homers in the statline would have gone a long ways. The contact and approach are outstanding, let’s hope he can snap out of the power drought and tap into 20-25 homer power. Some view Smith as the replacement for Goldy in Arizona, but a move to a corner outfield spot would not surprise me.
I have a feeling I’m going to own a lot of Crouse and Pearson coming out of first year player drafts. Crouse’s combination of deception, a plus-plus high 90’s fastball, and a nasty breaking ball, keeps hitters off balance. Hence the .109 batting average against in his pro debut. An ultra fiery, and competitive personality, Crouse might excel in a relief role at the MLB level in the next few years, despite his age.
The righty who dominated at Central Florida this year, combines a massive starters build at 6’6 245, with a plus-plus fastball that sits 97-99, while at times touching triple digits. He mixes in three secondaries that all flash plus, which contradicts lots of reports coming into the draft questioned the quality of his slider, curve, and changeup. However, since turning pro, all three have been lauded in recent reports. Has front end ceiling, but bullpen ace floor.
I could have easily flip-flopped White and Smith in these ranks, and there’s probably a case that could be made for each inside the top 15. White only played in 14 games for Everett of the Northwest League, but he did a ton of damage, slugging .532 with 12 RBI. The question that surrounded White in the spring was his ability to hit for power. But he answered those questions by slugging .637, and doubling his homer total at Kentucky, before flashing nice power in his pro debut. In my opinion the most likely on this list to jump 10 spots.
McKay ranks numero uno on the MLB.com top 10 positional ranks for first base. So he has his fans as a positional talent. I on the other hand have completely flipped from where I was in May, and prefer McKay as a left handed starting pitcher, and the numbers back it up. That said, McKay, if he focused on hitting full time, could be a very solid power prospect I just don’t buy that he’s ever going to pursue that route full time. On the off chance he does I have ranked him here.
23. J.B. Bukaukas, RHP Astros | Level: Rk | 2017 Stats: 0-0, 10 IP, 2.70 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 9 K, 5 Bb
Excellent fastball/slider combo, with many labeling Bukauskus’ slider as the best breaking ball in the draft. Not very big at 6 feet, 190 LBS, so he gets comped to other short starters with good collegiate track records like Sonny Gray and Carson Fulmer. There’s high end upside here, but some pen risk questions too.
Might be one of my favorite prospects in the draft, named after Derek Jeter, Downs is a great all around hitter with advanced approach, raw power, and speed. Could have been ranked as high as 12 on this list, but I don’t think you’ll need to reach that high to get him. The Reds have been striking gold in the draft of late, and there’s reason to think that’s stopped with Greene, Downs, and Stuart Fairchild at the top of their crop.
Made my Top 10 3rd base prospects list at 12. I know that doesn’t make sense. I’m enamored with Vilade’s mix of power, contact, approach, and athleticism. Technically Vilade is a shortstop, but he’s expected to move off the position, and his bat looks like it will play anywhere. Already showing the ability to make hard contact, best exemplified by his elite 26% LD%, Vilade has power to all fields. The whispers are that Vilade could see a full season assignment out of camp next year, making Vilade one of the more unheralded talents of the current draft class.