I’m going to keep this brief, because it’s more or less an intro in the middle of a post. Or maybe it’s because I’m lazy. Or maybe the W is ruined on my computer? Then again you saw that perfectly healthy W, so that’s not going to work as an excuse. But I’m too lazy to come up with another. Blah, blah, blah, stuff, stuff, oh yeah! I released the Top 25 First Year Player Draft Rankings on Wednesday, because I wanted to take your work week bathroom reading to the next level. Can’t have a newcomer just show up and steal the show. Not that there’s a new comer, but Lance has been known to steal the show. That’s if by “the show” you mean “my pants” (heart eyes emoji). But in all seriousness, Lance stole my pants. Okay, I’m done with the buffoonery I pinkie swear! Below is the next 25 players on my big board for first year player drafts. Keep in mind, every league’s scoring can be slightly different, so adjust accordingly, and use my words to guide you. I’m Prospect Mufasa. Onto picks 26-50!
The top player in the July 2nd class signed with the Rays for just under $4 million, and like many hyped J2 talents is tough to gauge value on at this stage. On one hand he’s a consensus top international player with some nice tools. He hits well from both sides of the plate, makes contact, runs, shows strike zone awareness, and flashes power in batting practice. On the other hand he’s 16 years old, 5 years away, and there’s no guarantee he’s truly an elite talent. He does possesses MLB genes, Erick Aybar is his uncle, I know, don’t get TOO excited. You can get excited however about his elite bat speed, quick hands, and roman fingers. (I have not confirmed if he’s ever used the “David Cop-A-Feel” bit.) The ceiling looks like a switch-hitting middle infielder with power from both sides. I’ve seen comparisons to Rougned Odor, Gleyber Torres, and Andy from the Office, but something about that last one seems off.
One of my favorites players in the draft, it’s only Vientos age that really suppresses his value for me. He’s not the type of player you’d hold in a shallower 12-14 team league with 120-140 prospects owned at this point. For that setup his ETA is too far out. In deeper leagues where you have the ability to hold onto a lottery ticket type for three plus years, Vientos is a great pick. The youngest player in the top ten rounds of the draft, Vientos pairs contact, approach, and flashes of future plus power. His projectable 6’4 frame, and lack of foot speed point to a future at third, even if he’s playing short now. Struggled in his initial taste of pro-ball, but came on in August hitting over .300, and slugging .467. He’s three to four years away, but Vientos has fantasy star upside.
2017 is a tough draft class to rank for fantasy. Why? Because there’s so many tempting high school arms. Wow, some of the sentences I use, just sound incredibly creepy. As for Baz he’s a fire-balling Texan with a varied stable of offerings. His fastball is a plus pitch featuring a velocity range between 91-98, with two plane movement. It’s a pitch he really has feel for, which is why the variance is so great with the pitch’s velocity. Baz’s pitchability and feel are truly impressive for prep player. His ability to take something off, and reshape his pitches gives him two distinctive plus offerings in his high 80’s cutter and low-mid 80’s slider. He also features an average curveball, and a work in progress change that shows encouraging run. I’d ignore the rookie ball numbers, Baz’s talent is in good hands in the Pirates organization.
Kendall was the best athlete in the 2017 draft, with a enticing power/speed combo, and a big time college resume. What he lacks is plate discipline, and the type of contact ability you’d like to see from a well known college star. Enter the Dodgers and their lengthy track record of player development. He destroyed rookie ball for 5 games before making his full season ball debut with Great Lakes of the Midwest League. Kendall showed some of the enticing power and speed ability, but more often than not was frustrating. The biggest red flag outside his 27% K rate was his success rate on steals. He was caught 8 out of 13 times in A ball! That’s terrible for a first round college player known for his speed. It was totally out of character based on Kendall’s collegiate track record, he was only caught 16 times in 83 attempts at Vanderbilt. Hopefully this was a blip after a long season, and an aggressive assignment, but there has to be some concern. Ranked this late, because someone else might be drafting him.
The 11th overall pick in this year’s draft was one of the more established college hitters from the 2017 class. He’s a bad bodied third baseman, unlikely to stick at the hot corner due to issues with his throwing accuracy. Meaning his future lies across the diamond at first base where his bat will really have to play. He hit for some power in his professional debut, handling an aggressive assignment to Kannapolis of the Sally League after 4 rookie ball games. The reports from evaluators who scouted him in instructs raved about his loud contact and advanced hitting ability. The White Sox have him working on tapping into more of his raw power, as he spent time working on his swing in the Fall.
If not for off the field concerns, Romero has the sort of talent that might have seen him go within the draft’s first 10 picks. The Nationals held true to form, taking a high risk/high reward arm at a discounted price. The team has a long history of doing this, and hitting, with players like Lucas Giolito, Erick Fedde, among others. Romero’s issues are less physical and more behavioral, with a multitude of rumors swirling regarding what exactly the incident was that got him permanently banished from the University of Houston baseball team. Though it sounds like a failed drug test for the Devil’s lettuce, and a picture of Romero in his Houston Cougars uni manning the bong (sorry Head Shop Clerk “Waaaaatttter Pipe”) were the reasons. As for the talent, his ability is undeniable. A big-bodied lefty with top of the scale stuff. His fastball sits mid-90’s with serious movement, and he commands it well for such a nasty pitch. Romero pairs it nicely with his plus mid-80’s slider, that features hard, sharp break, and gives him a true wipeout weapon. He also works in a changeup, that has improved significantly since his freshman year, and at times flashes plus. The lefty has a chance to jump into the top 10 players in this draft should he mature off the field, and improve his conditioning.
The son of former Phillies outfielder Gary Varsho, the 2nd round supplemental pick is named after his father’s former teammate Darren Daulton. Sort of poetic justice I guess that he’s a catcher, or perhaps it’s some other film starring Tupac. As a player he brings 20 homer power, contact, on base ability, and great base-running for a catcher. He has a shot to stick in a multitude of defensive roles if catching doesn’t pan out, and the bat should play everywhere. Varsho could easily be a top 3 fantasy catcher prospect this time next year if he sticks at the position.
33. D.L. Hall, LHP Orioles | Level: Rk | 2017 Stats: 0-0, 10.1 IP, 6.97 ERA, 1.94 WHIP, 12 K, 10 Bb
I’m going to be honest, I’d like Hall a lot more if he was drafted by pretty much any team other than Baltimore. Sorry O’s fans, but your mans and them got a history. That said, Hall is a great talent, mixing a fastball that sits 92-95, touching 97 when he needs it, with a plus curveball, and a changeup that flashes plus. Frontline starter potential, but he has command/control issues, and some pen risk. Maybe this is silly, but he throws like a lefty Sonny Gray.
Coming out of the New Mexico prep ranks, Rogers did not pitch in rookie ball after being selected by the Marlins 13th overall. I’m guessing with their recent history in regard to high school arms, drafted high in the first round, they decided to take it easy. The team insists that Rogers is healthy, and that he certainly would have pitched in instructional ball, if not for Hurricane Irma forcing the Marlins to cancel their fall sessions. Rogers has very intriguing stuff, and a projectable 6’6 185 lbs frame. His fastball sits low-mid 90’s, but really plays up due to how well he controls it. His best secondary pitch is his slider, showing 10-4 shape at it’s best. He also features an average changeup, and average curevball. We’ll get our first look at Rogers next spring.
The switch-hitting outfielder from the Braves backyard, he’s a classic Atlanta draft choice. Waters combines plus bat speed, a patient approach, and plus speed. His swing is equally solid from both sides of the plate, pointing to his elite athleticism. Waters has a ton of upside for fantasy as a potential five category asset, but there were some issues with strikeouts at advanced rookie ball.
He’s not hurt yet! That’s the best news I can give any Mets fan about a pitcher, or person with body parts, affiliated with their team. The Oregon ace went to the Mets in the first round, he brings to the table a polished, close to the majors, mid-rotation profile. His four pitch arsenal is comprised of a low 90’s fastball, a nasty slider that haunts lefties over and over again, a changeup that flashes plus, and a fringe curveball. His command is plus and his control is tremendous. Should limit walks, and miss enough bats to be a fantasy relevant starter in 12 team leagues at peak, if he reaches his ceiling. Well, at least before his first TJ.
You know, Fairchild might be every bit the power and speed equal of the higher rated Jeren Kendall. Fairchild’s plus bat speed, plus wheels, and above average hit tool give him some nice offensive upside. He had a strong showing in rookie ball, though that should be expected of a 21 year old college bat. He does have the profile of a potential breakout in 2018, good all around player with 20/30 upside at peak.
38. Greg Deichman, OF Athletics | Level: A- | 2017 Stats: .274/.385/.530, 8 HR, 30 RBI, 4 SB
Deichman just mashes! A teammate of Alex Lange at LSU, Deichman slugged .579 his junior season, connecting for 19 homers. He continued to hit for power in his pro debut, smacking 8 homers in 46 games in the New York Penn League. Deichman has been a prolific power hitter since his high school days, leading the state of Louisiana in homers three times before starring at LSU. Plus bat speed, strength, and an improving all-fields approach, there’s a lot to like here.
A quick lefty swing, keen eye, and 70 grade speed, make Miller a potential top of the order type. Miller’s never going to hit 20 dongs, even with juiced balls, but his ceiling might be a .300 hitter with a near .400 OBP, and 30+ steals. He has very real base-stealing ability, and might not be far from the majors.
The White Sox scooped a nice pair of power bats in the first two rounds, taking Jake Burger in the first and Sheets in the second. Stuart Fairchild’s teammate at Wake Forest, Sheets is the classic big-bodied lefty power hitting first baseman. He’s got a pretty swing, with big pop in the bat when he connects. There’s some questions about his bat speed, but he’s done a good job of making improvements each year in college. Had a very solid pro debut, playing most of his games, like Burger, with the team’s Sally league affiliate.
The 30th overall pick is coming off a storied career at LSU that saw him go 30-9 with a 2.91 ERA, and 406 ks in 53 college starts. He was an all-american as a Freshman, and spun a gem against top ranked Oregon State in this year’s College World Series. Lange spins a plus plus curveball, and mixes it with a low-mid 90’s heater, and developing change. Should be a solid mid-rotation arm at peak.
The 71st overall pick is a middle infielder with plus hitting ability, and a line drive, contact first approach. That’s not to say he doesn’t have power, he does, it’s mostly driven from high quality contact. He’s a barrel machine, making easy contact from his simple righty swing. Not the most exciting player from a power or speed standpoint, but he has Michael Young type upside. Not a bad value pick once the top names are off the board, I might be higher on him than most other fantasy prospectors.
A 13th round pick out of Rice, Gray had one of the louder pro debuts, hitting the cover off the ball, and showing advanced approach. He’s got a nice lefty swing, and started to get to his power his junior year at Rice.
One of the best outfield talents of the J2 class, Valera has big raw power, a plus hit tool, and advanced approach. If you’re a fan of Juan Soto, you’re going to love Valera. As he flashed similar potential in the Dominican Prospect Leagues this year.
A Canadian prep standout, Hall is an excellent hitter with a clean swing, and upside at the plate. He has the defensive chops to stick at short, making him a nice pick for shortstop hounds, looking for value in first year player drafts outside the first round. He has lightening bat speed, quick hands, and plus athleticism that will allow him to adjust at every level.
A mid-90’s fastball that touched 97 at times during his one season at the State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota (that’s a mouthful). He works mostly off his fastball and an above average 12-6 curve, he incorporates a changeup too, but it’s still fringe. Scouts report that Little’s fastball is inconsistent with control, and velocity, which might be the culprit for his rough first go through proball. Granted it was a very small sample, to come to any sweeping conclusions. Even giving Little the benefit of the doubt, there’s a fair amount of risk for a first round college lefty.
I covered Velazquez in my 2018 Dynasty Sleeper post a few weeks back.
48. Everson Pereria, OF Yankees | Level: N/A | 2017 Stats: Did Not Play
A plus runner with a projectable frame, gap to gap power, and a whippy right handed swing. Another far off underage talent, how much do we really know? The Yankees know the most, they paid $1.5 million for his signature.
A potential 5 category contributor at peak, Brannen is an athletic speedster from Georgia high school Westfield School. He has 70 grade wheels, a quick lefty swing, and some raw power that points to a high teen to 20 homer upside. Another exciting Red Sox outfield prospect.
He’s got funky mechanics, only one true above average pitch, and the Red Sox don’t have the best track record when it comes to developing pitching. That said, Houck’s one true above average pitch is a double plus sinking fastball that touched 98 with regularity. His slider, and changeup still need refinement, but at worst Houck could iron out a career as a reliever. Still has front of the rotation upside, but I wouldn’t be tripping over myself to own him. I’d take Alex Scherff a round later.
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