The first year player draft is an annual event for dynasty leagues, especially the really deep ones where everybody and their brother is already owned. They consist of players from the previous season’s draft and any international signings. These rankings will sometimes include MLB-ready prospects from abroad, and they’ll be relevant in standard redraft leagues. I’m spending a little extra time with the top ten, and next week the rest of the top 50 will roll out. That should get you through at least the first few rounds of a first year player draft. I’ve played in some really deep dynasty leagues and the approach changes dramatically depending on your competitive window, your draft position, and how many picks you have (some people collect FYPD picks like an 80’s kid collects Pogs). These rankings don’t take any of that into account and instead occur in a vacuum. I tend to value hitters over pitchers, hit tools over every other tool, and up-the-middle defenders over other positions. Also, these rankings consider 2018 performances in addition to the players’ scouting grades (some fared better than others in their first go at pro ball).
1. Nolan Gorman, 3B | ETA: 2022
Gorman went crazytown in 2018, hitting .291 with 17 homers in just 230 plate appearances. He’s the perfect combo of hitting and hitting for power, and I don’t think many fantasy lists will put him outside the top three among first year players. If there was a blemish on 2018, it was his 28% strikeout rate. Defensively, he should be able to stick at third. He’ll take a bit longer to develop than some of the others on this list, but I think he has the most potential to impact every offensive category outside of steals.
2. Nick Madrigal, 2B/SS | ETA: 2020
I’d take Madrigal this high because of his pure hitting ability and relative proximity to the majors. Those two factors make him one of the “safer” players to draft. I also believe there could be some power that develops over time, which will only add to his fantasy value as he matures. Madrigal hit a cool .303 in 2018 with a minuscule 3% strikeout rate.
3. Jarred Kelenic, OF | ETA: 2022
The Mets took Kelenic 6th overall last summer but moved him to the Mariners in the recent Edwin Diaz trade. He does everything well, with his hit tool standing out the most. In his first year of pro ball Kelenic hit .286 with six homers and a solid 11% walk rate. Like Gorman, he’ll take a bit longer to progress to the majors, but this is a smart investment.
4. Trevor Larnach, OF | ETA: 2021
Larnach is another solid bat, but he lacks in the speed department. This will put a damper on his impact potential in steals and most likely limits him to left field down the road. He hit five homers in 2018 and demonstrated an advanced approach by posting a 12% walk rate compared to a 16% strikeout rate.
5. Victor Victor Mesa, OF | ETA: 2019
Rounding out the top five we have our first signee with the chance to impact 2019 leagues. I’m not sold that Mesa is as good a fantasy player as he is a real-life one (he’s a plus defender), but you can’t ignore the opportunity he’ll likely get with a rebuilding Marlins club. I don’t see him getting to double-digit homers, but he could impact runs and steals with a decent average.
6. Alec Bohm, 3B | ETA: 2021
Bohm didn’t have as much success in his pro debut as the others on this list (.252 with no homers), but his tools and upside are good enough to draft in the top ten. He’s above average in both hitting and hitting for power, and his bat should play in fantasy whether he sticks at third or moves across the diamond. The upside is a 20+ homer hitter with a good average and counting stats. The only hole is his speed. He won’t contribute anything in steals unless they start allowing players to use jet packs.
7. Seth Beer, 1B/OF | ETA: 2021
Beer is tough to rank. On one hand, he lacks any defensive upside and he’ll likely land in left field or at first base. Even there he might be a liability. On the other hand (assuming you have two) he’s a great hitter and his bat could easily carry him all the way. In 2018, he hit .304/.389/.496 with 12 homers in just under 300 plate appearances. He reminds me a bit of another Astros prospect, A.J. Reed.
8. Joey Bart, C | ETA: 2021
The Giants thought highly enough of Bart to draft him second overall, but we’re less enthusiastic about catchers in fantasy. Still, he’s an above-average hitter and had a great debut – hitting .294 with 13 home runs in 230 plate appearances. He’ll likely stick at catcher, a position that typically takes a bit longer to develop.
9. Casey Mize, RHP | ETA: 2020
Mize was the first overall pick in the draft. When you combine his talent with his polish, it shouldn’t be a long wait before he’s pitching in Detroit. I don’t usually recommend investing in pitching prospects, but if you’re going to take one I’d go with Mize. It’s a high upside profile with a relatively high floor.
10. Yusei Kikuchi, RHP| ETA: 2019
Kikuchi hasn’t signed as of this writing, but where he lands won’t move the needle that much for his value. He’s been linked to a bunch of west coast teams, which would in fact only help things. I don’t think he has the upside of Mize, but he’ll slide right into a rotation as a third/fourth starter. His fastball/slider combo should get him about a strikeout per inning, and you don’t have to sweat his polish since he’s already had pro experience in Japan. Another safe pick and one you’ll want to reach for if your window is open now.