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.

  1. Lefty Stubbs says:
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    No Jonathan India?!

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      Just missed!

  2. Ante Galic says:
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    Grey!!!

    Great spec report / FYPD report!

    a. You mention something about Yusei’s Polish. That’s funny, ’cause I thought he was Japanese! Care to elaborate? Maybe his mum is Polish, ah ok! I get it now and then he inherited some of that Polish from his mum. Ok, no need to ‘mansplain it. Same thing with Mize, though he could very well be of Polish descent so there’s that.

    b. So, Kikuchi could be a steal this year in RCL redrafts, right? Mike? You there?

    c. Happy 248th birthday to Ludwig von Beethoven, aka my favorite composer of all time! I’m going to his B-day celebration in Bonn on Dec. 16, 2020 – his 250th B-day if he were still alive (he is still alive in my heart).

    d. Little-known factoid about Chad for December 16

    Chad is divided up into 4 climactic regions.

    1. The northernmost Saharan region which gets less than 8 inches of rain per year! Mostly livestock but in some places you can only travel by camel or by foot. It’s a region the size of France.

    2. The central Sahelian region receives between 8 and 24 inches of rain per year, so still super dry. Some vegetation but not a hell of a lot.

    3. The southern zone receives from 24 to 40 inches of rainfall per year so again not much. There is more vegetation. Its also called the Sudan zone, no idea why.

    4. Lastly, the Guinea zone. It gets from 40 to 47 inches of rainfall per year.

    Chad is 3 times the size of California with a population of 15.5 million with a density of 32 people per square mile.

    Chad’s median age is 16.2 (Compare that with USA 38.1, Switzerland 42.4, the EU 42.9 and the World 30.4).

    Cheers,
    Ante

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      a. ha!
      b. maybe? he’ll get a lot of attention though
      c. nice!
      d. that age thing is crazy

      • Ante Galic says:
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        @Mike: Mike!!

        So sorry, Freudian slip!

        Have a good night, man!

        Cheers,
        Ante

        • Mike

          Mike says:
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          You too!

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      D. 4. The future is Chad!

  3. Jason says:
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    Not very high on India I see. Can you give your reason why?

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      Just missed! If I don’t need pitching, I take him before Mize and Yusei easy. Otherwise, I think Bohm and Beer have more power and in turn more fantasy upside. India is more of a high floor, lower ceiling type IMO. Could just as easily rank 5th or 6th if floor was the determining factor.

  4. Barkdog says:
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    Ralph does not agree. He had India #3 on podcast from September.

    Ralph, let’s hear your current top 10.

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      You’ll probably have more luck getting in touch with him on his posts. I don’t think he reads mine ;)

  5. Harley Earl says:
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    I agree with most of your assessment here, but I think you got four of the top five right and I might flip Madrigal and Mize. Just because you don’t like pitching doesn’t mean a guy shouldn’t be top five. That’s not a good reason to trash the #1 pick in the draft.

    Also, I watched Madrigal pretty closely last year, especially in the NCAA Tournament and in the College World Series. He was often over-matched by the better starting pitchers in the postseason. He has no power and I don’t see where the sudden upside in power you believe to be possible from a 5-foot-7 and 165 frame is going to come from.

    Of course, Altuve is tiny too, so anything is possible. It just seems to me that Altuve is anything but the norm. I’d expect Madrigal to be closer to the norm as far as his power goes. FYIU, Madrigal did not hit a single HR in his pro debut that consisted of 155 at-bats. At Oregon State, he hit one HR his senior season and 8 HRs total over three years. So just where is this power coming from? I don’t buy your optimism at all. Maybe he grows into 8-10 HR hitter? Yippee.

    Madgrigal does have a little bit of speed, so if he can hit and get on base, he’ll swipe some bags and score some runs. I just don’t see him adding any value to the HR or RBI categories. He’s a lead-off or No. 2 hitter at best, and a No. 8 or No. 9 hitter at worst.

    Sorry but I completely disagree with that ranking. Maybe Nick will prove me wrong and prove you right in the coming years.

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      You really know your stuff! Fair enough on Madrigal. I think I was fair with Mize (tinstaapp and all that jazz). Have a good week!

      • Harley Earl says:
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        @Mike: Honestly, you probably know more than I do. My assessment may be completely wrong. It’s just what I’ve seen from him so far.

        I started studying Madrigal during the college baseball season last year when he was named among the top prospects. I’ve been looking for a top tier 2B so I was interested in what he had to offer. Last year, I drafted Keston Hiura and Garrett Hampson to fill that role for my future, but in case either failed, I needed to look at others so I looked at Madrigal pretty hard. What I found was Madrigal didn’t really impress me, not like Hampson did and definitely not like Hiura did. I also found three guys in the Rays system that I liked a lot better in Lowe, Solak and Brujan. Scouts rave about Madrigal’s hit tool so I can’t argue with that. They know a heck of a lot more than me. And I’m sure his speed will play too. I just feel like there are better options out there for dynasty 2B than him at this time.

        Look at it this way, if Madrigal breaks out, you can bust my balls next summer! In the meantime, keep up the good work!

        • Mike

          Mike says:
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          ha! deal…thanks man!

  6. Thorbs says:
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    Mike, nice writeup! This year feels like a bit of a dart-toss with regards to getting a real impact player, with guys either being a few years away or more high-floor, OK-ceiling prospects.

    Asked you a week ago about my 12-team dynasty league, where a manager offered Cookie/Tatis for my Kris Bryant. The owner has since pulled back on Tatis, offering Cookie/Trammell/5th overall pick for Bryant. I don’t need an OF prospect but am actually leaning towards it, as Robles and Stewart will likely spend most of the year in the bigs and I’ve got a decent MI core already.

    My tentative keeper roster is below…I’d be swapping Bryant for Cookie, but then planning on plugging Robles into my UTIL slot and Camargo into my CI. I’d want to draft Madrigal/Bart/Mize at that spot ideally.

    Pull the trigger?

    1B/3B/CI: Votto/Arenado/Bryant
    2B/SS/MI: J-Ram/Story/Polanco
    LF/CF/RF/OF/OF: Yelich/Trout/Betts/Ozuna/Inciarte
    UTIL: Odor/Camargo
    SP: Verlander/Kluber/Tanaka/Maeda/Ryu/D-Rod/Lucchesi
    Minors: Robles/Pache/Varsho/Mountcastle/Stewart/Nolan Jones/Duplantier/Marsh

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      If I remember right you need pitching so I’d take Cookie.

  7. Chris D says:
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    Am I crazy to be considering drafting Adley Rutschman, in our draft in March (we combine 2018 draft guys and our free agent pool, but we can really draft just about anyone who isn’t on a fantasy team)? Wouldn’t take him until a like the 4-5th rd, but would love to lock him up and hopefully have my catcher of the future.

    We have a competitive league for prospects, so this would be getting a head start of the competition.

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      Not crazy. If you are getting somebody you love in the 4th/5th round that’s great!

  8. Al Snow says:
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    Larnach reminds me alot of Conforto. Seems like a lazy comp considering the Oregon State ties, but the lefty stroke is very similar. Quiet hands, short to the ball, gap to gap approach with good plate discipline. Conforto might have more pop but i think Larnach’s ability to get his pitch will add some HR potential. Great post man!

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      Thanks! Yeah I like that comp.

  9. Wayne Mason says:
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    Hi Mike,
    I’m in a UK Fantasy Baseball league. The player salaries are scaled down and we have 12,000 to draft our twenty-one player teams with. To balance the salary spends drafting a few low-earning players is essential. Salary ranges from a high of around 1,300 to 10 for a rookie. Salary levels adjust on a weekly basis in relation to the game stats of the previous week, so are usually becoming more. It’s generally a mix of big names and rookies to stretch out the salary.
    I’ve been interested in the rookies for each MLB team but I missed most of the teams you highlighted; I think it was Miami and Minnesota I saw last. How can I view these details of other MLB teams and their 2019 rookies or do you have a suggestion list of names I should look for?

      • Wayne Mason says:
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        @Mike:
        Thanks, Mike.
        It is a great league, definitely my favourite.
        Take a look. Overseas players are allowed now, https://new.fantasybaseball.uk/
        Have a read and see what you think. First two teams are free, either in Limited Trade League, $5M League, or any of the MLB franchised teams’ leagues.
        Any extra teams each cost £4.99.
        There are prizes to aim for, too. Last season I only won MOTM for August, a small figurine of Paul Goldschmidt (the team was in the AZ Diamondback league) but there are prizes for first in each MLB team league, a baseball with the team logo on it, the overall winner gets a baseball bat which is engraved, as do the winners of the Limited Trade league and the $5M league.

        • Mike

          Mike says:
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          That is really cool. I will definitely check it out!

  10. AllThePrettyStantons says:
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    Hi Mike, good stuff again.

    looking for some help with some keepers in my extremely deep dynasty league. We don’t have to declare keepers until March, and obviously regarding the relievers there are some jobs still TBD, but I’d still appreciate any general direction you can give me. for instance, I’m compelled to keep position players, plus I don’t want to keep a reliever (even though we start 5) only to have him be worthless next year. and SP is valuable and hard to come by. Maybe I could move a guy for SP? I’m in win now mode but still have a young squad with bright future.

    Here is what the bottom of my roster looks like, you can rank them however you’d like, trade recommendations always encouraged, Any and all thoughts are greatly appreciated in advance.

    there’s roughly 5 available slots for the following : Yordan Alvarez, Nick Williams, Addison Russell (I’ll keep him but tempted to trade), Jake Bauers, Jeffress, Ottavino, Will Smith, Buttrey, Jesse Chavez, Rooker, R. Guzman, Kennedy, Pannone.

    Thank you!

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      Thanks! You’ve got saves potential in Buttrey and Ottavino so I’d keep them. I’d stick with Russell, Bauers, and Williams as well.

  11. AllThePrettyStantons says:
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    awesome, thanks. I like your “now value” perspective. I seem prone to keep someone like Alvarez over any RP, but i like being able to plug 2 RP right into my opening day roster alongside Giles and Chapman. And I can use the draft to take another lotto ticket prospect (only get 4 picks), hopefully a startable SP, and I can easily fill out the 5th RP slot on the wire.

    Thanks and keep up the great content.

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      No problem!

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