The recent tanking of a number of National League teams to build their farm system has been an exercise in patience for their fans. The result is a glut of near MLB-ready players who should finally get their chance this year. Not everyone will work out and handicapping the success is a dicey exercise, but it’s what I’ve chosen to do. Yeah, apparently meteorology school was filled.
Enjoy the list as there are some fantastic names that should provide impact to your fantasy teams.
Ronald Acuna (ATL, OF) – Our number one prospect continues to rise on draft boards. It will now cost you a seventh-round pick in a 15-team league. Is it worth it? We will clearly know the answer to that in September, but the risk associated with such a high pick for a kid who will likely start the year in the minors is indeed high. What I am becoming convinced, is once he’s promoted, he could be scary good. But when??? I’m going to guess, by May 1st
Projected Line: 475 AB, 12 HR, 22 SB, .280 BA
Ryan McMahon (COL, 1B) – When asked back in November who this year’s Cody Bellinger would be, I suggested Ryan McMahon. He’s ready and has nothing left to prove in the minor leagues. If Acuna stumbles at all, McMahon has an excellent chance to be the NL Rookie of the Year. Of course, the signing of Cargo could be a fly in my plan. If he’s demoted to start the season, it will indeed be maddening.
Projected Line: 550 AB, 30 HR, 2 SB, .265 BA
Lewis Brinson (MIA, OF) – Sometimes you question players that get traded three times before the age of 25, but I’ve been all-in on Lewis Brinson since his professional debut with the Rangers in 2012. He’s tooled up for sure, but also expands the strike zone. But, if he can post a high-BABIP, he could hit .260 and that might be all it takes for him to get over the hump.
Projected Line: 550 AB, 22 HR, 18 SB, .245 BA
Colin Moran (PIT, 3B) – While the return of Gerrit Cole was widely panned, I actually liked it. I’m a big Joe Musgrove fan and once Colin Moran added leverage to his swing, he made my Top 100 list. He can hit and with his new found power, has a chance to be an impact performer. He’s my sleeper for ROY.
Projected Line: 550 AB, 22 HR, 80 RBI, .290 BA
Brian Anderson (MIA, 3B) – There will be a ton of opportunity in South Florida this year and Brian Anderson should be able to take advantage. He has plus power and should control the strike zone well enough to post a nice stat line for owners. I’d be taking a flyer on him late in my drafts.
Projected Line: 550 AB, 26 HR, 85 RBI, .250 BA
Tyler Mahle (CIN, RHP) – Tyler Mahle doesn’t have top of the rotation stuff but instead sits 92-94 MPH with excellent control. More importantly, he knows how to pitch and that combined with 25 plus starts, gives him a chance to post a nice stat line for his owners.
Projected Line: 160 IP, 140 K’s, 11 wins, 3.90 ERA
Walker Buehler (LAD, RHP) – As we stand today, Walker Buehler starts the year in the minors. But, Dodgers starters never stay healthy and assuming Buehler does, he should get 20 to 25 starts in the big leagues. He’s got big-time stuff with good mechanics and should be able to provide better than league-average stats for the year.
Projected Line: 130 IP, 130 K’s, 10 wins, 3.75 ERA
Brandon Woodruff (MIL, RHP) – With the injury to Jimmy Nelson, the Brewers will be looking for arms and Brandon Woodruff should be able to help. He’s a big kid with good stuff and the ability to throw strikes. He’s not Jimmy Nelson but should be able to win some games with league average ratios.
Projected Line: 140 IP, 120 K’s, 9 wins, 4.10 ERA
Luiz Gohara (ATL, LHP) – Luiz Gohara’s sprained ankle is a great excuse for the Braves to keep him in the minors in order to save service time. The stuff is electric and the Braves need innings. The combination should work out well for owners.
Projected Line: 110 IP, 100 K’s, 8 wins, 3.80 ERA
Jorge Alfaro (PHI, C) – Jorge Alfaro should finally get his chance. He’s got double-plus raw power and a hose for an arm. It’s a shame he swings at everything, but I guess you can’t have it all.
Projected Line: 400 AB, 17 HR, 50 RBI, .250 BA
Nick Senzel (CIN, 3B) – Nick Senzel doesn’t have the flashy tools of Acuna or Brinson, but is the better pure hitter with pretty good tools himself. I’m guessing the Reds keep him in the minors until mid-June, but I think he hits as soon as he arrives.
Projected Line: 350 AB, 12 HR, 6 SB, .290 BA
Alex Reyes (STL, RHP) – The Cardinals have a history of taking young pitchers and starting them off in the bullpen. They did it with Adam Wainwright back in the day and also Trevor Rosenthal, who then stuck in the pen. I think Reyes starts the year in the bullpen and gets some saves in the process. Long-term, I think he starts, but if he dominates in the pen…
Projected Line: 40 IP, 55 K’s, 11 saves, 3.50 ERA
Max Fried (ATL, LHP) – While the luster might be off his prospect star, Max Fried can still pitch and as a lefty should have a long major league career. He could break camp with the team, but the Braves will likely hold him back until at least May before promoting him.
Projected Line: 110 IP, 90 K’s, 7 wins, 3.60 ERA
Players who need a break
Scott Kingery (PHI, 2B) – Scott Kingery broke out last year and should get the call sometime in the second half. He’s got power and speed and makes enough contact to let both those tools play.
J.P. Crawford (PHI, SS) – I’m guessing Crawford and Kingery get the call around the same time. Crawford is the better hitter but Kingery has the better fantasy tools.
Austin Meadows (PIT, OF) – I thought Austin Meadows would see time in Pittsburgh this year, but the acquisition of Corey Dickerson likely put an end to that until at least August. There’s still a lot to like with Meadows and at this point, he might just need a chance to show what he can do.
Alex Verdugo (LAD, OF) – With the emergence of Matt Kemp (did I really just say that), Alex Verdugo’s path just got more difficult. I love the hit tool and still think there is 20 home run power in the bat. He just turns 22 in May, so there is no reason the Dodgers need to rush him.
Luis Urias (SD, SS) – Luis Urias is having a great spring and is impressing the Padres brass. He can really hit but has only average power and speed. He’s a nice complementary fantasy player in the mold of Dansby Swanson, or who I thought Swanson would be.
Carson Kelly (STL, C) – He’s stuck behind Yadier Molina, but Kelly can play. The question is will he be given the chance?
Brett Phillips (MIL, OF) – Brett Phillips is blocked with a loaded outfield in Milwaukee, but an injury could give him a shot. He also might be trade bait for a deal at the deadline.
Kolby Allard (ATL, LHP) – With 27 Double-A starts under his belt, Allard could see Atlanta in the second half. While Gohara has the better stuff, Allard can really pitch and might have even better success, at least for this year.
Dillon Peters (MIA, LHP) – After posting a career minor league ERA of 2.40, Dillon Peters major league 5.17 ERA in six starts was a disappointment. But, the Marlins need innings and while Peters doesn’t have high-end velocity, he has plus control and can really pitch.
Joey Lucchesi (SD, LHP) – In our write-up of Joey Lucchesi last June, we highlighted him as a player to watch and that, “you wouldn’t be settling if you missed out on drafting Gore, Quantrill, et.al.” He can pitch with great control and enough velocity to be successful in the major leagues.