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NL Impact Rookies

NL Impact RookieProspect361.com is celebrating our 5-year anniversary and during that time, I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited about the talent graduating to the big leagues.  Sure, everyone knows about Vlad Jr, Forrest Whitely, and even Fernando Tatis Jr., but there is significant talent in both leagues that could play major roles for their team in 2019.

We have listed 14 players that we believe will get meaningful playing time throughout the year with three sleepers.  Candidly, the list could have easily pushed to 25 or more, but we wanted to keep the list short to highlight those players with the best shot.

Enjoy the list and please click on the baseball card to visit our partner amazon.com to explore additional information on each player.

The best of the best for 2019

Victor Robles (Was, OF)

It appears that Victor Robles will get his chance and I feel very good about his chances for success.  He has a great approach, make excellent contact and has double-plus speed.  I think his power is a couple of years away but long-term, he could a monster player with a chance to post a line of 15/40 .300/.380.  In 2019, it won’t be that, but it could be very, very good.

2019 Projected Stat Line: 550 AB, 6 HRs, 35 SB, .270/.350 AVG/OBP

Nick Senzel (Cin, OF/2B)

The Reds have decided to accelerate their rebuilding process…er. maybe better said…trash it, by signing several older players to help the team win, NOW.  Will it work?  Probably not.  However, the approach does benefit Nick Senzel.  They need a center-fielder and while he’s never been one, he’s looked awfully good there this Spring.  What they want is his bat in the lineup…and to that end, he can really hit.  He’s battled injuries throughout his professional career, but if he can stay healthy, he could be a fantasy monster.

2019 Projected Stat Line: 550 AB, 18 HRs, 21 SB, .280/.360 AVG/OBP

Francisco Mejia (SD, C)

Remind me who the Indians catcher is again?  The signing of Brad Hand is going to hurt as it cost the Indians Francisco Mejia.  While he’s not a great defender, what he can do is hit.  While I’ve always liked Austin Hedges, I think Mejia will be getting the bulk of the at-bats by the second half.

2019 Projected Stat Line: 250 AB, 6 HRs, .270/.330 AVG/OBP

Chris Paddack (SD, SP)

Quick…who did the Marlins receive in the trade that sent Chris Paddack to the Padres in 2015?  At the time, 39-year-old Fernando Rodney.  Rodney went on to pitch to a 5.89 ERA in 39 innings with a total of eight saves.  Ouch!  Sure, Paddack had Tommy John surgery two years ago, but prior to that and quite frankly afterwards, he has been one of the most effective pitchers in the minor leagues.  This spring, it’s been more of the same.  While his innings will be limited, Paddack appears to be in line for significant playing time in the majors this season.  He still needs to work on this breaking pitch, but his change-up is unhittable and that alone will give him value.

2019 Projected Stat Line: 130 IP, 10 Wins, 3.30 ERA, 125 K’s.

Touki Toussaint (Atl, SP)

With the return of Julio Teheran to the rotation, the calculus for Touki Toussaint to start the year in the Braves rotation just got more complicated.  However, his stuff is electric, and it shouldn’t take long for him to get the call.  He can still be wild at times, but long-term, Toussaint’s upside is tremendous.  I am tempering my expectations for 2019, but I always bet on the talent and wait for the control and command to arrive.

2019 Projected Stat Line: 110 IP, 6 Wins, 4.05 ERA, 120 K’s.

Fernando Tatis Jr (SD, SS)

Prior to the signing of Manny Machado, I firmly expected the Padres to keep Fernando Tatis Jr. in the minor leagues until at least mid-June, if not the entire season.  But, when a team makes that level of investment, things change…and one of those changes will be the arrival of Tatis Jr.  While he still can get fooled at the plate with good off-speed pitches, the talent is unquestionable and assuming he can make the adjustments, I believe he will put up a meaningful stat line for 2019.

2019 Projected Stat Line: 450 AB, 19 HRs, 18 SB .255/.330 AVG/OBP

Garrett Hampson (Col, 2B)

On his way to winning the NL ROY in February, fantasy players forgot that another excellent young player might get in the way of the fantasy train called Garrett Hampson.  At least this spring, Ryan McMahon is making a major case to win the second base job out of Spring Training.  In the end, I’m not sure it matters as Hampson is going to see a lot of playing time and with his speed, should be able to steal 25 to 30 bases with ease.  That gives him a lot of value in most leagues.

2019 Projected Stat Line: 400 AB, 6 HRs, 25 SB .270/.330 AVG/OBP

Pete Alonso (NYM, 1B)

Brodie Van Wagenen got the Mets General Manager job because he convinced ownership that the Mets could win now.  If Pete Alonso makes the team better, he will get the bulk of the time at first base this season.  I do and therefore think he will.  Will the Mets hold him back for two weeks to start the season and play Dom Smith?  Perhaps, but I’m betting on at least 550 at-bats.

2019 Projected Stat Line: 550 AB, 26 HRs, .240/.330 AVG/OBP

The next cut of players – playing time struggles

Kevin Newman (Pit, SS)

Kevin Newman is a solid prospect with a very good approach at the plate. While he stole 28 bases last season, he doesn’t have that level of speed.  Therefore, replicating that in 2019 in the big leagues will be difficult.  Still, he should get plenty of at-bats in Pittsburgh with a chance to contribute to your fantasy team.

Alex Verdugo (LAD, OF)

Rumors out of Los Angeles are indicating that Alex Verdugo could make the roster coming North.  If so, it’s likely to be a playing timeshare which will obviously limit his fantasy effectiveness.  However, when it all comes together, he should be able to post a .350+ OBP and the Dodgers value that greatly.  I maintain he will eventually hits 20 home runs annually but that will not be in 2019.

Brendan Rodgers (Col, SS/3B)

Suddenly, Brendan Rodgers is the odd man out in Colorado.  Third base is locked up.  Shortstop is looking more locked up by the day and he’s behind Garrett Hampson and Ryan McMahon at second.  Where does he play?  I dunno, but he can hit with excellent power and at some point, I believe he finds playing time in 2019.

Tyler O’Neil (Stl, OF)

Chiseled with serious raw power, Tyler O’Neil is making a push to go North with the Cardinals.  Standing in his way though is Dexter Fowler.  However, Fowler fell off a cliff last year and is now 33-years-old and despite being owed $16.5 million a year for the next three years, he could be moved to a fourth outfielder role.  If that happens, O’Neil and his power could get a chance.  He’ll strike out too much but he could hit 20 to 25 home runs with consistent playing time.

Keston Hiura (Mil, 2B)

Keston Hiura needs an injury to get a chance in Milwaukee in 2019.  Does it happen?  I don’t know but given how last year went, I’m bullish on him seeing playing time in Milwaukee at some point.  When he gets his chance, you should expect a high batting average, some power, and stolen bases, particularly over the next couple of years.  He’s not fast and the speed will disappear, but long-term he could be a .300 hitter with 20 home runs.

Dustin May (LAD, SP)

Dustin May is all arms and legs and…hair when he delivers the ball.  He has great stuff and gets very good extension on his delivery.  His primary weapon is a heavy fastball that will generate a ton of ground ball. He’s had a great Spring Training and should see starts at some point during the year.  He’s flying under the radar in most leagues and a wise fantasy player should be investing now.


Bryse Wilson (Atl, SP)

Touki Toussaint has the better stuff but Bryse Wilson is the better current pitcher.  While nobody is talking about him, don’t be surprised if he gets the fifth starter job and doesn’t let go.

Tony Gonsolin (LAD, SP)

Drafted as a reliever out of college, Tony Gonsolin moved to the rotation and has excelled.  He’s throwing in the upper 90s now and fantasy owners need to take note.  Plus, the Dodgers have already hinted that he may be one of the early call-ups when injuries arise; and we all know how the Dodgers use the DL.

Tony Santillan (Cin, SP)

I’ve owned Tony Santillan over the years in Dynasty Leagues, but regrettably, I don’t own him anymore.  The stuff continues to be excellent and now he’s learning to control it.  The Reds have started the veteran movement, but Santillan could see time there this summer.  Granted, things have not gone well for most Reds pitching prospects, but few have had the stuff that Santillan possess.

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