Today’s feature is the continuation of the prospect series with the Top 25 Hitting Prospects for the 2017 season. Since the ranking is only for 2017, injured players, or players in the low levels aren’t under consideration. A number of hitting prospects have reached the majors and made immediate impacts for us in Fantasy. I believe there are a number of players on this list that can continue this. The list includes some hitters I believe could make a major impact in 2017 as well as some players that surprised in 2016. Unlike the Top 25 Pitching Prospects List, the hitters list has a number of players I believe will be breaking camp in the majors, or will be called up very quickly. Lets get to it.
1. Andrew Benintendi, OF, Boston Red Sox, Age: 22, ETA: Early 2017
Andrew Benintendi followed in the foot steps of a number of top college bats that made their Majors Debut in their first full season of pro ball, getting the call in August of 2016. He did quite well in the 30 starts he made hitting .295, 2 HR, 14 RBIs. Most of his starts (25) were against RHP, which he crushed at a .984 OPS line, but he struggled in his 5 starts vs LHP, .429 OPS. Red Sox could start the year with him platooning which will cut his value down some, but that RHP slash line makes him an early year favorite for American League Rookie of the Year.
2. Dansby Swanson, SS, Atlanta Braves, Age: 23, ETA: Early 2017
Dansby Swanson made his debut in 2016 with the Braves. He did quite well and had pretty good splits vs RHP (.771 OPS in 112 ABs) and LHP (1.015 OPS in 17 ABs) although the sample sizes are quite small. Swanson is high on this list because the Atlanta Braves will be giving him ample amount of at bats as they look to draw crowds to the new Sun Trust Field.
3. Yoan Moncada, 3B, Chicago White Sox, Age: 21, ETA: Mid 2017
The Chicago White Sox have released Brett Lawrie clearing a spot for Yoan Moncada to be called up mid season. He made his Major League Debut for the Red Sox last year but wasn’t given much of an opportunity for at bats and didn’t impress with the few bats he had. The White Sox received him as the prize of the Chris Sale deal and will likely keep him in the minors to start the year. I expect him up around the Super Two Deadline but no sooner as the White Sox will want to avoid paying four years of arbitration instead of three. Once he is called up, he is an immediate add in all formats.
4. Yulieski Gurriel, 3B/1B, Houston Astros, Age: 32, ETA: Early 2017
MLB.com writer Jonathan Mayo wrote an early Rookie of the Year favorites for 2017 and Yulieski wasn’t mentioned. He wasn’t impressive in his Major League Debut but I believe he could end up topping Benintendi for the AL ROY Award. He makes consistent contact and struck out less than 10% of the time, and his BABIP was .267 which shows he was a bit unlucky. Gurriel could put up Eric Hosmer type numbers .270 AVG 15-20 HRs, 85 RBIs with ~10 SBs.
5. Josh Bell, 1B, Pittsburgh Pirates, Age: 24, ETA: Early 2017
In 2011 Josh Bell sent all the MLB teams an email saying, “I’m going to UT Austin don’t draft me.” The Pittsburgh Pirates saw 2011 as a year to make a splash selecting Gerrit Cole, Josh Bell, and Tyler Glasnow in the first 5 rounds. They spent a record $17 Million in the draft and a couple months later, MLB introduced the Draft Bonus Pool. Josh Bell received $5 Million to not go to UT Austin which was more than #3 Overall pick, Trevor Bauer, received. Tyler Glasnow and Josh Bell should become permanent fixtures on the Pirates roster this year along side their 2011 Draftee, Gerrit Cole. Josh Bell hit in the 2 hole last year but could move back to the 6th spot. He should have a number of opportunities for RBIs and Runs. However, he might split time at 1B and only face RHP which is why I have him lower than Gurriel. He is draft-able in all formats and should be a great future cornerstone in Keeper and Dynasty Leagues.
6. Austin Meadows, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates, Age: 21, ETA: Mid 2017
Neal Huntington, the GM of the Pirates, is possibly one of the worst traders in baseball but could be ranked at the top in managing the draft. Having failed to sign Mark Appel in the 2012 MLB Draft, the Pirates received the 9th Overall pick in the 2013 draft which Huntington used to select Austin Meadows. Meadows is a a big, 6’3 210 pound, Outfielder who has quite the bat. For some reason I don’t understand, MLB Pipeline only gave him a 50 grade power despite being on a 600 AB pace for 94 XBH and having an ISO of .270 which lead the entire MLB Top 100 list. Meadows is a big bat that can hit 25-30 HRs while also stealing 15-20 bags a year. Add him immediately when he gets called up.
7. Manuel Margot, OF, San Diego Padres, Age: 22, ETA: Early 2017
Manuel Margot could be in consideration for the NL Rookie of the Year award for just his Defense. His defense will keep him in the line up even when his bat slumps, hes that good defensively. He should be the lead off or in the two hole for the San Diego Padres and with Wil Myers and Hunter Renfore behind him, he should score quite a bit. The knock on him is he doesn’t have much power and playing in Petco will make it more obvious. He also plays for the Padres, who don’t score many runs. I still consider him a later round player to target because of where he hits in the line up and the fact that he should receive plenty of at bats.
8. Hunter Renfroe, OF, San Diego Padres, Age: 25, ETA: Early 2017
Talk about a debut, .371/.389/.800/1.189 in 35 At bats, Hunter Renfroe is the talk of the prospect hitting crop going into 2017. My expectations aren’t any where near his MLB Debut. He should hit plenty of HRs, and should hit in the middle of the Padres line up but he will be prone to slumps with his inconsistent contact. In leagues with OBP, he has even less value as he doesn’t work the count well and is a free swinger. He reminds me of a Joey Gallo with his bat but Joey will actually work the count and draw walks. Hunter Renfore could his 30 HRs, drive in 80 RBIs and win the NL ROY, or he could be back in AAA by June. He is a guy I would allow others to over pay for because you aren’t sure what you are getting from him.
9. Clint Frazier, Of, New York Yankees, Age: 22, ETA: Early 2017
Clint Frazier has looked very good this spring training and if he breaks camp with the New York Yankees, he would move up to #4 on this list. Frazier has thick arms and creates good pop off the bat. Playing in Yankee Stadium should help him in the HR department and playing for the Yankees should help him with RBI and scoring opportunities. Frazier could make a Trea Turner jump from undrafted in 2017 to being a top 50 player in 2018. He’s an immediate add in all leagues when he gets the call.
10. Cody Bellinger, 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers, Age: 21, ETA: Mid 2017
Dodger Manager, Dave Roberts, has Cody Bellinger playing all three OF spots in Spring Training and his bat looks pretty good so far. Bellinger has mostly played First Base in the minors, but with Adrian Gonzalez entrenched there through 2018, Bellinger will need to make a move to the crowded Dodgers outfield. The Dodgers will create space by trading and so Bellinger should be up some time in 2017. The question of when he gets the call and the amount of at bats he will receive is why he’s lower on this list than some of the guys ahead of him. With an aging crop of 1B keepers, Bellinger could be a guy to stash in Keeper/Dynasty League and should be add in all league formats when he is called up.
11. J.P. Crawford, SS, Philadelphia Phillies, Age: 22, ETA: Early 2017
Crawford has an outside shot of being the starting short stop for the Phillies out of camp. He is coming off an uninspiring minor league year and his spring training is off to a rough start. He could figure it out though and put up Lindor Esq numbers during his prime. He might not be an immediate add in 2017 but he could be if your starting SS is injured and he gets the call. His ceiling is in the 5-10 ranking for his position and I think he has quite a high floor but he needs to work on his mechanics a bit more.
12. Tom Murphy, C, Colorado Rockies, Age: 25, ETA: Early 2017
Tom Murphy is another player that came up in 2017 and made a splash. He his 5 HRs and drove in 13 in the 21 games he played. He has good power and did well making consistent contact last year in the minors, hitting .327 in 303 Abs. He plays in Coors and should have one of the better line ups hitting in front of him. He could be a top 10 catcher this year if he gets more than 400 ABs.
13. Aaron Judge, OF, New York Yankees, Age: 24, ETA: Early 2017
Judge should break camp as the starting right fielder for the Yankees. He hit a homerun in his first major league at bat but then struck out 42 times in the next 94 plate appearances. Judge could hit 35 HRs, or he could be back in the minors by June. He doesn’t have a long leash like Hunter Renfore, if he doesn’t cut if for the Yankees they will make a move.
14. Dan Vogelbach, 1B/DH, Seattle Mariners, Age: 24, ETA: Early 2017
Dan Vogelbach is one of the guy you look at and don’t see a baseball player. He is a nonathletic 6 foot tall 250 pound first baseman. However, Vogelbach should start the year at 1B for the Mariners and could continue smashing the ball as he did at every minor league level. He has very good plate discipline and has some power with a career .195 ISO in the minors. He will be in a platoon with Danny Valencia and is a nice guy to have in OBP leagues.
15. Ozzie Albies, SS/2B, Atlanta Braves, Age: 20, ETA: Mid 2017
Ozzie just turned 20 in January and already has over 600 plate appearances in AA or AAA. He will make a great double play tandem with Dansby Swanson for years to come. He needs to get stronger and he needs more at bats but he is nearly MLB ready at only 20 years old. Playing 2B is going to help his long term value as the SS position has an influx of young talent. Albies should contribute to AVG, Runs, and SB once he gets the call and could be a solid add in the 2nd half of the year.
16. Chance Sisco, C, Baltimore Orioles, Age: 22, ETA: Mid 2017
Baltimore allowed Matt Weiters to walk because they have Chance Sisco waiting in the wings. He will likely start the year in AAA but could be up mid season and contribute for the Orioles. He arguably is the best offensive catcher in the minors and could be a top 10 catcher the rest of the season once he gets the call. He isn’t very good defensively though so if he struggles he will go right back down to the minors.
17. Jesse Winker, OF, Cincinnati Reds, Age: 23, ETA: Mid 2017
The Reds didn’t call up Jesse Winker in 2016, but this year he should be up and an every day player by the end of the year. In 2016, Jesse Winker lost some of his power hitting only 5 HRs in the minors but he did have a .308 /.402 /.402 /.804 slash line. He should create more power than that .094 ISO once he does get the call. He should be a main stay of the Reds line up for years to come but he might have the biggest question mark on this list in regard to call up time. The Reds aren’t in a rush to win ball games and could keep him down till late 2017.
18. Andrew Toles, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers, Age: 24, ETA: Early 2017
Andrew Toles slashed .314/.365/.505/.870 in 115 Plate Appearances for the Dodgers in 2016. He didn’t show that kind of power in the minors so don’t expect that ISO to sustain. On the flip side, he only stole 1 base in 2016 but could swipe 20+ in a full season. His average is real and he could be a good guy to target in big roster or larger leagues. However, the Dodgers outfield is one of the most crowded in all of baseball and with Verdugo and Bellinger coming up this year, the at bats might not be more than 300.
19. Amed Rosario, OF, New York Mets, Age: 21, ETA: Mid 2017
Rosario’s bat broke out in 2016 reaching the Eastern League (AA) in the second half of the year and hitting .341 in 54 games there. He is likely to start the year in the Eastern League again but could move up quickly and make his major league debut by mid summer. Rosario is the short stop equivalent of Manual Margot and will remain in the Mets in up even when his bat isn’t producing because his defense is so good. I need to see a repeat performance of his bat to buy in though.
20. Raimel Tapia, OF, Colorado Rockies, Age: 23, ETA: Mid 2017
Tapia has the best contact of any minor leaguer. He reminds me of Denard Span, a 5-10 HR with good gap power who can steal some bases while maintaining a good avg. I see some projections of his prime at 15-20 HRs but I believe they are inflating that number because of Coors. Rockies have a crowded outfield and Jordan Patterson also waiting in the wings. The Rockies are trying to win this year and if they are in contention in July, Tapia could be moved for pitching.
21. Mitch Haniger, OF, Seattle Mariners, Age: 26, ETA: Early 2017
A Former first rounder, Mitch Haniger was dealt to Seattle in the Segura/Walker deal. Haniger is no throw in though, he could be be a solid contributor for the Mariners. He will likely be in a platoon but he should get 400 Abs this year if he produces. He wont be a super star but he could be a solid bench guy for some fantasy teams. 15+ HRs, 10 SBs and a .270 average isn’t out of the question for Haniger.
22. Tyler O’Neil, OF, Seattle Mariners, Age: 21, ETA: Mid 2017
Haniger’s team mate, Tyler O’Neil a consensus top 100 prospect could make his debut in 2017. He isn’t on the 40 man roster, so if the mariners need a replacement in the OF, he likely isn’t the first to get the call. He has great power though and made much more contact in 2016 than 2015. He has improved every year in the minors and could be an OF regular for the Mariners. At Bats will be the concern for O’Neil in 2017 as he isn’t likely to get the call until Mid to Late 2017.
23. Nick Senzel, 3B, Cincinnati Reds, Age: 21, ETA: Late 2017
I really like Nick Senzel and he might have one of the biggest impacts in 2017 of the players on this list when he does get the call. He likely isn’t going to get the call until late in the 2017 season though. When he does, he is an immediate add. He reminds me of David Wright. He can contribute in all 5 categories and go for 20/20 if not 30/30. He will likely start the year in AA but you can probably see him in the Majors in July or early August.
24. Lewis Brinson, OF, Milwuakee Brewers, Age: 22, ETA: Mid 2017
Lewis Brinson had quite a year in the Brewers minors coming to Milwaukee as the prize of the Jonathan Lucroy deal. He hit .382/.387/.618/1.005 with 4 Homeruns and 4 stolen bases in 23 games for the Brewers AAA Team. Brinson reminds be of another Brewers product, Carlos Gomez as he show great power and speed. His contact is his weak point and will need some more time in the minors to start the year. Someone in your league will likely immediately add Brinson but I would avoid. He is too streaky of a hitter and I am not sure if he will be fantasy relevant in 2017. Let someone else have him so you save space on your roster to add someone higher up on this list later on in the year.
25. Trey Mancini, DH, Baltimore Orioles, Age: 24, ETA: Mid 2017
Mancini is off to a good start in spring training hitting .353. He will start the year in AAA but being on the 40 man means hes likely one of the first called up if the O’s need a bat. He has good gap power but also can make consistent contact with the ball. He is a big strong guy at 6’4 220 but he can also hustle around the bases as proven by his 11 triples the last 2 years. Mancini is blocked in the line up by Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo but if one gets hurt, he should be a good fill in.