(Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire)
Tier One: The Joses
1. Jose Altuve (Houston Astros, 27)
2. Jose Ramirez (Cleveland Indians, 25)
Tier Two: Stability
3. Ozzie Albies (Atlanta Braves, 21)
4. Jonathan Schoop (Baltimore Orioles, 26)
5. Daniel Murphy (Washington Nationals, 33)
6. Gleyber Torres (P) (New York Yankees, 21)
7. Brian Dozier (Minnesota Twins, 30)
Tier Three: Instability
8. Whit Merrifield (Kansas City Royals, 29)
9. Javier Baez (Chicago Cubs, 25)
10. Yoan Moncada (Chicago White Sox, 22)
11. Ian Happ (Chicago Cubs, 23)
Tier Four: Buy Now or Else
12. Scott Kingery (P) (Philadelphia Phillies, 23)
13. Rougned Odor (Texas Rangers, 24)
14. DJ LeMahieu (Colorado Rockies, 29)
15. Robinson Cano (Seattle Mariners, 35)
Tier Five: Looking to the Future
16. Max Schrock (P) (St. Louis Cardinals, 23)
17. Garret Hampson (P) (Colorado Rockies, 23)
18. Luis Urias (P) (San Diego Padres, 20)
19. Keston Hiura (P) (Milwaukee Brewers, 21)
20. Cesar Hernandez (Philadelphia Phillies, 27)
21. Jonathan Villar (Milwaukee Brewers, 26)
Tier Six: There’s Some Upside
22. Jose Peraza (Cincinnati Reds, 23)
23. Nick Solak (P) (Tampa Bay Rays, 23)
24. Isan Diaz (P) (Miami Marlins, 21)
25. Ian Kinsler (Los Angeles Angels, 35)
Tier Seven: I Pray for Your Chances
26. Devon Travis (Toronto Blue Jays, 27)
27. Scooter Gennett (Cincinnati Reds, 28)
28. Starlin Castro (Miami Marlins, 28)
29. Jason Kipnis (Cleveland Indians, 31)
30. Mauricio Dubon (P) (Milwaukee Brewers, 23)
Way Too Deep Prospects
In keeping with three rookie level players that I don’t own, but choose to keep an eye on — I’m looking at Yairo Munez, Vidal Brujan, and Esteury Ruiz.
- I excluded Dee Gordon from this list. While he qualifies this year, with Robinson Cano locking up 2B until 2023, I do not see Gordon getting enough starts to qualify at 2B anytime soon (Cano has yet to play less than 150 games since 2006). While there are certainly avenues for him to (injury, Cano sliding to DH after Nelson Cruz’s contract expires) I do not want to bank on any of those quite yet.
- On the flip side of Dee Gordon is Jose Ramirez who I am still convinced gets enough looks at 2B to carry the position forward. I have been high on Ramirez for a while and he has done nothing but produce since he broke out in 2016. At 25, the sky is the limit for Ramirez.
- Third may seem aggressive for Ozzie Albies given a small sample size, but nothing in his 57 games in 2017 would suggest he’s in for any notable regression (in fact he’s cut his strikeout rate and raised his walk rate between AAA and the Majors). His floor could be somewhere in the realm of 10/20, with a ceiling of 20/30 while hitting in the high .280s. If you can buy him lower, then do, but Albies will be a fixture at 2B for the next decade (I guess I hadn’t mentioned, he’s only recently turned 21). His age and projections alone put him in contention with “the Joses” in Tier One, where I expect him to be after a few months into the season.
- We are in the midst of a youth revolt at second base, with Gleyber Torres leading the 2018 charge. After missing out on joining the 2017 revolt due to an unfortunate bout of Tommy John – he is healthy and should be in the majors after the Yankees artificially suppress his talent in AAA for contractual purposes. While listed as an SS prospect, there is little doubt that he will end up slotting in for the now departed Starlin Castro at 2B (not dead, but for career purposes – maybe).
- At 10 I am definitely one of the more bearish writers on Yoan Moncada – hell, this ranking is still largely based on his ceiling. While I certainly understand the appeal of a prospect thought to be able to go 20/30, I worry he will never live up to the hype. Other than in 2015 and the early part of 2016 where he played in A and A+ respectively, Moncada has yet to put up in a way that would justify a higher ranking. Granted, each of his sample sizes has been small since he began AA in 2016 with the Boston Red Sox, but he has established a poor ability to make contact at the plate (striking out a 32% rate in the MLB last year). It limits his steals (3 in 231 MLB plate appearances) and other countable statistics as a result. As a rule of thumb, I avoid players with a strikeout rate over 30%. While he will likely improve, until he does – there are plenty of other young players doing what we hope Moncada will do for us. A 2017 Rougned Odor comes to mind as a comp as Moncada is now. While not reflective in these rankings, by mid-season I would expect Scott Kingery to pass Moncada in my rankings.
- Garrett Hampson needs more recognition in the fantasy community. He hit .326/.387/.462 with 51 steals in 603 plate appearances for the A+ JetHawks. He was the level’s average age at 22 (now 23) and could eventually play in Colorado Rockies (although I would not count on it, we’ll see what the team does with the Trevor Story/DJ LeMahieu/Brendan Rodgers logjam). While he won’t hit for much power, few players at any position put up this combination of speed and average. I rank Hampson over Luis Urias and Keston Hiura simply because I think he could make a bigger impact. Urias and Hiura are not sexy picks, but would likely contribute stability to the middle of a roster.
- I do not trust Scooter Gennett. The adage is to not pay for a career season and while that is generally fun for young talent, please abide by the adage in the case of Gennett.
I’ll be making notes in each of my rankings for players/situations/choices worth noting — if there is something specific you wish to discuss regarding the ranks — drop a comment.