In November I used the Prospect Scorecard to take an early look at the top 100 fantasy prospects for both Roto leagues and Ottoneu’s wOBA-heavy FanGraphs Points leagues. In February I also added a quick fantasy spin on Eric and Kiley’s great preseason work ranking the top 100 prospects in baseball. Later this summer (July) I’ll update the top 100 for fantasy purposes, but today I want to briefly check in on a number of prospects that I think are rising (⬆) or falling (⬇) in value for various reasons in 2018.
Shohei Ohtani (⬆)
Few players have seen their value fluctuate as rapidly as Ohtani just two weeks into the season, but he is not only the best “prospect” in the game, but looks the part of one of the best young players in the game right now, too. If you’re trying to trade for Ohtani, good luck. If you’re open to moving him, ask for the moon. Be sure to understand your league rules first, however.
Ronald Acuna Jr. (⬆)
A slow start is nothing to worry about; should be up in a Braves uniform soon enough. Ohtani has stepped to the front of the line, but Acuna remains 1A on any list and gets a bump in roto leagues for his speed.
Eloy Jimenez (➡)
Delayed start to 2018 due to nagging injuries but value holds steady; nothing to worry about here, and might be buying opportunity. Expect a big 2018 and likely CHW debut at some point.
Age 19 AA debut couldn’t be better (.361/.419/.639). He’s at least the 3rd best fantasy prospect in the minors and there’s a case to put him above Acuna in OPS-heavy leagues like Ottoneu. It’s bold but I think he debuts for TOR before September.
Kyle Tucker (⬆)
Demonstrated offensive skills with big spring and has started well enough in AAA that most expect him to help HOU sooner than many thought just a few months ago. His strong MiLB track record against LHP bodes well for a softer landing in MLB. that most prospects.
Gleyber Torres (⬆)
A hot start at AAA keeps the media buzzing for his debut in NYY, which could come as early as this post.
Walker Buehler (➡)
With early 11.0+ K/9 in AAA, value holds steady until he gets the call. Timing is unclear at this point in LAD but expect late summer, and possibly to the pen.
Michael Kopech (↗)
Victor Robles (⬇)
Recently dodged a bullet by not losing the entire season to what could have been a devastating elbow injury; still holds great value in roto leagues and someone to target at a discount from some owners. Conservative estimate may have Robles elected to WAS by September.
Ice cold start in AA (age 19) shouldn’t damper massive long term expectations. He started slow last April as well, so buy now while things are quiet.
Nick Senzel (↗)
Back to playing 3rd base in AAA but promotion is almost inevitable and he has the type of high floor to be productive almost immediately. Low risk makes him a great near term prospect investment.
Prepare for Ronald Acuna, Nick Senzel, and Willie Calhoun. Any day now…
— Brad Johnson (@BaseballATeam) April 13, 2018
Bo Bichette (↗)
Pre-season hit tool grade of 50 may seem lite a few months from now (probably closer to 60). Continues to display the one tool that really matters in fantasy.
Austin Hays (↘)
Repeat AA assignment was somewhat surprising to start the season; can clearly hit but low walk totals will always play down in OBP leagues. There’s a measure of caution that should be applied here.
A.J. Puk (⬇)
Massive upside arm lost to early TJS. Probably looking at July 2019 before his value reaches previous highs again, but that’s assuming control return at the same pace.
Alex Verdugo (➡)
Somewhat similar profile to Austin Hays, but with higher floor. Expect call up in late 2018 unless injuries open the door earlier in LAD.
Value of these infielders remains steady despite sluggish starts; both may be underrated in fantasy.
Rays have one of baseball's best systems: https://t.co/2VZZ2oyUKh
— Eric Longenhagen (@longenhagen) April 16, 2018
Austin Meadows (↘)
Technically starting his third season in AAA, but another cold start (but no injuries, yet). Still only 22 years old but it’s time to lower expectations.
Jorge Mateo (➡)
Keep an eye on MiLB BB/K rates and ISO; big year for Mateo to define who he is outside of his elite speed. Value holds steady but will skyrocket closer to debut (summer?) in roto leagues even if his OBP skills don’t catch up.
Value will continue to trend downward if power doesn’t show for these three. Alford may have most overall upside here but needs to stay healthy.
Jack Flaherty (⬆)
If the improved strikeout rates continue, his value only improves. Probably worth buying now before he gets the call again because he could be a reliable #3 SP as early as May.
Juan Soto (⬆)
He gets his own ? emoji for the .361/.489/.861 dominance he’s brought to A+ ball at age 19 so far. Good chance Soto is a Top 20 (maybe Top 10) prospect by the summer updates, and he could enter an elite tier in OPS leagues. Buy now if you can.
Luis Urias (➡)
He’s going to debut in 2018 in SD and he’s going to hit. How much power he shows is always going to be the question until he proves otherwise. High variance in value here between roto leagues and OBP.
Tyler O’Neill (⬆)
Currently crushing it in AAA (41 total bases, 6 HR), O’Neill could get the call behind an STL injury any moment. Unfortunately, the Cardinal depth chart doesn’t offer much room at the moment and O’Neill isn’t walking much, either. There’s some Hunter Renfroe-type risk here in the profile, but the power will play regardless when he eventually gets the opportunity.
Yordan Alvarez (⬆)
Yordan Alvarez is off to a nice start this year in AA. Slash line .308/.404/.513, 137 wRC+, 14.9 BB% #Astros
— Astros Future (@AstrosFuture) April 17, 2018
Carter Kieboom (↗)
Power is coming along in A+ (4 HR) and when (not if) other skills catch up, Kieboom could jump significantly up prospect lists later this summer.
Austin Riley (↗)
Plate discipline gains from AA late last season appear to have carried over so far. Great news for Riley owners as his power is going to play nicely in Atlanta (maybe as early as September).
Corey Ray (↗)
A prospect rebound in the making? 1.060 OPS in AA certainly helps.
Taylor Trammell (⬆)
A wide range of outcomes here as he has the speed and possibly the power to develop into a really interesting hitter.
Both prospects missed most preseasonTop 100 lists but they also now both sit atop early MiLB leaderboards with an OPS of 1.300+ each. Add them to your watch list for now.
Josh Lowe (↗)
Recently ranked 10th in the TB organization, but he’s crushing the ball out of the gate in A+.
Nick Kingham (↗)
Sample sizes are so small in MiLB at this point that there’s no reason to draw major conclusions, but Kingham is doing something different (and better) so far this season.
Colin Poche (↗)
Sometimes relievers should catch your attention.
— Daren Willman (@darenw) April 14, 2018
Trey is a 20+ year fantasy veteran and an early adopter of Ottoneu fantasy sports. He currently administers the Ottoneu community, a network of ~1,200 fantasy baseball and football fans talking sports daily. More resources here: http://community.ottoneu.com