Today, we continue our look at the Top 10 prospects for 2017 in each of the six leagues. The lists have been created by blending potential playing time, MLB-readiness and overall skill to take a stab at predicting the most valuable rookies for the coming season. Last week, we reviewed the NL East.
Top 10 Prospects for 2017: NL West
1. Hunter Renfroe, OF, San Diego: The Padres should have opportunities a plenty for rookies in 2017 and both Renfroe and Manuel Margot (see below) could see lots of playing time. This 25-year-old rookie really started consistently tapping into his raw power in ’16 and went deep 30 times at triple-A. He then had a scorching 11-game debut in the majors with another four long-balls. He has some swing-and-miss to his game due to an overly-aggressive approach that also leads to low walk rates but Renfroe’s power could eventually go nicely in the middle of the Padres order.
2. Cody Bellinger, OF/1B, Los Angeles: Bellinger might be the best prospect in baseball — easily Top 5 — but the biggest question mark is where he’ll break into a pretty stacked Dodgers lineup. First base seems unlikely unless Adrian Gonzalez suffers a significant injury. If Andre Ethier’s injury turns into a long-term thing then there could be an opening — unless Andrew Toles can hold off the rookie. If Bellinger does break into the lineup, look for him to produce a solid on-base average with some pop.
3. Anthony Banda, LHP, Arizona: The apparent resurgence of Shelby Miller deepens the Diamondbacks’ starting pitching depth, which is great for the club but less so for the young, near-MLB-ready arms like Banda. This lefty, though, figures to get a shot at some point this year. A former 10th round pick, he’s seen his stuff tick up in pro ball and he split 2016 between double-A and triple-A with equally solid results. He shouldn’t need more than another half season in the minors before being able to hold his own in The Show.
4. Ty Blach, LHP, San Francisco: Blach is my 2017 rookie sleeper. His stuff is just average but he throws strikes, doesn’t walk guys and gets a ton of ground balls when he’s on — and that’s a good thing when you have Brandon Crawford at shortstop. As well, he doesn’t need to be babied like a lot of young arms because he’s already shown the ability to throw 180 innings, which means he could theoretically handle 190-200 in ’17. With oft-injured Matt Cain as the only person really standing in his way, look for Blach to be a solid contributor at the back of the Giants’ rotation for a good chunk of the year.
5. Raimel Tapia, OF, Colorado: The injury to first baseman Ian Desmond could eventually open up playing time for Tapia, if Gerardo Parra ends up splitting his time in the infield with Mark Reynolds. The rookie outfielder should have value to the Rockies because he can really hit and he rarely strikes out. His modest power output also could receive a boost from the Colorado air. On the negative side, though, he doesn’t really walk, either, and guys with speed (He has 20+ stolen base potential) should be doing everything they can to get on base.
6. German Marquez, RHP, Colorado: The Rockies have a lot of starting pitching depth at the top of the minors with Jeff Hoffman (below), as well as Antonio Senzatela and Kyle Freeland. Unlike those last two names, Marquez already has some successful big league experience. The foot injury to Jonathan Gray could open up even more of an opportunity for the young pitchers in Colorado. Marquez has swing-and-miss stuff to go along with above-average control. Once the third pitch and command both click, he couldn’t be a monster.
7. Jared Miller, RHP, Diamondbacks: Miller was a huge pop-up guy in 2016 and an eventual spot in the Diamondbacks’ bullpen is ripe for the taking due to the unenviable collection of retread arms currently projected to break camp with the club. The hard-throwing lefty pitched at four different minor league levels during the year and he topped out at triple-A. He then continued his dominance in the Arizona Fall League with 30 strikeouts and just four walks in 18.1 innings. Miller should have a shot at at least a few high-leverage opportunities in The Show before the year is out.
8. Manuel Margot, OF, San Diego: Margot will face some competition from Travis Jankowski for playing time in center field but he has a chance to be a much better offensive player with his mix of hitting acumen and speed. The young outfielder could steal 20-30 bases in 2017 if given regular playing time and he’s never hit lower than .270 in the minors — including a .304 average in triple-A. He makes a ton of contact and the speed gives him a chance to turn a handful of potential outs into infield hits.
9. Jeff Hoffman, RHP, Colorado: Hoffman will open the 2017 season in the minors but he likely won’t be there for long. He has the potential for an excellent one-two punch with his mid-90s fastball and curveball, and his control is above-average for someone that can dial up into the upper 90s. He needs to learn to limit the long ball after allowing seven in 31.1 big league innings in 2016.
10. Austin Barnes, C/IF, Los Angeles: Barnes has a chance to be a very good fantasy player and a solid real life baseball player. He can play multiple positions, including catcher, but he also plays on a team that consistently plugs in high-priced veterans or Top-100 prospects to its starting lineup. Barnes has a chance to be a better-than-average hitting catcher if he can find some consistent playing time. He has a natural feel for hitting, a little gap pop and often walks more than he strikes out. Now 27 years old, he deserves an opportunity to play at least somewhat regularly.
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.