A reminder that this is strictly a list for 2018. Several of these prospects are among the best in baseball, but for the purpose of this series, it’s just measuring potential impact for the coming season. You can view my top 100 prospects for 2018 and my top prospects by position in our Rotoworld MLB Season Pass.
Without further ado, here’s the top 10 fantasy prospects for the 2018 season.
1. Ronald Acuna, OF, Atlanta Braves
2018 stats: 2 G, .000/.000/.000, 0 HR, 0 SB, 0 BB, 3 SO
Not exactly the start we were looking for from Acuna, but calling the sample size small is an insult to small sample sizes. The 20-year-old outfielder is going to strike out a lot because of the length in his swing and aggressiveness with two strikes, but you deal with those “weaknesses” when you get his power, speed and ability to hit for average. He’s not flawless because humanity, but Acuna will be up with the Braves before the end of the month of April, and he’s ready to perform at that level.
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2. Nick Senzel, 2B, Cincinnati Reds
2018 stats: 3 G, .308/.308/.385, 0 HR, 1 SB, 0 BB, 2SO
A solid start to the season for Senzel, and it’s nice to see him running early in the year. The second-overall pick in the 2016 draft, Senzel sprays line drives to all parts of the park, and while his power isn’t elite, it certainly plays in the middle of the infield. He also has an impressive approach at the plate, and he’s a stolen base threat once he’s on base. Expect to see Senzel hitting near the top of the Cincinnati lineup everyday by the end of May.
3. Gleyber Torres, INF, New York Yankees
2018 stats:3 G, .357/.357/.571, 1 HR, 1 SB, 0 BB, 3 SO
Torres got off to a slow start in the first two games, but busted out on Sunday with a four-hit effort that included his first homer of the season. It could (should) be a sign of things to come for the former Chicago Cubs prospect. He uses the whole field and has no problem drawing walks, and there’s “sneaky” power in his right-handed bat. He’s the most volatile prospect here in terms of playing time, but it would be an upset if he didn’t get significant run with the Yankees in 2018.
4. Michael Kopech, RHP, Chicago White Sox
2017 stats: 25 G, 134.1 IP, 2.88 ERA, 6 HR, 65 BB, 172 SO
Kopech was acquired in the Chris Sale trade, and while there were a few ups-and-downs during his 2017 season, for the most part, he looked like the best pitching prospect in the game. His fastball can get over 100 mph with ease, and he complements that pitch with a plus-plus slider and a useable change to keep hitters off-balance. The key for Kopech will be throwing more strikes, but his command has made strides over the past two seasons. The White Sox rotation is full -- for now -- but Kopech has the stuff to force his way onto the pitching staff. He’ll make his 2018 debut on Monday.
5. Francisco Mejia, C/OF, Cleveland Indians
2018 stats: 3 G, .231/.333/.308, 0 HR, 0 SB, 2 BB, 4 SO
Mejia didn’t have a great weekend, but he did show quality patience at the plate, and there’ no reason to think the hits won’t fall in soon. The biggest news was that he caught twice over the weekend while playing the outfield once. He rarely strikes out, and the switch-hitter screams bullets all over the park. He’s also beginning to tap into his power from both sides of the plate, and is the rare catcher who could give you double-digit steal seasons. He’s a good player as an outfielder; he’s a star if he’s behind the plate.
6. Willie Calhoun, OF, Texas Rangers
2018 stats: 4 G, .167/167/.222, 0 HR, 0 SB, 0 BB, 7 SO
The surprise here is not the poor line -- those are going to happen and the sample size is ridiculously small -- but rather that Calhoun has already struck out seven times. He struck out only 53 times all of 2017. We’ll just call it a bad weekend for the 23-year-old outfielder, who still possesses plus hitting and power skills from the left side. He’s as likely as any player on this list to spend time in the majors, but he’ll have to (obviously) perform better in the coming weeks if he’s going to get the call before the end of the month.
7. Victor Robles, OF, Washington Nationals
2018 stats:3 G, .417/.500/.417, 0 HR, 2 SB, 2 BB,1 SO
Most of the big-name prospects struggled over the first weekend. Not Robles. The 20-year-old outfielder stung the ball in his first three games, and showed why he’s considered among the very best outfield prospects in baseball. He’s still tapping into his power, but the hit tool is ready to go, and his 80 speed makes him a legit 40-steal candidate if he gets on enough to do so, and he should. He’s not a lock to see time with the Nationals, but the talent is so immense that he just might force his way into the everyday lineup.
8. Austin Hays, OF, Baltimore Orioles
2018 stats: 4 G, .176/.222/.353, 1 HR, 0 SB, 1 BB, 6 SO
Hays is starting in Double-A this year, but he may not be long for that level -- or any minor league level, despite that slow start. His long limbs give him plenty of extension to generate power, but he also makes enough hard contact to project a swing that will hit for average as long as the strikeouts don’t pile up. Baltimore wants to get him experience at the minors to start the year, but it won’t be too long before he’s playing everyday in the outfield.
9. Walker Buehler, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
2018 stats: 1 G, 4.0 IP, 2.25 ERA, 0 HR, 1 BB, 5 SO
A very strong first start of the year. Keep in mind that the innings might be kept to a minimum to keep the right-hander fresh for if/when he receives a call this spring. The only reason Buehler ranks this “low” is because we don’t know what kind of role he’ll have for the Dodgers in 2018. The stuff is there for him to be a starter, but because of the depth in Los Angeles’s rotation, he might be best served helping them in the bullpen. Hopefully we see him get a chance to pitch as the former, because his ability to miss bats while throwing four pitches for strikes is very impressive. There’s value even if he’s in the bullpen, but unless he gets saves, he won’t maximize his value in 2018 if that’s his ultimate role.
10. Jack Flaherty, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
2018 stats: 1 G, 7.0 IP, 5 H, 0 HR, 0 BB, 11 SO
Flaherty was outstanding in his one and only start at the MLB level with nine strikeouts and six shutout innings, and was reportedly less than thrilled to be sent down to Triple-A after the effort. As you can see from the statistics above, he took it out on the hitters he faced in his first Triple-A start of 2018. The 22-year-old right-hander has three swing-and-miss pitches, and what makes him a potentially special starter is his ability to locate those offerings. There are pitchers with better stuff, but it’s tough to beat Flaherty’s combination of floor and ceiling. He should be back in the St. Louis rotation relatively soon.