Last week, we profiled 10 players participating in the Arizona Fall League that have a chance to make contributions to your fantasy club in 2017.
Today, we’re looking a little further into the future. Here are 10 players -- five pitchers and five hitters -- in the AFL who have a chance to be major contributors in the coming seasons, and are must owns in your respective dynasty leagues.
Cody Bellinger, 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers -- Scouts are torn on whether or not Bellinger profiles best in the outfield or at first, but they’re not torn on whether or not he can hit, because, he can definitely do that. Both the hit and power tool have a chance to be plus, and that means you’re looking at .280 seasons with 20 to 25 homers. That obviously plays better in the outfield, but even if he ends up on the cold corner, there’s definite value in his bat.
Ian Happ, 2B/OF, Chicago Cubs -- Happ was the Cubs’ first-round selection in 2015, and quickly established himself as one of the best prospects in the system. His smooth swing from both sides of the plate gives him a chance to hit for average, and there’s just enough strength to project some power as well. He’s also an above-average runner, so if everything maxes out, you’re looking at a potential 20/20 player. You can do a lot worse.
Nick Gordon, SS, Minnesota Twins -- Gordon was disappointing in 2015, but bounced back nicely with a strong 2016 campaign. He has excellent hand-eye coordination and makes a lot of contact, with enough bat speed to project the hit tool to be at least above-average. He also helps compensate for a lack of power with excellent baserunning; and enough speed to be a 30 stolen base guy if he gets on enough, and he should. He’s also an excellent defender at short, so you don’t have to worry about him switching positions.
Gleyber Torres, SS, New York Yankees -- Torres was acquired in the Aroldis Chapman trade, and with all due respect to Didi Gregorius, he’s the future at shortstop in New York. Scouts rave about his baseball acumen, and it shows on the field with his ability to hit the ball with authority to all fields, and get excellent jumps on the bases. He’s not the defender Gordon is, but he’s certainly good enough to stay at shortstop, and there’s a much better chance for power as well.
Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago Cubs -- If there was a breakout star of 2016, you could certainly argue it was Jimenez. The raw power has been there since he was a highly-touted prospect coming out of the Dominican Republic in 2013, but he took major steps forward in applying that power by showing more patience at the plate. There’s more work to be done here than with the prospects listed above, but his upside competes with any outfield prospect in baseball. You’re just going to have to be patient.
Luiz Gohara, LHP, Seattle Mariners -- Brazil isn’t exactly known as a baseball hotbed, but Gohara has a chance to be the best player to come from there since, well, ever. The massive left-hander gets downhill plane with his fastball, and the mid-90s heater is complemented with a slider that flashes plus. The command has also seen big improvements, so in a couple of years, you could be looking at a top of the rotation starter if everything goes right.
Francis Martes, RHP, Houston Astros -- Martes had an awful start to his 2016 campaign, but to say he rebounded in the second-half is an understatement. When everything is clicking, the right-hander has a borderline 70-grade fastball, and hitters that sit on that pitch will be made to look a fool by flailing at his plus curveball and solid change. He also can throw strikes and locate with all three pitches, and he has the best chance of any pitcher listed here of making an impact in 2017.
Michael Kopech, RHP, Boston Red Sox -- Michael Kopech throws really, really hard. How hard? Some reports have had his fastball reaching 103-105. That’s pretty hard, in my humble opinion. An 80 fastball will only get you so far, so it’s a good thing that Kopech will also show a hard slider with late tilt, and on occasion a competent change to keep left-handed hitters honest. The command needs a lot of work -- and some believe he profiles best in relief -- but one way or another, he’s going to miss a lot of bats.
James Kaprielian, RHP, New York Yankees -- Kaprielian was only able to throw 18 innings in the Florida State League this season because of an elbow injury, but those 18 innings were awfully impressive. The 2015 first-round selection has the most rounded arsenal of any hurler on this list, showing four pitches that range from plus (fastball and change) to solid-average (curveball and slider). He also throws those four pitches for strikes and rarely misses his spots, so assuming he has a clean bill of health, he should move quickly through the loaded New York system.
Dillon Tate, RHP, New York Yankees -- You can’t call a player that has only been in professional baseball a year a bust, but you certainly can say that Tate was disappointing in 2016. That being said, there’s still plenty of upside in his right arm, and he was a nice pickup for Carlos Beltran at the deadline. When everything is clicking, he’ll show two plus-plus pitches; a mid-90s fastball with plenty of movement, and a nasty slider that darts to the feet of left-handed hitters. We didn’t see that version very often this summer, but the early reports from the AFL have been positive, and there’s no question he should be owned in dynasty leagues because of his potential to pile up the strikeout.