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. Nick Senzel, INF, Cincinnati Reds
2018 stats: 40 G, .302/.372/.478, 4 HR, 8 SB, 18 BB, 38 SO at Triple-A Louisville.
Senzel is red-hot with the bat right now, and he's showing the impressive hit tool that made him the top prospect for several weeks on this list. He's back. Over the past seven games, Senzel has seen his average rise from .276 to the number above, and while he's not hitting for huge power, he is putting the ball in play with velocity, and you don't get a .478 slugging percentage without hitting a good deal of extra-base hits. It's just a matter of when Senzel is up. It should be very soon.
2. Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago White Sox
2018 stats: 53 G, .317/.368/.556, 10 HR, 0 SB, 18 BB, 39 SO at Double-A Birmingham.
Jimenez dropping to the two spot doesn't have anything to do with his talent -- he's a better overall prospect than Jimenez. It's just that Senzel is playing so well right now, and doing so at a higher level. Jimenez is still an excellent prospect for the 2018 campaign thanks to his plus-plus power and an above-average -- perhaps even plus -- hit tool. Even if we don't see him until the end of July, he has a chance to make a tremendous impact.
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3. Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros
2018 stats: 63 G, .277/.355/.481, 9 HR, 10 SB, 31 BB, 58 SO at Triple-A Fresno.
For a second week in a row, I considered moving Tucker up into the top spot. He's crushing the ball right now, and he's showing an advanced approach at the plate that you want to see from a top prospect at the highest minor league level. He stays at three only because of my personal concerns -- and some concerns from people I've spoken with -- that he might not be an everyday player once called up in 2018. Talent generally wins out, however, and I think Tucker has a great chance of joining one of the best lineups in baseball over the coming weeks.
4. Forrest Whitley, RHP, Houston Astros
2018 stats: 2 G, 0.00 ERA, 8 IP, 0 HR, 2 BB, 11 SO at Double-A Corpus Christi.
Whitley has looked sensational since being reinstated from the suspended list, and you just need to look at the numbers listed above for proof. His stuff is sensational; better than any prospect on this or any other list with four pitches that can make hitters look foolish at the plate. The only reason Whitley ranks this "low" is because he likely is going to pitch out of the bullpen. Because of his ability to miss bats and throw strikes, he's still fantasy relevant.
5. Willie Calhoun, OF, Texas Rangers
2018 stats: 67 G, .277/.323/.416, 6 HR, 0 SB, 16 BB, 33 SO at Triple-A Round Rock.
These numbers may not look elite, but they're not indicative of how well Calhoun has played over the past few weeks. He's making hard contact -- and just as importantly, he's making more contact -- and we're starting to see the plus power he showed in 2017 show up in 2018 as well. There are defensive issues that don't necessarily have much to do with his fantasy value on the surface, and yet they are important because he needs to be at least a competent defender to play everyday at the next level. Calhoun's bat should carry him, however, and it should see him in Arlington soon enough.
6. Mitch Keller, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
2018 stats: 12 G, 3.25 ERA, 72 IP, 0 HR, 29 BB, 66 SO at Double-A Altoona.
There was good from Keller's last start: He went six innings and allowed just two runs; results most pitchers will have no problem taking from an outing. There was also some less than ideal things, as he walked four and struck out just three. Keller certainly has quality stuff, but the reason he's a top prospect is his ability to throw that stuff for strikes. Even with the Pirates hitting the reset button, they'll want Keller to find the strike zone more consistently if he's going to get a chance to pitch at the end of the year for them. He should.
7. Michael Kopech, RHP, Chicago White Sox
2018 stats: 13 G, 59 1/3 IP, 5.20 ERA, 4 HR, 42 BB, 82 SO at Triple-A Charlotte.
Kopech's control has a significant issue over his past few starts, but things really escalated in his most recent start. He only completed three innings, and he walked eight hitters while striking out two. Simply put, it's impossible to trust Kopech's command right now. And yet, because the stuff is so good, he still remains in the top 10. That might speak more to where we are in the season/how many of the top prospects are at the lower levels, but it also says that if Kopech can figure out how to throw strikes, he can be dominant at the next level.
2018 stats: 53 G, .408/.457/.667, 11 HR, 3 SB, 20 BB, 21 SO at Double-A New Hampshire.
Guerrero is still out for at least another three weeks with a knee injury. He'll be reevaluated near the end of the month, and likely will miss at least another week -- if not more -- as he rebuilds strength. Guerrero Jr. will have a place on this list until we hear he's shut down for the rest of the year, because his offensive upside crushes everyone else. Just look at those numbers.
9. Francisco Mejia, C, Cleveland Indians
2018 stats: 54 G, .243/.294/.395, 6 HR, 0 SB, 13 BB, 27 SO at Triple-A Columbus.
Welcome back, Francisco. Mejia was a borderline disaster over the first two months, but he's been swinging the bat exceptionally well over the past month, and he even earned a call-up to Cleveland last week, albeit for only a day. He's a catcher who can make hard contact to all parts of the field, and he's starting to show more power from both sides of the plate. He probably won't be an everyday catcher in 2018 -- particularly with Yan Gomes playing so well, but if he keeps up a strong pace, the Indians might want/need to find a way to get his bat into the lineup.
10. Austin Riley, 3B, Atlanta Braves
2018 stats: 53 G, .308/.369/.552, 10 HR, 0 SB, 18 BB, 66 SO at Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett.
Riley is still at least another week from returning as he recovers from a knee injury. It's being reported that the injury isn't serious, but we've heard similar things about prospects all year only to have our hearts broken, so take that with a grain of salt. Assuming he is back on the field before the end of the month, his plus power and ability to hit for just enough average make him a very interesting fantasy prospect for 2018 and beyond.