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Prospect - Premium

Prospect Positional: 1B

by Christopher Crawford
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

The rankings are broken into two parts: the top 10 prospects in order and the next 10 prospects in alphabetical order. As always, these rankings are done from a scouting perspective but with fantasy baseball in mind, generally focusing on standard 5x5 league categories – though other statistics (e.g., OBP) are considered – and long-term, dynasty-league value.

 

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The Top 10:


1.    Brendan McKay, Tampa Bay Rays

2018 stats: 4 G, .538/.700/.615, 0 HR, 0 SB, 7 BB, 2 SO at Low-A Bowling Green


McKay is not only one of the best first base prospects in baseball right now, he’s one of the top left-handed pitching prospects. Yep, a two-way player. Always fun. On the offensive side, McKay has an excellent approach at the plate, and he has a swing that is conducive to hitting line drives. He won’t be an elite power hitter, but there’s just enough here to profile him as a regular at the position. The only question is whether he’ll end up at the position, because he’s awfully good on the mound, too.


Impact stats: AVG, OBP


2.    Pavin Smith, Arizona Diamondbacks

2018 stats: 5 G, .118/.318/.118, 0 HR, 1 SB, 5 BB, 4 SO at High-A Visalia


Smith is the second member of the 2017 draft class to make the list, and he’s certainly not the last. A former star for Virginia, Smith had one of the most advanced hitting abilities in the class, and he showed as much in his professional debut. He certainly can hit for average, and he should draw more than his fair share of walks, as well. The only reason Smith falls to the third spot is there are significant concerns about his power. If he makes the adjustment and hits more bombs, he’ll be number one on this list. If not, he’s still a quality fantasy prospect.


Impact stats: AVG, OBP


3.    Bobby Bradley, Cleveland Indians

2018 stats: 5 G, .111/.238/.278, 1 HR, 0 SB, 3 BB, 7 SO at Double-A Akron


Bradley didn’t have the breakout season that many expected in 2017, and he probably caused more concern than increased confidence. Nevertheless, he still exhibited what makes him a potential fantasy starter: plus-plus power. He also draws his share of walks, as teams fear the left-handed hitting slugger. Unfortunately, he’ll never hit for a high average because of the loads of strikeouts, and he provides no value on the bases. He’s a one-category winner, but when that one category is homers, it makes you relevant.


Impact stats: OBP, HR, RBI


4.    Nick Pratto, Kansas City Royals


2018 stats: 6 G, .333/.417.571, 1 HR, 0 SB, 3 BB, 7 SO at Low-A Lexington


Not only is Pratto one of the best prospects at the position, he might be the best prospect in the entire Kansas City system. Many scouts believed he had the best hitting talent of any prospect at the high school level, as he has excellent pitch recognition skills and a sweet stroke from the left side of the plate. He also has power potential, but he’ll have to add more loft to his swing to tap into it. He’s a few years away, but his upside is palpable.


Impact stats: AVG, OBP


5.    Evan White, Seattle Mariners


2018 stats: 1 G, .000/.200/.000, 0 HR, 0 SB, 1 BB, 1 SO at High-A Modesto


Yep, another member of the 2017 draft class. White isn’t your prototypical first baseman at all, as he’s more about shooting line drives all over the park, and then using his plus speed to work to steal bases. That’s not to say he doesn’t have power, and 15-20 homer seasons are well within reason. There’s a chance he could move to the outfield to take advantage of his skills, but as long as he’s at first base, he’s one of the best prospects at the position.


Impact stats: AVG, R, SB


6.    Ronald Guzman, Texas Rangers


2018 stats: 4 G, .462/.588/.538, 0 HR, 0 SB, 4 BB, 2 SO at Triple-A Round Rock


Guzman finally showed the talent that made him such a highly ranked prospect coming out of the international market in 2011. Better late than never. Guzman doesn’t have big power despite his 6-foot-5, 225-pound stature, but he’s capable of 20 homer seasons. The reason he is a top first base prospect is he hits all pitches on all parts of the plate hard, and a .300 season at the highest level is within reach. At some point in 2018, the Rangers should see what they have in the 23-year-old infielder.


Impact stats: AVG, OBP


7.    Peter Alonso, New York Mets


2018 stats: 5 G, .444/.524/.944, 2 HR, 0 SB, 3 BB, 4 SO at Double-A Binghamton


Alonso won’t be the most talented Met first baseman in the minor leagues to start 2018 -- that’s Dominic Smith -- but he’s a quality prospect in his own right. Teams are always looking for power hitters from the right side, and that’s what Alonso brings with his strength. He’s not just a bomb-or-bust hitter, however, as he makes consistent contact to all parts of the field. If he can improve his approach, he’ll jump up this list in the next edition.


Impact stats: AVG, HR


8.    Chris Shaw, San Francisco Giants


2018 stats: 6 G, .208/.240/.375, 1 HR, 0 SB, 1 BB, 9 SO at Triple-A Sacramento


Shaw is currently blocked by Brandon Belt in the system, so he’ll need to change organizations -- or have Belt move to the outfield -- to capitalize on his value. He has plus power from the left side, and while there’s certainly some swing-and-miss in his profile, it’s not enough to prevent him from hitting for a high average. Shaw is a “safe” prospect who could be a starting first baseman someday, but again, his organization is probably going to have to change.


Impact stats: HR, RBI


9.    Lewin Diaz, Minnesota Twins


2018 stats: 5 G, .150/.150/.200, 0 HR, 0 SB, 0 BB, 5 SO at High-A Fort Myers


Diaz was signed back in 2012 for $1.4 million, and it’s been a slow build for the first baseman. He finally put things together in his first full professional season, and the future looks bright for the 21-year-old. He has a chance to hit for both average and power, with both abilities projecting at least average with a chance to be above. He won’t provide much value on the bases, but not many at the position will. He’s definitely a long-term prospect to keep an eye on.


Impact stats: AVG, HR


10.   Sam Travis, Boston Red Sox


2018 stats: 3 G, .273/.333/.273, 0 HR, 0 SB, 1 BB, 2 SO at Triple-A Pawtucket

   

Travis was a second-round pick out of Indiana in 2014, and while his career has been marred by injuries, when he’s been healthy, he’s shown the offensive ability as a (potential) starter at first. He doesn’t have elite power -- asking for more than 15 homers is probably too much -- but he rips line drives to the opposite field, and he keeps his strikeouts to a dull roar. His most likely role in the majors is a platoon with a first baseman that can’t hit lefties, but there’s just enough offensive potential in Travis’s bat to perhaps become an everyday player.


Impact stats: AVG

 

The Next 10 (Alphabetical Order):


Will Craig, Pittsburgh Pirates
Jake Gatewood, Milwaukee Brewers
Gavin LaValley, Cincinnati Reds
Ryan Mundell, Colorado Rockies
Josh Naylor, San Diego Padres
Josh Ockimey, Tampa Bay Rays
Ryan O'Hearn, Kansas City Royals
Edwin Rios, Los Angeles Dodgers
Gavin Sheets, Chicago White Sox
Matt Thaiss, Los Angeles Angels


Christopher Crawford

Christopher Crawford is a baseball and college football writer for NBC Sports Edge. Follow him on Twitter @Crawford_MILB.