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.
The Top 10:
1. Dominic Smith, New York Mets
2017 Stats: 58 G, .311/.365/.472, 34 R, 15 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 39 RBI, 0 SB, 19 BB, 44 K
With Cody Bellinger now up hitting bombs in Dodger Stadium, Smith is the new number one fantasy first base prospect. He has some of the best hitting talent of any player at any position, spraying line drives all over the park. He’s built like a power hitter, but he’s more of a 15 to 20-homer guy than someone who is going to put up massive totals in that regard. There’s also some concern about his size, as he’s put on significant weight since turning pro. Still, he’s an above-average defender at first, and it should keep him from becoming a DH. Don’t be surprised if he’s contributing to the New York lineup at some point this summer.
Impact categories: AVG, OBP, RBI
2. Bobby Bradley, Cleveland Indians
2016 Stats: 48 G, .220/.325/.430, 20 R, 7 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 28 RBI, 2 SB, 23 BB, 52 K
They do not get much more powerful than Bobby Bradley. He has easy plus-plus power from the left side, and he could be among the league leaders in homers if he’s an everyday player. He’s also a patient hitter that pitchers don’t like to throw at, so he gets on via walk, as well. Unfortunately, his hitting talent is well below-average, as he strikes out a ton and he tries to crush everything and anything. He’s also a bottom of the scale runner, so don’t expect more than a stolen base or two. Even with those weaknesses, Bradley’s immense power makes him fantasy-relevant, likely in 2018.
Impact categories: OBP, HR, RBI.
3. Rhys Hoskins, Philadelphia Phillies
2017 Stats: 57 G, .301/.398/.602, 41 R, 14 2B, 3 3B, 13 HR, 45 RBI, 2 SB, 31 BB, 36 K
After crushing Double-A pitching in 2016, Hoskins has once again ranked among the statistical leaders in 2017. He has filled out his frame, and he now possesses plus power from the right side, maybe even plus-plus. He’s a patient hitter, but his long limbs and approach mean he’s going to pile up strikeouts, and his pull-happy approach also limits his hitting talent at least somewhat. The Phillies should find a way to get him into the lineup sooner than later, especially if Philadelphia continues to have the worst record in baseball this summer.
Impact categories: AVG, OBP, HR
4. Casey Gillaspie, Tampa Bay Rays
2016 Stats: 52 G, .217/.284/.340, 24 R, 6 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 24 RBI, 1 SB, 20 BB, 50 K
When the Rays took Gillaspie with the 20th pick in 2014, they thought they were getting a bat that could move quickly through the system. So far, that appears to be the case, despite the struggles so far in 2017. Gillaspie has an excellent approach at the plate, and while that leads to two strike counts (which leads to strikeouts) he compensates by drawing plenty of walks. He’s also beginning to tap into his power, and he should be a 20-plus homer player at the next level. He provides no impact with his speed, but most first baseman don’t. If you’re looking for “safety” from your first baseman, Gillaspie makes a lot of sense.
Impact categories: OBP, HR, RBI
5. Matt Thaiss, Los Angeles Angels
2016 Stats: 54 G, .252/.352/.367, 25 R, 7 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 25 RBI, 3 SB, 29 BB, 37 K
Thaiss was a catcher at the University of Virginia, but when the Angels took him with the 16th pick this June, they moved him to first to see if the bat could advance quickly. While it’s too early to tell whether or not that was the right call, he was impressive in his professional debut. He has excellent hand-eye coordination, which makes him a player who can draw walks while also limiting the swing-and-miss. He’s not your prototypical masher at first, but he does have 50-grade power, and there could be more if he adds more loft to his swing. There was more upside as a catcher, but Thaiss should advance quickly, and he could be the everyday first baseman by 2018.
Impact categories: AVG, OBP
6. Chris Shaw, San Francisco Giants
2016 Stats: 48 G, .294/.366/.493, 20 R, 15 2B, 0 3B, 7 HR, 36 RBI, 0 SB, 20 BB, 39 K
It was a slightly disappointing year for Shaw in 2016, especially upon his promotion to Richmond. He’s shown in 2017, however, that there’s still good reason for optimism. Shaw is a well-built young man, and he uses his size to create plus power from the left side. Like most first basemen he’s going to strike out a ton, but he should draw enough walks to compensate, and he does go the opposite way to help the hitting talent. It’s all a bit volatile and inconsistent, but Shaw does have the talent to be an everyday player at first base.
Impact stats: HR, RBI
7. Ronald Guzman, Texas Rangers
2017 stats: 56 G, .292/.359/.420, 33 R, 8 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR, 23 RBI, 0 SB, 19 BB, 36 K
It has not been a fast rise through the Texas system, but Guzman has slowly -- but surely -- developed into what looks like the Rangers’ first baseman of the future. The hitting talent is close to plus, and while he doesn’t have that upper-echelon power that a Joey Gallo has, he’s strong enough to hit 20 homers a year and plenty of doubles. There’s some concern that he might be a platoon-bat, but you can still be a quality fantasy first baseman if you’re sitting out a game or 20 a year.
8. Rowdy Tellez, Toronto Blue Jays
2016 stats: .215/.296/.343, 71 R, 8 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 23 RBI, 2 SB, 21 BB, 37 K
The difference between Tellez and Dan Vogelbach is negligible, and you could argue that Vogelbach should rank higher than Tellez at this point because of proximity to the 25-man roster. I have concerns about both players’ long-term success, but Tellez is a little more athletic, and has more raw power, despite that highlight you’ve seen of Vogelbach at a home-run derby some six years ago. He’s probably a platoon guy and he’ll provide close to zero baserunning value, but there’s just enough offensive upside to say that Tellez could be a regular at some point in his big-league career.
Impact categories: AVG, HR, RBI
9. Ryan O’Hearn, Kansas City Royals
2017 stats: 52 G, .258/.329/.432, 17 R, 12 2B, 7 HR, 18 RB, 19 BB, 53 K
Impact stats: HR, RBI
O’Hearn was an eighth- round selection out of Sam Houston State in 2014, and the Royals deserve a lot of credit for helping him turn into a legit first base prospect. The power is obvious, as he can take any pitch on any part of the plate out of the park, but he’s also worked hard on the hitting ability, and he’s drawing a fair share of walks now, too. He’s also an adequate defender around the bag, so he shouldn’t be first to move to DH anytime soon. He’ll never hit for a high average because of the length of the swing, but a 30-homer player is possible.
10. Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros
2017 Stats: 19 G, .403/.488/.627, 15 R, 7 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 2 SB, 12 BB, 21 K
Yes, the sample size is very small, but you can’t deny that those numbers are awfully impressive. Alvarez came over to Houston in a deal that sent Josh Fields to the Dodgers, and it could be a deal that Los Angeles regrets in a few years. He’s massive, and while he certainly has raw power, the hitting talent might actually be ahead of the power. He’s years away from reaching the bigs, but you could argue that Alvarez has the highest upside of any first baseman on the list. That’s pretty impressive.
Impact categories: AVG, OBP
Next 10 (alphabetical order):
Lewin Diaz, Minnesota Twins
Gavin LaValley, Cincinnati Reds
Jose Marmolejos, Washington Nationals
Ryan McBroom, Toronto Blue Jays
Joe McCarthy, Tampa Bay Rays
Brian Mundell, Colorado Rockies
Josh Naylor, San Diego Padres
Josh Ockimey, Boston Red Sox
Matt Olsen, Oakland Athletics
Daniel Vogelbach, Seattle Mariners