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. Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox
2016 Stats: 128 G, .282/.335/.443, 64 R, 32 2B, 8 3B, 11 HR, 71 RBI, 18 SB, 40 BB, 94 K.
Devers got off to a terrible start in 2016, hitting .138 in April and posting a .584 OPS through May. From June 1 on, however, Devers hit .328/.369/.514, and showed some of the best offensive talent of any corner infielder in baseball. He has superb bat speed, and that makes him one of the few hot corner prospects who can hit for average and power. He also has worked hard to improve his quickness, and that showed up last year, as seen in the stolen bases. He’s a few years away, but if you’re looking for a high-upside prospect, Devers offers plenty of it.
Impact stats: AVG, OBP, R, HR, RBI, SB
2. Nick Senzel, Cincinnati Reds
Senzel was the second overall pick by Cincinnati, and to say that he exceeded even the loftiest expectations is an understatement. He was particularly impressive after being promoted to Dayton, posting a .982 OPS with 15 steals. He has excellent feel for the barrel, and he can spray line drives all over the park. He also has some power, though asking for more than 20 homer seasons might be asking too much. Add in the ability to steal bases, and Senzel is a high-floor infielder who has a chance to move quickly through the Cincinnati system.
2016 Stats: 68 G, .305/.398/.514, 41 R, 24 2B, 3 3B, 7 HR, 40 RBI, 18 SB, 38 BB, 54 K.
Impact stats: AVG, OBP, R, SB
3. Jeimer Candelario, Chicago Cubs
2016 Stats: 132 G, .283/.376/.464, 74 R, 39 2B, 4 3B, 13 HR, 77 RBI, 0 SB, 70 BB, 84 K.
There might not be a more blocked prospect than Candelario right now, as the Cubs have reigning MVP Kris Bryant manning the hot corner likely for a very long time. Still, Candelario belongs in the top-half of this list, and Chicago might need to find a way to get his bat into the lineup. He’s a patient hitter who is willing to draw walks, and he also makes hard contact from both sides of the plate. There’s very little power here, and he’s also not going to steal many bases. Because of his ability to get on base and hit for average, however, he still has a great chance of being a solid regular for someone, even if it’s not Chicago.
Impact stats: AVG, OBP, R
4. Matt Chapman, Oakland Athletics
2016 Stats: 135 G, .237/.328/.519, 92 R, 27 2B, 5 3B, 36 HR, 96 RBI, 7 SB, 68 BB, 173 K.
Chapman isn’t going to be able to hit for a high average. He struck out 173 times in 2016, and the length in his swing is always going to lead to swings and misses. He also has a great deal of power to all parts of the field, and he also will draw his fair share of walks to compensate for the strikeouts. It’s also worth noting that he’s a terrific defender at third, so you won’t have to worry about him moving over to first. Do not be surprised if he’s helping the Athletics this summer, and helping your fantasy lineup with homers and walks.
Impact stats: OBP, HR, RBI
5. Vladimir Guerrero, Toronto Blue Jays
2016 Stats: 62 G, .271/.359/.449, 32 R, 12 2B, 3 3B, 8 HR, 46 RBI, 15 SB, 33 BB, 35 K.
Before you ask, yes, this is the son of the future hall-of-famer of the same name. Unlike the senior Vlad, Guerrero gets rave reviews for his feel for hitting and patience. Like his father, he does have the ability to make hard contact to the opposite field, and he’ll capitalize on mistakes in the middle of the plate. He’s a solid runner who likes to run, and as he learns to read pitchers, he should be a stolen base threat going forward. There’s a long way to go, but outside of Devers, he has the most upside of any player at the hot corner.
Impact stats: AVG,OBP, R, SB
6. Ryan McMahon, Colorado Rockies
2016 Stats: 133 G, .242/.325/.399, 49 R, 27 2B, 5 3B, 12 HR, 75 RBI, 11 SB, 55 BB, 161 K.
To be blunt, McMahon had a very disappointing season in 2016, and what once looked like a sure thing has led to many more questions than anticipated. He struggled to make adjustments, and while there were always contact issues, they escalated in Double-A. Even with those negatives, McMahon still has above-average power potential, and when he does make contact, it’s hard and loud. It’s a risky profile, but don’t be surprised if McMahon bounces back in a big way in 2017.
Impact stats: HR, RBI, SB
7. Ke’Bryan Hayes, Pittsburgh Pirates
2016 Stats: 67 G, .266/.323/.397, 27 R, 13 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 37 RBI, 6 SB, 17 BB, 52 K.
Hayes was taken by the Pirates with the 32nd pick of the 2015 draft, and although there have been some bumps in the road, he’s looked like a potential impact bat for the most part. Even with a shaky approach, he still has a chance to hit for average with a quick, line-drive swing. There’s also some raw power in his right-handed bat, but he’s going to have to show more loft in the stroke to tap into it. He missed most of the second half of the season with a back injury, but it shouldn’t be too big a deterrent to his development, and he could be the Pirates’ third baseman as soon as 2018.
Impact stats: AVG
8. Hunter Dozier, Kansas City Royals
2016 Stats: 129 G, .296/.366/.533, 79 R, 44 2B, 1 3B, 23 HR, 75 RBI, 7 SB, 54 BB, 123 K.
Dozier followed up a lackluster 2015 season with his best as a member of the Royals’ system, and reestablished himself as one of the best hitting prospects in the Kansas City system. He’s improved his selectivity, and even though that leads to strikeouts and weak contact in two-strike counts, it should help him put up solid on-base percentages. He has filled out his frame, and he now shows a swing path that can take the ball out to any part of the park. There’s a chance he might have to move to the outfield, but if he stays at third, he could be the heir apparent on the hot corner.
Impact stats: OBP, HR, RBI
9. Lucas Erceg, Milwaukee Brewers
2016 Stats: 68 G, .327/.376/.518, 34 R, 17 2B, 4 3B, 9 HR, 51 RBI, 9 SB, 20 BB, 54 K.
The Brewers had one of the best drafts of any club in baseball -- on paper, anyway -- and one of the better selections was Erceg with the 46th pick. A left-handed hitter, he shows above-average power from the left side, and he surprised scouts with how advanced his command of the strike zone was. He also stole nine bases in just 68 games as a pro, but with fringe-average speed, it’s tough to project him being a big stolen base threat going forward. If Erceg is able to show the same level of success in 2017, he will jump up this list.
Impact stats: AVG, OBP, HR, RBI
10. Nolan Jones, Cleveland Indians
2016 Stats: 32 6, /257/.388/.339, 10 R, 5 2B, 2 3B, 0 HR, 9 RBI, 3 SB, 23 BB, 49 K.
One of the themes of this list is third basemen who are several years away from making an impact. Jones might be the furthest away on this list, but he just might be worth the wait. He’s very selective at the plate, and his impressive swing-plane and willingness to go the other way gives him a chance to hit for average and put up high on-base percentages. He’s still tapping into his power, but he’s strong enough to project average power production as well. You may not see him play a big-league game this decade, but if you’re patient, he might be a first-division third baseman.
Impact stats: AVG, OBP
Next 10 (alphabetical order):
Brian Anderson, Miami Marlins
Miguel Andujar, New York Yankees
Travis Blankenhorn, Minnesota Twins
Will Craig, Pittsburgh Pirates
Bobby Dalbec, Boston Red Sox
Dawel Lugo, Cleveland Indians
Josh Morgan, Texas Rangers
Trey Michalczewski, Chicago White Sox
Jomar Reyes, Baltimore Orioles
Austin Riley, Atlanta Braves