A reminder that this is strictly a list for 2019. 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. Also, a reminder that prospects who are on MLB rosters are not eligible for this list. You can view my top 100 prospects for 2019 and my top prospects by position in our Rotoworld MLB Season Pass.
Without further ado, here’s the top 10 fantasy prospects to open the 2019 season.
1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Toronto Blue Jays
2019 stats: 9 G, .344/.432/.594, 2 HR, 1 SB, 4 BB, 2 SO at High-A Dunedin and Triple-A Buffalo.
There was a report that Guerrero Jr. could be promoted on Tuesday ahead of the Blue Jays’ series with the Giants. Those reports were quickly extinguished by several Toronto writers, and the Blue Jays recalled Richard Urena after Matt Shoemaker was placed on the injured list on Sunday. It’s probably not coming this week, but the promotion of the best fantasy prospect in baseball should be coming very soon. There’s no reason for it not to.
2. Nick Senzel, OF, Cincinnati Reds
2019 stats: Has not played - ankle injury
Guerrero won’t be making his debut on Tuesday, it looks like, but there will be a top prospect making a debut that day. Senzel has been out with an ankle injury since spring training, but he’ll make his Triple-A debut on Tuesday. He’s played in a couple of extended spring training game, and the hope is that he’ll be able to play nine innings on Tuesday. Senzel should get a chance to play in Cincinnati before the end of May, and he can help in several categories.
3. Touki Toussaint, RHP, Atlanta Braves
2019 stats: 1 G, 3.00 ERA, 3 IP, 1 H, 4 BB, 1 SO at Triple-A Gwinnett; 2 G, 8.59 ERA, 7.1 IP, 10 H, 3 BB, 9 SO at Atlanta.
Touki giveth, Touki taketh away. Toussaint was excellent in his six innings against the Mets, but bombed hard in his start against the Indians by allowing seven runs and getting only four outs against the Indians. That led to Toussaint being sent down in favor of Bryse Wilson, but there’s still reason for optimism with the 22-year-old right-hander in 2019. The swing-and-miss stuff is readily apparent, and despite that effort against Cleveland, the command has gotten better. If/when Touki gets another chance -- and it should be when -- he’s well worth rostering, in my eyes.
4. Kyle Wright, RHP, Atlanta Braves
2018 stats: 1 G, 11.25 ERA, 7 H, 1 BB, 2 K at Triple-A Gwinnett; 3 G, 7.07 ERA, 14 IP, 15 H, 10 BB, 11 SO at Atlanta.
Wright was sent down by Atlanta last week after struggling in his three starts with the Braves, and unfortunately, he didn’t have much success in his first start in the minors by allowing five runs over four innings. Obviously, this is all a very small sample. Wright has four pitches that can miss bats, and he generally is around the strike zone. Expect both Wright and Toussaint to make plenty of starts for Atlanta, and to find success at that highest level. Just be prepared for the occasional clunker. Baseball is hard.
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5. Dylan Cease, RHP Chicago White Sox
2019 stats: 3 G, 1.84 ERA, 14.2 IP, 9 H, 3 BB, 14 SO at Triple-A Charlotte.
Cease makes his debut after actually having his worst start of the season, allowing three runs over 4 2/3 innings against Norfolk on Saturday. Still, the overall body of work has been very impressive for the 23-year-old, and he has the stuff to back it up. His high 90 mph fastball is a strong start, and he often finishes hitters off with his plus curveball. He also has an improving change, and the command has taken big strides as well. Cease has huge fantasy potential, and should be with the White Sox before the summer months end.
6. Justus Sheffield, LHP, Seattle Mariners
2019 stats: 3 G, 4.11 ERA, 15.1 IP, 11 H, 11 BB, 9 SO at Triple-A Tacoma.
It was far from perfect, but Sheffield had his best start of the 2019 season on Wednesday, and showed the stuff that makes him one of the top pitching prospects from the left side in baseball. He allowed just three hits over 6 2/3 innings, and he struck out six while walking three. The command issues don’t appear to be going away soon, but he should throw enough strikes to miss bats with three plus offerings. It’d be an upset if he wasn’t with Seattle before the All-Star break.
7. Keston Hiura, INF, Milwaukee Brewers
2019 stats: 17 G, .297/.313/.609, 4 HR, 0 SB, 1 BB, 24 SO at Triple-A San Antonio.
Hiura still isn’t walking, but the 22-year-old is also still showing off an impressive power stroke. He’s now up to 11 extra-base hits with six doubles and a triple to go along with those four roundtrippers, and he’s making hard contact to all parts of the field. The only reason Hiura ranks this “low” on this list is the lack of an obvious playing spot. I still think the Brewers are going to find a way to get his impressive bat in the lineup this year.
8. Forrest Whitley, RHP, Houston Astros
2018 stats: 3 G, 6.55 ERA, 11 IP, 10 H, 5 BB, 13 SO at Triple-A Round Rock.
Whitley made two starts last week, one awful, one solid. He didn’t make it out of the second while allowing five runs against Memphis on Monday, but on Sunday, he was able to rebound by allowing just a run while fanning five over 4 2/3 against Memphis. The Astros are going to make sure that Whitley doesn’t over exert himself early on, saving the bullets for the summer months. He has the best stuff of any pitcher in baseball, and as long as it’s not in an “opener” or middle-relief role, he’ll have loads of value when he gets the call.
9. Brendan Rodgers, INF, Colorado Rockies
2019 stats: 10 G, .258/.338/.452, 3 HR, 0 SB, 7 BB, 13 SO at Triple-A Albuquerque.
Rodgers average took a hit this week with a 1-for-16 skid, but he bounced back with a homer on Friday and picked up another hit on Saturday. Rodgers is also showing more patience at the plate, which is always nice to see. Like Hiura, there’s no obvious spot for him to play, but Rodgers is too good of a player to keep in the PCL all year. Whenever he gets the call, there will certainly be fantasy relevance with his plus hit-and-power tools.
10. Bo Bichette, SS, Toronto Blue Jays
2019 stats: 13 G, .255/.304/.412, 1 HR, 2 SB, 4 BB, 9 SO at Triple-A Buffalo.
Full disclosure, I did consider putting Carter Kieboom into this final spot, and honestly, the difference between Kieboom, Bichette and Brendan Rodgers is negligible in the short-term. Bichette was starting to hit the ball with authority, but he hasn’t played since Wednesday. It doesn’t appear to be a long-term injury, however, and Bichette’s ability to hit for average, power and steal bases will make him an excellent addition to a fantasy lineup whenever the Blue Jays call him up. He only ranks this low because there are absolutely zero guarantees as to when that’ll be.
Also considered:https://www.nbcsports.com/edge/baseball/mlb/player/21441/carter-kieboomCarter Kieboom, SS, Washington Nationals; Mitch Keller, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates; Ke’Bryan Hayes,3B, Pittsburgh Pirates; Yordan Alvarez, OF, Houston Astros; Jesus Luzardo, LHP, Oakland Athletics; Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros