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2018 Top 34 Fantasy First Base Prospects

The Dynasty Guru recently released the annual, consensus rankings of the top 50 fantasy first basemen in dynasty leagues (#1-20 and #21-50), detailing several first base prospects.  The following rankings focus upon, and dive deeper into, fantasy first base prospects.

With so many future first base prospects currently playing at other positions, first base is shallower than expected. Due to the high hitting bar for first base prospects, they have a high failure rate.  Nevertheless, first base prospects almost universally can hit and occasionally develop into fantasy studs.

Before delving into the rankings, here is a brief explanation of fantasy tool grades:

A Guide to Fantasy Tools

Publicly-available scouting reports and past production make up a player’s “grades” for each of his skills. Those grades help anticipate a player’s ceiling, which, in turn, helps assess value. For fantasy purposes, only a few grades matter.

Average Hit Tool: The fantasy hit tool is a mixture of contact (batting average) and plate discipline (walk percentage/on-base percentage, or OBP). In a 16-team dynasty league, the average batting average and on-base percentage is approximately .265 and .335, respectively. A well-disciplined player’s fantasy hit tool plays up a grade higher than otherwise expected. A change to a hit tool grade increases or decreases those averages by approximately .015 (i.e., an above-average hitter produces a batting average and on-base percentage of approximately .280 and .350, respectively).

Average Power Tool:  The fantasy power tool weighs realized or in-game power against potential or raw power. In a 16-team dynasty league, the league-average isolated power is approximately .175, which translates to approximately 20 home runs per season. A change to a power tool grade increases or decreases by approximately .025 for isolated power.

Speed Bonus:  The speed bonus only applies to players anticipated to accumulated stolen bases. Each incremental bonus accounts for approximately 10 stolen bases. For example, a player with a speed bonus of 5 likely will accumulate approximately 10-15 stolen bases.

Risk:  Risk considers a multitude of factors, including, but not limited to: fielding, level, opportunity, industry reputation, age, and injury history. In fantasy, fielding is only relevant to the extent it facilitates or hinders opportunity and eligibility.

Without further ado, the 2018 Top Fantasy First Base Prospects:

2018 Top 34 Fantasy First Base Prospects

RankPlayerOpening Day AgeLevelETA
1Ryan McMahon COL23.29AA/AAA/MLB2018
2Brendan McKay TB22.28A-2019
3Bobby Bradley CLE21.83AA2019
4Pavin Smith ARI22.15A-2019
5Ronald Guzman TEX23.44AAA2018
6Peter Alonso NYM23.31A+/AA2019
7Nick Pratto KC19.48R2021
8Evan White SEA21.92A-2019
9Josh Naylor SD20.77A+/AA2019
10Edwin Rios LAD23.94AA/AAA2019
11Dan Vogelbach SEA25.28AAA2018
12Matt Thaiss LAA22.90A+/AA2019
13Lewin Diaz MIN21.36A2020
14Rowdy Tellez TOR23.04AAA2018
15Josh Ockimey BOS22.45A+/AA2019
16Sam Travis BOS24.59AAA/MLB2018
17Casey Gillaspie CHW25.18AAA2018
18Gavin Sheets CHW21.93A2020
19Ryan O'Hearn KC24.68AA/AAA2019
20Mike Ford SEA25.74AA/AAA2018
21Christian Walker ARI27.00AAA2018
22Brian Mundell COL24.09A+/AA2019
23Will Craig PIT23.37A+2020
24Jake Gatewood MIL22.51A+/AA2020
25Samir Duenez KC21.80AA2018
26Darick Hall PHI22.68A/A+2020
27Kevin Cron ARI25.12AA2019
28Gavin LaValley CIN23.25A+/AA2019
29Tim Lynch NYY24.82A+2020
30Garrett Cooper MIA27.26AAA/MLB2018
31Mason Martin PIT18.82R2022
32Chad Spanberger COL22.41R2021
33Jake Adams HOU22.27A-2021
34Tyreque Reed TEX20.81R2022

1. Ryan McMahon, Colorado Rockies

2017 StatisticsAVGOBPSLGHRSB

A lot went wrong for Ryan McMahon in his 2016 AA season. Every single game played that entire season was on the road, as Hartford’s new stadium was under construction all year. Further, the Eastern League is a notoriously difficult transition for hitters, with numerous pitcher-friendly confines. McMahon also moved off third base for the first time in his career, splitting time with first base. Understandably, McMahon struggled at the plate, hitting .242/.325/.399 and striking out in 30.1% of plate appearances.

Due to McMahon’s difficulties, he plummeted down prospect lists entering 2017. However, McMahon came out of the gate on fire and never cooled off during his second trip through the level. Reducing his fly ball rate and driving the ball more consistently, McMahon earned a promotion to Triple-A at the beginning of June. McMahon posted an incredible .374/.411/.612 line after the promotion, buoyed by hitting .416/.452/.698 in the thin Albuquerque air (5,100 feet above sea level). In actuality, McMahon is a line drive, gap-to-gap hitter, and likely to hit less home runs than expected.

McMahon has a lot of defensive potential due to athleticism and a strong arm. Unfortunately, he struggles with the finer points of fielding (footwork and hands) and has consequently committed numerous errors over his professional career (including 100 errors in 366 games started at third base entering last year). Last year, McMahon saw time at first base, second base, and third base, and he is surprisingly competent at each position. This year, McMahon is the early favorite to start at first base for the Rockies with some starts at second and third sprinkled in. McMahon could generate huge value if his progress at the plate continues while attaining eligibility at three separate positions next year..

Peak Projection: .275/.340/.470, 25-30 home runs

2. Brendan McKay, Tampa Bay Rays

2017 StatisticsAVGOBPSLGHRSB

After the Rays drafted Brendan McKay fourth overall in the 2017 Amateur Draft and announced him at first base, McKay noticeably did not look happy. McKay’s visible disappointment may be due to falling in the draft or playing for the Rays [ed. note- rude], but it likely is due to his love of pitching. Arguably a superior pitching prospect, McKay may follow Shohei Ohtani as another two-way player.

As a hitter, McKay has a beautiful left-handed swing with excellent plate discipline and a professional approach. He likely will not produce prototypical first base power as he is more of a line-drive hitter. In his brief debut, McKay showed off his patience (14.1% walk rate), but was worryingly pull-heavy (53.9%).

This year will be fascinating. No player has found success as a two-way player in the majors since Babe Ruth. Now, Ohtani and McKay will both attempt to do so. Regardless whether you own Ohtani or McKay in fantasy, it will be a wild ride following their careers.

Peak Projection: .275/.380/.460, 20-25 home runs

3. Bobby Bradley, Cleveland Indians

2017 StatisticsAVGOBPSLGHRSB

After earning the Carolina League MVP award last year, Bobby Bradley continued his steady climb through the Indians’ system with a solid performance in Double-A. Bradley made progress in other aspects of his game to complement his well-known and prodigious power. Plagued by strikeouts throughout his professional career (31.8% and 29.7% the last two years), Bradley reduced his strikeouts to a more manageable 22.9%. Further, he made more contact, hit fewer balls in the air, and was less pull-heavy.

As noted above, the Eastern League is not friendly to hitters, but even as one of the youngest players in the league Bradley performed above and beyond expectations. But even though he made significant strides last year and now looks less like a three true outcomes hitter, Bradley is not without blemishes. He struggled against left-handed pitchers last year (.176/.290/.277) and still accumulates boatloads of pull-side grounders, making him a prime shift candidate. Following the season, Bradley regressed in the Arizona Fall League, striking out 32 times in 76 plate appearance (42.1%).

Nevertheless, Bradley’s huge power plays anywhere. Before the Indians signed Yonder Alonso, rumors circulated that Bobby Bradley may have seen time in the majors this year. But he is not on the 40-man roster and likely will spend the season in Triple-A.

Peak Projection: .235/.325/.465, 30-35 home runs

4. Pavin Smith, Arizona Diamondbacks

2017 StatisticsAVGOBPSLGHRSB

The seventh overall pick in the 2017 Amateur Draft, Pavin Smith is a potentially elite hitter. He is a rare hitter that consistently walks more than he strikes out, due to an extremely advanced and high-contact approach. In fact, in his junior year at the University of Virginia, Smith walked 38 times against just 12 strikeouts!

A line-drive, all-fields hitter, Smith presently sacrifices power for contact despite possessing substantial raw power. Smith’s professional debut perfectly exemplifies the extremes of his approach, as he hit zero home runs and walked 27 times against 24 strikeouts. Currently lean and lithe, Smith has room to add muscle and turn some doubles into home runs.

Likely a quick mover, Smith is the probable replacement for Paul Goldschmidt, who becomes a free agent after 2019.

Peak Projection: .290/.370/.440, 15-20 home runs

5. Ronald Guzman, Texas Rangers

2017 StatisticsAVGOBPSLGHRSB

Signed by the Rangers in the same international class as Nomar Mazara, Ronald Guzman is about to join Mazara in the majors. Guzman played the entire season in Triple-A last year at just 22 years old, where he more than held his own by nearly hitting .300 with improved discipline. A large human being (6’5” 240), Guzman defies expectations in that he has mediocre in-game power and instead often drives balls opposite field.

With Joey Gallo occupying first base (until Adrian Beltre retires) and designated hitter shared by Shin-Soo Choo and Willie Calhoun, there is no room for Guzman. He will bide his time in Triple-A until he can debut sometime this year.

Peak Projection: .280/.340/.440, 15-20 home runs

6. Peter Alonso, New York Mets

2017 StatisticsAVGOBPSLGHRSB

After suffering a broken hand in April, Peter Alonso’s season only truly got going after the All-Star break. From then on, Alonso took no prisoners, slashing .324/.390/.596 with 16 home runs between High-A and Double-A. What is arguably most impressive about Alonso’s performance is that both the Florida State League and the Eastern League are pitcher-friendly leagues.

Considerably strong and powerful, Alonso has legitimate thump and launches towering home runs to all fields. He further alleviated concerns regarding his ability to make contact in professional baseball by maintaining a high-contact, moderate-strikeout approach.

A right-handed hitter and thrower, Alonso has a tough road ahead as very few right-right first basemen find success in the majors. Alonso is still a year away from the majors and is tapped to begin this year in Double-A. If Alonso carries over his second-half success into 2018, Dominic Smith better watch out!

Peak Projection: .260/.320/.465, 25-30 home runs

7. Nick Pratto, Kansas City Royals

2017 StatisticsAVGOBPSLGHRSB

Like Evan White below, Nick Pratto is an excellent defender with uncertain power projection. Like Pavin Smith above, Pratto has well-regarded plate discipline and understanding of the strike zone. Unlike White and Smith, Pratto has the upside to do it all: defend, hit, and hit for power. As a teenager, however, Pratto’s offensive profile can go several directions.

Pratto is a well-known commodity in the baseball industry long-accustomed to the spotlight. As a 12-year-old, Pratto won the 2011 Little League World series with a walk-off single. Since then, Pratto repeatedly represented the United States in international competition.

Pratto drives the ball to all fields with a swing that is smooth, quick and beautiful. Debuting in Rookie ball, however, Pratto performed inconsistently. Struggling with contact (25.2% K% and 29% SwStr%) while displaying patience and power, Pratto is raw, but promising. He will play the entire 2018 season at just 19 years old and despite his youth, the Royals likely will assign him to Low-A to start the season.

Peak Projection: .275/.355/.455, 20-25 home runs

8. Evan White, Seattle Mariners

2017 StatisticsAVGOBPSLGHRSB

Another 2017 first round pick, Evan White has uncommon speed for a first baseman. White is routinely graded as a plus-runner and could contribute double-digit stolen bases. Last year, only 2 first basemen tallied over 10 stolen bases (Wil Myers and Paul Goldschmidt). With stolen bases trending down across the game, White can be a unique commodity.

Offensively, White utilizes a flat, line-drive stroke and does not create much loft. Although White showed both power and discipline in his brief, injury-shortened debut (quadriceps strain), he is unlikely repeat such production. He is aggressive at the plate and, throughout his college career, he did not walk very much. White can be a potent bat with a change to his approach, swing path, and body (he’s got a thin, wiry 6’3” frame). Until then, White’s upside is a contact-oriented, gap-to-gap hitter with modest power.

Since White possesses a strong arm to go with his plus speed, many believe he profiles well in the outfield, including centerfield. The Mariners, however, envision a Gold Glove caliber defensive first baseman. As an advanced college bat, White likely will move quickly through the lower levels.

Peak Projection: .270/.330/.430, 15-20 home runs, 10-15 stolen bases

9. Josh Naylor, San Diego Padres

2017 StatisticsAVGOBPSLGHRSB

Josh Naylor’s professional career got off to an inauspicious start after the Miami Marlins drafted him 12th overall in the 2015 Amateur Draft. A year later, Naylor made headlines for prank-knifing teammate Stone Garrett and the Marlins traded Naylor to the Padres in a deal for Andrew Cashner shortly thereafter. The Padres then promptly promoted Naylor to High-A, where he toiled through 33 games. Entering last year, Naylor’s stock could only go up.

Reassigned to High-A, Naylor maintained his high contact approach, but added much-improved patience. Promoted to Double-A in July, a newly 20-year-old Naylor struggled in his first exposure to upper level pitching.

A robust and squat athlete, Naylor possesses huge raw power. At present, however, his approach seeks out contact and does not tap into his power. Further, Naylor drives an incredible amount of balls into the ground to the pull-side- his spray chart almost completely obscures the right side of the infield with overlapping groundouts. If Naylor adjusts his approach to create more loft, he has immense fantasy upside.

Still just 20 years old, Naylor has always been young for his level. Rejoining Fernando Tatis, Jr. in Double-A, this writer will personally have eyes on Naylor this year in San Antonio.

Peak Projection: .265/.315/.455, 25-30 home runs

10. Edwin Rios, Los Angeles Dodgers

2017 StatisticsAVGOBPSLGHRSB

Despite hitting 27 home runs across 3 levels in 2016, Edwin Rios received very little national attention entering last year. Discussions surrounding Rios were dominated by concerns regarding his aggressive, strikeout-prone approach and how he would handle upper-level pitching.

Last year, however, Rios continued to mash in the upper levels while improving his plate discipline. Rios is an aggressive, line-drive hitter, and utilizes his strength to drive the ball to all fields. After back-to-back loud seasons, doubts regarding Rios’ hitting ability are slowly fading into the past.

Meanwhile, bright neon doubts regarding Rios’ fielding remain. He made Ryan McMahon look like a Gold Glove defender splitting time between third base and first base last year. Committing 19 errors in 46 games at third last year, Rios is not much better at first base but may be serviceable with more reps. The Dodgers understandably want Rios to provide more versatility on defense as Cody Bellinger occupies first base. However, just imagine a future Dodgers’ lineup with Edwin Rios (0:53), Cody Bellinger (0:58), and Alex Verdugo (1:01).

Peak Projection: .260/.300/.460, 25-30 home runs

11. Dan Vogelbach, Seattle Mariners

2017 StatisticsAVGOBPSLGHRSB

Dan Vogelbach had a rough Spring Training and spent most of the year back in Triple-A, despite being a pre-season favorite to open last year as the starting first baseman for the Mariners. Consistently exhibiting incredible plate discipline, Vogelbach has little left to prove in the minors. Unfortunately for Vogelbach, the Mariners just traded for Ryon Healy and selected Mike Ford in the Rule 5 draft. The continued presence of Nelson Cruz further blocks Vogelbach’s preferred path to playing time as a designed hitter. Vogelbach is charitably considered “big boned” and lacks range and length to play first base. Still just 25 years old, Vogelbach will see more opportunities, possibly as a starting designated hitter once Cruz’s contract expires after this season.

Peak Projection: .250/.350/.450, 25-30 home runs

12. Matt Thaiss, Los Angeles Angels

2017 StatisticsAVGOBPSLGHRSB

A college teammate of Pavin Smith, Matt Thaiss is similarly a professional hitter with excellent plate discipline. Thaiss was a catcher in college but has only played first base as a professional, and observers remain concerned that Thaiss’ power may not play there. Thaiss is undersized for a first baseman and profiles as a doubles-over-homers, high on-base hitter. Last year, Thaiss managed a measly 9 home runs over 606 plate appearances between High-A and Double-A. Given Thaiss’ advanced approach, a lack of ideal power is not fatal. Thaiss likely will return to Double-A this year and could push C.J. Cron for playing time as soon as 2019.

Peak Projection: .280/.360/.425, 15-20 home runs

13. Lewin Diaz, Minnesota Twins

2017 StatisticsAVGOBPSLGHRSB

After finally breaking through in the Appalachian League in 2016, Lewin Diaz impressed in Low-A Midwest League last year. Diaz has a good feel for hitting in addition to boasting enormous power potential that rivals Miguel Sano. Although most of his power is currently to the pull-side, Diaz regularly hits the ball to all fields. He’s an aggressive, fly-ball hitter who makes consistent contact, but has yet to truly tap into his immense power in games. Defensively, Diaz improved steadily over the last few years and is now competent. Diaz will continue his slow ascension in High-A this year and is many years away from the majors.

Peak Projection: .270/.310/.445, 20-25 home runs

14. Rowdy Tellez, Toronto Blue Jays

2017 StatisticsAVGOBPSLGHRSB

To say Rowdy Tellez suffered a setback last year is underselling how poorly he performed. After an impressive showing in the Eastern League in 2016, Tellez rode high expectations into the season with only Justin Smoak standing in his way. Unfortunately, Tellez’s momentum stalled in Triple-A. Marked by struggles against left-handed pitching (.148/.235/.213) and little power, Tellez’s season was a disaster and prior worries about Tellez’s ability to hit quality fastballs resurfaced. One likely contributing factor to Tellez’s struggles was his mother’s offseason diagnosis of Stage 4 melanoma. It is still far too early to give up on Tellez. Just 23 years old, Tellez will return to Triple-A and likely debut in the majors this year.

Peak Projection: .250/.315/.430, 20-25 home runs

15. Josh Ockimey, Boston Red Sox

2017 StatisticsAVGOBPSLGHRSB

With power, walks (15% career BB%), and strikeouts (27.5% career K%), Josh Ockimey is yet another three true outcomes hitter. Although Ockimey struggles with contact, when he makes contact, it is hard and on a line. He drives the ball to all-fields, but hits many pull-side grounders which leads teams to often shift against him. On defense, Ockimey remains well below-average and looks like a future designated hitter. Despite his limited profile, a lot of promise lies in Ockimey’s bat and a strong repeat showing in Double-A will assuage concerns about his development.

Peak Projection: .235/.335/.425, 20-25 home runs

16. Sam Travis, Boston Red Sox

2017 StatisticsAVGOBPSLGHRSB

In 2016, Sam Travis was on the fast track to the majors before he suffered an ACL tear in May. Returning to Triple-A, Travis displayed very little power and over half (51%) of his balls in play were on the ground. In fact, outside of a 3-game stretch in May in which he went 9 for 14 with 2 doubles and 2 home runs, Travis slugged only .336 on the year. Travis uncharacteristically struggled with contact in brief cameos for the Red Sox in May, June and September. As a right-right first baseman with modest power, Travis has an upward battle to become an everyday player in the majors.

Peak Projection: .280/.340/.410, 10-15 home runs

17. Casey Gillaspie, Chicago White Sox

2017 StatisticsAVGOBPSLGHRSB

Traded to the White Sox in July for Dan Jennings, Casey Gillaspie spent the entire season toiling in Triple-A. A former first round pick, Gillaspie is strong and powerful with good plate discipline. Although Gillaspie is a switch-hitter, he is far better from the left-side. Gillaspie’s surface statistics from last year are dreadful, but he experienced little success on balls in play. Jose Abreu trade rumors continue to circulate and should the White Sox trade him, or if Delmonico and Davidson fail to produce at designated hitter, Gillaspie could see opportunities this year.

Peak Projection: .235/.315/.430, 25-30 home runs

18. Gavin Sheets, Chicago White Sox

2017 StatisticsAVGOBPSLGHRSB

Another White Sox first baseman, Gavin Sheets led the Atlantic Coast Conference with 21 home runs last year. Even though Wake Forest is a notorious power haven, evaluators believe the big lefty’s power is legitimate. In addition to power, Sheets is a patient hitter with a sweet swing. An over-slot second rounder, Sheets should move quickly through the White Sox system as a potential middle-of-the-order bat.

Peak Projection: .250/.330/.435, 20-25 home runs

19. Ryan O'Hearn, Kansas City Royals

2017 StatisticsAVGOBPSLGHRSB

Ryan O’Hearn had a disappointing year- he was first demoted from Triple-A to make room for players on rehab assignment, and then the Royals left him unprotected in the Rule 5 draft this fall. Yet he remains with the Royals, and these facts say something about the prospects of O’Hearn. Nonetheless, he hits for all-fields power (including 13 opposite field home runs last year), draws walks, and is a solid defender. There is a lot of swing-and-miss in his game (26%), but it is not prohibitive. The Royals’ lack of confidence in O’Hearn is worrying, and even though Brandon Moss is the only present obstacle to playing time at first base, O’Hearn will likely bide his time in Triple-A.

Peak Projection: .245/.320/.430, 20-25 home runs

20. Mike Ford, Seattle Mariners

2017 StatisticsAVGOBPSLGHRSB

Selected by the Mariners in the Rule 5 draft, Mike Ford makes Pavin Smith look like an aggressive hitter. Built in the image of Kevin Youkilis, the Assembly Line (Ford) of Walks* is a high-contact, walking machine. With 94 walks (17.7%) against 72 strikeouts (13.5%) last year, Ford possesses unrivaled discipline. Ford is unlikely to hit for prototypical first base power unless he puts more balls in the air, due to his contact-oriented approach with pull-side power. The anti-Ryon Healy at the plate, Ford could immediately push Healy for playing time at first base.

*Coined here first!

Peak Projection:  .260/.375/.420, 15-20 home runs

The Best of the Rest

The 2018 First Base Sleepers

The following prospects may rise significantly with strong showings in 2018. Each has immense upside, but each is also years away from the majors.

Brian Mundell, Colorado Rockies: Mundell has hit at every stop as a professional. Possessing an exceptional, high-contact, disciplined approach, Mundell is steadily approaching the majors. With good size, it is easy to envision Mundell eventually hitting for power, but at present his approach limits his game power to the gap-to-gap, doubles variety.

Darick Hall, Philadelphia Phillies: The Low-A South Atlantic League MVP, Hall paced the league in home runs by 10 with 27 home runs and added 2 more in High-A after promotion. Still developing as a hitter, Hall is currently pull-heavy and aggressive with some swing-and-miss. However, Hall has huge raw power to all fields and could put up crazy numbers at some point in Double-A Reading.

Tim Lynch, New York Yankees:  After a late start to the season, Lynch blew up the Florida State League with 13 home runs and 29 extra-base hits in just 57 games. A man of extremes, Lynch has mammoth, pull-side power with a pull- and fly ball-heavy approach. Thus far entirely unable to hit left-handed pitching, Lynch profiles as a platoon bat.

Mason Martin, Pittsburgh Pirates: Another league MVP, Martin hit the ground running in the Gulf Coast League after the Pirates selected him in the 17th round. Martin surprised many by launching 11 home runs and displaying impressive discipline for someone so young (19.3% BB%). Although presently pull- and fly ball-heavy, Martin has big power to all fields. Martin is still only 18 years old and far, far away from the majors.

Close to the Show: The 40-Man Roster First Base

Expect several of the following players to see time in the majors this year. Injuries or under-performance at the major league level could elevate several to starting jobs.

Christian Walker, Arizona Diamondbacks: Remember Walker?  The former Baltimore Orioles prospect is still in Triple-A and now with the Diamondbacks. In his fourth straight year in Triple-A, Walker led the minors in extra-base hits and finished second in home runs with 32. Walker appears to have made real progress by showing improved plate discipline and elevating more balls (10% more than 2015 and 2016). Unfortunately for Walker, Paul Goldschmidt irreparably blocks his path to playing time and the Diamondbacks abandoned the idea of forcing Walker’s bat into the outfield.

Samir Duenez, Kansas City Royals: When the Royals had to pick between O’Hearn and Duenez for the 40-man roster, the Royals choose Duenez. Nearly three years younger than O’Hearn, Duenez hits for less power and is an inferior defender. Duenez, however, is more athletic (stealing 26 bases in 2016) and makes more contact. Historically poor against left-handed pitching and pull-heavy, Duenez needs more refinement in the minors.

Garrett Cooper, Miami Marlins: Traded twice last year, Cooper now plays for the Marlins.  Gaining a lot of attention after his trade to the New York Yankees this summer, Cooper never received much of an opportunity last year. Although Colorado Springs buoyed much of his 2017 production (.442/.503/.829 at home), Cooper has a good, high-contact bat with moderate power. Like Walker, Cooper is now 27 years old and his window is closing.

Close to the Show: The High-A and Above First Base

The road for prospects is long and winding. These prospects are one step closer, already reaching High-A and, in some cases, beyond.

Will Craig, Pittsburgh Pirates: A 2016 first round pick, Craig has yet to tap into his raw power (8 homers over 916 PAs). Moreover, a full-time move down the defensive spectrum from third to first has sent his stock plummeting. On the positive side, Craig demonstrates a disciplined, all-fields approach. Another right-right first baseman, Craig has the cards stacked against him.

Jake Gatewood, Milwaukee Brewers:  Initially drafted as a shortstop in 2014, Gatewood moved all the way down the defensive spectrum to first base. Long prone to strikeouts, Gatewood struggles making consistent contact. When Gatewood does make contact, it is often loud. With tremendous raw power and a quick bat, Gatewood retains much of the same potential that made him the 41st overall pick in 2014. Now in Double-A, Gatewood could carve out a utility role moving forward and, if things fall right, could surprise.

Kevin Cron, Arizona Diamondbacks: The younger brother of C.J., Kevin has hit 25+ home runs in three straight years. In fact, Cron led Double-A Southern League in home runs for two straight years. Last year, Cron progressed across the board in his second go-round, improving his plate discipline, toning down his pull-heavy approach, and making more contact. Buried on the Diamondbacks’ first base depth chart, Cron is still a couple years away from contributing.

Gavin LaValley, Cincinnati Reds: Last year was a tale of two seasons for LaValley. Arguably the best hitter in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League before the All-Star break, LaValley smacked 15 home runs and slashed .289/.335/.547. Promoted to Double-A shortly after the break, LaValley did not find the same success. With mixed results, questions about LaValley’s hitting ability and power remain. Likely ticketed for a repeat of Double-A, LaValley needs to put together a consistent, full season.

The 2017 First Base Draftees

Besides McKay, Smith, Pratto, White, and Sheets, the 2017 Amateur Draft included many intriguing first base prospects, from advanced college bats to raw teenagers. Here, are the most interesting options.

Chad Spanberger, Colorado Rockies: A sixth round pick, Spanberger blasted 19 home runs in 60 games in the hitter-friendly Pioneer League. The power is very real and to all fields; unfortunately, so are the strikeouts. In 120 games between college and Rookie ball, Spanberger struck out 136 times (25%). With huge upside and huge risk, Spanberger could be a fantasy monster.

Jake Adams, Houston Astros: Another sixth round pick, Adams led the NCAA with 29 home runs last year. A large, strong man, Adams is the definition of power, hitting an additional 10 home runs in the New York-Penn League. Like Spanberger, Adams is also prone to striking out, including 68 in only 48 professional games. An intriguing power bat, Adams is someone to closely monitor.

Tyreque Reed, Texas Rangers: Similarly sized as Adams, Reed is a behemoth. Drafted out of Itawamba Community College, Reed is well-regarded for his power and remarkable approach. Providing a taste of his potential in his professional debut, Reed made a lot of hard, all-fields contact and hit for power with excellent discipline.

The Author

Jesse Roche

Jesse Roche

Jesse is an attorney, currently residing in Greensboro. An avid fantasy baseball player, Jesse has experience in a diverse range of leagues, including head-to-head, rotisserie, points, and simulation. Jesse is a five-time website-wide champion at Benchwarmer Baseball and a repeat champion of a dynasty league with John Sickels at Minor League Ball. With a specific interest in baseball prospects, Jesse plans to provide in-depth analysis of up-and-coming stars accessible to all league sizes and types.


  1. Bryce Cutler
    January 27, 2018 at 7:19 am

    What is it that keeps Yordan Alvarez completely off this list?

    • January 27, 2018 at 8:27 am

      Alvarez is an outfielder for the purpose of these lists as he played more games in the outfield (41) than first base (22). Jake Bauers, Chris Shaw, Brent Rooker, and Jhailyn Ortiz, among others, are also outfielders.

      If Alvarez were on this list, he would rank third, behind McKay.

  2. Bryce Cutler
    January 27, 2018 at 8:58 am

    Jesse, thanks for the reply. I feel better about holding onto him now.

  3. January 27, 2018 at 10:37 am

    Bryce does raise an interesting dilemma when creating rankings. The eligibility philosophy at TDG is to rank a player at the most valuable position in which such player has eligibility. For example, Cody Bellinger is eligible as an outfielder and, therefore, excluded from the first base rankings.

    For these prospect rankings, the following players likely are first basemen, but are eligible elsewhere:

    3. Yordan Alvarez (OF) – ranked between McKay and Bradley
    5. Jake Bauers (OF) – ranked between Bradley and Smith
    7. Chris Shaw (OF) – ranked between Smith and Guzman
    10. Brent Rooker (OF) – ranked between Alonso and Pratto
    13. Jhailyn Ortiz (OF) – ranked between White and Naylor

  4. Bryce Cutler
    January 27, 2018 at 2:12 pm

    Jesse, you have the top guys, then the best of the rest and then draftees. Maybe, have a section for qualifies at 1b but check the position they have more value in? Not trying to add to your work. Appreciate the articles and your opinions and feedback.

    • January 28, 2018 at 7:55 pm

      In the future, I will briefly list players omitted from a positional list because they are eligible at another position and note where they would otherwise rank, beginning with second base prospects this coming week.

  5. […] 2018 Baseball Prospect Rankings: TheDynastyGuru.com ranks the top 34 first base prospects. […]

  6. Matias
    January 28, 2018 at 3:59 pm

    Hi Jesse, thanks for your work. I am in a deep league (20-teams) so this kind of articles are awesome.

    I have one question: I’m rebuilding and trying to acquire Edwin Rios. Around what range of players do you think would be a good offer for him approx? It’s a 9-cat with unlimited minors.


    • January 28, 2018 at 8:09 pm

      I’m glad you enjoy the article, Matias!

      Edwin Rios falls towards the end of the 150 to 200 overall fantasy prospect range. Depending on league rules, this is equivalent to approximately a third or fourth round prospect pick.

      For all dynasty players in 16-team teams, Rios falls in the 480 to 600 range. In deeper leagues, the value of borderline players increases and Rios likely falls further in the overall rankings.

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