2018 Top 120 Fantasy Outfield Prospects, Part 1
The Dynasty Guru recently released the annual, consensus rankings of the top 125 fantasy outfielders in dynasty leagues (#1-20, #21-40, #41-70, #71-90, and #91-125), detailing several outfield prospects. The following rankings focus upon, and dive deeper into, fantasy outfield prospects.
As a special Valentine’s Day present to all our readers, please Eloy, or enjoy, Part 1 in a three-part series: 2018 Top Fantasy Outfield Prospects! This wonderful gift includes a beautiful Florial arrangement, the soulful music of Adell, and, possibly, the full Monte.
Like shortstop, outfield is a deep position in baseball, attracting both speedy, elite defensive players and plodding sluggers. A step above the defensive spectrum from first base and often an easier assignment than the infield, outfield contains a large and diverse group of players. As such, the list of outfield prospects is expansive; so expansive it warrants three separate articles.
This article explores the cream of the crop, the top 20 outfield prospects. Part 2 rounds out the top 50 outfield prospects. Part 3 delves into the remaining 70 outfield prospects, from high upside, high risk teenagers to intriguing prospects on the cusp of majors, but often considered “organizational depth.”
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). 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 Outfield Prospects:
2018 Top 20 Fantasy Outfielders
|Rank||Player||Opening Day Age||Level||ETA|
|1||Ronald Acuna ATL||20.28||A+/AA/AAA||2018|
|2||Eloy Jimenez CHW||21.34||A+/AA||2018|
|3||Victor Robles WAS||20.86||A+/AA/MLB||2018|
|4||Kyle Tucker HOU||21.20||A+/AA||2019|
|5||Lewis Brinson MIA||23.89||AAA/MLB||2018|
|6||Austin Hays BAL||22.73||A+/AA/MLB||2018|
|7||Luis Robert CHW||20.66||R||2020|
|8||Willie Calhoun TEX||23.40||AAA/MLB||2018|
|9||Alex Verdugo LAD||21.87||AAA/MLB||2018|
|10||Taylor Trammell CIN||20.54||A||2020|
|11||Juan Soto WAS||19.43||A||2020|
|12||Estevan Florial NYY||20.34||A/A+||2020|
|13||Austin Meadows PIT||22.91||AAA||2018|
|14||Jesus Sanchez TB||20.48||A||2020|
|15||Anthony Alford TOR||23.69||AA/AAA/MLB||2018|
|16||Jo Adell LAA||18.98||R||2021|
|17||Monte Harrison MIA||22.64||A/A+||2019|
|18||Leody Taveras TEX||19.56||A||2020|
|19||Yordan Alvarez HOU||20.76||A/A+||2020|
|20||Heliot Ramos SF||18.56||R||2021|
1. Ronald Acuna, Atlanta Braves
Prior to last year, Ronald Acuna only played 40 games in Low-A. Following the year, he advanced all the way to (and dominated) Triple-A and earned numerous accolades, including the Arizona Fall League MVP and Baseball America’s 2018 Minor League Player of the Year. Acuna totaled 36 doubles, 8 triples, 28 home runs, and 46 stolen bases over the season, including his performance in the AFL (an even 162 games). Now, he’s suddenly on the cusp of the majors at just 20 years old on the strength of what is arguably the most impressive season in the minors last year.
Acuna shines at the plate, blasting line drives and hitting for power to all fields. His quick bat, full plate coverage, barrel manipulation, and raw power allow him to hit for both batting average and in-game power. At times, Acuna sells out for power and his swing elongates, leading to some swing-and-miss (23.5 K%). As the season progressed, and he climbed the ladder, he surprisingly improved his performance by creating more hard contact, hitting for more power, and reducing his strikeouts.
In addition to his bat, Acuna also possesses plus speed and represents a true five-tool player. Although fast underway, he lacks the first step quickness and instincts of an elite base stealing threat, as evidenced by his 68% success rate. Acuna’s speed also plays well in the field, but he likely profiles best in right field long-term, where his huge 70-grade arm is an asset.
Unlikely to break camp with the rebuilding Braves due to service time considerations, Acuna will nonetheless debut in the majors early in the season. Acuna is a potential superstar and elite fantasy performer, a player who is not only the top fantasy outfield prospect, but the top overall fantasy prospect.
Peak Projection: .290/.340/.500, 25-30 home runs, 20-25 stolen bases
2. Eloy Jimenez, Chicago White Sox
In 2013, the Chicago Cubs signed Eloy Jimenez for $2.8 million. Last July, the Cubs shipped him across town to the White Sox as the headliner of a package for Jose Quintana. Jimenez took off after the trade, hitting .348/.405/.635 with 11 home runs over his last 47 games.
Jimenez has literal light-tower power. A well-built 6’4” and 205 pounds, he draws comparisons Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge. Last year, his 80-grade raw power began showing more often in games, leading to a robust 22% home run to fly ball ratio. He’s likely to display even more game power as he continues to develop. Further, he is a career .312 hitter with the ability to use the whole field. Previously an aggressive hitter, Jimenez also made strides with his approach last year, exhibiting more patience while limiting swings and misses.
With poor speed and an average arm, Jimenez likely is a left fielder long-term. Given his elite bat, however, where he plays will not matter. Placed on the Pale Hose’ 40-man roster in November, Jimenez likely will likely debut later this year after rosters expand in September.
Peak Projection: .280/.320/.550, 40-45 home runs
3. Victor Robles, Washington Nationals
Victor Robles debuted for the Nationals in September as a 20-year-old and made the postseason roster, scoring a run as a pinch runner. During the Arizona Fall League, he added 3 more home runs and 7 stolen bases while earning the MVP of the All-Star game. On the year, Robles hit 40 doubles, 10 triples, 13 home runs, and stole 34 bases.
Renowned for his elite speed and athleticism, Robles rivals teammate Trea Turner in home-to-first times. Further, he aggressively utilizes his speed both on the bases and at the plate, laying down bunts, beating out infield hits, and taking the extra-bases. Unlike many speedsters, Robles’ bat packs a wallop, with a lot of hard, line-drive contact and all-fields power. His aggressive, pull-heavy approach may be the only blemish on his outstanding offensive game. Interestingly, and despite consistently walking in only 7.5% of plate appearances, Robles still posts irregularly high on-base percentages via hit by pitch (23 times last year and 34 times in 2016).
Due to his blazing speed and exceptional instincts, Robles is an elite defensive centerfielder with otherworldly range that he pairs with a cannon for an arm. Unlike Acuna, Robles is a near-lock to stay in centerfield with only Michael Taylor and service time considerations preventing him from immediately starting for the Nationals. Like Acuna, it will not be a long wait until Robles returns to the majors this year.
Peak Projection: .285/.355/.440, 15-20 home runs, 30-35 stolen bases
4. Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros
The 2015 fifth overall pick (and younger brother of outfielder Preston Tucker), Kyle is a potential plus hitter with plus power. To begin his career, he failed to hit for much power, only hitting 9 home runs with a .119 isolated slugging percentage in 682 plate appearances. That all changed upon Tucker’s promotion to High-A in August 2016. Since then, his isolated slugging jumped all the way to .262 and his home run to fly ball ratio jumped to 17%.
With a more leveraged swing, Tucker began to tap into his big raw power. In addition to the blossoming power, he drives the ball from gap-to-gap with authority while exhibiting patience (walk rate of 8.8%) and excellent bat control. Aggressive on the bases, Tucker managed to steal 71 bases thus far in his career, but with average speed such success is unlikely to continue at the major league level.
In the field, Tucker split time between all three outfield positions. Given his size (6’4” and still filling out), average speed, and questionable routes, he likely will be a corner outfielder in the majors. Turning just 21 years old in January, Tucker likely spends most of the year in Triple-A, but could get a cup of coffee at some point this year.
Peak Projection: .280/.350/.490, 25-30 home runs, 10-15 stolen bases
5. Lewis Brinson, Miami Marlins
Drafted way back in the first round of the 2012 Draft, Lewis Brinson finally debuted in the majors last year. He was recently the centerpiece in two blockbuster trades: from the Texas Rangers to the Milwaukee Brewers for Jonathan Lucroy in 2016, and, then from the Brewers to the Marlins for Christian Yelich ion January. Now, Brinson likely enters this season as a starting outfielder for the Marlins.
Initially a raw-but-talented player that was prone to strikeouts, Brinson made significant progress reducing swings and misses while continuing hit for power. Significant raw power to all fields continues to be his calling card, but he now pairs it with a refined approach. Meanwhile, Brinson retains plus speed, making him a threat on the bases and an asset in centerfield.
Peak Projection: .270/.330/.470, 25-30 home runs, 10-15 stolen bases
6. Austin Hays, Baltimore Orioles
Debuting with the Orioles last fall (only a little over a year after beginning his professional career) Austin Hays surprised everyone last year. Identically demolishing High-A Carolina League and Double-A Eastern League, he totaled an incredible 73 extra-base hits, including 33 home runs, on the year.
With a muscular six-foot frame, Hays has significant pop, especially to the pull side. He creates all-fields, hard contact at the plate with excellent bat speed and a simple swing. An aggressive hitter, Hays rarely walks (4.3%) and is pull-heavy, though he shows a feel for opposite field contact.
Click here to read more about Hays!
Peak Projection: .280/.320/.500, 30-35 home runs
7. Luis Robert, Chicago White Sox
Signed by the White Sox for $26 million last May, Luis Robert debuted in the Dominican Summer League in June, but only played 28 games due to various minor injuries. When he played, he flashed the same tantalizing tools and impeccable patience he displayed in the Cuban National Series, where he slashed .401/.526/.687 as an 18-year-old.
Robert possesses an immense, sky-high ceiling. With a quick, powerful bat and plus speed, he is a potential five-tool player. Observers express concern regarding his tendency to swing-and-miss, and his early returns support this notion as he struck out a lot in the lowly DSL (20.2%). Yet to come state-side, Robert is still an unknown, high-upside and high-risk commodity.
Peak Projection: .275/.325/.475, 25-30 home runs, 30-35 stolen bases
8. Willie Calhoun, Texas Rangers
The Los Angeles Dodgers drafted Willie Calhoun in the fourth round of the 2015 Draft, after he put up video game numbers in junior college (.432/.520/.952 with 31 home runs). Following the draft, he advanced all the way to High-A California League, hitting for power with exceptional discipline. Over the next two years, Calhoun launched 58 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A, while posting nearly identical strikeout rates (12%) and walk rates (8%) at each level. Last July, the Dodgers traded him to the Rangers as part of the package for Yu Darvish, and he debuted in the majors two months later.
Often underrated or overlooked due to his diminutive size (5’8”) and poor defense, Calhoun is nevertheless a force at the plate. Using a violent upper-cut swing, Calhoun creates a lot of loft with substantial pull-side power, but also a sizable number of infield flies (regularly over 30%). Due to his advanced approach, however, he is adept at identifying pitches he can drive.
Unfortunately, Calhoun is without a defensive home. Likely limited to left field or designated hitter, he will always have a lot of pressure on his bat. That bat, though, will not disappoint. Penciled in as the starting left fielder for the Rangers next year, Calhoun is immediately relevant in both dynasty and redraft leagues.
Peak Projection: .285/.345/.495, 25-30 home runs
9. Alex Verdugo, Los Angeles Dodgers
This writer is a long-time Alex Verdugo fan. He does it all: he can hit, he has excellent plate discipline, he has arguably the best outfield arm in the minors, and he hits home runs off the heads of outfielders.
Considered a top hitting and pitching prospect entering the 2014 Amateur Draft, Verdugo wanted to hit and the Dodgers obliged, selecting him in the second round. Since then, he certainly has hit, with a career batting average of .305. Last year, at just 21 years old, Verdugo was the youngest player in Triple-A Pacific Coast League, and he more than held his own.
A pure, high-contact hitter, Verdugo rarely strikes out (10.1%), generates a lot of hard contact, and uses the whole field. The only aspect of his offensive game lagging behind is his in-game power. From a defensive standpoint, Verdugo fits perfectly in right field, with a huge arm and average speed. Although he is likely ready for a major league trial, a crowded Dodgers outfield will certainly relegate him to Triple-A this year.
Peak Projection: .300/.360/.450, 15-20 home runs
10. Taylor Trammell, Cincinnati Reds
The 35th pick in the 2016 Draft, Trammell received the 15th highest bonus, a well-above-slot $3.2 million, to lure him away from a commitment to Georgia Tech. A two-sport athlete in high school, he surpassed expectations thus far in his career, looking nothing like the raw athlete many thought he was. Instead, Trammell pairs his elite athleticism and speed with a mature, patient approach at the plate (12.4 BB%). Further, he is learning to use the entire field and developing his power stroke. Trammell’s main draw, however, is his 70-grade speed, which he already unleashes at the plate and on the bases. Although his speed clearly plays well in centerfield, he received most of his starts in left field in favor of Jose Siri.
Peak Projection: .280/.350/.435, 15-20 home runs, 30-35 stolen bases
11. Juan Soto, Washington Nationals
The Nationals signed Juan Soto for $1.5 million in 2015 and aggressively assigned him to the Gulf Coast League the next year (at just 17 years old). Between the GCL and the New York-Penn League, he slashed .368/.420/.553 in 51 games. Soto’s impressive performance earned another aggressive assignment last year to Low-A, where he briefly dominated before suffering a broken ankle in May, hamate surgery in July, and a hamstring injury in September. With a crazy .362 career batting average, he is a shockingly, advanced and disciplined hitter for his age. A natural hitter with power to all fields, Soto is a potential elite fantasy performer. Now, he just needs to stay healthy!
Peak Projection: .295/.355/.500, 25-30 home runs
12. Estevan Florial, New York Yankees
In 2015, the Yankees signed Estevan Florial for a paltry $200,000 due to a birth certificate controversy. Last year, he began harnessing his loud tools: power, speed, and arm. The frightening part is he still only providing a small taste of his true potential. Despite advancing to –and impressing at—High-A last year, Florial is very raw. Prone to driving balls into the ground (53%), especially to the pull-side, he rarely elevates the ball and when he does, it often soars over the fence (19% HR/FB). Further, Florial suffers a lot of swing-and-miss (strikeout rate of 31%), partially due to his patient approach. With a more leverage swing and refined base running, he could develop into a rare 30/30 fantasy player.
Peak Projection: .245/.325/.455, 25-30 home runs, 30-35 stolen bases
13. Austin Meadows, Pittsburgh Pirates
Consistently hamstrung by hamstring injuries, Austin Meadows suffered through yet another injury-plagued season. The former 2013 first-round pick entered last year on the cusp of the majors, returning to Triple-A to bide his time until the inevitable Andrew McCutchen trade. A disastrous April, followed by a June hamstring injury, put those grand plans on hold. The more disturbing development for Meadows was the power outage, as he saw his HR/FB percentage drop from 12.2% to 5.2%. Further, he became a heavy opposite-field hitter. Nevertheless, Meadows still displays excellent discipline, makes plenty of contact (often hard), and retains good speed despite the volatile hammy. With McCutchen out of the picture, the door is wide open for Meadows to seize a starting job this year.
Peak Projection: .285/.340/.460, 20-25 home runs, 10-15 stolen bases
14. Jesus Sanchez, Tampa Bay Rays
The less-heralded 2015 international signee of the Rays (the other being Adrian Rondon), Jesus Sanchez has done nothing but hit as a professional, with a career .318 batting average. Last year, the Rays skipped him straight to full-season ball and he was one of the better hitters in the Midwest League. A typical scouting report for Sanchez reads above-average across the board. With a smooth, line drive swing, he uses the whole field and is beginning to tap into his raw power. Although Sanchez does not yet utilize his speed much on the bases, he is a good runner with solid range at all three outfield positions.
Peak Projection: .290/.330/.480, 25-30 home runs, 10-15 stolen bases
15. Anthony Alford, Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays drafted Anthony Alford in the third round of the 2012 Draft, despite his desire to play football. After three years of college football with extremely brief forays in the minors, he fully committed to baseball in 2015 and immediately produced. Despite focusing only on baseball for a couple years, Alford exhibits an expert eye and polished approach. An ideal leadoff hitter, he has exceptional patience (12.8% career walk rate since 2015), occasionally to a fault. In addition, Alford possesses plus speed and the ability to drive the ball to all fields. His speed also provides him excellent range in centerfield. A knee injury placed Alford’s full major league debut on hold (just 4 games) and he likely returns to the upper minors to start the year.
Peak Projection: .275/.355/.410, 10-15 home runs, 30-35 stolen bases
16. Jo Adell, Los Angeles Angels
The first of many 2017 outfield draftees in these rankings, the tenth overall pick arguably had the most impressive debut. Known for his raw power and plus speed, but also his swing-and-miss tendencies, Adell performed far better than expected in Rookie ball. On the short year, he had 11 doubles, 8 triples, 5 home runs, and 8 stolen bases in just 49 games, putting his exciting power and speed on display. While he refrained from playing the field as he recovered from a shoulder injury, his speed and arm strength profile well in either center- or right field.
Peak Projection: .270/.330/.500, 30-35 home runs, 20-25 stolen bases
17. Monte Harrison, Miami Marlins
Drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2014 second round, Monte Harrison suffered a series of severe injuries to begin his career. He broke his left ankle in July of 2015 and then broke his left-hand hamate bone in June of 2016. Last year, Harrison miraculously did not break anything on the left-side of his body. Consequently, he broke out, equally impressing in Low-A Midwest League and High-A Carolina League. After the season, Harrison also performed well in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .283/.333/.604 with 5 home runs and 5 stolen bases.
An athletic specimen, Harrison flirted with a football career prior to the draft and those same power/speed attributes serve him well on the diamond. A line drive hitter, he began tapping into his substantial raw power, hitting home runs on 21.4% of fly balls. Further, Harrison was nearly unstoppable on the bases, stealing 27 in 31 attempts. Like Florial, his loud performance came at the cost of strikeouts, with a strikeout rate of 27.9% across all competitions. In the field, Harrison’s plus speed afford him great range in centerfield and his huge arm also profiles in right field.
Peak Projection: .260/.320/.455, 25-30 home runs, 20-25 stolen bases
18. Leody Taveras, Texas Rangers
The cousin of speed-demon Willy Taveras, Leody is not quite as fast, but packs far more punch in his bat. Signed by the Rangers in 2015 for $2.1 million, Taveras advanced all the way to the Northwest League in his first professional season at just 17 years old. Last year, he spent the entire year in Low-A South Atlantic League, performing close to league average. Although Taveras’ surface stats are not impressive, there is much to like from his performance. At just 18 years old, he made plenty of hard contact, used the entire field, and exhibited an advanced approach. Additionally, he improved his efficiency on the bases and his range in the outfield. As a potential plus hitter with solid power and good speed, Taveras has a high ceiling, while his excellent defense provides a pleasantly high floor.
Peak Projection: .290/.345/.430, 15-20 home runs, 20-25 stolen bases
19. Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros
In 2016, the Los Angeles Dodgers signed Yordan Alvarez for $2 million, then promptly shipped him to the Astros for Josh Fields. Last year, Alvarez made his state-side debut in the Midwest League and took the league by storm, slashing .360/.468/.658 with 9 home runs over 32 games. His dominance forced an early promotion to High-A Carolina League in June, where his pace slowed, but he still performed well. A large and imposing 6’5” and 225 pounds, Alvarez has enormous raw power. Along with the power, he drives the ball on a line to all fields and makes far more contact than you would expect for a player his size. Although Alvarez played in the outfield last year, given his size and poor speed, he likely will move to first base full-time soon.
Peak Projection: .270/.360/.480, 25-30 home runs
20. Heliot Ramos, San Francisco Giants
A dynamic and explosive athlete, Heliot Ramos rivals fellow 2017 first rounder, Jo Adell, in raw power, speed, and contact issues. In fact, all three may be even more extreme for Ramos. In his 35-game debut, he totaled 11 doubles, 6 triples, 6 home runs, 10 stolen bases, and (here is the bad part) 48 strikeouts (31.8%). Often with massive upside comes massive risk, and Ramos has both. When he did make contact last year, it was almost always hard (29.2% line drives) and far (20.7% HR/FB). Ramos is exactly the type of prospect to target in shallow fantasy leagues. In a few years, he may be a world-beater or a grand disappointment.
Peak Projection: .255/.310/.460, 25-30 home runs, 30-35 stolen bases