2019 Top 30 Fantasy First Base Prospects
With 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 for power, and occasionally develop into fantasy studs.
The prospect rankings schedule and a guide to fantasy tool grades can be found here. In addition, to see where the first base prospects below fall in the overall rankings, you can obtain access to the updated Top 600 Dynasty League Players with a small donation.
Before delving into the rankings, the following prospects currently receive the majority of playing time at another position, and, as such, will be on upcoming lists: Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros (OF); Josh Naylor, San Diego Padres (OF); Michael Chavis, Boston Red Sox (3B); Seth Beer, Houston Astros (OF); Edwin Rios, Los Angeles Dodgers (3B); Triston Casas, Boston Red Sox (3B); and Kevin Cron, Arizona Diamondbacks (3B). To see where these prospects would rank among first base prospects, scroll to the bottom of the article.
Top 30 Fantasy First Base Prospects
|Rank||Player||Primary Position||Secondary Position||Age||2018 Level||ETA|
|1||Peter Alonso NYM||1B||-||24.31||AA, AAA||2019|
|2||Nathaniel Lowe TB||1B||-||23.73||A+, AA, AAA||2019|
|3||Brent Rooker MIN||1B||OF||24.41||AA||2019|
|4||Grant Lavigne COL||1B||-||19.59||PIO||2022|
|5||Nick Pratto KC||1B||-||20.48||A||2021|
|6||Bobby Bradley CLE||1B||-||22.83||AA, AAA||2019|
|7||Evan White SEA||1B||-||22.92||A+, AAA||2020|
|8||Brendan McKay TB||1B||LHP||23.28||GCL, A, A+||2020|
|9||Tyler Nevin COL||1B||3B||21.83||A+||2020|
|10||Matt Thaiss LAA||1B||-||23.89||AA, AAA||2019|
|11||Pavin Smith ARI||1B||-||23.14||A+||2020|
|12||Roberto Ramos COL||1B||-||24.25||A+, AA||2020|
|13||Ibandel Isabel CIN||1B||OF||23.77||A+||2020|
|14||Josh Ockimey BOS||1B||-||23.44||AA, AAA||2019|
|15||Gavin Sheets CHW||1B||-||22.93||A+||2020|
|16||Rowdy Tellez TOR||1B||-||24.03||AAA, MLB||-|
|17||Chad Spanberger TOR||1B||OF||23.41||A, A+||2021|
|18||Luken Baker STL||1B||-||22.05||GCL, A||2021|
|19||Connor Joe LAD||1B||3B||26.62||AA, AAA||2019|
|20||Lewin Diaz MIN||1B||-||22.36||A+||2020|
|21||Ryan Noda TOR||1B||OF||22.99||A||2021|
|22||Will Craig PIT||1B||-||24.37||AA||2020|
|23||Dermis Garcia NYY||1B||3B||21.23||A||2021|
|24||Reynaldo Rivera DET||1B||OF||21.79||A||2021|
|25||Samir Duenez KC||1B||-||22.80||AZL, AA||2019|
|26||Darick Hall PHI||1B||-||23.68||A+, AA||2020|
|27||Jake Gatewood MIL||1B||-||23.51||AA||2020|
|28||Jared Walker LAD||1B||3B/2B||23.15||A, A+||2021|
|29||Jordan Patterson COL||1B||OF||27.13||AAA||2019|
|30||Frank Schwindel KC||1B||-||26.75||AAA||2019|
1. Peter Alonso, New York Mets
During the 2018 Futures Game, Peter Alonso broke Statcast (pictured), blasting a 415-foot home run at 113.6 mph with an absurd 46 degree launch angle. This mammoth power was on display all year long, including the Arizona Fall League (6 more home runs). His considerable strength and bat speed generate enormous 70-grade raw power to all fields. In addition, Alonso utilizes a ferocious, upper-cut swing, creating plenty of loft to tap into most (if not all) of his raw power in games. Meanwhile, he manages to make far more contact than most power hitters, with a reasonable, sub-10% swinging strike percentage. A late-count hitter, however, Alonso likely will always rack up plenty of strikeouts and walks, and, at times, resemble a three-true-outcomes slugger. Regardless, the power is extraordinary, and should make him a legitimate, and potentially high-end, fantasy asset. Expect Alonso to debut in mid-April next year.
Peak Projection: .260/.340/.510, 35-40 home runs
2. Nathaniel Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays
In the 2016 Draft, the Rays drafted two brothers Lowe, Josh in the first round and Nathaniel in the thirteenth round. Few suspected the older brother, Nathaniel, would outshine his highly-touted younger brother. Indeed, entering the year, he displayed little of the immense raw power generated by his huge 6’4″ and 235 pound frame in games. Yet, all that changed this year, as Nathaniel skyrocketed from High-A to Triple-A, hitting for both average and power at each stop. A true all-fields hitter, he has solid barrel control and effortlessly drives the ball to any part of the ballpark. As such, his hit and power tools can both play above-average-to-plus, making him one of the best hitters in the minors. Given the currently crowded Rays roster, Nathaniel likely returns to Triple-A, but should debut mid-season at the latest.
Peak Projection: .275/.360/.500, 30-35 home runs
3. Brent Rooker, Minnesota Twins
The 35th overall pick in the 2017 Draft, Brent Rooker immediately took to professional baseball, advancing all the way to High-A Florida State League in his debut. Across all levels last year (including college), he knocked 41 home runs. The only blemish on his performance was significant swing-and-miss issues, including a 17.3% swinging strike rate and a 29% strikeout rate in the FSL. This year, Rooker moved to Double-A, where he started and ended extremely poorly, hitting .223/.267/.313 over his first 30 games and .173/.300/.264 over his last 30 games. In between, he was a force, slashing .299/.372/.605 with 19 home runs over 60 games. This type of inconsistent performance has lead to mixed opinions regarding his hit tool and true talent level. Nevertheless, he continues to exhibit plus raw power and the ability to reach it in games. Ultimately, Rooker profiles as a three-true-outcomes slugger, with the potential for more.
Peak Projection: .250/.330/.475, 30-35 home runs
4. Grant Lavigne, Colorado Rockies
The Rockies selected Grant Lavigne 42nd overall in the 2018 draft and aggressively assigned the 18-year-old to the Pioneer League. There, he was one of the top performers, hitting .350/.477/.519. Notably, Lavigne displayed exceptional plate discipline for such a young hitter, with more walks (17.4%) than strikeouts (15.5%). As a teenager among college draftees and more advanced competition, he was extremely impressive. However, the Pioneer League is notoriously hitter-friendly, especially Grand Junction, like most Colorado affiliates. Still, Lavigne has tantalizing upside as a promising hitter with plus power playing for Colorado. Consequently, fantasy owners should consider him as early as the first round in upcoming first-year player prospect drafts.
Peak Projection: .265/.340/.485, 30-35 home runs
5. Nick Pratto, Kansas City Royals
Nick Pratto is a well-known commodity in the baseball industry long-accustomed to the spotlight. As a 12-year-old, he won the 2011 Little League World series with a walk-off single. Six years later, the Royals selected Pratto 14th overall in the 2017 Draft. Although well-regarded for his advanced approach and hit tool, he has uncharacteristically struggled at times since his debut. In fact, this year, Pratto hit just .246/.297/.357 with a 82-to-17 strikeout-to-walk ratio through July 23rd (the date I traded him in TDGx2). Since then, and clearly to spite me, he flashed his sizable upside, hitting an incredible .364/.443/.650 with a 40-to-20 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
When he is on, he drives the ball to all fields with a smooth, quick, and beautiful swing. In addition to a potential plus hit tool, Pratto has developing power, which some project to plus, but likely hovers around average in games. Although he stole 22 bases this year, he has below-average speed.
Peak Projection: .285/.360/.460, 20-25 home runs
6. Bobby Bradley, Cleveland Indians
Before the Indians signed Yonder Alonso, rumors circulated that Bobby Bradley may receive time in the majors this year. Instead, the Indians sent him back to Double-A, despite spending all last year there and performing well (.251/.331/.465). Arguably, Bradley experienced the worst start to the season of any prospect, hitting just .114/.202/.228 through April, including a 0-for-23 stretch. Thereafter, he returned to his normal ways, slashing .241/.332/.545 with 22 home runs, and earning a promotion to Triple-A in August.
Despite the less-than-stellar surface stats, Bradley made adjustments, and he is now a step closer to the majors at just 22-years-old. With that said, he remains a prime shift candidate, accumulating boatloads of pull-side grounders. In addition, Bradley amasses plenty of strikeouts (27%), and likely never hits for average. Further, he continues to struggle against left-handed pitching, and, ultimately, may be a heavy-side platoon player. However, Bradley is exactly as advertised, and, if you buy-in, you buy-in for the power.
Peak Projection: .235/.310/.460, 30-35 home runs
7. Evan White, Seattle Mariners
Selected three picks after Nick Pratto in the 2017 Draft, Evan White similarly struggled for most of the season, before exploding over his last 27 games (.379/.467/.689). At the plate, he utilizes a level, line-drive stroke, which creates little loft and, consequently, results in a ton of grounders (49%). However, White has some juice in his bat, with solid pull-power and average-to-above raw power. A change to his approach and swing path may generate average game power. Meanwhile, he continues to receive rave reviews for his defense, and he is athletic enough to transition to the outfield. In fact, his speed has drawn some plus grades, but he has yet to accrue many stolen bases. A high-floor, well-rounded prospect, White is a strong bet to profile as an everyday player, despite only a moderate ceiling.
Peak Projection: .280/.350/.440, 15-20 home runs
8. Brendan McKay, Tampa Bay Rays
After the Rays drafted Brendan McKay fourth overall in the 2017 Amateur Draft and announced him at first base, he noticeably did not look happy. His visible disappointment may be due to falling in the draft, but it likely is due to his love of pitching. Indeed, he is arguably a superior pitching prospect. For now, the Rays will continue to pursue the dream of another two-way player, especially following the success of Shohei Ohtani.
As a hitter, McKay is patient with a flat, fundamental swing, resulting in walks (19.1%) and grounders (53.1%). This has to change. His lauded, extreme patience has actually become a burden, causing him to often fall behind in counts. Further, a more leveraged swing would allow him to tap into his plus raw power. Unfortunately, splitting time on the mound likely will delay his development at the plate. Regardless, McKay possesses as much offensive upside as any first base prospect, and his potential two-way designation could pay huge dividends.
Peak Projection: .275/.375/.450, 20-25 home runs
9. Tyler Nevin, Colorado Rockies
The son of former major league third baseman Phil Nevin, Tyler was the 38th overall pick in the 2015 Draft. Since entering professional baseball, his career has been beset by injuries, notably losing the entire 2016 season with a severe hamstring injury. This year, Nevin lost nearly a month due to a quad injury. Likely in part due to injuries, he has now transitioned more fully from third to first base.
When healthy, he has not failed to hit. After returning from injury this year, Nevin slashed .359/.423/.544 over his final 63 games. In addition, he is currently leading the Arizona Fall League in hitting (.426/.535/.593). A mature, disciplined hitter, Nevin drives the ball from gap-to-gap with developing game power. Although he benefits from the hitter-friendly confines of Rockies’ affiliates, he remains excellent in away games. Next year, Nevin will receive his first true test in the difficult hitting environment of Double-A Eastern League.
Peak Projection: .285/.350/.445, 15-20 home runs
10. Matt Thaiss, Los Angeles Angels
After the Angels drafted Matt Thaiss in the first round of the 2016 Draft, he immediately transitioned from catcher to first base as a professional. Out of college, many considered him an advanced bat with elite plate discipline, but undersized with questionable power. Since then, he has steadily worked his way through the minors, despite regressing at the plate. This year, Thaiss inverted his batted ball profile by nearly 10%, resulting in more fly balls and, thus, more home runs. His borderline-average game power, however, caps his upside. Notably, he performed far worse than the average Salt Lake hitter in Triple-A (.290/.361/.480). Indeed, light-hitting David Fletcher and Taylor Ward looked like superstars in the Pacific Coast League. Nonetheless, Thaiss is a solid, all-fields hitter, and is trending in the right direction. With injuries to Albert Pujols and Shohei Ohtani, he may debut as soon as early next year.
Peak Projection: .270/.330/.430, 15-20 home runs
11. Pavin Smith, Arizona Diamondbacks
A year after his college teammate, Matt Thaiss, was a first round pick, Pavin Smith was the seventh overall pick in the 2017 Draft. Similar to Thaiss, Smith displayed elite plate discipline in college, with more home runs (13) than strikeouts (12) in his junior year. As a professional, he remains a high-contact, disciplined hitter. Unfortunately, his power has disappeared, with just 11 home runs over 727 plate appearances. Positively, Smith continues to flash a potential elite hit tool. Early this year, he adjusted his approach, looking for pitches to drive, and, while he managed to hit for more pull-side power, he otherwise struggled (.221/.324/.363). Over his last 40 games, he appears to have returned to his former contact-over-power approach, hitting .316/.376/.434 with a 21-to-16 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Ultimately, Smith will need to find the right balance at the plate to profile as an everyday first baseman.
Peak Projection: .280/.370/.435, 15-20 home runs
12. Roberto Ramos, Colorado Rockies
Like fellow Rockies prospect Tyler Nevin, Roberto Ramos has suffered numerous injuries in his early career, limiting him to just 55 and 32 games in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Despite performing well in High-A last year (.297/.351/.444), he returned to the level this year as a 23-year-old. As a man among boys, Ramos obliterated the California League (.304/.411/.640), feasting on the hitter-friendly environs of Lancaster. In June, he received a promotion to the more age-appropriate Double-A Eastern League, where he continued to launch home runs (.231/.320/.503). Power is the clear and obvious calling card for Ramos, as he possesses huge, 70-grade raw power. However, he is pull-heavy, leading most teams to shift against him, and prone to swing-and-miss (29% strikeouts). Whether his hit tool holds up as he continues to climb the ladder is an open question. If it does, Ramos could carve out a role as a three-true-outcomes slugger.
Peak Projection: .240/.310/.470, 30-35 home runs
13. Ibandel Isabel, Cincinnati Reds
Early this year, the Reds quietly acquired Ibandel Isabel from the Dodgers. An extreme power-hitter, he arguably possesses as much raw power as any prospect in baseball. In fact, Eric Longenhagen assigned an 80-grade to his raw power. Over the last three years, Isabel has amassed an otherworldly 36.5% home run-to-fly ball ratio. This year, he set the home run record in the Florida State League (35), leading the league by 15 home runs! In two different months, he blasted 11 or more home runs, including a 10-game stretch in which he hit 10 home runs. With his massive power, however, comes massive swing-and-miss (36.2% strikeouts and 20.2% swinging strikes). Given his age (23), defensive limitations, and highly questionable hit tool, Isabel is a long shot to become a productive major league asset. The power, though, makes him a worthwhile speculative fantasy investment.
Peak Projection: .210/.275/.480, 40-45 home runs
14. Josh Ockimey, Boston Red Sox
With power (.210 ISO), walks (14.6%), and strikeouts (31%), Josh Ockimey is yet another three-true-outcomes hitter. A model of consistency, he has nearly identical performances and batted ball profiles at each level throughout his minor league career. At the plate, Ockimey unfailingly works late counts, resulting in tons of walks and strikeouts, while patiently looking for pitches to drive. Despite his overall success this year, he regressed against left-handed pitching (.186/.269/.295), struggled with pitch recognition, and continues to be a prime shift candidate. Nevertheless, his steady progress is encouraging, and he should profile as a strong-side platoon bat. Update: The Red Sox failed to add Ockimey to the 40-man roster, making him eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.
Peak Projection: .235/.335/.440, 25-30 home runs
15. Gavin Sheets, Chicago White Sox
Selected thirty-two picks after Pavin Smith in the 2017 Draft, Gavin Sheets has had a strikingly similar professional career, with one less home run (10) in five more plate appearances (732). A well-regarded college power bat, he led the Atlantic Coast Conference with 21 home runs in his junior year. Even though Wake Forest is a notorious power haven, observers believed his power was legitimate. Instead of hitting for power, Sheets has displayed a disciplined, all-fields, line-drive approach with some pull-side power, similar to Smith. Should he rediscover his college power stroke to pair with his solid hit tool, he could breakout next year.
Peak Projection: .275/.340/.435, 15-20 home runs
The Best of the Rest
2019 First Base Prospect Sleepers
The following prospects may rise significantly with strong showings in 2019. Each has immense upside, but each is also years away from the majors.
Lewin Diaz, Minnesota Twins. This year was a disaster for Diaz. Until a fractured thumb mercifully ended his season, he was hitting just .224/.255/.344 in High-A. Overly aggressive and undisciplined at the plate, Diaz rarely walks and, invariably, makes too much weak contact. With plus (or better) raw power and good bat-to-ball skills, however, he still has substantial potential. Update: The Twins failed to add Diaz to the 40-man roster, making him eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.
Dermis Garcia, New York Yankees. Due to his huge power potential, the Yankees signed Garcia for $3 million in 2014. Since then, it has been a slow ascent, finally arriving in full-season ball last year and spending this year in Low-A. Although the promised power has arrived (.204 ISO), Garcia remains pull-happy (52.8%) and strikeout prone (30.6%). In addition, he is further transitioning from third to first base, and possibly to the mound. Regardless, his power is the selling point, and his ceiling is still high. Update: The Yankees failed to add Garcia to the 40-man roster, making him eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.
Jared Walker, Los Angeles Dodgers. With an upper-cut swing, Walker sells out for power, sending nearly everything into the air (56.7%). In fact, once he arrived in the hitter-friendly California League, he became even more extreme (60.5%). Consequently, Walker taps into every ounce of his raw pull-side power, launching 25 home runs this year (.290 ISO). His all-or-nothing, pull-heavy approach has understandably lead to significant swing-and-miss tendencies (29.8 K% and 18.6 SwStr% in High-A). Ultimately, he profiles as a strong-side platoon player or utility infielder, also receiving looks at second and third base.
Close to the Show: 40-Man Roster First Base Prospects
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.
Rowdy Tellez, Toronto Blue Jays. After a terrible 2017 season in Triple-A (.222/.295/.333), Tellez returned to the level and similarly struggled to start this year, hitting .227/.333/.295 over his first 25 games. Not until after the All-Star break did something truly click. For the rest of the season, Tellez rebounded, slashing .306/.360/.497 and .314/.329/.614 in a brief debut. An all-fields, line drive hitter with average power, he could surprise if provided regular playing time.
Samir Duenez, Kansas City Royals. A mid-season wrist injury likely cost Duenez the promotion provided to Ryan O’Hearn this year. Once fully recovered, he dominated Double-A, hitting .339/.408/.545 over his last 32 games. Although he has less power than O’Hearn, he has a superior hit tool and plate discipline. Should O’Hearn falter, Duenez likely will receive the opportunity that passed him by this year.
Jordan Patterson, Colorado Rockies. For the last three years, Patterson has languished in Triple-A. Each year, he showed well, hitting .293/.376/.480 in 2016, .283/.348/.539 in 2017, and .271/.367/.525 in 2018. Blocked at first base and right field, Patterson needs injuries or trades to free up playing time. Should he receive an extended look in the majors, he would deserve a look in most fantasy leagues.
Close to the Show: High-A and Above First Base Prospects
The road for prospects is long and winding. These prospects are one step closer, already reaching High-A, and in some cases, beyond.
Connor Joe, Los Angeles Dodgers. After a disastrous 2017 performance in Double-A (.222/.319/.340), Joe fell off the radar. Traded twice late last year, he landed with the Dodgers. This year, Joe was the best hitter in Double-A Texas League (.304/.425/.554), and he continued hitting upon his promotion to Triple-A (.294/.385/.494). A line-drive hitter with superb plate discipline, he notably began tapping into his above-average raw power this year. Unfortunately, Joe is a poor defender, splitting time between first and third base, and blocked by a loaded Dodgers roster.
Will Craig, Pittsburgh Pirates. Prior to this year, Craig, a former first round pick, hit just 8 home runs over his first 916 plate appearances, while also moving from third to first base. This season, he overhauled his approach, hitting 18% more fly balls and 26 total home runs, including an impressive performance in the Arizona Fall League (.304/.378/.570).
Darick Hall, Philadelphia Phillies. Last year, Hall was the MVP of Low-A South Atlantic League, blasting 27 home runs. This year, he replicated his performance in High-A Florida State (.277/.367/.538), before earning a June promotion to Double-A. There, he continued to hit for power, but otherwise struggled. Hall possesses plus raw power to all fields with manageable swing-and-miss. However, a long swing and pitch recognition issues may cause him to stall in the upper minors.
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 swing-and-miss, he struggles making consistent contact. When Gatewood does make contact, it is often loud, due to huge raw power and a quick bat. After tearing the ACL in his left knee in July, he likely will miss the beginning of the season. Update: The Brewers failed to add Gatewood to the 40-man roster, making him eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.
Frank Schwindel, Kansas City Royals. After breaking out last year (.329/.349/.541), Schwindel had another strong showing in Triple-A (.286/.336/.506). Despite recent shiny batting averages, he is an overly aggressive, pull-heavy hitter, and unlikely to find similar success in the majors. Meanwhile, Ryan O’Hearn and Samir Duenez currently block him at first base on the 40-man roster.
2017 & 2018 Draft First Base Prospects
The 2017 and 2018 Amateur Drafts included many intriguing first base prospects, from raw high school teenagers to seasoned college bats. Here are the most interesting options.
Chad Spanberger, Toronto Blue Jays. A sixth round pick in the 2017 draft, Spanberger is a prototypical power-over-hit first base prospect. For most of the season, he called home to one of the smallest parks in the country, Asheville’s McCormick Field, hitting .359/.413/.683 there. With that said, Spanberger’s 70-grade raw power should play in most parks. The Blue Jays agree, acquiring him in late July in a trade for Seung-hwan Oh. Of note, Spanberger struggles against left-handed pitching, and may be a platoon risk.
Luken Baker, St. Louis Cardinals. Snake-bitten, Baker repeatedly suffered severe injuries in college, including a brutal leg injury in April. When healthy, he is a well-disciplined hitter with massive, 70-grade raw power.
Ryan Noda, Toronto Blue Jays. The Minor League walk leader (109), Noda is a prototypical three-true-outcomes slugger. This year, he walked (20.7%), struck out (25.6%), or homered (3.8%) in over 50% of his plate appearances.
Reynaldo Rivera, Detroit Tigers. A 6’6″ and 250 pound behemoth, Rivera understandably packs quite a punch. Corralling those long limbs to make contact, however, has been a challenge.
Elsewhere-Eligible First Base Prospects
Likely destined for first base but currently playing another position, these notable prospects will be on upcoming lists. This is where they rank as first base prospects:
Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros (OF): ahead of Alonso
Josh Naylor, San Diego Padres (OF): between Lowe and Rooker
Michael Chavis, Boston Red Sox (3B): between Lowe and Rooker, behind Naylor
Seth Beer, Houston Astros (OF): between Lavigne and Pratto
Edwin Rios, Los Angeles Dodgers (3B): between Bradley and White
Triston Casas, Boston Red Sox (3B): between Bradley and White, behind Rios
Kevin Cron, Arizona Diamondbacks (3B): between Baker and Joe
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