2017 Top MLB Prospects (Worldwide Top 400)
Friday, I wrote a primer explaining my ranking methodology. If you want to understand why there are foreign players on this list, amateurs, 450+ prospects, and strange ranking placements, please click here. Today, I’ll be detailing the top 10 prospects on my list and here is the full Top 400 Worldwide Rankings (premium).
10. Eloy Jimenez (OF, CHC)
There is a strong possibility Kris Bryant won’t be hitting third in the Cubs lineup five years from now. Eloy Jimenez is that dangerous with the bat. In 2013, the Cubs signed the 16-year-old for $2.8 million out of the Dominican Republic and since, he has morphed into a mythical specimen. At 6’4″, 205 lbs, Jimenez hits the ball with more authority than anyone in the minor leagues. The fact that he is still just 19 years old and likely to add more muscle is just icing on the cake. Last season in full-season A-Ball, Jimenez batted .329/.369/.532 despite being one of the youngest players in the league. He isn’t some kind of all-or-nothing hitter, rather, his swing looks easy, he crushes line drives, he hits breaking balls. Jimenez bat is the real deal and will almost certainly have him competing for an MVP or five some day.
9. Yadier Alvarez (SP, LAD)
A year after the Dodgers spent $32 million on this Cuban import, the 6’3″ righty is perhaps the most polarizing prospect in baseball. Some rankings will have him down in the 60’s, others like me, can’t ignore the easy 100+ MPH fastball with three plus breaking pitches and will list him in the Top 10. No, I don’t use the term “plus pitches” lightly. The kid has unrivaled potential and after posting 55 strikeouts in 39 innings last season, should take another major step forward in 2017. He is still raw, so any number of things could happen to hinder his development, but if all goes right, we are talking about an annual Cy Young candidate.
8. Gleyber Torres (SS, NYY)
Last summer, the Cubs sent Torres to the Yankees for Aroldis Chapman, a move that likely secured them their first World Series title in over a century. The Yankees? The may have secured 15 years of the next Barry Larkin. Despite playing in a pitcher’s haven and being the youngest hitter in the entire league, Torres carried a lofty ISO, which indicates plus power potential. What’s more is that he has the speed and baserunning acumen to steal 20+ bases in the big leagues along with the defensive savvy to stick at shortstop. While he might never be Jeter with the bat, I’ll bet the Yankees would settle for .285 with 25 HRs and 20 SBs.
7. Andrew Benintendi (OF, BOS)
You are about to discover that most of the baseball world considers the Red Sox rookie dynamo the top prospect in baseball. He was superb in his 105 at bat debut, continuing off a .312/.378/.532 blitz through the minor leagues last season, but the hype is a little too strong for my taste and built in the wrong areas. Benintendi is clearly on his way to being a top five defensive outfielder in the majors, but unfortunately, that doesn’t count for anything in fantasy baseball. Likewise, he has an unprecedented BB/K ratio, but again, not fantasy relevant. While his ISO is off the charts, Benintendi’s small frame is already filled out to the max, so his offensive ceiling is capped. Don’t read me wrong, he is still a future MLB star, but 5×5 fantasy legend? Not quite.
6. Lucas Giolito (SP, CWS)
You’ve already read about Yadier Alvarez near-unbelievable repertoire of pitches, and soon you will have your jaw drop about three other starting pitchers, but when it comes to ceiling, Giolito outmatches them all. He is far from polished, with a 4.60 ERA and 154 hits allowed in 133 innings last season, but remember, Noah Syndergaard and some guy named Randy Johnson were far worse before obliterating major league lineups. Am I suggesting Giolito is the next Big Unit? Not exactly, but at 6’6″ and 255 pounds with a blazing fastball, Roger Clemens comps are not off-base. Reaching that ceiling isn’t a walk in the park, so don’t bank on seven Cy Youngs and a 24-year career, but do not ignore a man with raw ability that exceeds even Stephen Strasburg’s.
5. Victor Robles (OF, WAS)
The Nationals could have hung onto Giolito and perhaps even Reynaldo Lopez if they had only been willing to deal Robles, but that was just not going to happen. This 19-year-old is a legitimate five-tool talent with intangibles that make reaching his huge potential seem inevitable. All he has done since joining the minors at 17 years old is perform. He slashed .323/.429/.505 in Rookie Ball then proceeded to bat .343 in Low-A-Ball and .305 with both power and speed in his next promotion. A broken thumb derailed the close of his season, but you can be sure he will post a huge OPS, steal 35+ bases and play top-notch defense once again this season, no matter the league. His ceiling comp is Larry Walker, which might be unfair to put on anyone, let alone a 19-year-old, but the kid sure can play some baseball.
4. Yoan Moncada (2B/3B/OF, CHW)
Along with Benintendi, you will find Moncada at the top of several prospect lists. Like Robles, he is oozing with tools and like Torres, he tore up Single-A despite being one of the younger players in the league. He took a year off baseball to move from Cuba, then somehow proceeded to get on-base at a .400 clip, slugging over .500 and stealing 94 bases in his first 187 games. There is good reason as to why the White Sox dealt Chris Sale to add Moncada to their club. With that being said, his power potential limits his fantasy upside so we aren’t talking about a Mike Trout or Bryce Harper. Rather, a Carl Crawford like career could be in store for fantasy owners.
3. Tyler Glasnow (SP, PIT)
When you consistently throw a 98 MPH fastball as a prospect, you are bound to get plenty of attention. Add in the fact that Glasnow is 6’8″ and it’s no wonder Glasnow has posted a video game stat line in 500 minor league innings. His 2.03 ERA and 11.6 K/9 are dwarfed by a minuscule .165 batting average against. To put that into perspective, that’s Kenley Jansen territory, but as a starting pitcher. Glasnow’s command may prevent him from dominating from the get-go, but there is a real chance that the Pirates’ new ace could someday be challenging some of Nolan Ryan’s single season records.
2. Shohei Otani (SP/OF, Japan)
There isn’t enough space in the universe, let alone in this article, to write about the wonder that is this 21-year-old legend. Here is my short-ish breakdown of the modern day Babe Ruth from last summer. He nearly came over this winter after leading his team to a championship, so next year seems like a pretty good bet and we might just be talking about a half billion dollar contract in 10 months.
1. Alex Reyes (SP, STL)
I almost feel illegitimate for ranking anyone above Otani, but the fact of the matter is that Otani could blow his arm out tomorrow or decide to stay in Japan or we could find out he could just become another Sidd Finch. Reyes, on the other hand, has already put MLB hitters to shame and looks poised to become the Cardinals ace this season. At 6’3″, 175 pounds, it is easy to imagine he could beef up and add a few ticks to his 102 MPH fastball. Anthony Rizzo is about to announce his retirement after reading that sentence. Or perhaps Yadi will demand a trade to avoid a career-ending hand injury. It isn’t common for a 21-year-old to join a playoff race mid-season and proceed to strike out 52 hitters in 46 innings while allowing just 33 hits for a 1.57 ERA. To think he is just scratching the surface of his potential…!
You will likely find that virtually every other major prospect prognosticator has Dansby Swanson, J.P. Crawford and Brendan Rodgers in their top 10, probably even in that order. If my list even remotely considered Gold Glove potential, Swanson may be ranked at the tip top. Likewise, if batting eye was a skill in demand for fantasy teams, I’d, too, be drooling over J.P. Crawford. And for Rodgers, well, let’s just say Eloy, Yadier and Gleybar should end up as top four prospects with Robles this time next year, so Rodgers was simply passed up in anticipation.
Later this week, I’ll roll out a breakdown of the top international prospects, followed by the top high school and college prospects right before pitchers and catchers report. Thanks for reading. I hope this helps you in your deep league drafts.