The “first base only” tag was viewed as a negative for prospects in real life and fantasy. Don’t have anywhere else they can play? Put them at first and see how they do.
There was also always a feeling that a hitter had to have a certain amount of power to play first base, which never really made sense. You want overall production from your team, no? If your second baseman hits for more power than your first baseman, what’s the big deal if it results in a net positive? The Evan White’s of the world today weren’t viewed as glowingly even five years ago.
Even still, besides catchers and pitchers (the former is universally agreed upon where the latter is a polarizing topic), first base prospects are looked down upon rostering in dynasty leagues. The past couple of years, though, as we’ll see below, the tide has turned a bit, with two first basemen — one announced as a third baseman on draft day — are two of the top prospects in all of baseball. They are also advanced and should make an impact in 2021 or 2022 at the latest, which is a plus when building a dynasty team.
Let’s take a look at the top-five first base prospects for fantasy purposes, examining what they bring to the table and when they will arrive.
A quick note first before we dive in, though. As always, it’s hard to have a one-size-fits-all approach in dynasty leagues. League setups are different, as are teams in terms of contention windows. The approach taken with these pieces is to highlight the top prospects overall at the position, with a nod to those who are closer to contributing at the big-league level. It won’t, though, elevate someone like Royce Lewis above Marco Luciano due to proximity.
Let’s get to it.
The Player: Torkelson is the clear No. 1 choice not only in his FYPD class, but at his position as well. Torkelson has the highest floor and ceiling at first base, with a .275-.280 average and about 30-35 homers during his peak.
ETA: Torkelson should be in the big leagues toward the end of 2021 or 2022. General Manager Al Avila said in a recent interview with WXYT-FM that he’ll likely begin the season in High-A, but “I don’t want to be held to that.” The Tigers were aggressive during the shortened 2020 season with pitching prospects Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal.
Note: Interestingly, the Tigers announced Torkelson as a third baseman when drafting him. It doesn’t matter much for fantasy purposes, but third base is so deep that having the first base eligibility would elevate his short-term stock.
The Player: Bobby Witt Jr., Jasson Dominguez, or Andrew Vaughn? That was the debate for fantasy managers in first-year player drafts last year. We won’t know the results for a while, of course, but Vaughn is MLB-ready now. Vaughn slashed .374/.495/.688 at Cal, and his game should translate well to the big leagues. You’re looking at a .285-.290 hitter with 30-plus home run power in a loaded lineup and a great ballpark.
Note: Roster Resource currently projects Eloy Jiménez to DH for the White Sox, which could give Vaughn a roadblock. Don’t screw this up, too, Tony La Russa.
The Player: Jeter Downs has gotten a lot of attention since the Mookie Betts trade, and rightfully so, but Casas is the top fantasy prospect for the all-of-the-sudden terrible Red Sox. You’re looking at a .287, 30-plus homer bat depending on how the left-handed swinging Casas adapts to Fenway Park, which isn’t power-friendly for left-handers.
ETA: 2022. The Red Sox have nothing to play for in 2021, so there’s little chance that they call him up outside of a sip of coffee in September.
Note: 2021 will be a big year for Casas as far as development goes. As of now, he has 122 games of minor league ball.
The Player: The Twins surprised everyone when they called up Kirilloff to debut in the 2020 postseason. What a strange year. He’s dealt with injuries ever since he was drafted out of Plum High School in Pennsylvania, but he’s been one of the top hit-first prospects every year of his minor league career. Kirilloff has plus-power to go along with his plus-hit tool. He should hover around .300 at his peak with 25-home run potential.
The Player: We finally got to see Mountcastle, who had a .398 BABIP-driven .333 average over 140 plate appearances for the Orioles last year. He’s more of a .270 guy with 22-23 home run pop — with potentially more thanks to his home park.
ETA: Already debuted.
MLB Comp: Luke Voit
Note: For some reason, Mountcastle has shortstop eligibility in Yahoo! leagues. It’s not breaking the rules if you’re playing by them.
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