Predicting Next Season’s Fantasy First Rounders

Written by: Adam Ehrenreich (@mel_reich)

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As draft season approaches, I’ve found one of the best exercises a fantasy baseball player can do is to closely examine non-first rounders with an ADP inside the top-100.

As you research these players, envision who you could see being a first rounder next season. We can call it your personal crystal ball. Whatever the reason (preferably analytical but gut feelings are allowed too), making the right predictions in this exercise could lead to easy success.

Looking at early ADP data, a couple of names stick out as strong examples of players who made a major leap in the rankings from last season to this season. A simple look at the potential top-10 in 2019 features Francisco Lindor (3), Jose Ramirez (6), Christian Yelich (8) and Ronald Acuna (9), who are stars that made tremendous jumps in the ranks since Opening Day 2018.

To state the obvious, we won’t see the same top-12 in 2020 as we see today. There will be movement, both in and out, of the top-tier of fantasy draft boards. Today, I will give you my take on five players who could make that quantum leap in to the first round next season. Using their current ADP to get outstanding value could separate you from your league mates.

Rafael Devers – Boston Red Sox: You guessed it. My poster child for 2019 is the Boston-based, baby-faced third baseman. I truly believe that Devers has the potential to be, at the very least, a top half of the second round player in 2020. According to Yahoo’s early ADP, Devers is going in the second half of the tenth round in 12-teamers. Imagine building your most of lineup, snagging an ace, then grabbing a potential future first-round fantasy asset at third base in the tenth round! That’s arousing. Once again, in case you’re new to fantasy baseball: Devers was a top prospect with immense hype when he was called up two seasons ago. There’s no reason to think he won’t take a big step forward as he continues to develop. He was 21 last season!

Adalberto Mondesi- Kansas City Royals: Since we can fill our third base void with Devers in the tenth round, let’s attack the middle of the infield earlier. The son of Raul, Mondesi is currently going in the fourth round of 12-team drafts. If you lost interest in your fantasy team early last season, you don’t fully understand the magnitude of the numbers Mondesi compiled late last season. The former exciting prospect seems to have finally found his groove at the big league level. In 291 plate appearances last season, Mondesi slashed .276/.306/.498 with 14 home runs and 32 stolen bases. Prorate that to 500 PA and the numbers evolve to 24 home runs and 54 stolen bases. Even if the infielder regresses to a .250 AVG and <.300 OBP this season, the HR/SB statistical duo should still resemble or exceed those of Trea Turner. Yet, Mondesi can currently be drafted a few rounds later in 12-team drafts. Sit back, relax and fill your infield with Mondesi and Devers.

Rhys Hoskins – Philadelphia Phillies: 52 home runs in 872 career plate appearances. It may not be a late-career Barry Bonds season, but it is quite impressive nonetheless. Playing in a shoe-box of a stadium in Philadelphia and hitting in the middle of an improved lineup, Hoskins will surely see his fair share of scoring opportunities in 2019, especially if the Phillies can land Bryce Harper or Manny Machado before Opening Day. A career BABIP of .265 makes his career .249 AVG sensible, but a little batted ball luck means a .265/40/115 campaign would be more realistic than you’d think. Those are tremendous numbers in today’s MLB and would warrant entrance into top-12 consideration in 2020.

Javier Baez – Chicago Cubs: El Mago placed second in the NL MVP race last season and is currently being drafted in the second round in 12-team leagues, so he’s getting the recognition he deserves. This time a year ago, Baez was being drafted anywhere from the 10th round to 12th round. Put some respeck on his name. From the outside looking in, three consecutive seasons of absurd BABIP numbers scream regression; however, Baez’s above average quality of contact profile suggests season-long BABIPs around .340 could be sustainable for at least a few more seasons. And keeping that in mind, maintaining his numbers from 2018 are crucial for Baez taking the next step and joining the top-tier of individual fantasy assets. Francisco Lindor took this leap last season, catapulting from the late 2nd round to early 1st round. Seeing Baez add to his .290/34/111/21 campaign would be impressive, but not a complete shock. Amongst the other names on this list, the 26-year-old is a clear-cut early round target.

David Dahl- Colorado Rockies: Finally healthy, Dahl is ready to take the league by storm this season. The Rockies are known to block their prospects, but Dahl has finally cemented himself as a full-time player in the Colorado outfield (for now, at least). In 271 plate appearances last season, Dahl slashed .273/.325/.534 with 16 home runs, 48 RBIs and 5 stolen bases. If Dahl stays healthy, the lack of depth in the Rockies outfield could lead to 550 (or more) plate appearances for the 25-year-old. For reference, Dahl’s performance from last season would roughly translate .273/33/100/11 if given that many opportunities. Now with 500 plate appearances at the big league level, it’ll be interesting to see how pitchers attack Dahl now that there’s a book on the left hander. Regardless, I’m very high on prospects who have yet to get a full allotment of opportunities, and Dahl fits that bill. The late-10th round price could net a mid-2nd round return (if not more) by the end of the regular season.

When players join the top-12 range, that means other players dropped out. Last season, we witnessed Jose Altuve, Kris Bryant, Clayton Kershaw and Carlos Correa drop out of that top tier. My prediction is Max Scherzer (pitchers continue to slide out of the first round), Chris Sale, Aaron Judge, Jose Ramirez and Christian Yelich all lose first-round ADP status before 2020.

Keep the players I’ve profiled in mind when you get to the middle-to-late rounds, then enjoy the fruits of their labor this season.

Follow P365 contributor Adam Ehrenreich on Twitter at @mel_reich, then check out his recent piece on sleepers and breakout candidates for the upcoming season.

Follow us on Twitter! @Prospects365

Featured image courtesy of photographer Yong Kim and

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