Written by: Adam Ehrenreich (@mel_reich)
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The trend continues. Lists on top of lists on top of more lists. I’ve said it before, and I am sure I’ll say it many times more: we all love lists. Well, here is another one for your reading pleasure. This list will be comprised of the top prospects for 2019. That means there will be a lot of players who you will not see on this list that might make you shout, but worry not, they may be here by mid-season when I update this list, or even the end of the year when I give you a sneak peak at 2020. The guidelines here are for season long redrafts, where prospects could be promoted and help you win a fantasy championship. Some of these players may already be on the Opening Day roster by the time this article hits (Jimenez, Alonso and HELLO FTJ) and some I didn’t include on this list because they were assumed to be in the big leagues from the start of the spring (Victor Robles and Garrett Hampson amongst others).
The list is broken down to three categories, “Stash and Employ”, “Summer” and “Cup of Coffee”, each pretty self explanatory. “Stash and Employ” means grab them now, either they likely will make the Opening Day roster and have immediate impact or will be up very soon. “Summer” means we could be looking at a mid-season call up, but you shouldn’t necessarily burn a roster spot today. “Cup of Coffee” means the player will likely see a brief stint late in the season. If you’re still in the hunt, they could put your team over the top. Most leagues have watch lists, and at the very least every one of these names should be on it.
Here we go.
Stash and Employ
- Eloy Jimenez (Chicago White Sox) – If you haven’t heard the news, Jimenez signed a big extension before the first pitch of 2019. First pitch in the United States, at least. That all but guarantees he will be in the Opening Day lineup for the South Siders. That should increase his ADP instantaneously and you should follow suit. Jimenez will provide tremendous pop in the middle of a weak lineup and will have every opportunity to pad his counting stats. This is a superstar in the making.
- Pete Alonso (New York Mets) – The Mets are known for doing it wrong, but it seems they may finally get one right. Alonso is rumored to be making the Opening Day roster and if that’s the case, one would think that he will be their everyday first basemen. Dominic Smith will likely back him up, and he might get some time in the outfield as well. Alonso has immense power potential and we could be looking at a 30 homer rookie year for the man formerly known as Peter.
- Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Toronto Blue Jays) – Number three on this list, but number one on most. Vlad is going to be a star, but the injury will delay his clock. For that reason alone, he is not on top of this list. I predict we see a swift recovery from the oblique injury he sustained, followed by a month long stint at Triple-A. If no phantom injuries occur, we should see his MLB debut in early May. It will obviously come with much fanfare, but he won’t end the year with the monster stat line we expected if he started in the majors from day one.
- Fernando Tatis (San Diego Padres) – Tatis looks like he will be a transcendent player for the Padres. The next 10+ years we’ll be seeing Tatis and Manny Machado on the left side of the infield, a truly dominant duo. Tatis has flashed his skills over the offseason and now in Spring Training, and he shows all the signs of a future star. Of course, you’ve seen that it was announced last night he’ll break camp as a big leaguer. If he’s somehow available in your redraft league, rectify that right now.
- Forrest Whitley (Houston Astros) – I debated placing Paddack above Whitley merely because Paddack will break camp in the Padres rotation. But Whitley has looked dynamite in spring action and should be a major contributor in the strikeout department once he’s promoted. Playing for a World Series contender only strengthens his case. He is worth a draft and stash in season long leagues, but if your league settings favors Quality Starts and not Wins, then I would move him down a few notches.
- Nick Senzel (Cincinnati Reds) – Senzel was rumored to be in contention for the starting center field job in Cincinnati, but he was recently been sent back to Triple-A to start the year.
That won’t hold him back for long thoughStaying true to the track record, Senzel suffered an ankle injury that could keep him out of game action for close to a month. After batting .308 with 6 extra base-hits, 3 RBI and 4 steals in the spring, the time is coming for Senzel to shine on the major stage. It just might be a little longer before we get to see it at Great American Ball Park.
- Chris Paddack (San Diego Padres) – In 12.2 innings pitched this spring, Paddack dazzled with a 2.13 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, cementing his spot in the Opening Day rotation. He may be on an innings limit in 2019, but his time on the mound will be essential to your fantasy team.
- Dylan Cease (Chicago White Sox) – I believe Cease will be up with the White Sox early this season. As you can see in my article from last August, I have been high on Cease for a some time now. Maybe I was a little early, but the time seems to be now. The 23 year-old had a rocky spring, but that doesn’t take away from his 52 innings in Double-A last season that resulted in a 1.72 ERA and 0.99 WHIP. When he hits the big league club, you should be ready to pounce.
- Francisco Mejia (San Diego Padres) – The next two make the list even though they fall in the same category as Victor Robles. These guys were both considered relative locks for the Opening Day roster, but I am here to reiterate how great they could be. Mejia was a top hitting prospect when he was with the Indians, but a few tough months had many people sour on his skills. A case of ‘what have you done for me lately’. Mejia may begin the season in a timeshare with Austin Hedges, but the hit tool will ultimately win out. Batting .356 with 3 homers and 14 RBI in Spring Training should cement his case.
- Danny Jansen (Toronto Blue Jays) – Jansen’s 2018 in Triple-A is what I expect for him to achieve for Toronto in 2019. 12 home runs, 58 RBI and a .275 AVG is a great baseline, and the power should take off across the border. Just as Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion turned into power machines in Canada, someone with the foundation of Jansen should take off. I could see him exceed 20 home runs this season if things break right.
- Jesus Luzardo (Oakland A’s) – The shoulder injury delays things for Luzardo, no doubt, but the possibility of even 100 innings this season is exciting. His ability could be game changing for fantasy owners, but the time to stash him is no longer right now. If he was dropped in your redraft league, look to add him mid-May when your league mates have forgotten him.
- Carter Kieboom (Washington Nationals) – An impressive spring from Kieboom cements him as the top prospect in the organization (excluding Robles). Kieboom could come up and spell Brian Dozier at second base if age continues to defy him. Keep a close eye and be ready to hit the wire.
- Kyle Tucker/ Yordan Alvarez (Houston Astros) – One of these two will become a staple in the Astros lineup before the end of the season. Michael Brantley has not been the beacon of health. Josh Reddick continues to play great defense but his bat leaves a lot to desire, especially against left-handed pitching. Look to see which of these two budding stars starts off hot and stash accordingly if you so desire.
- Keston Hiura (Milwaukee Brewers) – The Mike Moustakas signing killed some of Hiura’s value for 2019, but that’s not to say he won’t find his way to Milwaukee at some point. Moose and Travis Shaw are not ideal second base options, and should the team look to mix and match, there could be time in the lineup ahead for Hiura.
- Casey Mize (Detroit Tigers) – Mize barely pitched this spring, but he could shoot up the ladder very fast this season. The Tigers don’t have much to play for, so giving Mize a late shot in the big leagues could give him great exposure and experience. Kyle Wright, who just won a rotation spot in Atlanta, took the express route to the majors after the 2017 draft. I expect the same for Mize in Detroit.
- Brendan Rodgers (Colorado Rockies) – The Rockies continue to disappoint in the prospect department. It has taken long enough for some of their promising studs to reach the Major Leagues and, instead, they continue to sign veterans to bridge the gap that continues to stretch. Rodgers should get his shot this year, but if Garrett Hampson and Ryan McMahon continue to impress at second base, then Rodgers may be the one waiting for his moment.
- Triston Mckenzie (Cleveland Indians)- McKenzie has not been as exciting as advertised, but if there is one organization I feel comfortable with him learning how to pitch at a high level, it’s the Indians. Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger and now Shane Bieber are all examples of stud pitchers who were molded, in a sense, by the Indians developmental staff. McKenzie could join that list this year, especially considering the injury history associated with the club. Of course, he’ll first have to overcome his own injury (a back strain) that’s shut him down this spring.
- Jon Duplantier (Arizona Diamondbacks)– Another team, like Detroit, that may be looking towards the future, and Duplantier will have a lot to do with that in the desert. If given a real shot this season, he could be a difference maker, as exhibited by his 2.69 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in Double-A last season.
Cup of Coffee
- Jo Adell (Los Angeles Angels) – Adell suffered an ankle and hamstring injury this spring that cost him a higher spot on this list, but the .391 batting average he posted prior to the injury shows what he can do. If he comes up this season, at any point, he is a star in the making.
- Taylor Trammell (Cincinnati Reds) – The MVP of last summer’s Futures Game and a favorite of our very own Ray Butler, Trammell will be in a prime spot come September to either see meaningful time on the field or be the final piece in a Reds playoff hunt. Either way, 2020 is going to be a huge year for Trammell in Cincinnati. September could be our sneak peek.
- Cristian Pache (Atlanta Braves) – Pache could be this season’s Ronald Acuña Jr. Soaring up the ranks at an unfathomable rate before starting 2020 with a clear path to the majors. My belief is that Nick Markakis’ one year deal is to pave the way and open the door for Pache, who is an elite defender on top of his rapidly developing bat. A September call-up is very much in the cards.
- AJ Puk (Oakland A’s) – Tommy John surgery ended Puk’s 2018 campaign before it ever began, but it seems he is on the right track to make a big league impact later this season. A quick outing or two with the A’s in September could make sense, and it would be hard to ignore the upside that short stint could make on a fantasy team.
- Bo Bichette (Toronto Blue Jays) – Bichette is the shortstop (or second baseman, depending on who you ask) of the future for the Blue Jays, and while I don’t think he will make his debut this season, a hot start could change that. You’ll want to get a share of the action.
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Featured image courtesy of the San Diego Union-Tribune