It is fantasy baseball season yet again, and what is fantasy baseball without trying to pick out what prospects will make a fantasy impact this year? I will break down 25 guys that I think will have the greatest impact on the fantasy baseball landscape this year. These are not the best prospects in baseball, they are the guys who will impact fantasy baseball the most this season. Some have inflated value because they will be in the big leagues all year, others will be future superstars both in fantasy and in real baseball, but barely make the list, or don’t at all, because of a limited projected impact on the 2015 season. Without further ado, here is the list:
1) Rusney Castillo, OF, Boston Red Sox – This guy is not atop most lists, but he is my top fantasy prospect this year because he will help in every category of a fantasy team. Despite his size, which is a shockingly short 5’8”, but he is stout. He has a swing that could allow him to hit 20 home runs and has the speed and base running intelligence to snag 25 bags. His average could flirt with .300, but will likely land around .280. He does not strike out much despite being a free swinger, which will make him slightly less valuable in an OBP league given he won’t draw many walks. Even in a crowded outfield in Boston, he is my pick for AL Rookie of the Year and the top fantasy rookie of 2015.
2) Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs – The power is undeniable, a true 80 tool, who could lead the league in home runs someday. Bryant would rank second regardless of where he starts the season, which will be in Triple-A, because his average could be a real problem. In a fantasy baseball landscape where power is a rarity, he will make up for his low average and high strikeout rate with the home run totals, but not enough to crack the top spot. Bryant put up over 40 home runs in the minors in 2014, and could hit 50 in a full season in time, but his ceiling for this year is probably around 30, and he will get overrated in many draft rooms.
3) Yasmany Tomas, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks – The position eligibility will vary depending on the site you play on (most my leagues are on ESPN and they have him listed as an outfielder) but by the end of the year he should be eligible at both third base and outfield. His defense awful at third, and there isn’t much sign that will turn around anytime soon, so a move to the outfield is likely, where the Arizona corner outfielders will be Tomas and Trumbo, leaving a lot of ground to cover for the center fielder. But in fantasy, defense doesn’t matter, so the $68 million Cuban product comes in third on my list because he has great power potential and will be batting in a shockingly good middle of the order for a potential last place team.
4) Jorge Soler, OF, Chicago Cubs – The Cuban-American relations may have become borderline civil this year, but Cuba had already send over many of their greatest imports, baseball players. My third Cuban in the top four fantasy rookies this season is Soler, who will battle Tomas and Bryant for NL Rookie of the Year. Soler has plenty of power, but that gets overrated some. He can probably have 25 home runs, but he should be a solid .270 or better hitter with plenty of doubles. Soler is a guy whose value will fluctuate some depending on his spot in the lineup. If he hits second, he will have good runs numbers, and if he hits fifth or sixth, he will be a solid RBI option.
5) Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers – Some were calling for Pederson to see more time with the big league club last year, but I think it was a good call for them to keep him in the minors until the end of the season. While he is the best big league caliber center fielder, he still has some improving to do out there. He is overrated in fantasy because he is a great all-around player, but should be a 15/15 guy this year. Pederson will likely have a few .300 seasons in his career, but a .280 this year in a lineup like the Dodgers will provide great value.