A reminder that this is strictly a list for 2019. Several of these prospects are among the best in baseball, but for the purpose of this series, it’s just measuring potential impact for the coming season. Also, a reminder that prospects who are on MLB rosters are not eligible for this list. You can view my top 100 prospects for 2019 and my top prospects by position in our Rotoworld MLB Season Pass.
Without further ado, here’s the top 10 fantasy prospects to open the 2019 season.
1. Nick Senzel, OF, Cincinnati Reds
2019 stats: 5 G, .238/.304/.286, 0 HR, 0 SB, 2 BB, 7 SO at Triple-A Louisville.
It's weird to be writing someone's name in this top spot that isn't Vladimir Guerrero Jr. A good weird, though. Senzel just returned last week from his ankle injury, and while those numbers above aren't fantastic, they're also not indicative of the talent of the 23-year-old. Senzel can contribute in every category, and the Reds just want to make sure he's 100 percent healthy before calling him up. We should see Senzel up with Cincinnati before the end of May.
2. Luis Urias, INF, San Diego Padres
2019 stats: 10 G, .391/.462/.978, 7 HR, 1 SB, 5 BB, 8 SO at Triple-A El Paso; 11 G, .083/.241/.125, 0 HR, 0 SB, 4 BB, 11 SO at San Diego.
There's no denying that Urias struggled after his call-up to San Diego. The numbers prove that. There's also no doubt that the sample size was extremely small, and Urias is too darn talented to ignore based on 24 at-bats. And boy has he responded since being sent down with five homers over his last two games, including a three-homer game on Sunday. Don't expect that kind of power at the highest level, but Urias can hit, and he should get another chance with the Padres. Soon. Don't give up on him.
3. Griffin Canning, RHP, Los Angeles Angels
2019 stats: 3 G, 0.56 ERA, 16 IP, 13 H, 2 BB, 17 SO at Triple-A Salt Lake.
It's always easier to rank a player if you know they're coming up. That's why Canning ranks a little -- okay, a lot -- higher than he would have if we didn't know that he was starting on Tuesday for the Angels. That's not to say that he's not deserving, however. Canning has four pitches that can miss bats, and he throws them all for strikes. He'll also be facing the Blue Jays, and while they do have a certain wunderkind at third base, the rest of the lineup doesn't scare all too much. It probably is a one-off, but Canning should get a chance to make several starts for a not-so-good Angels' rotation, and that makes him fantasy relevant in 2019.
4. Touki Toussaint, RHP, Atlanta Braves
2019 stats: 2 G, 5.63 ERA, 8 IP, 12 H, 5 BB, 4 SO at Triple-A Gwinnett; 2 G, 8.59 ERA, 7.1 IP, 10 H, 3 BB, 9 SO at Atlanta.
Toussaint made his first start since being demoted on Saturday, and it didn't go particularly well. He allowed 11 hits to the Toledo lineup with four runs. There's some good news, however, as he only walked one and showed much better control. Toussaint offers risk, but the risk also comes with huge reward because of his swing-and-miss stuff. I'm still very high on his chances of helping Atlanta, and I think he's going to be up with the Braves in a relatively short time. Just gotta keep the risk in mind.
5. Brendan Rodgers, INF, Colorado Rockies
2019 stats: 22 G, .326/.398/.605, 5 HR, 0 SB, 10 BB, 16 SO at Triple-A Albuquerque.
A big jump for Rodgers, but it's deserved. He's absolutely crushing the baseball right now; hitting .405 with three homers over his last 10 games, and he has at least two hits in his last five games. There's no obvious spot for Rodgers to play right now, but the 22-year-old is ready to go offensively, and he's competent with the glove at second, third and short. It may not happen until summer, but Rodgers' upside -- combined with that wonderful park -- is too palpable to ignore.
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6. Keston Hiura, INF, Milwaukee Brewers
2019 stats: 23 G, .333/.367/.714, 7 HR, 1 SB, 4 BB, 27 SO at Triple-A San Antonio.
And speaking of red-hot. Hiura continues to destroy Triple-A pitching, and over his last 10 games, he has hit .394 with three homers. Also, he drew three walks in his last four games after having only one walk in the previous 19. Like with Rodgers, there's no obvious spot where Hiura can play right now, but the Brewers are going to have to find somewhere for the 22-year-old to play. He's just too good of hitter to leave in Triple-A.
7. Dylan Cease, RHP Chicago White Sox
2019 stats: 4 G, 3.44 ERA, 18.1 IP, 16 H, 6 BB, 19 SO at Triple-A Charlotte.
Cease had easily his worst start of the year on Friday, allowing four runs in just 3 2/3 innings on seven hits, and he walked three. He's put five on via free pass in the last 8 1/3 innings, and the biggest concern for the 23-year-old has been his control. There's still lots of reason for optimism with Cease for 2019, as he's still showing two legitimate out pitches from his electric right arm. Before he gets a chance to pitch for the White Sox, however, Cease is going to have to throw more strikes.
8. Forrest Whitley, RHP, Houston Astros
2018 stats: 4 G, 7.71 ERA, 14 IP, 14 H, 6 BB, 18 SO at Triple-A Round Rock.
A shaky outing for Whitley on Friday, as he allowed four runs over three innings against New Orleans. He did show off the impressive strikeout potential, however, fanning five and walking just one. Whitley's numbers are far from awe-inspiring, but the sample size is just way too small to be too concerned. He remains the top pitching prospect in baseball, and he only ranks this "low" because we're not sure when he'll be up or what role he'll have.
9. Yordan Alvarez, OF, Houston Astros
2019 stats: 21 G, .347/.443/.867, 11 HR, 0 SB, 12 BB, 17 SO at Triple-A Round Rock.
Welcome to the list, Yordan. We've been expecting you. Alvarez has been as good as any hitter in the minor leagues last year, showing the plus hit and power tool that made him a top 50 prospect coming into the year. Things have escalated quickly, as you can see. The Astros' lineup doesn't have a vacancy right now, but considering how good the 21-year-old has been, he's deserving of a spot on this list because of the upside he can provide if/when he gets that call. I have a sneaking suspicion it might happen this summer.
10. Justus Sheffield, LHP, Seattle Mariners
2019 stats: 3 G, 4.11 ERA, 15.1 IP, 11 H, 11 BB, 9 SO at Triple-A Tacoma; 1 G, 6.00 ERA, 3 IP, 2 H, 4 BB, 3 SO at Seattle.
Sheffield made his debut with the Mariners on Friday after Yusei Kikuchi was the "opener," and there were moments of good as seen in the three strikeouts, and moments of frustration in seen in everything else. The Mariners plan on having Kikuchi make another one of these starts soon, and Sheffield should be back up when he does. That role doesn't offer a ton of fantasy value, but his swing-and-miss arsenal keeps him in the top 10. For now.
Also considered: Mitch Keller, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates; Ke’Bryan Hayes,3B, Pittsburgh Pirates; Jesus Luzardo, LHP, Oakland Athletics; Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros; Ryan Mountcastle, 3B, Baltimore Orioles