It's that time.
Spring training is (just about) over, you've (probably) drafted, and it's time to unveil the first Top 10 prospect list of the 2019 season.
This was the most difficult Top 10 I've put together in my time doing this. There are so many quality prospects ready to contribute at the MLB level and picking the order was a real challenge. This list will look vastly different next week, as several of these players will graduate onto the Opening Day rosters.
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. 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. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Toronto Blue Jays
2018 stats: 95 G, .381/.437/.636, 20 HR, 3 SB, 37 BB, 38 SO at High-A Dunedin, Double-A New Hampshire and Triple-A Buffalo.
I did consider putting a certain name ahead of Guerrero Jr. because of a certain contract extension, if only because he’s going to put up about three or so weeks more of production. I couldn’t do it, though. Even with the hamstring injury, Guerrero Jr. is too good of hitter to put below anyone. He can hit for average, he can hit for power, and the lack of speed means nothing. This is a special player who should be up for most of the year and put up big, big numbers.
2. Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago White Sox
2018 stats: 108 G, .337/.384/.577, 22 HR, 32 BB, 69 SO, 0 SB at Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte.
In case you couldn’t tell what prospect I was talking about, it’s this guy. Jimenez is a good notch or two below Vlad on the hit tool, but only because you can’t get higher than Vlad on the hit tool. The power is better, and a 30-plus homer season really isn’t out of the question here to go along with a high average. Add in the fact he’s playing in a friendly park for hitters, and it should be a big year for Jimenez. He’s a must-own in all possible league formats.
3. Victor Robles, OF, Washington Nationals
2018 stats: 52 G, .276/.371/.370, 2 HR, 26 BB, 32 SO, 19 SB at short-season Auburn and Triple-A Syracuse; 21 G, .288/.348/.525, 3 HR, 3 SB, 4 BB, 12 SO at Washington.
Robles being third on this list just shows how loaded this prospect list to begin 2019 really is. He’s going to play centerfield, and act as a “second leadoff hitter” by hitting ninth in the Washington lineup to begin the season. His ability to make hard contact to all fields and show off his top-of-the-scales speed make him a threat to help you win two categories, and the power isn’t a weakness, either. Robles needs to show more consistency, but the talent is immense.
4. Nick Senzel, OF, Cincinnati Reds
2018 stats: 44 G, .310/.378/.509, 6 HR, 19 BB, 39 SO, 8 SB at Triple-A Louisville.
If not for a fractured finger, Senzel would have made his debut last year and wouldn’t qualify for that list. He’s just as ready offensively as any of the prospects above/below him, but you can at least sort of justify him starting the year in Triple-A because he’s moving to center field. With a plus-plus hit tool, quality speed and deceptive power, he shouldn’t be there for very long, and he should be among the best rookies in the National League in 2019.
5. Garrett Hampson, INF, Colorado Rockies
2018 stats: 110 G, .311/.382/.462, 10 HR, 36 SB, 51 BB, 75 SO at Double-A Harford and Triple-A Albuquerque; 24 G, .275/.396/.400, 0 HR, 2 SB, 7 BB, 12 SO at Colorado.
As of printing, we don’t know if Hampson is going to be the starting second baseman or not, but it sure looks like he’s at the very least going to be on the 25-man roster, and because of his quality defense -- yes, defense (kinda) matters in fantasy -- he has the best chance of ending the year as the starting second baseman. With a chance to hit for average and double-plus speed, he has a chance to be a guy you can start in any format, as well. Go get him.
6. Chris Paddack, RHP, San Diego Padres
2018 stats: 17 G, 2.10 ERA, 90 IP, 66 H, 8 BB, 120 SO at High-A Lake Elsinore and Double-A San Antonio.
Never let anyone tell you spring training doesn’t matter. Okay, it doesn’t usually matter, but it did for Paddack. He wasn’t even a consideration for my Top 19 in ‘19, but after his exceptional Cactus League -- on top of those gaudy numbers above -- it looks like he’s going to be either in the rotation to start the year or get called up very soon. He’s not going to miss bats at this level/the walk rate will be higher, but even still, he’s got a real chance to be a strong fantasy hurler in 2019.
7. Francisco Mejia, C, San Diego Padres
2018 stats: 110 G, .293/.338/.471, 14 HR, 25 BB, 83 SO, 0 SB at Triple-A Columbus and El Paso; 21 G, .179/.258/.375, 3 HR, 5 BB, 19 SO, 0 SB at Cleveland and San Diego.
It seems like Mejia has been around forever, but the switch-hitting backstop won’t turn 24 until October. Acquired from Cleveland in the deal that sent Brad Hand to the Indians, Mejia makes loads of hard contact from both sides of the plate, and he’s really starting to tap into his power potential. Austin Hedges is in the way, but Mejia is a much (much) better offensive player. He can only block him for so long.
8. Pete Alonso, 1B, New York Mets
2018 stats: 132 G, .285/.395/.579, 36 HR, 76 BB, 128 SO at Double-A Hartford and Triple-A Las Vegas.
Alonso was the most improved prospect in baseball last year, and while again, we don’t know for sure that the slugger is going to make the big league roster immediately, the wait shouldn’t be long. Alonso has big-time power, draws walks, and despite the strikeouts, he makes enough hard contact to project at least an average hit tool. The steals won’t happen, but who cares. Alonso is very intriguing even while limited to first base.
9. Touki Toussaint, RHP, Atlanta Braves
2018 stats: 24 G, 2.38 ERA, 101 H, 53 BB, 163 SO at Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett; 7 G, 4.03 ERA, 29 IP, 18 H, 21 BB, 32 SO at Atlanta.
If Alonso was the most improved offensive prospect in baseball, Toussaint was the most improved on the mound. Not that he wasn’t always talented, but his ability to throw strikes really took a step forward in 2018 while showing the same swing-and-miss stuff that made him a first-round pick. Somewhat surprisingly, Toussaint isn't going to open the year in the rotation; Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson get the honor. I still like Toussaint more in 2019; I think he'll throw more innings and miss more bats than both. Both Wright and Wilson are interesting prospects on their own, however. The 2019 class is just loaded.
10. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, San Diego Padres
2018 stats: 88 G, .286/.355/.507, 16 HR, 33 BB, 109 SO, SB at Double-A San Antonio.
There are so many, many talented prospects who deserve to be on this list, and I considered all of the names below seriously. At the end of the day -- weeks, really -- I couldn’t leave Tatis Jr. off this list. The only reason he ranks this low is there are no guarantees on when he makes his debut in 2019, and the rest of these players are either on 25-man rosters or are borderline locks to make it. Still, Tatis Jr. is a star who can contribute in every category. If you play in a deeper league and feel confident in your roster, he’s worth consideration at the back of it. Update: Tatis Jr. has made the initial 25-man roster. I'm as shocked as you are, but probably happier. Knowing this, Tatis Jr. would rank third on my list, just behind Vlad and Jimenez. The leash might be short, but the ability to help you in five categories is worth the risk.
Also considered: Luis Urias, SS, San Diego Padres; Alex Reyes, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals; Justus Sheffield, LHP, Seattle Mariners; Alex Verdugo, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers; Danny Jansen, C Toronto Blue Jays.