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. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Toronto Blue Jays
2019 stats: 2 G, .250/.250/.375, 0 HR, 0 SB, 0 BB, 1 SO at High-A Dunedin.
Guerrero Jr. is currently dealing with a Grade 1 left oblique strain, and he’s doing his rehab in Florida. He’s expected to spend a couple of weeks there before either joining Toronto or Triple-A Buffalo; and it likely depends on the service time considerations. Once up, Guerrero should hit for power, average and do it while not striking out. He’s special. We say it a lot, but it’s worth repeating.
2. Nick Senzel, OF, Cincinnati Reds
2018 stats: 44 G, .310/.378/.509, 6 HR, 19 BB, 39 SO, 8 SB at Triple-A Louisville.
Senzel has yet to make his 2019 debut because of a sprained ankle, and is currently on the seven-day injured list. Reports are that the ankle injury isn’t as bad as anticipated, but there’s still no word as to when he’ll be on the field. Once healthy, he should spend a few weeks in Triple-A, and then be ready to roll for the Reds. He’ll have lots of fantasy value when that occurs.
3. Luis Urias, 2B, San Diego Padres
2019 stats: 4 G, .333/.400/.556, 1 HR, 1 SB, 2 BB, 4 SO at Triple-A El Paso.
We were surprised to see Urias begin the year in El Paso. We’re not surprised to see him hitting to begin his year in Triple-A. The 21-year-old isn’t going to put up huge power numbers, but he’s gotten stronger, and a 15-homer season isn’t out of the question. The tool is the calling card here, and he should hit for average and draw walks as soon as he gets a promotion to San Diego. Our guess is Urias is with the Padres before the summer comes.
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4. Touki Toussaint, RHP, Atlanta Braves
2019 stats: 1 G, 0.00 ERA,3 IP, 1 H, 4 BB, 1 SO at Triple-A Gwinnett.
Toussaint may not have allowed a run in his three innings during his 2019 debut, but it wasn’t a strong start for the 22-year-old. The command -- which has been an issue throughout Toussaint’s career -- simply wasn’t there, and it’s the biggest concern about not just 2019, but his long-term prognosis. The former first-round pick has made progress there, but if he’s going to pitch for the Braves in a significant way, he has to throw more strikes.
5. Justus Sheffield, LHP, Seattle Mariners
2019 stats: 1 G, 7.71 ERA, 4.2 IP, 3 H, 5 BB, 1 SO at Triple-A Tacoma.
Sheffield made his season debut on Sunday, and it wasn’t one he’ll remember. Not fondly, anyway. He really struggled to throw strikes, and while it’s just one start/lots of hurlers struggle with control early on, this was a problem for the 22-year-old at the end of the 2018 season, as well. I’m not overly concerned by the outing, but like Toussaint, if he’s going to get a chance to be a member of the rotation in Seattle, the strikes have to come.
6. Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros
2019 stats: 3 G, .100/.100/.100, 0 HR, 0 SB, 0 BB, 6 SO at Triple-A Round Rock.
A rough first weekend for Tucker, who was dominant in Triple-A in the 2018 campaign. The sample size is way too small to be concerned about, as the fifth pick of the 2015 draft has been among the most productive minor league hitters over the past two seasons. He’ll need to hit to get a call to Houston, of course, but the biggest reason for concern is the outfield depth for the Astros. There’s still a pretty good chance he’ll get run with Houston before the 2019 season finishes.
7. Forrest Whitley, RHP, Houston Astros
2018 stats: 8 G, 26.1 IP, 3.76 ERA, 15 H, 11 BB, 34 SO at Double-A Corpus Christi.
Whitley is the best pitching prospect in baseball. There are four pitches here that can miss bats, and miss bats at an elite level. He also throws them for strikes -- for the most part -- and he’s going to begin the year at Triple-A. So, why so low? Because of the lack of an obvious opportunity for 2019, and there’s been some talk that the Astros could call Whitley up to be a member of the bullpen. He can help in that role, but without saves, wins or a high inning total, the value for 2019 is somewhat limited. If he does get a chance to start, however, the upside is palpable. He’ll make his first start of the season on Tuesday.
8. Mitch Keller, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
2019 stats: 1 G, 3.86 ERA, 4.2 IP, 3 H, 5 BB, 6 SO at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Did anyone throw strikes this weekend? It sure doesn’t seem so. Keller -- like Sheffield and Toussaint -- really struggled with his command, but he was able to work through it by missing bats and limiting the amount of hard contact. Keller’s command and control project above-average, so this was probably just a case of the 23-year-old struggling to begin the year. Just look at the numbers above, there’s no denying it happens.
9. Brendan Rodgers, INF, Colorado Rockies
2019 stats: 4 G, .278/.278/.500, 1 HR, 0 SB, 0 BB, 2 SO at Triple-A Albuquerque.
A solid start for Rodgers, with a couple of extra-base hits to begin his first week with the Isotopes. If there’s a concern -- and again, there shouldn’t be any concerns based on this small of sample size -- it’s that Rodgers didn’t draw any walks, and the biggest issue with the infielder’s offensive profile is his lack of patience. Still, the hit and power tool both project above-average, and he’s a solid defensive player. It’s just a question of finding Rodgers somewhere to play in 2019.
10. Mike Soroka, RHP, Atlanta Braves
2019 stats: 1 G, 0.00 ERA, 5 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 SO at Triple-A Gwinnett.
Not only did Soroka throw strikes, he missed bats while not allowing a hit in his start on Saturday against New Orleans. The 21-year-old showed flashes of brilliance in his five starts last year with the Braves, and they were on display on Saturday, as well. The concern here is that Soroka is recovering from a significant shoulder injury, and Atlanta might want to take things cautiously with one of the best prospects in their system. There’s upside here, but there’s also more risks than the arms listed above, at least for 2019.
Also considered: Bo Bichette, SS, Toronto Blue Jays; Alex Reyes, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals; Michael Chavis, INF, Boston Red Sox; Ryan Mountcastle, 3B, Baltimore Orioles; Keston Hiura, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers