Whether it’s for fantasy baseball, or for the love of the game, how prospects emerge are important to a large mass of fans across the nation. From the rockets on the mound, to the sluggers in the batters box, here are the ten best prospects coming into the 2017 MLB season:
#1: Andrew Benintendi (OF, Boston Red Sox) (Rating: 9/10)
Drafted seventh in the 2015 MLB Draft, Benintendi has been the hottest prospect as of late. Hitting an above-average .292 in 48 at-bats, Benintendi will likely start for the Red Sox at left field come Opening Day.
As an everyday starter for the Sox, I project for Benintendi to finish with 20-25 home runs on the year, and I could see him potentially being the piece the Red Sox need to get back into the postseason this year.
#2: Yoan Moncada (2B/SS, Chicago White Sox) (Rating: 8.5/10)
Earning MVP honors at the 2016 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, Moncada has lived up to money invested into him by his former team, the Boston Red Sox. After being traded to Chicago in a package deal that included Chris Sale, Moncada has the potential to become a player that will remind most of an early Robinson Cano.
Not only does Moncada have an intimidating presence at the plate, but his base running abilities are just as lethal. Stealing 45 bases in his two seasons in the minors (106 total games), Moncada is a player I expect to steal 30+ bases in one full season as a starter in the MLB.
#3: Dansby Swanson (SS, Atlanta Braves) (Rating: 8.5/10)
Swanson was the #1 pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, and I think that in 2017, he will prove why he was selected so early. Seen as the starter over Chase d’Arnaud, Swanson is batting an efficient .292 at the plate this spring.
Swanson is viewed as the franchise piece that the Braves have been seeking, and I couldn’t agree more. While Swanson isn’t necessarily a slugger, I could see his calculated approach at the plate to allow him to finish with a batting average above .285 this season.
#4: Gleyber Torres (SS, New York Yankees) (Rating: 8/10)
During the 2016 Fall Arizona League, Torres became the youngest MVP and batting champion (.403) in the circuit’s 25 seasons of action. With that, I think it’s safe that Torres has a bit of talent. With the injury to Gregorious occuring, Torres should be expected to fit into the Yankees starting lineup for at least the first six weeks of action (pending any trades).
With Torres’ quick hands at play, I predict for him to be the cleanest fielder in the Yankees infield before Gregorious gets inputted back into the starting lineup. His glove was one of the many reasons he was part of the trade for Chapman in 2016, and fans should be excited to watch the 20-year old step up.
#5: Amed Rosario (SS, New York Mets) (Rating: 8/10)
The youngest individual in the Mets starting infield for 2017 happens to be Lucas Duda, who just turned 31 in February. While Rosario will primarily be looking to play shortstop someday, I think that with the way he is playing in the minors right now, the Mets will be forced to call Rosario up to the big leagues.
Batting .324 with 13 triples in 120 minor league games, Rosario has proven to be one of the hottest batting prospects the MLB has to offer. While I’m not entirely positive Rosario will see a lot of playing time in the big leagues this upcoming season, he will be a force to be reckoned with over time.
#6: Tyler Glasnow (RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates) (Rating: 7.5/10)
After signing with the Pirates in 2011, Glasnow has been able to move his way through the farm system at a steady pace. With an 0-2 record during the 2016 season in the MLB, Glasnow found himself in a tricky spot. If he can trust his technique, I believe that Glasnow will be successful someday in the big leagues, considering he holds a 8-3 record with a 1.93 ERA in the minors this past season.
With a 1-0 record and 6.10 ERA this spring, I see Glasnow being sent back down to the minors to start the season, but possibly being utilized as a #4 or #5 man in the rotation as time goes on.
#7: Austin Meadows (OF, Pittsburgh Pirates) (Rating: 7/10)
On one hand, Morrow has been able to reach Triple-A at the age of 21, which was well before his projection when he was drafted in 2013 as a top 10 pick. On the other hand, Meadows has been sidelined with multiple injuries, which caused him to even sit from the Arizona Fall League in 2016.
The Pirates have a strong core of outfielders, as they contain Gregory Polanco, Starling Marte, and of course, Andrew McCutchen. All three are under contract for a decent amount of time, as McCutchen is the next to become a free agent (in 2019).
If Meadows can stay healthy and preform at a high level, don’t be surprised if he gets called up on the off-days of the Pirates outfielders.
#8: Cody Bellinger (1B, Los Angeles Dodgers) (Rating: 7/10)
In his first two pro seasons, Bellinger struggled, as he only racked two total home runs. In his last two seasons however, Bellinger has a combined total of 56 dingers. From the 2015 to 2016 season, Bellinger also managed to reduce his strikeout rate from 28% to 20%. Over time, Bellinger has started to look like he can be a successful player in the MLB.
With Adrian Gonzalez at the age of 34, and set to become a free agent in 2019, it’s entirely possible that the Dodgers plan to mold Bellinger into their future first baseman.
#9: Ozzie Albies (2B/SS, Atlanta Braves) (Rating: 7/10)
Swanson will likely be the future of the Braves at the shortstop position, but with Brandon Phillips likely to retire after this season, Albies has the opportunity to become the future second baseman for the franchise.
In the minors, Albies managed a .292 batting average with 30 stolen bases. If he can translate this to the big leagues, I find it unlikely that the Braves will feel the need to continue to search for Brandon Phillips’ replacement.
#10: J.P. Crawford (SS, Philadelphia Phillies) (Rating: 7/10)
With a low strikeout rate, and the mindset that allows him to take a lot of walks during his time at the plate, Crawford may be one of the most matured batters in this list. With Freddy Glavis and Andres Blanco filling the shortstop position for now, neither have proven to be players that the Phillies can trust in the long-run. Crawford is hitting a mere .207 this spring, so if he has any hope of being promoted to the majors, it’ll likely be due to his outings in the minors.
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