What a ride!
I hope this list has been as informative for you reading it as it has been for me writing it. Usually, I like to add my final thoughts in the first installment of a multi-part list like this, but my thoughts have changed throughout the process. In order to prep for making my own list — and to check my work when finished to make sure I wasn’t leaving anybody I wanted out — I consulted other lists. I found many to be unrealistic.
Having completed two dynasty drafts this offseason, I found most other lists completely underestimated the value of prospects. By that, I mean they are usually drafted much higher than they are presented on other lists. If you were to use exclusively those lists, you would never get a top prospect — and you might not even get a mid-tiered one. You would be at least one whole round off — and as many as three rounds off — any top-40 prospect.
That said, many other lists try to limit the scope of valuing a player’s worth to a manufactured three- to six-year period. That seems ridiculous to me unless your dynasty league only runs three to six years. A lot of the time, the rationale has something to do with injuries/contracts/current ballparks/etc., but if that is the case, then bake those things into your rankings. For example, if you don’t think young pitchers are stable enough because of performance and health issues, rank them accordingly instead of saying, “It’s so difficult why even try?”
With that being said, I endeavored to make a list that was more realistic. I used both the drafts I was in as references along with other lists, and my own research and league transactions (trades/offers) to create this. If you’re looking to learn more about my method, read the intro to the 1-25 player list linked above.
Thanks for reading.
I’ve heard from a few of the readers of previous sections that I waited too long for this, but Anthony Rizzo is at a crossroads in his career. From the looks of it, he peaked in 2016-2017. I don’t imagine we see another two-year stretch where he’s that good again:
The thing is, this was actually the standard for Rizzo for four seasons. I think he still has two more of these types of seasons in him from 2019-2023, but I don’t think they are consecutive. Either way, he’s still one of the best first base options out there, even in decline.
77. Jose Peraza, 2B, Cincinnati Reds, Age: 24
Not all top-100 guys are sexy assets. Enter Jose Peraza. What I mean by not being sexy is that he isn’t elite at a single skill, but he’s average or better than average at a few. His power is slightly below average, and his average and speed are slightly above. He’s never going to lead your team in anything, and that’s fine.
78. Yasiel Puig, OF, Cincinnati Reds, Age: 28
We go from not sexy from very sexy — and I’m not just talking about the haircut. Yasiel Puig is that guy/girl you think would be perfect for you if only he/she would grow up, get a job, and/or stop doing meth. What I’m saying here is Puig comes with some major warning signs, but you want him anyway because if you aren’t there when if/when he decides to pull it all together, you’ll regret it for the next five years … or when it all falls apart. At any single time in his career, Puig has shown the ability to hit for average, elite plate discipline, power, and speed. He’s never shown them all in one season though. The hope is Great American Ballpark will make everything easier and that might be true. We will soon see. One thing is for sure though, Cincinnati is a lot farther away from the blue meth of Albuquerque than LA is, so it’s a start.
The 20th outfielder on this list is Michael Conforto, which feels right. He clearly should not be your team’s best/most valuable outfielder. Should he be your second? Maybe. Third? That’s more like it. Like Puig, Conforto has a very high ceiling. We’ve seen glimpses — even season long ones — of what that will look like, but the consistency isn’t there. Maybe that comes in 2019, it’s certainly started that way.
Like him or not, Kyle Tucker clearly has tools. He’s got power and speed; the only question other than when he will get his shot is: Will he hit better than .260 when he does? I’m thinking he will. If that happens, he’s a 20/20 candidate, and that’s definitely worth a top-100 spot on this list.
Disclaimer: There is some swing and miss to Willy Adames, and the walk rate leaves something to be desired. But there is also power potential here with some speed. A 20/20 guy with a decent average is the ceiling, it’s just unfortunate he won’t be playing shortstop in two years once Wander Franco takes over the world.
Make no mistake, Franmil Reyes is a boom-or-bust asset. Still, the boom possibility/potential is so large that he is a top-100 asset. I just want to point out that he could be awful in 2019 and that likely doesn’t knock him off this list in 2020. Now, if he’s just as bad in 2020, then we’ll talk.
We’re about to see just how valuable Brendan McKay is. The Rays are committed to seeing if he can both hit and pitch this year in Double-A. So far he has been an exceptional pitcher through High-A with not as much as a hitter, although he still gets positive marks from scouts. Either way, he will be able to contribute as a pitcher. Anything he does at the plate is just gravy.
84. Jose Berrios, SP, Minnesota Twins, Age: 24
Like many near-elite young arms, Jose Berrios‘ destiny depends on developing his third pitch … and his second pitch. So far in 2019, he’s that, but we haven’t seen him when his curveball isn’t working yet. That’s how we will know if something has changed. When his curveball isn’t quite there, Berrios gets lit up. When his curveball is there, Berrios is lit. His changeup is a work in progress, but it’s becoming a decent pitch. Bottom line, there is a lot of potential here, but there has to be an improvement.
85. Luis Castillo, SP, Cincinnati Reds, Age: 26
Much like Berrios, Luis Castillo’s value is directly tied to how much he can improve his third pitch, which is now his curveball. I’d say his changeup is the secondary pitch, and it’s decent. Fastball location has also been an area for concern with Castillo and will be telling just how high he can go up this list. The velocity is elite, but he needs to figure out where to put it — and how to put it there.
While Edwin Diaz might be the hot new thing everybody’s trying to get, Roberto Osuna has been doing this longer and is younger. Crazy right? One of the things I like about Osuna is that he works on his pitches. His arsenal has been in flux for the past two years without really changing the result that he’s a top-tier closer. He may not get strikeouts Diaz does, but he’s right there in everything else.
What will Josh James end up being, a starter or reliever? I hope a reliever. I don’t think he has the upside of an ace in the rotation, but he does as a nonclosing reliever. If his start to 2019 is any indication of how good he can be coming out of the bullpen, we’re looking at a poor man’s Josh Hader, which pretty much means he’s another Dellin Betances.
88. German Marquez, SP, Colorado Rockies, Age: 24
I’ve seen German Marquez pitch a dozen times. He has great stuff, he’s young, and he’s starting to put it all together. The problem is his jersey. Until he leaves Colorado, I’m not convinced he’ll ever be able to contribute enough to be an ace for more than a month at a time. The margin of error in Colorado is just too thin — and that’s why we’ve only seen one elite season from a starting pitcher since the Rockies were established.
89. Jose Leclerc, Closer, Texas Rangers, Age: 25
This ends the reliever portion of our show. But Jose Leclerc is a pretty good final act. In fact, he has the potential to be the best reliever on this list if he can get over his resurfacing control issues. He has elite velocity, induces weak contact, and gets a lot of swings and misses. What more could you ask for?
90. Mike Soroka, SP, Atlanta Braves, Age: 21
I want to see Mike Soroka succeed so bad I’ve told my kids they can stay home from school the next time he gets called up to start. They are going to wear Soroka shirts and tell their friends about Soroka days off school. When I look at this baby-faced righty, all I can think of is he’s like Kyle Hendricks with better stuff. In 2018, before he could even vote, he was doing things I don’t see guys in their primes figure out. Backdoor sinkers and working at different levels above the plate. There is so much to like about him if he can put his shoulder troubles behind him — for my kids’ sake.
Justin Verlander has two more years of elite pitching in him. I’m not sure I can say that of anybody after 92nd on this list, which is why even at age 36, he makes a dynasty value top 100. What is inhuman about Verlander is that he hasn’t lost his velocity at all — even when he’s in the eighth inning, he still can be throwing 97 mph. Who else can do that? Not even 22-year-olds do that anymore. That’s the kind of stuff we used to say about Nolan Ryan, and you know how long he lasted.
It would be nice to see what Alex Reyes can do if he ever got the chance to pitch and didn’t get injured. We’ve seen just enough of him through the minors and the majors to know he has immense talent if he weren’t made of glass. He’s got two plus pitches (fastball, curve) and a changeup that is better than average.
The Rays were so impressed with Nathaniel Lowe that they traded away Jake Bauers to make room for him. It’s still too early to see if Lowe lives up to the hype, but there are fewer than a handful of first baseman prospects who have the potential to be this well-rounded — and that is what is going to separate your team from the fray at this position. After all, he has the potential to hit .280 with 30 home runs and get on base 40 percent of the time. That is essentially what Paul Goldschmidt does. That’s high praise, but hey, he’s got a high ceiling.
I’ll admit that there are about three other prospects/players who I considered before finally choosing Chris Paddack. Austin Meadows, Mitch Haniger, Royce Lewis, and Tyler Glasnow were all considered, but when it came down to it, I couldn’t pull the trigger on any of them because I just cannot get over the strikeout potential of this youngster. We’ve all seen his GIFs:
We know what he can do. We know he’s got a borderline plus fastball, a borderline plus-plus changeup, and a curveball that he never uses. We also know that his control is advanced for his amount of experience. All those things are good, but they don’t usually add up to a 12 to 13 K/9 that Paddack so routinely puts up everywhere he goes, including apparently the majors. He hasn’t been up long, but I’m sold that his potential is sky high. I don’t know if he’ll reach it without further developing that change or learning a cutter, but he is must-see TV for me whenever he’s on the bump.
95. Corey Kluber, SP, Cleveland Indians, Age: 33
Corey Kluber turned 33 earlier this week, which normally would be enough to eliminate a player from this list. What’s keeping him here is his potential to win the Cy Young for the next two years. Nobody else has that kind of potential after him without forecasting some pretty optimistic improvement. Kluber is a strikeout machine with a track record of success and no sign of slowing down despite his age. That will come soon — maybe even this year. But even if it does, he’s still one of the best pitchers out there
What concerns me most about Jack Flaherty is his control. There is no way he repeats anywhere near his .199 batting average against mark from 2018. Combine that with a walk rate of 3.50 per nine innings, and his WHIP will start to rise pretty quickly. Obviously, he’s started spring really well, and maybe the BAA mark won’t rise considerably. I’m just afraid he turns into Robbie Ray — and not in a good way.
Kyle Schwarber has been in flux since entering the league in 2015. He’s physically transformed himself from a husky catcher to a more trim left fielder. He’s also transformed the way he hits, going from giving 100 points of batting average vs. lefties in 2015 to giving up 20 such points in 2018. Schwarber is improving; it may not seem like it because his improvement is slow and incremental, but he is. If this improvement continues, he will be a valuable power and OBP source for the next four years. If it doesn’t continue, he probably isn’t on this list next year. It pains me to say that.
Harrison Bader is an older, perhaps slightly less talented Tucker (No 80). They have the same skill set — except Tucker has a little more power and Bader has a little more speed — but both have a questionable approach at the plate. Bader also has a starting job though, which he is likely to keep even when slumping because of his exceptional defense.
99. Yoan Moncada, 2B, Chicago White Sox, Age: 23
I’ll say this: Yoan Moncada sure does look good this season. But we’ve seen this before. A year ago, in fact, Moncada slashed .274/.361/.877 in April. He followed that up with two of the worst months of his career. What could make this year different is he has kept his strikeout rate in check so far. That did not happen a year ago, with 44 strikeouts in 24 April contests. That said, Moncada has been good for multiple four-week stretches only to revert back to what we’ve seen from him in 220 games. This is his last chance on this list if we continue to see more of the same.
In the past, I would have made the last selection for this list some lesser-known prospect with a crazy high ceiling and a crazy low floor. I still picked that same kind of player, he’s just very well-known. Like Moncada, Byron Buxton was picked here for a specific reason. It is his last chance to be on this list for at least two years. He’s going to have to improve significantly just to stay on. He needs a .260/.340/.480 season with 20 home runs and 30 stolen bases. Anything short of that, and he’s still a disappointment.
(Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire)