First Year Player Draft: Top 20 Prospects

I was a little bored and I was thinking ahead to one of my upcoming drafts, where the first year players had not been drafted yet. It got me thinking of who I wanted to pick (I have the 5th pick). So I decided to do some research and I figured it’d be a little easier to draft if I too had a set plan that I could follow. So I started strongly evaluating the players all over again. In the Deep Leagues Franchise First Year Player Draft, which took place in August, very little was known about the players other than a few weeks of pro-ball data. Now we have half of a season to evaluate and critique, as well as the AFL and many MLB scouts with their eyes trained on these players.

I’m going to run down my top 20 players from the 2012 draft, for fantasy purposes. So you won’t see Nolan Fontana on this list, I promise (not saying he won’t make it, just that he’s not going to be Top 20 Fantasy Relevant from the draft). It’s always more fun to see a prospect go on your team from draftee to regular, more so than adding one from the waiver wire would (at least in my opinion). So make sure you nail these picks, because winning on each pick is what guarantees you 2018 bragging rights. Without further ado, let’s get to the list!

 Rank. Name (Position, Team) DLF Pick – Comment

1. Mike Zunino (C, SEA) DLF: 1 - The guy crushed pitching and defensively he won’t move off of catcher. They are moving the Safeco fences in, and I like his odds of being a premier fantasy backstop for years to come. He could make an immediate impact as well, which has added value. ETA: 2013

2. Kevin Gausman (SP, BAL) DLF: 2 – He looks like the best pitcher in the class to me. Or at least the best with the safest high upside. A good college arm with room to grow, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him as a good #2 starter, sitting right behind Bundy in the Orioles rotation for years to come. Very interchangable with #3, depending on when you need them by. ETA: 2013

3. Carlos Correa (SS, HOU) DLF: 4 - He’s a bit of a ways off. But I think he can have a really nice bat and if he does stick at SS, be a very good player. I’m in between on him sticking. If he doesn’t, then he’ll likely be dropped a few spots on this list. Could be #2 if you need an opportunity for an impact bat ETA: 2016

4. Mark Appel (SP, PIT) - Sorry, I couldn’t help myself…

4. Byron Buxton (OF, MIN) DLF: 3 – Buxton is a lot of upside and projection right now. He reminds me of a more polished Starling out of high school. I think he’s got a lot more baseball skill than Starling, but the “projection” types worry me a tad. Although he got the highest bonus, I’m weary of taking him in my top 3.  ETA: 2016

5. Addison Russell (SS, OAK) DLF: 13 - Well, he looks like he is just about as good as anybody in the draft. He hit a ton right out of the gate, and has scouts jumping. There’s even a chance to stick at SS. If he sticks, he’d likely be in my top 3. But he doesn’t have the raw upside of the two above him. He’s close though. ETA: 2015

6. Max Fried (SP, SD) DLF: 10 - Could end up being the best SP from this draft. Reports had comps of him and Kershaw. I don’t see that type of best MLB starter upside, but I do see the potential for a #2 starter, which will play up even more in the confines of Petco. He’s one to keep a very close eye on. ETA: 2016

7. David Dahl (OF, COL) DLF: 7 – The hottest prospect around, statheads loved Dahl’s dominance. One thing that intrigued me was that the reason Buxton went so high was due to his athleticism, and once Dahl hit pro ball they said he was on par. Intriguing to think how the difference between being drafted 10th and 2nd has on prospect rankings. ETA: 2016

8. Albert Almora (OF, CHC) DLF: 8 – Another physical specimen, the Cubs were locked in on him from day one. Rumor was that if the Cubs picked first overall, they’d still take him over anyone. He’s a five tool player, and it should be interesting to watch the Almora/Dahl/Buxton competition throughout their careers. ETA: 2016

9. Michael Wacha (SP, STL) DLF: 17 – He wouldn’t be this high without his dominance in the pro ball season. He was filthy in limited work, and gives the Cardinals another top tier arm to add to their resume. Too bad they coupled him with Ramsey. But alas, he looks like a potential #2 starter ceiling, but the floor of a good RP with back end stuff. ETA: 2014

10. Chris Stratton (SP, SFG) DLF: 21 – A popular “sleeper” pick among other analysts, namely John Sickels tabbed him, he looks to be in the trio of starters in SF in the minors. I could see a good #3 workhorse out of him, which for sure is to help on a fantasy team. He’s rather safe as well, if you don’t want to go risky (as shown if you keep reading the next few). ETA: 2014

11. Kyle Zimmer (SP, KC) DLF: 5 - RISK ALERT. He’s got top tier upside, but also Rendon-like injury potential. He is still raw, especially for a college SP and could use some minors time. I just get a bad feeling about him and injuries. Has good upside (#2/3 starter) but just not a personal favorite. ETA: 2015

12. Lucas Giolito (SP, WAS) DLF: 6 - RISK ALERT, part deuce. He’s the definition of risk itself. You could end up with an ace. Or you can end up with a dud. I personally  believe in him coming back, but I don’t think I’d risk taking him over some of the surer bets ahead (Stratton/Wacha). If I’m in a risky type mood or can afford a bust, I’d look at him up at #7 or 8 range. ETA: 2016/2017

13. Jose Berrios (SP, MIN) DLF: 18 - A personal favorite of mine, I secured him in the DLF draft. I think he progresses fast and ends up in the rotation in Minny quicker than most HS draftees. I see #3 upside here, but he seems eerily safe to me, more than a typical HS arm. I could take him at 11 to avoid risk. ETA: 2015

14. Corey Seager (3B, LAD) DLF: 27 – One of the few legit bats in the Dodgers sytem. He looks like his brother. Just better, all around. He could be legit with the bat and should stay at 3B for the Dodgers. I see some risk here, but I do like him and I’d be willing to snag him around 15 in a draft, especially if he fell (taken 27th in DLF, I shoulda taken him). ETA: 2015/2016

15. Stryker Trahan (C, ARI) DLF: 29 - He’s caught between catcher and outfield (pun intended). I think he’ll end up in RF personally, but it’s fun to imagine him at catcher. His bat should play at least average in the outfield, and he’s athletic enough to play almost anywhere (3B?). I’m a fan, and a bigger fan of the name. ETA: 2016 as OF or 2017 as Catcher

16. Joey Gallo (3B, TEX) DLF: 9 – Power. Gallo Smash. Gallo Angry At Ball. He’s got legit power, I think we found that one out pretty safely. But his strikeouts make me wonder. Carlos Pena future? Sometimes the strikeouts never let someone become a legit MLB player, like tools would say so. If I knew he’d make the majors, I’d have him top 10. ETA: 2016

17. Courtney Hawkins (OF, CHW) DLF: 11 - He too has power. Maybe the most in the draft. But he’s also a free swinger at times, and is unpolished. He does get bonus points for being able to do a flip. Jason Pierre-Paul also could do flips, if that is a testament to Hawkins. I am maybe slightly below the curve on liking him, and I see him go higher in drafts (11th in DLF). ETA: 2016

18. Lewis Brinson (OF, TEX) DLF: 20 - Toolsy, he could be a star. Many labeled him as raw and unpolished until they saw him. He showed better than what was expected, especially in plate discipline. He’s got all five tools you want. Could he man RF or LF in a few years? I don’t see why not. He’s a good flier, especially in the 20s. ETA: 2016

19. Richie Shaffer (3B, TB) DLF: 14 - One of the few polished college hitters in the draft, he should be in the majors soon. I mean, as long as he can beat out that Longoria bum. His bat would play well at 3B for any team, but it looks like a shift to corner OF or 1B is in order. And since the TB OF is loaded, first base might be it. His bat will be average there. I hope he’s traded to maximize his value. ETA: 2014

20. Lance McCullers (SP, HOU) DLF: 12 - Houston can thank Correa for the McCullers pick. Most labeled him as a RP out of high school. Then many flipped on him and saw him as a starter. I’m still between the two. And for that, I’m not sold on him being much higher than this. I’m hopeful for him, and he’ll get plenty of opportunity in Houston. ETA: 2016

Unraked First Round (Top 20) Picks in DLF: Andrew Heaney (SP, MIA, 15th), DJ Davis (OF, TOR, 16th), Pat Light (SP, BOS, 19th)


All in all, it’s a huge risk in nearly every player. It all depends on how much you want to risk with your pick. If you can afford a boom/bust guy, look at a Dahl, Giolito, Brinson or Gallo. I’d recommend that if you needed a star on your farm (you don’t need this player to play in the next 2 years, and have mediocre options with no impact capability), or if you have a super deep farm already (owns a few stars, can afford a swing and miss on an upside prospect). If you have a farm that just needs talent to stay afloat, or needs a quick impact (for you contenders) I’d recommend players like Gausman, Wacha, Stratton, and Shaffer.


Some names to keep an eye on that might come up later in the draft: Victor Roache (OF, MIL, 26th), Carson Kelly (3B, STL, 31st), Marcus Stroman (SP, TOR, 34th), Nick Williams (OF, TEX, 41st), Walker Weickel (SP, SD, 43rd), Barrett Barnes (OF, PIT, 54th), and Brian Johnson (SP, BOS, 58th)

Obviously feel free to put down any of your sleepers and any thoughts on these players, as well as any of your own draft tips. I hope that this can keep some discussion and act as a thread for us to discuss any and all first year prospects and any drafts. This list shouldn’t be taken as a bible and your pick is dependent on who you need to infuse into your own team, but I’m sure the community is glad to help!

Thanks for reading!