In keeper and dynasty leagues, young players and prospects are gold. There’s always that unknown element of what are they capable of and how high their ceiling can be. Can they be the next young superstar in this game? Or are they the next bust never to be heard from again? Not knowing is what makes it exciting. Below are a group of young major leaguers and prospects that are primed to soar up the rankings at their respective positions over the next couple of years.
Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers – After starting his minor league career with a more contact-heavy approach, Bellinger has blossomed into one of the best power threats in the minors. Over the past two seasons, he has blasted 56 homers over 888 at bats. The added power has come at the expense of his batting average, which has dipped from over .300 down to the .270 range. He is talented enough, however, to keep his average respectable in the majors. Adrian Gonzalez is currently blocking the 21-year-old slugger at first base, but Bellinger has been playing a little outfield this year at triple-A as well. That versatility helped him get the call to the majors last week due to Joc Pederson’s injury. Once Gonzalez’s contract is up after the 2018 season, Bellinger will step right in and will be one of the top power bats at the position, and in baseball.
Yoan Moncada, Chicago White Sox – There was an immense level of buzz around young Cuban phenom Yoan Moncada when he signed with the Red Sox in 2015, and for good reason. Moncada simply oozes talent and that talent has been put on full display over his time in the minor leagues. He quickly ascended through Boston’s farm system and earned a cup of coffee with the big team this past September. Over just 405 at bats in 2016 with high-A Salem and Double-A Portland, Moncada hit .294 with 15 home runs and 45 steals. He has shown good plate discipline for a player his age as well drawing 72 walks last year in route to a .407 OBP.
The young Cuban’s brief stint in the majors did not go well. He only had four hits to go along with 12 strikeouts in 19 at-bats. Don’t read into those 19 at bats too much though, as Moncada was rushed to the majors to fill a hole at 3rd base for Boston. The White Sox are going to use him at his natural positions of 2nd base and the young Cuban should be considered one of the best second baseman in all of fantasy in a year or two. Moncada will be a game-changer with his speed and one of the top power options at his position.
Alex Bregman, Houston Astros – Bregman is the definition of a polished hitter. He makes great contact and doesn’t strike out too often. Carlos Correa has the short stop position in Houston locked up for a while, so, for now, third base will be his home. Bregman dominated in the high minors last year with a .306 average, 20 bombs, and 7 steals over just 368 at bats. His OPS at the time of his call up sat at a very impressive mark of .986. Bregman profiles as a .300 hitter with around 25 home runs and 15 steals annually. He might never break into the elite class of Kris Bryant, Nolan Arenado, and Manny Machado, but he should settle in right behind that trio and be a fantasy stalwart at the 3rd base position.
Austin Meadows, Pittsburgh Pirates – Meadows has done nothing but hit since being selected 9th overall by the Pirates in the 2013 amateur draft. Offensively Meadows does everything well. He profiles as a .300+ hitter with the potential to go 30/30 annually. Check out his rookie profile to learn more about his abilities. He should hit in the top half of the order once he gets settled into the Pirates lineup full-time. With the talent he’ll have hitting around him, runs and RBIs should be easy to come by. There’s been no spot for him with the big club until the recent Starling Marte suspension created a gaping hole in the Pittsburgh outfield. After a slow start in triple-A, Meadows has turned it on lately and it shouldn’t be long before he’s called up. This is a player with the talent to become a top-10 fantasy outfielder in short order.
David Dahl, Colorado Rockies – I could almost copy and paste here what I said about Austin Meadows above. Dahl is a complete hitter that brings a lot to the table. He’s a good contact hitter with above average speed and plus power which should be elevated with the help of Coors Field. Power/Speed threats that can also hit over .300 don’t just grow on trees. The Rockies always seem to have lineups full of talented hitters. With Dahl hitting in the middle of these lineups, expect 200 combined runs + RBI’s while posting .300 25/25 seasons regularly. Once he returns from his rib injury, look for him to hit the ground running and never look back. This is going to be a name you see in the first couple rounds of fantasy drafts for the better part of the next decade.
Andrew Benintendi, Boston Red Sox – If you have a moment, go take a look at Andrew Benintendi’s swing. Even if you’re too busy, make time. It’s a thing of beauty. Don’t let his slight frame fool you into thinking he won’t hit for much power. He has lighting quick wrists and a smooth swing through the strike zone that generates plenty of power. In his final season at Arkansas, he led the SEC conference with 20 long balls. He won’t ever be considered a masher but has the talent to hit 20-25 annually.
Fellow outfield teammate Mookie Betts was recently quoted as saying that Benintendi is faster than he is. Well, that remains to be seen, it does speak to the fact that he has some pretty good wheels. A good comparison for him is Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich. Benintendi is going to be a guy that does everything well while being a batting average beast.
Jameson Taillon, Pittsburgh Pirates – The journey to the majors was not an easy one for Taillon. He was a top 10 prospect before needing Tommy John surgery in 2014. His recovery took longer than most due to minor setbacks along the way. Taillon’s long anticipated MLB debut finally happened in 2016 and he was everything Pittsburgh had hoped for. He finished his rookie season with a 3.38 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 85 strikeouts over 104 innings. Taillon throws a mid-90’s heater and pairs that with a very good curveball. His change-up is a work in progress but should be a solid third pitch for him. His big frame should help him be a workhorse for fantasy staffs for years to come. There is ace potential with Taillon and he should be valued as such as soon as next season.