Offseason rookie drafts in dynasty leagues are tricky waters to navigate. Every league has a unique combination of recently drafted rookies, previously owned prospects, and recent international signings that make up their league's draft class. While providing an exhaustive list of available prospects is near impossible, I've attempted to provide a list of top players most likely to be available in your dynasty draft. The rankings are a mixture of players drafted in the June 2014 Amateur Draft, recent international signees, current international free agents hopeful to sign in the coming weeks and months, and breakout prospects who may have gone undrafted to this point. The breakout prospect bit is the hardest to guess for availability across all leagues, so my threshold for inclusion was any player not currently owned in the 20-team FakeTeams Dynasty League. The league has a 20 man minor league roster, so roughly 400 prospects are currently owned (technically, less due to promotions at the end of the year). Feel free to throw names out in the comments and I'd be happy to rank them amongst the rest of my list.
I have tiered the rankings with notes on each tier. If your league allows the trading of draft picks, the tiers should help determine what sort of pick you might need to get your player of interest. For those who are not familiar with my previous prospect writing in our Top 10 series, I lean heavily towards offensive prospects and this list reflects that same bias. The volatility of young arms, and the fallback of having at least marginal value as a reliever make me favor hitters if all else is equal. Offensive players are also valued based on their projected position in the major leagues. All else equal, I'll take a SS or CF over a 2B or corner outfielder, since their defensive value increases their likelihood of finding at bats at the Major League level. The increased likelihood of just making it to The Show has value for fantasy prospects, and I attempt to capture that in all of my rankings. So without further ado, my Top 20 prospects most likely available in your 2015 Rookie Drafts:
1. Yoan Moncada - Free Agent - 2B
2. Yasmany Tomas - Arizona Diamondbacks - OF
Everything I'm seeing from Yoan Mocanda has me giddy with excitement. He's 19 years old and dripping with tools. Unfortunately, his status is up in the air as Moncada awaits OFAC clearance before officially signing with a team. The guy might be a star thanks to the raw power and pure speed combination. There's certainly risk here given the limited looks from scouts and his lack of experience, but this sort of profile from a middle infield prospect does not come along often. He's probably a 2B long-term but there are scouts who think he can start out at SS. His unique eligibility situation could challenge your league's draft rules, so be sure to clarify whether he's eligible before the draft starts. I've been in leagues where unsigned international FA's are still eligible, or they are only to be signed as Free Agents, or they are only eligible once they have a MLB contract and thus become eligible mid-draft. Point here is to know your rules inside and out and clarify with your commissioner, especially if you are holding a top draft pick.
Yasmany Tomas is the top option for those in leagues where the player has to be under contract. His fantasy value will come from his plus power, where 25+ HRs has been projected by multiple scouts. Tomas' ranking here gets a boost thanks to his age (24 years old) and proximity to receiving MLB at bats. His peers on this list are mostly 3+ years away from contributing to your fantasy teams, while Tomas figures to either break camp with Arizona, or at the very least spend a few months in the upper minors acclimating to stateside baseball. His position is uncertain, but whether it is 3B or a corner OF spot, his power will play and be worthy of a top pick in rookie dynasty drafts.
3. Alex Jackson - Seattle Mariners - OF
4. Nick Gordon - Minnesota Twins - SS
5. Kyle Schwarber - Chicago Cubs - OF
Alex Jackson is the top fantasy pick from the June amateur draft. He provides the best overall offensive profile with plus power and a hit tool to match. He's also the riskiest of this group, but neither Gordon nor Schwarber can match his ceiling. Jackson is an OF long-term despite the continued talks of him catching. His ranking here assumes OF, and if the catching thing somehow works out, he can jump into the first tier.
Nick Gordon is an all-around prospect who plays up-the-middle and has a mature approach to the game. Neither the hit tool or raw power will dominate, but they are average to slightly above average with room for a little more depending on how the body fills out. He'sprobable to stick up the middle, and if the Minnesota farm system develops as expected, he'll make a hell of a top third of the lineup with Buxton and Sano.
Schwarber, like Gordon, is less about a crazy-high ceiling, and more about an all-around skillset that will safely fit into an MLB lineup. Power is Schwarber's calling card and he gets a boost in OBP leagues thanks to an uncanny ability to take a walk. He will get a big test at AA in 2015, but I think he handles it and will fit nicely in the 6th hole of a deep Chicago Cubs lineup. It's not a sexy profile, but give me the safe, power-heavy profile of Schwarber over any of the arms in this draft class anyday.
6. Carlos Rodon - Chicago White Sox - LHP
7. Tyler Kolek - Miami Marlins - RHP
8. Willy Adames - Tampa Bay Rays - SS
9. Michael Conforto - New York Mets - OF
The first pitcher off the board is Carlos Rodon, whose proximity, probability of starting, and track record give him the nod over Tyler Kolek. Rodon could've pitched out of the White Sox bullpen last year if they were in the division race and he should see his debut in 2015. Kolek's upside is a little higher, but he's 3+ years away and his development could end up being a roller coaster ride. I'm willing to bet there will be a time to buy low on Kolek, so give me Rodon and the quick return.
Adames and Conforto are two polarizing names whose stock can move considerably in 2015. Willy Adames was the top prospect going to Tampa Bay in the David Price trade, and he's quickly become their #1 overall prospect. It's a down system so the top spot might be over-selling his value, but he has a solid shot at sticking at SS and has a legit offensive profile that fantasy owners love to see at the position. He's still only 19 and hasn't seen anything above A ball, but the reports are positive and he's in a favorable situation. Conforto slips in most prospect rankings due to a limited defensive profile - he's already been relegated to LF - and poor grades on the basepaths. He's a bat-first guy, which means fantasy owners should keep him high on their radar. Conforto is still raw for a college bat, but he flashes plus power and an average hit tool. He absolutely crushed short-season ball after being drafted, and his results in full-season next year could move him up or down in a big way.
10. Aaron Nola - Philadelphia Phillies - RHP
11. Jeff Hoffman - Toronto Blue Jays - RHP
12. Hector Olivera - Free Agent - 2B
13. Max Pentecost - Toronto Blue Jays - C
A mixed bag in this group, as Nola and Hoffman are recently drafted college arms who could move quickly through their respective systems. I lean Nola due to Hoffman's recent Tommy John surgery, but if Hoffman returns to form, they could easily switch spots next season. Olivera is a mystery, but at the tail end of the 1st round in rookie drafts, he's worth taking a flier. He'll turn 30 in April of next season, so if you're rebuilding you might want to take a pass, but the limited reports on this guy suggest he could be fantasy gold. He has power from the 2B position, and a polished approach that can maintain a solid AVG. He's still waiting OFAC clearance, but he's the most ready to take over a big league job out of everyone on this list. Pentecost is a college catcher, with a much wider range of potential outcomes then the rest of this tier. He'll be on a slow burn through Toronto's system, but there's power in the bat and a good chance he sticks behind the plate.
14. Justin O'Conner - Tampa Bay Rays - C
15. Rob Refsnyder - New York Yankees - 2B
16. Trea Turner - Washington Nationals - SS
Justin O'Conner is a breakout catching prospect, that I am very high on. He has a huge arm and defensive chops to stick behind the plate, paired with average hit and power tools that can play at his position. He's not a high-ceiling prospect, but he has AA experience and a clear path to the majors. Refsnyder is another breakout player, who could get a crack at a starting job in 2015. He's put up good numbers throughout his minor league career, but finally showed some in-game power in 2014. Turner was drafted by the Padres, traded to Washington in the Wil Myers deal, and comes with more risk then I think some fantasy owners are giving him. He's a speed-only guy, who seems to have regressed in his final season at North Carolina State. There's a lot of swing-and-miss in his game, and the glove is far from sure-handed. The tools are there for him to be a fantasy starter, but his present and potential have a wider gap than most recently drafted college bats.
17. Tyler Beede - San Francisco Giants - RHP
18. Kyle Freeland - Colorado Rockies - LHP
19. Touki Toussaint - Arizona Diamondbacks - RHP
20. Sean Newcomb - Los Angeles Angels - LHP
The list concludes with a quartet of arms - three college arms in Tyler Beede, Sean Newcomb and Kyle Freeland, and a high school pitcher in Touki Touissant. Beede is in the best situation pitching in San Francisco, who have a track record of developing power arms. Freeland is a tweener with solid stuff, and solid command, but it's not a profile sexy enough to overcome the fears of pitching in Coors. Toussaint has the highest ceiling of this tier, but might also be the furthest away from realizing it. The stuff is elite, but the command is non-existant, so you're drafting Toussaint knowing full well he will sit on your minor league roster for upwards of 4 years. Newcomb is a massive, lefty with big strikeout potential. The command needs refinement, but the ceiling is also dangerously high for Newcomb.
Honorable Mentions - Brandon Finnegan (KC-RHP), Jose Fernandez (FA-2B), Erick Fedde (WAS-RHP), Wilmer Difo (WAS-2B), Kodi Medeiros (MIL-LHP)
Reach out to me on Twitter (@BrianCreagh) or e-mail (email@example.com) for any fantasy baseball questions or general baseball talk.