As you have already seen so far this week, we're taking a comprehensive look at one position each week in preparation for the fantasy baseball season. That look would not be complete without a look at the future as well, and with that in mind we will be providing a top prospect list at each position also. While I won't be ranking the same amount of prospect at each position, the goal is to provide enough that will be fantasy relevant in both shallow and deeper formats.
These rankings represent how I view the players at this time, and speak to their value long-term. This means that players like Dan Vogelbach, who has a higher upside but is a bit further away than some of the other prospects, is ranked higher here based on what his future potential is, rather than his 2015 value.
1. Josh Bell (Pirates)
Bell has just started the move from the outfield to first base, but with the Pirates' core built around their young outfield of McCutchen, Marte and Polanco, there was no place for Bell to go once he was ready. He can potentially be a high average, high power first baseman, and capable of potentially replacing Pedro Alvarez in the Steel City by 2016.
2. Matt Olson (Athletics)
Olson has shown himself to be a potential three true outcomes hitter, providing high numbers of home runs, walks and strikeouts so far in the minors. He can potentially be a high power producer (30+ home runs), although it will come with some cost in batting average, and is a more interesting prospect in on-base leagues.
3. Dan Vogelbach (Cubs)
Vogelbach remains an interesting hitting prospect, capable of providing batting average and 15-20 home runs on a regular basis. The catch is two-fold though with Vogelbach, as he is a poor defender who would be better suited for a DH role that isn't available to him in Chicago, and first base is currently manned by another fairly young, fairly good hitter in Anthony Rizzo who is signed until 2021. A trade would likely be the best case scenario to clear a spot for Vogelbach, but they can cross that bridge when he forces them too.
4. Ronald Guzman (Rangers)
The performance hasn't reached the potential his tools have shown just yet for Guzman, who hit just .218 with 6 home runs in a second trip to Low-A Hickory in 2014. The questions that surround him regarding off-field concerns are enough to drop him down the list a little more, but there remains a ton of potential in his bat if he can put it all together and keep the off-field concerns to a minimum.
5. A.J. Reed (Astros)
A 2014 draftee, Reed is known for his plus raw power and has the potential to be an above-average hitter down the line. The issue at this point is more likely that he's also limited to a DH role in the future, but at least his current organization can put one in their lineup every day and get him enough games at first to keep him qualified there for most formats.
6. Greg Bird (Yankees)
A year after emerging in full season Low-A with a .288/.428/.511 slash line, Bird worked through both High-A and finished at AA and was able to continue at a similar level of performance despite the level jumps. He can potentially provide both average and power, to go along with OBP and a high walk rate, but will not likely see the majors until 2016, and could be in line to take over at first in 2017 for the Bombers.
7. Christian Walker (Orioles)
Walker emerged this past season as a potential long-term option for the Orioles at first, hitting 26 home runs with a .288 batting average at AA and AAA before a call up at the end of the season. If he can repeat the production at AAA that he showed at AA in 2015, he'll likely be called upon as the replacement should Chris Davis leave via free agency.
8. Dominic Smith (Mets)
He hasn't hit for much power so far, but Smith is expected to provide a high batting average and solid power production in the future. He's still a long way from the majors, but there are not a ton of questions surrounding his bat despite that distance.
9. Casey Gillaspie (Rays)
10. Bobby Bradley (Indians)
Bradley won the triple crown in the Arizona League in his professional debut, and gets rave reviews about his ability to hit for both average and power. Another prospect that is years away from being in the majors, Bradley is worth keeping an eye on in deeper formats.
11. Rangel Ravelo (Athletics)
Ravelo isn't expected to provide a ton of value in the power categories that you'd normally hope to see from a first baseman, but with an excellent ability to make contact he should provide high batting averages and double-digit home runs still. He's more of an AL-only play at this point though because of that lack of power.
12. Matt Skole (Nationals)
Skole returned from Tommy John surgery in 2014, but the performance wasn't quite at the same level in terms of power as before the surgery. With the permanent move of Ryan Zimmerman to first base and Anthony Rendon headed back to third, there's no place really for Skole to play for the foreseeable future. 2015 will help us determine if he can return to the 25+ home run hitter that was possible before the surgery, which would drastically improve his ranking here in a year's time.
13. Kyle Parker (Rockies)
Parker made his debut for the Rockies in 2014, although with Justin Morneau under contract for the 2015 season, we may not see Parker unless Morneau gets hurt. He can potentially provide a solid batting average with some power, but with no clear path to playing time, his value drops into the NL-only range. It's possible he qualifies in the outfield in some leagues, but there's not really a path to any more playing time there for the Rockies either.
14. Sam Travis (Red Sox)
A 2014 draftee, Travis gets rave reviews about his approach at the plate, and is noted for both his ability to work counts and take a walk. He has some power potential, but it seems to sound like it's closer to 10-15 home runs with a lot of doubles rather than the 20-25 home runs that you'd hope for from a first base prospect. He could move fast as a college draftee, although I don't know if he would necessarily be ready to take over after Mike Napoli's contract expires at the end of the season.
15. Rowdy Tellez (Blue Jays)
The reports on Tellez coming into the draft were about his plus power potential, to go along with the potential to be a reasonable hitter for batting average. He's not going to provide any value with his feet, as he is a below-average runner and there are questions about whether his size will affect his ability to stay on the field long-term. He's an interesting name, but at this point he has not played more than 12 games at a full-season level, and needs to show more to be worth owning in anything but the deepest of leagues.