With the draft less than two weeks away, I'll be taking brief looks at a few of the potential top draft picks up to and after the draft, and what their potential fantasy value may look like. First up is Dansby Swanson, a shortstop from Vanderbilt.
Swanson was drafted by the Rockies out of high school back in 2012, but didn't sign as a 38th round pick. He opted to attend Vanderbilt instead, appearing in just 11 games his freshman season due to injuries. He was able to return to the field as a sophomore, hitting .333/.411/.475 with three home runs and 22 stolen bases over 72 games. Baseball America had him as their #5 college prospect in their Prospect Handbook during the offseason, and has gone out and moved himself into the conversation for the top overall pick this year. In 60 games so far, he's hitting a rather ridiculous .350/.438/.654 with 13 home runs and 14 stolen bases. Swanson played second base primarily during his sophomore season, but has moved back to shortstop as a junior.
Swanson is projected to be an above-average hitter specifically for batting average and on-base percentage. He gets great reviews on his approach at the plate, both in terms of being able to draw a walk as well as make contact at a high rate. He should provide high stolen base totals due to his above-average speed, and should be a top of the order hitter once he reaches the majors.
He has shown more power than was anticipated this season, with 40 extra base hits so far, but overall it is not expected to translate in the same manner for fantasy. Reports have him ranging from 8-15 home runs per season as a professional, but those same reports seem to all agree that his swing is built more for hitting line drives and not for home run power specifically. He's an even more interesting name in leagues where you include doubles and triples in some way, as he should continue to hit a lot of both.
Defensively, even though Swanson only returned to the position this year, he's expected to be able to stay at the position long-term, adding to his future potential value for fantasy owners. The best case scenario is that you end up with a shortstop prospect who hits for a high average (.290+ range) with a high on-base percentage (.380+), 10-12 home runs, and 25-30 stolen bases each year. That stat line gives him the potential to be a consistent top 10 option at the position, with some years in the top 5 to be sure.
There's a reason he's being projected as the top overall pick on a couple different mock drafts, and realistically he should go in the top 5 in most fantasy minor league drafts this year. Depending on where he lands in the draft, his timeline to the majors could be fairly quick, giving just a little faster return than some of the other top options available.