It appears that we are in the midst of one of the strongest groups of outfield fantasy prospects that we've had in quite a while, in spite of the quantity of graduates last year. While we saw players like Joc Pederson, Michael Conforto, and Stephen Piscotty all establish themselves, there were also players who have slightly more ambiguous roles this year in Jorge Soler, Dalton Pompey, and Rusney Castillo. All six would still be excellent prospects were they eligible, but we've also seen a number of other prospects make the jump into that same range. With names like Mazara, Brinson, and Zimmer jumping toward the top, another wave of young hitters should be following right behind them.
Tier 1 -- The Elite Prospects
These prospects are expected to be in the top 25-50 prospects overall and have the potential to be among the top options at their position regardless of format or league size.
1. Byron Buxton - Twins
It's the second year in a row that Buxton has been our top outfield prospect, and with good reason. The best case scenario is that Buxton turns into a 20 home run, 50 steal outfielder who provides a solid batting average and a ton of runs scored. Matt Powers will have a profile of Buxton later today.
2. Nomar Mazara - Rangers
Mazara reached AAA last year as a 20 year old, and should be in line for a callup at some point during the 2016 season. A potential .290 hitter with 25+ home run potential, Domenic Lanza will have a profile of Mazara later today.
3. Lewis Brinson - Rangers
Brinson is the potential center fielder of the future for the Rangers, and after a strong performance across three levels, has shown the potential to be a top 10 outfielder for fantasy purposes. Michael Schwarz will have a profile of Brinson later today.
4. Victor Robles - Nationals
The reports on the 2013 international signee exploded this past season, as he put on a hitting display in two short-season leagues, hitting .352/.445/.507 with 24 steals in just 61 games. Considered a five-tool talent, Robles could be the top prospect on this list in a year's time with the potential to provide elite stolen base totals, a high batting average, and potentially develop power as he continues to mature.
5. Clint Frazier - Indians
Frazier spent 2015 at High-A, and should be headed to AA to start the 2016 season. The potential from Frazier is that he turns into a 25+ home run, 20+ stolen base outfielder for the Indians. Add in the potential for a good batting average, and Frazier could be an above-average contributor in all five categories.
6. Nick Williams - Phillies
Having Mazara and Brinson in their system as well allowed the Rangers to include another top outfield prospect in last summer's Cole Hamels trade, but that's no slight on Williams. He can potentially provide a high batting average on the strength of his elite ability to make hard contact, and with the potential to turn into a 20 HR/15 SB hitter to go with it, Williams could be an elite fantasy option that helps you in all five categories.
7. Bradley Zimmer - Indians
The upside with Zimmer isn't as high as with his fellow Indian, Clint Frazier, but with an extremely high floor of production and solid to above-average tools across the board, he can be a consistent fantasy performer. You're not getting one category that will stand out from Zimmer, but there's still a lot to like about a guy that hits for average, power and provides good stolen base totals.
8. Aaron Judge - Yankees
Judge may have more power potential than any other prospect still in the minors, with 30-35+ home runs per season a real possibility if everything clicks. There are concerns about how much contact he will be able to maintain in the majors, which could keep his power from reaching that potential. He was one of the more divisive prospects we discussed in the outfield, and regardless I think we see him at some point during the 2016 season.
Tier 2 -- The Top 100 Candidates
These prospects are expected to be in the discussion for the top 100 prospects overall and are expected to be starting options in all formats.
9. Andrew Benintendi - Red Sox
The top draft pick of the Red Sox last year, Benintendi emerged as a top prospect on the strength of an amazing draft year and professional debut. There have been concerns about his size (5'10", 170 lbs), but the reports throughout the year point to a hitter who gets the most out of his tools. Regardless of his size, he can potentially provide elite batting average to go along with 15-20+ home runs and solid stolen base totals as well, and can be a top outfielder by the 2018 season.
10. David Dahl - Rockies
A fluke injury nearly ended his season in 2015, after an on-field collision led to his spleen being removed. He did return during the year though, and looked excellent in his final 29 games, hitting .292 with 3 HR and 8 SB. The potential for Dahl is to be a true five-category contributor who will play a majority of his games at Coors Field. I personally believe this may be your last opportunity to buy low on Dahl, as his performance this year can lead him to Colorado before the end of the season.
11. Brett Phillips - Brewers
Phillips saw a much clearer path to the Majors emerge after being traded to the Brewers, and could be the starting center fielder by season's end. There are questions about how much power he will hit for, as 15 of his 16 home runs came in 66 games in the Cal League with just 1 in 54 AA games. Even if he doesn't hit for more than 10 home runs a season, he will still provide a high level of production in three categories (SB, AVG, R) and decent production in the other two.
23. Daz Cameron - Astros
Tier 3 -- The Next Group of Starters
These prospects likely would slot into the 100-200 range on an overall ranking list and would be starters in mid-depth formats such as 12- and 14-team leagues.