clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2016 Top 40 Fantasy Outfield Prospects

Jason Hunt takes a look at his top 40 fantasy outfield prospects

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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.

12. Austin Meadows - Pirates

The strength of the current outfielders can allow the Pirates to use Meadows as a particularly valuable trade chip if they so desire. He has an advanced approach at the plate, and can potentially be a .300 hitter in the majors who hits at the top of the order. With excellent speed, he'll also provide high stolen base totals, and has the potential to develop power in the future as well.

13. Jesse Winker - Reds

Expected to start the season at AAA Louisville, Winker has consistently shown excellent plate discipline and a solid approach at the plate since being drafted in 2012. That skill at the plate should allow him to provide a good batting average and 15-20 home runs a season, and is a prospect who will have even more value in OBP-leagues.

14. Trent Clark - Brewers

Clark looks like he could be a steal as the 15th overall pick, as he can develop into an above-average three-category contributor on the strength of two above-average tools (hit, speed). Expected to stay in center field long-term, Clark is a long play given that he will be just 19 for the entire 2016 season.

15. Max Kepler - Twins

Kepler was named the Southern League MVP on the strength of a .322/.416/.531 campaign with 54 extra base hits, 18 steals, and more walks than strikeouts. It was the first full season that Kepler put together that level of production, and even with some regression can still be a .280 hitter with 8-10 HR and 15-20 steals. That looks more like a floor though, as he could still develop more power and his approach hints that he could hit for even more average.

16. Manuel Margot - Padres

Acquired in the Craig Kimbrel trade, Margot's path to the majors went from unbelievably blocked to practically clear all the way to the majors. It bodes well for him long-term, and he could be a top-of-the-order hitter who provides steals, batting average and runs while playing above-average defense in center field.

17. Kyle Tucker - Astros
18. Raimel Tapia - Rockies

Tapia has been known for a long time among prospect enthusiasts as a result of his hand-eye coordination and the ability to make a lot of hard contact. He can potentially be a five-category contributor in the future, with a high batting average and average production in the other four. There are questions about his strikeout rate and his approach at the plate

19. Anthony Alford - Blue Jays

2015 marked the first season that Alford concentrated exclusively on baseball, and the elite tools that he was known for were on full display. He hit .298 with a .398 on-base percentage, scoring 91 runs and stealing 27 bases in just 107 games. With the potential to provide above-average to elite production in three categories, and the possibility that he still develops more power, he's a name to target before he jumps into the top 10.

20. Cornelius Randolph - Phillies

Randolph was considered one of the most advanced high school hitters in the last draft, and while he was a shortstop in high school, he will move to left field long term. The potential to hit for average and power exists in Randolph, and if he takes to the position switch quickly, could be a fast riser in the Phillies' system.

21. Alex Jackson - Mariners

Jackson had a rough first full season as a professional, and will look to have a bounceback season in 2016. The potential for him to be a .275-.280 hitter with 25 home runs is what made him the 6th overall pick in 2014, but there remains a lot of work to do to get there.

22. Hunter Renfroe - Padres
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.

24. Alex Verdugo - Dodgers
25. Mallex Smith - Braves
26. Derek Fisher - Astros
27. Garrett Whitley - Rays
28. Brandon Nimmo - Mets
29. Billy McKinney - Cubs

McKinney is destined to be the "other" player in the Addison Russell trade for the remainder of his career, but he's no slouch by any stretch. It usually takes him some time to adjust to a new level, but once he does, can provide batting average with a high on-base percentage and a little bit of power. He's not expected to develop beyond 20 or so home runs a year, but with solid production in three other categories, he definitely profiles as a solid fantasy outfielder.

30. Eloy Jimenez - Cubs
31. Demi Orimoyole - Brewers
32. Trayce Thompson - Dodgers

The move to the Dodgers doesn't necessarily help his long-term prospects, but the drop in his strikeout rate last year (19% from a minor league rate above 25%) is extremely interesting to them. He has the potential to provide power and speed if given a full-time role, but the possibility that his batting average won't be a drag on his value moves him up this list from previous seasons.

33. Harold Ramirez - Pirates
34. Clint Coulter - Brewers
35. Stone Garrett - Marlins
36. Harrison Bader - Cardinals
37. Vlad Guerrero Jr. - Blue Jays
38. Derek Hill - Tigers
39. Roman Quinn - Phillies
40. Yusniel Diaz - Dodgers

Along with another 5-6 players, this group is fairly clumped together. You have players like Quinn and Coulter who don't have the same ceiling as the others necessarily, but should still provide solid production and have already reached AA. There's also players like Garrett, Guerrero and Diaz who may have more upside than those in front of the, but have a long way to go to reach the majors and show what that upside really translates to. Overall, they could all turn into solid #3 outfielders if everything breaks right.