The positional outlook in the off season was launched at Rotoballer last week with a detailed look at the Top 10 catchers. Today, they are the first basic prospects to be shown in full.
There are currently also not a lot of "may-not-miss" first basic prospects in the pro ranks with just one that is now on my "must-have" list. But there are still a number of players who can be excellent sources of energy for a relatively low purchase price – although there is absolutely no future Peter Alfonso to be found. That said, the Twins have a prospect for a sleeper at first base that could end with a breakout season similar to the one Christian Walker had in 2019 for Arizona.
The first basemen ranking is based on the assumption that the Triple-A and MLB baseballs will be squeezed in 2020, although many of the aforementioned players have such strong raw power that they will produce excellent power levels anyway .
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Top 10 first basic perspectives
1. Andrew Vaughn, White Sox, 2020 Level: A +
Prior to the amateur design of 2019, I argued for Vaughn to be the first general to go to the Orioles. Instead, Baltimore followed the industry consensus and grabbed college-catcher Adley Rutschman, while the U of California first baseman was beaten third by Chicago. Vaughn had a great professional debut in 2019, despite being pushed too aggressively by his new club. He played on three levels and achieved a high-A ball. There were some positive indicators of Vaughn's performance, even if he was more than good. He placed a BB-K of 30-38 in 55 games, which predicts well for his future ability to beat for a strong average. 23 of his 57 hits also went for extra bases – including 17 doubles. High totals for doubles are usually a strong indicator of future strength in home use as players start to raise the ball more consistently in the air and add muscle / strength. There is the potential here for Vaughn to be a .280-.300 batter with 30 or more home runs.
2. Triston Casas, Red Sox, 2020 Level: A +
The Red Sox has a very thin agricultural system in terms of potential impact players, but Casas is a player with a lot of potential for the future. He might have some extra value for fantasy players if he can double qualify on both first base and third base once he reaches the Majors. Only 19 years old, this first rounder from 2018 had a solid first full season in the Majors. He was on average only one strikeout per game, but showed plus power by going 19 times deep – good for third place in the competition behind two players who spent their second consecutive seasons in the competition. He also took 58 walks in 120 games, which is encouraging for such a young player. It will take at least two years for Boston fans to see Casas in the Majors, but he should be worth the wait.
3. Brent Rooker, Twins, 2020 Level: AAA
It may seem a bit long to have scored Rooker so high – and completely on the first basic list. He didn't play any innings at first base in 2019. Instead, he spent most of his time in the left field for the Double-A club of the Twins. However, Rooker spent a good part of his junior college year at first base and also won 55 games with minors in the first two years of his professional career. As a modest field-working outfielder, it would not be a shock to see him grow into a double position player in fantasy baseball once he reaches the Majors. Rooker has enormous power potential and has consistently produced excellent line drive and insulated slugging speeds during his three years in professional ball. He probably won't hit a ton on average because his strikeout rates are also consistently high (35% with Triple-A in 2019), but he does a lot of walks, which will be advantageous in competitions that reward walks. Rooker is on my list of sleep perspectives for 2020 – especially if the same baseball is used next year.
4. Evan White, Mariners, 2020 level: AAA
White is a player who could really take advantage of the balls that were used at Triple-A and in the Majors in 2019. A strong offensive player in college, his success with average hitting has been transferred to pro-ball, but his strength is not developed as expected. White has a strong frame and the potential to hit pop, but his approach and swing have long focused on using the entire field and hitting the line, rather than striving for over-the-fence results. That started to change at Double-A in 2019 when he started to bring the ball into the air much more consistently – and he achieved a career-high in home runs at 18, despite playing in only 92 games. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that he has also posted a run-low run rate, so we hope for a relapse in this area in 2020.
5. Ryan Mountcastle, Orioles, 2020 Level: AAA
Mountcastle moved from third base to first base in 2019. He also saw late in the left field late in the season when Baltimore experimented with different ways to get his bat in the big league-line-up. The defensive versatility can be a blessing for his fantasy value if he qualifies for all three positions. The offensive game, however, is Mountclaims fame thanks to its impressive raw power. He hit 25 home-runs in only 127 games at Triple-A in 2019 and also added 35 doubles. A beat average of .300 is probably not in the cards for Mountcastle, despite his output in 2019, because he relied heavily on his batting average on Balls in Play (BABIP), which was an unsustainable .370. His BB-K from 24-130 also leaves a lot to be desired.
6. Bobby Bradley, Indians, 2020 Level: AAA
Bradley is similar to Mountcastle, but with a little less sense for the percussion tool, but better patience. If you have fantasy league walks, you probably want to turn the two players in the rankings. Bradley's power output has been exceptionally consistent throughout his professional career and he has run fewer than 27 runs in one season in the past six seasons. If he can make enough contact against big league-pitchers, Bradley has 30 home running potential, but it would probably come with 180-200 strikeouts. The young first baseman has no clear path to playing time in the Majors for 2020 with Franmil Reyes and Carlos Santana (who has a contract option) possibly as roadblocks.
7. Seth Beer, Diamondbacks, 2020 Level: AA
Beer was selected by the Astros in the first round in 2018 and reached Double-A in his first full season – and was also an important part in the Zack Greinke trade in 2019 with Arizona. He went 26 times deep while playing for three teams on two different levels, but projects more like a good-not-great future great leader. He has been a solid statistical player so far, but he lacks athletics and premium bat speed, so there is concern about his ability to consistently use his raw power against MLB pitching.
8. Grant Lavigne, Rockies, 2020 Level: A +
The list is a bit off here. Lavigne faces a disappointing season. Drafted as 42nd overall in 2018, the colossal teenage first baseman struggled to tap his brutal power potential and only 26 of his 104 hits went for extra-base hits. He hit far too many balls on the floor and will probably have to adjust his swing to embrace the ball revolution. Lavigne had a lot of swing-and-miss in his game (129 strikeouts in 126 games) but also showed promising patience (68 free runs). If he can consistently use his raw power, the young batter is in the right organization to make a real impact with that tool at the highest level.
9. Lewin Diaz, Marlins, 2020 Level: AA
Diaz started to use his considerable potential in 2019. After achieving a career-highest 12 home run in 2018, the young batter doubled his output in 2019 by 27 times more than doubled. The prospect of Twins caught the attention of the Marlins and he was taken over in a deal with a trade deadline. Diaz really struggled after the trade and it is worth noting that Miami is not as strong in player development as Minnesota. The young left-handed batter is really struggling with pitching on the same side, so he has a lot of work to do to avoid a future platoon role.
10. Michael Toglia, Rockies, 2020 Level: A +
Prepared in the first round of UCLA in 2019, Toglia may not offer much of a batting average as a professional, but he has demonstrated that as an amateur he can produce strong power numbers with wooden bats – and also during his short pro debut. He went nine times deep in 41 games in the A-ball league of the short season after signing his first professional contract. And although there is a number of swing-and-miss in his game, he has also shown a willingness to take a walk and received 28 free passes in his debut. Colorado could open 2020 with two top-level A-ball top players, although Toglia could spend more of its time in the corner outfield, which has the potential to improve its fantasy value.
Just missed: Bobby Dalbec (Red Sox) and Gavin Sheets (White Sox)