WATCH: THE BREAKDOWN – STACKING HITTERS
Every baseball season brings us some new breakout stars. With so many farm systems, it’s hard to keep up with all the names, but here are five of the top prospects in baseball that will be on the major league stage this season … and could develop into fantasy studs.
OF, Minnesota Twins
Buxton was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 draft and worked his way up to become the top ranked prospect in baseball at one point in time.
When first summoned to the bigs, Buxton clearly wasn’t ready, batting just .209 in his rookie season in 2015, then getting off to a cold start last season. However, he did finally show some potential towards the end of the season, finishing with nine homers in his final 147 at-bats. It’s not like this kid’s coming out of nowhere as a five-tool player. Buxton might just be taking a year longer than expected to live up to the hype.
While we’re on the topic of the Twins, Max Kepler could probably be considered a breakout candidate considering last season he hit 17 dingers in 113 games, so look for him to be on the rise and continue to grow with Buxton this season.
SS, Atlanta Braves
Swanson currently ranks as the fourth-best prospect in baseball according to MLB.com. He did see 38 games up in the bigs with Atlanta last season and looked the part of a franchise SS. In his first quarter of a season up with the Braves, Swanson hit .302 with three home runs, eight other extra-base hits and 17 RBI.
The downside here is that he’ll be playing within a Braves’ offense that’s capable of getting shut down by even just decent pitching. But Swanson’s spring training has been consistent with his production from last season, hitting .333, so in the end, there’s not too much concern here. Swanson should be ready to pump out some big numbers over the course of a full season.
3B, Chicago White Sox
Moncada’s name may ring a bell from being baseball’s top prospect in the eyes of many, or as the centerpiece of the Chris Sale trade. The Cuban product played just eight games in the big leagues for Boston last season, so the book is still out on him. But at just 21 years old, Moncada shot up the ranks last season, batting .277 in AA, bombing 11 homers in 45 games, driving in 28 runs, walking 27 times and knocking six doubles and three triples.
In short, it’s just a matter of time until Moncada begins to scratch the surface of his monster potential. We’ve hardly seen him in the bigs, but he’ll be a staple at the top of the White Sox order this season for sure. Just to give another small sample since we don’t have much to go on here, this kid’s hitting .555 over his last seven spring training games with a pair of home runs, four doubles and 11 RBI.
3B, Houston Astros
Bregman was called up to make his MLB debut towards the end of last season but got just one hit in his first eight games. He got things turned around much quicker than Buxton, though, finishing the season hitting .264 over 49 games. Bregman hit for power with eight home runs, but also managed 16 other extra-base hits and 34 RBI.
Playing alongside Carlos Correa, these two make for one of the best young tandems in the game. Bregman has the potential to be in the same class as Correa and proved it towards the end of last season. Since he hasn’t played a full season in the big leagues yet, he’s still somewhat off the radar. But anyone that’s done their research knows Bregman is in for a huge year in an exciting Houston offense.
OF, Boston Red Sox
Benintendi can get lost behind a lot of big names in Boston, but he earned the respect of his team during the Red Sox’s push for a playoff spot last fall. He only hit two home runs in his 34 regular season games but did jack another one in the postseason.
Benintendi was hitting at the bottom of the order last season to take some pressure off him, and he hit a solid .295. This season we should see a lot more of him up at the top of the Sox order with the likes of Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts. He’s going to be a dangerous ingredient in that combination.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.