Thought it's about time I make one of these. I only specialize in the AL, someone can feel free to make an NL list. Keep in mind that these rankings have a Fantasy slant, and so I tend to prefer Major League ready talent than far away talent. I also tend to prefer elite hitters to elite pitchers in general, power/hitting more than speed and little emphasis on defense, except as it relates to their ability to stay at a position. Therefore. this is far from the consensus at times. Without further ado, my top 50 list:
1. Matt Moore - I don't see him being as dominant as others project this year, but he'll still be excellent. I don't see him maintaining 100% of his control from Triple-A, but the Ks will be there.
2. Jesus Montero - This might look crazy, but keep in mind my fantasy slant. If he can get enough games at catcher, the bat will be awesome and his value sky-high, regardless of the park.
3. Mike Trout - More of a long term project, he should be good now but greatness (and power) will come with time. Some Triple-A will be good for him. He'll be more valuable to a major league team than Montero, but not to a fantasy team until the power comes around.
4. Wil Myers - I have a feeling he'll be a big breakout bat and can force his way to the majors. The power will only get better.
5. Jurickson Profar - He may not have Machado's bat, but everything else is better. More likely to stick at SS, much better plate discipline, more baserunning ability and more power. Far away, but I see no concerns.
6..Travis D'Arnaud - I think he would get more recognition if not for Arencibia. But Arencibia's poor defense shouldn't stand in his way. He needs to lower his K rate and has some injury risk, but the upside is pretty high and at a scarce position.
7. Manny Machado - Easy to dream on, but still has a LOT to prove. His plate discipline diminished after his promotion, he hasn't been hitting for great average, and he needs to work on stealing bases. I also am a bit unsure if he can stick at Shortstop, which would have a big impact on his value. Still, I expect greatness, eventually.
8. Danny Hultzen - I think he should be solid this year and get better with time, he'll be glad to call Safeco home. I still prefer him to Walker for his higher likelihood of success, but has less upside. Still, he'll be very good.
9. Jacob Turner - I think he'll also be very good, but will have a bit of a rougher time initially than Hultzen if he plays in the majors this year. He won't be a true ace, but a good #2, and slightly better long-term than Hultzen.
10. Jarrod Parker - Upside is potentially higher than Hultzen or Turner, but he has to prove that he's healthy and has his old stuff, as well as control. I still wonder if he'll start in the majors... I think he will, but wish he wouldn't.
11. James Paxton - He's not all that far away, and his upside is also pretty high, with the same pitching park benefits.
12. Taijuan Walker - Should be a great pitcher in time if everything works out, and the next true ace. But he's so far away that a lot can happen. But I think his upside is higher than anyone on this list not named Matt Moore.
13. Dylan Bundy - Another guy with really high potential, but I am generally wary about high school pitchers due to their low success rate. Hoping he's the exception, and climbs rather quickly. But Walker has proven something in the minors so I have to give him the edge.
14. Michael Choice - I have fewer doubts than most that he'll be a successful major leaguer. He gradually improved his K rate throughout the season, and he still draws enough walks to make up for it. He seems to have excellent work ethic and I think he'll be a middle of the order slugger soon. The power will make up for the average.
15. Mike Olt - I don't want to look too much into the AFL performance, but he does have excellent power with excellent defense at 3rd. I don't see them moving him off the position, and if he can cut the K rate some, he can be a cornerstone.
16. Ryan Lavarnway - I think the bat will be pretty great, the defense enough to get him some time at catcher, but probably not hold it down long-term. He'll still have some value at DH though for his power.
17. Martin Perez - He's had his share of struggles, but he's still not far from the majors and I think he should be able to figure it all out with adjustment time. I still believe in his potential to dominate if he can be more consistent
18. Derek Norris - I believe in the power, and think he will hit for enough of it to make the low average bearable. I love his on-base ability, defense and major league readiness, I'm guessing the A's will tire of Suzuki soon.
19. Gary Sanchez - Has red flags all over, but the youth and power potential at C keep me intrigued nonetheless. Just needs to keep his head on straight, but he's also a long ways away. I like him more from a positional standpoint, but the maturity/D issues concern me.
20. Xander Bogaerts - Could have a monster bat - but has some issues he needs to work on and is light years away from the majors. Know he won't stay at SS, but as long as there's a 1% chance he's even more exciting.
21. Nestor Molina - I think he has some serious breakthrough potential, but won't get much help from his park. Could be a solid mid-rotation guy, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Ricky Romero-like upside.
22. Drew Hutchison - I love me some Hutch, I don't get why everyone loved Hellickson yet overlook this guy. His fastball clocks in the mid-90s and has impeccable control/groundball tendencies. With some improvement with his secondary stuff, he could be a consensus Top 20 prospect next year.
23. Manny Banuelos - He's very young for the league, and I think another year in the minors will help him sort out the control problems and improve the secondary stuff to become a top flight pitcher again. I think people forget how young he was for the AAA level, and I think he can be a reliable #2-#3 by next year with some seasoning.
24. Nick Franklin - I think he'll be an above-average bat, so long as he sticks at shortstop... which is a pretty big if, but I believe they'll keep him there just because of Ackley, and I think he'll be adequate at least. Alexei Ramirez is a decent comp.
25. Jean Segura - I've seen some Kendrick comparisons thrown around... I'm not buying it. Kendrick had a crazy bat in the minors, they expected him to win battling titles. Segura will slow down, but should still be good for 10 HR and 20 SB a year, but I don't see his batting average exceeding .275.
26. Vincent Catricala - I may seem crazy, but if liking a .327/.420/.632 combined line in AA Southern League makes me crazy, I'll accept it (he also stole 17 bases). Yes, he's 23 already, and yes, he can't field for his life, but a bat like his will find a way into the M's run-starved lineup one way or another, with a Mike Carp-like callup. He's more of an immediate impact guy than a long-term project, but should be valuable nonetheless.
27.Anthony Gose - I like how he has been steadily improving... I think he can at least be an Austin Jackson kind of guy, but with more speed and potential to be better than that even.
28. Will Middlebrooks - K/BB concerns me a lot, makes me think he could falter in a big way. But he's close and hits for good pop.
29. Jake Marisnick - Potential breakthrough guy - reminds me a bit of a young Markakis, maybe that's just the name though. Not impressed with his K rate though.
30. Cheslor Cuthbert - Great, but far away. I see him moving more slowly than Marisnick, and may have trouble finding a position in the majors, not as much because of his defense as the much the Royals' defense.
32. Addison Reed - I was going to put Betances here, but Reed deserves it more. He should be an excellent arm and a great closer, but will probably never start.
33. Mike Montgomery - Has higher upside than Peacock, but injury risk combined with control issues gives me some cause for concern.
34. Hak-Ju Lee - No, I don't like him much, nothing personal. I don't think he'll develop power... I'd project lines similar to Erick Aybar, but taking off 5-7 Homers every year from them. Good D, but offensively rather meh, and not close enough to the majors to preclude a higher grade.
35. Bubba Starling - Could be a superstar, could be the next Drew Henson. He's a gambler's pick, and I am not a gambler. He should be fast and an excellent defender, but could pull a Billy Beane.
36. Miguel Sano - Potentially monster bat but light years away and has a few flags popping up. Upside is still higher than most on this list, but won't do anything until 2016.
37. Dellin Betances - Huge, but also old, could have a Daniel Cabrera-like career path if it doesn't improve. Probably heading to the bullpen, which honestly may make him more valuable in his case. Burnett-like upside as a starter.
38. Grant Green - Also close to the majors, won't be an impact bat but I still feel like he has the bat to hit an empty .300, just with a decent power/speed. I still hold out more hope for the bat/power than most, I'll admit.
39. A.J. Cole - Has good upside, needs a decent amount of time.
40. Eddie Rosario - If he can stay at 2nd, very exciting but also very far. You can dream on him as the next Alfonso Soriano, but I'm taking the wait-and-see since he's only played in the Appy League.
41. Francisco Lindor - If everything breaks right, he could be the next Jurickson Profar. But that's a big if, I don't grade generously on guys who haven't had a taste of pro ball yet, too much chance involved.
42. Jonathan Schoop - Could be an above-average 2nd baseman if everything breaks right, decent pop.
43. Jake Odorizzi - Not a huge fan, has decent stuff but I wouldn't be surprised is he has a Luke Hochevar kind of career. Could be a solid #3 though, don't value that all that much in fantasy though.
44. Leonys Martin - Defense may be good, but I think his offensive abilities are rather fringy. Has some speed.
45. Nick Castellanos - I'm not assuming he grows into the power. But he has a good bat, will need time.
46. Noah Snydergaard - High upside, quite far away, but power stuff is intriguing.
47. Chris Parmalee - I'm not looking at that fluky breakthrough, I think he'll be fringy but somewhat valuable while he holds a job, but will eventually lose out to a more powerful guy due to his position.
48. Brandon Guyer- Could be decent all around, but he is what he is at this point, and I'm not sure what he is is good enough to hold a starting job for more than a few years...could be a Jason Michaels.
49. Mikie Mahtook - Have a feeling he'll move faster than people expect.
50. Chris Carter - I still think he has a shot of being a successful MLB hitter. Probably only a shot. But the upside is high enough still that I'm putting him on.
Runner up: Alex Torres - Gets overlooked, but he could be quite good in the majors, and not far away. Knocked Hicks off the list to include him.