The MLB First Year Player Draft lacks the instant gratification of its NFL counterpart. It is rare for a player to be drafted in June and make any type of major league impact later that season or even in the following season. While many consider this to be a weak draft, there are plenty of Fantasy Baseball prospects that will make themselves relevant in the coming years. Prospects are all about projection and it is never too early to squirrel away a few names for future seasons. Daz Cameron, son of Mike, was one of the stories of the draft. He fell all the way to the Astros at 37 overall due to contract demands, despite being a Top 10 talent. For as much talent as he possesses, we could be four or five years away from him debuting in the majors, let alone making an impact. This week, we will talk about the five MLB Draft prospects that you need to keep an eye on in the next couple seasons. As you may have guessed,
polished college pitching prospects always have the ability to move quicker than any other position.
- Tyler Jay (LHP, Twins) -It would not be a surprise to see Jay in the Twins bullpen at some point later this season. As a reliever, he is major league ready. There is also a chance that the lefty gets groomed as a starter in the minors after the season is over, which means he could spend all of 2016 and 2017 in the minors. With his arm talent and repertoire, Jay projects as an above average starter with strikeout upside. If that does not work out, he can fall back on becoming a dominant closer. He has a big fastball, plus slider and developing secondary stuff. While he only started two games in college, he often pitched multiple innings per relief appearance. His size does not project as front of the rotation material, but he could develop into the left-handed version of Marcus Stroman.
- Dansby Swanson (SS, Diamondbacks) – The first overall selection in the MLB Draft, Swanson is just about a finished product and should move quickly through the minor leagues. He has the defensive ability to not only stay at shortstop but also be an asset there after making the switch from second base in his junior season. Somewhat of an untraditional first overall selection, Swanson lacks a massive offensive ceiling because of limited physical projection. He has the speed to be a 25-30 SB threat in the majors along with developing power. After just three HRs in his first two seasons, Swanson has popped 15 so far this year. He should be a regular double-digit HR hitter in the majors, with a 20 HR season likely being his ceiling. Still, a SS with a good hit tool, 15 HRs and 30 SBs at or near the top of the lineup is a valuable Fantasy commodity. While 2017 is a realistic debut expectation; it would not surprise me if he gets a taste of the majors next season. If everything comes together, his upside is similar to the production that a healthy Ian Kinsler provides (minus the two 30-plus HR seasons).
- Dillon Tate (RHP, Rangers) – Were it not for his career-high innings pitched already this season, Tate might very well be an asset for the Rangers out of the pen the day he signs. As a bullpen arm, he is ready to contribute in the majors right now. Ultimately, though, he projects as a top of the rotation starter, assuming he has the requisite durability. He only started one season for UC Santa Barbara, but it was an impressive glimpse into what he can do once he harnesses his raw upside. He could move through the lower minors fairly quickly regardless, but could struggle a bit at Double-A. The Rangers would be wise to bring him along slowly as a starter and watch his innings closely.
- Carson Fulmer (RHP, White Sox) – While Dillon Tate has more projectability, Fulmer may just be the best collegiate arm available. Similar to Tate and Jay, he pitched out of the bullpen early in his collegiate career. This year, he was absolutely dominant as the ace of the Vanderbilt staff. His size knocks his long-term upside a bit, but Fulmer’s arm and competitiveness will make you forget about that quickly. He has the demeanor and stuff to be an electric closer, but the White Sox are likely to give him a legitimate shot to come up as a starter. Even with that development time, Fulmer could easily debut as a reliever later this season or early next year similar to Carlos Rodon, the White Sox first round pick last year.
- Alex Bregman (IF, Astros) – Bregman profiles similarly to Swanson from a Fantasy perspective, albeit with less of a ceiling. He is a scrappy player that gets the most out of his ability, giving him a solid floor for a prospect. He should be able to play both short and second at the major league level, two positions currently locked down in Houston by Jose Altuve and recently called up stud, Carlos Correa. If he develops as expected they will find a place for him in the lineup. As a middle infielder, his potential double-digit HRs and SBs are valuable when you consider that he should hit for average and score 85-plus runs in the top third of the Astros order. Much like Swanson, he could reach the majors by next season. However, unless there is an injury, 2017 is likely when you’ll need to watch for him. He can be a Fantasy difference-maker, but lacks the upside of an elite player.