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Earlier this year I gave you my Andrew Benintendi, Byron Buxton, Alex Bregman and Rafael Devers. These are the future stars of baseball, and it feels disingenuous to put together a breakout list without them., and not a lot has changed since then. In fact, you're going to see some of those same names below. Names like
So how do we make this different? If we're already talking about the future, let's talk about guys who could break out to become first-round picks in 2019.
Upside: .290/.380/.550 with 35 home runs and 110 RBI.
Wait, Gary Sanchez could be even better? Absolutely. Those are close to first-round numbers without the bonus of playing at the worst position in Fantasy. A slight improvement in plate discipline plus a little better batted-ball luck behind Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton could make Sanchez one of the best in baseball in terms of RBI per game.
Upside: .320/.385/.530 with 30 home runs, 115 runs and 90 RBI.
This may seem strange since I have Seager ranked lower than most in the industry (especially in Roto). But it's not because he lacks upside. Seager needs to hit the ball in the air more often to reach his power upside, but last year's hard-contact rate of 44 percent will certainly help.
Upside: .310/.370/.520 with 28 home runs, 115 runs and 20 steals.
Bregman doesn't hit the ball as hard as Seager, but he hits it in the air a lot more often. He also runs more often, which is huge in Roto. There is some concern that his ADP has ballooned out of control, but as long as he isn't being drafted in the first two rounds, he has room to earn a profit for you.
Upside: .310/.380/.480 with 25 home runs, 105 runs, 100 RBI and 25 stolen bases.
Benintendi has the upside of a true five-category contributor, and I may even be a little low on his run production upside if this Red Sox lineup reaches its potential. His K rate was a very solid 17 percent last year, but that's still considerably higher than what he showed in the minor leagues.
Upside: .270/.400/.580 with 45 home runs and 110 RBI.
So I'm not buying the idea that Hoskins could match last year's home run rate over a full season, mostly because no one maintains a 31 percent HR/FB rate. But if he comes anywhere close in a much improved lineup, he's going to be a Fantasy star. What helps Hoskins the most is that he doesn't have the huge strikeout numbers that generally come with his level of power.
Not everyone has the upside to be a first-round pick, but that doesn't mean they don't have huge upside. Here are six more hitters who could break out in a big way.
Upside: .270/.335/.465 with 22 home runs, 100 runs and 35 stolen bases.
We've seen even more upside than this from Byron Buxton over small samples, which shouldn't be all that surprising. He's an elite talent who still strikes out way too often. That's going to lead to wild fluctuations. Buxton is the one guy on this list who almost made the list above.
Upside: .290/.350/.500 with 28 home runs, 95 RBI and 10 stolen bases.
Rafael Devers' production as a 20 year old is extremely encouraging for his future. While we'd expect his BABIP will regress there is room for improvement in both his strikeout rate and power numbers. The sophomore slump is a concern, but it's really hard for me to see a player with his skillset slumping for an entire season.
Upside: .290/.360/.470 with 15 home runs, 90 runs and 25 stolen bases.
It's funny, because in industry drafts there is no doubt that Albies' 2017 is being recognized. But his ADP remains much lower. Like Devers, he produced as a 20 year old in the majors. He doesn't have Devers' power potential, but he'll contribute far more speed.
Upside: .250/.370/.550 with 50 home runs, 100 runs, 100 RBI and 10 stolen bases.
Just a small improvement in strikeout rate could make a huge difference for one of the best young power hitters in the game. I put Gallo's upside at 50 home runs, but he's probably the third most likely in baseball to top that number. He just has to put the bat on the ball a little more often.
Upside: .275/.350/.500 with 30 home runs, 100 runs and 12 stolen bases.
Happ has been a favorite of mine this offseason, and I truly believe the only thing that could stop him from becoming a breakout is playing time. Thankfully, the Cubs have spent most of spring training praising his conditioning and defense. There's even talk of making him their leadoff hitter.
Upside: The sky.
OK, you seriously want me to put numbers on a 20 year-old who has played 111 games above Single-A? No. What I will do is tell you that Acuna will likely start the season in the minors but won't be there long. He has the potential to be just about anything, including a five-category contributor as a rookie.