Impact Prospect Rankings: First Basemen

I began the year at RotoGraphs by producing a semi-regularly-updated Top 25 prospects list. For the second half of the year and into the offseason, I’ll be rotating expanded Top 10, 12 or 15 lists (on a far more regular basis) by position: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, LF/RF, CF, RHSP (tier 1), RHSP (tier 2), LHSP. Whether you play traditional formats of fantasy baseball or dynasty/keeper styles (or you’re just a prospect nut like me), you’ll surely find these lists indispensable. You can read the recent Impact Prospect Catchers piece here.

 

#1 Dominic Smith | Mets | ETA: 2017 (1B)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
19 404 104 21 0 36 61 4 .287 .350 .344 .326

July 30 Notes: The teenaged first baseman has held his own in full-season ball but the power numbers have been unexpectedly bad. Just 21 of Smith’s 104 hits have gone for extra bases — all of them doubles. The good news, from a development standpoint, is that he’s kept the strikeouts in check and has hit southpaws well: .330/.370/.420. The in-game power will come as he matures as a hitter.

 

 

#2 Dan Vogelbach | Cubs | ETA: 2016 (1B/DH)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
21 424 103 22 12 48 66 3 .279 .363 .442 .370

July 30 Notes: Just 21 years old, Vogelbach is already in his fourth professional season. He’s produced respectable numbers in the Florida State League, which is a notorious pitchers’ league. The biggest thing that stands out with Vogelbach is his splits: .207/.299/.322 vs lefties and .315/.394/.500 vs righties. Anthony Rizzo is currently entrenched at first base in Wrigley Field but if he becomes too expensive before the Cubs become relevant again, Vogelbach could be the first baseman of the future in Chicago.

 

#3 Matt Olson | Athletics | ETA: 2017 (1B)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
20 473 93 21 29 91 107 1 .245 .395 .530 .402

July 30 Notes: Oakland prospects don’t always get the love they deserve and players like shortstop Daniel Robertson and Olson have succeeded while flying under the radar. The 20-year-old slugging first baseman has walked 91 times with 29 home runs in 104 games — albeit with 107 strikeouts. The left-handed hitter has faired quite well against both right- and left-handed pitchers: .937 vs .898 OPS. Current big league first baseman Brandon Moss will soon price himself out of Oakland’s long-term plans so look for Olson to assume the gig at some point in late 2016 or 2017.

 

#4 Casey Gillaspie | Rays | ETA: 2017 (1B)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
21 174 45 12 5 18 40 0 .292 .368 .481 .388

July 30 Notes: A rare switch-hitting first baseman, Gillaspie has shown the ability to swing the bat from both sides of the plate (.900 vs .840 OPS). He may not have quite as much useable power as A.J. Reed but the 20th overall selection of the 2014 draft is a better pure hitter and offers a little more with the glove. He’s the brother of White Sox third baseman Conor Gillaspie.

 

#5 Peter O’Brien | Yankees | ETA: 2016 (C)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
23 401 99 22 31 18 104 0 .263 .304 .578 .386

July 30 Notes: O’Brien, 24, entered pro ball as a catcher but few evaluators felt he would remain behind the dish long term. The young hitter has seen a fair bit of time at first base in 2014 while his time behind the plate has dwindled as his defense numbers have regressed. On the positive side, he’s showing the type of pop that teams look for from a big league first baseman with 31 homers in 99 games split between High-A and Double-A. On the negative side, his 104-18 K-BB ratio is ugly. 

 

#6 A.J. Reed | Astros | ETA: 2017 (1B)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
21 150 38 11 5 22 22 2 .306 .420 .516 .429

July 30 Notes: The 42nd overall selection from the 2014 draft, Reed made quick work of short-season ball and earned a recent promotion to Low-A ball. The University of Kentucky product has shown a good eye at the plate while flashing intriguing left-handed power. He could move quickly through the Astros system — especially now that he’s given up pitching (he was a two-way player in college) — and provide them with some additional thump at either first base or DH.

 

#7 Christian Walker | Orioles | ETA: 2015 (1B)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
23 460 122 18 21 47 93 2 .303 .376 .514 .393

July 30 Notes: Walker doesn’t get much press but he’s a solid first base prospect. A fourth-round selection from the 2012 draft, he recently reached Triple-A in just his third pro season. He’s tapping into his raw power more consistently now and has already doubled his home-run output from 2013 (from 11 to 22). He strikes out a little too much but he’s maintained strong batting averages throughout his professional career.

 

#8 Kennys Vargas | Twins | ETA: 2016 (1B)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
23 392 99 17 17 43 66 0 .289 .370 .487 .380

July 30 Notes: Another switch-hitting first baseman, Vargas has been moved along quite slowly by the Twins and didn’t play more than 45 games in any of his first four professional seasons. The Puerto Rico native finally reached Double-A in his six season and has produced an .853 OPS through 95 games. Vargas, 23, is a massive individual at 6-5 and 275 pounds. 

 

#9 Matt Dean | Blue Jays | ETA: 2017 (1B/3B)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
21 355 97 22 8 24 81 0 .296 .344 .466 .366

July 30 Notes: Originally a prep shortstop, Dean first moved to third base as a pro and then, more recently, over to first base; his athleticism gives him an advantage. He has the bat speed to generate over-the-fence pop but he’s still learning to lift the ball more consistently. More importantly, he needs to tighten up his approach at the plate, see more pitches, and get on base a little more consistently if he’s going to generate enough offense at his new position. 

 

#10 Bobby Bradley | Indians | ETA: 2018 (1B)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
18 104 31 9 3 13 22 2 .348 .442 .573 .468

July 30 Notes: Perhaps the least recognizable name on this list, Bradley is a 2014 draft pick that can hit — and hit well despite his inexperience. The 18-year-old Mississippi native has a 1.015 OPS through his first 22 professional games but the left-handed hitter has shown a need for polished skills against southpaws. Bradley is a long way away from reaching The Show, but he should be on your radar.



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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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Los
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Los

Or as I like to call it: Slim Pickins.

Maj. T.J. Kong
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Maj. T.J. Kong

Did you say Wing Attack Plan R?

Dan Ugglas Forearm
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Dan Ugglas Forearm

I don’t think any list containing Dan Vogelbach could be described as slim pickins.

Sean
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Sean

Seriously, wow.

Two 2014 draft picks in the top 10.

Roger
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Roger

Make that 3. Gillaspie (4), Reed (6), and Bradley (10).