Fantasy baseball drafts are in the books, but it's never too early to start thinking about free agents. Here's a look at prospects who have flown somewhat under the radar but could have a fantasy impact this season.
Note: Players such as Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Eloy Jimenez, Victor Robles and Yusei Kikuchi are not on this list. Although they still are considered prospects, their average draft position, or ADP, has them off the board between the fifth and 16th rounds, according to FantasyPros, an aggregate of six fantasy sites (including ESPN, CBS and Yahoo).
Nick Senzel, Reds IF/OF
In his 196 minor-league appearances, Senzel made 167 of those at third base (28 at second and one at shortstop). The Reds played Senzel in centerfield during spring training to try to get his bat into the lineup, and he was competing for the starting job before being reassigned to minor league camp. The Reds' top prospect suffered an ankle injury Monday during a minor league game, but MLB Network's Ken Rosenthal reported that X-rays were negative. Senzel missed substantial time last season because of a bout of vertigo and a finger injury, but he slashed .310/.378/.509 in 44 games with Triple-A Louisville. The No. 2 overall pick in 2016 was considered one of the best bats in his draft class, and his versatility is a plus for fantasy owners.
Forrest Whitley, Astros SP
The Astros reassigned Whitley, considered by many to be MLB's top pitching prospect, to minor league camp on March 12, but the righthander is projected to make his big-league debut at some point in 2019. Whitley, coming off a 50-game suspension for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program as well as oblique and lat injuries last season, impressed in the Arizona Fall League, posting a 2.42 ERA, 0.962 WHIP and 36 strikeouts in 26 innings. He continued to with a strong showing in spring training, allowing five earned runs on 11 hits and five walks over 15 innings while striking out 17.
Pete Alonso, Mets 1B
The Mets' No. 2 prospect, according to MLB.com, had a stellar spring. Jed Lowrie and Todd Frazier battled injuries, and that opened the door for the possibility the Mets would carry both Alonso and fellow first baseman Dom Smith, an idea manager Mickey Callaway hadn't ruled out as of last week. Splitting time between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas last season, Alonso slashed .285/.395/.579 with 36 home runs, 119 RBIs and 92 runs in 132 combined games. Alonso slashed .352/.387/.620 with four home runs and 11 RBIs in 22 spring training games.
Garrett Hampson, Rockies 2B/SS
Hampson made his debut with the Rockies last July and slashed .275/.396/.400 in 24 games with Colorado. The 24-year-old is in a battle for the starting second base job with Ryan McMahon, also 24. While both had strong springs, McMahon was named the Rockies' spring training MVP after slashing .439/.476/.789 with three home runs and 14 RBIs in 23 games. Meanwhile, Hampson slashed .286/.348/.643 with four home runs, including a walk-off against the Padres, and nine RBIs in 19 spring training games. But Hampson has the upperhand on the basepaths — he swiped seven bases in those 19 games and stole 123 bases in three seasons in the minors. Given his speed and versatility — Hampson has made 10 appearances in centerfield in addition to his 169 at shortstop and 133 at second base in three seasons in both the majors and minors — the youngster is expected to regularly make his way into the lineup.