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Dynasty Dugout: Hitting Prospects that Impressed in 2017

Last week in Dynasty Dugout, we went over a handful of top prospects that struggled during the 2017 season. This week is the exact opposite.

Every season you always have prospects that blow everyone away and exceed expectations. Never has that statement been truer than in 2017. There have been so many spectacular performances, I could honestly write five or six of these articles, but I’ll keep it to just two. This week is about the hitters, with pitchers on deck for next week.

Ronald Acuna (OF – ATL)

Was there really any other name to start this article off with? Don’t even think about it; the answer is no. Okay, well maybe the next guy on this list is in the discussion, too. After starting the season as a top-100 prospect on most industry lists, Acuna finds himself in the running for the top overall prospect in both real life and fantasy baseball.

The recently named Minor League Player of the Year had a season to remember in 2017. In 557 at-bats across three levels, Acuna hit .325 with 21 home runs, 82 RBI, 88 runs scored, and 44 steals in 64 attempts. Did I mention he’s still only 19 years old? What he was able to accomplish this year against much older competition is remarkable. He even managed to get better at each new level.

A+ 115 0.287 0.814 5.0
AA 221 0.326 0.895 3.1
AAA 221 0.344 0.940 2.8

The average baseball fan might not have known Acuna’s name before the season, but they sure do now. Acuna won’t make his major league debut until early in 2018, but he should be firmly on the re-draft radar next spring and is arguably the top commodity right now in keeper and dynasty leagues.

Rafael Devers (3B – BOS)

No prospect in the American League had a better season that Rafael Devers. After dominating Double-A and Triple-A to the tune of a .311 average and 20 home runs in 312 at-bats, Devers got the call to Boston in late-July and immediately showed that he belonged at the age of 20. It’s been an up and down month and a half in Boston, but overall the stats are strong. Through 150 at-bats, Devers is hitting an even .300 with eight home runs, 18 RBI, and 25 runs scored.

The raw power had been evident ever since he debuted in the Boston farm system back in 2014 but hadn’t consistently shown up in games until this season. That was put on display very early in his Boston tenure, as he took a triple-digit fastball from Aroldis Chapman and put it over the left-center field wall.

It’s a small sample size, but Devers has already become one of the great young studs in the game. He’s never going to be an asset in the stolen base department, but he looks like a four-category monster at the hot corner. If you wanted to slot him 4th behind Kris Bryant, Nolan Arenado, and Manny Machado, I wouldn’t stop you.

Rhys Hoskins (1B – PHI)

After how well he performed after his call-up, Hoskins should’ve legally changed his name from Rhys to Babe. Or George Herman if you want to be 100% accurate. It took the Phillies until early August to realize that Tommy Joseph wasn’t the answer and call up their slugging top prospect to the big club. To be fair, Joseph wasn’t overly bad, but it’s been obvious for a while that Hoskins is the long-term answer at first for Philadelphia. It just took them a little longer than everyone else to realize that.

All he has done is mash since his promotion. In his first 108 at-bats, he has smashed 14 home runs to go along with 32 RBI, 27 runs scored, .296 average, and a whopping 1.142 OPS. That’s all. What’s almost equally as impressive is his 26/21 K/BB ratio. That strong ratio is no fluke either as Hoskins’ minor league ratio was strong as well. The man simply doesn’t strike out as much as you would expect from a slugger.

Hoskins is already soaring up the first base rankings for dynasty and keeper leagues and is firmly entrenched as a top-10 option at the position.

Juan Soto (OF – WAS)

Before the season, Soto cracked only one industry top-100 prospect list. I guess Baseball Prospectus was ahead of the game when they ranked Soto 57th in their preseason rankings. And he’s certainly done all he could this season to justify that ranking and then some. He’s had trouble staying on the field this season, but in 111 at-bats between rookie ball and Single-A, Soto hit a whopping .351 with three home runs and a stolen base. What is even more impressive is the fact that he only struck out nine times over that span.

[the_ad id=”384″]While Soto has a plus hit tool, his power and speed don’t stand out too much. He won’t be a drag in those two areas but expecting him to hit 30 home runs or steal 30 bases is a little bit of a stretch. If you want a comparison, the player I always circle back to is a healthy Michael Brantley. Someone that is incredibly valuable but usually flies under the radar.

Other Prospects That Impressed

Willie Calhoun (2B/OF – TEX) – Can’t help but think he’s the second coming of Dan Uggla.

Alex Verdugo (OF – LAD) – He’s basically the west coast version of Joan Soto.

Brendan Rodgers (2B/SS – COL) – Rodgers answered the question of whether or not he can hit for a high average with his performance this season.

Eloy Jimenez (OF – CHW) – There aren’t many, if any, prospects with more raw power than Jimenez, and now his path to the majors is a little easier with the White Sox.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3B – TOR) – He impressed me, but I was hoping for more power this year. The potential for 30+ home runs is somewhere in that bat.

Like I said, I know many, many more prospects impressed this season, but I couldn’t just ramble on for days.

Thank you for reading another edition of Dynasty Dugout on Fantrax. I hope you can use this article to your advantage and get a leg up on your fellow league members.  Got a question about a player not covered here? Ask in the comments below or follow me on Twitter @EricCross04 and ask there. See you all next week.

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