Top First Base Prospects

Without a 2020 minor league season, ranking prospects has become difficult. Myworld did not attend any games this year, so how we rank is based on 2019 results and what we have read about the prospects progress in camps. Some of the first base prospects may now be playing prominent roles at other positions, but we still feel they will end up at first base.

1. Andrew Vaughn (White Sox) - The 2019 first round pick had a brief season last year, showing some pop with his six homeruns in 55 games. He hit .278 with a .449 slugging. Normally, those numbers would be short of the power many expect for first base. The expectation is that there will be so much more in the bat. His defense will not be at a gold glove level and his lack of speed prevents a move to the outfield. So the bat needs to work for him to succeed. Most say time will show that Vaughn will be a first class hitter. He showed he can make decent contact, with a 30/38 walk to whiff ratio in his 2019 minor league season. Vaughn should move quickly once he gets some at bats. Don’t be surprised that with a little success next year he will see some major league time towards the end of the season.

2. Spencer Torkelson (Tigers) - Spencer was the first pick in the 2020 draft. He has shown some power in college with 25 homeruns his freshman season at Arizona State. He followed that up with 23 in his sophomore year. Unfortunately his junior year was cut short, but he was off to a monster start. His big time power will fit at first base and he should have the ability to hit for average. He is a decent defensive player that the Tigers were talking about moving to third base. He should have enough arm to play the position. Spencer will start the season in a full season league. If there had been a 2020 season he would have probably reached High A before the season ended. Where he starts in 2021 will depend on his spring and how he looked at the camps. When given his opportunity Spencer should advance quickly. The right handed bat has power to both the left and right side.

3. Alex Kirilloff (Twins) - Normally scouts frown on first baseman that bat and throw right handed, as the top two players do. Alex is our first prospect that bats and throws lefthanded. He is also the third player from the Al Central. Alex played mostly the outfield last year, but the Twins also used him at first base. The 2016 first round pick could be an adequate corner outfielder, but he could also be an above average defensive first baseman. His power is good enough to hit 20 plus homeruns per year, but injuries have prevented him from playing full seasons. He missed all of 2017 because of Tommy John surgery and much of 2019 because of wrist injuries. There was no 2020 season for him to get injured, but that did not help his development. He does not have the power of Torkelson or Vaughn, but he has the potential to hit for a high average, if his 2018 season of .348 is a whisper of what he can do. Myworld would not be surprised if he did not make his major league debut in 2021.

4. Triston Casas (Red Sox) - Triston was a 2018 first round pick. There is some big time power in his bat, but there is a lot of swing and miss. That swing and miss could keep his average down at the .250s or below, but his homerun numbers should be 30 plus. His defense is above average but his legs are slow, which makes a move to the outfield risky. Rafael Devers ability to play third base will allow Tristan to move to first. Even if Devers defense is not good enough to play third, Casas is the superior defensive player at first base. Triston could start the season in AA. Bobby Dalbec is another corner infielder who could impact the future of Casas.

5. Ryan Mountcastle (Orioles) - Defensively, the Orioles have too many first baseman with Chris Davis, Renato Nunez and Trey Mancini. Davis should not be on the roster and Mancini is probably the better outfielder than Mountcastle. The throws of Mountcastle are like rainbows and that is not a good thing. It reminds me a lot of Henry Urrutia, when the Orioles tried to use his powerless bat and weak arm in left field. At least Mountcastle can hit for some pop. If you want to hide his arm you stick him at first base. Ryan got a major league callup and hit .333 with a .492 slugging. He makes good, hard contact, with the ability to find the gaps and drive in runs. The Orioles will find a spot for him in the lineup in 2021. That will be a mixture of DH, left field and first base.

6. Bobby Dalbec (Red Sox) - The 2016 fourth round pick has some massive power when he makes contact. Last year he hit 8 homeruns for the Red Sox in 23 games for a .600 slugging percentage. There is also a lot of swing and miss in his at bats. With Rafael Devers at third Dalbec spent most of his time at first base. At 6′4″ he may have out grown third base. His speed is below average, but his arm is strong so left field at Fenway is not a bad alternative. Eventually, he may split time with Casas at first base and DH. It would be hard not to see Dalbec with the Red Sox next year, either at first base or DH based on his abbreviated 2020 production.

7. Lewin Diaz (Marlins) - The Twins signed him in 2013 for $1.4 million. He climbed up slowly through their system, but seeing themselves in a playoff race the Twins traded him mid-season in 2019 for relief help. The 2019 season may have been his breakout season when he hit 27 homeruns. The Marlins gave him his major league debut last year but he struggled with a .154 average and a .205 slugging percentage. The power bat could only hit two extra base hits (both doubles) in his 39 at bats. The left handed bat with the 6′4″ frame carries a lot of power. He just needs to be more selective with his pitches when he gets another opportunity at the major league level. That will surely come in 2021, after he starts the season in AAA.

8. Bryce Ball (Braves) - A nothing season is not what the 24th round pick of 2019 needed after he slugged 17 homeruns in 62 games last year. That produced a .628 slugging percentage. Though it was only one year, it was the kind of numbers Paul Goldschmidt was putting up in the minor leagues. At 6′6″ Bryce has a large frame so when he makes contact the ball flies. His defense is spotty and his foot speed is non-existent, so if his bat fails to produce he could die in the minor leagues. Next year he should start his season in AA. He needs to replicate the power he showed in 2019 to continue to advance in the Braves system. It will be difficult to take the first base job away from Freddie Freeman.

9. Seth Beer (Diamondbacks) - The Astros drafted him in the first round in 2018. They were convinced to include him in a trade for Zack Greinke in 2019. His best position is probably designated hitter. He has been put in the outfield, but his lack of speed and below average arm makes that a defensive liability. His bat is what will get him to the majors. The 2019 season saw him breakout for 26 homeruns. Once the National League embraces the DH he will probably see little time at first base. The 2021 season should see him making his major league debut, after he starts the season in AAA.

10. Aaron Sabato (Twins) - The 2020 first round pick could keep Kirilloff in the outfield, depending on how quickly he develops. The lack of a 2020 season did not help him. His only full season playing college was as a freshman when he hit 18 homeruns in 58 games. He was drafted as a sophomore so he had an abbreviated 2020 college season and no minor league season. He lacks speed and arm strength to play the outfield so if his right handed bat does not produce enough power for first base he could be a bust. The 2021 season should see him starting somewhere in A ball, but that will depend on his spring.

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