People love the unknown. I get it, but I don’t. Why folks wouldn’t rather spend a roster spot on an established player over a youngster who we have never seen in the big leagues is beyond me. Yet, day after day, week after week, I would legitimately guess that at least a quarter of the questions I receive daily deal with either (A) rookies or (B) prospects in the minors. It’s the wrong way to play fantasy baseball, but it’s just life.

Why is it “the wrong way to play fantasy baseball”? Here’s why.

Rookies usually fail.

At a minimum, they usually fail to live up to expectations at least.

Sometimes it has to do with a player getting hurt.

Sometimes it has to do with the player not getting called up to the big leagues cause there just isn’t a full-time spot to give the youngster.

Sometimes the player gets a shot and they just stink.

Here are some facts, that I pointed out before the season started in the Fantasy Alarm Draft Guide.

Of the 20 elite prospects reviewed in 2015, only five “hit” while 11 failed.

Of the 20 elite prospects reviewed in 2014, only two “hit” while 13 failed.

Of the 20 elite prospects reviewed in 2013, only three “hit” while 13 failed.

That’s data folks.
It’s not speculation.
It’s not hyperbole.
It’s fact.

It’s far too early to think that the final note can be written on 2016 prospects but we’re well past the mid-point of the season now so we can start to begin the process of drawing conclusions, admitting that any player could go nuts the last 60 games changing our opinions of them.

There will be three tables listed: (1) Exceeding Expectations, (2) Players who have been moderately successful and (3) Players who have failed to do anything of any significance.


RookieFailureModerate SuccessExceeding ExpectationsSignificant Impact
Corey Seager  XX
Trevor Story  XX
Nomar Mazara  XX
Aledmys Diaz  XX
Chelsor Cuthbert  X 
Tommy Joseph  XX
Max Kepler  X 
Dae-Ho Lee  X 
Whit Merrifield   X 
Tyler Naquin  XX
Trayce Thompson  X 
Archie Bradley  X 
Jon Gray  XX
Junior Guerra  XX
Carlos Estevez  XX
Kenta Maeda  XX
Zach Davies  XX
Michael Fulmer  XX
Sean Manaea  X 
Chris Devenski  X 
Ryan Dull  X 
Seung Hwan Oh  XX
Steven Matz  XX

By my count there are 23 rookies who have exceeding expectations to this point. That’s a little bit deceiving though. Here’s why.

Dae Ho-Lee played professionally in Asia for 14 years. He’s not a “rookie.”

Junior Guerra has played professionally for 10 years. He’s not a “rookie.”

Kenta Maeda has played professionally in Asia for eight years. He’s not a “rookie.”

Seung Hwan Oh has played professionally in Asia for 11 years. He’s not a “rookie.”

So the list is really 19 rookies.

Of those 19 first year players, how many of them have really been standouts, offering a significant impact, in the fantasy game?

I say 14 men have had a significant fantasy impact. That list includes the following fake “rookies”: Guerra, Maeda, Oh.

THAT’S ELEVEN TRUE ROOKIES WHO HAVE POSTED A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT out of all the rookies in baseball through July 22nd, 2016 IF you count Joseph as a catcher. If he's only 1B eligible, he could be removed from the list.


RookieFailureModerate SuccessExceeding Expectations
Blake Snell X 
Brandon Drury X 
Travis Jankowski X 
Steven Moya X 
Byung Ho Park X 
Jose Peraza X 
Jameson Taillon X 
Joey Rickard X 
Ryan Schimpf X 
Mallex Smith X 
Tim Anderson X 
Dylan Bundy X 
Colin Rea X 
Daniel Mengden X 
Wilson Contreras X 
Robert Refsnyder X 
Julio Urias X 

This list is propagated with at least a handful of players that could easily move up to TABLE 1 as the games pile up; Snell, Taillon, Matz, Anderson, Contreras in particular.


RookieFailureModerate SuccessExceeding Expectations
Lucas GiolitoX  
Trea TurnerX  
Jose BerriosX  
Tyler GlasnowX  
Byron BuxtonX  
A.J. ReedX  
Alex BregmanX  
Josh BellX  
Joey GalloX  
Hector OliveraX  
J.P. CrawfordX  
Orlando ArciaX  
Alex ReyesX  
Robert StephensonX  
Nick WilliamsX  
Pete O'BrienX  
Aaron JudgeX  
Hunter RenfroeX  
Manuel MargotX  
Aaron BlairX  
David DahlX  
Bradley ZimmerX  
Micah JohnsonX  
Gary SanchezX  
John LambX  

Focus closely on this final table. This is the list you should really pay attention to. There are elite players, like top-25 prospects in baseball types, all over this list, yet NONE of them has done anything of note in the fantasy game. It includes the names of a bunch of rookies that were taken on draft day 2016. It also includes sooooo many of the names that I get questions about day, after day, after day. By the end of the 2016 season maybe two, six, ten of them make significant impacts. At the same time, this list is full of some of the absolute best prospects in baseball, and through more than half the 2016 season they have been total, complete and utter fantasy failures in 2016.

I know none of this matters to some of you, maybe to most of you, as you will all continue to draft, roster and trade for minor leaguers you’ve never seen play, who have no role, and who are nowhere near a spot on a big league roster. It doesn’t seem to matter that the overwhelming majority of rookies, EVERY YEAR, fail to live up to the expectations that the fantasy universe places on them in March. I guess I just have to make peace with that.  


Ray Flowers can be heard Monday through Friday, 7 PM EDT and Friday on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87). You can also hear Ray Sunday nights at 7 PM on the channel talking fantasy sports. Follow Ray’s work at Fantasy Alarm and on Twitter (@baseballguys).