2016 Top First Base Prospects

The 2016 top first base prospectslist is loaded with power bats. AJ Reed, Bobby Bradley and Cody Bellinger all smashed over 20+ homers last year and Reed was named the top prospect in the minors to end the 2015 campaign.

2016 Top First Base Prospects

1

AJ Reed

Position: 1B Age: 22 DOB: 05/10/1993 Bats: L Throws: L Height: 6' 4" Weight: 275 lb. Drafted: 2014, 2nd (42) - HOU

Scouting Grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 65 | Run: 30 | Arm: 55 | Field: 45 | Overall: 55

The Astros AJ Reed is the top first base prospect in all of baseball.

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Yet another player that we have been fortunate to see play in person on more than a few occasions he put on a show with his bat last season in high Class A California League last season as he was named league MVP while leading the entire minors in home runs with 34 and runs batted in with 127. In his first full season of pro ball he finished with a .340/.432/.612 line while ending the season in Double-A as he slugged .735, had 320 total bases and scored 113 runs as his entire offensive numbers were video game like.

Before being drafted in the second round of the 2014 draft by the Astros he was the National Player of the Year at Kentucky as he led the NCAA in home runs with 23 while also pitching and winning 12 games as their No. 1 starter before signing for $1.35 million which seems like a bargain as he is a big reason the Astros at the end of last season were named by MILB.com as the top farm system in baseball. Also named as the Minor League Offensive Player of the Year by MILB.com he doesn't pitch anymore but while at Kentucky he worked between 88-92 MPH and has a stronger arm than most first basemen.

His power is without question as he has power to all fields while also showing good patience and a willingness to take the walk as he walked 86 times while striking out 122 times in 523 at bats last season. One thing left to prove offensively is if he can handle top notch left-handed pitchers and if he does he should to be able to hit for a solid average along with his plus power. Not known for his speed on the bases or great range he is a good athlete for his size and is an adequate defender enough to not have to be stuck to a DH role. Playing 53 games last season at Double-A we would expect him to start the season back in Corpus Christi but there's an outside chance he starts in Triple-A or reaches there at some point this season.

2

Josh Bell

Position: 1B Age: 23 DOB: 08/14/1992 Bats: S Throws: R Height: 6' 2" Weight: 235 lb. Drafted: 2011, 2nd (61) - PIT

Scouting Grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 55 | Run: 40 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55

Josh Bell lands at #2 on the top 10 first base prospects in the minors for 2016

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Selected in the second round of the 2011 Draft the Pirates gave him $5 million as his switch-hitting bat that has him projected as a plus hitter that once he improves his defensive play at first base could see him be their everyday starter for years to come. Learning to play first base on a full-time basis for the first time last season the 23-year old reached Triple-A and was selected to play in the Futures Game which saw him show off his powerful bat with a home run.

While learning a new position he also was challenged to look for more pitches to drive which he did last season as he hit .317 with 67 runs scored, seven home runs and 78 runs batted in during 131 games between AA-Altoona and AAA-Indianapolis. In their end of the season scouting report on him Baseball America said "He worked hard to improve but struggled with his footwork and led Eastern League first basemen with 13 errors. Despite having a strong arm, he is tentative to make throws."

With Pedro Alvarez no longer with the Pirates, after being non-tendered back in December, the Pirates signed John Jaso and it looks like Jaso will be in a platoon system with someone else to start the season but it wouldn't be a surprise after he starts the season at Triple-A Indianapolis to see Bell find his way up to the Major Leagues this season as Pirates general manager Neal Hutington told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review "I'm not going to put a time frame on him" while not ruling out his Major League debut at some point this season.

3

Matt Olson

Position: 1B/OF Age: 21 DOB: 03/29/1994 Bats: L Throws: R Height: 6' 5" Weight: 230 lb. Drafted: 2012, 1st Sup (47) - OAK

Scouting Grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 60 | Run: 40 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55

Matt Olson ranks as the third bast first base prospect entering the 2016 season

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Of all these first basemen prospects this 2012 selection by the Oakland Athletics was the one we saw the most during the 2014 season while with the Stockton Ports in High-A California League as he had his best season as a professional hitting .262 with 37 home runs, third best in the entire Minor Leagues, and 97 runs batted in. Selected to the All-Stars Future Game he routinely made the ballpark in Stockton look small as he showed off his plus power with home runs to all sides of the park.

Going from one of the best hitting leagues in the Minor Leagues to the pitcher-friendly Texas League he still managed to hit .249 with 17 home runs and 75 runs batted in during a 2015 season spent entirely with Double-A Midland. Despite the jump in levels his strikeout numbers have remained between 137-148 over the past three seasons as he has showed some good plate discipline and is not afraid to take a walk as he had his second straight season with over 100 walks last year.

He has seen some time in the outfield in the Minor Leagues as some have questioned if he can defensively remain at first base but it wouldn't be a surprise to us to see him stick at first as many times during the 2014 season he had impressive plays defensively and never seemed like that big of a liability at first while having the powerful bat that you would expect from your first basemen. Invited to big league camp we would expect him to start at Triple-A Nashville and with a solid season could find his Major League debut coming later this year.

4

Dominic Smith

Position: 1B Age: 20 DOB: 06/15/1995 Bats: L Throws: L Height: 6' 0" Weight: 230 lb. Drafted: 2013, 1st (11) - NYM

Scouting Grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 50 | Run: 40 | Arm: 45 | Field: 60 | Overall: 55

Dominic Smith ranks at #4 in the top 10 list of first base prospects entering the 2016 season.

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When you think of a big time prospect at first base you normally think of someone that swings a bat with plus power and hits a ton of home runs but if that's the kind of hitter you think this Mets prospect is you would be wrong. While he does have some power he has said himself he is more of a hitter for average than putting up big home run numbers which is why he was considered to be perhaps the best pure hitter in high school when drafted in the first round of the 2013 Draft by the New York Mets out of Serra HS in Gardena, California.

In his first two seasons with the Mets he hit just four home runs before a 2015 season that saw him in a league known for pitching hit .305 with six home runs while driving in 79 runs on his way to being named the MVP of the Florida State League. Following his best full season in professional baseball he also had a great performance at the Arizona Fall League which has the Mets excited for his success this season in Double-A.

While his power may not be above average he shouldn't have to make a move to DH as his defense at first is above average. With great hand-eye coordination and a great approach at the plate since his high school days which saw him win state senior of the year over Phil Bickford, who was drafted one spot ahead of him in 2013 before not signing and going to school and drafted in the 2015 first round by the San Francisco Giants, the Mets are hopeful that his power will improve over time after his 39 extra base hits last season.

5

Bobby Bradley

Position: 1B Age: 19 DOB: 05/29/1996 Bats: L Throws: R Height: 6' 1" Weight: 225 lb. Drafted: 2014, 3rd (97) - CLE

Scouting Grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 60 | Run: 20 | Arm: 50 | Field: 45 | Overall: 55

The #Indians Bobby Bradley ranks as the fifth best first base prospect entering the 2016 season

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Plus bat speed, raw power and an ability to use the entire field is why the Indians selected him in the third round of the 2014 draft and he immediately rewarded them by winning the Triple Crown a the Rookie-level Arizona League as hit .361 with eight home runs and 59 runs batted in during 39 games. Committed to LSU the Indians paid him over slot, second-round money, to keep him from heading to Baton Rouge.

Because of that initial success they jumped him up a level to the Midwest League and while struggling at first he turned things around and by the end of his first full season he was in the discussion to be named league MVP. Despite his early struggles and missing 20 games with an injury he still ended the season as the league leader with 27 home runs and 92 runs batted in.

While his power and run producing when making contact with the baseball is not in doubt the worries are how he will do at higher levels putting the ball in play as he also led the Midwest League in one category that he did not want to as he struck out 148 times on the year which was nearly one in every three at bats. Still just 20 years old there's plenty of time for him to improve his contact rate and no need to rush him as he should spend the year at High-A Lynchburg.

6

Cody Bellinger

Position: 1B/OF Age: 20 DOB: 07/13/1995 Bats: L Throws: L Height: 6' 4" Weight: 180 lb. Drafted: 2013, 4th (124) - LAD

Scouting Grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 55 | Run: 55 | Arm: 50 | Field: 60 | Overall: 50

#Dodgers Cody Bellinger ranks as the 6th best first base prospect entering the 2016 season

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Like most players who play right after signing he struggled in 2013 during his pro debut after signing for $700,000 as a fourth round pick before big back to back seasons in rookie ball and in High-A California League last season. While in high school he also pitched as he has a strong arm that hit the upper 80's. His father Clay Bellinger won two World Series with the Yankees while Cody captured the California League championship last season and had two doubles and a home run in the championship clincher.

After hitting .311 in 2014 he moved to the hitter friendly California League last season where he was among the best in the league as he led the league in runs with 97 and runs batted in with 103 while finishing second in home runs with 30 which was a big improvement from his four total home runs the previous two years. Sacrificing average for power he added more loft to his swing and while he made solid contact much more often than the two previous seasons he also saw his strikeout numbers increase in a big way as he struck out 150 times in 478 at bats and hit .264 with Rancho Cucamonga.

Finding that balance of power while also maintaining a solid average will be key as he should start this season in Double-A. He is capable of playing in the outfield as he is has decent speed and is athletic which is why he played 21 games in center field last season despite having the ability to be the Dodgers first basemen of the future.

7

Jake Bauers

Position: 1B/OF Age: 20 DOB: 10/06/1995 Bats: L Throws: L Height: 6' 1" Weight: 195 lb. Drafted: 2013, 7th (208) - SD

Scouting Grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 50 | Run: 40 | Arm: 50 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50

Jake Bauers ranks as the 7th best first base prospect entering the 2016 season

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While he wasn't the big name at the time when included in a three-team trade that saw him go from the Padres to the Devil Rays in 2014 he may turn out to be the biggest part of it after a breakout 2015 season that saw him hit .272 with 11 home runs between High-A and Double-A against much older competition as he was just 19 years old. He was drafted in the 7th round of the 2013 Draft by the San Diego Padres out of Marina HS in Huntington Beach, California.

While his power is still developing he has an advanced approach at the plate that is disciplined with a tendency for getting his barrel on the ball with a short swing that has enough power to hit it to all sides of the field. Like most first basemen prospects how great he can be will be tied in to how much he continue to improve his power hitting after a career-best season last year that had Baseball America saying "the power is there for him to smack 15-20 HRs and a lot of doubles."

During the Arizona Fall League he increased his value even more as he showed that he could play the outfield as he took good routes to balls and runs well which could allow him to get the call to the Major Leagues even sooner depending on a position at first or in the outfield opening up. Just 20 years old it will be interesting to see if they decide to start him off back in Double-A where he spent the last half of 2015 and hit .276 with five home runs or if they decide to be aggressive with their youngster and let him start in Triple-A. If we were Pete Rose we would take a guess that he would return to Double-A while getting moved up to Triple-A at some point later this season.

8

Josh Naylor

Position: 1B Age: 18 DOB: 06/22/1997 Bats: L Throws: L Height: 6' 0" Weight: 225 lb. Drafted: 2015, 1st (12) - MIA

Scouting Grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 60 | Run: 20 | Arm: 50 | Field: 40 | Overall: 50

Josh Naylor ranks as the 8th best first base prospect in the minors

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There's no ice and skates in this Canadian's future as he became the highest ever to be drafted from Canada last years when the Marlins selected this Canadian Junior National Teamer with the 12th overall pick of the 2015 Draft. He was then signed for a below-slot $2.2 million and sent to the Gulf Coast League where he had an impressive pro debut.

While many considered the Marlins drafting him as early as they did as a reach, highest he was ranked by anyone was the 49th best player in the draft, his power and body has drawn comparisons to Prince Fielder by many, including Marlins scouting director Stan Meek, with his future position likely limited to either first base or as a designated hitter. In just 25 games last season the 18-year old hit .327 with six extra base hits and 16 runs batted in.

Wanting plus power the Marlins got it and more with their selection of this teenager as he has plus-plus power from the left side with a swing that has great bat speed and allows him to keep the barrel in the zone longer to hit the ball hard to all sides of the field. While aggressive he does not swing an miss as much as you would expect but it is something for him to work on as he starts to face older competition in his first full season this year. His bat will need to continue to show that huge power with big offensive numbers put up as he doesn't possess great speed and is projected to be a below-average defender which is why many project at best he will be a middle of the order DH that could hit 30+ home runs in a season.

9

Casey Gillaspie

Position: 1B Age: 23 DOB: 01/25/1993 Bats: S Throws: L Height: 6' 4" Weight: 240 lb. Drafted: 2014, 1st (20) - TB

Scouting Grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 60 | Run: 25 | Arm: 40 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50

Casey Gillaspie ranks as the 9th best first base prospect in the minors entering the 2016 season

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Named an All-American while at Wichita State he was drafted with the 20th pick in the 2014 Draft and has had a solid start to his pro career before a hand injury slowed down his 2015 season. After being drafted he hit .262 with 42 runs batted in short season ball before last year saw him play at three different levels and hitting a combined .253 with 48 runs batted in.

Hitting .278 with 16 home runs in the Midwest League he earned a promotion to High-A Charlotte in the Florida State League before breaking his figure just five games into his promotion. He would return and play 13 games but hit just .146 going 6 for 41 with one home run and four runs batted in. How much did his injury play a part in his struggles is a big question as he then went to play in the Arizona Fall League where his struggles continued as he hit just .191 with two home runs as his calling card has always been his plus power from both sides of the plate.

Considered to have a higher floor and not as high of ceiling his bat speed is above average with him doing more damage from the left side of the plate with his consistent swing and above average ability to not chase bad pitches. His below average speed limits his position options to either first base or DH but he has shown that he can be an average-defender at first and not be a defensive liability. Expect this 23-year old to start the season back in the Florida State League and hopefully once again fully healthy he could turn things around in a quick fashion and bounce back from a tough 2015 season to go through the system at a quick pace.

10

Sam Travis

Position: 1B Age: 22 DOB: 08/27/1993 Bats: R Throws: R Height: 6' 0" Weight: 205 lb. Drafted: 2014, 2nd (67) - BOS

Scouting Grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 45 | Run: 40 | Arm: 45 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50

Sam Travis of the #redsox ranks as the 10th best first base prospect in the minors.

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Helping to lead Indiana to their first College World Series in 2013 along with Chicago Cubs standout Kye Schwarber the Red Sox were hoping for him to make quick work of the minor league system and find his way to Boston sooner than later after drafting him in the second round of the 2014 draft. That hope may be a realistic one as the Red Sox who had Mike Napoli become a free agent saw their potential first basemen of the future hit .307 with nine home runs and 78 runs batted in last year splitting his time between Single-A and Double-A.

Starting off slow at each level he would hit .313 with five home runs and 40 runs batted in High-A before hitting .300 with four home runs and 38 runs batted in during 66 games at Double-A. His ability to make consistent hard contact to all fields and show good plate discipline is why he has been a .300 hitter at all levels so far but his approach and contact that sees him hit lots of line drives has his power projections as average which he may need to improve if he's going to be an every day first basemen in the Major Leagues.

He has showed some signs of power that he could hit 20 home runs in a season and perhaps could use a more aggressive approach at the plate to hit for more power. Likely limited to playing first base despite playing third base before being drafted his speed is not the best while he is not projected to an above average defender at any position. Expect him to start the season in Triple-A where he will work to prove that he will be able to hit for enough power to play in Boston.