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Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Prospect Roundup

Future Category Winners: Average

by Christopher Crawford
Updated On: February 27, 2019, 1:23 am ET

If you play fantasy baseball -- and you know you do -- you know that there are players who are going to help you in certain categories more than others. We like to call these players "category winners."

As a prospect person, I thought it'd be prudent to give you some players who can help you win those various categories in the short and long-term.

First up, the average category. Here's a look at some prospects who have a chance to hit for high average upon their promotion to the majors.

2019 helpers 

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Toronto Blue Jays -- You couldn't have possibly been expecting someone else in this first spot, could you? In case you're not familiar, Guerrero is not just the best bet to hit for average among fantasy prospects, he's the best fantasy prospect, period. No, you shouldn't expect him to match his .381 average he posted last year, but if any prospect can do it, it's him. He has tremendous bat speed with a swing that stays in the plane, makes hard contact to every part of the field, and very rarely strikes out. This is a special offensive prospect, one who could win a few "batting titles" when all is said and done.


Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Fantasy Baseball Preview

Feb 21, 2019
Blue Jays top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has the potential to be a top-10 fantasy third baseman right away.

Nick Senzel, IF/OF/Cincinnati Reds -- There are questions where Senzel is going to play in 2019 and beyond. There aren't questions about whether Senzel can hit. The second pick of the 2016 draft, Senzel has a quality approach at the plate, and while he's not completely immune to strikeouts, he certainly makes enough hard contact to project as a .300 hitter when he's up for good with the Reds. If not for the existence of the name above, Senzel would easily have the best chance to hit for average among prospects ready to contribute in 2019. He, like Vladdy Jr., should be up this spring.

Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago White Sox -- You might think of Jimenez as more of a power hitter -- and you're certainly going to see him in that article, too -- but the reason why Jimenez is one of the best prospects in baseball is because he can hit for average on top of that pop. Just take a look at his .337 average last year -- and .355 mark after being called up to Triple-A -- if you don't believe me, for some reason. He doesn't mind going the other way, and his bat speed, strong plane and pitch-recognition skills all make him a strong candidate to pile up the hits as a big leaguer. The White Sox will pretend Jimenez needs to work on his defense for a month or so, but he's ready to go, and he should hit for average as soon as he gets that call.

Luis Urias, 2B/SS, San Diego Padres -- Urias hit .208 in his time with the Padres last year. Don't let that number fool you. It's a sample of 48 games, and Urias's .296 mark at Triple-A last year is much more indicative of his ability to hit for average. He has excellent hand-eye coordination, and his willingness to use the entire field certainly will help, as well. There have been consistency issues, but keep in mind that Urias is still just 21-years-old. He should be much better in his chances with the Padres in 2019. 

Keston Hiura, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers -- Of all the prospects here, Hiura is the one who is the least likely to reach the big leagues. That being said, there's still a good -- maybe better than good -- chance that the 2017 first-round pick sees time in Milwaukee, and his hit-tool is a significant reason why. He sprays line drives all over the park, and he won't beat himself by swinging at pitches outside of the zone. It might take an injury for him to see time with the Brewers this summer -- or the Mike Moustakas/Travis Shaw second base thing not working out -- but if/when he gets the call, he's a very strong bet to hit for average.

Future helpers

Alex Kirilloff, OF, Minnesota Twins -- Alex Kirilloff can flat-out hit. Despite missing the 2017 season, the 2016 first-round pick showed absolutely no rust while hitting .348 at the Low-A and High-A levels. He has a smooth, line-drive swing that is built for hitting line drives, and he can make hard contact on any pitch on any part of the plate. You likely won't see him until 2020, but the only prospect I have with a better hit tool is Guerrero Jr. Yes, that is high praise. 

Wander Franco, SS, Tampa Bay Rays -- Ahh, but this guy's not far behind. Franco was given more than $3.8 million in July of 2017, and all he did in his first professional season was hit .351 as a 17-year-old in the Appy League. He hits from both sides of the plate, and boy does he ever hit, from both sides of the plate. Franco's age makes him a volatile prospect, but it's tough to imagine that he's not among the best hitters in baseball when he's ready to go. He's that good, and in fact, might be the best prospect in baseball at this time next year.

Nick Madrigal, 2B, Chicago White Sox -- Madrigal tore up college pitching when he was a star at Oregon State, and while the sample size was small, his .303 average in his first 43 professional games show it wasn't a fluke. Despite his small stature (5'7/165), Madrigal doesn't get the bat knocked out of his hands, and his swing is tailor-made for hitting bullets to all part of the field. He's also a plus runner who will beat out his share of infield hits. There are questions about how much power he'll show, but we're not concerned about that here. Madrigal is going to rack up the hits. 

Bo Bichette, SS, Toronto Blue Jays -- Bichette "only" hit .286 last year, but considering he doesn't turn 21-years-old until March, that's a pretty solid number. And, of course, the tools matter more here, and Bichette's plus bat speed and use of the opposite field suggest that number is going to go up. My one concern here is that he does have some swing-and-miss in his game, but there's certainly enough hard contact here for me to project a well above-average tool here. The fact he's going to do it at shortstop amplifies things, too. 

Colton Welker, 3B, Colorado Rockies -- The Rockies drafted Welker with the 116th pick of the 2016 draft, and it appears they have quite the steal. He's hit .337 over his three professional seasons, including a .333 clip in High-A as a 20-year-old last year. Welker isn't immune to strikeouts, but he seemingly hits the ball hard whenever it's put in play, and reports indicate he's a smart hitter who does an excellent job recognizing pitches. He'll have to change positions with that Arenado guy -- or maybe change organizations -- but he should hit for a high average wherever he's playing.

Christopher Crawford

Christopher Crawford is a baseball and college football writer for NBC Sports Edge. Follow him on Twitter @Crawford_MILB.