2016 Prospect Watch: Top 10 first basemen

Astros' Reed sits atop list, followed by Bucs' Bell, Mets' Smith

January 22nd, 2016

MLBPipeline.com will unveil its 2016 Top 100 Prospects list on Friday, Jan. 29, on MLB.com. The Top 50 will be revealed during a one-hour show on MLB Network at 9 p.m. ET. Leading up to the release, we look at baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.

First and foremost, teams want power from their first basemen, and the players on MLBPipeline's Top 10 first-base prospects list deliver. Five of them have plus pop, led by A.J. Reed's 65 grade on the 20-80 scouting scale, and the other four all have average or better power. Four of the five best first basemen held the same status a year ago, with Bobby Bradley (Indians) the only newcomer on the upper half of the list.

Top 10 Prospects by Position

Scouting reports, grades, stats and video on Prospect Watch

1. A.J. Reed, Astros

Reed had a spectacular first full season as a pro, leading the Minors in runs (113), homers (34), RBIs (127), total bases (320), slugging (.612) and OPS (1.044) while winning the Class A Advanced California League MVP Award and continuing to mash following a promotion to Double-A. With his penchant for making consistent hard contact and waiting out pitchers reluctant to challenge him, Reed could claim Houston's first-base job as soon as he proves he can hit advanced left-handers.

2. Josh Bell, Pirates

Pittsburgh stunned the industry when it landed the believed-to-be-unsignable Bell with a second-round-record $5 million bonus in 2011. The best pure hitter on this list, he's a switch-hitter who controls the strike zone and is still growing into what could be considerable power. Bell could take over first base for the Pirates once he gets a little more time in Triple-A.

3. Dominic Smith, Mets

After posting just one homer and a .683 OPS in his first full pro season, Smith rebounded last year to hit .305/.354/.417, topping the Florida State League with 33 doubles and 79 RBIs and earning the Class A Advanced circuit's MVP Award. With his excellent hand-eye coordination and mature approach, he barrels balls repeatedly and shows promising power during batting practice.

4. Bobby Bradley, Indians

He won the Rookie-level Arizona League Triple Crown in his 2014 pro debut and encored by easily leading the Class A Midwest League with 27 homers, the most by any MWL teenager since Miguel Sano stroked 28 in 2012. Bradley has prodigious power but will have to show he can make consistent contact after topping the MWL with 148 strikeouts and fanning in nearly 32 percent of his plate appearances.

5. Matt Olson, Athletics

Olson does two things very well: hit home runs (77 in three full seasons) and draw walks (313 since his debut, including topping the Minors with 117 in 2014 and ranking second with 105 last year). He also moves well for his size at first base and looked capable in right field when Oakland played him there at Double-A in the second half of 2015.

6. Cody Bellinger, Dodgers

The son of former big leaguer Clay Bellinger switched from a line-drive approach and emphasized power last year, resulting in 30 homers and California League-leading totals of 97 runs and 103 RBIs. Bellinger's lanky frame still has room to add a lot of strength, and he's the best athlete and defender on this list.

7. Jake Bauers, Rays

The only saving grace from the Wil Myers trade last offseason for Tampa Bay, Bauers held his own against Double-A pitching at age 19 thanks to his smooth left-handed swing and advanced approach. He boosted his stock by continuing to produce in the Arizona Fall League, and he looked comfortable manning the outfield corners while there.

8. Josh Naylor, Marlins

Naylor was somewhat of a surprise 12th overall pick in the 2015 Draft -- making him the highest-drafted Canadian position player ever -- but Miami believed in his power. His combination of bat speed, strength and hand-eye coordination gave him the best raw pop in the 2015 Draft and earn him comparisons with Prince Fielder.

9. Casey Gillaspie, Rays

The younger brother of Conor Gillaspie was the lone first baseman drafted in the first round in 2014, one round ahead of Reed and two ahead of Bradley. Gillaspie is a switch-hitter with plus power and a penchant for drawing walks from both sides of the plate.

10. Sam Travis, Red Sox

Travis teamed with Kyle Schwarber to lead Indiana to the 2013 College World Series and is on a similar fast track to the Majors. He reached Double-A and hit .307/.381/.452 in 2015, his first full pro season, though scouts would like to see him swing for the fences more often.

Next up

He's hopelessly blocked by Anthony Rizzo with the Cubs and he has no value beyond his bat, but Dan Vogelbach is a gifted and patient hitter with untapped power potential. He has batted .284/.382/.473 in five pro seasons, advancing to Double-A at age 22, and could make for a nice DH if he gets traded to an American League club.

The best college power hitter in the 2015 Draft, Chris Shaw led the Short-Season Northwest League with 12 home runs and a .551 slugging percentage after the Giants took him in the first round. He's another all-bat guy, but he comes with a 30-homer ceiling.