2025 Fantasy Baseball: Predicting The First Two Rounds Of Drafts


Image credit: Ronald Acuña Jr. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

There’s a method to this madness. As discussed in last year’s version of the same exercise, the idea is to play redraft with more of a “dynasty lens.” Every season, there are opportunities to hit on the most profitable draft picks by betting on young, high-end talents.

Consider Corbin Carroll entering 2023. He was already being drafted in the early-middle rounds due to his status as a top prospect, but it was easy to see that if he were to succeed as a rookie, “the market” would get aggressive with him the following season. It turns out that Carroll was good enough to where he became an unquestioned first-rounder in 2024.

The goal is also to avoid early-round “landmines” that could be drafted significantly later by next year for one reason or another. Perhaps a player is getting older, or there’s a significant injury concern. It’s easy to forget how early Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander were going in 2023 drafts. Age can be overcome, but declining skill sets are worth monitoring.

Of course, baseball is a hard game, and typically the best players are drafted early year after year. You’ll notice a lot of familiar names on the list below, and it’s for good reason. Spoiler alert, Mookie Betts and Yordan Alvarez will probably be pretty good this year.

Note: These ADP projections are for 12-team roto leagues.

1. Ronald Acuña, OF, Braves

Spencer Strider was drafted first overall this spring in some high-stakes drafts, and that’s coming off Acuña’s historic campaign. His March knee aggravation is a slight concern that may have tipped the scales for some, but Acuña is a safe bet to be a top-three pick again next year. Like Acuña, his lineup protection is locked in for the long run. There’s no need to overthink this one. Acuña could even lose 20 steals and a handful of homers and still warrant 1.01 next season. His .337 average, aided by a dramatic drop in his strikeout rate, was an underrated part of his MVP season in 2023. Monitoring that area is arguably more important than his stolen-base rate this season.

2. Julio Rodríguez, OF, Mariners

One could go in a few directions with the second overall choice, making this a matter of personal preference. Perhaps those in five-outfielder leagues prefer Rodriguez and Tatis over Witt. Regardless, all three players represent power-speed combos that are building blocks of any fantasy squad.

3. Bobby Witt Jr., SS, Royals

Given his combination of elite sprint speed on a team with nothing to lose, it remains fascinating to think about Witt’s stolen-base ceiling. He already made history in his sophomore campaign from a HR-SB outlook. A 30-45 season feels like the floor this time around, with the upside for more.

4. Fernando Tatis Jr., OF, Padres

Here’s our first “tier jump” from 2023 drafts, as Tatis went as the No. 8 overall player in the final week of NFBC Main Event drafts.

It’s easy to compare him to this year’s Acuña—a former superstar who looked like he was shaking off the rust after a long layoff, only to bounce back in a monstrous way the following season.

Tatis’ max exit velocity was 113.4 mph in 2023. Within a few days of the 2024 season, he’s already hit two balls topping that, including a new career-high of 116.7 mph. Insert John Wick voice: “Yeah, I’m thinking I’m back!”

5. Shohei Ohtani, UTIL/SP, Dodgers

It’s hard to predict that the Dodgers’ lineup will be as historically great as the Braves’ last year. They have the talent to do it, but Atlanta remained healthy and was deep 1-9, while getting possible career years from multiple superstars.

That said, the Dodgers’ top three in their lineup are special, and Ohtani is uniquely positioned to pile up counting stats while hitting between Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman. Add in the return of starting pitching eligibility, and it’s hard to imagine baseball’s best player being drafted outside the top five. 

6. Mookie Betts, 2B/SS, Dodgers

The Dodgers’ lineup provides such a boost to Betts’ run production. It’s funny to project him as having dual middle infield eligibility without OF, but that seems to be the direction we’re headed in. The market will properly value that when it comes to a future Hall of Fame hitter with a 100th-percentile supporting cast.

7. Spencer Strider, SP, Braves

If Strider reaches his true ceiling this year, and if there are no other contenders for the title of “No. 1 SP in fantasy”, then we could once again see drafts where he’s taken first overall. This projection hedges a bit, with half a dozen hitters selected before him, but with the SP2 lasting until the middle of Round 2.

For those who need the reminder, Strider’s 2023 swinging strike rate was the highest recorded in MLB history.

8. Corbin Carroll, OF, D-Backs

Carroll’s power production fell just enough after last summer’s shoulder scare to keep fantasy managers on edge this spring. The stolen base and runs scored projections kept his ADP firmly in Round 1, but we’re now facing another season where the market is questioning his power potential. If Carroll once again looks like the hitter we saw in the first half of 2023, he could squeeze into the top five next spring.

9. Kyle Tucker, OF, Astros

Fantasy managers love their stability, and the next two names on this list are as “safe” of back-end, Round 1 commodities as there are. Tucker’s fantasy valuation will be interesting to track if and when he leaves Houston, but he’s under contract through 2025, which means at least one more year of hitting alongside Jose Altuve and Yordan Alvarez. Note Alex Bregman is currently in a walk year.

10. Freddie Freeman, 1B, Dodgers

Freeman is such an interesting first-round player to build around. He’s an aging hitter yet to show signs of slowing down. He has an elite supporting cast. He’s a first baseman without top-end power, but he’ll contribute more steals than others at his position, and it comes with an elite batting average.

Expect the average to be his calling card in 2025. With another year of league-wide stolen base madness, one can predict that batting average cements itself as the scarcest rotisserie category. Longtime roto players know it’s incredibly difficult to find good batting averages on the wire in-season.

11. Juan Soto, OF, Yankees

The next four players on our list are four-category monsters who become too good to pass up around the 1/2 turn. Not only are these hitters supremely reliable, but each has enough upside to sneak in a top-five overall finish in any given year.

Perhaps that’ll be 2024 for Soto, who is in a walk year and should be expected to maximize plate appearances. He’ll be eager to take advantage of the short porch at Yankee Stadium, and there’s no limit on what his counting stats could look like hitting in front of Judge.

12. Matt Olson, 1B, Braves

It’s tempting to fade Olson’s ridiculous combination of power and run production for speed or an ace, but drafters can pair him with either of those profiles around the 1/2 turn. It’s also worth noting that Atlanta doesn’t subscribe to modern-day “load management.” When healthy, their stars are in the lineup, and Olson has played 162 games in back-to-back seasons.

13. Yordan Alvarez, OF, Astros

Any manager beginning a 2025 draft with Olson/Alvarez will be set with runs, homers, RBIs and (mostly) batting average for a while.

Interestingly, Alvarez has never hit more than 37 homers in a season and has been held under 100 RBIs in the past two years. Still just 26 years old, his Statcast page presents enough upside for him to finally have that dominant campaign in any of the next few seasons.

14. Aaron Judge, OF, Yankees

Judge was mispriced for the entire offseason when comparing projections to ADP. Personally, I was willing to reach on him for the upside of his 2022 MVP campaign. Judge missed time last season, but when healthy, he hit similarly enough to ‘22 for me to remain aggressive with him.

This spring, he announced the turf toe injury would be an issue for the rest of his career. He then dealt with some mysterious abdominal issues that required testing and, at one point, put Opening Day in jeopardy. If he misses more time in 2024, the market will push him down further. Conversely, Soto remaining in New York for 2025 could help keep his ADP afloat.

15. Michael Harris, OF, Braves

Many will view Harris as nothing more than a 20/20 player who hits in a great lineup, though he’s always in the bottom half of the order with everyone healthy. However, he’s already more than that entering 2024 as someone who has hit above .290 in his first two seasons.

A strong batting average with power and speed is a rare player in our fake baseball game. Further skill improvement (for the homers and steals) and/or moving up in the lineup could mean Harris is drafted even closer to the wheel at this time next year.

16. Bryce Harper, 1B, Phillies

Harper was once a low/mid batting average hitter with elite OBP skills. He’s now a batting average anchor. Locked in at first base moving forward, he’s similar to Freeman in that he’ll also supply steals without Olson-esque power. The supporting cast should remain strong in 2025, cementing Harper’s status as a safe, top-20 bat with upside.

17. George Kirby, SP, Mariners

Kirby absolutely popped in projection systems entering 2024, fueled in particular by microscopic WHIP expectations. This leads to many viewing him as a “safe” starting pitcher option, which he is.

However, there’s also some hidden upside for Kirby. A midseason arsenal change spiked his strikeout rate from 20.8% in the first half of 2023 to 25.2% afterward. Can the 26-year-old continue providing elite ratios while pitching in a favorable home park, but with more Ks? It seems very possible. Kirby’s swinging strike rate improvements back up the K% gains from last summer:

18. Austin Riley, 3B, Braves

It’s incredible how many great early-round bats there are to fill out the first two rounds of next year’s draft. Riley isn’t particularly noteworthy other than he’s a great hitter in a great lineup whose team plays him all the time. He has missed just eight games over the past three seasons, and the market will once again appreciate his consistency.

19. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 1B, Blue Jays

This projection is a bit of a hedge as to whether Guerrero rediscovers his 2021 form this season. The most likely outcome is that he splits the difference between ‘21 and ‘23, which is his 2022. Perhaps that’s a letdown to those who are chasing unanimous MVP production, but it still makes for a reliable, four-category stud. Of course, the upside for more remains present, as he just turned 25 this March.

20. CJ Abrams, SS, Nationals

Robert Orr of Baseball Prospectus already wrote this offseason’s definitive Abrams piece, referring to him as a slugger inside a speedster’s body. There are questions about Abrams’ real-life abilities as a hitter, just like with Witt and Harris before him, but if he holds his own, the homers and steals will come in bunches. Of course, there’s an upside for more with a player entering his age-23 season.

21. Corey Seager, SS, Rangers

.330 batting averages don’t grow on trees. In 2023, Seager parlayed a BABIP bounceback with the new shift restrictions to deliver a historically great year. Health will always be a question with him, but Seager’s batting average contributions will be highly sought after next spring as long as he doesn’t miss significant time this season.

22. Zack Wheeler, SP, Phillies

There are still some hitters in play who could sneak into the end of Round 2, but durable (and good) pitching should once again be at a premium this season. Wheeler differs from the next two names in that he’s much older, and perhaps Gerrit Cole’s recent elbow injury will scare drafters away. Conversely, Wheeler is at least “built up”, and starting pitchers are balloons.

Strider is the favorite to win the National League Cy Young award, but Wheeler is an exciting pivot who should hold his value entering 2025.

23. Grayson Rodriguez, SP, Orioles
24. Bobby Miller, SP, Dodgers

Like Rodriguez, Miller improved throughout his rookie season and is already off to a dominating start in 2024. He combines hellacious stuff with an organization likely to maximize his skill set. Traditional scouting, advanced stats and Stuff+ models agree here. Miller has it all in what could be a breakout campaign.

Honorable Mentions

  • Trea Turner, SS, Phillies
  • Jose Ramírez, 3B, Guardians
  • Rafael Devers, 3B, Red Sox
  • Elly De La Cruz, SS, Reds
  • Gunnar Henderson, SS, Orioles
  • Tarik Skubal, SP, Tigers
  • Corbin Burnes, SP, Orioles
  • Oneil Cruz, SS, Pirates

Players Falling Out Of The First Two Rounds Of 2024

  • Turner (11.6 ADP)
  • Ramírez (16.1 ADP)
  • Burnes (16.5 ADP)
  • Luis Castillo (21.5 ADP)
  • Pablo Lopez (25.9 ADP)

Final Thoughts

By looking ahead to 2025, we’re forecasting the story of 2024. In this case, the fantasy community primarily targets elite bats in the top-24 picks. A few select arms will be taken early, followed by flattening the SP5-15 range. Burnes, Castillo and Lopez could fall victim to this.

Injuries and down years will strike, but as of now, even more honorable mentions could’ve been listed.

Turner and Jo-Ram remain reliable stars who will be on the wrong side of 30, but the market typically likes to reach for upside in the second round, especially in early drafts with an overall component.

Devers falls victim to Vlad Jr. syndrome, where drafters get tired of waiting for another level.

If Elly De La Cruz hits his 90th percentile outcome this year, he will go in Round 1. Even if he falters somewhat, the market will likely remain interested at a “discount” in 2025. The homers and steals should be there, but it remains to be seen how streaky he’ll be and whether some lingering questions remain about his game. This projection has his ADP “stabilizing” somewhere in Rounds 3-4.

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