The early stages of the MiLB season have brought loads of speculation with regard to Oscar Taveras and Stephen Piscotty, and which prospect the Cardinals will summon to St. Louis first. I’d love to be able to provide some clarity to that question, but frankly, such call-ups depend on so many different proprietary factors, and it’d be pretty stupid of me say something like, “Piscotty is gonna be the guy ’cause he’s hitting a bunch of singles at Triple-A.” Piscotty, by the way, has collected 15 hits (12 singles) through his first 37 AB at Memphis. He’s a fine prospect, and he’s zoned in right now, but the gaudy average (.405) is probably drawing a bit more attention than it should. Meanwhile, Taveras is slugging north of .500. He’s still the higher-impact fantasy talent, and he’s still the better prospect. This is not to suggest that Oscar will definitely be up before Piscotty — only that it’d be silly to lose perspective on the situation. Taveras is the true prize.
Courtney Hawkins, OF, White Sox: After a disturbing .178/.249/.384 line in 2013, Hawkins is back in Winston-Salem for another go at High-A, and so far, results have been hugely encouraging. Through 8 games, the 20-year-old has already drilled three homers and his OPS sits at 1.235. It would be an enormous boost to the White Sox farm if Hawkins — a first round pick in 2012 — can begin to translate his potential into production.
Joc Pederson, OF, Dodgers: Pederson is batting .407 with 3 HR through 8 games at Triple-A Albuquerque. LA has a clogged-up outfield at the big league level, and it’ll likely take a few injuries before he can be utilized in the bigs, but there’s little doubt that Pederson is ready to contribute right now.
Francisco Lindor, SS, Indians: He’s one of my favorite real life prospects, but because of his defense-first profile, I’ve never been too high on Lindor for the fantasy game. I’ll have to change my tune on that line of thinking if he continues slugging as he has in the early going — 2 HR through his first 8 games at Double-A Akron matches his 2013 total through 104 games.
Gregory Polanco, OF, Pirates: Just batting .441 through his first 9 games at Triple-A Indianapolis. No big deal.
David Dahl, OF, Rockies: 2013 should have been Dahl’s first year of full-season ball, but it ended up being shortened by injury, and marred further by some in-house disciplinary measures. The lost year set the 20-year-old back developmentally, and his prospect stock has suffered. It’d be unwise, though, to lose sight of Dahl, who brings rare all-around impact potential to fantasy. That upside has been on display early on in 2014 at Low-A Asheville: 4 HR through his first 10 games.
Joey Gallo, 3B, Rangers: After knocking 40 homers in 2013, Gallo went his fist 6 games at High-A Myrtle Beach without collecting an XBH. Then in his next two games, he hit 3 HR. I’ll set his 2014 o/u at 35, and I’ll take the over.
Jon Singleton, 1B, Houston: After purging himself of his “demons“, Singleton is back to doing what he does best: blasting long balls. The 22-year-old has hit 3 HR through his first 8 games at Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Delino DeShields, OF, Astros: As a selfish fantasy baseball dude, it pains me that the ‘Stros have committed to shifting DeShields from 2B to CF. I mean, sure, it makes sense for real life baseball, but what about us nerds? In any event, DeShields is still doing his part to make himself an attractive fantasy option as soon as he surfaces. The 21-year-old has collected a homer and 5 stolen bases through his first 8 games at Double-A Corpus Christi.
Henry Owens, LHP, Red Sox: Through his first 12 IP at Double-A Portland, Owens has whiffed 18, walked 2, and is yet to allow a run. Should this sort of dominance keep up, the 6-foot-6 southpaw could push his way to Fenway much sooner than the late 2014/early 2015 timetable I had in mind.
Jon Gray, RHP, Rockies: Gray didn’t get out of the first inning on Friday, allowing 7 hits and 6 runs while retiring only 2 batters. Oof.
Eddie Butler, RHP, Rockies: It’s not all bad news from the the Colorado farm, however. Eddie Butler — #2 in my preseason Rockies T10 — has posted a 12/1 K/BB through his first 2 starts at Double-A Tulsa, allowing just 3 runs along the way. Armed with one of MiLB’s best changeups, Butler is absolutely capable of arriving in the bigs this year and offering a Michael Wacha-type impact.