Wednesday again already??? Time flies when you’re having fun (or the Braves are playing terrible baseball) it seems. That signals time for our Razzball midweek look at what’s become the most important commodity in our favorite game– prospects. Our “Prospect Primer” reflects a handful of the prospects I’m keeping a close eye on heading into Week 20 (for both shallow and deep fantasy leagues). Our bi-weekly prospect columns (Sundays and Wednesdays) will continue to focus on the more “well-known” prospects (our Top 50/Top 100) that are likely going to affect shallow to mid-level fantasy teams.
We will continue our “Panning For Gold” series moving forward for owners in deeper leagues, but these won’t be a regularly-scheduled feature, but keep checking in for true “sleepers” daily… I’ll continue trying to “shine the light” on players that may not impact your leagues in the short-term, while revealing players you might scoop your fellow owners with as time warrants and permits. Our prospect coverage will always be a work in progress as we try to provide pertinent information that will help owners that participate in deeper leagues as well, and features will be adjusted and added in our effort to be able to help fantasy GMs as much as possible regardless of the depth of league you compete in.
Disclaimer: the bi-weekly lists AREN’T a “re-ranking” of our Top 50/Top 100/Organization Lists. The players mentioned will typically be guys that owners in somewhat regular leagues NEED to be aware of (regardless of their current level) to keep from slipping behind as they want to stay competitive in “keeper leagues”. There may be a sleeper mentioned from time-to-time, but they may be more important to managers in deeper and more long-term leagues. The players listed aren’t in any particular order (you’ll notice they’re listed alphabetically), they’re simply guys you need to keep an eye on and someone you might be interested in targeting when you’re wheeling and dealing.
Now it’s time to refill that cup of coffee or take your lunch break and open your spreadsheets – here’s who I’m tracking over the next few days…
Jorge Alfaro, C, TEX
Alfaro received a promotion to AA Frisco last week, and his bat caught fire (he’s slashing .333/.429/.708/1.137 with 3 HRs and a 3/3 BB/K Ratio since getting his latest challenge. With a bat that projects as premium for a Catcher if he can continue to improve defensively (and no one providing a roadblock for him at higher levels), the Rangers could be trying to accelerate his timetable. If Jorge proves capable of handling a staff at higher levels, the path to him becoming Texas’ long-term answer at the position is clear, and he could conceivably become their regular Catcher as early as late next season.
Christian Bethancourt, C, ATL
Bethancourt’s a premium defensive C who’s coming on as a hitter. He’s now slashing .274/.298/.405/.704 at AAA Gwinnett, and projects to be the Braves’ Catcher of the future. If they don’t stop right the ship soon, it’s fair to expect to see the big club jumble things up soon by shifting Evan Gattis back to the OF and 1B on at least a part-time basis to give Christian more exposure to MLB-level pitching with an eye toward a major roster shakeup for the start of the 2015 season.
Archie Bradley, RHSP, ARI
Bradley has struggled all season since he got the news the D-Backs weren’t handing him a rotation spot, but it’s probably time to push him if they expect to have him compete for a 2015 rotation slot. He’s coming off one of his best starts of the season – holding a Tennessee Smokies lineup with Albert Almora and Addison Russell to 3 runs over 6 IP with 6 Ks and 1 BB. He’s still walking entirely too many batters to count on as a fantasy option, but it may be time for him to make a couple starts in front of Tony LaRussa so Tony can have a nice long sit-down chat with him. It’s not like getting his feet wet before shutting him down is going to make the Snakes’ 2014 campaign any worse at this point.
Alexander Guerrero, 2B, LAD — The Dodgers’ brass apparently is convinced he can’t handle SS defensively, which is pretty surprising considering the fact that they’ve continuously run Hanley Ramirez out there whenever he’s been healthy because there’s little to no chance he’s going to supplant Dee Gordon at 2B anytime soon. Following his 2-4 3 RBI night Monday, Alex is slashing .339/..384/.611/.995 with 13 2Bs, 4 3Bs, and 13 HRs over 221 MiLB ABs for various Dodgers’ affiliates thus far this year. He can’t POSSIBLY be worse defensively than Justin Turner, and Ramirez’ current DL stint should provide the organization the perfect opportunity to give Guerrero consistent ABs against MLB pitching to help prepare him for his likely addition to their playoff roster.
Rymer Liriano, OF, SDP — Liriano’s overall 2014 numbers (.265/.335/.442/.777 with 20 2Bs and 14 HRs) haven’t been particularly impressive, but he’s been scorchingly hot since his promotion to AAA El Paso slashing .452/.521/.661/1.182 with 11 2Bs and a 3B over 16 games (62 ABs) with an 8/13 BB/K Ratio following his bump to the Pacific Coast League. Rymer is one of the Padres’ high draft picks that they’ve had high hopes for in their effort to develop some kind of offensive presence, and he’s not being called up to watch. Owners looking for potential production from an OF flier over the last few weeks could probably do worse than taking a chance on Liriano.
Austin Meadows, OF, PIT — Meadows has been on fire of late since returning from injury, raising his 2014 slash line to .328/.386/.474/.860 with 9 2Bs, 1 3B, 2 HRs, and a 10/19 BB/K Ratio over 31 games and 116 ABs. He’s hitting .371 in August for Lo-A West Virginia (.356 over the last 30 days), and has raised his season OBP to .409. Meadows is the type of player that can move quickly if the Pirates choose to push him, but they’re more likely to let him force his own promotions in the hope that his power will continue to develop (unless they decide to include him in trade discussions) given the organization’s OF depth.
Daniel Norris, LHSP, TOR — Norris continues to impress, and hasn’t missed a beat since making the jump to AAA Buffalo. In one of the more impressive SP outings turned in Sunday Daniel baffled a Durham lineup (that had both Wil Myers and Nick Franklin in it), shutting the Bulls out for 6 innings – giving up 2 hits while striking out 10 and walking one batter. He may not pitch in the Rogers Centre before next spring, but if you’re in a league where he’s available now would be the time to scoop him up – he should join the Jays’ rotation next season.
Kennys Vargas, 1B/DH, MIN — Vargas was putting up solid numbers for New Britain (.281/.360/.472/.832 with 17 2Bs and 17 HRs) before the Twins called him up a little over a week ago, and his numbers have remained pretty consistent since he got to Target Field. His power should improve as he adjusts to major league pitching, and he should become a fixture in the middle of the Twins’ long-term lineup with Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano once they’re promoted and healthy again. Kennys should see regular ABs for the rest of the season following the Josh Willingham to KC deal, and could be worth an add for owners in slightly deeper leagues that utilize a DH slot.
Taijuan Walker, RHSP, SEA — THIS is the Taijuan Walker that kept Jack Z from seriously getting into the David Price Sweepstakes at the deadline. Walker gave up 1 ER in 7 innings against Fresno on Sunday, only allowing 2 hits while striking out 13 and only walking one batter. The Ms may have him make one more start for Tacoma to make sure he’s going to have his motion and release point back under control, but he should be back with the big club next week. A potential playoff rotation consisting of King Felix, Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton, and Walker ought to have Mariners fans licking their chops and potential playoff opponents quivering quite a bit.