The MiLB season may be winding down, but “the kids” continue to battle in an effort to catch everyone’s eye before off-season organizational meetings that will determine timetables and ETAs. The number of youngsters making noise as their seasons come to a close as players scramble for the chance to get a taste of “The Show” seems to grow each day. Time once again for Razzball’s 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 late in 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.
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.
(Keep checking in daily for information regarding our end-of-season Top 100 and Organizational Top-10 Lists that will be rolling out as the minor league season ends – those of you following me on Twitter will be notified there as well.)
Aaron Blair, RHSP, ARI — The D-Backs’ 2013 #36 overall pick has been dealing, and is quietly trying to supplant Archie Bradley as Arizona’s top pitching prospect. Blair features a mid-90s fastball with movement, and is coming off of a 6 shutout inning performance where he limited Mississippi (AA) to 4 hits with 7 Ks and 1 BB. He’s posted a 3.36 ERA over 56.1 IP with a 55/16 K/BB Ratio in his last 10 starts for Mobile.
Byron Buxton, OF, MIN — The Twins thankfully pulled the plug on Buxton’s lost season this week following his ugly OF collision while chasing down a gapper. He showed minor flashes of the player who was the consensus #1 prospect on the planet coming into the 2014 season after returning from a wrist injury, but the way Minnesota handles his off-season rehab may well wind up being the most intriguing story of the winter. He remains one of the top prospects in the game based on talent alone, but the chance he had at starting 2015 as Minnesota’s Opening Day CF has surely vanished.
Andrew Heaney, LHSP, MIA — The Marlins pulled the plug on Heaney following a stretch where he struggled at the MLB level but he was pushed a bit, and seems to be settling back in and getting comfortable again following his demotion to AAA New Orleans. Heaney’s been lights out in his last two appearances for the Zephyrs – 15 IP, 1 ER, 5 hits allowed, and a 16/4 K/BB Ratio. Andrew should be given every opportunity to open 2015 in the Marlins’ rotation, so if you’re in a keeper league where someone got a little antsy and cut bait on him he’s likely worth a late-season pick up and stash.
Colin Moran, 3B, HOU — Moran still doesn’t project as a sexy corner IF because of lack of power, but he’s going to hit (Atlanta’s Chris Johnson is probably a pretty good comp – someone that sprays line-drives all over the yard). He can still be a very productive hitter because he can be slotted somewhere between the Astros’ big power guys (Carter, Springer, and Singleton). Matt Dominguez has more power, but there are only so many places you can afford to slot swing-and-miss guys in your lineup if you expect to be successful against MLB pitching. Moran has displayed a much better approach than Dominguez thus far, and if he can maintain his superior OBP he should make the competition for the hot corner for the big club next spring something worth watching.
James Ramsey, OF, CLE — The Indians appear to have done very well by liberating Ramsey from the purgatory he faced while buried in the Cardinals’ impressive organizational depth chart when they got him in exchange for Justin Masterson at the deadline. Assigned to AAA Columbus upon his arrival (a promotion he deserved yet couldn’t get while with the Cards), he’s shown the type of player he can be when finally challenged, slashing .306/.403/.516/.919 with 5 2Bs, 1 3B, and 2 HRs in 62 ABs with a 9/21 BB/K Ratio. Look for Ramsey to get a chance to crack Cleveland’s Opening Day lineup next spring.
Julio Urias, LHSP, LAD — The Dodgers’ 18 year old phenom continues to build an impressive resume as he forces his way into the conversations revolving around the game’s best pitching prospects. He’s building late season innings as the organization considers becoming more aggressive with his progress, and has only allowed 1 earned run and 7 hits with an 18/3 K/BB Ratio in his last two starts (covering 10 IP). Those starts signal a willingness to allow Urias to increase his pitch count for Rancho Cucamonga (Hi-A) that could well foreshadow being placed on the fast track to an opportunity to pitch in Chavez Ravine as early as late next season and a chance to compete for a rotation spot coming out of camp in 2016.
Tyler Wagner, RHSP, MIL — The-23-year old Brewers’ farmhand continues pushing his way into contention to be a member of the big club’s rotation sooner rather than later. Following 13 scoreless innings covering his last two starts for Brevard County (Hi-A), Wagner’s delivered a line of 8-1 (63.1 IP) while allowing only 42 hits with a 0.99 ERA and a 59/18 K/BB Ratio. There’s no immediate opening for a SP in Milwaukee, but Tyler’s nudged his way into consideration for the next one available.
Remember, you can always hit me up on Twitter @clvclv_razzball, as well as in the comments section here.