Last week’s draft poured a whole shizzload of new prospects into the realm of pro baseball, and damn near all of them carry zero fantasy relevance at the moment. Don’t let Harold Reynolds fool you. Mark Appel will not be pitching for the Astros this season. Also, Harold Reynolds is dumb. Appel, however, is one of a handful of draft prospects who could offer value to fantasy teams as soon as this time next year. And in a recent Scouting the Unknown series, I took a look at nine draft prospects who appeared destined to move quickly toward the bigs — the Michael Wacha/Kevin Gausman/Mike Zunino types of the 2013 draft. If you’re interested in that sort of thing, check out part 1, part 2, and part 3 by clicking those links.
Javier Baez | SS, Cubs — Baez hit four homers on Monday. To be clear, Daytona only played one game that day. The 20-year-old came to the plate four time, each visit resulting in a long ball. He collected seven RBI in the process. Baez’s line on the year now sits at .291/.339/.570 with 13 homers in the High-A Florida State League. His long-term fantasy potential is enormous.
Courtney Hawkins | OF, White Sox — We’ve already noted Hawkins as one of the more interesting bats in Minor League Baseball — interesting, not necessarily good. The young slugger has been the epitome of “all or nothing” this year, having homered 12 times in 33 games while striking out at an absurd 47% clip. Hawkins missed some time in May with a shoulder injury, but he’s back at High-A Winston Salem and he seems to be improving to some degree. The 19-year-old is batting .308/.341/.846 through his last ten games, collecting five homers during that stretch. He’s still striking out way too much, but pitch recognition and overall contact seem to have taken a necessary step forward.
Miguel Sano | 3B, Twins — After watching him hit .330/.424/.655 with 15 homers in 56 games at High-A Fort Myers, the Twins have promoted Sano to Double-A. The 20-year-old has a big swing, and he’s prone to the whiff. Expect his numbers to cool considerably as he faces the more advanced repertoires of upper levels pitchers.
Byron Buxton | OF, Twins — Buxton missed a bit of time with a thumb injury, but returned last week and promptly went 5 for 6 in is first game back. His line at Low-A Cedar Rapids now reads .350/.444/.578 with 7 homers, 8 triples, and 26 stolen bags in 58 games. Byron Buxton, you are ridiculous.
Rafael De Paula | RHP, Yankees — After collecting 8 more K’s in his last outing, De Paula now has tallied 91 strikeouts in 59 IP at Low-A Charleston. The 22-year-old should’ve been promoted long ago, and I can’t figure out what the Yankees are waiting for. We’ll have a much clearer gauge on De Paula’s future impact once he starts facing talent at his same level of development.
Carlos Martinez | RHP, Cardinals — I went over this in my last prospect power rankings, but it’s worth repeating here in case you missed it: “With recent injuries to Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook, and John Gast, the Cardinals have already turned to Michael Wacha and Tyler Lyons to fill rotation holes, but they’ve also optioned Martinez to Triple-A where he’s being stretched out as a starter. Coming into the season, there were plenty who graded the 21-year-old as the best arm in St. Louis farm system — better than Shelby Miller, better than Wacha. It might be a little farsighted right now, but be sure to keep a close eye on Martinez as he gains stamina in Memphis. He could be a hugely valuable commodity for the stretch run of the fantasy season.”
Erasmo Ramirez | RHP, Mariners — Ramirez’s lasted 7 shutout innings in his most recent Triple-A outing, striking out 7 and walking just one. With Gerrit Cole having already arrived and Zack Wheeler’s surfacing in New York all but official, Ramirez looks like the best remaining stash in the minors.
Nick Castellanos | OF, Tigers — As speculation about his arrival in Detroit heats up, Castellanos is simply dominating at Triple-A Toledo. Through his last ten, the 21-year-old is hitting .439/.511/.780 with 4 homers.
Marcus Stroman | RHP, Blue Jays — After a bad outing near the end of May, Stroman has been much improved in June, allowing just two runs while striking out 11 in two Double-A starts this month. The 22-year-old has a fastball-slider combo that could suffice in a relief role at the highest level right now, but the Jays will continue to roll with him as a starter for the time being.
Roberto Osuna | RHP, Blue Jays — Osuna hadn’t made a start since April after going down to an elbow injury that ended up being less severe that reports initially indicated. The plump 18-year-old went five scoreless in his first start back, allowing only 2 hits, zero walks, whiffing five along the way.
Oscar Taveras | OF, Cardinals — Best news for last: Oscar Taveras is finally playing baseball again. The best fantasy prospect in the game rejoined Triple-A Memphis this past Saturday and order has been restored. I hate to give out spoilers, but for those who watch Game of Thrones, the series ends with Oscar on the Iron Throne. The Lannisters flee Kings Landing after witnessing his bat speed. He weds Daenerys, rides the dragons, etc, etc. The end.