In his first plate appearance of spring training, a big league camp AB versus David Phelps, Gregory Polanco turned on a breaking pitch, sending it over the right field wall. Such things happen to 22-year-olds during spring training, and most of the time, they’re anomalies. In Polanco’s case, however, that moment, in retrospect, seems profound — a statement as to his readiness to produce at the highest level from the instant he stepped on a diamond this spring. Reassigned to Triple-A to begin the season, Polanco’s statements have only grown louder. Through 92 PA, he’s hitting .417/.467/.679 with 4 HR and 4 SB, making him the best mixed league stash in the minors. The Bucs have been fortunate thus far to squeeze some production out of their Travis Snyder/Jose Tabata platoon, but the upside with Polanco is unquestionably higher and it’s only a matter of time before Pittsburgh slots him into their lineup as the everyday RF. His incredible start at Indianapolis should allow him to segue into big league ball with a shizzload of confidence.
Mookie Betts, 2B, Red Sox: Betts’s line at Double-A Portland speaks for itself: .431/.469/.653 with 11 XBH (2 HR) and 8 SB through 81 PA. That brand of MI production is what fantasy baseball dreams are made of.
Ryan McMahon, 3B, Rockies: A 2nd round pick last June, Ryan McMahon is playing himself onto dynasty league wish lists with an explosive first month at the full-season level. Through 20 games, the 19-year-old has knocked 8 long balls at Low-A Asheville. The early-season pop has me salivating at the long-term potential, given the eventual Coors Field factor. Obviously there’s significant development to go, but the upside here is clear.
David Dahl, OF, Rockies: Dahl showcased his power early, connecting with 4 HR through his first 10 games at Low-A Asheville, but it’s his speed that’s been on display lately. With 5 SB through his last 5 games, the 20-year-old is providing an exciting glimpse at his all-around skill set.
Alex Meyer, RHP, Twins: Meyer flashed some serious polish in his most recent outing, whiffing 11 through 6.2 scoreless IP at Triple-A Rochester. The 23-year-old should be one of the more high-impact arms to surface in the bigs this season.
Kohl Stewart, RHP, Twins: Further down the ladder in the Twins org is another arm bringing front-end potential to Minnesota. Kohl Stewart — the 4th overall pick last June — is getting his first taste of full-season baseball at Low-A Cedar Rapids, and he seems to be adjusting to the level with ease. His line on the year sits at 3.15/0.75/13 in 20 IP, but his start on Friday offered the clearest look at Stewart’s upside: 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K.
Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals: Perhaps news of Taveras’s rolled ankle pushed some who were stashing the 21-year-old to cut him loose. That might prove to be a regrettable move, as Oscar returned quickly to the Memphis lineup. What’s most noteworthy about the situation, though, is that Taveras has been spending time at CF recently, which would be the position that would allow for the clearest path to an opportunity in St. Louis.
C.J. Edwards, RHP, Cubs: The Cubs are loaded with high-impact hitting prospects, but the pitching side of their farm is churning out far less excitement. C.J. Edwards (1.86/1.01/155 through 116 IP in 2013) entered this season as Chicago’s most promising SP prospect, and through 4 Double-A starts, the 22-year-old has been sharp. It should be of great concern to Cubs fans, then, that Edwards is visiting the club’s medical staff this week to have shoulder discomfort evaluated.
Jimmy Nelson, RHP, Brewers: The Brewers farm entered the season seemingly void of fantasy impact, but Nelson’s hot start at Triple-A is offering some hope. The 24-year-old has posted a 1.80 ERA, a 0.80 WHIP, and a K/9 at 9.0 through his first 4 outings, including a scoreless 7 IP effort earlier in the week. He whiffed 9 and allowed only 3 baserunners in the start.
Stetson Allie, 1B, Pirates: The SP-turned-1B experiment chugs along with plenty of promise. Allie has collected 5 HR through his last 7 games with Double-A Altoona. On the year, the 23-year-old is hitting .283/.411/.667.
Jesse Biddle, RHP, Phillies: Biddle continued his dominance at Double-A Reading, posting a 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 K start on Wednesday. That makes 21 whiffs opposed to 2 walks through his last 14 IP. Expect to see him at Triple-A before long.
Gabriel Guerrero, OF, Mariners: After hitting 15 HR through 68 games in 2012, Guerrero’s game power disappeared in 2013, as the 20-year-old collected only 4 long balls in 125 games with Low-A Clinton. He’s stepped up the High-A California League this year, where the pop appears to have reemerged — Guerrero is batting .345/.391/.571 with 11 XBH (4 HR) and 3 SB through High Desert’s first 21 games.
Matt Wisler, RHP, Padres: Wisler is off to a fine start at Double-A San Antonio, posting a line at 2.16/1.08/30 through his first 25 IP. His most recent outing was his strongest yet, whiffing 10 and walking zero through 7 scoreless frames. He’ll get a chance to pitch at Petco this season if this sort of success keeps up.
Mike Montgomery, LHP, Rays: Montgomery retired 25 batters without surrendering a hit yesterday, but with his pitch count at 106, he didn’t get the opportunity to finish the no-hitter. The Rays clearly value healthy development over meaningless minor league accomplishments, and that’s always the smart approach, so do shut up with the “should’ve had a no-no” nonsense.