Ranking prospects for fantasy purposes is a tricky exercise. The variables involved are constantly in flux — talent emerges, talent regresses… opportunity comes, opportunity goes… clubs get cold feet because of service time, clubs don’t give a shizz about service time. So, given the fluid nature of this prospect business, we’re going to keep a running ranking throughout the season. This post will run every other Wednesday, providing a weekly glimpse of the soon-to-arrive impact talent.
1. George Springer, OF, Astros (Previously Ranked #2): Springer will join Houston later today, and he’s a must-add in all formats. I must admit, this call-up caught me slightly off guard — I figured Houston, of all franchises, would be the stingiest with service time. It sort of makes me wonder why they didn’t give him a look last September, but questioning Jeff Luhnow’s tactics is a useless exercise. Grey provided the fantasy spin this morning. Go grab him now if he’s somehow still available.
2. Gregory Polanco, OF, Pirates (#6): Through 11 games at Triple-A Indianapolis, Polanco is batting .465/.511/.744 with 2 homers. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s only a matter of time before he replaces Travis Snider in right for the Pirates.
3. Archie Bradley, RHP, D’Backs (#4): Arizona’s pitching is an awful mess. An Archie Bradley call-up would provide an immediate boost, but GM Kevin Towers has been outspoken about not forcing his top prospect into a high-pressure situation at the big league level. Frankly, though, whenever Bradley gets the call, it’s going to be high-pressure for him. I suspect the D’Backs apprehension is service time-driven, but if their pitching woes continue, I wonder how long they can keep him down.
4. Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals (#3): Taveras has posted a .836 OPS through his first 12 games with Triple-A Memphis, which is notable not only for the nice OPS, but also for the fact that Memphis has only played 12 games, and Oscar has seen action in them all. There’s still no clear path to big league playing time for Taveras, but the most important objective for the 21-year-old this April is to prove that he can stay healthy and on the field. So far, so good.
5. Javier Baez, SS, Cubs (#1): My Javy Baez fever dream came to an abrupt end when he landed on the Triple-A DL with a sprained ankle. Reports suggest the injury might not be too serious, but I recall reading similar outlooks on Oscar Taveras’s ankle sprain last season, and we all know how that ended. Not to suggest that Baez will be on the shelf for a while — only that I’m concerned.
6. Jon Singleton, 1B, Astros (#9): The Astros have one of the most promising farms in baseball, especially for fantasy purposes, and Jon Singleton will soon follow George Springer with a call-up to the big club. Singleton is off to a hot start at Triple-A, batting .333/.448/.688 with 4 HR through his first 12 games. He brings enormous power potential as soon as he surfaces.
7. Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Mets (#7): Syndergaard hasn’t been bad through his first three starts, but he hasn’t been particularly good either. The fact that he’s pitching in one of Minor League Baseball’s most prodigious launching pads needs to be considered, but even so, it’d be nice to see the 21-year-old post a nice start soon.
8. Eddie Butler, RHP, Rockies (NR): I touched on Butler in my minor league report this past Sunday, noting his strong start to the season. He added another good outing on Monday, bringing his 2014 line to 2.41/0.86/17 in 18 IP. If Colorado’s starting staff can’t get healthy, we could be seeing Butler before long.
9. Marcus Stroman, RHP, Blue Jays (#10): Rain outs and snow outs have delayed Stroman’s third start of the season (he should get the nod in Buffalo today), which is perhaps a blessing in disguise for Toronto, keeping the mileage low on the 22-year-old’s arm. With a filthy fastball-slider combo, Stroman should be one of the best strikeout pitchers surfacing in the bigs this season.
10. Kevin Gausman, RHP, Orioles (#5): Gausman was roughed up in his third Triple-A start of the season, allowing 10 baserunners and 4 runs through 3 IP. He’s still the next man in for Baltimore once a need arises, but yesterday’s outing is discouraging.