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 biweekly glimpse of the soon-to-arrive impact talent.
1. Gregory Polanco, OF, Pirates (Previously Ranked #2): He’s hitting .400/.457/.632 with 4 HR and 4 SB through 105 PA at Triple-A Indianapolis. Need I say more? If I do need to say more, then please refer to Sunday’s Minor Accomplishments post, where Polanco headlined.
2. Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals (#4): Randal Grichuk will allow the Cardinals the opportunity to address their CF needs now while keeping Taveras’s service time at zero. Meanwhile, Oscar is riding a 12-game hit streak at Triple-A Memphis and his line on the year is up to .321/.367/.560 with 5 HR. Grichuk is going to have to do some serious work at the plate if he’d like to stick in St. Louis for an extended stretch.
3. Jon Singleton, 1B, Astros (#6): With 9 HR in 24 games, along with an AVG north of .300, Singleton’s upside is clear. A significant power boost should be arriving in Houston before long. Grey has more in Friday’s Buy/Sell post.
4. Javier Baez, SS, Cubs (#5): Baez is back after the ankle injury, but he’s still struggling to find his comfort zone. If you recall, though, he got off to a similarly slow start a year ago and he still ended up with some of the most impressive numbers in the minors. Once he heats up — and he will heat up — it won’t be long before he’s playing games at Wrigley. Baez still brings the highest fantasy impact potential of any prospect in the game.
5. Marcus Stroman, RHP, Blue Jays (#9): The Jays are eyeing Marcus Stroman to replace Dustin McGowan in their rotation, and after yesterday’s performance at Triple-A Buffalo, you gotta think that day is coming soon. Stroman tossed 6 hitless frames, whiffing 10, and walking 1 in the effort. It’s clear that Toronto is intent on keeping the mileage low on the 22-year-old’s arm, as he was pulled from the no-hit effort after 80 pitches.
6. Trevor Bauer, RHP, Indians (N/R): Bauer is the lede in Grey’s roundup today, and he makes his debut on this list too. Understand that this rank has more to do with his presumed opportunity than with his potential impact, although if he can command his stuff, there’s no denying that the upside is intriguing. Still, I fear that Bauer’s greatest impact this season will be to explode your WHIP and bring sadness and regret to your home. Proceed with caution.
7. Kevin Gausman, RHP, Orioles (#10): Gausman hasn’t allowed a run in two outings since his blow-up effort on the 15th. He’s well equipped to contribute at the highest level now, and the O’s clearly plan on using him this season — they’re monitoring his workload closely at Triple-A. For the time being, though, there’s no clear path to a long-term starting gig in Baltimore.
8. Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Mets (#7): His numbers at Las Vegas aren’t pretty, and it’s easy to blame that on Vegas’ launching pad of a ballpark, but even so, it’d be nice to see an exciting effort out of Syndergaard soon. Just, like, one good start to remind us of his enormous upside. Please.
9. Maikel Franco, 1B/3B, Phillies (Next 5): Franco’s bat is showing signs of life at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, but he’s certainly not hitting his way onto this list. No, his spot here has everything to do with the fact that the Phillies are struggling to get production out of their corner infielders. If Franco can heat up, he’ll surface in Philly this June.
10. Archie Bradley, RHP, D’Backs (#3): I’m hesitant to even put him on this list because the whole “flexor strain in the throwing elbow” DL stint scares the shizz out of me. I realize that the MRI shows no need for surgery, but that was also the case with guys like Stephen Strasburg and Dylan Bundy, and we all know how that panned out. Get well soon, Archie.
GRADUATED: George Springer (OF, Astros)