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. Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals (Previously Ranked #2): Over the past month at Triple-A Memphis, Taveras is hitting .336/.380/.564 and it’s looking increasingly likely that he’ll make his big league debut on June 4th, when St. Louis begins a 7-game stretch in AL ballparks. Folks are already calling it an audition, speculating about whether or not he’ll stick with the Cardinals for more than a week. I’ll gladly gamble on Oscar’s talent, though, as well as the Cardinals’ ability to find him regular playing time during league play.
2. Gregory Polanco, OF, Pirates (#1): After a phenomenal opening month, Polanco has expectedly regressed, batting .292/.365/.469 over his last 25 ballgames. Mind you, that line over the past month is still quite strong, and his path to Pittsburgh hasn’t changed — the Bucs continue to eye the presumed Super Two date for Polanco’s arrival, so expect to see him in the bigs within two weeks.
3. Jon Singleton, 1B, Astros (#4): Singleton has been struggling of late, posting a batting average at .238 over the past month. During that stretch, though, the 22-year-old is still managing to reach base at a .374 clip, which is an encouraging sign of development. He’ll join the George Springer show in Houston in the coming weeks.
4. Javier Baez, SS, Cubs (#6): Baez has snapped out of his early-season slump and is currently riding an 11-game hit streak, during which he’s batting .422 with 4 HR. I was tempted to slot him ahead of Singleton, but Baez’s struggles over the first 6 weeks of the season likely did too much damage to salvage a June call-up. Even so, he remains the highest upside fantasy prospect in the game, and arrival around All-Star break isn’t out of the question.
5. Andrew Heaney, LHP, Marlins (#8): In 11 IP since his promotion to Triple-A, Heaney has posted a 14/0 K/BB while allowing only 1 run. At this point, it would make sense for the Marlins to keep Heaney down until after the Super Two date has passed, but I can’t image they’ll hold him back much longer than that.
6. Kevin Gausman, RHP, Orioles (#3): His spot start with the big club didn’t turn out as well as we hoped, but Gausman remains in the O’s plans for this season. Baltimore will monitor his workload closely at Triple-A until a permanent rotation spot becomes available at the highest level.
7. Marcus Stroman, RHP, Blue Jays (N/R): Yes, Stroman’s MLB debut in the Blue Jays ‘pen was awful, but don’t let that stint distract you from the fact that Liam Hendricks is holding down a rotation role in Toronto, and that, eventually, will have to change. Stroman’s upside remains huge, and he’ll be starting big league games before long.
8. Arismendy Alcantara, 2B, Cubs (N/R): Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of Baez’s springtime slump is his teammate, Arismendy Alcantara, who’s batting .281/.321/.520 with 25 XBH and 10 SB in 187 PA at Triple-A Iowa. After presumably beginning the year behind Baez on the organization depth chart, it would seem that Alcantara is now next in line when an infield need arises in Chicago.
9. Joc Pederson, OF, Dodgers (Next 5): Carl Crawford’s injury doesn’t create an immediate need in LA for an outfielder, but it does move Pederson one step closer to an opportunity. In 50 games at Triple-A Albuquerque this season, the 22-year-old is batting .347/.454/.642 with 15 HR and 13 SB.
10. Kris Bryant, 3B, Cubs (N/R): They were my #1 fantasy farm system in the preseason, so it’s no wonder that Cubs would have eventually landed three prospects in our power rankings. Bryant’s position here has much more to do with upside than with opportunity — the Cubs will allow him some time at Triple-A before pushing him through to the bigs. Still, it’s tough to ignore his line Double-A line to this point: .335/.440/.637, 14 HR, 6 SB.