Prospects, prospects, and MORE PROSPECTS!!! Plenty of youngsters making noise as their seasons wind down and players scramble for the chance to get their feet wet when organizations call players up at the end of the month to get a taste of “The Show”. That signals time for Razzball’s Sunday morning look at what’s become the most important commodity in our favorite game – prospects. Our “Prospect Primer” reflects a handful of the prospects I’m keeping a close eye on heading into Week 21 (for both shallow and deep fantasy leagues). Our bi-weekly prospect columns (Sundays and Wednesdays) will continue to focus on the more “well-known” prospects (our Top-50/Top-100) that are likely going to affect shallow to mid-level fantasy teams.
Disclaimer: The bi-weekly lists AREN’T a “re-ranking” of our Top-50/Top-100/Organization Lists. The players mentioned will typically be guys that owners in somewhat regular leagues NEED to be aware of (regardless of their current level) to keep from slipping behind as they want to stay competitive in “keeper leagues”. There may be a sleeper mentioned from time-to-time, but they may be more important to managers in deeper and more long-term leagues. The players listed aren’t in any particular order (you’ll notice they’re listed alphabetically), they’re simply guys you need to keep an eye on and someone you might be interested in targeting when you’re wheeling and dealing.
Now it’s time to refill that cup of coffee or take your lunch break and open your spreadsheets – here’s who I’m tracking over the next few days…
Mark Appel, RHSP, HOU — While it wasn’t a dominant effort, the #1 overall pick in the 2013 Draft turned in his best start of the season for Corpus Christi (AA) Friday night – 6 IP, 5 hits allowed, 1 ER, 2 Ks, 1 BB – and that sound you hear coming from Houston is a huge sigh of relief. Appel’s been downright awful in his first full season of pro ball, posting a 7.93 ERA over 16 2014 starts (covering 64 IP), a 1.76 WHIP, and 10 of the 95 hits he’s allowed have left the yard. Let’s see if he can build off of his first decent outing.
Tim Beckham, SS, TBR — Another former #1 (2008) pick represents a bit of a “blast from the past”. Beckham went 7/16 (all singles) in his first 3 games in Durham (AAA) this week. Maybe the Rays didn’t miss on Tim at all and he’s just a bit of a late bloomer. He’s had to battle injuries and inconsistency early on in his career, but he’s still only 24. His recent hot streak has boosted his season slash to .388/.426/.531/.957 with 2 2Bs, 1 3B, and 1 HR in 12 games (49 ABs) over three levels thus far in limited action in 2014. Continued success for Beckham couldn’t come at a better time for the Rays since they’re facing a tough battle to retain do-everything guy Ben Zobrist this winter.
C. J. Edwards, RHSP, CHC — Edwards hasn’t been dominant (38/17 K/BB Ratio) in his 39.2 innings but he’s been extremely successful at keeping the opposition off of the scoreboard in his limited number of appearances this season (11 earned runs), and has kept opposing hitters from barreling balls up – .192 BAA while only giving up one HR. If he can continue to improve and the Cubs do spend the money on front-line SPs many expect them to over the winter, Edwards isn’t all that far from becoming a nice complimentary piece at the back of their rotation. Assuming they’re able to land an “Ace”, Jake Arrieta and Edwards should be able to slot into more comfortable roles.
Michael Gettys, OF, SDP — While it is against lower level competition, it’s nice to see the Padres’ 2014 2nd Round pick answering some questions early. A premium athlete with plus raw power and 70 speed, Gettys slipped to San Diego because of concerns about how much contact he’d make. Michael’s coming off a .368 week that raised his season slash to .322/.372/.454/.826. with 6 2Bs, 4 3Bs, and 3 HRs in 174 Arizona League (Rookie) ABs. He’s also been successful on 11 of 13 SB attempts. He’s going to have to improve his approach somewhat before he can expect to be successful against more advanced pitching (currently striking out in 29.9% of his ABs), but there looks to be something to build on.
Gabby Guerrero, OF, SEA — The toolsy OF with the famous uncle continues to impress, and blasted HRs #14 and #15 during a 3 hit effort Friday night for Hi-A High Desert. Only 20, Guerrero has enjoyed sustained success against older competition (2.8 years younger than the average players) in the California League – slashing .305/.344/.457/.801 with 26 2Bs and a 3B while swiping 16 bases in 20 attempts. He still swings at everything he thinks he can reach (114 Ks in 479 ABs), but if he can maintain his OBP as he gets exposure to more advanced Pitchers he could move through the Mariners’ system quickly.
Sean Manaea, LHSP, KCR — Manaea’s coming off of his second dominant performance in his last three outings for Wilmington (Hi-A) following 7 shutout IP against Frederick on Wednesday. He only allowed 2 hits while striking out 7 and walking one hitter, and his last 10 starts have produced a 1.83 ERA with 32 hits allowed over 54 innings while his control is improving – 19/4 K/BB Ratio in his last 3 outings. Sean’s definitely someone to keep an eye on – it’ll be terribly hard for Kansas City to retain James Shields this winter, and he could be moved quickly if his control and location hold up.
Raul A. Mondesi, SS, KCR — Mondesi has flashed his power of late, hitting 5 bombs in his last 8 games for Wilmington. His bat still has a long way to go before being “ready”, but he has average or better tools across the board and the Royals have Alcides Escobar under contract through 2015 with options for2016 and 2017 so they don’t need to rush Raul. There are no concerns about his ability to be a plus defender, so his development at the plate will determine his timetable.
Daniel Norris, LHSP, TOR — Norris backed up his career-best 10 K performance in his first AAA appearance for Buffalo with 13 more strikeouts against Lehigh Valley Friday night. Daniel hasn’t appeared to need time to adjust to International League hitters – he’s allowed 5 hits, 1 ER and 1 BB in 11.2 IP. Look for Norris to get a few appearances in the Jays’ pen before he’s shut down – he should be on everyone’s short list of rookie Pitchers who could make a significant impact in 2015.
Stephen Piscotty, OF, STL — Piscotty’s breathing down Oscar Taveras’ neck, and if Taveras doesn’t start making adjustments soon (or the Cards somehow fall out of the playoff race), he could force St. Louis to give him a shot soon. His season slash line is up to .292/.355/.412/.768 with 29 2Bs, 8 HRs, and a 37/56 BB/K Ratio in 439 Pacific League ABs following his hot 10 game stretch where he’s hit .371. He should be given a shot to win a spot in someone’s lineup full-time no later than mid-2015.
Taijuan Walker, RHSP, SEA — If he happens to be somehow floating around, you better go get him now. Walker put up another strong outing for Tacoma (AAA) Friday allowing 1 ER over 6 IP – striking out 9 and walking 3. That’s a 22/4 K/BB Ratio over his last 2 Pacific Coast League starts. He’s just about ready to rejoin Seattle’s rotation, and you don’t want to wait for the official announcement to scoop him up.