To begin, I should make it clear that this is not a list of my top overall prospects. No, this is a 2014-specific list, and it exists only to serve those of us in fantasyland. The names that follow are, at this moment, the prospects who have the best chance at offering positive fantasy contributions during the 2014 season. Those of you who follow my Prospect Power Rankings series during the season, understand that time-specific prospect rankings are fluid — it’s a tricky game, weighing potential impact against current opportunity, and outlooks can change drastically overnight. There are too many variables at work to peg these ETA’s accurately, and that is precisely why we revisit these rankings often throughout the year with the aforementioned power rankings. Consider this a starting point. Numbers 26-50 will run next week, but for now, let’s dig into the top-25.Please, blog, may I have some more?
The Pittsburgh Pirates have the best record in baseball. At least right now, as I’m typing this, they do. The Bucs are an exciting big league club composed with a seemingly perfect balance of youthful talent and veteran savvy, and they have a legitimate chance at a pennant this year. But if we’re looking ahead to 2014, 2015, and beyond, Pittsburgh has a chance to be frighteningly good. Their system has already graduated top-shelf prospects like Starling Marte and Gerrit Cole, and there’s plenty more on the way. Gregory Polanco — currently at Double-A — is one of the brightest outfield prospects in the game, ranked #10 on my Mid-Season Top 50 Fantasy Baseball Prospects list. One spot ahead of Polanco on that list is the 6-foot-6 RHP, Jameson Taillon. Taillon’s projectable frame and elite stuff have him profiling as a top-of-the-rotation arm, and there are plenty folks around baseball who like his upside just as much as Gerrit Cole’s. The 21-year-old has showed some inconsistency this season at Double-A Altoona (3.67 ERA, 1.34 WHIP), but the Pirates, holding to their development plan, have promoted him to Triple-A. He looks to be exactly one year behind Cole, so it’s safe to assume we’ll be seeing Taillon with the big club next summer.Please, blog, may I have some more?
The Phillies paid a shizzload of dough to sign the big league-ready Cuban RHP, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. The deal is worth up to $60 million, $40+ million of which is guaranteed. So, if we’re taking for granted that Ruben Amaro knows what he’s doing, then it’s a safe assumption that Gonzalez is going to quickly blossom into a front-end starter and a coveted fantasy asset, a la Yu Darvish, who signed for similar money. But I’m not so sure about all that. Gonzalez is 26 years old and he’s been pitching in international ball long enough for talent evaluators to have come to a consensus on his projection, so it’s surprising to find such mixed opinions on the guy. The Phillies are paying him starter’s money, but there are plenty of folks around baseball who don’t even see Gonzalez working out long-term in a starter’s role. Clearly I’m skeptical about the Phillies’ financial commitment, but even so, I’m not completely writing off the possibility of M.A.G. earning every dime of that contract on the mound. With a deep arsenal of fastballs and various off-speed offerings, all of which he throws with deception and good command, Gonzalez appears to be a guy who’ll keep hitters guessing and tally up the whiffs — there’s certainly enough upside to be stashing him in deep leagues. Still, my inclination is that there’s not $60 million dollars worth of talent here.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Quite a bit has changed since the 2013 MiLB season began in April, and folks have been clamoring for a mid-season prospect list. Well, here it is, 50-deep. But before we get into it, a quick primer on the criteria for this top 50: There was no specific timetable considered, so the rankings below can be considered a dynasty league list. You’ll notice that the ETA’s here range from this season all the way to 2016. To prevent any overlap with lists that Grey and JayWrong put together last week, I’ve included only prospects who are currently in the minor leagues. That means I had to remove Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick from the board after news of their call-ups — Yelich was #7, Marisnick #40. It also means I couldn’t list Carlos Martinez, who’s currently working in relief for the Cardinals — he would’ve been ranked right around #20.
Anyway, I’ll be writing notes on all of these fellas during the off-season, once the dust has settled on the 2013 season and I’ve had a chance to take a more thorough look at depth charts, injuries, etc. For now, I’ve included only a few pertinent details: age, current level, fantasy impact categories, and ETA. Each player is linked to his player card on Baseball-Reference.com, or his Razzball player card where possible. My hope is that this list will help dynasty leaguers sort out their rosters as keeper deadlines approach. Enjoy.Please, blog, may I have some more?
In case you missed it, May rolled over into June yesterday, which is an exciting development for those of us who’ve been stashing guys like Wil Myers, Zack Wheeler, and Christian Yelich. Most folks are projecting dates in mid-June for the Super Two cutoff, so we’re likely just a couple weeks away from some high-impact call-ups. Of course, these Super Two projections are an inexact science, and it’s always possible that ball clubs err on the side of caution, and give it an extra week or two for cushion. In any case, Myers, in particular, is heating up at just the right time. I’d already speculated that his cold start wouldn’t delay his timetable much, but you can forget that conversation entirely now. Through his last ten, Myers is batting .341 with 5 homers and 19 RBI. If he’s somehow available in your league, now is a good time to stash him.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2012 (28) | 2011 (29) | 2010 (8) | 2009 (2) | 2008 (14)
2012 Affiliate Records
MLB: [69-93] NL East
AAA: [73-67] Pacific Coast League — New Orleans
AA: [70-70] Southern League — Jacksonville
A+: [74-62] Florida State League — Jupiter
A: [80-59] South Atlantic League — Greensboro
A(ss): [44-13] New York-Penn League — Jamestown (Batavia beginning 2013)
Arizona Fall League Players — Phoenix Dessert Dogs
Michael Brady (RHP); Grant Dayton (LHP); Brian Flyn (LHP); Scott McGough (RHP); Jake Realmuto (C); Kyle Jensen (OF); Christian Yelich (OF)
Graduated Prospects of Note
Jacob Turner (RHP), Matt Dominguez* (3B); Scott Cousins (OF)
*Now with Houston
The Run Down
While Miami fans cannot be pleased with the Marlins’ roster moves at the big league level, it’s tough to ignore the club’s improvement in the minor leagues. Not only did system talent like Christian Yelich and Jose Fernandez explode with breakout years, but the organization added necessary depth via trades with Detroit and St.
The Minor League Baseball season has reached it’s glorious culmination. Well, actually, it’s not very glorious. No, no one really cares who wins in the New York-Penn semis, or the International League title, or the Midwest League championship. It’s just not that interesting. Not even for me. Sure, organizations do their best to instill winning attitudes throughout their farm systems, and I absolutely agree that’s important. It’s why Jeff Luhnow is still tweeting crap like “#JETHAWKS WIN”. Yay, Jethawks… It’s fun for the players, I suppose. It’s fun for the small-town fans, too. And it’s a small source of pride for player development types. But that’s about the extent of it. All that said, the various MiLB playoffs are still worth keeping an eye on, if only for the handful of real-deal prospects who’re performing on a slightly grander stage than usual. So, to wrap up this year’s Minor Accomplishments series, I leave you with a brief rundown of what’s happening with some of the more notable prospects in their respective postseasons:
Mike Zunino | C, Mariners – The third overall pick this past June has been simply incredible since signing. His dominance has continued in the Double-A Southern League playoffs: Zunino’s blasted 3 homers and posted a .400+ AVG for Jackson.Please, blog, may I have some more?
This post concludes my little venture into draft prospecting. It was fun while it lasted, and if you’d like to take a look at either Part 1 or Part 2, go ahead and click those links. Today, I have three more first-rounders to discuss, but first, a quick recap of where everyone ended up from Parts 1 & 2:
Marcus Stroman (22nd pick – Blue Jays); Richie Schaffer (25th pick – Rays); Kyle Zimmer (5th pick – Royals); Mark Appel (8th pick – Pirates); Mike Zunino (3rd pick – Mariners); Andrew Heaney (9th pick – Marlins)
Now, these three:
Chris Stratton | RHP, Giants
Over the past decade, the Giants have been pretty successful in turning first-round arms into fantasy baseball gold. Matt Cain (2002), Tim Lincecum (2006), and Madison Bumgarner (2007) were each drafted within the first 25 picks, and each developed into a big league pitcher relatively quickly. Lincecum, the lone college arm in the group, was helping fantasy owners a little more than a year after signing. On Monday, San Francisco used the 20th overall pick to select Chris Stratton out of Mississippi State. Should things go as planned, he’ll be in the bigs as early as 2013. Stratton lacks a true plus offering, but his secondary stuff is advanced and it compliments his low-90′s fastball nicely. His well-rounded repertoire should allow him to push through the system quickly. I don’t see the same upside here that Cain, Lincecum, or MadBum were drafted with, but I do think Stratton will make for a nice #3-type starter in the bigs.Please, blog, may I have some more?
With the draft less than a week away, we’re continuing our discussion of some of the more advanced amateur prospects — guys who’ll be popping up on your fantasy radars within the next year or two. Last week we went over Marcus Stroman, Richie Shaffer, and Kyle Zimmer. You can read that post here. Today, three more draft prospects:
Mark Appel | RHP, Stanford
At 6-5, 215, Appel sure looks like a future frontline starter. A combination of size and athleticism allows him to generate mid-90′s velocity with a seemingly effortless delivery. His fastball typically sits 92-95, and he counters with a hard slider and a work-in-progress change. The consensus on Appel is that, given his outstanding athleticism, the secondary stuff will develop nicely (and quickly) in the minors, allowing his plus fastball to play as an even deadlier weapon — he’s been knocked around at times during his collegiate career when facing more advanced lineups who sit on the straight four-seamer. Even so, Appel looks like the safest option among the elite college arms, and there’s a very good chance that Jeff Luhnow and the Astros will take him at #1.Please, blog, may I have some more?