We’ve been focusing on a breakout prospect from each team (broken down by division) while we wait for offseason leagues to kick in. These are players who “broke out” statistically in 2015 and were either ranked in the bottom half of their team’s preseason top ten list or didn’t make their team’s list at all. Some of these names will look familiar and have already been scooped up in many dynasty formats. Others may still be flying low enough that their big performances have gone undetected. Today we’ll look at five breakout prospects from the AL West.Please, blog, may I have some more?
The Indians just unloaded Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher to the Braves, which created some breathing room on the roster. Bradley Zimmer could be one of the guys that benefits the most from all that extra oxygen. I ranked Zimmer 14th on my power rankings last week on a whim, but this recent trade has me looking at him as a legit call-up option as we head into September – one that could make a fantasy impact. I get to the Rubber Duck games in Akron a bunch, and seeing Zimmer in person you can definitely see where the Yelich comps come from. He has a long stride with sneaky plus speed, squares everything up, and shows good instincts on the basepaths. He’s one of those players that stands out on the field without even seeing him make a play. Already big and tall, it looks like a frame that could pack on even more muscle. Zimmer is following the typical path of a college bat, and while Double-A is one of the hardest jumps for a prospect, he’s holding his own with a .244/.359/.462 slash line, three homers, six doubles, and six steals through 21 games. He has yet to be caught stealing and his strikeout rate hasn’t spiked against the tougher arms either. He passes the eye test, the stats are yummy, and we could be looking at not only a September call-up but also a quick promotion to the bigs next summer. His ceiling would look something like .270 with 20 homers and 20+ steals in center or right field. Scoop him up in keepers and keep your eyes on him in redrafts for help down the stretch. Speaking of Akron, come say hi if you’re at the Jim Gaffigan show or the Hamburger Festival today. I’m easy to find. Just look for the depressed guy in the Expos cap. Here’s what else is happening around the minor leagues…Please, blog, may I have some more?
Here’s a look at the best prospects for fantasy baseball right now. It’s a fluid list, and you’ll see some big changes as well as some new faces from the preseason Top 50. I’m sticking to a cap of 130 at bats or 50 innings pitched in the major leagues when determining who is still eligible for this list. So while some of the names have already been promoted this year and are expected to graduate, I’m still going to rank them. If Miguel Sano drinks too much nerve tonic with only 100 MLB at bats, he’d still qualify for prospect lists heading into next year, so he’s included on this one. This list does not include any 2015 draftees or J2 signees. The +/- column on the right shows how much each prospect rose or fell from my preseason list. I wouldn’t sweat players who moved just a few slots. Instead, I’d focus on the double-digit changes and the new additions. For lengthier notes on some of the biggest movers, you should check out last week’s post. Personally I skew towards hitters and rank only a handful of pitchers that I really like. Keep in mind that I’m coming at you from the perspective of our fantasy game, so it may differ from a traditional prospect list when it comes to certain players. Now that the housekeeping is out of the way, here is this year’s midseason Top 50 prospects for fantasy baseball…Please, blog, may I have some more?
Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2014 (9) | 2013 (3) | 2012 (2) | 2011 (15) | 2010 (2)
2014 Affiliate Records
MLB: [67-95] AL West
AAA: [70-74] Pacific Coast League – Round Rock
AA: [80-59] Texas League – Frisco
A+: [82-56] Carolina League – Myrtle Beach (2015: High Desert)
A: [80-59] South Atlantic League – Hickory
A(ss): [40-36] Northwest League – Spokane
Rougned Odor, 2B | Nick Martinez, RHP | Michael Choice, OF
This system is full of risk/reward prospects with big ceilings. It’s also deep, and I had a hard time narrowing it down to just 10 to be honest. Fringe top ten guys like Keone Kela could help the major league bullpen as soon as 2016, and Kela’s triple-digit heater looks like the stuff of a closer. Then there’s Delino DeShields Jr. who was a Rule 5 selection from the Astros. DeShields hit 11 homers and stole 54 bases in Double-A last season. You can’t throw a stone without hitting a fantasy relevant prospect on this farm. Heading into 2015, Rougned Odor will get another extended look at second base while Jurickson Profar continues to battle shoulder issues. For what it’s worth, I still like Profar in dynasty leagues and at just 22 years old he still has plenty of time to get things back on track.
The title pretty much says it all, so instead of a big intro this opening paragraph will link you to some more helpful information regarding prospects. Here are the Top 30 prospects for 2015 redraft leagues. Here are the American League and National League Top 10 prospect indexes. We also have the Top 20 2014 signees for first-year player drafts in dynasty formats. Last but not least, here are my Top 100 keeper rankings. In the prospect rankings below, more specific ETAs are given as well as links to the organizational top ten list for each player. Just click on the team abbreviation to view my comments on individual prospects. Only two-thirds of the teams are written up, so apologies if not all of the links are live just yet. Ages listed are as of Opening Day 2015. Here are the Top 50 prospects for 2015 fantasy baseball…Please, blog, may I have some more?
Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (3) | 2012 (2) | 2011 (15) | 2010 (2) | 2009 (1)
2013 Affiliate Records
MLB: [91-72] AL West
AAA: [73-71] Pacific Coast League – Round Rock
AA: [70-70] Texas League – Frisco
A+: [77-62] Carolina League – Myrtle Beach
A: [76-63] South Atlantic League – Hickory
A(ss): [38-38] Northwest League — Spokane
Leonys Martin (OF); Jurickson Profar (INF); Martin Perez (LHP); Nick Tepesch (RHP); Tanner Scheppers (RHP)
The Run Down
The fact that the Rangers can graduate Jurickson Profar, Leonys Martin, and Martin Perez all in the same summer, and return the next spring with a farm system that continues to rank among the best in baseball should speak volumes about the savvy of the organization’s procurement and development systems. Texas is heavily involved of all aspects of baseball development, and the top ten I’ve listed here features prospects who were drafted, signed out of Latin America, or acquired via trade. The mix of talent as a whole is oozing with high-impact potential, and while this group brings perhaps a smidge more risk than other orgs near the top of the league, it still needs to be considered among the top tier of fantasy farms.
Back in May, I wrote a Courtney Hawkins fantasy. You can read it here. At that point in time, Hawkins was at High-A Winston Salem knocking homers at a good rate, but he was struggling to make contact, striking out more than 50% of the time he stepped to the plate. Near the end of the writeup, I said this: “The Sox must be thrilled with the huge power Hawkins is showing, but if the K’s continue at this rate, they’ll need to consider bumping him down the ladder to a level where he can more easily focus on approach and pitch recognition. There’s plenty of time for him to improve in that regard, and for fantasy baseball purposes, I truly hope he doesn’t go the way of the Donkey. Either way, though, he’s a fascinating dude to follow.” So here’s our Courtney Hawkins update, almost four months later: .182/.252/.407, 19 HR, 9 SB, 38% K-rate in 95 games at High-A. In other words, the whiffs continued, and the White Sox never demoted him. Hawkins is an extraordinary athlete with enormous upside, and I rarely am one to question a team’s development strategy, but it bothers me that the Sox have allowed their 19-year-old prized prospect to struggle so severely all season long. He won’t be ready for Double-A next spring, and I’m beginning to worry that this 1st rounder might never realize his potential.Please, blog, may I have some more?