Holy smokes! If you’re a prospect hound, this has been a great year. The Twins got in on the action by promoting top prospect Byron Buxton while the Indians are expected to call up Francisco Lindor today as well. Buxton ranked #1 overall on my offseason Top 50 Prospects list and of course topped the Twins Top 10 list. Lindor ranked #17 overall and first on the Indians Top 10. Both have been floating around the top five in the prospect power rankings, so hopefully they are names that you’ve had tucked away in your reserves. Let’s celebrate with a post on what they both bring to the table for 2015 fantasy baseball…
After a slow start in Double-A this April, Buxton really turned it on in May and June – slashing .324/.385/.503 with four homers, 13 steals, six doubles, and ten triples over the last six weeks. The Twins have been notoriously slow with promoting their prospects, but they have nothing to lose at this point and at the very least Buxton improves their outfield defense. It’s not a move I saw coming (I figured late June would be the earliest we’d see him) but I love it anyway.
Buxton can run like a deer (80-grade speed) and play double-plus defense right out of the gate. He’s also a plus hitter and should develop more power as he matures. Essentially, he’s a five-tool player that could be stuffing the stat sheets in roto down the road – similar to a Carlos Gomez type with the potential to hit 20 homers and steal 40 bases. One thing to keep in mind for the rest of this season is that his power hasn’t fully developed yet. Right now I’d expect more gap power with doubles and triples than over-the-fence power. That makes him slightly less appealing for fantasy in the short-term, but three out of five categories ain’t bad for a rookie (runs/steals/average).
Just looking at some Steamer ROS projections to find a comparison, let’s call it Leonys Martin with upside. ROS projections for Martin feel about right…40+ runs, six homers, 20+ steals, and hitting .265. That projection might not make you feel all tingly inside and it’s probably conservative for a talent like Buxton, but my point is that he’s likely going to be a speedy, run-scoring type more than a Mike Trout 2.0 this year. To be honest, he may never have Trout-like power and that’s no knock on Buxton, who could still be first-round fantasy material in a year or two. Dynasty owners are celebrating something like the birth of a child this afternoon – but without all the blood and heavy breathing…I hope.
As far as Lindor, he’s similar to Buxton in that he’ll bring defense, speed, and a good hit tool to the majors with him right away. His defense at short is so good that fantasy players who roster Cleveland pitchers should be just as happy about this promotion as the Lindor owners! Also similar to Buxton, we’re talking about gap power (more doubles/triples etc.) than homers at this point, although unlike Buxton that’s probably where his power will stay. He’s not on the same level as a Seager or Correa on that front, but the contributions he makes in the other categories – plus the wasteland that is the shortstop position – make Lindor worth picking up in just about any format.
The 21-year-old got off to a cold start in Triple-A, but has recently turned it on – hitting .350 over his last ten games and .400 in the month of June. For a ROS comparison, he could provide similar value to Alcides Escobar, who Steamer projects for about three homers, 40 runs scored, 13 steals, and a .265 average the rest of the way. I don’t think Lindor has the upside of Buxton to cream his projection though. A lot of Lindor’s value stems from his insane defense, whereas Buxton is a toolshed on both sides of the ball.
One final note – it’s worth mentioning that the 2012 draft (where Buxton was selected 2nd overall) is shaping up like a who’s who in the majors this year. Carlos Correa (1), Mike Zunino (3), Kevin Gausman (4), Addison Russell (11), Michael Wacha (19), Marcus Stroman (22), Kevin Plawecki (35), Joey Gallo (39), Lance McCullers (41), and Eddie Butler (46) have all contributed in the major leagues already in some capacity. That doesn’t even include players like Corey Seager (18) and Jose Berrios (32) who should see the majors soon. Will all of these players become superstars? Nah, probably not. And if you can flip Buxton or Lindor for a more proven piece in a format like RCL, I’d say go ahead and cash in on the helium. But if you’re an owner in a keeper or dynasty, have a day and enjoy the ride!