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. Javier Baez, SS, Cubs (Previously Ranked #4): Over the past month, Baez has posted an OPS of .872, and more than half of his hits during that stretch have gone for extra bases. The 21-year-old’s awful opening month is behind him, and it’s fair to resume speculation about just how long it’ll be before he’s called-up to the big club. Even assuming an arrival around All-Star break, Baez’s impact potential is good enough to top this list.
2. Alex Wood, LHP, Braves (N/R): The Braves have assigned Wood to the minors in order to stretch him out for an eventual return to the big league rotation. He’s a safer option to produce than the other arms on this list — don’t let the rookie allure fool you.
3. Andrew Heaney, LHP, Marlins (#5): Heaney is on the cusp of a call-up to Miami, but there’s no immediate opportunity given Randy Wolf’s back-from-the-dead act. Regardless, the Marlins want to give the 23-year-old an extended look at the highest level this season, so look for them to make room within the next month.
4. Joc Pederson, OF, Dodgers (#9): Puig’s hip flexor injury wasn’t serious enough to keep him off the field for long, but it did illustrate just how quickly an opportunity can be made available to minor league masher, Joc Pederson. With a Triple-A line at .327/.437/.615, 16 HR, and 14 SB, Pederson’s potential impact is crystal clear.
5. Mookie Betts, OF, Red Sox (N/R): With the graduations of Taveras, Polanco, Singleton, Gausman, and Stroman, the much-hyped Mookie Betts is making his power rankings debut. The Red Sox understand that Mookie’s quickest path to Boston is in the outfield, and he’s been getting more and more reps in center field of late. I don’t think a call-up is imminent at this point, but I do think there’s a strong possibility that Betts finishes the season as the everyday CF in Boston.
6. Arismendy Alcantara, 2B, Cubs (#8): With a .933 OPS over the past month, Alcantara has put himself in position to be the first big call-up for the Cubs this season. With a power/speed skill set, the 22-year-old middle infielder brings exciting potential to the fantasy game.
7. Jimmy Nelson, RHP, Brewers (N/R): I’m not a believer in Nelson as a long-term front-end arm, but there’s no denying his dominance this season, and he’s already proven he can be effective at the highest level.
8. Kris Bryant, 3B, Cubs (#10): Over the past month at Double-A Tennessee, Bryant is batting .402/.500/.850 with 13 homers. The idea of him surfacing at Wrigley this year is wonderfully intriguing, but I’m afraid the Cubs aren’t going to push him on an aggressive path toward Wrigley. Bryant will spend a chunk of time at Triple-A, and he might even end his season there. Regardless, his production to this point has earned him a spot on this list.
9. Jon Gray, RHP, Rockies (N/R): Gray has scuffled a bit over his last couple starts, but the Rockies need rotation help, and as soon as he gets back on track, it shouldn’t be long before he joins the big club.
10. Archie Bradley, RHP, D’Backs (Next 5): Bradley will get back to work later this month, and assuming all is well with his elbow, this little waiting period over the past six weeks has banked him some valuable rest. Archie should be good to throw another 100 or so IP this season. Let’s hope the bulk of those innings come at the major league level.