Every other week Razzball ranks the prospects closest to contributing to your fantasy roster. The list is limited to players who still have rookie eligibility (less than 130 at bats or 50 innings pitched) and who are currently in the minor leagues. It’s not a list based on talent alone, but rather it’s a mixture of talent and opportunity. It will change frequently over the course of the season as prospects graduate to the majors, injuries occur, or service time roadblocks are passed. Here are the top 15 prospects on the cusp of the major leagues for 2015 fantasy baseball…
There isn’t much to say here that hasn’t already been said, and Bryant has been drafted in most leagues as if he were in the majors. Fantasy owners are hoping for big power numbers once he arrives, and his massive spring only inflated the expectations. We shouldn’t have to wait long. I’d expect Bryant to come up later this month once the Cubs lock in an extra year of his services – making him the first prospect to graduate from this list.
Rodon showed us this spring that he already has the stuff to get major league hitters out. Like Bryant, I think it’s only a matter of service time before we see Rodon in the majors. I’d bet on early June, but it could be even sooner given what the White Sox rotation looks like behind Quintana. Rodon struck out nine batters in his Triple-A debut yesterday (5 IP, 2 BB, 1 ER).
Here’s a fun question…could Tomas hit more MLB homers than Bryant in 2015? Sounds crazy right now, given Tomas’ struggles this spring and Bryant’s monster March. Now that we’ve got the third base experiment out of the way (hopefully?) Tomas can focus more on shaking the rust off of his bat. There’s still a lot of raw power in there, and once he surfaces again, Tomas will be in a great environment for a right-handed power hitter.
I guess we should have seen the writing on the wall when the Red Sox entered the season with a baker’s dozen outfielders on the roster. Like Tomas, Castillo should get some time to polish up his game…oh and it looks pretty good so far. In ten plate appearances Castillo already has five hits, a double, two RBI, and a steal. He was pulled from last night’s game, but at the time of this writing I don’t know why. I’m writing this from your past…spooky!
Dillon Gee is currently holding down the fifth spot in the Mets’ rotation, and Rafael Montero is already on the roster should New York need a replacement for him. But Syndergaard’s stuff trumps both of those guys’, and I don’t think we’ll be too deep into the summer before “Thor” makes his MLB debut. He may not be as close as Rodon, but he’s on par in terms of strikeout potential and pitches in a more favorable home park.
It looked like Heaney was going to get a shot at the fifth spot in the Angels’ rotation, but instead he heads to Triple-A to start the 2015 season. It likely won’t be too long of an assignment, as Heaney’s stuff is major league ready. He should be mixed-league relevant right away with a nice park situation and lineup behind him.
Franco isn’t getting a lot of preseason love on traditional prospect lists, but he’s still one of my favorite fantasy prospects. The power is there for 25-30 bombs, especially at CBP. While the poor Philly lineup works against his RBI opportunities, it also means there isn’t much standing between him and the majors. Cody Asche is really the only block, and he could move to left if Franco forces the issue. Then there’s Howard, who could get moved and open an opportunity for Franco at first base at some point. Either way, Franco is in Triple-A to tune up his game and should be up in a month that starts with J.
I really thought Russell would have been more of a late 2015 play, but after a solid spring and Triple-A assignment to start the year, it’s possible we see him in Chicago much earlier. Something has to give with Castro first and some of this story will depend on how the team is actually doing in the standings. But if Baez is still struggling and Russell is raking, would the Cubs hold him down? *grabs popcorn*
Outside of Bryant, there aren’t any prospects creating as much noise as Buxton in the fantasy world. 2015 should be the year we finally see him in the majors, although it could be towards the back end of the season. Despite the questions as to when we’ll actually see him play this year, Buxton is still a solid stash thanks to his ability to contribute across the board in fantasy. He’s off to a slow start, though, with six strikeouts in his first ten plate appearances.
Like Buxton, Sano’s ETA is likely later in the year, but his talent pushes him ahead of some of the closer prospects. You’re hoping for big power when Sano arrives, and outside of Bryant and Gallo there might not be a prospect in the upper minors that has more than Sano – he’s already gone deep two games into the 2015 season. The Twins are known to take things a little slower with development and Sano missed time to TJS, so his could be a name we see on the list for most of the year while we bite down our fingernails in anticipation.
11. Francisco Lindor, SS | Indians
Once the Indians bring up Lindor, they’re going to want him to be the everyday shortstop. Since they won’t be easing this young man into anything, it’s in their best interest to make sure Lindor is fully cooked before they take him out of the oven. That’s why he’s getting polish on his bat in Triple-A. It’s a luxury they can afford since Jose Ramirez is more than capable of holding it down in the majors in the meantime. I’m guessing July is when we see Lindor up in 2015.
12. Chi-Chi Gonzalez, RHP | Rangers
Gonzalez was already on the radar for a 2015 call-up, but the injuries to Yu Darvish and now Derek Holland are likely going to speed up his clock even more. He’s currently in AAA for more polish, and will get his first start later today against the Dodgers’ AAA affiliate. With some success early in the year, we could see Gonzalez in Texas by the end of June.
Peraza would rank a lot higher if it weren’t for Jace Peterson holding down the fort in the majors. I like Peterson and own some shares this year, so selfishly I’m hoping he plays well. Peraza owners should be praying for the opposite, as Peterson is about the only thing standing in his way. Peraza will be a contributor in average and steals and should be up this July. Keep your eye on anything funky with position changes too. Some evaluators think Peraza could handle center field duties, although the recent acquisition of Maybin may block him there as well.
Originally it looked like Swihart would be a late 2015 play for the Red Sox, but the injury to Christian Vazquez has left them with a Hanigan/Leon platoon at catcher. That should significantly speed up the clock for Swihart, especially if he proves he can handle AAA pitching on both sides of the ball. I think we’ve gone from September to July, maybe even a June ETA for the 23-year-old.
The timeline is really tricky with Olivera still not even in the United States. There’s also a significant injury risk tied to the Dodgers’ latest signing from Cuba. If he gets some game action and the threat of TJS goes away, then we’ve got a nice hit/power combo at third. If not, he’ll likely drop off this list next time.