Ranking prospects for fantasy purposes is a tricky exercise. Back in February, I rolled out my Top 50 Fantasy Prospects for 2013 (part 1, part 2), and those are already garbage. 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, I thought it might be helpful 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. Let’s get started.
1. Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals: Taveras is the most MLB-ready bat in the minors. Elite bat speed and off-the-charts hand-eye give him a Vlad Guerrero-like ability to barrel any pitch thrown his way. He’ll help in HR, R, RBI, and AVG, and he might net you a few stolen bases along the way. He’s just getting started at Triple-A Memphis, and opportunity is always tough to gauge, but the outfield in St. Louis is fragile, and Taveras could step into any position if needed.
2. Wil Myers, OF, Rays: After shaking off a minor wrist ailment, Myers is off to a nice start at Triple-A Durham. The Rays figure to keep him in the minors ’til June for service time reasons, but Myers has MLB-ready power, and he’s basically a guarantee to arrive before July. He’s an easy stash if you have room.
3. Gerrit Cole, RHP, Pirates: Cole, too, is likely to remain at Triple-A Indianapolis until June, but the Wandy Rodriguez hamstring tightness could speed up that timetable. The Pirates insist that Rodriguez will only miss one turn in the rotation, but Cole is a reasonable stash in mixed leagues, regardless of Wandy’s health. If you were excited about Jose Fernandez, you should be equally jazzed for Gerrit Cole.
4. Tony Cingrani, LHP, Reds: Cingrani’s first start at Triple-A Louisville consisted of 6 innings, 1 walk, zero hits, and 14 K’s. That sort of dominance will bring him to Cincy in a hurry. I wouldn’t suggest stashing Cingrani outside of NL-only or keepers, but be ready to pounce in case of injury, or a few poor outings from Mike Leake.
5. Jurickson Profar, SS, Rangers: Profar is the #1 overall prospect in baseball and he’s already surfaced at the big league level, but he’s buried behind two All Star-caliber middle infielders on the Rangers depth chart. It’s also important to note that Profar’s impressive profile is better suited for long-term results than for immediate impact. Still, you gotta try to own this guy if he get’s the call. The upside is enormous.
6. Mike Zunino, C, Mariners: Since he was drafted third overall last June, Zunino has been relentlessly dominant. After a 1.137 OPS at two levels in 2012, the 22-year-old out of University of Florida is off to a blazing start in 2013, tallying 16 RBI and 4 HR through his first five games. Zunino will not be held down for long if this sort of mashing keeps up. He offers big fantasy upside at a premium position.
7. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies: I already told you why I’m excited about Arenado. The opportunity is there for him at third, and his gap power will benefit from the thin air at Coors. Expect to see Arenado in the bigs before July.
8. Zack Wheeler, RHP, Mets: Wheeler is a front-of-the-rotation prospect with enormous potential, but he finds himself in a lousy situation, pitching in the launching pad that is Triple-A Las Vegas. He’s part of the 2013 plan in New York, so don’t let poor Pacific Coast League outings and low pitch counts steer you off course. Wheeler will bring big fantasy upside when he arrives, and he’s likely only a couple months away.
9. Dan Straily, RHP, Athletics: Straily was superb at the Triple-A level in 2012, striking out 11+ per-nine with a 2.02 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP. It wasn’t too surprising, then, that he picked apart the Astros lineup in a spot start last week. The A’s won’t hesitate to call him back to the majors if there’s a need. Straily brings good fantasy potential and he’ll be pitching in a friendly ballpark.
10. Danny Hultzen, LHP, Mariners: Hultzen appeared unhittable at Double-A in 2012, but he was quite bad after promotion to Triple-A. The thought is that he simply hit a wall last year, which was his first full-season of pro baseball. Off to a good start at Triple-A in 2013, expect Hultzen to work his way into Seattle’s rotation at some point this summer. The 23-year-old can be dominant when his command is working.
Next Five: Travis D’Arnaud, C, Mets; Mike Olt, 1B, Rangers; Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Rays; Trevor Bauer, RHP, Indians; Billy Hamilton, OF, Reds
How about a recent prospect as of last year Matt Harvey.
What do you think of him? I watched him once last year and am watching him deal right now and am so impressed by his stuff. His power fastballs as good as most in the game.
Never had him in my keeper league as a prospect, but got him in my H2H league this year and love the round I got him in. The only weakness of his right now is is control? Otherwise he’s looking mighty impressive, almost ace-like I’d say, huge bargain. You been a big fan throughout his minors career, is this what you expected from him?
Shows this value of prospects in my keeper league that ‘hit’ once they reach the show. The guy with him has him for $0 all this year.
In our 23rd year of a 12 team NL only keeper league with 2 rounds of minor league draft, I have final 2 picks in ML draft this year and it’s slim pickings at this point. Already have Yellich, Bradley and Wong from last year.
JR Graham, Lucan SIms, Andrew Heaney, Hunter Morris, Max Fried and Marell Ozuna still out there.
Any stand outs and in order of preference please?
Aside from Profar, can you name a couple/few other middle infield prospects who might come up and be able to impact a 16 team league? I’m in a league where you really need to think two steps ahead and would like to stash someone.
@PublicEnemy#1: Brad Miller and Carlos Sanchez
Kolten Wong is a guy to keep in mind… also, good chance Rendon surfaces at 2B if there’s an issue with Espinosa.
@Scott Evans: Thank you!
What do you think of Julio Teheran’s 2013 debut? Aberration and he’ll return to spring numbers eventually or is he just not ML ready yet? I dropped him for Maholm since I already have potential youngster headaches in my rotation with Shelby Miller & Jose Fernandez and with my aces of Gallardo, CJ Wilson, and Morrow struggling, the only hat I’ve been able to hang onto for ERA/WHIP’s been Lester so far.
I do think he’ll settle down & eventually offer good value in mixed leagues, but I like the swap for Maholm at this point, especially considering you’ve got enough risk & youth in Miller & Fernandez. Keep an eye on Teheran tomorrow night, though…
How about Bogaerts? Think there is a chance he comes up this year? Dude is a stud!
I’m hearing he’s having some blatant issues with more advanced off-speed offerings in the early going. He’s got all the tools to adjust, but this can take time. Boston won’t use him if he’s showing major holes in his game, so I’m thinking September at the soonest. I do love me some Bogaerts, though.
What’s your current stance on Billy Hamilton. Will he see the bigs this year?
My other concern is whether or not he’ll be able to get on base enough at the big league level. Any thoughts?
More of a 2014 guy for me. I think he comes up in September for pinch running duties, but he won’t go full time til next season. He still needs to get comfortable in CF. He still needs to prove he can reach base against advanced pitching & fielding.
I have Stanton, McClutchen, gonzo in OF, Rutledge, Segura, and Zobrist playing SS/2nd
I am in a head to head 6×6 non keeper league. We have two spots for minor league guys.. Which two would you hold on to Myers, taveras, Puig, or Hamilton.. Right now I have Myers and Hamilton but the others are available…
Not sure if it makes but I really need a 3rd basemen. Can one end up playing 3rd? Thanks for your help
Hold Myers & Taveras. If you need 3B badly, go for Arenado & flip a coin to see which OF to drop… Taveras has better immediate impact potential, Myers has more of a sure-thing opportunity.
You moved Cole up over Bundy? I’m liking it!
Yeah, Bundy’s immediate outlook isn’t looking as great as it was a couple months ago. He’s on the DL at AA Bowie, dealing with an elbow thing that doesn’t appear serious, but the O’s won’t rush him back & this could really push back his timetable.
@Scott Evans: Totally agree with you. That’s what I was hinting at earlier and I agree with you that Cole looks like a Price-type guy.
@Wake Up: Do you like Gattis over Jesus Montero this year?
No, I like Montero for ROS.
@Scott Evans: Thanks
Would you say it is safe to drop Chris Carter or Peter Bourjos to stash Arenado on a 14-team 14-keeper league?
Yeah, Bourjos is pretty fringy. Keep in mind it’s gonna be a couple months on Arenado…
Thoughts on Kershaw and Crawford for Fielder and Cuddyer. My other SP are Sale, Medlen, Bumgarner, Scherzer, Minor and Kuroda.
5×5 Roto, 12 teams
I like the Kershaw/Crawford end of this deal.
I dropped Mr Lincecum today in my 14 team keeper league. I really wish I would have dropped him last week for Jed Lowrie instead of Teheran. Oh well, Ce-La-Vie. I grabbed Diamond to stream for friday, but him on DL for now & grabbed Grimm… I would be interested in your opinion of him. If he doesn’t work out I plan to stream a few pitchers (max 50 moves in a season) or grab Hultzen, unless somehow Walker or Tailion beats him to the show. Is Grimm gold, garbage or mediocre? Thanks for your hard work
Grimm is solid. Much better upside than Tepesch… His secondary stuff is a bit underdeveloped, but he’s ready for an extended look & he’s worth a shot
Ultra competitive 18 team mixed traditional 5×5 keeper. Salaries increase by $5 per year or salary doubles, whichever increase is least. ie $1 player is $2 next year… $10 goes to $15.
I own both JFern ($1) and Taveras ($2) and have received the following offers.
Cueto $25 for Taveras
Cueto $25 and Bourjos $2 for Fernandez.
While I like Cueto, I am inclined to pass on both.
Pass. I always have an aversion toward Cueto — he’s one of those guys who constantly out-performs his peripheral stats. Gotta regress at some point…
@Scott Evans: thanks!
Howdy, Scott. What are your thoughts on Johnathan Singleton? Once his suspension is up I don’t think he’ll have a hard time cracking the AAAstros lineup.
I imagine they’ll ease him back with a AAA assignment before the call up, but he’ll be the regular 1b for the 2nd half & he’ll definitely be fantasy relevant in all formats. He’ll make this list a little closer to his return date…
@Scott Evans: It warms my heart to hear you say that. Great job on the column, I look forward to the next one.
Dylan Bundy or Cingrani going forward keeper league?
Bundy for a keeper.
Any guess to an Anthony Rendon ETA?
September. Sooner if there’s an injury to Zimmerman or Espinosa…
Scott – huge fan of this series and your work. Awesome stuff.
Thoughts on a possible Hultzen promotion in the very near future (ie. this weekend)? He started last night and pitched great…again. Do you find it curiously coincidental that it was the same night that Maurer started and got shelled.. yet again? Do you think they want Hultzen on the same pitching schedule — in the event SEA decides to boot Maurer, and with Erasmo on the DL at AAA, seems Hultzen is just a call away? Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but seems logical.
I still think it’s Erasmo’s job when healthy, but curious of your thoughts …
Yeah, I think Ramirez takes the gig when healthy, and I also think the M’s would prefer to avoid early arbitration with Hultzen. Still, though, they can’t afford another start like Maurer put up last night (neither can my weekly h2h team — yeesh). If Erasmo isn’t healthy & Maurer continues to suck, they’ll have to look toward Hultzen. There will be room for both guys eventually… I hope.
Nice roundup. Especially pleased to hear Jesus should keep his ABs even if/when Zunino arrives. By that time he’ll have guaranteed C eligibility for 2014 which is key for keepers. But what about Mike Olt?
Olt is in the next 5 at the bottom… I like his skill set & the opportunity should be there for him at 1B this year… not sure how long we’ll have to wait though. He should move into the top ten on this list before long.
@Scott Evans: Thanks for the response, Scott. How do you see Olt doing when he comes up, and more importantly in 2014? (I know there are a lot of ifs but I want to get your opinion on his upside).
30+ HR, .265 AVG & plenty of RBI in that lineup…
I’ve stashed Cole & Olt, along with a couple of others. Isn’t Olt slated for 3B though?
He profiles best at third, but the opportunity in Texas would be at first. Beltre is signed thru 2016.
Good point. Thanks.
Thoughts on Erasmo Ramirez?
Really like Erasmo. Should replace Maurer in the rotation once he’s healthy. He was great in the bigs down the stretch last year& could certainly duplicate that.
Do you think Cingrani will be up this year full time? I’m in a dynasty league, I can only have 9 SP on my roster and have to start 7 weekly. I’m already stashing Fernandez. Trying to see who will help me most this year as well as the future between Cingrani and Hultzen.
Cingrani has less competition to deal with than Hultzen, who’s probably behind Erasmo Ramirez on the depth chart. Tough to predict for opportunity, but I think Cingrani will spend a good chunk of the year in the big league rotation.
@Scott Evans: Do you think they are limiting his innings pitched in Louisville so that he has as many as possible remaining when he gets the call?
I do… same thing with Wheeler in Vegas.
love this new series, thank you!
what kind of batting averages would you expect from taveras and myers this year in the majors?
Taveras around .300 & Myers around .270
Great idea to keep a running tab of this. Always valuable info.
Would you be able to add a quick line or two at the beginning mentioning any [fantasy-relevant] prospects that had been called up in between installments? E.g. Tepesch, Bauer (if he hadn’t been complete crap), etc. Kinda like the pre-season minor-league previews, where you begin with graduated prospects.
And, similarly, perhaps guys who were recently demoted, like Bauer and likely Maurer, maybe Aaron Hicks will be… I assume if you own those players you know they’ve been sent down, but it may be worth mentioning if you were considering adding one of them and didn’t realize.
Yeah, man, that sounds like a great idea. That’ll definitely help us keep the entire lay of the land in mind. Thanks!
I am currently stashing Taveras, Myers, Cole and Cingrani.
Loved reading this article.
What happens to Jesus Montero if Zuzino gets the call?
He’d end up DH-ing & spending some time at 1B, with Zunino getting most of the time behind the dish.
@Scott Evans: Does he lose at-bats? And who would you rather have. Jesus is currently my catcher, but if they call up Zuzino, would you drop The Jesus and pick up The Zuzino?
No, that’s a tricky one… I probably scoop Zunino upon arrival & feel out the situation for a week before cutting/trading either… I don’t imagine Montero will lose too many PAs if Zunino arrives, though.
How far down the list is Christian Yelich? With the Marlins aggressively promoting Jose Fernandez, will Yelich follow suit? How’s he been hitting so far this year?
He’s dealing with a lingering foot issue that could delay his timetable. Still, I strongly considered him for next 5. I do think Miami will be aggressive with he, Marisnick & Ozuna…
This trade is on the table:
I give – Pujols and Gio
I get – Verlander and Bautista
My other 1B’s are A. Gonzalez, C. Davis, Frazier and M. Carpenter
My other SP’s are Sherzer, Moore, Anibal Sanchez, Homer Bailey, Cobb, Lynn, Iwakuma
Do I take this trade????
I’d take it.
Pujols playing hurt – plantar fasciitis. Saw some highlights of him tonight running with a pretty good limp. He’s playing through it but I can’t imagine how long it lasts. It looks bad to me.
Straily is not that good. The stuff doesn’t match the minor league numbers. The slider is definitely a plus pitch but the fastball is MLB average in both velocity and movement. Second and third tour of the league I can see teams game planning to lay off the breaking pitch and sit fastball. I like his moxy but with the stuff it’s hard to see him profiling better than a #3 MLB. The 7.29 K rate seem about right. His strand rate was 90% last year, totally unsustainable so I’d guess he ends up going in the direction of his FIP with an ERA north of 4 if he gets a lot of starts this year.
Can’t argue with your assessment, but his opportunity & MLB-readiness puts him on the list. Not suggesting he’s a top 10 prospect, but for standard, mixed formats, he’s one of the top 10 guys in the minors you should be keeping an eye on. Not a front-end guy, but a rosterable guy, for sure.
I’d say he’s marginal in an RCL format. Definitely rosterable in a deeper league. Even though the A’s park is favorable, road starts at Texas, LAA and Seattle are all going to be tricky this year. Some quality hitters in the AL West. One thing for sure, he’s next in line at Oak and Bartolo and Anderson will be on injury watch all year.
yeah, I’m thinking Straily will spend plenty of time in the big league rotation.
what’s the word on Anthony Rendon?
just missed the next 5… impact grade is great, but opportunity isn’t apparent at the moment.
Where would Adam Eaton fall on this list if you had to include him for comparison?
Behind Cingrani, ahead of Prfar… That’s thanks to a sure-thing opportunity upon his return.
Are these ranked in the order you’d roster them? Or biggest 2013 impact? Neither? Combination?
Sorry, just saw your previous reply. Thanks for the rankings!
50% opportunity, 50% impact on arrival… at this moment, this is the order I’d roster them in standard, mixed formats. I’ll be updating these every other week, so we can see as stock rises & falls.
Maybe you could put the 12-team mixed-worthy players on the “mustache list” [must stash].
ha! that’s good. I’ll be stealing that one from ya…
Is this a rank of talent upon arrival, or ranked in terms of their arrival timetable? (or both?)
Also, since you’re the prospect guy, can I ask a question of two young guys currently in rotations? Jose fernandez or Shelby Miller ROS? (It is a keeper league)
These rankings are roughly 50% opportunity, 50% impact on arrival. I like Fernandez over Miller for both this season & long-term.
I wasn’t super impressed with what I saw from Miller. I was expecting a little more life in the fastball and the mechanics were spotty. Mostly not repeating arm slot and changing delivery between fastball and breaking stuff. Not bad but didn’t look like elite stuff to me.
Agree. The mechanics look especially poor when you hold them up against Fernandez. I think Miller will be slower to his peak than guys like Cole & Fernandez who can be effective & efficient right from the start. Still anxious to see Miller’s start at home tomorrow night…
@Scott Evans: Of course Miller came out and shoved it right after all of these things were said.
No Puig yet?
Not yet. Not a statement on his talent — he’s awesome. But he’s at Double-A & he’s buried behind a talented OF.
@Scott Evans: got it. thanks. do you see him in the show in 2014, Ethier departs…?
I do, for sure.
@Scott Evans: Taveras while very good, will have a ton of competition for playing time as well no? They have Matt Adams on top of things who they want to get at bats for
Yeah, the Cards are jammed up, but I don’t think that stops them from using Taveras this season. With these situations, it’s best not to play out the various scenarios — Beltran gets hurt, Craig moves to RF, Adams to 1B, etc. More often than not, talent prevails & Taveras will find his way into the lineup one way or another. I also figure the Cards will be shopping guys like Beltran & Craig in-season. That could make for regular roles for both Adams & Oscar.
St. Louis knows they’re better with Taveras in the lineup than without him.
Craig signed an extension, he’s not going anywhere. If the Cardinals are contending, Beltran’s not going anywhere (assuming he’s healthy). The first injury gives Matt Adams the playing time. Only if someone else is injured will Taveras get called up. Almost a full year in AAA wouldn’t hurt this 20 year old.
Assuming they don’t hit a losing streak, it could go as you say. Remember they’ve got a closer who’ll probably miss the year & a very win-now fan base. Anyway, you’re clearly in touch with this system… you think they’d go with Chambers/Robinson over Taveras if Jay is injured/bad?
If it’s a short term injury to Jay, then they’ll go with Robinson and call up Chambers/Christian. If it’s a more serious injury and Taveras is raking in AAA, the team will pretty much be pressured into starting Taveras in CF even though they have doubts about his defense.
Thanks for your thoughts.