With Gregory Polanco mercifully called up to the Pirates on Tuesday, there are probably not many players left in the high minors who will make a major impact for your fantasy baseball leagues this season. Sure, some big prospect names like Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Archie Bradley may make it to the majors this summer, or as a September call-up, and some may be sleepers or even waiver wire pickups in certain league formats that provide nice production. But it’s tough to imagine that many prospects that are still in the minors will provide significant value in redraft leagues, unless you are weak at one of the positions and are looking to take a flier on a rookie with upside.
Checking In On MLB’s Top 10 Prospects
This week, I will take a look at the top ten prospects in baseball, as ranked by MLB.com before the season, and briefly review the progress (or lack thereof) each has made in the minors this season.
1. Byron Buxton, OF, MIN
A left wrist injury has derailed the top prospect’s season. He first sprained his wrist during spring training, which knocked out the first month of his season. He returned in early May and played five games before re-injuring the same wrist on May 8th, playing in High-A ball.
Buxton managed three hits in 20 at bats for Fort Myers before the injury, with one home run. Since then he has been limited to a cardio program and has no timetable for return.
Buxton will be a dynamic player when he returns to the field, but he has no fantasy baseball value in 2014 for redraft leagues. The Twins are taking it slow with their future star.
2. Oscar Taveras, OF, STL
Taveras has seven hits in 36 major league at bats, with a single homer which came in his Cardinals debut. If you own Taveras for this season, be patient. He should be quick to make the adjustments to big-league pitching and contribute for your fantasy baseball team this season. If an owner in your league was hasty and dropped him, grab him off the waiver wire if you have room on your roster. The talent and upside is there to make an impact.
3. Miguel Sano, 3B, MIN
Sano was shut down in spring training when he required Tommy John surgery on his elbow. He will not see any game action for a while but could return either at the very end of the season in the minors or in fall leagues. Hitters require half the time to recover from TJS so a 6-9 month recover is expected. He’ll be fully ready to go for 2015 spring training and hopefully compete for a roster spot off the bat.
4. Archie Bradley, RHP, ARZ
The injury theme continues at the top of the prospects list. Bradley is recovering from a mild strain in his pitching elbow, but is expected to be back on the mound in late June. He made five starts at Triple-A Reno before his injury, which is where he’s likely to return when he’s ready. I would expect to see Bradley pitching with the Diamondbacks in the second half of the season, and this is someone who can hopefully make an impact on the major league level once he is called up.
5. Taijuan Walker, RHP, SEA
You’ve heard this refrain before. Walker suffered from shoulder issues in spring training which prevented him from beginning the season in the Mariners’ rotation. On his road to recovery, he made a handful of minor league starts before getting shut down again. But, alas, his time is near.
The Mariners have given him three rehab starts with Triple-A Tacoma, where he has struck out 27 men in 19.1 innings. His next start is lined up for Saturday, which could be another outing with Tacoma – or it could maybe even be his season debut with the M’s.
If he’s still available on your waiver wire, I’d suggest picking him up immediately. He has the upside to make an impact for fantasy baseball this season as long as he can stay healthy.
6. Javier Baez, SS, CHC
One of the most popular and asked-about prospects in the minors, Baez has compiled a .233-9-31 line for Triple-A Iowa, adding nine steals. Those are not numbers that will make your eyes light up, but he has a lot of power for a shortstop, and he’s actually improved greatly since the season started. He’s also been a tear lately.
His 74 strikeouts in 193 at bats are still staggering, as he swings at just about everything. Theo Epstein has stated that he wants to be patient with his “core four” prospects (Baez, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler and Albert Almora). Baez may have made significant steps towards his major league debut in the past few weeks, but I still believe he’s a late summer / September call-up at the earliest, and may struggle initially based on his enormous strikeouts.
7. Carlos Correa, SS, HOU
Correa has hit to a .332 average and .930 OPS at high-A Lancaster. The next step will be the jump to Double-A ball, which will be a big step in his development. If he adjusts well to that level, his ascension to the major leagues should be a quick one, but I don’t see any realistic chance that it will happen in 2014. The former top overall pick is only 19 years old, and the Astros are not in a rush to promote him anytime soon. His debut will likely be in mid-to-late 2015, at the earliest, and maybe even 2016.
8. Kris Bryant, 3B, CHC
Bryant is simply tearing up Double-A ball to the tune of a .357-22-55 line with the Tennessee Smokies. Wow. As mentioned earlier, the Cubs are taking things slowly with their top prospects.
So, while he may be ready to make the step up to the majors this season – and Cubs fans are clamoring for their future slugger to debut – it may still be a month or two until he makes it to the big leagues in 2014, if at all.
The Cubs have to decide where Bryant’s future position will be; I’m guessing right field. If that’s the case, they’ll have to work him there in the minors first before bringing him up.
9. Francisco Lindor, SS, CLE
Lindor is batting .280 with four homers and 17 steals at Double-A Akron. He will always be known more for his defensive prowess than his bat. His homer potential likely tops out in the 10-15 range, but he should get on base and also provide some steals. Asdrubal Cabrera is a free agent at the end of this season, opening a spot in the Indian’s infield for the slick-fielding phenom for 2015.
10. Noah Syndergaard, RHP, NYM
Yet another injury story. Syndergaard spent time on the Triple-A disabled list with an elbow sprain, then returned to the mound on June 5th and injured his left (non-throwing) shoulder on a tag play at home plate. The injury was diagnosed as a sprain of the A/C joint and he was shut down for another week. The Mets will obviously take things slowly with Syndergaard, but he could still be on track for a late-season call-up. His fantasy value is most likely limited this season, although he has the ability to be an impact player in future years.
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