In this piece, RotoBaller takes a look at the top ten prospects that could arrive in the majors this year and potentially impact fantasy baseball leagues.
1. Oscar Taveras, OF (STL)
Current level: Triple-A (Memphis)
Current statistics: 132 PA, .317/.351/.480, 4 HR, 5 SB
Taveras is baseball’s best offensive prospect, as he combines elite bat speed with tremendous bat control. His power and plate approach have been works-in-progress at the Triple-A level, but he’s nonetheless ready for the big leagues and projects as a middle-of-the-order thumper capable of a strong batting average and elite power.
2. Yasiel Puig, OF (LA)
Current level: Double-A (Chattanooga)
Current statistics: 167 PA, .313/.383/.599, 8 HR, 13 SB
Signed to a seven-year, $42 million contract, the 245-pound Puig was considered the fastest player in Cuban baseball and has drawn comps to players such as Vladimir Guerrero. So far he has done nothing to diminish the hype, and with Sunday's news that LA has purchased his contract and plans on using him in place of the injured Matt Kemp, he deserves to be owned in all leagues.
Current level: Triple-A (Las Vegas)
Current statistics: 58.1 IP, 3.86 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 59/24 K/BB
Wheeler has harnessed a strong four-pitch mix to cruise through every level of the minors and is now on the doorstep of the majors, as he’s projected to arrive in New York sometime around the middle of June. A prototypical front-line starter prospect, he’s worth rostering now if you have the room.
4. Christian Yelich, OF (MIA)
Current level: Double-A (Jacksonville)
Current Statistics: 180 PA, .272/.350/.538, 6 HR, 4 SB
Another prospect combining high-end bat speed and bat control, Yelich possesses one of minor league baseball’s best swings and has destroyed Double-A pitching since the start of May. Yelich projects as a high-average hitter with premium extra-base power and figures to be a summer call-up for the downtrodden Marlins.
5. Gerrit Cole, SP (PIT)
Current level: Triple-A (Indianapolis)
Current statistics: 61 IP, 3.25 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 44/27 K/BB
The top overall selection in the 2011 draft, Cole simply needs to trust his stuff more. Once he does that he should see more strikeouts and fewer walks, at which point the projected top-of-the-rotation starter can kiss the minors goodbye.
6. Anthony Rendon, 3B (WAS)
Current level: Triple-A (Syracuse)
Current statistics: (AA) 152 PA, .319/.461/.603, 6 HR, 1 SB
A strong plate approach and smooth, natural swing produce lots of line drives for Rendon, who was promoted to Triple-A on Saturday. The plan in Syracuse is to rotate him between third base and second base, an intriguing organizational decision given the struggles of Nationals' second baseman Danny Espinosa. Rendon could be a factor in the second half.
7. Jameson Taillon, SP (PIT)
Current level: Double-A (Altoona)
Current Statistics: 60.2 IP, 3.26 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 68/26 K/BB
The number two selection in the 2010 draft, Taillon is hard-throwing righthander from Texas who projects as a top major league starter. A sneak preview of his potential was provided in this year’s World Baseball Classic, where Taillon – pitching for Team Canada - used his mid-90s fastball and sharp curve to limit the potent Team USA lineup to one earned run and four hits over four innings.
8. Wil Myers, OF (TB)
Current level: Triple-A (Durham)
Current statistics: 228 PA, .270/.351/.469, 9 HR, 3 SB
Myers has struggled since his much-hyped acquisition from Kansas City in the James Shields trade, but his potential still makes him a hugely relevant player in prospect circles. Good contact ability, power and a balanced approach mean the talented slugger is worth keeping an eye on in all formats.
Current level: Triple-A (Columbus)
Current statistics: 41 IP, 5.05 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 41/24 K/BB
Bauer continues to struggle with command, something that has been a problem throughout his minor league career. He remains on this list because of his immense talent and also because he continues to be on the cusp of a full-time promotion. If he can ever refine his command and become more consistent then he will maintain his projection as a very good major league starter.
10. Billy Hamilton, OF (CIN)
Current level: Triple-A (Louisville)
Current statistics: 232 PA, .248/.315/.333, 2 HR, 30 SB
Hamilton has struggled at the plate in Triple-A this year but the outrageous speed that allowed him to steal a record 155 bases in the minors last season remains. He’ll almost certainly be called up to Cincinnati at some point this season, at which point the havoc he wreaks on the basepaths will be an immediate fantasy asset even if his bat is slow to catch up.
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