Welcome to the weekly Fantasy Baseball Prospect Primer. In this space, we will inform you about prospects who have recently been called up or who might become fantasy contributors in the near future. Especially good for Keeper leagues, you’ll want to check in weekly to get the latest news and advice for the coming week about prospects of fantasy relevance. Whether you need a great future keeper or you’re just tired of starting Ryan Dempster in that last SP slot, or if you’re just looking for the next big thing in fantasy baseball, this is the article for you!
MLB Prospect Rankings - September Call-Ups Edition
It’s been a stellar year in terms of fantasy prospects and there has been an abundance of category-producing rookies throughout the regular season. We've had major contributions from season-standout shortstop Jean Segura to the uproar fire termed ‘Puigian’ start of Yaisel Puig, and on the pitching end, the mostly unknown Jose Fernandez, the sometimes-unhittable Shelby Miller and Tony Cingrani. Prospects often have fantasy impact, though much of the time it’s not for an entire season. That’s why there are only a few names above in the top-200 players, but you can find value anywhere as they are called up throughout the season. But everything up to this point can't compare to what is about to come…
Here we are, on the doorstep of the fantasy playoffs, and this is where you want to capitalize on some of the few precious fantasy transactions you might have left. Below is a list of prospects that are in line for a September call-up to the big leagues who have the potential to contribute in fantasy, as well as some of the usual suspects that have recently received the call. So, I’ll indulge you in some rankings to prepare for an injury or a weak point in your fantasy lineup.
- Xander Bogaerts (SS, BOS) – Recently called up for Boston, the young shortstop could earn the majority of the playing time, between Stephen Drew and Will Middlebrooks. With SS eligibility he finds himself no. 1 on the list and helped by a stacked line-up and five-tool capability.
- Sonny Gray (SP, OAK) – He was the no. 1 on the prospect impact rankings last time, and he’s only had one semi-bad start since his call-up. He lights up hitters and throws strikes, and I expect he’ll remain a solid fantasy starter in the playoffs especially in Oakland’s coliseum.
- Avisail Garcia (OF, CWS) – Recently acquired in the three-team Peavy trade, Garcia should benefit from some lower pressure in his at-bats than in Detroit and start almost everyday for the White Sox the rest of the season. He has some decent pop and should contribute as a fill-in outfielder for teams in the playoffs.
- Travis d'Arnaud (C, NYM) – Though he was called up to fill in for John Buck while on paternity leave, with Buck's trade to Pittsburgh, d’Arnaud will get behind the plate most nights for the Mets. D’Arnaud was the best pure hitting catcher in the minors, but was riddled injuries the past two seasons; he has the chance to prove his potential in a large ballpark, but I don’t expect an explosion of offense.
- Kolten Wong (2B, STL) – Wong was kind of a surprise call-up with Matt Carpenter playing so well, but David Freese gets the bench while Wong gets to supplement an already excellent offense. Wong has some pop for a second baseman and can run a little bit, as well. I love five-tool caliber fill-in players in the playoffs because anything can happen, especially for middle infield spots.
- Nick Castellanos (OF, DET) – Castellanos has been patient, much more so than his fans…but there is no reason he shouldn't be called up and playing four-to-five games a week in September. He should immediately be an RBI threat and can man an outfield spot in deeper leagues.
- Matt Davidson (3B, ARI) – Davidson is off to a slow start to his career; if he doesn’t start performing the D’Backs may put Martin Prado back at third and get another outfielder, but Davidson’s potential is there. Watch for a hot streak in case it happens.
- Taijuan Walker (SP, SEA) – The title of "best pitching prospect" in the minors is up for grabs between Archie Bradley of the D’Backs and Walker. Taijuan Walker is already getting to a career high in innings, but Seattle may want to see what they have in the youngster and though he’s scuffled lately at Triple-A, the potential is something that cannot be ignored. Pay close attention if you're in need of a keeper for 2014.
- Marcell Ozuna (OF, MIA) – Not really a prospect per se due to his time played already, Ozuna can still be a decent fantasy outfielder due to his approach at the plate. If he’s making contact then he should bring home some runs and RBI to the table for some fantasy owners.
- Miguel Sano (3B, MIN) – Sano is a far stretch when it comes to a call-up, but this kid has some serious power. He could instantly add some home runs and RBI for fantasy owners in a relatively weak major league lineup, especially if Morneau or Plouffe is moved via trade waivers.
- Billy Hamilton (OF, CIN) – Hamilton still can’t seem to get on base enough, and we all know Dusty Baker is loyal to his veterans. I don’t see a ton of playing time for Hamilton, but if he’s in the lineup, he can run. Hamilton has 70 steals in the minors to date.
- Andrew Lambo (OF, PIT) – I was shocked to see Lambo go 0-for-9 in his Pittsburgh debut. He isn't the best of contact hitters, but he has the potential to fill the hole that the Pittsburgh playoff roster needs. Lambo led the minor leagues in homeruns with 31 when he was called up, though his path to playing time might be a tough one with the recent addition of Marlon Byrd.
- Kevin Gausman (SP, BAL) – Once again, not quite a prospect because of previous performance, but Gausman could be in the rotation with one injury and will likely be up for the bullpen anyways. I think Gausman learned from his experience and now knows better how to manage the majors in his next showcase.
- Joc Pederson (OF, LAD) – Pederson is likely not getting called up, but if there is an injury for the Dodgers outfield or Matt Kemp can’t return, then Pederson could get some at-bats. He'll be one of the top prospects in 2014 and a five-tool caliber hitter is there for the taking if he gets a chance.
- Marcus Stroman (SP, TOR) – Stroman has an outside chance at a September call-up as well. He’s currently at Double-A with a 3.22 ERA and 117 Ks in 100.2 innings. It’s likely he’ll be shut down at around 140 innings, but those innings could come for the Blue Jays.
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