2014 National League Prospects Update
Today I take a look at a few starting pitchers who could have some fantasy value this year, along with a big-time 3B power prospect. I get a lot of questions about when guys will be called up and what type of impact they will have for fantasy owners. My general answers to those questions are “I don’t know,” and “not as much as you think.” Not to be glib, but there are so many internal factors that teams use to determine when to bring their young guys up, information that no baseball writer is privy to.
My general advice on prospects is to not waste roster spots on guys who are in the minors. Stay informed and snag a guy off the wire when news breaks about his call-up, but only if you need help at that position. Playing the prospect game is risky. The jump to the big leagues is a big one and it can take time for these guys to hit their fantasy peak.
With that caveat, which I’ll probably repeat every week, here are a few National League guys to keep an eye on:
Archie Bradley (SP, ARZ)
Considered the best pitcher in the minors, Bradley may be up with the Diamondbacks soon out of necessity. With Patrick Corbin gone for the year, and Trevor Cahill and Randall Delgado struggling, the Arizona rotation needs a boost. Bradley projects as a front-of-the-rotation workhorse who will help fantasy teams with wins, K’s and ERA. The only question with him will be his walk rate, which could inflate his WHIP early on in his career.
In his first start in triple-A this season, he tossed five shutout innings, walking two and striking out only three. He will probably get a few more starts with Reno and, if he does well, it will tempt the D-Backs into bringing him up to the show.
Eddie Butler (SP, COL)
Butler took two tough no-decisions in two quality starts with double-A Tulsa. While Jonathan Gray is the bigger prospect in the Rockies’ system, Butler may make his MLB debut before him. In his two starts, Butler allowed three runs over 12 innings, striking out 12. Now, I generally shy away from Rockies pitchers in fantasy because of that ballpark, but Butler may be Coors-proof. He generates a lot of groundballs, can whiff a man an inning and should help in all four starting pitcher categories. I expect that he’ll make his major league debut sometime this summer.
Kris Bryant (3B, CHC)
Bryant is one of the most asked about prospects in the Rotoballer baseball chat room (which everyone should check out, by the way). He’s been playing third base for the Tennessee Smokies in double-A, hitting two homers in the first week of play. Bryant’s power is undeniable, as he projects to be a 30-HR guy in the majors. The question remains when he will be called up. The best guess is later this summer, after the super-two deadline, or perhaps later. The Cubs are expected to be sellers at the trade deadline, opening up room for their young studs to come up and make their debut. Bryant is in his first year of full-season ball and is more likely to stick as a right-fielder, rather than at third.
Brandon Cumpton (SP, PIT)
Cumpton is not a big-time prospect. He also isn’t a rookie per se, since he logged thirty-plus innings with the Pirates last year. I mention him here because he probably should have won the Pirates fifth-starter job out of Spring Training. Pittsburgh brought in veteran Edinson Volquez to fill that role, but at the first sign of trouble (or injury) from a starting pitcher, I’d expect Cumpton to get another look. Top pitching prospect Jameson Taillon is unfortunately out for the season with TJ surgery. The only other competition to snag starts in the bigs would be Jeff Locke. Cumpton threw six shutout innings in his triple-A debut and could be a sneaky pickup as stream-in starting pitcher type if he gets a chance at the rotation.
AAA (International League)
Philip Gosselin, 2B, Gwinnett (ATL): .500 (10-for-20), 7 runs
Ernesto Mejia, 1B, Gwinnett (ATL): .318 (7-for-22), 7 runs, 5 HR
Cameron Rupp, C, Lehigh Valley (ATL): .313 (5-for-16), 4 HR, 7 RBI
AAA (Pacific Coast League)
Zach Lutz, 3B, Las Vegas (NYM): .500 (9-for-18), 9 runs, 9 RBI
Boone Whiting, SP, Memphis (STL): 8 IP, 1 ER, 11 K
Eric Jokisch, SP, Iowa (CHC): 7 IP, 6 hits 0 ER
AA (Eastern League)
Edgar Duran, SS, Reading (PHL): .500 (8-for-16)
Severino Gonzalez, SP, Reading (PHL) 1-0, 1.50 ERA, 12 IP, 2 ER, 9 K
AA (Southern League)
Chase Anderson, SP, Mobile (ARZ): 1-0, 12 IP, 5 hits, 0 runs, 12 K
Robert Stephenson, SP, Pensacola (CIN): 1-0, 5 IP, 1 hit, 0 runs, 11 K
AA (Texas League)
James Ramsey, Springfield (STL): .476 (10-for-21), 4 runs, 3 RBI
Richard Castillo, Tulsa (COL): 6 IP, 2 hits, 0 ER