As the baseball season is upon us, we (fantasy baseball enthusiasts) are elbow deep in reading every article we can get our hands on (mostly RotoBaller articles!!) and analyzing every player with even a glimpse of seeing the show this year. By knowing every player in MLB, you are better prepared to dominate your opponents on your way to championship that you can brag about for the rest of time. Here at RotoBaller, we want to let you know that we will be here with you every step of the way, through the ups and downs. We’ll help you get through those dreaded DL stints and those weeks where your star player couldn’t hit a beach ball.
Top Rookies & Prospects for 2014
One of the ways to construct your fantasy championship team is to meld fantasy studs with fantasy rookies and prospects. The proper balance of known commodities and breakout rookies will work together to bring you home the bacon. Here at RotoBaller, we’ve came up with a list of 20 rookies who will have fantasy impacts in 2014. Below is the first installment of the top 20 prospects, stay tuned for part 2 coming soon.
20. Jameson Taillon, SP - PIT
The Pirates have gone through this before with Gerrit Cole. They have a young stud pitcher who is MLB ready today but they believe in waiting to bring him up. Well, it worked with Cole, so expect to see Taillon called up in June and help the Pirates try to make back-to-back postseason appearances.
19. Erik Johnson, SP - CWS
Johnson is the #4 starter for the White Sox. He had an overall 2.21 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in his brief Minor League career. Johnson had a cup of coffee with the Sox last year finishing 3-2 with a 3.25 ERA. His minor league K/9 of 8.4 will help him miss some bats, which he will need pitching in hitter friendly U.S. Cellular field.
18. Jackie Bradley Jr., OF - BOS
The darling of 2013 Spring Training, Bradley tore it up to a tune of 2 HR, 12 RBI and .419 BA, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Those numbers didn’t translate to the games that counted, as Bradley struggled with a .097 BA in April, earning a trip back to the minors. He figured it out in AAA and finished an up and down year with a .275/.374/.469 slash line. Nothing to get too excited about, but with Jacoby Ellsbury leaving for New York, Bradley is competing with Grady Sizemore for the starting CF spot. Sizemore has the inner track right now, but I doubt Sizemore can sustain his spring stats as well as his health. Look for JBJ to take over CF duties at some point, and keep it for the rest of the year.
17. Alexander Guerrero, 2B / SS - LAD
Even though it seems that he will start the year in AAA, as Dee Gordon has won the job in LA, Gordon is no sure bet to last in that spot. When he slumps, which he will, the Dodgers will waste no time to bring up another Cuban hitter in Guerrero. Don’t expect a Puig type of splash, but Guerrero will provide you with a second basemen that has power. Guerrero hit 43 HR in 657 plate appearances in his final two seasons with Cuba’s Serie Nacional, which propelled him to get $28 million over 4 years from the Dodgers. Yes, his defense is suspect, but his power is not. If you need a little extra power, look no further than Guerrero when he gets the call.
16. Kolten Wong, 2B - STL
Wong will be the Opening Day second basemen for the Cardinals as he has earned his spot. A career .301 BA in the minors as well as back to back seasons of 20 SB will help the Cardinals in the bottom of the order. This is a great place for Wong has he will have the ability to drive in some runs as well as provide you with double digit HR and SB. This is a really good Cardinals team and Wong will be an added bonus. Don’t worry about newly signed Mark Ellis taking ABs away from Wong, Manager Mike Matheny won’t let that happen if he knew what was good for the Cardinals.
15. Javier Baez, SS - CHC
Have you seen his monster HR’s this spring? If you watch this and this, I will have no need to write anymore. He is starting year in AAA Iowa but he won’t be there a full season. The Cubs will move him up no later than early July, so he won’t become eligible for arbitration until after the 2016 season. Baez needs more defensive work and he will get that at AAA playing both SS and 2B. The Cubs need his bat and he will come raking when that time comes. If you have the ability to stash him, do so and reap the rewards for the end of the season and many more to come.
14. Matt Davidson, 3B - CWS
Though he was recently sent down to AAA, Matt Davidson will be a key piece to the White Sox this year. I expect an early May call up after acquiring some at bats in Charlotte. The Sox were willing to deal closer Addison Reed because they believe that Davidson will be the cornerstone of their infield, along with the Jose Abreu, for years to come. Expect Davidson to come up and stay in the big leagues, providing you with a corner infield hitter that will help in most fantasy hitting categories.
13. Travis D’Arnaud, C - NYM
D’Arnaud has been the top fantasy prospect at the catcher positions for two straight years now. He missed most of 2013 with a broken foot, and when he did recover and was sent up, he didn’t produce as expected. Now fully healed, with the starting catching spot all his, D’Arnaud can relax and do what he has been doing all his life - hit. Right now, he can be a second catcher in two-catcher leagues, as well as a stash in keeper and dynasty leagues. Once he gets more experience, he could become a top-10 catcher year in and year out.
12. James Paxton, SP - SEA
Coming off an impressive debut in 2013 (3-0, 7.88 K/9, 1.50 ERA), Paxton looks to anchor the Mariners rotation. The big lefty has a mid 90s fastball, a nasty slider and a decent curve. He worked on a changeup this offseason to add to his repertoire as well. Finally fully recovered from knee injuries, Paxton can be that gem you find late in draft rounds as he has the ability to dominate hitters, especially lefties. Pitching in Safeco always helps as well.
11. Kevin Gausman, SP - BAL
After getting a taste of the big leagues last year, Gausman (2013 MLB.com #14 rated prospect) wants another chance to impress. He came up and made 5 starts that were not very memorable, but a shift to the bullpen showed he can pitch at the big league level. Though most likely to start season in AAA, Gausman is an impact pitcher that can dominate hitters. I expect him to do big things this year, thinking along the lines of Gerrit Cole last year.
Stay tuned for my top 10 2014 fantasy impactful rookies coming soon!