Welcome to the weekly Fantasy Prospect Primer. This article is to inform you on prospects that might be contributing in fantasy in the near future or has been called up to the majors. Especially good for Keeper Leagues, you’ll want to check-in weekly to get the latest news and advice for the coming week regarding prospects of fantasy relevance. Whether you need a great future Keeper or you’re tired of starting Ryan Dempster as that last SP, or just looking for the next big thing in fantasy baseball…this is the article for you!
A Look to the 2014 Season for Prospects
Last week we took a look at some last-minute September call-ups that may help your playoff push, and this week I cater to those keeper-league owners who no longer have to check their lineups. This is a list of my Top-10 Fantasy Prospects for the 2014 season. For obvious reasons, it is hard to predict when they will be called up and contribute, but these players have the highest upside and with either good spring trainings or fast starts for their respective minor league teams, they could contribute opening day and/or should be called up by June of 2014 . Technically, some prospects such as Xander Bogaerts, Nick Castellanos, and perhaps Billy Hamilton will still have official ‘prospect’ label on them for next year, but most of you should know them by now, so let’s get to it…
- Taijuan Walker (SP, SEA) – You probably know him by now-- he’s pitching fairly well so far since his call-up to the big leagues. He’s struggling to go six innings in his starts, but that’s not uncommon as young pitchers adjust to the plate discipline of the majors. At least he’s showing the strikeout ability and mostly above-average control that we saw from him in the minors. He’s easily the most talented pitcher prospect-wise in 2014.
- Oscar Taveras (OF, STL) – Everyone was expecting to see a piece of Tavares in 2013. They would have been correct if it weren’t for injuries plaguing his season down in Triple-A. Either way, Tavares is a natural hitter and if healthy, I see him on the Cardinals' Opening Day roster, despite missing time this year.
- George Springer (OF, HOU) – Springer has a good chance to be the 2013 Minor League Player of the Year, and some Houston fans are disappointed that he wasn’t a September call-up. Springer showed enough talent to be a 30-30 type player and showcased his five-tool fantasy potential. He will probably start 2014 in the minors, but Houston doesn’t have the talent to keep him there for long.
- Archie Bradley (SP, ARI) – In terms of MLB-ready talent, Walker and Bradley were 1-2 in the minors this year. Bradley had a superb first half where he pitched like a natural ace. Since his promotion to Triple-A, he’s slipped a bit and could just be to adjusting to a higher innings cap, but his raw ability is becoming talent very quickly.
- Jameson Taillon (SP, PIT) – Taillon finished the year at Triple-A, and if his improving change-up was major-league ready, he’d be in the Pirates rotation right now. He was the 19th ranked prospect going into 2013 and there is no reason he won’t be a top-10 prospect heading into 2014.
- Joc Pederson, (OF, LAD) – This toolsy hitter does it all. If you are familiar with my thinking, you'll know I’m really high on this guy. He spent the season at Double-A and hit .278/.381/.497 with 22 homers and 31 stolen bases. He did strike out 114 times, a statistic in which the Dodgers would love to see some improvement, but that’s not as bad when you’re taking 70 walks. Not bad at all…
- Noah Syndergaard (SP, NYM) – It’s really too bad about the Matt Harvey injury as far as the maturation of this Mets' franchise. With Harvey and a quickly developing Zack Wheeler, 2014 prospect Noah Syndergaard would have solidified an amazing homegrown 1-2-3 punch in a major league rotation. Syndergaard had a 3.02 ERA with 137 strikeouts and only 28 walks between High-A and Double-A this year.
- Miguel Sano (3B, MIN) – Sano had some trouble this year getting used to Double-A pitching, where he only hit for a .236 batting average. On the other hand, in 233 at-bats at that level, he did hit 19 home-runs. His average doesn’t project to be that bad and I’ll be expecting him to play for the Twins around mid-June next year.
- Javier Baez (SS, CHC) – Probably the most exciting ‘fantasy’ prospect on this list, all Baez has done since being promoted to Double-A is hit .294 with a .346 on-base percentage and 20 home-runs in 218 at-bats. Oh, and did I mention that he plays shortstop and added eight steals? That's fantasy gold.
- Robert Stephenson (SP, CIN) – Definitely the most raw prospect on the list, you just can’t ignore what he’s done so far in his minor league career: 136 strikeouts and only 33 walks on the season, with a 2.99 ERA. Very Syndergaard-like statistics, and he matched Syndergaard ending his season in Double-A at an innings cap.
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