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Minor League Spotlight: Top Fantasy Prospects from Week 5


I have been very neutral in both of the Bryce Harper debates that have gone on between this season and last season. Last season, people were saying that he was overrated and will never be a great hitter. I knew that was too harsh on him considering his youth and still blossoming career (he is younger than Kris Bryant). But now that he is hitting, I find myself also having to disagree with many people who are now asking if he can be compared to Mike Trout again. Bryce Harper is a tremendous player with plenty of upside, but he has a long way to go before there is even a discussion between him and Mike Trout.

There has not, and likely will not be a debate so hotly contested between young stars like Trout and Harper any time in the distant future. They were considered one and two top prospects and both were considered future Hall of Famers before they were in the Majors. Today, the closest thing to that is the three way debate between Byron Buxton, Kris Bryant, and Carlos Correa. But there are certainly other talented prospects that could be in the Majors soon. Here are some players in the Minors who have played very well to start off their 2015 season.

Editor's Note: For more fantasy prospects coverage, check out RotoBaller's weekly top 30 prospect rankings

 

Kyle Schwarber (C/OF, CHC, Double-A)

Stats: .325/.442/.590, 5 HR, 0 SB, 18.3% BB rate, 21.2% K rate
I remember watching the 2014 draft and listening to the surprise by the analysts that catcher Kyle Schwarber was drafted fourth overall. The pick is starting to look quite good for the Cubs so far. Schwarber has demonstrated fantastic power out of the catcher’s position and looks like someone who will be a future perennial silver slugger winner from that position.

The Cubs have liked the production of Miguel Montero so far this season, but Schwarber has flown through the Minor Leagues and at this rate could see Major League time by September. Even if he is only up in the Majors for a month, Schwarber provides the kind of power that fantasy owners crave from a position that generally is weak offensively and could be a valuable asset to fantasy teams down the stretch of the season.

 

Adam Duvall (1B/3B, SFG, Triple-A)

Stats: .322/.362/.645, 9 HR, 0 SB, 6.2% BB rate, 20.8% K rate
If Adam Duvall is going to reach the Majors this season, it will be at third base. It was a known weak spot for the Giants coming into the season after losing Pablo Sandoval and it has lived up (or down for that matter) to those expectations. First base is currently blocked by the incredibly effective platoon of Buster Posey and Brandon Belt. Duvall has tremendous power, hitting 27 home runs ins only 91 games last season at Triple-A, hitting 17 the season before at Double-A, and 30 in 2012 at High-A ball.

There is no doubt that Duvall has plenty of power and so far this season he has brought the batting average up to par with the rest of his hitting ability. Given how awful the Giants have been at third base this season (combined four home runs and slash line of .224/.261/.328), expect Duvall to be called up sooner rather than later. Both of those positions are notoriously full of potent hitters, but Duvall could certainly be a fantastic add with his power potential in NL-only leagues and 12+ team leagues.

 

Alex Castellanos (OF, NYM, Triple-A)

Stats: .358/.453/.802, 8 HR, 3 SB, 11.6% BB rate, 15.8% K rate
Alex Castellanos is a funny player. He just is. Drafted in 2008 by the St. Louis Cardinals with the 305th overall pick, he has since bounced around to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Diego Padres, and now finds himself with the New York Mets. Almost every season, Castellanos puts up numbers that look so tempting to put on a full time roster. Four times in his Minor League career has Castellanos hit double digit home runs and stolen double digit bases. He has also held a BA over .300 in a season twice. At 28-years-old, many don’t consider him to be a highly touted prospect, but he may have some value for the wary fantasy owner. Castellanos could get a call up at any moment considering the injury history of Mets’ left-fielder Michael Cuddyer and the offensive struggles of Juan Lagares throughout his career. A pickup of Castellanos would require major necessity for production in the outfield, but he certainly has the potential to hit for some decent power and provide some stolen bases.

 

Blake Snell (SP, TB, Double-A)

Stats: 33.0 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1.82 FIP, 11.73 K/9, 3.82 BB/9, 0.00 HR/9
I would be remiss if I did not mention the pitcher who has arguably been the pitcher of the MiLB season. In 33 innings as a starter, Tampa Rays’ 22-year-old prospect Blake Snell has yet to allow a run. Not just an earned run, no runs period. Snell was drafted 52nd overall by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011 and has never been concerned as an elite level prospect, but he has pitched well in his career with the exception of a little bit of control issues. With the position that the Rays are in right now, Snell could potentially see time this season with the big league club if he continues to impress.

The news of Drew Smyly being out with season-ending surgery certainly does help Snell’s fantasy value as that does move him up the depth chart. Will he give up a run? At some point it will happen especially given his track record of excessive walks and the .206 BABIP is certainly unsustainable. But given Snell’s history of also recording a lot of strikeouts, limiting home runs, and getting outs, he could be a solid pickup for fantasy owners in mixed leagues if given the call to the big leagues.

 

Tyler Glasnow (SP, PIT, Double-A)

Stats: 25.2 IP, 1.40 ERA, 1.93 FIP, 9.82 K/9, 2.10 BB/9, 0.00 HR/9
Jameson Taillon was on the fast track to the Majors, or so it appeared. Pirates fans were ready for him to follow in the footsteps of Gerrit Cole and bolster that young rotation. But Tommy John surgery held him back significantly, and he has yet to throw a pitch in the 2015 season. This has allowed Tyler Glasnow to emerge into the picture as the next starter to potentially join the Pirates staff.

Glasnow was the 152nd overall pick in the 2011 draft and wasn’t considered to be much, but now he is viewed as the steal of the draft. Glasnow has struggled with command and will have to improve on it before being called up, but he has a fastball that is being talked about in the same sentence as that of Lucas Giolito, a curveball that is viewed as a perfect complement to that fastball, and a changeup that is becoming a decent third pitch. Glasnow could still be a year or two away, but he could see time if Taillon proves to need a little bit more time. He would provide plenty of strikeouts and has the stuff to be a top of the rotation type starter.

 

Julio Urias (SP, LAD, Double-A)

Stats: 32.2 IP, 2.45 ERA, 1.98 FIP, 10.74 K/9, 1.38 BB/9, 0.28 HR/9
The Los Angeles Dodgers have had a lot of issues with pitching this season. Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke have been at their usual dominant level, but after that they have not been lucky at all. Brandon McCarthy was shut down with Tommy John surgery, Hyun-jin Ryu has yet to get healthy, and all of the other pitchers who have made starts for them have not looked like permanent fixtures in their rotation.

With the aggressive history of the Dodgers on the trade market, it would be a surprise if they did not acquire another pitcher by the trade deadline, but Julio Urias is in a position to potentially surprise some people and see time this season. He looked very sharp in Spring Training and has been nothing if not elite at every level in which he has pitched in the Minors. Urias has elite control and three pitches that are close to Major League ready. He is behind a number of pitchers like Zach Lee in the Minors to fill in the rotation. But, if called up, Urias could be a phenomenal pickup considering his elite potential and current ability.

 

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