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Yesterday we looked at the top 6-10 prospects. Today we bring you the top 5 hitting prospects for 2014 fantasy baseball.

 

Top 5 MLB Hitting Prospects

 

5) Kris Bryant (Chicago Cubs, 3B)

2014 Minors Stats: .353/.460/.701 with 20 HR, 8 SB

Relevant Categories: Batting Average, Homers, Steals

Expected Call-Up Date: September

RotoBaller-MLB-News-Fantasy-Baseball-Advice-Analysis-Kris-BryantKris Bryant has lit the world on fire so far this season, doing about everything you could hope to see out of a prospect in his first season in AA. He has the kind of bat speed that makes you just expect to see a plus contributor in batting average as he matures, and having hit 20 homers and stolen eight bases in only a 3rd of a minor league season, you can see how he could be a incredible fantasy asset.

What limits Bryant is that the Cubs have no real reason to call him up earlier than September, which gives him very little time to adjust to the big leagues, much less produce for fantasy owners this season. That said Yasiel Puig showed us all last year just how much impact a rookie can make even in just his first month if he's talented enough, and it's certainly true Bryant is oozing talent. Monitor his name closely because there's always the chance the Cubs surprise me and call him up early, but regardless you'll want him on your team when he arrives.

 

4) Jon Singleton (Houston Astros, 1B)

2014 Minors Stats: .267/.397/.544 with 14 HR, 1 SB

Relevant Categories: Homers

Expected Call-up Date: Already in Majors

Jon Singleton is going to be a yearly 30-35 home run threat one day, but I don't think that day is today. He's already up in the majors and that is what brings him as high as he is on this list because at-bats are still at-bats, but I consider him a very risky prospect. He showed impressive patience at the plate in the minors walking at a 15-18% rate through most of the last two and a half years, but the strikeouts will always be an issue for him and this could make him a very streaky player in terms of batting average. His first year in the majors could be a very rocky one in this regard, enough so that I wouldn't be shocked if he hit .230-.240 the rest of the way. While he could hit 15 homers in that same span, so could Adam Dunn, which is about the type of player I think you can expect Singleton to be in the short term. I think the future for this player is very bright, but for this season I think he's reduced to deep league and AL only play.

 

3) Joc Pederson (Los Angeles Dodgers, OF)

2014 Minors Stats: .339/.448/.638 with 16 HR, 13 SB

Relevant Categories: Batting Average, Steals, Homers

Expected Call-up Date: August-September

If Joc Pederson played for a different team, there’s a strong argument to be made that he would lead this list. He's got the most well rounded skillset of any of the prospects mentioned so far. While I can see real power developing for Polanco and Taveras down the line, Pederson already has the skills to launch 20 homers in a full season. When you pair that with the kind of speed that saw him average almost 29 steals per season between 2011-2013, and a plus batting average you see a lot to like. The issue with Pederson is that as a Dodger he belongs to a team that already has Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, and Andre Ethier on the payroll, which both limits expectations about his call-up date as well as the playing time he'll receive once in the majors. That said, on a per at-bat basis I'd argue that Pederson is probably the 'safest' prospect on this list. I'm very excited about the career we can expect from him.

 

2) Oscar Taveras (St. Louis Cardinals, OF)

2014 Minors Stats: .325/.373/.524 with 7 HR, 1 SB

Relevant Categories: Batting Average

Expected Call-up Date: Already in Majors

I think that Oscar Taveras is by far the best pure hitter among major prospects in the game right now. You'll hear a lot of comps between him and players like Pablo Sandoval and Vladamir Guerrero because of the almost freakish plate coverage that Taveras possesses, and they’re well deserved. For now I feel safe in saying that the majority of Taveras' rookie season fantasy value will come from the excellent batting average this immense talent suggests he'll have. Due to the adjustments needed to transition to the big leagues however, it's quite likely that this talent will only really shine through in his sophomore season.

There could be some big up and down stretches as Taveras adjusts to what major league pitchers are capable of delivering so owners will have to be patient with him and be reasonable with their expectations (a .300+ batting average is of course possible, but a .285 line is much more likely, especially initially). Without any real noticeable speed or overwhelming power numbers to support him (though I'm quite convinced the power will develop nicely in a season or two for now I'd be happy with 6-8 homeruns down the stretch), this makes Taveras a bit more risky of a player than you might initially expect. That being said his talent is such that he's a must watch prospect.

 

1)  Gregory Polanco (Pittsburgh Pirates, OF)

2014 Minors Stats: .350/.409/.547 with 7 HR, 15 SB

Relevant Categories: Batting Average, Steals

Expected Call-up Date: Already In Majors

Gregory Polanco Pittsburgh Pirates

It shouldn't surprise many that Gregory Polanco leads this list of must-follow fantasy prospects. His A-ball performance in 2012 was eye-opening: he stole 40 bases with a .325 batting average and hit 16 home runs, all the while showing the kind of impressive plate discipline that you want to see from a prospect.

His raw numbers have stayed good ever since, but what matters more to me is the plate discipline stats which are equally impressive. Polanco has historically struck out around 15% of the time, a very manageable number for a player as young as him. While we of course have to realize that there is a very good chance that this number will rise some as he meets up against major league pitching, the fact that we can already see a good approach at the plate strongly suggests that his talent for hitting for a high average won't just be a figment of the minor leagues. Getting on base will be key for Polanco as his major league power potential is still much more of the doubles variety than the home run power many see developing in the future. In order to be a fantasy asset, he'll have to make use of his greatest strength right now: his speed. Luckily I think he has the skill set to do this. He could very well be a 20 steal player the rest of the way.

 





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