This series will look at prospects and show whether they are worth an investment on your fantasy team. Every owner knows that the secret to a strong minors system is knowing who to throw away and knowing who to keep. Each player featured in this series will be given one of the following recommendations:
- Hold ‘em : If you own this prospect, hang tight. While times may seem rough, the talent is worth holding onto.
- Fold ‘em : If you own this prospect, now is the time to sell while they may still have some name value.
- Walk Away: This prospect is not worth paying attention to in your league.
- Run: Get to the waiver wire immediately and put a claim in for this prospect.
We’re one month away from the All-Star break; typically the time that the mid-season top prospect lists come out. While researching for my list, I’ve noted a few players that will have significant increases in their rankings. These changes are mostly due to a player far exceeding my expectations, or in some cases I simply did not give enough credit to a player’s skill set. There are also players whose stock has gone up dramatically, but may not rise on my list an awful lot, simply because I was expecting their value to rise and I already ranked them accordingly. One example is Lucas Giolito whom I had ranked as the #14 overall prospect preseason. I’ll have my updated list in July, but here is my preseason Top 100 Prospect List. Please note that in my mid-season list, I will not include any players active on a major league roster.
1. Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs. Bryant was drafted second overall by the Cubs in 2013 and excelled through Rookie Ball, low A and high A last year. The strikeouts were/are a concern, but he’s almost doubled his walk rate this year while continuing to produce video game power numbers. I also have less concern about him being moved off of 3B than I did preseason. The ranking was pretty good in January, but it’s going be awesome in July.
Preseason Rank #16, Recommendation: Run
2. Joey Gallo, 3B, Texas Rangers. Speaking of strikeouts, Joey Gallo had a 37% K rate in 2013 as a 19-year-old in A ball. Looking through qualified hitters, no major league hitter has had a season with as high a strikeout rate EVER. Fast forward to 2014 and nobody has had their stock increase as much as Gallo as he’s doubled his walk rate while knocking his K rate down to 26%. Gallo was recently promoted to AA on Monday and hit a walk off home run in his debut as one of the youngest players in the league. Gallo and Bryant may be the best power hitting prospects alive.
Preseason Rank #N/A, Recommendation: Run
3. J.P. Crawford, SS, Philadelphia Phillies. 16th pick in the first round of the 2013 draft, Crawford spent most of last year in rookie ball before a late promotion to Lakeland where he hit just .208/.300/.226 in 53 at bats. Back in 2014, Crawford is looking like he’s due for a promotion to Reading at just 19 years old.
Preseason Rank #76, Recommendation: Run
4. Mookie Betts, 2B, Boston Red Sox. Just 5’9″ and 155 lbs, 21-year-old Betts was overlooked by many, including myself, heading into 2014. As a 20-year-old in High A last year, Betts walked more than he struck out, and showed power and speed. In his previous season, his ISO was just .040; couple that with his size and I had some amount of reservation he’d keep the power numbers as he progressed. This year he’s passed through AA and is in already in Pawtucket with no sign of letting up.
Preseason Rank #67, Recommendation: Run
5. Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers. Pederson was featured in his own Gambling on Prospects post here.
Preseason Rank #81, Recommendation: Run
6. D.J. Peterson, 3B, Seattle Mariners. I thought I ranked the #12 overall pick from the 2013 draft pretty aggressively preseason. While his numbers don’t look drastically improved vs 2013, his April was horrendous. Since May 1st of this year, he’s hitting .316/.370/.599
Preseason Rank #59, Recommendation: Run
7. Hunter Harvey, SP, Baltimore Orioles. Another first round pick from the 2013 draft (a theme here), Harvey has continued his early success in A ball at just 19 years old. CJ Witmann of Baseball Prospectus does a heck of a write up of him here. I’m usually biased against Baltimore pitching prospects because a) they’re going to end up pitching in a difficult park/division and b) the organization doesn’t have a history of successfully developing them. Hopefully Harvey will be the exception.
Preseason Rank #69, Recommendation: Run
8. Braden Shipley, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks. Shipley was drafted in the first round as well in 2013 with the 15th pick overall after transitioning to a full-time pitcher late in 2011. Shipley has moved up to High A and continues to rack up the strikeouts as well as a 44% GB rate; a lethal combination which results in hitters slugging just .378 against him this season. I felt good about including him in my preseason list even with little results to back it up. The results are now coming in and they’re excellent.
Preseason Rank #93, Recommendation: Run
9. Jose Berrios, SP, Minnesota Twins. Berrios was drafted out of highschool the 32nd player overall in 2012. Overshadowed by many great Twins prospects, Berrios has more than come into his own this year. Just 20 years old against older competition, Berrios has a 28% K rate to go with just a 6% BB rate. In his last two starts he’s walked none and struck out 22. I missed the boat on Berrios in the preseason, but he was just 19 with average performance to balance with his excellent stuff.
Preseason Rank #N/A, Recommendation: Run
10. Henry Owens, SP, Boston Red Sox. Owens opened the 2014 season off with a no-hitter and has been pretty close to unhittable all season (.170 BAA). The problem for Owens has been his control, but over his past 3 starts he’s walked just 5 batters in 22 innings. With a 26% K rate this season and a 45% GB rate, Owens has the raw stuff that fantasy owners dream of.
Preseason Rank #54, Recommendation: Run
If you’re gonna play the game boy, you gotta learn to play it right.