by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Which prospects are on the verge of making an impact in the Major Leagues? This weekly column will rank the ten who are closest (as well as other names that are being closely considered). Keep in mind that while talent is factored in opportunity plays a major role, so there may be some “lesser” prospects who rank fairly highly on the list (the number in parenthesis is their ranking from last week):
1) Byron Buxton – Outfielder – Minnesota Twins (3)
The Twins have turned to Eddie Rosario as a short-term option in the outfield, thanks to the injury to Oswaldo Arcia, but Buxton is quickly going to force his way into the mix. Minnesota’s centerfielders are tied for the third worst SLG (.315) entering play on Tuesday, going without a home run and stolen base. Buxton, meanwhile, was on an eight game hitting streak (15-33, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 12 R and 5 SB). He’s one of the premier prospects in the game and the team has proven that they are willing to promote players directly from Double-A (see Kennys Vargas from last season). We knew it was just a matter of when Buxton put a lost 2014 behind him, and that now appears to be the case. It makes sense for the team to get him learning under Torii Hunter while he’s on the roster, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Buxton arrive soon after June 1.
2) Rusney Castillo – Outfielder – Boston Red Sox (1)
It’s been a slow return for Castillo, who is off the DL but went hitless in three games. That said, with both Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino injured (though the latter is close to returning an the former not guarantee to it the DL), it could finally be time for Castillo to make his 2015 Major League debut. Signed to a big contract, it’s just a matter of time before he gets his opportunity and we’ve seen what he’s capable of (.333, 2 HR, 3 SB in 36 AB in the Majors in 2014).
3) Carlos Correa – Shortstop – Houston Astros (8)
The Houston Astros have been playing exceptionally well, even after losing Jedd Lowrie, so they have no reason to push the envelope. That said, the longer they play well the more necessary it becomes to get your best players helping you win ball games (or if maybe their recent cold streak continues, especially now that George Springer is injured, and they will opt to push Correa to the Majors). Of course, it could be a moot point as Correa is doing everything possible to force the issue. In 94 AB he’s hitting .323 with 5 HR (along with 13 doubles and 1 triple) and 11 SB. Throw in a reasonable 20 K vs. 12 BB and there’s a lot to like. The question comes down to how much experience the Astros want the 20-year old to have before summoning him to the Majors. At the very least you’d expect them to wait until the Super 2 deadline passes.
4) Maikel Franco – Third Baseman – Philadelphia Phillies (2)
We continue to wait for Franco, as Howard has shown signings of heating up of late. However, with Cody Asche working in the outfield the team is trying to get creative to find playing time for him (though Asche himself has been in a miserable slump and could ultimately play himself out of a job). Of course Franco has cooled down recently, hitting .238 with 0 HR and 10 K over his past 10 games. Strikeouts have never been an issue in the past, so a 21.9% strikeout rate is concerning. Throw in only 1 HR and maybe his promotion isn’t as imminent as we once thought. He should make an impact in 2015, but the idea that he had nothing left to prove in the minors may not be quite as accurate as we once thought.
5) Eduardo Rodriguez – Starting Pitcher – Boston Red Sox (9)
Red Sox starters have been horrific this season, entering Tuesday with the worst ERA in the league (5.73, with the White Sox’ 5.52 being the closest to them). Just look at the numbers for the revamped rotation:
- Justin Masterson – 4.71
- Rick Porcello – 5.34
- Joe Kelly – 5.72
- Clay Buchholz – 6.03
- Wade Miley – 7.15
For a team with World Series aspirations that simply won’t cut it. Lucky for the team they have a few options at Triple-A, though Rodriguez could be the first to arrive (he’s on the 40 man roster, unlike Henry Owens). Over 24.2 IP he’s posted a 1.82 ERA and 0.85 WHIP, courtesy of an impressive 22 K vs. 2 BB. At this point he certainly can’t be worse then what they are running out there, right?
6) Jose Peraza – Second Baseman – Atlanta Braves (NR)
Atlanta’s second baseman continue to struggle, hitting .233 with 0 HR and 2 SB on the season. Sure Jace Peterson has been playing better of late, but is he really the answer? Enter Peraza, who is hitting .301 with 7 SB at Triple-A while showing the ability to make consistent contact (10 K over 93 AB) at the highest level. The team has been utilizing him as the #2 hitter, so don’t necessarily envision him moving Nick Markakis out of the leadoff spot once he arrives. That said, he should immediately produce stolen bases and a .270+ average. Given what the team is running out there, it certainly may not be long.
7) Marco Gonzales – Starting Pitcher – St. Louis Cardinals (NR)
If he had been healthy he may have been given the first opportunity to claim the rotation spot left vacant by Adam Wainwright’s season ending surgery. Gonzales is expected to return to action over the weekend and it may not be long before he gets the call up to St. Louis. While he’s not the level of prospect of some others, the 2013 first round selection has generated strikeouts (8.54 K/9) and control (2.12 BB/9) over his minor league career. If he’s going to get his opportunity he will certainly be worth considering and, given who the Cardinals have been forced to try, it’s not going to take long.
8) Matt Reynolds – Shortstop – New York Mets (NR)
The fact that the Mets have given Wilmer Flores a few days off tells us that their patience may finally be wearing thin. Its become obvious that he can’t handle the position defensively, and a team built on it’s pitching needs someone who can make the routine plays. Is Reynolds that guy? It remains to be seen, but he brings just as much upside at the plate (.326, 2 HR, 6 SB, as well as 12 doubles and 1 triple) and should be given a chance before the team looks outside the organization. Given the injuries at the position across the league, he’s definitely worth consideration.
9) Noah Syndergaard – Starting Pitcher – New York Mets (10)
With Rafael Montero on the DL Syndergaard should get the first opportunity when a rotation spot opens up or when the Mets decide to utilize a sixth starter (to afford Matt Harvey an extra day of rest). While he started slow, Syndergaard has come to life over his last two starts tossing 14.0 shutout innings allowing 6 H and 2 BB to go along with 19 K. Pitching in Las Vegas you have to take some of the numbers with a grain of salt, but there’s no questioning the ability. He just needs an opportunity to show it.
10) Francisco Lindor – Shortstop – Cleveland Indians (6)
Lindor has always been known more for his glove than his bat, so we don’t want to read too much into his .239/.323/.341 slash at Triple-A. That said, those numbers actually represent an improvement over what Cleveland has gotten out of the position thus far (.196/.227/.272) and Lindor has shown more promise. He has a good sense of the strike zone (17 K vs. 11 BB) and has the ability to steal 20+ bases (6 thus far at Triple-A) with a little bit of pop. He definitely will hold value once he arrives, especially given all of the injuries to the position.
Corey Seager – Shortstop – Los Angeles Dodgers
Now at Triple-A, I really wanted to include Seager on this list. However, despite the need at third base, the unwillingness to play Alex Guerrero there makes you wonder if the team would be willing to turn the job over to Seager. There’s no questioning his potential or success thus far in 2015, the question comes down to opportunity. He needs to be on radars, as an injury to Jimmy Rollins would force Los Angeles’ hands, but at this point there is no imminent arrival.
Others We’re Watching:
- Dylan Bundy – Starting Pitcher – Baltimore Orioles
- Andrew Heaney – Starting Pitcher – Los Angeles Angels
- Hector Olivera – Third Baseman – Los Angeles Dodgers
- Henry Owens – Starting Pitcher – Boston Red Sox
- Ben Lively – Starting Pitcher – Philadelphia Phillies
- Steven Matz – Starting Pitcher – New York Mets
- Alex Meyer – Starting Pitcher – Minnesota Twins
- Miguel Sano – Third Baseman – Minnesota Twins
- Luis Severino – Starting Pitcher – New York Yankees
- Jon Singleton – First Baseman – Houston Astros
Fell Off the Rankings:
- Luis Severino – Starting Pitcher – New York Yankees (7)
- Blake Swihart – Catcher – Boston Red Sox (4)
- Mike Foltynewicz – Starting Pitcher – Atlanta Braves (5)
Make sure to check out all of our recent articles:
- Closer In Waiting Power Rankings (May 5, 2015): Who Is The Next Source Of Saves
- Waiver Worthy: Who To Add, And Who To Drop For Them
- BABIPin’ Ain’t Easy: Who Will Keep On Raking?
- How Concerned Should Fantasy Owners Be With Corey Kluber?
- Believer or Deceiver: Should Fantasy Owners Believe in Michael Pineda and/or Matt Garza?