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 and all statistics are through Sunday unless otherwise noted):
1) Jameson Taillon – Pittsburgh Pirates – Starting Pitcher (4)
Is it possible that he has jumped back ahead of Tyler Glasnow in regards to who will arrive first in Pittsburgh? The team has a need and Taillon has shown consistency every time he’s taken the mound. Sure he’s allowed 3 ER in each of his past two starts, but he’s gone 6+ innings in six of his seven starts, posting an impressive 2.08 ERA and 0.81 WHIP. Even better? In his 43.1 innings he’s posted 43 K vs. 5 BB. It’s been an incredibly long road (he missed all of 2014 and 2015), but at this point it’s getting hard to see what he has left to prove. Once considered a Top 10 prospect in all of baseball, it’s simply a matter of when the team decides it wants to move on from either Jon Niese or Jeff Locke.
2) Trea Turner – Washington Nationals – Shortstop (2)
Turner simply continues to produce… And produce… And produce. He’s now hitting .341 over his past 10 games, to go along with 1 HR, 6 RBI, 5 R and 4 SB. He’s kept the strikeouts in check (29), shown an ability to draw walks (15 BB) and is a perfect 14-for-14 on SB attempts. Exactly what is the team waiting for to bring him to the Majors? Nationals’ shortstops have produced pitifully overall this season owning the fifth worst average (.205) and SLG (.299) while stealing just 1 base. The Nationals could use the excuse of his defense (.961 fielding percentage, with 6 errors), though sooner or later the offense is going to win out.
3) Julio Urias – Los Angeles Dodgers – Starting Pitcher (NR)
While we would want to think that the Dodgers would be cautious with their 19-year old stud, it’s looking more and more likely that he is going to force their hand. He’s in the midst of throwing 22.0 consecutive shutout innings in the Pacific Coast League and the reports, going past the numbers, have been nothing but glowing. An innings limit could be the only thing that stymies his overall appeal for 2016.
Note: We published an in-depth scouting report on Urias on Monday, which you can read by clicking here.
4) Blake Snell – Tampa Bay Rays – Starting Pitcher (3)
The performance of Matt Andriese is going to leave Snell working at Triple-A, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. That said he has shown improved control in his past two starts (2 BB over 10.1 IP), which is going to be the key. We all know that the strikeouts are there (47 K over 35.0 IP at Triple-A) and he also does a good job of generating groundballs (1.45 GO/AO). If he is going to also limit the free passes the sky is going to be the limit. It’s just a matter of when the team decides he’s ready to return, with Matt Moore potentially putting himself on the hot seat.
5) Tyler Glasnow – Pittsburgh Pirates – Starting Pitcher (1)
Amid all of the recent hype Glasnow went to the mound for his last outing and tossed a complete dud:
5.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 H, 5 BB, 1 K
The control obviously wasn’t there, the second time in his past three starts where he walked 5 batters over 5.0 IP, which is something that needs to be watched closely. He owns a minor league career BB/9 of 4.2, though he had taken a step forward last season (3.5 BB/9 across three levels). That said, until he displays consistency in throwing strikes it’s possible that the Pirates keep him at Triple-A. The team does have an obvious need at the back of their rotation given the struggles of Jon Niese and Jeff Locke, but that doesn’t mean they are going to force Glasnow into the mix.
6) Austin Voth – Washington Nationals – Starting Pitcher (NR)
He’s been great at Triple-A this season, with a 2.31 ERA and 1.00 WHIP to go along with 36 K, 5 BB and a 1.36 GO/AO over 35.0 IP. With Tanner Roark struggling in his last start (and the potential for his regression to continue) it makes sense for fantasy owners to be looking at who the next up will be. While the popular belief prior to the season was that Lucas Giolito would get the opportunity immediately, he’s failed to impress at Double-A and clearly needs a little bit more time. With Voth simply carrying over last season’s Double-A success (including an 8.47 K/9 and 2.29 BB/9 over 157.1 IP), there’s reason to believe that he’ll soon be added to the 40-man roster and get an opportunity.
7) Trey Mancini – Baltimore Orioles – First Baseman (6)
Pedro Alvarez has simply been bad, hitting .205 with 2 HR and 8 RBI over 78 AB. He hasn’t even produced against right-handed pitching, hitting a mere .215, so why not look towards the minors for a boost? The team could shift Chris Davis to 3B (now that Manny Machado is manning SS) or simply utilize Mancini as the DH, so there is certainly a way to make room for him in the lineup.
Mancini has started to produce at Triple-A, hitting .260 with 3 HR (as well as 6 doubles and a triple) over 77 AB. More importantly he’s continued to make contact (20.5% strikeout rate) and show an improved walk rate (10.8%). If he can continue along this path it’s only a matter of time before the Orioles grow tired of Alvarez and make a change.
8) Tim Anderson – Chicago White Sox – Shortstop (NR)
Since the calendar turned to May he has been scorching hot, hitting .328 with 3 HR, 9 RBI, 15 R and 4 SB over 64 AB. After not drawing a walk in 81 AB in April he at least has drawn 5 BB in May as compared to 14 K (he whiffed 24 times in April). His plate discipline has always been the question, as he’s shown the potential to develop into a 10/30 type prospect (last season he had 21 doubles, 12 triples and 5 HR to go along with 49 SB at Double-A). While you can argue the veteran presence of Jimmy Rollins, he simply hasn’t been getting the job done (.236, 2 HR, 3 SB over 106 AB). The team has a 5.0 game lead in the AL Central, so it’s not like there’s a pressing need for a change, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t.
9) Orlando Arcia – Milwaukee Brewers – Shortstop (7)
Sure Aaron Hill has been better lately (.353 with 3 HR over the last 15 games), but that’s simply delaying the inevitable. He’s not the long-term answer and it’s just a matter of time before the Brewers shift Jonathan Villar to the hot corner in order to free up a spot for Arcia. In his first taste of Triple-A Arcia has shown an ability to make consistent contact (19 K over 137 AB), though his 8 BB is similar to his struggles a year ago (5.4% walk rate at Double-A) and he’s also struggled with his consistency in stealing bases (5-for-9). If he can improve in those two areas he’s going to be dynamic, though even without that he could be a productive option in the Majors.
10) Joe Musgrove – Houston Astros – Starting Pitcher (10)
He’s now been promoted to Triple-A, and after a few strong starts at the level it wouldn’t be surprising to see him arrive in the Majors. He got things off to a good start (1 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, over 5.0 IP) as he continues to show strong numbers (35 K, 5 BB, 1.54 GO/AO over 31.1 innings overall). He may not be the top pitching prospect in the game, but he should soon get an opportunity to produce.
Graduated – Tommy Joseph (PHI), Robert Refsnyder (NYY)
Injured – A.J. Reed (HOU)
Others to Watch:
- Alex Bregman – Houston Astros – Shortstop
- Keon Broxton – Milwaukee Brewers – Outfielder
- Willson Contreras – Chicago Cubs – Catcher
- P. Crawford – Philadelphia Phillies – Shortstop
- Lucas Giolito – Washington Nationals – Starting Pitcher
- Josh Hader – Milwaukee Brewers – Starting Pitcher
- Jeff Hoffman – Colorado Rockies – Starting Pitcher
- Aaron Judge – New York Yankees – Outfielder
- Peter O’Brien – Arizona Diamondbacks – Outfielder
- Jose Peraza – Cincinnati Reds – Second Baseman
- J. Reed – Houston Astros – First Baseman
- Alex Reyes – St. Louis Cardinals – Starting Pitcher
- Robert Stephenson – Cincinnati Reds – Starting Pitcher
Sources – MILB.com, MLB.com, Fangraphs, Baseball Reference
Make sure to check out all of our Team Top 10 Prospect Lists: