With the minor league season kicking off today, we wanted to do something fun here at The Dynasty Guru. And that something fun started with a rather innocent question to the rest of the staff: who do you think will be the Top 10 Fantasy Prospects on next year’s list?
I can’t speak for the thought process of the rest of the guys (see the bottom of the post for more details on that), but when I sat down to come up with my individual list, it was a bit of a balancing act between performance and PERFORMANCE. Hear me out for a second. You have a bunch of guys who are going to start the year in the upper minors, but if they perform extremely well, they could force their team’s hand and get them a call up this summer, which would result in them losing their prospect list eligibility. On the other hand, if they stink, they’re not going to be worthy of being in the top-10 for a whole other reason.
For my money, I made the assumption that all of the big names at the top of the 2013 list (Profar, Taveras, Hamilton, Myers and Bundy) would all lose their eligibility for 2014. Same for other top-20 pitchers such as Gerrit Cole, Zack Wheeler, Shelby Miller and Jose Fernandez.
So here’s what we did. I collected the individual top-10’s from Craig, Ben and Ian and made a TDG collective top-10. For any prospect to make the group top-10, they had to be on at least two of our individual lists. Each player also received a two-point bonus for each list they appeared on. And the following is what the process churned out – your 2014 Top 10 Fantasy Prospects:
1) Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox
The only prospect to receive more than one first-place vote was Bogaerts, who topped both mine and Ben’s lists. He’s the top prospect on my Top 150 who doesn’t project to surpass his eligibility requirements, so he seems like a great pick for the #1 spot. Bogaerts has fantasy superstar written all over him.
2) Taijuan Walker, SP, Seattle Mariners
Walker was the top pitching prospect on everyone’s list, except for mine (which we’ll get to later), and for very good reason. He’s a 20-year old who has ace-level raw stuff, and he’s already experienced in the upper minors. There’s a chance he could be good enough soon enough that he’ll make the Mariners rotation in July or August, but 2014 is likely when he’ll be up for good.
3) Christian Yelich, OF, Miami Marlins
The sweet-swinging lefty made a big impression during Spring Training this year, hitting .364/.451/.818 with 5 HR in 44 AB. This spot likely would have belonged to his teammate, Jose Fernandez, if he wasn’t being thrown to the wolves in the majors to start the season. I wonder if the Marlins’ willingness to promote Fernandez makes it more likely we see Yelich this summer.
4) Javier Baez, SS/3B, Chicago Cubs
The last of the names who appeared on all four lists is Baez, who could be an absolute fantasy monster. Average, power, some speed, Baez has it all — he just needs the approach to put it all together. I could easily see a scenario in which he’s #1 on the list next January.
5) Miguel Sano, 3B/OF, Minnesota Twins
The power is so tempting, as there’s no one else who can match his power (well, maybe Joey Gallo if you squint real hard). The Florida State League will attempt to contain Sano’s extreme power, but it will likely be a fruitless task. The biggest question here is whether the Twins speed up his development plan if he comes out and rakes this year.
6) Addison Russell, SS, Oakland Athletics
For me, one of the most surprising assignments of the season has been Addison Russell starting the season at High-A Stockton. It’s pretty rare for a prep player to start his first full professional season at High-A, but he will join Courtney Hawkins as the only ones who will make that jump in 2013. As with the rest of these guys, Russell could be a special player.
7) Jorge Soler, OF, Chicago Cubs
The hype may have been centered around another Cuban defector this spring, but for right now, Soler is still the better prospect. He’ll start the season in Daytona with Javier Baez, but don’t be surprised to see him in Double-A by mid-season.
8) Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds
This is where opinions started to diverge a little. Hamilton would clearly have been towards the top of my list if I thought he would be eligible at this time next year. However, Ian and Craig are both of the mind that he’ll stay under that 130 AB limit. Clearly, either way, Hamilton is an absolute fantasy stud, and Ryan Ludwick’s injury only increases the chances we see him in May or June.
9) Jameson Taillon, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates
And for those of you still wondering who my projected #1 pitching prospect is on next year’s list, here he is. Taillon gets a little lost in the shuffle behind Gerrit Cole (and for good reason), but he’s a mighty fine prospect in his own right and could blaze his trail towards the 2014 rotation by continuing the domination he hinted at in his last three starts of the year at Double-A in 2012.
10) Kevin Gausman, SP, Baltimore Orioles
If Puig was the most talked about prospect this spring from the offensive side, Gausman was it from the pitching side. It wasn’t so much about stats, which aren’t important during ST anyway (3.94 ERA and 17 K in 16 IP), but it was the reports that were absolutely glowing. So glowing, in fact, that multiple baseball sources were quoted as saying they preferred him to future rotation mate Dylan Bundy.
And here is what all of our individual lists looked like:
|1||Xander Bogaerts||Oscar Taveras||Xander Bogaerts||Billy Hamilton|
|2||Anthony Rendon||Xander Bogaerts||Taijuan Walker||Addison Russell|
|3||Miguel Sano||Christian Yelich||Javier Baez||Taijuan Walker|
|4||Javier Baez||Taijuan Walker||Miguel Sano||Christian Yelich|
|5||Jameson Taillon||Kevin Gausman||Gary Sanchez||Xander Bogaerts|
|6||Christian Yelich||Addison Russell||Christian Yelich||Jameson Taillon|
|7||Jorge Soler||Javier Baez||Kevin Gausman||Jorge Soler|
|8||Taijuan Walker||Billy Hamilton||Jorge Soler||David Dahl|
|9||Byron Buxton||Byron Buxton||Archie Bradley||Javier Baez|
|10||Addison Russell||Jonathan Singleton||Max Fried||Miguel Sano|
And finally, we have an exciting announcement to make about the debut of a new (potentially recurring) feature, which will debut tomorrow. It’s called ‘A Podcast For Your Eyes’ and it is an unabridged conversation, in word form, between some of your favorite TDG contributors about a particular subject. And in case you haven’t guessed by this point, the conversation which Craig, Ben and I covered in our “podcast” is about this top-10 list. It will be up tomorrow morning as an addendum to this piece, and we hope you enjoy it.
Follow me on Twitter at @dynastyguru.