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Fantasy Baseball MLB Prospect Rankings (10-1)

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We’ve reached the conclusion of our countdown of the top-50 fantasy baseball prospects. Once again, we’re forgetting about fielding ability and focusing on only the potential these young players have in 5×5 rotisserie baseball scoring. Without further ado, I present you with Dynasty Sports Empire’s top-10 prospects:

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Rankings 1-10 | Rankings 11-20 | Rankings 21-30 | Rankings 31-40 | Rankings 41-50

10. Nick Castellanos, DET, 3B/OF:

Nick Castellanos - SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game

Source: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Now that Prince Fielder has been traded away from the Tigers and Miguel Cabrera will be moving back to first base, Detroit will hope to fill their void at third base with a capable hitter. Former first-round draft pick Nick Castellanos should be stepping up to take on that role in 2014, giving fantasy owners an exciting young prospect to consider placing in their lineups. At 6’4”, 210 pounds, Castellanos has good bat speed, solid plate discipline, and the ability to make hard contact. Though you won’t see him stealing many bases, he has plenty of potential in batting average and power categories. Castellanos batted .276 with 18 home runs, 37 doubles, and 4 stolen bases in 134 games at Triple-A Toledo last season. While his average was lower than one would hope, he still showed the ability to get on base with a 9.1% walk percentage. 18 home runs in just 134 games makes him look like a 20 home run guy, but there’s still the hope that he can turn some of those 37 doubles into long balls as well. Eventually we may be able to expect a pretty high batting average and 25+ homers from Castellanos. In a prolific batting lineup, he already has a chance to be a top-15 third baseman this coming season. Beyond his rookie season, his power and average potential should keep him relevant in all fantasy baseball formats. I expect a very solid third base option out of Castellanos. ETA: 2014

9. Archie Bradley, ARI, RHP:

Archie Bradley - Chicago White Sox v Arizona Diamondbacks

Source: Norm Hall/Getty Images

The Arizona Diamondbacks took Archie Bradley with the 7th overall pick of the 2011 MLB Draft, and the right-hander has looked like a future ace ever since. At 6’4”, 225 pounds, Bradley has an ideal frame to be a starter in the MLB. On top of that, he throws serious and has a great arsenal to back it up. His fastball sits in the mid-to-upper-90’s and he has good command of the pitch. He has another splendid offering in his knee-buckling curveball, which sits in the low-80’s and has a 12-6 break that makes it very tough to hit. His third-best pitch is his change-up, which is only really considered average. Still, he should be able to get away with using it, as his other offerings are so effective. Though Bradley has put up fantastic numbers since going pro, his 2013 numbers were definitely his best yet. The righty recorded a ridiculous 1.84 ERA, 1.211 WHIP, and 9.6 K/9 in 152 innings between High-A Visalia and Double-A Mobile last season. He was very tough to get hits off of, but there were some notable control issues. Bradley recorded a lousy walk-rate of 4.1 BB/9 last season. While it was better than his 5.6 BB/9 in 2012, it’s still something that needs serious improvement moving forward. If he can continue pitching well enough and making strides with his control, he should get his chance to start in 2014. Maybe not immediately, but he can eventually be a very good starting pitcher in fantasy. ETA: Late 2014

8. Javier Baez, CHC, SS:

http://a.espncdn.com/photo/2013/0914/Javier_Baez.jpg

Source: Cliff Welch/Icon SMI

After being selected with the 8th overall pick of the 2010 MLB Draft, Javier Baez has become yet another explosive young hitter in the Chicago Cubs farm system. With fantastic bat speed and his aggressive approach at the plate, he hits the ball with enormous power. He also has the ability to make hard contact and hit line drives, giving him potential for a solid batting average. Additionally, he has considerable speed and is a threat on the base paths. Overall, he’s made he’s looking like a great fantasy option in the future. Baez batted .282 with 37 home runs, 34 doubles, 4 triples, and 20 steals in 130 games between High-A Dayton and Double-A Tennessee last season. While he was impressive across almost his entire stat line, what makes him seem risky is his 25.5% strikeout percentage and 6.9% walk percentage. Plate discipline will be his biggest priority in the coming season, and will very well decide whether he can hit for average and get on base. Nonetheless, power-speed combos like this don’t appear on this list too often and simply cannot be ignored. The Cubs may opt for Baez to switch positions since they may want to keep Starlin Castro at shortstop for the long haul. Regardless of where he lines up on defense, Baez should someday be very relevant in the world of fantasy baseball. ETA: 2015

7. Oscar Taveras, STL, OF:

Oscar Taveras - Miami Marlins v St Louis Cardinals

Source: Chris Trotman/Getty Images

The St. Louis Cardinals signed Oscar Taveras out of the Dominican Republic all the way back in October of 2008. Since then, he has established himself as one of the top prospects in the Cardinals organization. Taveras displays the ability to drive balls to all fields and can wait for the perfect pitch to hit, giving him great potential as a power and contact hitter. Additionally, he has some speed and produces a decent amount of stolen bases when he gets the opportunity. Taveras’ breakout in 2012 really proved what he is capable of. He slashed .321/.380/.572 with 23 home runs, 67 total extra-base hits, and 10 stolen bases in just 124 games at Double-A Springfield in 2012. Though an ankle injury held him back in 2013, he was still pretty effective when he was able to play. He batted .306 with 5 home runs and 5 stolen bases in 46 games at Triple-A Memphis last season. Taveras is an all-around great batter that looks like a future all-star. Though the Cardinals are returning National League Champions, they simply won’t be able to resist Taveras’ bat in 2014. As soon as we see him back in full-force after coming back from his ankle injury, he’s one of the hottest players to watch for this coming season. ETA: 2014

6. Miguel Sano, MIN, 3B:

http://a.espncdn.com/photo/2013/0502/mlb_a_sano1x_576.jpg

Source: AP Images

When Miguel Sano signed with the Minnesota Twins in late-2009, he was one of the most sought-after international free agents available at the time. His “80-grade” power was what made him so desirable, and he has sustained that image to this date. At 6’3”, 195 pounds, Sano is an absolute slugger with elite power. The 20-year-old effortlessly drives balls hard, often knocking them out of the park. With his bat speed and great swing, he has the potential to hit both for immense power and good contact. While he’s not elite base-stealer, his 40+ home run power alone is very thrilling in the world of fantasy baseball. Sano batted .280 with 35 home runs, 20 doubles, 5 triples, and 10 stolen bases in 123 games between High-A Fort Myers and Double-A New Britain last season. While his 12.5% walk percentage was well above average, his 27.3% strikeout percentage was a dismal reminder of his impatient approach at the plate. While I believe that his power will translate at every level possible, he needs to hit for a decent average to be a true stud. Striking out at that rate will not allow him to do that, so he will need to improve his patience in 2014. The Twins are in need of Sano’s power bat and are expected to bring him up sometime this year. However, it’s worth noting that just a couple weeks ago the team was considering having the youngster undergo Tommy John Surgery to repair a strained UCL in his right elbow. Until we see him in Spring Training, I’m staying cautious with my expectations for next season. All things considered, Sano is shaping up to be an elite power threat that may one day be drafted in the first-round of fantasy baseball re-draft leagues. ETA: 2014

5. Xander Bogaerts, SS/3B, BOS:

Xander Bogaerts - Boston Red Sox Victory Parade

Source: Gail Oskin/Getty Images

Since being signed out of Aruba in August of 2009, Xander Bogaerts has earned his right to be named a consensus top-10 prospect. At 6’3”, 185 pounds, the Aruban encompasses excellent bat speed, very good plate discipline, and the ability to get hits off both righties and lefties. He has much less risk of a low batting average than most players on this list, and has even more power potential than what he has shown in the minors. The 21-year-old batted .297 with 15 home runs, 23 doubles, 6 triples, and 7 stolen bases in just 116 games between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket last season. Encouragingly, he recorded a 12.2% walk percentage and a .388 on-base percentage. Though his power doesn’t make him look like a 30 home run guy yet, Bogaerts is young and has time to fill out to gain more power behind his swing. It may take away from his current speed numbers, but improved power paired with his average potential would make him a tremendous fantasy hitter. Bogaerts looks like a sure-fire bet to have plenty of production at a shallow shortstop position. He looks like an early candidate for American League Rookie of the Year and could certainly be a 2014 value-pick for his late draft position in re-draft fantasy leagues. Both the floor and ceiling are high for this young slugger. Click here to check out my more in-depth view on Bogaerts. ETA: 2014

4. George Springer, HOU, OF:

George Springer - St Louis Cardinals v Houston Astros

Source: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The Houston Astros have yet another big name prospect to look forward to in outfielder George Springer, 11th overall pick of the 2011 MLB Draft. At 6’3, 200 pounds, Springer looks like he was practically built to be a fantasy stud. Though he has a pull-heavy approach at the plate, his sheer strength and aggressiveness helps him drive balls for extra-base hits. He’s actually more patient than people may think, with a great ability to draw walks in order to get on base. Additionally, he’s quick on the base paths and will be a threat there as long as he stays in shape. Overall, he has speed, power, and has proven (at least at the minor league-level) that he can hit for average. Springer slashed a ridiculous .303/.411/.600 with 37 home runs, 27 doubles, 4 triples, and 45 stolen bases in 135 games between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Oklahoma City last season. His walk percentage of 14% and stolen base percentage of 85% was just icing on the cake. Similarly to Baez and Sano, his main flaw in the batter’s box was his awful strikeout percentage of 27.2%. Once again, it’s tough to bet on a high average with such a high strikeout rate, so we will need to see that improve. The talk that Springer can be a 30-30 guy is intriguing, and the possibly 40-40 potential is already driving fantasy junkies wild with excitement. The 24-year-old should find himself in the Astros lineup at some point in 2014 and it’s looking to be one of the biggest call-ups of the season. Don’t sleep on a chance to pick him up or draft him in your dynasty/keeper leagues. ETA: 2014

3. Billy Hamilton, CIN, OF:

Billy Hamilton - Pittsburgh Pirates v Cincinnati Reds

Source: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

This is another one of those rankings that would make a normal baseball fan shake their head in disapproval. However, we’re talking fantasy baseball here and the grading scale is much different. While he has very little power and is only an average hitter, his incredible speed is the best in all of baseball right now. When he hits his prime, he may be able to win your team the stolen base category on his own. If he gets on base enough, this former second-round pick has base-stealing potential that seems limitless. After racking up a minor league record 155 steals in 605 plate appearances between High-A Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola in 2012, Hamilton regressed to 75 steals in 547 plate appearances between Triple-A Louisville last season. While his stolen base percentage stayed around 80%, his OBP fell from all the way from .410 to .308. This happened as his average fell from .311 to .256 and his walk rate plummeted from 14.2% to 6.9%. Yet encouragingly, he stole 13 bases in the majors during the month of September as he got 22 plate appearances and multiple pinch-running opportunities. The Reds will hope to improve his contact ability and plate discipline in 2014, as the team has made it apparent that they’d love to utilize his running ability. Having a guy that can steal 80+ bases and score 120+ runs in his prime is very valuable for any fantasy team. When he proves himself, he may someday be considered one of the most valuable players in Roto leagues. Hamilton will undoubtedly make the Reds big league lineup to start the year and should be batting leadoff. I’m expecting at least 50 steals in his upcoming rookie season, and that alone should help owners in 2014. ETA: 2014

2. Taijuan Walker, SEA, RHP:

Taijuan Walker - Houston Astros v Seattle Mariners

Source: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The reason that Walker is the top-ranked pitcher on this list is because I believe he’s the absolute safest bet to pan out into an ace. The 21-year-old has been truly excellent since being drafted 43rd overall by the Seattle Mariners in the 2010 MLB Draft. At 6’4”, 210 pounds, Walker throws a mid-90’s fastball that touches the upper-90’s when he needs it to. He also throws a cutter with a hard-break that sits in the low-90’s. His curveball is still being developed and averages in the mid-70’s, and he’ll also occasionally mix in an upper-80’s change-up. All things considered, his arsenal is fantastic and should eventually yield him great MLB numbers. Walker recorded a 2.93 ERA, 1.196 WHIP, and 160 strikeouts in 141.1 innings (10.6 K/9) between Double-A Jackson and Triple-A Tacoma in 2014. He then recorded a 3.60 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, and 7.2 K/9 in three starts with the Mariners to end the season. Walker pitched well at every level and showed that he’s ready for the majors. He should be a member of the Mariners starting rotation to begin 2014. I expect him to be good in his rookie season, and great for many seasons beyond that. If you’re looking for a young pitching prospect that’s ready to explode in the majors, Walker is absolutely the best one available. Click here to read more about my expectations for Walker in 2014 and beyond. ETA: 2014

1. Byron Buxton, MIN, OF:

Byron Buxton - World Team v United States

Source: Elsa/Getty Images

Though we have a few noticeable deviations from standard top-prospect lists, we agree with the masses by naming Byron Buxton baseball’s “Number One” prospect. The Minnesota Twins selected Buxton with the second overall pick of the 2012 MLB Draft. There are almost no holes in Buxton’s game, as it seems he could pan out to be a true five-tool player. Buxton has great bat speed, incredible plate discipline, and is lethal on the base paths. Overall, he’s a capable producer of all major fantasy categories. Buxton slashed .334/.424/.520 with 12 home runs, 19 doubles, 18 triples, and 55 stolen bases in 125 games between Low-A Cedar Rapids and High-A Fort Myers last year. Additionally, he struck out just 55 times for a super-low strikeout percentage of just 9.6%. From a fantasy baseball standpoint, the only issue with his game was his lack of home runs. It would be good to see him turn some of those doubles and triples into some homers, and that’s the biggest thing we will be watching for in 2014. Buxton should work his way through Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Rochester this season, giving him a chance to play for the Twins in 2015. Buxton is potentially a future first-round pick in re-draft leagues and every fantasy baseball owner should pay attention to him moving forward. ETA: 2015

About The Author:   Zach Mongillo is DSE’s MLB Prospect Analyst for the 2014 season. He currently resides in Uniondale, NY, as he will be graduating from Hofstra University in May 2014. As MLB Prospect analyst, he will be here to tell you whether “that guy that’s getting called up to the majors” is worth a pickup. He will pay attention to prospects, so you don’t have to! Follow him on Twitter @DSE_Mongillo.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Mike M February 4, 2014, 6:45 pm

    I have been a tigers fan for nearly 40 years and aside from the late 70′s I have never seen a tigers hitting prospect rated as highly as castellanos. for his career, do you see him as a star player or just an above average regular?
    Hamilton is probably one of the more polarizing prospects to come along in a long time. rankings on him are all over the map.