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As part of the lead in to our draft kit and the regular season, we’re beginning our annual countdown of 14 different topics in the world of fantasy baseball. Why 14? In 2012, we had 12 topics and in 2013, we had 13. We’re a complex group, for sure.
Today, Clave Jones kicks the countdown off with 14 Fantasy Baseball Prospects Ready for 2014.
My wife makes some amazing zucchini bread. A. MAY. ZING.
Wherever she tells me she’s going to bake a loaf of her amazing zucchini bread my mouth immediately starts to water. Then she tells me it takes 55 minutes to bake.
55 minutes! Can you believe that?!? We have microwaves, people. If you need me to, I can’t rig up three microwaves in series and get that cook time down to mere minutes. And I’ll do it, because I can’t wait to shove that zucchini bread into my face.
What’s the point of telling you this, you ask? Well, it’s that Prince Fielder is shaped like a loaf of zucchini bread, of course.
The second reason I mention zucchini bread is that us fantasy baseball players hate to wait on prospects. Once a shiny prospect is on our radar, we want him producing immediately. We don’t want to wait years until the reach the show. We want it NOW.
You’re in luck. Below are 14 fantasy baseball prospects that are ready to contribute in 2014.
1. Oscar Taveras, St. Louis Cardinals: I almost dropped Taveras to 4th on this list, being that St. Louis Cardinals have a logjam or two when it comes to playing time for their young hitters. Normally logjams have a way of being overstated and work themselves out. Except with the Cardinals. They are notoriously willing to let a young hitter stick in Triple-A longer than most of us bozos writing on the internet think they should. This is bad news for those fantasy owners who are hoping that Taveras breaks camp with the club.
So why is he still tops on this list? Because when he does get his opportunity he will hit right away. He’s a special player.
2. Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox: He showed that he is MLB ready when he hit like a champ for the Boston Red Sox in last year’s postseason. He’ll contribute for fantasy owners in 2014.
He’s long gone in dynasty leagues and he’ll be overvalued in redraft leagues. But if you can get him for under $10 in a keeper league, you’ll have an absolute steal on your hands in 2015.
3. Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds: I’ve written 100 posts on Billy Hamilton, one for every steal he could get in 2014. I’ll let you read one of those in full. People are too quick to dismiss him as the next Dee Gordon, when they should be focusing on the fact that he very well could be the next Vince Coleman. When he starts in center field for the Cincinnati Reds this year, you’ll be laying eyes on the fastest player in the entire history of major league baseball.
4. Taijuan Walker, Seattle Mariners: Not only does Walker have great stuff, but he also pitches with competitiveness. It’s not a fierce, fiery competitive, it’s instead something that could be described as a sense of sting confidence. This will help him make the necessary MLB adjustments that come with every young pitcher getting their first few starts in The Show.
5. Archie Bradley, Arizona Diamondbacks: It’s no coincidence that I own 4 out of these top 5 prospects in my dynasty league. As we established in the lede, I’m not a fan of waiting on prospects. I’m a huge fan of a player like Carlos Correa, but I want to win now, not 2 years from now.
Bradley has the stuff to compete in 2014. While he hasn’t completely solved his control issues, he’s made incredible progress in a short time, showing that he’s ready to pitch for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
6. Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh Pirates: Polanco has done nothing but improve every step of the way with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He can hit at the MLB level and he’ll do it as soon as 2014. Pittsburgh has an outside logjam, but it won’t keep Polanco down for long and he’ll soon be a part of one of baseball’s most exciting and talented outfields with Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte.
7. George Springer, Houston Astros: This guy just missed being minor league baseball’s first 40/40 player. He struggles with the strikeout (but doesn’t every player nowadays), so don’t expect the same when he’s in center field for the Houston Astros. But you can expect a 15/25 season from Springer as early as 2014.
8. Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins: Sano almost didn’t make this list as he likely won’t sniff the Minnesota Twins roster until late in the season. But don’t count him out too long with the only player blocking him being Trevor Plouffe, who is decidedly below replacement level.
Sano is a future middle of the order bat. A batting average of .260 might be his ceiling but so will 40 home runs. He could get 10 home runs in 2104, even if he’s called up late in the season.
9. Nick Castellanos, Detroit Tigers: I’m not as sold on Castellanos’ bat and some others are, but he has the path open to third base for the Detroit Tigers, with Miguel Cabrera moving to first to cover for the recently departed Prince Fielder. Often times fantasy contribution comes down to getting plenty of at bats and Castellanos should get them.
10. Kevin Gausman, Baltimore Orioles: This guy might fly under the radar because his debut last season was so lackluster. But snatch him up on the cheap because he is a front line pitcher and 2014 could be the year that he shows off for fantasy owners.
11a. Carlos Martinez , St. Louis Cardinals (tie): I counted the next two guys as a tie because I was itching for an excuse to add a 15th player. Many think that Martinez belongs in the Cardinals bullpen, but don’t count him out as a starter just yet.
11b. Jameson Taillon , Pittsubrgh Pirates (tie)L Taillon is overshadowed by Gerrit Cole, but he’s every bit the pitcher that Cole is. The Pittsburgh Pirates have some fantastic young talent that will produce in 2014.
12. Jonathan Singleton, Houston Astros: After Singleton served his 50 game suspension for weed, he was slow to get his hitting stroke back. That’s all behind him though and his patient hitting approach has really been playing well in winter ball. With Chris Carter and his over 30% K rate the only thing blocking him, expect Singleton to get his look in 2014.
13. Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets: He’s next in line as the next hot young New York Mets pitcher. He could end up being the best of the bunch, although he was almost left off this list because 2104 might be a smudge too early for him.
14. Yordano Ventura, Kansas City Royals: Ventura is presently better than a couple of pitchers who will steal his innings in 2014. Expect Wade Davis to go back to the bullpen where he belongs and Ventura to get his shot in mid-2014.