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We continue the countdown today with a look towards the future. Today, Will Meadows takes a look at 8 prospects to Target in Fantasy Baseball Prospect Leagues
- Javier Baez , Shortstop: Chicago Cubs
Javier Baez is the best-kept secret among the top prospects in baseball. You can’t name a shortstop at any professional level that hit 37 home runs, drove in 111 runs and hit in the high .280’s last season. If that is not enough for you, he also stole 20 bases.
Will he continue to hit at that type of rate against major league pitching? That is highly unlikely but he is the kind of talent that does not come along very often at a middle infield position.
With Starlin Castro at shortstop in Chicago, Baez will probably move over to second base to secure a place in the Cubs lineup. With nothing left to prove in the minors, he is destined for a role with Chicago this season.
I would make him a must draft player for this season. I see no reason he won’t be in the starting lineup playing alongside Castro at some point in the early going.
- Maikel Franco, Third Base: Philadelphia Phillies
I’m not really sure why there aren’t more fantasy writers talking about third baseman Maikel Franco. He is a flat out great hitter, but is overshadowed by Minnesota Twins super prospect Miguel Sano. That is probably the biggest reason he doesn’t get more publicity among fantasy baseball aficionados.
He does nothing but hit. His .320/.356/.529 slash line from 2013 is considered elite among players who play the third base position. He led all Philadelphia Phillies minor leaguers in home runs (31) and RBI’s (103).
Franco has future all-star written all over him. He is a dark horse candidate for rookie of the year honors if he can garner enough at-bats in Philadelphia. He is a must own player for 2014 and beyond. Not a lot of people know about him and you could make out like a bandit if he gets an opportunity early this season.
- Kyle Zimmer, Pitcher: Kansas City Royals
Kyle Zimmer is another player that will get an opportunity at the Major League level this season.
He was the 5th overall choice in the 2012 draft. He can dial his fastball up to 100 mph on occasion. His dominant fastball is complimented by an outstanding curve ball that is not far behind in quality to his electric fastball.
He is prone to giving up home runs and that is the one Achilles heel that is keeping him from Kansas City. I just don’t feel that this will keep him out of the Royals rotation for very long.
Zimmer is another player that is not on many people’s radars going into this season. He has the stuff to pitch in Kansas City right now. The Royals starting rotation is nothing special and he will be given an opportunity at some point.
If he can log enough innings he could be a quality starter and a pleasant surprise for your fantasy team this season.
- Gregory Polanco, Outfielder: Pittsburgh Pirates
Gregory Polanco could very well be a great sleeper pick if you are looking cheap steals in 2014.
He stole 38 bases in 470 at-bats through three different levels in the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league system. He has more tools than just speed. Polanco will also reach double-digit home runs once he makes it into the starting lineup at PNC Park. You can expect him in the Pirates lineup this season.
He makes very good contact for a player with his type of speed. He should hit in the .275 to .285 range. He is very similar to Carl Crawford in ability. You will be able to get Greg Polanco at a very cheap price in your draft.
- Mark Appel, Pitcher: Houston Astros
Mark Appel was the number one overall choice in 2013 out of Stanford University andis one of the main reasons the Houston Astros are rated as one of the most talented minor league systems in baseball.
The Astros rotation is currently below average when it comes to possessing pure talent. It will not be very long before you see him in a uniform in Houston.
He only logged 38 innings in the minors last season but most people agree he has the makeup to make the leap to the American League West in a very short amount of time.
His mid-nineties fastball is overpowering and his slider is not far behind in dominance against advanced hitters. He makes very few mistakes with his pitch selection and he shows a very advanced understanding of how to pitch at just 22 years old.
I really feel you will see him in Houston by September.
- Tyler Glasnow, Pitcher: Pittsburgh Pirates
Having just turned 20 in August, Tyler Glasnow is not ready to suit up for the Pittsburgh Pirates anytime soon. He is however one of the brightest prospects in the Pirates minor league system.
When you strikeout 164 hitters in 111 1/3 innings, you will gain some notoriety in baseball circles. The most telling statistic about last season is that he only allowed 54 hits. That is a very telling statistic and speaks volumes about how he can dominate a game.
He is still learning how to pitch and might see a promotion to AA at some point in 2014 if the Pirates want to push up his development.
He would be a great choice for a dynasty draft. This is definitely someone you want to put an asterisk next to when searching for players a couple of years in the future.
- Alex Meyer, Pitcher: Minnesota Twins
Alex Meyer stands out in a crowd. He’s 6’9” with a power arm that will over power hitters in the American League for a long time.
While at the University of Kentucky, he led a very talented Southeastern Conference in strikeouts, complete games and shutouts.
Meyer has an outstanding fastball with a slider that ranks a very close second. He has mechanics issues at times as he tries to keep his long limbs in sync with what he is trying to accomplish on the mound. His height creates an angle difficult for hitters to make great contact against. He induces a lot of ground balls to go along with a lot of swing and misses.
You didn’t hear a lot about Meyer last season because of a shoulder injury that kept him off of the field for two months.
The Minnesota Twins have an array of talent in their minor league system. Alex Meyer will be one of the first highly touted Twins prospects to arrive in Minneapolis by the late summer of 2014.
- C.J. Edwards, Pitcher: Chicago Cubs
You haven’t heard a lot about C.J. Edwards. In the next 18 months you will hear a lot more about this young hurler, as he gets closer to the big club in Chicago. C.J. Edwards allowed one home run in 116 1/3 innings in single A ball last season. He has great control and can hit 95 to 97 mph with a sinking fastball that rarely stays up in the hitting zone. He has a K/BB ratio of nearly 4:1.
His body type worries scouts about his durability. He only has 155 pounds on his 6’ 2” frame. Obviously, he will need to get stronger before he makes his debut with the Cubs.
The Cubs acquired him as part of the Matt Garza deal last July that brought him over from the Texas Rangers. The Cubs see him reaching Chicago at some point during the 2015 season.