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We are at the first half break in the Fantasy season and I think I heard people talking about a Futures Game, a Home Run Derby and an All Star Game? It’s time to look at the first half of the prospects’ season and give out my kudos. When it comes to prospects that means it’s time to look at who has made the most noise and become the most Fantasy relevant in 2015.
We all knew about the big names leading in to 2015. I wrote about the prospects you should have been targeting in trades this past winter; like Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager and Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow and Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco. Well, now it’s July, time to say goodbye to those players as prospects and move on to the next crop of minor leaguers because they are, for all intents and purposes, major leaguers. They are no longer unknown, underappreciated or under developed prospects; they are now expensive or untouchable commodities. Here are some of the players that have made the biggest moves up the prospect ladder in 2015. These prospects aren’t untouchables, but their performances in 2015 are creating a lot of buzz.
Rafael Devers, 3B, Boston Red Sox (High-A)
7 HRs, 1 SB, .294 batting average
Devers wasn’t talked about as an elite player who could make a run at the major leagues in 2015, but he was mentioned as a player with the potential to put himself squarely in the prospect discussion, and he has done that. The media and analysts love the Red Sox’ crop of young talent, and Devers is the best of them. He may not be able to stay at third base, making his Fantasy value fluid, but the bat will play wherever the glove lands. He doesn’t have the same elite power as Miguel Sano or Kris Bryant, but he has the hit tool and possibly the pop of Maikel Franco with a better approach and more walks. This All-Star break Devers is considered part of the next wave, but at this time next year, we will be discussing him as a potential prospect promotion.
Orlando Arcia, SS, Milwaukee Brewers (Double-A)
4 HRs, 12 SBs, .313 batting average
Shortstop is weak, expectations are low and Arcia was one of the more interesting offensive middle infielders coming in to 2015. He doesn’t have the impressive pop to be a star like Carlos Correa or Corey Seager. However, he has the speed to make a difference, enough power to contribute something there and the potential in his hit tool to offer value in three categories, making him an asset at shortstop rather than a placeholder until something better comes along. He isn’t far from contributing to the Brewers and Fantasy owners, so keep an eye out; he should get the call in late August or September.
Trea Turner, SS, Washington Nationals (Double-A)
7 HRs, 17 SBs, .318 batting average
If you watched any of the Futures Game coverage then you couldn’t hear enough praise for the next Nationals shortstop. He has lightning speed, an impressive ability to make contact and enough pop to have double-digit totals in home runs and stolen bases as a middle infielder that could bat at the top of an order. Like Arcia, he is a tick below the stars at the position, but he has the speed to make a difference and the hit tool and power potential to contribute in three categories. The batting average potential is extremely interesting because if it continues to develop it would provide Fantasy owners with a top of the order bat at shortstop with the speed to make significant contributions week in and week out. We could be looking at a better version of the Brewers’ Jean Segura, a shortstop who’s been knocked for his stumbles in 2014 and 2015, but a player with intriguing Fantasy tools in the middle infield. Speed, some power and a beneficial batting average is becoming the new normal at shortstop, and Turner has a chance to be a player with that profile. He could be in Washington in August if the Nationals decide to move on from Ian Desmond when the games get meaningful.
Jorge Mateo of the New York Yankees is a similar player with more upside in the power department than Arcia and Turner, but he isn’t as advanced. Keep your eye on him as a part of the third wave of prospects making their way through the minors.
Michael Conforto, OF, New York Mets (Double-A)
10 HRs, 1 SB, .295 batting average
Conforto was a draft pick out of college, who has hit for average from the day he started swinging with wood. In 2015, his power has started to show up in games. He isn’t going to steal bases for you, but a .280 batting average and 20-25 home runs per year makes him a nice player to have. He has made waves in the first half and should be making starting lineups in 2016.
Alex Reyes, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals (High-A)
1.98 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 93 K, 63.2 IP
Lucas Giolito is the best pitching prospect in the game, but there isn’t a prospect in the minors that has created more buzz with his 2015 performance than Alex Reyes. Reyes came in to 2015 on the prospect watch list and as the Cardinals’ top prospect in my rankings, and he has far exceeded expectations. The fastball and slider have both improved a full grade and his strikeout rate looks like a video game number. He would be in Double-A if not for significant issues with his control, which is the only thing holding him back from being an untouchable dynasty league prospect. He missed the Futures Game because of shoulder soreness, something to keep an eye on in the second half.
Jose Berrios, RHP, Minnesota Twins (Triple-A)
3.55 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 104 SO, 101.1 IP
Berrios doesn’t have the electric arm of Alex Reyes or even the plus stuff of New York Yankees RHP Luis Severino, but he has a strong enough combination of pitching acumen and raw stuff to be more than an innings eater, and he is getting close to a potential call up. Berrios was somewhat of a popular sleeper pick for prospect analysts leading in to 2015 because he doesn’t have the electric repertoire that the elite guys have, and Berrios has made enough noise this season to make them look good. He should be in Minnesota soon and will be a consistent SP3, and a SP2 on his better days, in the years ahead.