With the major league non-waiver trade deadline long since passed, and with less than 50 games to go in the major league season, it is fairly clear who is in and who is out of the playoff races. We know which teams are looking to 2016, and which teams are setting their starting lineups like that night’s game could be their last. That kind of clarity creates a level of certainty for Fantasy owners as well.
Teams that are looking to the future will be giving at-bats to rookies and will promote from their minor league teams accordingly. Teams like the Dodgers and the Cubs won’t hand over full-time at-bats to rookies or prospects during the rest of the charge to October unless they earn them. That leaves prospects like Corey Seager and Javier Baez without full-time opportunities. Meanwhile, some players who may not necessarily deserve at bats, like OF Rusney Castillo and SP Henry Owens in Boston, or OF Domingo Santana in Milwaukee, will get a chance to play full-time. SP John Lamb in Cincinnati is already getting starts, and Atlanta Braves third baseman Hector Olivera, who was blocked for months in Los Angeles, will have free-reign as soon as he is healthy.
This week I will highlight some of the prospects that we could see in August and September in the America League East.
Tampa Bay Rays
Richie Shaffer, 3B: He doesn’t run, and a career .252 batting average raises concerns about his viability, but 25 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A should get him an opportunity for Tampa Bay in September.
Taylor Motter, OF: He hit 16 home runs and stole 15 bases in 2014, and has 11 home runs and 25 stolen bases while batting .292 at Triple-A Durham this season.
Neither Shaffer nor Motter are blue chip prospects, and they weren’t on my pre-season Tampa Bay Rays Top 10 Fantasy Prospects list because they aren’t must-own dynasty league players. However, they have produced enough during 2015 to earn a look in September with an eye towards what they may get in 2016.
New York Yankees
Aaron Judge, OF: He has 18 home runs has batted .289 at the Double-A and Triple-A levels this season. The Yankees refused to trade Judge at the deadline and he ranks behind SP Luis Severino and SS Jorge Mateo on my Yankees prospect rankings.
Judge and 2B Rob Refsnyder are likely to be promoted when rosters expand in September, while 1B Greg Bird is already in New York. None of them are likely to be given the necessary at bats to justify a roster spot on Fantasy teams.
Boston Red Sox
SP Brian Johnson: He made a spot start in July and you can expect to see him make a couple of starts in September. Johnson profiles more as a streaming or two-start SP3/4, but he has the pitching acumen to potentially reach a ceiling similar to Mark Buehrle. That skill set won’t make him Fantasy viable in 2015.
The Red Sox have a young, talented major league core already playing full time in Boston, and a lot of things to figure out in their starting pitcher rotation. That means that while the Red Sox seem like the perfect organization to provide opportunities for prospects, there aren’t going to be any Fantasy promotions from their system beyond Johnson.
Toronto Blue Jays
With all the prospects the Jays traded at the deadline and their offseason free agent signings, it is a miracle they have enough players to field full rosters at the minor league levels. It is difficult to see where they could find the space to give major league at-bats to anyone. They had to release 3B/OF Danny Valencia, who hits left-handers very well (and was immediately claimed and signed by the Oakland Athletics), in order to make room for SP David Price. OF Dalton Pompey started 2015 in Toronto and could be promoted back in September for his plus defense and stolen base speed, but he won’t find the at-bats to be Fantasy viable.
They are in it to win the AL East, and they don’t have a lot of Triple-A reinforcements even if they could afford to take a chance on a prospect. OF Henry Urrutia could be promoted when rosters expand, but he isn’t a viable Fantasy starter even in deep leagues. OF Julio Borbon is stealing bases while getting on base at a .303 clip, and he could provide some cheap steals as a weak Fantasy option in deeper leagues.