TOP 50 2015 FANTASY BASEBALL PROSPECTS #31-40
In rankings #21-30 you still saw elite, well-rounded players with Fantasy impact potential at varying degrees of their development. In rankings #31-40 you start to see lower ceilings and prospects with limitations or weaknesses in their game. Because the well-rounded, impact upside players aren’t there owners need to start prioritizing prospects with one or two impact tools or players with a direct path to major league at bats over projectable but inexperienced young kids. These rankings illustrate that shift in priorities.
31. Rusney Castillo, 3B/OF, Boston Red Sox
Because he is a Cuban defector, scouting reports and stats are tough to accurately quantify. This provides an opportunity to exploit the uncertainty but it also explains why a five-tool talent is this far down in the rankings. Jose Abreu was a 2014 Fantasy MVP while Dayan Viciedo is still an irrelevant Fantasy player – to give you both sides of the uncertainty coin.
Most of the prospects ranked in this range lack a high ceiling, well-rounded profile, but Castillo is an exception. The speed is a certainty. He is a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. Whether Castillo can make consistent contact or hit for above average power is an open question with scouts. The consensus is that he projects at least 10 home runs and 20 steals with the tools to potentially end up with 20 home runs and 35-plus steals. Scouts believe Castillo can play in the infield, 2B or 3B but early indications are that he will be the Sox opening day centerfielder. Watch his ADP rankings early in draft season to determine if he is a buy low or sell high opportunity and whether he is being over or under drafted. Castillo is a very fluid player that I expect to be overdrafted more often than under drafted in 2015 drafts.
2015 Projections: 140 major league games
Projected Career Stats: 15 HRs/25 SBs/. 270 Batting Average/.320 OBP
Floor: Brett Gardner
Ceiling: Starling Marte
32. Clint Frazier, OF, Cleveland Indians
Frazier has the power and speed to be a middle of the order Fantasy performer and the bat speed to hit for a good average. With only 164 minor league games, he has shown flashes of the power and speed, but it is too early to know if he will make the adjustments necessary to hit for a high average. It is a very good sign that he has walked 73 times in those 164 games. That is why he is this far down in the rankings.
Frazier has moved up a level each season, suggesting that the organization has been satisfied with his development at each level. Frazier should start 2015 in Double-A. With a breakout 2015 campaign Frazier has a chance to be a Top 10 prospect with an outside chance at a major league promotion. He could be a big mover on this list in 2015.
2015 Projections: Split between Double-A and Triple-A, potential September Call-up
Projected Career Stats: 25 HRs/15 SBs/.285 Batting Average/.350 OBP
Floor: Marlon Byrd
Ceiling: Adam Jones
33. Mark Appel, SP, Houston Astros
Appel’s 2014 started out as a disaster and ended on the upswing. He was awful at A-Advanced (9.74 ERA), improved at Double-A (3.69 ERA) and then he put it all together in the Arizona Fall League with a 2.61 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 31 innings, one of the best performers of the prospect showcase.
Appel has a SP2 arm, a plus fastball, a plus slider and an average changeup. With his stock at an all-time low he is a buy low opportunity. I see reasons to be optimistic and recommend buying on Appel at his current cost. He won’t be a Fantasy ace but he will be a SP3.
2015 Projections: 70 MLB innings/ 50Ks/ 4.30 ERA/1.35 WHIP
Projected Career Stats: SP3/175Ks
Floor: Luke Hochevar – Nathan Eovaldi 2014
Ceiling: Gerrit Cole
34. Jorge Alfaro, C, Texas Rangers
Alfaro is the rare athletic catcher that can hit for power, steal a few bases and shut down the running game on defense. His hit tool is a concern (.260 batting averages). He is an overly aggressive swinger, which will manifest in low on-base percentages and his defensive talents are raw, but none of those weaknesses are significant roadblocks to his future as an above average Fantasy catcher.
2015 Projections: 90-plus games in Double-A, late promotion to Triple-A possible
Projected Career Stats: 15-20 HRs/8-13 SBs/.250 BA/.320 OBP
Floor: Tyler Flowers
Ceiling: Salvador Perez (with some steals)
35. Kyle Crick, SP, San Francisco Giants
Ranked as the number one prospect in the Giants system in 2014, Crick has a front of the rotation frame (6’2” 220 lbs.) and SP2 ability with a live arm and two pitch mix (plus fastball/plus curveball). Crick is able to maintain velocity deep into games, a hallmark of a top of the rotation starter, but there are mounting concerns about his command (6.00 BB/9 in 2014). His breaking pitch has shown to be a swing and miss offering that he will need to throw more consistently to reach his ceiling. The Giants have a proven track record of developing pitchers and Crick has a Top 15 arm if he can wrangle in his command. Matt Cain profiled a lot like Crick and he has been a very good Fantasy pitcher.
2015 Projections: 60-80 innings in Double-A & Triple-A/60-70 MLB innings
Projected Career Stats: SP2-SP3/ 170Ks/1.35 WHIP
Floor: Luke Hochevar – Ervin Santana (his inconsistency)
Ceiling: Zach Wheeler/Matt Cain
36. Alex Meyer, SP, Minnesota Twins
In 130.1 innings Meyers struck out 153 batters while walking 64, a career high, at Triple-A Rochester in 2014. As Meyer moved up in levels so did his WHIP, not something you like to see. I love his big fastball and a curveball that is good enough to make Meyer a strikeout pitcher. Command concerns won’t restrict his ability to be a major league starter but it could limit his ceiling.
I expect the Twins to be cautious in 2015 with their best pitching prospect. A strained shoulder in 2013 and fatigue late in 2014 has me thinking 140 major league innings – a lower than normal number.
2015 Projections: 140 MLB Innings/125K’s/1.40 WHIP
Projected Career Stats: SP2-Sp3/170k’s/1.35 WHIP
Floor: Kyle Gibson/Wily Peralta
Ceiling: Lance Lynn/Jordan Zimmermann
37. Jose Peraza, SS/2B/OF, Atlanta Braves
I really like Peraza because he lacks power. Say what?? That’s right. If he hits three home runs in a season, pop the champagne and sell immediately. Power is the single most expensive tool in Fantasy baseball and because he lacks it, he is affordable while still being valuable.
With a plus hit tool that projects .300-plus batting averages, 40 steal speed, and the ability to play multiple positions, Peraza projects to be a poor man’s Jose Altuve with the position flexibility of a Ben Zobrist. The lack of power should result in Peraza being left off sleeper lists and ignored by most Fantasy owners in drafts. With Tommy La Stella traded to Chicago, it looks like Atlanta believes he is ready to be their opening day starting second baseman.
2015 Projections: 150 MLB games/ .285 BA/25 SBs
Projected Career Stats: .310 BA/35 SBs
Floor: Denard Span/Alcides Escobar
Ceiling: Jose Altuve (without the HRs)
38. Jonathan Gray, SP, Colorado Rockies
A pitcher with Gray’s front of the rotation frame (6’4”, 225 lbs.), a 100 MPH fastball with above average command and a nasty swing and miss slider should not be ranked this low but he is, and I am more than fine with it. He is ranked this low because I have trouble buying in on a player that came out of nowhere as a college senior to be drafted as a Top 10 pick. Normally, I am not an analyst that overrates park effect but Coors field is an exception to the rule. I can’t get excited about owning or highly ranking a Rockies starting pitcher. Third, he struggled to throw strikes and miss bats in Double-A in 2014, and the stuff is too good not to dominate that level as a 23-year-old. If Gray was in San Diego, I could see him being a Top 10 overall prospect, but pitching at Coors Field combined with the other factors makes me lukewarm on the extremely talented pitcher. His profile deserves a better ranking because the raw stuff is SP1 caliber.
Gray threw enough innings at Double-A to earn a promotion but the performance left a lot to be desired. More than likely he starts out in Triple-A, and if all goes well we could see him in Coors in July or August.
2015 Projections: 60-70 MLB Innings/40Ks/4.00-plus ERA/1.25 WHIP
Projected Career Stats: SP2-3/180K’s/ 1.275 WHIP
Floor: Mark Appel/Nathan Eovaldi
Ceiling: Gerrit Cole/Aaron Harang/Matt Latos
39. Micah Johnson, 2B, Chicago White Sox
The athleticism, moderately impressive pop (8-12 HRs in his best years), and plus-plus speed at second base makes Johnson an appealing Fantasy player. His hit tool is good enough that it won’t negatively impact his stolen base potential or his starting spot in the lineup.
After a mediocre 2014, Johnson needs to polish the rough edges of his game before he is ready for the big leagues, but the second base job is open for the taking and he has a leg up on Marcus Semien and Carlos Sanchez.
2015 Projections: 100 MLB games/.255 BA/20 SBs/4 HRs
Projected Career Stats: 8-12 HRs/25-30 SBs/.270 BA
Floor: Emilio Bonifacio/James Jones
Ceiling: Kolten Wong
40. Josh Bell, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
Bell was drafted as an elite multi-tool talent, and scouts still believe he is a middle of the order bat with power and batting average from both sides. The numbers aren’t there so far but the tools are starting to show signs that a breakout year is coming. He has 20/20/.300 potential.
2015 Projections: Finishes 2015 in Triple-A, July 2016 MLB promotion.
Projected Career Stats: 15-20 HRs/10-15 SBs/.290 BA
Floor: Lorenzo Cain
Ceiling: Michael Brantley/Christian Yelich/Starling Marte