Joc Pederson OF Los Angeles Dodgers
If not for the significant financial obligations in L.A.’s outfield, we would have been discussing Pederson in June or July rather than September. Pederson has found rarified minor league air with his 32 HRs, 30 SBs, and .305 batting average. The concern for Fantasy owners isn’t Pederson’s talent, but playing time. The Dodgers aren’t going to bench Yasiel Puig or Matt Kemp for a rookie, and Carl Crawford is batting .333 in August.
Because of his ability to steal bases as well as hit homers, Pederson is one of those must claim prospects that you can start with confidence in weekly leagues while streaming him in daily formats if he starts two or three games per week as expected. In NL-only leagues Pederson will be a must-start.
Alex Guerrero 2B/3B/SS/OF Los Angeles Dodgers
You saw that right. Guerrero could qualify at as many as four positions. He has been playing them all in Triple-A to prepare for his promotion on September 1. The Dodgers have below average defenders at both shortstop and third base; Hanley Ramirez struggles to stay on the field and Justin Turner, Juan Uribe and Carl Crawford struggle to consistently produce at the plate. This all means that there should be plenty of at bats for a multi-position qualifier like Guerrero.
In NL-only leagues he will be a must start. In standard and deeper mixed leagues his versatility and .329/.365/.594 slash line with 12 home runs in Triple-A give him the potential to be better than Ben Zobrist, Dustin Pedroia or Brock Holt if he can hit the ground running. I would comfortably rank Guerrero ahead of players like Brad Miller, Martin Prado, Andrelton Simmons, Yunel Escobar, Eduardo Suarez, Xander Bogaerts and the half dozen or so 2B/3B/SS of that ilk. Like Joc Pederson, if not for some strange circumstances outside of Guerrero’s skill set and ability, we would have been talking about him in June or July and not September.
Jorge Soler OF Chicago Cubs
Soler has all the athleticism and offensive potential a Fantasy owner could want. The minor league stats aren’t overwhelming due to limited at bats, but the tools are ferocious. Soler has managed impressive batting averages with his plus contact tool alone. Once the approach is honed with experience, and his baseball IQ catches up to the physical gifts, you could have a 30/30/.300 player on your hands.
This September, Fantasy owners should take the Vlad Guerrero-like contact ability and power. With Ryan Sweeney and Justin Ruggiano currently on the disabled list for Chicago, Soler should get full time at bats to prepare for 2015. In NL-only leagues he is an immediate add. In standard and deeper mixed leagues he should provide 5-6 homers and enough contact to result in solid batting averages and some RBI and run scoring opportunities. He has the speed to steal a few bases but it’s not a skill that he utilizes yet, so it is difficult to predict what to expect on the bases. He has more offensive potential than the prospects owners got excited about in July and August like Michael Taylor, Domingo Santana and Mookie Betts. Soler was promoted to the majors on August 27.
Kris Bryant 3B/OF Chicago Cubs
Bryant is the best prospect in Fantasy Baseball according to my rankings and the only one that deserves “untouchable” status in my opinion. He has dominated every level in every season of his professional career and 2014 isn’t any different. There isn’t a good reason, except possibly his high K rate, to not promote him except to limit his major league service time in an attempt to avoid Super Two Status.
If promoted, you can expect full time at bats, a significant number of strikeouts and 5-6 home runs. Bryant is a must claim in NL-only and mixed leagues due to his third base eligibility. Bryant will provide much better upside than lesser third basemen like Jake Lamb, Matt Dominguez, or Will Middlebrooks, and he has the potential to be better than up and down veteran types like Todd Frazier, David Wright and Chase Headley. He has hit for good averages in the minors but with a high K rate; batting average could be an issue when he faces major league pitching.
Whether Bryant gets promoted or not is extremely difficult to predict. Fellow Cubs prospect Jorge Soler was already on Chicago’s 40-man roster when he was promoted, while Bryant is not. It is a meaningful distinction between the two extremely talented Cubs prospects when trying to determine whether Soler’s promotion could indicate that the Cubs intend to promote Bryant as well. With Alcantara, Baez and Soler already in Chicago, my gut tells me that Bryant is to follow, but the conservative money is that he won’t be. The payoff is worth the risk in my opinion. I suggest you claim him.
Marcus Semien 2B/SS/3B Chicago White Sox
Normally, a player like Marcus Semien, a guy who has been decent but not overly impressive this season, would be in an article that takes a deeper dive into the prospect pool. But, with the trade of Gordon Beckham and the hamstring strain to Micah Johnson, the rumor mills are churning out Semien’s name as the White Sox next promotion and the tools are intriguing. He can run and he has some pop; he batted .214 with a .287 OBP in 43 games in the majors this year before being demoted back to Triple-A in early June.
In deep leagues or for teams that are in dire straits in the infield, the tools and multi-position flexibility make Semien worth a claim; a September flier let’s call it. If you are fine or have a pedestrian player like David Freese who hits for an acceptable average but does nothing else, I would stick with a bird in the hand and pass on Semien. If you have empty roster spots, the tools definitely justify a claim; but hopefully, you aren’t relying on Semien to turn your season around.
Francisco Lindor SS Cleveland Indians:
Lindor doesn’t have great category league tools but he is a very good baseball player. He is a winner and will find a way to produce. He fits in best in Points leagues. Lindor will be praised excessively when the 2015 season comes around, so don’t get caught up in the hype. Lindor will be a very good major league player that doesn’t project well in category leagues due to his mediocre power/speed tools.
A few mashers to keep an eye out for:
C.J. Cron, 1B, Los Angeles Angels: Decent average and power combination in a strong lineup.
Jesus Aguilar, 1B, Cleveland Indians: Kills lefties.
Yosmil Pinto, C, Minnesota Twins: Catcher eligible with pop. Fantasy sugar baby!
D.J. Peterson, 3B, Seattle Mariners: An extremely unlikely promotion (hasn’t played above Double-A yet) but 28 HR’s in his first full season and the big league club needs some pop. Intriguing.
A few rabbits to keep an eye on for cheap steals:
Billy Burns, OF, Oakland A’s: Burns has 54 minor league stolen bases in 2014 and the A’s outfield is injury prone. He will be promoted to pinch run at the very least.
Hak-Ju Lee, 2B/SS, Tampa Bay Rays: not a true rabbit but will steal bases and plays in the middle infield. I’ll take it if he’s there.
Delino Deshields, OF, Houston Astros: Extremely unlikely promotion since he is still in Double-A, but he is a 75 stolen base speedster, he walks a lot and Houston seems to love to give their prospects a look at the majors. If you see his name cross the wires grab him.
Jose Peraza, 2B/SS, Atlanta Braves: One of my 2014 predicted risers. Love his future in the middle of the diamond. The Braves could use a BA/OBP/SB type guy in that power hitting, strikeout-laden lineup. Currently in Double-A so its more a dream than a real possibility but with contending teams anything is possible when rosters expand. A true sleeper in 2015, that you could possibly see roaming the outfield but qualifying in the infield in standard leagues.