Top 25 Fantasy Prospects for 2014: Updated by Marc Hulet June 27, 2014 Welcome to the Top Impact Rookies for 2014. This ranking tool grades freshman players and prospects (who have not exceeded the 50 IP, 130 AB marks) based on their projected MLB impacts for 2014 only — not future years — so it will vary significantly from typical Top 50 or 100 prospects lists. Updated: June 27, 2014 Sky Rocketing Gregory Polanco | Pirates (OF) Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR 22 78 11.5 % 12.8 % .338 .416 .441 .384 149 5.4 -1.7 0.7 June 27: Just 22 years of age, Polanco has shown he belongs at the big league level. Through his first 15 games he has a .397 on-base percentage. The only thing he hasn’t done to date at the big league level is hit for power. The young hitter should continue to pair with all-star Andrew McCutchen and form an exciting outfield in Pittsburgh for years to come. Settling In Marcus Stroman | Blue Jays (P) Age IP K/9 BB/9 GB% ERA FIP xFIP RA9-WAR WAR 23 36.0 7.50 1.75 48.3 % 4.25 3.63 3.62 0.4 0.5 June 27: Stroman, 23, has shown flashes of brilliance but consistency continues to elude him — as it does with many young hurlers. The right-hander has been utilizing a more fly-ball-heavy approach in his last few outings so it will be interesting to see if that approach continues to work for him. Some stability from Stroman could work wonders for the Jays’ pitching staff. Rising Rougned Odor | Rangers (2B) Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR 20 120 2.5 % 17.5 % .282 .316 .445 .333 105 0.5 0.7 0.6 June 27: The 20-year-old Odor has been solid at the big league level despite having received his big league promotion after just 62 games of experience above the A-ball level. The slick-hitting infielder has a .292 batting average but has walked just three times in 32 big league games. Settling In C.J. Cron | Angels (1B/DH) Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR 24 124 3.2 % 19.4 % .294 .323 .529 .370 140 6.1 -5.5 0.5 June 27: Cron’s .428 slugging percentage from 2013 is a testament to the struggles he had trying to produce consistent power last year. Luckily, the young slugger found the on switch in ’14 and has a .530 slugging percentage at the big league level through 38 contests. Like Rougned Odor, though, he’s displayed an aggressive approach at the plate and has generated just four free passes. Sky Rocketing Mookie Betts | Red Sox (2B) Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA 21 351 105 21 8 47 33 28 .350 .436 .527 .431 June 27: Betts’ stats line hasn’t been quite as ridiculous since being promoted from Double-A to Triple-A but an .859 OPS is nothing to sneeze at. Only 21 years old, the second-baseman-turned-center-fielder could find himself in The Show if the Red Sox can find a way to climb back into the playoff race in the second half of the year. Steady Jon Singleton | Astros (1B) Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR 22 86 8.1 % 33.7 % .208 .279 .416 .301 89 -2.3 -1.2 -0.1 June 27: Singleton has joined George Springer in the big leagues but he hasn’t enjoyed the same success to date. The young first baseman has shown flashes of big-time power but his swing has some holes in it that need to be closed before he’ll produce a consistent threat at the plate. Sky Rocketing Kris Bryant | Cubs (3B) Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA 22 321 93 20 27 46 86 8 .346 .449 .721 .506 June 27: After producing a video-game-like 1.160 OPS in 68 Double-A games, Bryant earned a recent promotion to Triple-A. His first five hits at the new level have gone for home runs but he’s running the danger of getting too homer happy and becoming a one-dimensional player. It’s possible that the slugging prospect could see the Majors in the second half of 2014 but it’s more likely that the rebuilding Cubs will hold off his debut until 2015. Steady Oscar Taveras | Cardinals (OF) Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR 22 40 5.0 % 17.5 % .189 .225 .297 .231 44 -2.5 -0.8 -0.2 June 27: Taveras’ first shot at The Show didn’t exactly go as planned (.522 OPS in 11 games) but he remains as one of the best hitting prospects in the game and it’s only a matter of time before he settles in to the middle of the Cardinals’ lineup — for years to come. Slipping Noah Syndergaard | Mets (P) Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP 21 13 13 65.0 75 9 9.28 2.77 4.98 4.30 June 27: Syndergaard was cruising along at the Triple-A level before a shoulder injury put a halt to his success in early June. Since returning, he hasn’t enjoyed the same success and has allowed 13 hits and nine runs in his past two appearances spanning 10.2 innings. Just 21 years old, the organization can afford to be cautious with the young pitcher. Rising Jesse Hahn | Padres (P) Age IP K/9 BB/9 GB% ERA FIP xFIP RA9-WAR WAR 24 22.2 10.72 3.18 52.7 % 2.38 3.05 2.65 0.6 0.3 June 27: Hahn’s success in the big leagues is a bit of a surprise given that he has just 11 games of experience above A-ball and has struggled with some injuries. Interestingly, he hasn’t gained any advantage by pitching at home in San Diego; his numbers are far better on the road and both his home runs allowed came at home. Steady Andrew Heaney | Marlins (P) Age IP K/9 BB/9 GB% ERA FIP xFIP RA9-WAR WAR 23 11.0 6.55 2.45 48.4 % 4.91 5.10 3.91 0.0 -0.1 June 27: Since being called up in mid-June, Heaney has made two starts with varying levels of success. The left-hander should at least pitch at the level of a solid No. 4 starter for The Fish and it’s possible that he could also raise him game to another level in the second half of the year as he gets acclimated to The Show. Steady Jimmy Nelson | Brewers (P) Age IP K/9 BB/9 GB% ERA FIP xFIP RA9-WAR WAR 25 5.2 9.53 4.76 40.0 % 0.00 2.57 4.39 0.4 0.2 June 27: Nelson has been one of the best Triple-A pitchers throughout the first three months of the season. Solid performances by the Brewers’ five starters, though, has kept the right-hander on the sidelines — even though he possesses an intriguing future. Injuries are bound to rear their ugly heads so look for Nelson to be a key piece to Milwaukee’s playoff run in the second half of the year. Steady Joc Pederson | Dodgers (OF) Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA 22 332 87 11 17 57 95 20 .319 .437 .568 .436 June 27: Aside from Yasiel Puig, Dodger outfielders have been a disappointment in 2014. Pederson, on the other hand, has been a revelation at the Triple-A level. Unfortunately, he suffered a separated shoulder a couple of days ago and will miss some time while recuperating on the side lines. Still, he should surface in L.A. during the second half of the year and possesses both power and speed. Slipping Rafael Montero | Mets (P) Age IP K/9 BB/9 GB% ERA FIP xFIP RA9-WAR WAR 23 20.0 7.65 4.95 32.8 % 5.40 6.30 4.79 -0.2 -0.4 June 27: Montero had an inconsistent first taste of big league action but things went from bad to worse when he was returned to Triple-A. He was injured during his third start back in the Pacific Coast League and it remains to be seen when he’ll return from the oblique injury. Steady Francisco Lindor | Indians (SS) Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA 20 319 79 9 6 35 51 19 .283 .362 .409 .351 June 27: Lindor, just 20, was hitting well in Double-A but he took a ball off the nose a couple of nights ago and suffered a fracture that will keep him on the side lines for a couple of weeks. The slick-fielding shortstop is very close to big league ready. Rehabbing Eddie Butler | Rockies (P) Age IP K/9 BB/9 GB% ERA FIP xFIP RA9-WAR WAR 23 5.1 3.38 5.06 52.2 % 10.13 4.04 5.25 -0.2 0.1 June 27: Butler made his highly-anticipated debut at the big league level in early June but then hit the disabled list mere days later with a bum shoulder. He’s rehabbing the injury right now and could return to the Rockies’ big league rotation by July — if all goes as planned. Rehabbing Archie Bradley | Diamondbacks (P) Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP 21 6 6 28.1 31 0 9.21 4.13 5.08 3.47 June 27: One of the top pitching prospects when the season began, Bradley hit the disabled list in mid-May. Now that his elbow is (hopefully) healthy, the right-hander could reach the Majors in the second half of the year. However, the Diamondbacks are 14.5 games out of first place in the National League West so there really is no need to rush him to the Majors. Steady Stephen Piscotty | Cardinals (OF) Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA 23 310 87 24 4 22 39 7 .307 .368 .435 .358 June 27: St. Louis has tried a number of young outfielders so far in 2014 but Piscotty continues to get overlooked — most likely due to his contract status; he doesn’t have to be added to the 40-man roster until after the 2015 season. He’s hit well all year long but June has been his strongest of the year with a .935 OPS. Steady Robert Stephenson | Reds (P) Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP 21 15 14 77.0 59 9 9.35 4.56 3.97 4.27 June 27: His command has been off and on in 2014 but Stephenson is probably the best arm in the minors that no one is really talking about (which is kind of weird). Just 21, the right-hander has allowed just 59 hits in 77.0 innings of work and also has 80 strikeouts. When everything’s clicking, he’s downright nasty. Steady Jonathan Gray | Rockies (P) Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP 22 14 14 74.0 64 8 8.27 2.43 3.77 3.49 June 27: The Rockies’ top draft pick from 2013 continues to pitch well at the Double-A level. However, the organization has to be somewhat concerned with Gray’s fly-ball heavy ways considering his future home ball park. At 6-4 he has the height necessary to create a strong downward plane on his offerings. Steady Alex Meyer | Twins (P) Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP 24 15 15 71.1 65 6 10.47 4.29 3.79 3.79 June 27: Starting pitching has been an issue for the Twins in 2014 but Meyer could soon help alleviate some of the stress. The big right-hander just needs to tighten up his command and control. Once he does that, he could be a dominating arm for Minnesota. Rising Allen Webster | Red Sox (P) Age IP K/9 BB/9 GB% ERA FIP xFIP RA9-WAR WAR 23 30.1 6.82 5.34 43.1 % 8.60 6.51 5.18 -0.9 -0.3 June 27: Webster has pitched quite well in Triple-A but the emergence of both Brandon Workman and Rubby de la Rosa has kept him anchored in the minors. His lack of consistent command and control continues to limit his ceiling but he could probably be a respectable big league pitcher right now. Rising Trevor May | Twins (P) Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP 24 14 14 79.2 59 4 9.15 3.50 2.94 3.12 June 27: Along with Alex Meyer (see above), May could soon settle into the Twins rotation and give them some starting pitching with upside (something the club has lacked for a while). The former Phillies prospect still struggles with his control (31 walks) but he’s allowed just 59 hits and struck out 81 batters in 79.2 innings. Rising Domingo Santana | Astros (OF) Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA 21 337 88 21 12 38 92 4 .295 .377 .493 .384 June 27: With Justin Singleton and George Springer already in The Show, Santana is the last piece of the power trio still in the minors — but he may not be for long. He’s hitting for both average and power at the Triple-A level despite being just 21 years old. He’ll produce a massive strikeout rate to go with his home run pop but he should be fun to watch. Slipping Jesse Biddle | Phillies (P) Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP 22 15 15 78.2 74 11 8.69 4.58 5.03 4.99 June 27: Biddle looked good through the first two months of the season but June has been a nightmare for the talented lefty. He currently has a 12.64 ERA with 14 walks in 15.2 innings. He’s going to have to find the consistency that has eluded him through his career if he’s going to break into the Phillies’ veteran-heavy rotation. It was just announced that the southpaw will spend some time on the sidelines having a “mental break.” Rising Andrew Susac | Giants (C) Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA 24 165 38 8 6 20 38 0 .270 .376 .454 .370 June 27: The presence of all-star Buster Posey will keep Susac from having a full-time gig in San Francisco but he could eventually supplant the disappointing Hector Sanchez as the back-up — unless he’s dealt in a trade deadline deal since he’s one of the Giants more intriguing prospects.