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Minor Developments: U.S. Futures stars

By Rob Steingall

Yahoo Sports

With Futures Game rosters just announced for the July 16th game at Citi Field, let’s take a look at the U.S. team.

Pitchers

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Bradley has the look of a workhorse (Getty)

Archie Bradley may very well be the best pitching prospect currently in the minors. He’s been dominant across two levels this season (95.1 IP, 1.79 ERA, 39 BB, 110 SO), fueled largely by his improved command and further development of his arsenal. Bradley has a workhorse frame (6’4”, 225 lbs.) and all the skills necessary to be an ace.

After an injury-riddled 2012 that saw his prospect status plummet, Anthony Ranaudo has rebounded nicely for the Red Sox. He’s showing the ace form he was known for when coming out of LSU a few years ago. He seems ready for a new challenge in Double-A (84 IP, 2.68 ERA, 29 BB, 91 K) and could still be available in your dynasty league.

Mets righty Noah Syndergaard hasn’t slowed down since arriving in Double-A (11 IP, 3 ER, 9 H, 3 BB, 16 SO). He sits in the mid-90s with his fastball, with his best secondary weapon being his curveball – a true strikeout offering. The Mets’ young staff should only get stronger with Syndergaard eying the majors as early as next season.

While Bradley has truly stolen the show with his performance this year, Mariners righty Taijuan Walker still may have the greater upside. After posting impressive numbers at Double-A Tacoma (84 IP, 2.46 ERA, 30 BB, 96 K), he shined in his debut at Triple-A. Walker features an electric upper-90s fastball and knee-buckling curve. His changeup remains a work in progress and will ultimately determine how quickly he arrives in the majors. But expect a debut next season.

Hitters

Padres catcher Austin Hedges may be the biggest prospect riser at his position. While he only has two homers on the year, some of his doubles (16) should eventually land over the wall as he matures, making him a prospect capable of hitting for both power and average.

The most raw power on the U.S. team may come courtesy of Rangers third baseman Joey Gallo, who is punishing Single-A pitchers (23 homers). While the power is tantalizing, his .230 average leaves much to be desired, as does his propensity to whiff (37.9%). He’s worth a look in dynasty leagues, especially considering the great offensive environment in Texas.

The A’s challenged shortstop Addison Russell with an aggressive High-A placement to start the season. After initially struggling during the first two months, he’s really turned it up in June (.333, 3 HR, 15 RBI, 7 SB). He’s one of the top shortstop prospects in the game, and could be the long-term answer there for Oakland as early as 2015.

We discussed Twins outfielder Byron Buxton last week, and he’s looked good through his first few games at High-A Fort Myers (.333, 3 RBI, 1 SB). Baseball Prospectus recently named Buxton the top prospect in their midseason top 50, confirming what we already know: He’s an extremely special talent.

The Dodgers have another solid outfield prospect besides Yasiel Puig. His name is Joc Pederson. His tools are solid across the board, (.302, 13 homers, and 25-for-28 steals). He could be a trade candidate if the Dodgers try and acquire more talent at the deadline.

Astros outfielder George Springer was recently promoted to Triple-A after beating up Double-A pitching (.297, 19 HR, 55 RBI, 23 SB). He hasn’t slowed down since his promotion, batting .333 with a homer and steal through his first five games. With the Astros rebuilding, there is a strong likelihood he’ll find his way to the majors in 2013.

Rob Steingall is a syndicated fantasy analyst. You can follow him on Twitter and email prospect questions to MinorDevelopments@yahoo.com.

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