With the minor league season under way, let’s check in with some of the top minor league prospects to see how they began 2014.
For consensus top prospect Byron Buxton, his Double-A debut remains on hold due to a sore wrist he sustained during spring training. The Twins centerfielder may not resume baseball activities until the middle of next week, and is still behind at the club’s spring training complex receiving treatment. While a September cup of coffee could be in the cards, it’s likely his arrival on the fantasy stage won’t occur until 2015 at the earliest.
After slugging five home runs during spring training, Cubs shortstop Javier Baez has gotten off to a slow start at Triple-A Iowa going 1-for-14, with that hit being a home run. This is an extremely small sample and isn’t anything to be concerned with as the young slugger continues to refine his approach at the plate. The light tower power is legit, and could be on display in Chicago later this summer if an opportunity at the major league level presents itself.
One of my personal favorite prospects, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, is off to a hot start at High-A Lancaster, going 8-for-17 with eight runs batted in. He’s also collected a home run and has yet to strike out on the young season. Correa has an advanced approach at the plate and a lightning quick bat that should allow him to hit for average and power as he progresses through the minors. He could arrive as early as 2015 if his bat advances quickly enough.
It feels like we’ve been waiting on the debut of Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras forever, and we continue to wait as he bides his time in Triple-A Memphis to start the year. He’s off to a slow start, going 4-for-19 with a home run, but what’s most important is that he’s healthy and on the field. Taveras has one of the best bats in the minors. With a knack for hitting balls all around the strike zone, he’s been dubbed as a potential left-handed hitting Vlad Guerrero. The Cardinals should accommodate him with regular at-bats once he proves fully healthy and ready.
It was a solid debut for Diamondbacks pitcher Archie Bradley, who cruised through five shutout innings, allowing no hits with three strikeouts and two walks for Triple-A Reno. The big righty could be in line for a promotion quickly if current Diamondbacks fifth starter Randall Delgado continues to be pounded like he was in his debut (4 IP, 10 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO). Stash Bradley with the hopes of seeing early returns.
Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor is off to a nice start (6-for-17, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 SB) as he tries to establish himself as an offensive force to go along with the outstanding glove he already possesses. Lindor collected only two home runs during his 2013 campaign, so this is a good sign. He could have 10-15 home runs in his bat in his prime.
One prospect who certainly isn’t short on power is Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, who already has two home runs on the young 2014 season. Starting out at Double-A Tennessee, he should move quickly through the Cubs system as a polished college hitter at a position of need, especially if former top prospect Mike Olt can’t prove effective in the majors. If you’re in need of a power bat in your dynasty league, you should be all-in on trying to acquire Bryant, who should only see his prospect status rise over the course of the next season.
It was a smooth debut for Mets top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard, who carved up Triple-A hitters in his first look at the level (6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO). The Mets rotation is currently full, but the club could look to move a starter later in the year to make room for their prized righty. The Mets have a very exciting future ahead with Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and Syndergaard in the fold.
Astros outfielder George Springer is biding his time in Triple-A until his penny-pinching employers can avoid him qualifying for Super Two status this season (there really isn’t any other way to put it). He’s off to a solid start (5-for-20, 3 2B, 1 SB), and should arrive in early June. If he’s somehow in your league free agent pool, draft and stash.
We’ll close with the devastating news of Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon, who will undergo Tommy John surgery after injuring his elbow this spring. The injury will put him out of action for about a year, meaning we most likely won’t be seeing him in the majors until late in the 2015 season.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rsteingall