It’s that time of year again – the time where minor league prospects began garnering attention in the fantasy baseball world. Throughout late May and June, many prospects should finally get their long awaited call-ups. In a same sense, it’s also the time where fantasy baseball team owners should be picking up those prospects from free agency. Here are a few prospects to keep an eye on.
Gregory Polanco – OF Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pittsburgh Pirates have been struggling to stay in the NL Central race so far this season. This is not what fans expected, since last year the team made their first playoff appearance since 1992. One of the reasons for the team’s decline stems from the poor play from the Pirates right fielder, Jose Tabata.
Through 40 games and 107 at bats, Tabata is sporting an OBP below .300. He also has yet to hit a home run and has just eight RBI. The weak play from Tabata gives the Pirates another reason to call up Polanco, not that they needed it.
Gregory Polanco has been tearing up AAA pitching in 2014. His average is an impressive .381 and he’s hit 5 homers while contributing 38 RBI. Not to mention, Polanco is dangerous on the base paths, already stealing 10 bags. Polanco is expected to be called up anytime now.
Currently, Polanco is owned in 11.6% of ESPN Fantasy Baseball leagues. With his call-up looming, he should be owned in most fantasy formats. I’d pick him up now if I could. Once he comes up, he’ll quickly be fantasy relevant; he’ll be a threat to put up 20/20 seasons on a regular basis.
Oscar Taveras – OF St. Louis Cardinals
Oscar Taveras may be the best prospect across the entire league. The biggest problem facing his major league career is the stacked Cardinals outfield. In St. Louis, Peter Bourjos and Jon Jay are already competing for playing time in center and there’s no way that Taveras will dethrone veterans Matt Holiday and Allen Craig in the corner outfield positions.
Despite the crowded outfield, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak has said that Taveras could possibly be promoted during the first week of June. During that week, the Cardinals have seven games, all of which will be played in American League ballparks. Taveras would likely be inserted into the DH slot of the lineup.
Taveras has put together a solid year so far in AAA, slashing .288 and hitting six bombs. Despite his promotion coming in the next few weeks, Taveras is still owned in just 5% of ESPN Fantasy Baseball leagues. As with Polanco, he should be fantasy relevant as soon as he is called up. Taveras will soon be owned in all leagues – pick him up now.
Javier Baez – SS Chicago Cubs
During Spring Training, Javier Baez made a strong case for why he should have made the Chicago Cubs Opening Day roster; however, he didn’t. Baez started the year in AAA and has struggled to this point. In the beginning weeks of the season, Baez faced a DL stint, but that has been the least of his worries.
Baez has played in 32 games this year and his average is a horrific .156. Another area in which Baez has struggled has been his power. He is one of the most highly touted power prospects throughout baseball and has potential to hit 40 home runs each year. However, after 135 plate appearances, Baez has just four home runs and 14 RBI and his striking out in 34.8% of his plate appearances.
The slow start is worrisome, but Baez has faced slow starts throughout his professional baseball career. I think Baez will be fine, but his poor hitting may cause a delay in his career’s development. Unless he brings these numbers up quickly, he most likely won’t be called up in June, although it wouldn’t be too surprising since the Cubs sport the worst record in the majors.
Javier Baez will be a fantasy baseball juggernaut in the next year or two, but don’t expect much this season. The only reason Baez should be on a fantasy baseball roster is if it’s a dynasty or keeper league.
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