1. Raimel Tapia-OF-20
-Tapia’s U.S. debut in 2013 couldn’t have gone much better as he tore thru the Pioneer League with relative ease. Stats alone don’t tell the story for Tapia though as the young Dominican has a chance to be a true 5-tool centerfielder. Tapia shows a natural ability to barrel up balls and shows line drive power now that has a chance to take off as he matures physically. Tapia does need to work on his approach and plate discipline (what 19 year old Dominican doesn’t), but if the Rockies are patient they may have struck gold here.
-Outlook: Tapia was one of my biggest sleepers this off season before getting snatched up by the Dodgers. Tapia may not rate quite as high if he was in a better system due to being so far away but he has all the tools to rocket up the prospect charts with a strong season in 2014. Tapia is exactly the kind of prospect I love, huge upside and tools to dream on, guys like this make me love doing this job.
2. Raul Mondesi Jr.-SS-18
-Mondesi took low-A ball by storm as a 17-yr old in 2013 by showing an advanced hit tool and a ton of flash at SS. Obviously the defense doesn’t play much here other than ensuring he sticks at SS but the offensive upside is there to be a solid fantasy SS for a long time. Mondesi projects to hit for high average with gap power and he runs well enough to project 30+ steals annually as well.
-Outlook: Considering his age and relative inexperience one may think Mondesi is a long way off but I’m not so sure about that. I see Mondesi moving quickly since he is so advanced defensively and handles the bat so well. Mondesi’s power development will be the key to his fantasy value and if he can get to around 15 homers annually he has a chance to be a star.
3. Braden Shipley-SP-22
-Shipley, a former SS at Nevada, is relatively new to pitching but showed enough to rank as a top-10 prospect heading in to last June’s draft. He slipped to the 15th overall pick and the Diamondbacks were happy to snatch him up there. Shipley can run the heater up to 98 and sits comfortably in the low-mid 90s with a little arm side run. Shipley also throws a curveball that is still a work in progress but does flash plus potential. His third offering, a fall off the table change is what may make Shipley special.
-Outlook: Shipley’s debut was a little up and down and I think 2014 will give us a better idea of what we should expect here. I love his stuff and Shipley actually has a pretty advanced feel for pitching which leads me to believe that he will be able to repeat his delivery and the command will come. Shipley doesn’t profile as a #1 type starter but he has the stuff to be a solid #2/3 type which will play just fine in FBLO.
4. Alexander Reyes-RHP-19
-Reyes made his professional debut in the Appy league last season and flashed frontline upside lead by an easy mid-90s heater that has a chance to be plus-plus. Reyes also throw a curveball that has a chance to be above average as well. His third offering is a changeup that he shows some feel for but it has a ways to go to be anything more than a show me pitch.
-Outlook: Reyes is still transforming from a thrower to a pitcher but his delivery is solid and that should help with the refinement of his command going forward. The development of the change is what will determine Reyes’ future role, if it becomes a useable third offering he has #2 starter upside.
5. Arismendy Alcantara-2B-22
-Alcantara’s 2013 could only be described as a success as he was strong all year in AA and earned an invitation to the futures game ahead of some of his more famous Cubs prospect mates. Alcantara profiles as a better fantasy prospect versus a baseball prospect as he possess skills that could set him apart from most 2B. Alcantara’s bat is going to carry him and that’s all we care about here. His hit tool profiles as a potential 5-6 tool and his power shows 6 upside. Alcantara runs well and should be a threat on the bases as he progresses thru his career.
-Outlook: As a second baseman moving forward Alcantara has a chance to be special. Early on his power may be more gap-to-gap and will show more as doubles and triples but I feel like as he matures he’s a good bet to have 15+ homer pop. The development of the hit tool is the key, Alcantara can get by in FBLO as a .275 hitter because of his pop but if he hits .250 or less he may be nothing more than a backup/spot starter type.
ETA: August 2014
6. Matt Wisler-RHP-21
-Wisler has good size and features a fastball that works in the low-90s with some arm side run and compliments it with a decent slider with nice two plane movement. He also features a changeup that shows some usability at times. Wisler is a classic limited ceiling/limited floor kind of pitcher, I don’t see a #1/2 type but more of a #3/4 who is a steady back end guy in FBLO.
7. Mookie Betts-2B-21
-Betts burst on to the prospect scene with a monster 2013 with the bat in A-ball. Betts is a fabulous athlete who shows the potential for a plus hit tool and plus speed. Betts is on the small side and may never hit for much power and that will likely limit his fantasy upside. I need to see more from Betts in 2014 to prove that 2013 wasn’t a fluke but if he hits well at AA I could definitely see a backend fantasy 2B here.
8. Lewis Brinson-OF-19
-Brinson is an uber athlete who is really fun to watch/scout but you had better have a strong stomach. No player I have ever scouted has more swing and miss to his game than Brinson who K’d in almost 40% of his plate appearances last season in low-A. When he does actually hit the ball he shows a powerful swing that could produce grade 7 power upside. Brinson also runs very well and could steal 30+ bases if he can actually get on base once in a while. Brinson takes the term “raw toolsy outfielder” to another level but if everything clicks he could be a superstar, unfortunately I’m not holding my breath.
9. J.P Crawford-SS-19
-Crawford is a really good baseball prospect who should be the Phillies starting shortstop very soon (assuming someone puts Jimmy Rollins out of his misery soon). Crawford has a decent hit tool and runs pretty well but I don’t see any truly plus tools that stand out enough to really be a relevant fantasy player in a somewhat shallow league like FBLO.
2013 Top Prospects:
1. Xander Bogaerts-SS
2. Jameson Taillon-RHP
3. Alen Hanson-2B
4. Gregory Polanco-OF
5. Tony Cingrani-LHP
-Farm systems serve two purposes in FBLO, first is to produce talent to help your fantasy team win games and second is to provide you with trade chips to acquire veteran talent. This system has seen some big time prospects traded away in the last six months and the talent on the big league roster bears the fruits. While I don’t agree with the Dodgers seemingly determined effort to never pick in the supplemental draft I cannot question their eye for young talent. Two of the top four players on this list (Tapia and Reyes) were on Prospect Guys soon to be released top free agent prospects to watch list just a few weeks ago.