2015 American League Impact Rookies

The American League is  flush with rookie talent this year, led by two older prospects in 26-year-old Steven Souza and 27-year-old Cuban émigré, Rusney Castillo.  Both are locked into starting roles and are being taken early in fantasy drafts.  Assuming Dalton Pompey wins the centerfield role out of Spring Training, he has the speed, bat control, and the defensive chops to give both Souza and Castillo a run for their money for Rookie of the Year.

There are also a number of pitchers that could provide impact to their teams this year.  My two favorite rookie pitchers are the Angles newly acquired lefty Andrew Heaney and the Twins 6-foot-9 power right-hander Alex Meyer.  However, if Daniel Norris gets to Toronto by June 1st, watch out…he could easily move to the top of the list, much like Jacob DeGrom did in 2014.

Potential Impact Players

Steven Souza (OF, TB):  550 AB, 18 HR, 22 SB, .275, .340 OBP

Starts the season in Tampa.

I’ve been leading the Steven Souza bandwagon for two-years after seeing him school, yes, you heard me, school Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler before an Arizona Fall League game in batting practice.  While it was clearly all in fun, the ball exploded off his bat and I was sold.  He’s got speed, power and a nice short, quick stroke that should allow him to provide contribution in multiple categories on your fantasy team.

Rusney Castillo (OF, Bos): 500 AB, 11 HR, 28 SB, .260 BA, .330 OBP

Starts the season in Boston.

The $72 million dollar investment that the Red Sox made in Rusney Castillo should start to payoff in 2015.  He’s got plenty of tools with the chance to hit double-digit home runs and steal 30 plus stolen bases.  Provided he stays healthy, he has to be considered a strong candidate for Rookie of the Year.

Dalton Pompey (OF, Tor):  475 AB, 6 HR, 30 SB, .275 BA, .350 OBP

Starts the season in Toronto.

Dalton Pompey tore through four levels last year and wound up in the major leagues to end the season.  The glove is ready and the bat is not that far behind.  Don’t be surprised if he starts the season off slowly; as that has been his pattern in most new challenges.  However, if the Blue Jays can weather this adjustment period, the talent should begin to shine through by mid-season.

Francisco Lindor (SS, Cle):  350 AB, 7 HR, 18 SB, .270 BA, .345 OBP

Called up on June 15th.

Francisco Lindor is the highest ranked prospect on this list at number five and is nearly big league ready.  However, that might not be enough as the Indians will at a minimum keep him down to gain an extra year of team control, or even delay his promotion until mid-June to avoid making him a Super-2 player.  The fly-in-the ointment could be Jose Ramirez.  He’s a grinder and a nice little ball player in his own right.  However, Lindor is the superior talent and will ultimately be Indians shortstop of the future.

Andrew Heaney (LHP, LAA):  170 IP, 155 K, 3.80 ERA, 1.22 WHIP

Starts the season in Los Angeles.

Heaney was traded twice in the off-season and wound up in a great situation in Los Angeles.  He should enter the season as the fifth starter and while the stuff is that of a mid-rotation starter, it’s plenty good to impact your fantasy team and for him to challenge for Rookie of the Year.

Alex Meyer (RHP, Min): 150 IP, 145 K, 3.90 ERA, 1.27 WHIP

Starts the season in Minnesota.

Alex Meyer doesn’t need to post a Spring Training line of 14 IP, 18 K, and a sub 1.00 ERA to break camp with the Twins, he just needs to be solid.  While Meyer’s long levers will continue to be a problem for him and that will show in his results, there is just a ton to like with the 6-foot-9 right-hander.

Daniel Norris (LHP, Tor):  90 IP, 100 K, 3.60 ERA, 1.24 WHIP

Potential call-up in June.

As we wrote in our pre-season Top 10’s, Daniel Norris has the talent to be the best left-handed pitcher in the game.  The stuff is just flat-out nasty and his command and control took a huge step forward in 2014.  He does need more seasoning but if Toronto believes he’s ready, he immediately jumps to top of the pitchers on the list.

Carlos Rodon (RHP, CHW):  30 IP, 35 K, 3.10 ERA, 1.10 WHIP

Potential call-up in July.

The talent of Carlos Rodon should easily put him in the Rookie of Year debate.  When he demonstrates fastball command, he has three plus pitches.  Unfortunately, the command is too inconsistent and he needs more seasoning.  However, he makes the list because of the talent; just don’t be surprised if he pitches in the bullpen and not in the starting rotation once he’s eventually promoted.

Micah Johnson (2B, Cle):  350 AB, 1 HR, 25 SB, .260 BA, .330 OBP

Potential call-up in late May or early June.

Injuries limited Micah Johnson’s production in 2014 but assuming he’s fully healthy, he could be a significant fantasy contributor this year.  While he will be given a shot to make the team out of Spring Training, I’m assuming the job will be split between Emilo Bonifacio and Carlos Sanchez.  However, Johnson has the superior hit tool and should get the call sometime in May or June.

Dylan Bundy (RHP, Bal):  70 IP, 75 K, 3.40 ERA, 1.10 WHIP

Potential call-up in June.

I’m still a believer in Dylan Bundy and his call-up to the majors will be completely dependent on how he pitches early in the season.  While you could say that about any pitcher, the Orioles need power arms and can’t allow Bundy to waste innings in the minors as his innings will be limited.

Other Players that could impact their clubs

Ryan Rua (OF, Tex)

Ryan Rua could easily start the year in left field for the Texas Rangers and with playing time, comes the chance to impact a fantasy team.  He makes very good contact with a mature approach at the plate and enough pop to hit 15 plus home runs.  He’s a 30-grade runner, so don’t expect any stolen base contribution.

Aaron Sanchez (RHP, Tor)

I’ve maintained for the past two years that Aaron Sanchez is a reliever with a chance to be a special closer.  If the Blue Jays do not solve their closer situation by the end of Spring Training and Sanchez becomes the guy, he could easily move in the discussion for Rookie of the Year.

Nate Karns (RHP, TB)

If Karns can develop a feel for a change-up, he could be a real break-out candidate for 2015.  I doubt he starts the season in the majors but could be an interesting injury call-up.

Brandon Finnegan (LHP, KC)

The Royals want Brandon Finnegan to be a starter and his college career clearly shows he has the pitchability and stuff to do that.  However, don’t be surprised if the Royals use him again in the bullpen for 2015.  However, if he starts the season in the rotation, he could make noise.

Eduardo Rodriguez (LHP, Bos)

If the arsenal improvement that Eduardo Rodriguez showed after he was traded to the Red Sox was real, then the lefty could be a real asset to the Red Sox in 2015.  They’ll need it as their current rotation is made up of a bunch of number four and five starters.

Blake Swihart (C, Bos)

Blake Swihart has the kind of offensive tools that you don’t see very often.  He’s athletic with great bat speed with 20 home run power potential.  While he’s not quite in Christian Vazquez defensive class, he’s no slouch either.  In fact, he could easily be a Top 10 defensive catcher once he gets acclimated to the big leagues.

Giovanny Urshela (3B, Cle) 

Giovanny Urshela is my deep sleeper in the American League.  He had a very productive season in 2014, smacking 18 home runs with an 86% contact rate across Double and Triple-A.  He also kept hitting in the Venezuelan Winter League, posting a .929 OPS in 108 at-bats.  To complete the profile, he’s a plus defender at third with good footwork and a plus arm.  Unless you believe Lonnie Chisenhall has turned the corner and is the full-time answer at third for the Indians, Urshela could see significant playing time.


2015 Dynasty League Re-draft Board

Having played in Dynasty Leagues for the past five years, I have found that the annual redraft process is the most important task of the year.  If you don’t spend time thinking about what you want to do and evaluating the talent available, it can truly set you back for several years.  In fact, I have found it so important that in all of our Prospect361 sponsored leagues, we follow a 12-hour slow draft process.   I have found that you really need to think about each selection and making a quick decision in 60 seconds leads to poor decisions and ultimately too many noncompetitive teams.

As with everything in life, you’ve got to have a plan and a player “pref list” that matches what you are trying to accomplish.  For instance, if you’re competing for a title with one pick in the first three rounds, you probably want to stay conservative and select a college player who is close to contributing.  If you’re rebuilding with multiple picks in the early rounds, you can be more aggressive by selecting high school players who are further away.  That said, if you have five picks in the first 30 picks and every player you draft is a high ceiling/high risk teenager, you’ve made a horrible mistake.

To help you prepare for your draft, we have created our Top 30 “pref list”.  The list is comprised of players drafted in the 2014 first year player draft as well as Latin Players who have signed since your fantasy draft in 2014.  Since each leagues rules are different and more importantly, each leagues waiver wire is unique, do not use this list as a bible.  Instead, use it as a guide.  If a top prospect is on the board who was drafted in 2013 and you believe they are better than anyone else on our list, then take them.  If there is a closer on the board and he can put you over the top, draft him.  Remember, flags fly forever and nobody has yet won a title by having the best collection of minor league players.

The key is finding the balance…good luck and let us know how things go.

  1. Yoan Moncada (2B, Unsigned) – If you are playing for the long haul and can draft Moncada, do it…if you have a chance to win next year, Castillo might be the better pick.
  2. Rusney Castillo (OF, Bos) – Castillo is a complete player and big league ready. The upside is a 15 HR/30 SB player.  He did bulked up while waiting to be cleared by OFAC and while that clearly helped him get paid, don’t be surprised if he spends some time on the disabled list.
  3. Carlos Rodon (LHP, CHW) – 3rd pick in 2014 draft. Many owners with the first pick will snag Rodon.  While he’s a worthy and safe pick at 1-1, if I had the number one pick, I’d take a bat.  That said, I think Rodon will see Chicago this year and working with Don Cooper will only help Rodon gain consistency with his secondary pitches.
  4. Yasmani Tomas (OF/3B, Ari) – At some point the string of impact Cuban born players will have to end. It could very well end with Tomas.  However, with power at a premium, he’s the right pick if you have the number four pick.
  5. Alex Jackson (OF, Sea) – 6th pick.  Everybody I spoke with in researching the Seattle Top 10 list said that Jackson was the best bat in the draft class and it wasn’t close. Great bat speed with good hand-eye coordination.  It looks like the Mariners have permanently moved him to the outfield and while he would have held more fantasy value at catcher, on the positive side, he should move quickly.
  6. Kyle Schwarber (OF, CHC) – 4th pick.  Schwarber was the surprise number four overall pick by the Cubs.  After destroying the lower level minor leagues last year, the Cubs look like they have hit gold once again.  The bat is advanced and while it’s unlikely he sees Chicago in 2015, it’s not completely out of the question.
  7. Nick Gordon (SS, Min) – 5th pick.  Gordon is a huge make-up kid that should move quickly. Not a burner, so if you’re looking for speed up the middle, he’s not your guy.  However, he’s got bat speed and the body that could produce 20 home runs at the highest level.
  8. Tyler Kolek (RHP, Mia) – 2nd pick.  While Kolek was the second overall pick in the 2014 draft, he drops to eight on my draft board. The biggest concern is that there has never been a kid like him drafted.  He’s stands 6-foot-5, weighs 260 pounds and can hit triple digit; oh yeah, he’s 18-years-old.  It should be noted that he did not get close to triple digits during his brief professional debut.
  9. Jeff Hoffman (RHP, Tor) – 9th pick.  I had a chance to see Hoffman early in the 2014 college season and he was impressive, like in 1-1 impressive. He has three above average pitches and can throw each for strikes. While there is clearly risk given that he is recovering from Tommy John reconstructive surgery, I think the upside is worth taking him in the first round of your fantasy draft.
  10. Michael Conforto (OF, NYM) – 10th pick.  Conforto can really hit but doesn’t have great bat speed, so his power output will always be questioned.  If he can stay in the outfield, his fantasy value should play.  However, if he moves to first, I don’t think he’ll have enough power to be a first division starter.  I’m betting he stays in the outfield and becomes an Allen Craig type of player.
  11. Bradley Zimmer (Cle, OF) – 21st pick. Bradley Zimmer fell in the draft and I’m not sure why.  He can really play with a nice power/speed combination.  The upside is 20 HR/20 SB player.
  12. Trea Turner (SS, SD/Was) – 13th pick.  Turner’s carrying tool is elite speed that should play very well at the highest level if he plays a contact-oriented game. However, he can get pull happy and swing for the fences which will hurt his game and his overall fantasy output.
  13. Max Pentecost (Tor, C) – 11th pick.  Pentecost has the tools to be a solid fantasy catcher with a ceiling of a top 12-18 catcher. The power upside is an open question with a wide range of 10 to 20 currently on my board.
  14. Sean Newcomb (LHP, LAA) – 15th pick.  Newcomb has a nice combination of size and stuff with the polish to move quickly. After a few down years, Newcomb provides a nice anchor for an Angels minor league system that could start to finally improve.
  15. Michael Chavis (SS/3B, Bos) – 26th pick.  Chavis was one of my favorite players in the entire draft. While I loved the attitude and makeup, more importantly, the bat speed is elite with an innate ability to make contact.  He’s a bit bow-legged though, so I’m not sure how much speed he’ll have.
  16. Grant Holmes (RHP, LAD) – While not tall, Holmes has a sturdy body and more importantly, a big arm. He’s young, but there is a ton of upside.
  17. Brandon Finnegan (LHP, KC) – 17th pick.  Finnegan is one of the better known players from the 2014 class as he pitched meaningful innings in the playoffs.  The biggest concern is his 5-foot-11 height which will inevitably flatten out his arsenal and make him homer prone.  That said, he’s a safe pick who could spend most of the 2015 season in Kansas City, but possibly in the bullpen.
  18. Aaron Nola (RHP, Phi) – 7th pick.  Another safe bet is Aaron Nola.  He could see Philadelphia in 2015 with similar upside to Finnegan.  He’s 6-foot-1 with a 91-93 MPH fastball and average secondary pitches.
  19. Touki Toussaint (RHP, Ari) – 16th pick.  Toussaint has as much talent as anybody on this list.  The upside is at least a number two starter, maybe more.  However, he’s raw with a ton of risk.  If you have three or four picks in the first two rounds, consider popping Toussaint earlier than number 19 as the upside could be extremely high.
  20. Kyle Freeland (Col, LHP) – 8th pick. Yeah, I don’t like to draft Colorado pitchers either, but Freeland has the control and downward plane on his pitches that should play well in Coors.  Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, but there is talent there and a smart owner will not allow him to drop into the third round.
  21. Tyler Beede (SF, RHP) – 14th pick.  Three words describe Tyler Beede – Fun, right park and really good stuff.  Add it all up and he should move fast with a chance to see San Francisco in 2016.
  22. Derek Fisher (OF, Hou) – 37th pick. Fisher has the power and speed to be a significant fantasy player.  However, statistically, it’s never come together for the N.C. State graduate.  That said, I’d bet on the player and wait for the excellent Astros development organization to work their magic.  If you want to pop him earlier than number 22, I’d be fine with that.
  23. Forrest Wall (2B, Col) – 35th pick.  Forrest Wall is another one of my favorite prospects from the 2014 draft.  He’ll get “push down” in a lot of publications because of the shoulder injury that is currently limiting him to second base.  However, as a fantasy owner, we care about offensive production and that’s where Wall could pay huge dividends.
  24. Monte Harrison (OF, Mil) – 50th pick.  I’ve seen Monte Harrison play and he is indeed an impressive athletic with off-the-chart tools.  The big worry was whether he would hit enough…well, in his first taste of professional ball, he did just fine.  He’s another guy that I would be comfortable taking higher if I had multiple picks in the first two rounds.
  25. Alex Verdugo (LAD, OF) – 62nd pick.  Verdugo was drafted 62 overall, but I like him a lot more than that.  He’s only 19-years-old, but I’d rather have him before many of the 16-year-old Latin kids that other owners will crave and take ahead of him in your draft.
  26. Spencer Adams (RHP, CHW) – 44th pick.  I thought I would have Spencer Adams all to myself in my drafts, but the cat is clearly out of the bag as everyone seems to be high on the kid.  He has everything teams want in a young pitcher – athleticism, very good raw stuff, and a projectable body.   If you want him, you’ll likely have to go a little earlier than 26.  Will I do that?  I’m not sure…I’ll probably take a bat, but I will clearly be tempted.
  27. Michael Gettys (SD, OF) – 51st pick.  On the MLB draft broadcast, John Hart (now, GM of the Atlanta Braves) was asked which player in the draft reminded him most of Mike Trout?  His response…Michael Gettys.   While it’s a fun question and will now be a staple on draft broadcast, I’m skeptical on how much the hit tool will develop.  However, if you want to swing for the fences, then Gettys is your guy.
  28. Derek Hill (Det, OF) – 23rd pick.  Derek Hill’s reputation coming into the draft was his advanced hit tool.  While it was only rookie ball, he only hit .208 in 173 at-bats and reports were that he was overmatched.  That said, the tools are there including elite foot speed.
  29. Luis Ortiz (Tex, OF) – 30th pick.  Luis Ortiz is young but has a nice arm and the upside that teams are always looking to obtain.  Plus, he will play the entire 2015 season as a 19-year-old.  It’ll take a while, but the reward could be nice.
  30. Alex Blandino (3B, Cin) – 29th pick.  While I got mixed reviews on Blandino, the Reds are very high on the kid and believe he could move quickly.

Top 100 Prospects – 1 through 25

Our top 100 prospects list, 1 through 25 has just been posted.


Top 100 Prospects – 26 through 50

Our top 100 prospects list, 26 through 50 has just been posted.

The list will continue, Friday, January 30th with 1-25.


Top 100 Prospects – 51 through 75

Our top 100 prospects list, 51 through 75 has just been posted.

The list will continue, Tuesday, January 27th with 26-50.

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2015 Top 100 Prospects – 76 through 100

Our 2015 top 100 prospects list, 76 through 100 has just been posted.

The list will continue, Friday, January 23rd with 51-75.


2015 Top 10 Texas Rangers Prospects

Our review of the 2015 Texas Rangers Top 10 Prospects is now available.

You can see the Rangers 2014 Prospect List here.

1. Joey Gallo (3B)

2. Jorge Alfaro (C)

3. Nomar Mazara (OF)

4. Jake Thompson (RHP)

5. Lewis Brinson (OF)

6. Alex Gonzalez (RHP)

7. Ryan Cordell (OF)

8. Nick Williams (OF)

9. Luis Ortiz (RHP)

10. Luke Jackson (RHP)

2015 Emerging Prospect:

Travis Demeritte (2B)



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