Last week I wrote about the American League Impact Rookies and called that squad “flush with rookie talent”. Well if the AL is flush, then the NL is “REALLY flush with talent”. Yeah, I’m a writer…look at how I highlighted really…and even capitalized it. A Pulitzer prize is clearly in my future.
Kidding aside, the talent is immense led by a pair of Cubbies in Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant. While Bryant is the best prospect in the land, I actually think Jorge Soler will have a more impactful season. Provided he can stay healthy, 25 home runs should be in the bank. Bryant has got to hit his way onto the opening day starting lineup. If he’s just ok in Spring Training, the Cubs will find a way to delay his clock to start him in the minors for at least two week.
It doesn’t stop there, Joc Pederson and Yasmany Tomas should both come West with the Dodgers and Diamondbacks respectfully. Pederson is the more intriguing fantasy player but Tomas could also poke 25 home runs. Don’t forget about Maikel Franco as well. He has tremendous raw power and while he plays for the fickle Philadelphia Phillies, he’s ready and deserves a chance.
While there’s a slight drop off in pitching, it’s more about the potential impact in 2015 instead of a talent drop off. Noah Syndergaard has a chance to be the best pitcher on a stacked Mets rotation by the end of the year. While I’ll admit that chance is small, he’s got that much talent and upside. Archie Bradley still has a chance to be a beast and as he refines his command, the talent will start to translate into production at the big league level.
Jorge Soler (OF, CHC) – 550 AB, 27 HR, 3 SB, .275 BA, .345 OBP
Starts the season in Chicago
Provided he stays healthy, don’t be surprised if Jorge Soler nudges out Kris Bryant for Rookie of the Year honors. Soler has a chance to be a force in the middle of the lineup with a better than average hit tool. The only thing he won’t do is steal bases. Buckle up, it’s going to be fun.
Kris Byrant (3B, CHC) – 475 AB, 22 HR, 12 SB, .265 BA, .340 OBP
Promoted in late April
What, Kris Bryant is only predicted to hit 22 home runs…he has to be good for 40, right??? Well, one day, but the major leagues is a huge step and Bryant will have his struggles like nearly every rookie before him. That said, the power is plus and he’ll even chip in double-digit stolen bases. The strikeouts will be there but expect a higher than league average BABIP that will prop his batting average. When does he arrive? April 20th.
Joc Pederson (OF, LAD) – 500 AB, 17 HR, 21 SB, .240 BA, .290 OBP
Starts the season in Los Angeles
Andrew Friedman actually values defense and the moves that he made in the off-season reflect that position. The trade of Matt Kemp to free up Joc Pederson was the riskiest of all his moves, but it shows the confidence that the Dodgers have in the uber-talented Pederson. He bring plus power potential, and plus speed to his gold glove quality defense with the only question being how much he’ll hit. His penchant to strikeout will hurt his position in the lineup and thus his counting stats. While the sky is the limit for Pederson, Dodgers fans and fantasy owners need to check their expectations just a tad for the 2015 season.
Yasmany Tomas (OF, Ari) – 475 AB, 21 HR, 4 SB, .230 AB, .280 OBP
Starts the season in Arizona
At some point the string of successes that prominent Cuban baseball players have had in the major leagues will end. While I don’t think Yasmany Tomas will be a flop, in fact far from it, he is not in the same discussion as Jose Abreu, Yasiel Puig, or even Rusney Castillo. There will be plus power that could produce 30 home runs once he is fully acclimated to the game, but it will take some time with plenty of strikeouts along the way.
Maikel Franco (3B, Phi) – 350 AB, 15 HR, 2 SB, .250 BA, .310 OBP
Promoted in June
Maikel Franco should battle Cody Ashe in Spring Training for the starting role at third base for the Philliies. While his ceiling is higher, Franco has struggled in the past to make adjustments upon his promotion to a new level. Therefore, there’s no guarantee he will break camp to go North to Philadelphia.
Noah Syndergaard (RHP, NYM) – 100 IP, 95K, 3.60 ERA, 1.21 WHIP
Promoted in June
Noah Syndergaard is nearly big league ready but with a starting rotation that is six to seven deep, he needs something to happen before he’s promoted. It will and should occur sometime in June, just in-time to avoid him being a Super-2 player.
Archie Bradley (RHP, Ari) – 90 IP, 95K, 3.90 ERA, 1.24 WHIP
Promoted in June
I’m not in the same place as Dave Duncan’s evaluation of Archie Bradley. While his fastball command is inconsistent, he has the athleticism to repeat his delivery and that ultimately will lead to him throwing consistent strikes. Does he need more tuning? Of course, but you can say that about every pitcher. Don’t lose faith, Bradley’s ceiling is still that of a number one starter or a very high number two.
Other Players that could impact their clubs
The Astros shipped right-hander Mike Foltynewicz to Atlanta over the winter and the rebuilding Braves should give him a chance to begin the 2015 season in the major league rotation. Folty can run his fastball up to triple digits with a quality curve and change-up. The problem is he doesn’t always throw strikes which puts him into poor matchup counts. Long-term I think he’s a closer, but if the Braves can tweak his mechanics to allow him to throw more strikes, he could make an impact in 2015.
Eddie Butler (RHP, Col)
It’s easy to be skeptical of Eddie Butler as he performed poorly in his brief 16 innings in Colorado in 2014. However, he keeps the ball down and has the mentality to be an effective pitcher in Coors Field. While he doesn’t have an all-star ceiling, he should be a better than league average pitcher but with below average strikeouts.
Aaron Nola (RHP, Phi)
Aaron Nola has the stuff and pitchability to start in the major leagues in 2015. If that’s true, then why did the Phillies assign him to minor league camp and not the major league camp for Spring Training? I really don’t know that answer, but then again, I’m struggling to understand what the overall game plan is for the Phillies. He’ll be up by mid-season with a chance to be a better than league-average pitcher.
J.T. Realmuto (C, Mia)
J.T. Realmuto made his major league debut in 2014 and held his own. He’s extremely athletic with above average power potential and good foot speed. He’s blocked by Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who still has two years left on his three year contract. However, if Salty gets hurt, Realmuto is the kid to own.
Dilson Herrera (2B/SS, NYM)
Dilson Herrera also made his major league debut last year and despite hitting a paltry .220 in 59 at-bats, he showed the Mets that he could be the answer long-term at second base. With Daniel Murphy in his walk-year, don’t be surprised in the Mets move Murphy at or before the trading deadline and give Herrera two or more months of run at second base.
Nick Kingham (RHP, Pit)
In Pittsburgh, Nick Kingham has been flying under the radar as their cadre of high-end prospects has been getting all the press. However, Kingham is a solid pitcher with good stuff and control. The Pirates will likely play the Super-2 game, meaning, you’ll see Kingham in the second half.
Steven Matz (LHP, NYM)
The Mets love Steven Matz; so much so that he could be the next guy up, ahead of even Noah Syndergaard. While I’ve never been a huge fan of Matz’s delivery, the command has definitely taken a step up and the stuff has returned nicely after a long battle to return from Tommy John reconstructive surgery. If you’re in a fantasy league, throw a buck down in the last round; you can thank me later…
Jameson Taillon (RHP, Pit)
After Tommy John Surgery cost Jameson Taillon the entire 2014 season, the Pirates will take it slow and easy with their prized righty. That said, he should be back on the bump and pitching competitively in May with a chance to see Pittsburgh later in the summer. It might be in the bullpen, but if he starts, he’s a talent that you’ll want to roster on your team.
Michael Taylor (OF, Was)
I comp’d George Springer to Chris B. Young and while I stand by that, the next player that gets that same comparison is Michael Taylor – maybe, even more so. He’s a great outfielder with tools to spare. However, the strikeouts will mount and that will always hurt his value. That said, he should start the season in the outfield in Washington while Jayson Werth recovers from his injury and will be a high BABIP away from helping the Nats and your fantasy team
Hunter Renfroe (OF, SD)
Prospect watchers know about the raw power of Bryant, Gallo, and Sano but right behind that trio is the Padres Hunter Renfroe. In fact, if he were in most any other organization, there would be a lot more love for the Mississippi native. The ball explodes off his bat and his raw power is significant. While he’s the logical successor to Justin Upton for 2016, he could be an injury or a Padres disappointing season away from contributing in the big leagues.