While a ton of talent has matriculated to the majors over the past three years, 2016’s crop of young players holds a lot of promise. I’ve broken the list down into players that will likely start the season in the majors, players who will be called up mid-season, and then players that will see playing time at some point but I just can’t tell you when.
I hope the list helps you in drafting your re-draft leagues and as always, I look forward to your feedback.
Significant playing time
Corey Seager (LAD, SS) – 500 AB, .268 BA, 22 HR, 85 RBI
Corey Seager is the best prospect in baseball and could finish the year as one of the best shortstops in fantasy baseball. As Carlos Correa did last year, Seager could wind up hitting in the number three hole in a very good Dodgers lineup which should only enhance his fantasy output.
Steven Matz (NYM, LHP) – 150 IP, 135 K, 12 Wins, 3.35 ERA
The only concern I have about Steve Matz is whether he’ll stay healthy. The arm is special with the stuff to pitch at the top of many major league rotations. Do not be surprised if the Mets limit his innings even if he stays healthy. They are keenly aware of his injury history and will continue to be careful with their prized lefty.
Kenta Maeda (LAD, RHP) – 170 IP, 150 K, 13 wins, 3.45 ERA
As the only right-hander in the Dodgers rotation, Kenta Maeda will start the season in the rotation. While there’s concern about his elbow and he doesn’t have the stuff of Darvish or Tanaka, pitching in the NL West should help his cause and make him a legitimate candidate for NL Rookie of the Year.
Mid season call-ups
Tyler Glasnow (Pit, RHP) – 90 IP, 100K, 7 wins, 2.85 ERA
I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Tyler Glasnow pitch several times in the minor leagues and the kid has every chance to be a star. His stuff is flat out nasty and he has the ability to make batters look totally overmatched. Sure, the command could be better, but he’s going to be an impact arm for the Pirates. While the odds favor Seager to win the ROY, the smart bet could in fact be Glasnow.
Trea Turner (Was, SS/2B) – 350 AB, .265 BA, 2 HR, 18 SB, and 60 runs
This one is frustrating. He should be the starting shortstop for the Nationals out of Spring Training but I have my doubts. If Dusty Baker surprises me, Turner could steal 30 plus bases hitting at the top of a very good lineup. However, I don’t believe that scenario will play out and therefore have put the over/under at May 20th.
Orlando Arcia (Mil, SS) – 300 AB, .280 BA, 3 HR, 15 SB, and 50 runs
The trade of Jean Segura cleared the way for Orlando Arcia and all that stands in his way is the game of Super-2. I first saw Arica two years ago in Brevard County and knew he could hit, but I never expected him to emerge as one of the best prospects in the game. He’s good…very good and just doesn’t get the recognition of a potential impact fantasy contributor.
J.P. Crawford (Phi, SS) – 300 AB, .290 BA, 3 HR, 12 SB, and 45 runs
Just like Arcia, Crawford is waiting for mid-June to roll around. He hasn’t shown the power yet in the minors and might not once he’s promoted, but the power is in there. In the meantime, fantasy owners can enjoy his 20 annual stolen bases and very high batting average and OBP.
Nick Williams (Phi, OF) – 300 AB, .240 BA, 10 HR, 8 SB, and 40 RBI
Williams was one of the prize returns in the Phillies trade of Cole Hamels and should see considerable playing time in Philadelphia this year. He’s an aggressive hitter and needs to learn to control the strike zone better, but he’s got great bat speed that should translate to 20 home runs annually.
Josh Bell (Pit, 1B) – 300, .275 BA, 7 HR, 45 RBI
Do you really believe that John Jaso or Mike Morse is the answer at first for the Pirates? Yeah, I don’t either. Waiting in the wings is the Pirates 2011 second round draft pick, Josh Bell. While he’s never showed a ton of power in the minors, he has the bat speed and strength to hit 20 plus home runs at some point in the majors. Until then, he’ll make great contact, getting on-base at .340 plus rate.
Robert Stephenson (Cin, RHP) – 90 IP, 75 K, 4 wins, and 3.95 ERA
There is definitely prospect fatigue with Robert Stephenson but patient Dynasty League owners will have their payoff this year. He’ll likely struggle as his control has never been great, but he has the stuff to long-term still have the ceiling of a number two/three starter.
Jose Peraza (Cin, SS/2B)
If the Reds can ever move Brandon Phillips, Peraza could provide 30 annual stolen bases a year. However, with Phillips increasingly looking like he’ll finish his career in Cincinnati, Peraza will need to break-in at shortstop or the outfield to see playing time. They gave up Frazier for him, so I’m expecting we see him at some point in 2016.
Jose De Leon (LAD, RHP)
The Dodgers need right-handed pitchers and Jose De Leon should be one of the first responders called up. The stuff is good, not great, but he can really pitch and should see a ton of FAAB once the call is made.
Julio Urias (LAD, LHP)
Julio Urias will see playing time in the majors this year, but when…I’m not sure. The Dodgers have a glut of lefties but he might be the best arm today after Clayton Kershaw. If Brett Anderson wobbles or gets hurt (I know, I should have said when he gets hurt), make the move to pick Urias up.
Lucas Giolito (Was, RHP)
As with Trea Turner, the arrival of one of the best prospects in the game depends on Dusty Baker. If he embraces the idea, Giolito could be up in mid-June, but time will tell. When he does arrive, it should be very, very good as his stuff is not only electric but he’s starting to show the polish that should allow him to be a future ace.
Jameson Taillon (Pit, RHP)
Assuming Jameson Taillon is healthy, he could be up at any point during 2016; even before mid-June. Most people have forgotten about the 6-foot-6 right-hander, but the stuff is still premium and the ceiling is still sky high.
Hunter Renfroe (SD, OF)
Many fantasy owners just don’t like Hunter Renfroe because of the belief that Petco will zap his power. Plus, he got off to a tough start last year. While both are true, Renfroe has serious raw power that should allow him to hit home runs out of any ballpark. Secondly, set backs are just part of the development process. Trout, Bryant, and Correa are exceptions. They flew through the minors and didn’t need to make many adjustments. Those are the outliers and not the norm.
Manny Margot (SD, OF)
Manny Margot’s glove is ready for the big league but he still needs 300 at-bats or so to hone his offensive game. Petco will hurt his power potential but he’s a great base runner with a knack to make contact and should be the dynamic leadoff hitter that the Padres desperately need.
Jesse Winker (Cin, OF)
Don’t sleep on Jesse Winker. He can really hit with sneaky power, playing in a great ballpark that is quickly running out of outfielders. I’m drafting him in every fantasy league in which somebody doesn’t snip me.
Alex Reyes (Stl, RHP)
In my opinion, Alex Reyes has the highest upside of any pitcher in the minor leagues. However, his 40-game suspension will hurt his contribution this year and as a Reyes owner, that’s a real bummer. In fact, don’t be surprised if he’s called up in July/August as a bullpen arm, much like the Cardinals did with Carlos Martinez three years ago.
Michael Reed (Mil, OF)
While Brett Phillips is the long term solution in center field for the Brewers, I think Michael Reed gets his chance this year. Will he succeed? I think he will and could be a real sneaky pickup that nobody is thinking about.
Jharel Cotton (LAD, RHP)
People are always looking for sleepers. Well, here you go. The Dodgers really love Cotton and while his stuff suggest a ceiling of a number four starter, he has the opportunity, a great ballpark, and a very pitcher-friendly division.