Fantasy Baseball’s Top Prospects to Watch

When major league baseball teams go to expanded rosters, gearing up for the dog days of September, it’s always an exciting time for fans.  2013 will be no different with some of the biggest prospects in the game getting called up for their first taste of major league action on September 1.  Let’s preview the likely prospects we’ll see in the next couple of weeks.

The St. Louis Cardinals have so much young talent that is MLB-ready right now they don’t have roster space. They recently called up starter Michael Wacha, who we’ve seen before and optioned perhaps their best prospect, pitcher Carlos Martinez to Memphis.  Their young outfielder Oscar Taveras would have easily been the most hyped call-up but is going under the knife and will miss the rest of 2013 to correct a nagging ankle.  He’ll be ready to go for 2014.   They have a second baseman, Kolten Wong who is being called up as we speak.  The former 1st rounder packs a balanced offensive package in his 5’9 185 lb. frame.   The Hawaii native was hitting .303-10-45 with 20 steals at Triple-A Memphis.  He draws walks and was caught stealing only once this year.

Can’t miss prospect catcher Travis D’Arnaud of the Mets made his debut Saturday as well.  He went 0-2 but be on the look out for the following soon-to-be debuts:

Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox:  The Aruban native seems to be ready to play for the big club right now.   To get more comfortable, he’s been splitting time lately between third and short, at Triple-A Pawtucket.  With his Hanley Ramirez-type skillset (minus the great speed), he can help a Boston club that needs all hands on deck to secure a division title and beyond.  In his combined AA/AAA 2013 season, he’s hit .294-15-67 and has shown an ability to get on base at all levels in the minors.  With recently call up Will Middlebrooks playing and hitting well at third, Bogaerts may not be up until September, but certainly no later.

Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks: Probably the second best pitching prospect in all of baseball behind the not-likely-to-be-called up Taijuan Walker of the Mariners, Bradley has pitched a combined 130 innings in Single-A Visalia/Double-A Mobile ringing up 150 K’s to go with a 14-5 record.  He could see some time in Arizona’s pen during the playoff chase.

Mike Olt, 3B, Cubs: Probably the most familiar name out of all the teams in the Matt Garza trade, Mike Olt has been to the majors for a cup of coffee in 2012 with Texas.  He’s mysteriously struggling in Triple AAA in 2013, only hitting .116 in Iowa since the trade.  He and Josh Vitters are part of the Cubs future at the hot corner with Olt likely to be called up first.

Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds:  Most who know anything about the Reds probably have been expecting Hamilton for awhile now.  A speed merchant who reminds many of Vince Coleman, he has pilfered 100+ bases twice in the minors—including a mind boggling 155 in 2012.  Reds management has been pretty mum on the subject, but his speed can help a Reds team that lacks a real speed threat.  So far this season at Triple-A Louisville, he’s hit a career high 6 home runs to go with a .257 average, 71 steals out of 84 attempts.

Nick Castellanos, OF, Detroit Tigers: Quietly, the Tigers haven’t got what they completely anticipated from their outfield.   Torii Hunter has been better than they hoped and Austin Jackson’s value to the Tigers is immeasurable but left field has been an issue.  Neither Matt Tuisasopo and Andy Dirks haven’t exactly hit the cover off the ball.  The Tigers brass is being pretty mum on this, but they will likely call up Castellanos who’s hitting .281-14-65 in 121 games with Triple-A Toledo.  Best yet, he’s improved his walk-to-strikeout ratio (53/85) over a messy 2012 line (14/76).  At worst, he can platoon against lefties and likely be an upgrade with what Detroit has currently.

These September callups can infuse new energy into a club, particularly if the team is in a dogfight for the playoffs.  As recent additions Wil Myers and others have shown in the past, some of these callups end up being relied upon heavily as their skillsets will allow.