Fantasy Baseball Prospects Report: Time for Taillon?

Trea Turner, 2B, Nationals
2015 stats: .322 BA, 8 HR, 29 SB, .828 OPS
2016 stats: .310 BA (40 for 129), 2 HR, 13 SB, .819 OPS, 15 BB, 27 K

The Nationals waited so long to turn the page on Danny Espinosa that the slick-fielding 29-year-old is beginning to come out of it, batting .350 (7 for 20) over his last five games. That’s not a bad thing from the Nationals’ perspective — they’ll take production wherever they can get it — but it does give them cause to delay Turner further, especially with him cooling off over the last week. Still, seven hits does not a season redeem.

Tyler Glasnow, SP, Pirates
2015 stats: 7-5, 2.39 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 109 1/3 IP, 43 BB, 136 K
2016 stats: 2-1, 2.13 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 38 IP, 18 BB, 49 K

Glasnow followed up arguably his best start of the season May 7 with clearly his worst start of the season Thursday, issuing five walks while recording just one strikeout over five innings, and it’s that inconsistentcy that may ultimately lead to Jameson Taillon getting the call before him. But Glasnow’s strikeout potential is second to none — he recorded 11 in two of his previous starts — and for that, I’m more confident in him making an honest-to-goodness difference in Fantasy.

Jameson Taillon, SP, Pirates
2015 stats: Did not play — injured
2016 stats: 2-1, 1.69 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 37 1/3 IP, 4 BB, 32 K

… But I’ve been wrong before, and with that in mind, I’m changing my tune on Taillon, who I suggested just a week ago may not be good enough to stash. Look, he’s not picture perfect. I wish he had more strikeouts and hadn’t missed the last two seasons, making his innings allotment anybody’s guess. But eventually, you have to take that ERA at face value, especially with him controlling the strike zone the way he is. Hey, Aaron Nola wasn’t a big strikeout guy in the minors either, but look at him now.

Julio Urias, SP, Dodgers
2015 stats: 3-5, 3.81 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 80 1/3 IP, 22 BB, 88 K
2016 stats: 3-1, 1.50 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 30 IP, 6 BB, 33 K

I’m shifting gears on Urias as well, who I said earlier this week was too far down the pecking order to stash in standard mixed leagues. But manager Dave Roberts confirmed last week that the 19-year-old is ahead of fellow prospect Jose De Leon, and when push comes to shove, I just don’t think Ross Stripling or Mike Bolsinger are going to stand in the way of those numbers. The Dodgers aren’t exactly running away with the NL West, in case you haven’t noticed.

I still don’t think Urias is an absolute must in standard mixed-leagues, but with Joey Gallo (groin) and A.J. Reed (hamstring) sidelined by injury, yeah, I can agree he’s one of the top five minor-leaguers to own.
Five on the periphery

(These are some other prospects doing something of note.)

Byron Buxton, OF, Twins
Career stats (majors): .195 BA (34 for 174), 2 HR, 4 SB, .555 OPS, 8 BB, 68 K
2016 stats (minors): .316 BA (24 for 76), 3 HR, 2 SB, .900 OPS, 7 BB, 18 K

After the way his first couple of stints went, it’s going to take more than just the news of his return for Fantasy owners to put their trust in Buxton again, but he is working his way toward a return with a strong showing at Triple-A. We’ve seen him conquer that level before, though.

Lucas Giolito, SP, Nationals
2015 stats: 7-7, 3.15 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 117 IP, 37 BB, 131 K
2016 stats: 1-2, 4.74 ERA, 1.74 WHIP, 24 2/3 IP, 15 BB, 21 K

Giolito was the most-drafted minor-leaguer in leagues and remains the fourth most-owned, but I think in redraft leagues, it’s time to move on. Everything has gone right for the Nationals pitchers at the major-league level (better, even, with Tanner Roark emerging as a force), and the Nationals wouldn’t be looking to promote Giolito even they had an opening — not with those numbers. He has some growing to do.

Joe Musgrove, SP, Astros
2015 stats: 12-1, 1.88 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 100 2/3 IP, 8 BB, 99 K
2016 stats: 2-1, 0.34 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 26 1/3 IP, 3 BB, 30 K

Musgrove, on the other hand, is growing up before our eyes and could find himself on the Fantasy radar as quickly as Lance McCullers did last year. He won’t get to skip Triple-A, though, because his sub-1.00 ERA at Double-A (like McCullers’ last year) just earned him a step up the ladder. His raw stuff isn’t as good as McCullers’ (or most top pitching prospects’), but he controls it exceptionally well. The Astros have no shortage of possible openings in their rotation either.

Peter O’Brien, OF, Diamondbacks
2015 stats: .284 BA (139 for 490), 26 HR, .883 OPS, 31 BB, 124 K
2016 stats: .342 BA (41 for 120), 11 HR, 1.038 OPS, 2 BB, 33 K

As prospects go, O’Brien is closer to Steven Moya than Gary Sanchez. Of course, I would have said the same for Mark Trumbo at one time, and he certainly has become a Fantasy asset. O’Brien’s power speaks for itself, but his unwillingness (or inability) to work the count could doom him at the major-league level. Manager Chip Hale did tell The Arizona Republicrecently that O’Brien is forcing his way to the picture, and David Peralta’s wrist injury, which may or may not require a DL stint, could open the door.

Keon Broxton, OF, Brewers
2015 stats: .273 BA (134 for 491), 10 HR, 39 SB, .795 OPS, 66 BB, 156 K
2016 stats: .318 BA (28 for 88), 5 HR, 12 SB, .980 OPS, 12 BB, 24 K

The rebuilding Brewers have gotten adequate production from most of their stopgaps around the diamond, but one position they still haven’t settled on is center field, which makes it all the more surprising that they gave up on spring sensation Keon Broxton so quickly. How long can they ignore what he’s doing at Triple-A, hitter-friendly environment or not? I’d keep stashing him in NL-only Rotisserie leagues.

Cons: While Madson has struggled lately, he’s been a quality reliever over the bulk of his career, and he has closing experience to boot. If Madson recovers in his next appearances, Doolittle may not have much of a window to reclaim his old job.
4. Hector Neris, Phillies (26 percent owned)
Hector Neris RP / Philadelphia Phillies (2016 STATS)
IP: 22 ERA: 1.64 K: 29 BB: 7

Pros: Neris has been a revelation as the setup man for Jeanmar Gomez. He has shown an ability to miss bats, registering an 18 percent whiff rate. Gomez has been effective so far, but as a contact pitcher, he has a much smaller margin for error. While Neris doesn’t seem to have an opportunity to close out games regularly now, a protracted Gomez slump could change that.

Not a lot to fear in the Braves and Rockies rotations, which makes Pirates hitters like Jung Ho Kang and John Jaso especially interesting. Both have good percentages but playing-time concerns, Kang’s health-related and Jaso’s left-handedness-related. It’s looking like a bunch of righties, though, which works in both players’ favor. Being a shortstop, Kang is the clearer start even though he’s more at risk, but in leagues where walks matter, Jaso has some low-end appeal at first base. The only other Pirate who isn’t definitively must-start or must-sit is Josh Harrison, and seeing as he’s eligible at three positions, you can probably find a spot for him this week.

Carlos Santana and Mike Napoli are two of the Indians’ more prominent hitters, so it’ll be interesting to see who gets preferential treatment when they travel to an NL park for the first time. It’s only for two games, though, so chances are they’ll split, making them both plenty startable still (Santana more in points leagues and Napoli more in categories) given the matchups. Right now, I’m leaning against playing Michael Brantley with his surgically repaired shoulder flaring up, but if he returns with big numbers this weekend, it changes everything. Rajai Davis is a decent sleeper on the lower end.

The question now, then, is whether Preller will make the same mistake in holding onto his other trade chits for too long, especially on the pitching side.

James Shields is an odd case because he holds all the leverage. If he pitches well, he can opt for free agency after the year; if he doesn’t, his contract calls for two more years at the cost of, oh, $21 million apiece. Shields thus far would appear to be on the proper trajectory to hit the open market: he has a 124 ERA+ and has pitched at least six innings in each start.

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