Each Thursday, Baseball America looks at the top fantasy callup options for this season.
1. Joc Pederson, cf, Dodgers
Update: Pederson’s 8-for-35 in his past 10 games, but four of those hits were home runs.
Prognosis: With Sept. 1 less than two weeks away, Pederson appears destined to finish the season in Albuquerque. But that is not a reflection of the team’s disappointment. Pederson has 30 homers and is two steals away from becoming the first 30-30 player in the PCL since Frank Demaree of the Los Angeles Angels did it in 1934, back when the PCL was a Double-A league and the Angels played their games at Wrigley Field. Rival managers are effusive about Pederson—although some scouts are unsure if the power plays at Chavez Ravine—and he should make an impact for fantasy owners when he arrives on Sept. 1, given playing time.
2. Daniel Norris, lhp, Blue Jays
Update: Norris has not been slowed by the Jays’ assertive promotion plan. He’s succeeded at every level, including at Buffalo, where he’s pitched consecutive, double-digit strikeout games.
Prognosis: The Jays, on the outskirts of the wild-card race, seem to be positioning Norris to be at least a part of their bullpen down the stretch. General manager Alex Anthopoulos did nothing to dampen that idea. “No doubt we could see him,” Anthopoulos told Sportsnet’s FAN 590. “That was definitely part of the plan of having him moved up. He’s earned it. I mean, he’s pitched incredibly well.”
3. Jorge Soler, of, Cubs
Update: Soler went 4-for-38 in his past 10 games, finally slowing his tear through the minors.
Prognosis: Soler needs reps, according to rival PCL managers, but his power is just a tick below that of monsters such as Kris Bryant. That righthanded pop is hard to ignore, but it seems likely the Cubs won’t call up the Cuban defector, who has only 524 minor league at-bats to his credit. One manager said he needs 300-400 more plate appearances, but wouldn’t discount those 300-400 coming in the majors. Still, he’s a player to stash in a keeper league, despite what will be a steep learning curve in the majors.
4. Francisco Lindor, ss, Indians
Update: Lindor is 12-for-44 in his past 10, with eight whiffs and a walk.
Prognosis: Defensively, one evaluator said Lindor sits behind only Boston’s Deven Marrero in terms of shortstop prospects, and scouts expect he’ll hit, once he learns the league. Lindor is positioned to be Cleveland’s starter at short in 2015 and beyond. He could provide steals right away and eventually perhaps double-digit home runs.
5. Henry Owens, lhp, Red Sox
Update: Owens has allowed four earned runs in each of his past two Triple-A starts.
Prognosis: The lanky, 6-foot-7 lefthander has solid-average velocity (88-92 mph), but Owens succeeds more with deception than velocity because batters struggle to pick up the ball out of his hand. As for his chances of reaching the big leagues this season, general manager Ben Cherington told the Providence Journal, “He’s obviously a guy who is important to us long-term, but I think that part of finding out as much as we can about our group of young pitchers is making sure there’s a role for as many of those guys as possible. We have to balance that out.”
6. Alex Guerrero, 2b, Dodgers
Update: Guerrero’s gone 9-for-37 in his past 10 games, but struck out only three times.
Prognosis: Guerrero’s bat has never been the issue, but his defense is a concern for evaluators, one of whom called his movements at second baseman deliberate and mechanical. Still, at 27 and with a $28 million contract, the Dodgers will be pressed to find a place for the Cuban defector sooner than later. Scouts like his bat path and say he has pop for his size (5-foot-10, 205 pounds).
7. Maikel Franco, 3b, Phillies
Update: Franco has followed up a strong July (.967 OPS) with an .708 OPS in August, poor timing if he wants a September callup.
Prognosis: Despite his struggles, the Phillies still likely want to take a look at the slugging infielder to find out what they have for 2015. Expect him to get a callup on Sept. 1.
8. Andrew Heaney, lhp, Marlins
Season Totals: 9-6, 2.99, 120.1 IP, 101 H, 47 R, 40 ER, 9 HR, 28 BB, 129 SO at Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A New Orleans.
Update: Heaney brought a no-hitter into the eighth inning against Reno on Sunday and finished with eight, one-hit innings with nine strikeouts in a 1-0 win, his best start of the season.
Prognosis: Even if Heaney does not get back to Marlins Park this season, talent evaluators who’ve seen him pitch this season are bullish about his future, saying Heaney will be in the mix in spring training for the 2015 rotation. With his talent, Heaney is a guy to grab and hold in keeper leagues and projects as a No. 2-3 starter.
9. Noah Syndergaard, rhp, Mets
Season Totals: 8-7, 4.72, 118.1 IP, 138 H, 70 R, 62 ER, 11 HR, 40 BB, 127 SO at Triple-A Las Vegas.
Update: The 6-foot-6, 240-pound righthander gave up only three hits over five to Omaha and struck out eight, but was outdone by Liam Hendriks, who started the Triple-A All-Star Game for the International League before his trade from Buffalo to the Storm Chasers.
Prognosis: Avert your eyes from his stats, scouts say. Syndergaard remains the PCL’s top pitching prospect and a beast in the making. One evaluator said the big righthander has touched 99 and sits 95 with feel for a changeup. With the Mets’ season spiraling, Syndergaard could get a Sept. 1 callup as the team looks for a positive end to another losing season.
10. Kris Bryant, 3b, Cubs
Update: Bryant’s gone 8-for-31 in the past 10 games with three homers, overtaking Joey Gallo again for the minor league lead with 41 homers.
Prognosis: Regardless of whether Bryant gets the call to Wrigley in September, if you don’t have Bryant on your minor league fantasy list, grab him now. Evaluators, even those who don’t give him A-grades across the board, recognize his power is the kind that comes around once in a generation. Another plus is his multi-positional versatility. One scout said even if Bryant moves off third base, his bat profiles at first base, left or right field, especially with his 70 arm. He’ll hit, and hit for power, no matter where he plays.