Each Thursday, Baseball America looks at the top fantasy callup options for this season.
1. Joc Pederson, cf, Dodgers
Update: Pederson, who missed about 10 games with a shoulder injury, returned strong, going 7-for-17 before the all-star break. He then homered in the Triple-A All-Star Game in Durham.
Prognosis: The Dodgers have discovered that despite their high-paid glut of outfielders, they do not have a center fielder among that group. That’s where Pederson comes in. While the middle of the NL West division title chase might seem like the absolute wrong time to turn to a rookie, Pederson could give the Dodgers the boost they need to separate from the Giants. He’s solid enough defensively to be an upgrade on Scott Van Slyke, Andre Ethier and certainly Matt Kemp at this point, although his swing-and-miss tendencies will be magnified at the next level.
2. Alex Meyer, rhp, Twins
Season Totals 5-4, 3.43, 89 IP, 75 H, 39 R, 34 ER, 7 HR, 43 BB, 103 SO at Triple-A Rochester.
Update: Meyer on July 8 twirled the latest of his solid six-inning outings, striking out 10 and giving up four hits and two runs at home against Buffalo. But that followed a five-start span from June 3-23 where he went 1-3, 6.09.
Prognosis: Meyer represented the Twins at the Futures Game, giving him a chance to see and experience his ultimate goal. But the Twins want him to work on a changeup in hopes of giving hitters a different look from his overpowering heater. Asked about the changeup, Meyer told the St. Paul Pioneer Press, “You know, really, I’m just trying to force myself to throw it and to learn what it will take to improve the pitch. So really it’s day-by-day.”
Minnesota could use the rotation help with Mike Pelfrey and Ricky Nolasco injured, and general manager Terry Ryan told the newspaper, “As with every opportunity, we’re going to give it a lot of thought.”
3. Javier Baez, ss, Cubs
Season Totals: .240/.305/.449 (75-for-312), 47 R, 19 2B, 2 3B, 14 HR, 55 RBI, 28 BB, 110 SO, 15-for-21 SB at Triple-A Iowa.
Update: Baez flashed power but not much average in July but nonetheless made a star turn at the Futures Game, slamming a long opposite-field home run on a first-pitch hanger from Nationals top prospect Lucas Giolito.
Prognosis: Baez is a few weeks from a callup, he believes. “For sure,” the 21-year-old told MLB.com. “Just going to keep doing what I’m doing and get called up soon.” The Cubs likely will give Baez a promotion, but it might not come before September. Still, with his power and speed combo, he’s someone to draft and stash. One evaluator called Baez “electric” and said speed was his only non-plus tool.
4. Anthony Ranaudo, rhp, Red Sox
Season Totals: 10-4, 2.62, 107 IP, 82 H, 36 R, 31 ER, 5 HR, 44 BB, 91 SO at Triple-A Pawtucket.
Update: The 6-foot-7 righthander bounced back from a poor outing July 5 to hold Toledo to a run on six hits over five innings on July 10.
Prognosis: Pitching in an organization with touted pitching prospects such as Henry Owens, Allen Webster, Matt Barnes and Trey Ball, Ranaudo seems to have gotten lost. But he has positioned himself as a someone who could get an audition should the Red Sox trade Jake Peavy to a contender. One evaluator has been impressed with the former Louisiana State pitcher, calling him the “dominant package when clicking” and calling him a potential No. 2 or 3 starter.
5. Nick Kingham, rhp, Pirates
Season Totals: 4-8, 2.54, 110 IP, 98 H, 43 R, 31 ER, 3 HR, 31 BB, 84 SO at Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis.
Update: Kingham blanked Columbus on two hits on July 10, walking one with four strikeouts. He retired the first 17 batters.
Prognosis: With a fastball that bumps the mid-90s and a mix of three potential above-average pitches, including a solid curveball and changeup, Kingham has put himself in a position for a promotion. Another pitcher overshadowed in his own organization, Kingham should get to the majors late this season and will certainly be in the mix for a rotation spot in 2015.
6. Jon Gray, rhp, Rockies
Season Totals: 9-4, 3.54, 94 IP, 80 H, 41 R, 37 ER, 9 HR, 28 BB, 88 SO at Double-A Tulsa
Update: Gray has been excellent in his past two starts, allowing only three hits and no runs in his past 11 2/3 innings with 12 strikeouts and four walks. He threw 93 pitches.
Prognosis: Though the Rockies have been careful with Gray this season, limiting him at one point to 90 pitches per outing, nothing has dulled his prospect shine. Evaluators still believe he’s a top-of-the-rotation talent with a power arm. The organization has him experimenting with a change-of-pace in order to get quicker outs and minimize his pitch count. Had the Rockies stayed relevant in the division, Gray could have gotten a callup, like Eddie Butler did. As it is, he could be looking at a late-season callup.
7. Micah Johnson, 2b, White Sox
Season Totals: .312/.371/.421 (97-for-311), 38 R, 14 2B, 4 3B, 4 HR, 34 RBI, 28 BB, 47 SO, 16-for-27 SB at Triple-A Charlotte.
Update: Johnson has had a terrific July (.412/.444/.500), though he has just two extra-base hits in that time. He also took part in the Futures Game and went 0-for-2.
Prognosis: Johnson is another player whose immediate future hinges on the potential for a trade-deadline dead. If the White Sox decide to move Gordon Beckham, Johnson could be installed as the second baseman in Chicago. He won’t be called up in a utility role. Johnson has the potential to help your fantasy team with average and steals.
8. Andrew Heaney, lhp, Marlins
Season Totals: 7-3, 2.79, 81 IP, 75 H, 29 R, 25 ER, 4 HR, 16 BB, 83 SO at Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A New Orleans.
Update: Heaney was shelled in his return to Triple-A on July 12, giving up six hits and five runs in four innings against Memphis.
Prognosis: Despite Heaney’s struggles with the Marlins, don’t expect Miami to be shy about promoting him again when the need arises. The Marlins and rival evaluators point to the lefthander’s command and control. Despite average fastball velocity, he has good movement and deception. One evaluator likened him to former Marlins lefthander Al Leiter.
9. Dylan Bundy, rhp, Orioles
Season Totals: 0-2, 4.39, 26.2 IP, 25 H, 13 R, 13 ER, 0 HR, 9 BB, 28 SO at short-season Aberdeen and high Class A Frederick.
Update: Bundy has been hit hard since his move to high Class A. But he’s still just a year out from Tommy John surgery. The positives are his strikeouts per nine and the fact he hasn’t allowed a homer.
Prognosis: The Orioles, in need of a starter as they begin the second half in first place in the AL East, see Bundy as a potential weapon down the stretch, most likely out of the bullpen. Still, he could provide strikeouts for a fantasy owner if he ends up at Camden Yards this late summer and fall.
10. Kris Bryant, 3b, Cubs
Season Totals: .346/.444/.701 (116-for-335), 77 R, 26 2B, 31 HR, 81 RBI, 55 BB, 107 SO, 11-for-13 SB at Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa.
Update: Bryant has an OPS of .991 in July and took part in the Futures Game in Minneapolis, though he was overshadowed by teammate Javier Baez and fellow third baseman Joey Gallo in terms of power output.
Prognosis: It’s easy to forget Bryant has played just 128 games as a professional. The Cubs have made it clear he won’t get a callup this year, but he is the classic stash-and-hold fantasy league player.