Top 10 Fantasy Prospects: Can Betts Aid Boston’s Outfield?

Each Thursday, Baseball America looks at the top fantasy callup options for this season. With Gregory Polanco now with the Pirates, perhaps Mookie Betts will replace him as our white whale.

1. Mookie Betts, 2b/cf, Red Sox
Mookie Betts
Season Totals: .343/.434/.527 (84-for-245), 59 R, 18 2B, 3 3B, 7 HR, 36 RBIs, 41 BB, 23 SO, 22-for-26 SB at Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket

Update: After homering in his second game with the PawSox, Betts has been just human at Triple-A, though he’s maintained a strong SO/BB ratio.

Prognosis: The Red Sox decided to challenge Betts with a move to Triple-A and a move to center field, where he’s played 15 games now. Though Boston reportedly is actively looking to upgrade its outfield as Grady Sizemore and Jackie Bradley have floundered, Betts has a long way to go defensively. As Tim Britton of the Providence Journal wrote: “Betts plays center very much like a teenager driving with his learner's permit: He gets from point A to point B, but there are moments of trepidation along the way.”

Jimmy Nelson
2. Jimmy Nelson, rhp, Brewers

Season Totals: 7-1, 1.51, 71 2/3 IP, 42 H, 14 R, 12 ER, 1 HR, 21 BB, 76 SO at Triple-A Nashville

Update: Undeterred by pitching in relief of rehabbing major leaguer Tom Gorzelanny this week, Nelson blanked Memphis over six innings, allowing just two hits in a 1-0 win.

Prognosis: Marco Estrada has a 5.83 ERA over his past seven starts, leading to speculation Nelson could be called up again, but this time in a more permanent role. He has dominated the Pacific Coast League, allowing only one home run in 71 2/3 innings with a SO/BB ratio of 3.6.

3. Joc Pederson, cf, Dodgers
Joc Pederson

Season Totals: .325/.436/.603 (76-for-234), 50 R, 11 2B, 3 3B, 16 HR, 37 RBIs, 45 BB, 80 SO, 15-for-20  SB at Triple-A Albuquerque.

Update: Pederson had an amazing April and powerful May, but he has started a bit slower in June. That still translates to a .943 OPS, however.

Prognosis: Pederson has an advanced approach, the bat speed and the foot speed to contribute in all phases, but remains blocked by Los Angeles’ highly paid outfield. One other caveat, Ken Rosenthal notes, is that the Dodgers are less than pleased with Pederson’s effort when it comes to running out groundballs. He had also struck out an alarming 79 times in 230 at-bats.

4. Jon Gray, rhp, Rockies

Jonathan Gray

Season Totals: 6-3, 3.66, 64 IP, 52 H, 28 R, 26 ER, 7 HR, 16 BB, 56 SO at Double-A Tulsa.

Update: Gray has bounced back from a rough outing on May 31, allowing just three runs in his past 10 1/3 innings, including five hitless innings on June 10.

Prognosis: Injuries to Eddie Butler and Dan Winkler might have sped up the major league timeline for Gray, but he has struggled with fastball command of late, even in the five-inning hitless outing June 10. In that game, he said he went to the changeup more, estimating that he threw it about 15 times out of 83 pitches. If Gray can smooth out his fastball and feel confident in his changeup, he might get the call to the Rockies soon.

5. Alex Meyer, rhp, Twins

Alex Meyer

Season Totals 4-2, 3.30, 62 2/3 IP, 51 H, 28 R, 23 ER, 4 HR, 28 BB, 75 SO at Triple-A Rochester.

Update: Meyer followed up one of his worst starts with one of his best, as he blanked Gwinnett over six innings on June 7. He struck out eight and walked one.

Prognosis: Kevin Correia‘s excellent start might have slowed Meyer’s roll for now. Despite a stellar first two months from Phil Hughes (6-2, 3.46), Twins starters have the second-highest ERA in the majors (4.90) this season. Meyer could be the type of power starter they need to complement their current strike-throwing rotation, and as long as Minnesota remains in playoff contention, they will be temped to turn to Meyer.

6. Andrew Heaney, lhp, Marlins

Andrew Heaney

Season Totals: 7-2, 2.47, 76.2 IP, 69 H, 24 R, 21 ER, 3 HR, 15 BB, 79 SO at Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A New Orleans.

Update: Heaney rebounded from his worst start of the season to strike out nine over six innings in which he allowed only one run.

Prognosis: Like the Twins with Meyer, as long as the Marlins stay relevant, they might seek help internally. They have not been afraid to promote their top arms in-season—Anthony DeSclafani temporarily replaced Jose Fernandez—and Heaney certainly is showing he is capable of conquering higher levels. His otherworldly SO/BB ratio of 5.3 at two minor league levels indicates his command is at least solid-average.

Anthony DeSclafani
7. Anthony DeSclafani, rhp, Marlins

Season Totals: 4-5, 3.92, 64 1/3 IP, 61 H, 28 R, 28 ER, 6 HR, 17 BB, 59 SO at Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A New Orleans.

Update: DeSclafani, who made two starts for the Marlins last month, had his best outing since his promotion to New Orleans, blanking El Paso on two hits over seven innings for his first Triple-A victory.

Prognosis: Like Heaney, DeSclafani has been promoted by Miami in-season and was looked good in his first big league outing against the Dodgers. He could be the next callup ahead of Heaney, if only because of his previous experience and the fact Heaney is not yet on the 40-man roster.

Allen Webster
8. Allen Webster, rhp, Red Sox

Season Totals: 3-3, 2.94, 79 2/3 IP, 70 H, 27 R, 26 ER, 5 HR, 32 BB, 62 SO at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Update: Webster has strung together three solid outings after a stinker on May 25 against Syracuse.

Prognosis: As mentioned in our What To Expect feature, Webster has improved his pitch efficiency by employing a pitch-to-contact approach. He has gained better control of his two-seamer, which has led to fewer walks and hit batsmen, but it also has meant fewer strikeouts, which could make him less attractive to fantasy players. If the Red Sox seek another starter to fill in for Clay Buchholz or Felix Doubront, it could be Webster.

9. Javier Baez, ss, Cubs

Javier Baez

Season Totals: .230/.290/.439 (45-for-196), 29 R, 10 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 31 RBIs, 15 BB, 77 SO, 9-for-10 SB at Triple-A Iowa.

Update: A decent May has morphed into an excellent June as Baez seeks to salvage a season that began with a whimper. He has a .910 OPS this month.

Prognosis: Baez is healthy and hitting and the Cubs are going nowhere. If those trends continue, that will result in a callup for the 2011 first-rounder—eventually. With Starlin Castro hitting for power in the majors, though, that will require a shift to second or third base for Baez. Fantasy players need to be aware of his 5-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, however, and what that could mean for his batting average.

10. Jose Ramirez, 2b/ss/of, Indians
Jose Ramirez

Season Totals: .315/.374/.467 (52-for-165), 23 R, 8 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 26 RBIs, 18 BB, 19 SO, 11-for-20 SB at Triple-A Columbus.

Update: After a lackluster May, Ramirez has turned it up in June, slashing .382/.447/.529 while playing all three outfield posts as well as both middle-infield positions.

Prognosis: Ramirez has been playing the outfield, as colleague Josh Norris noted, to increase his versatility and his chance of cracking the major league roster. The Indians’ infield seems set, especially once shortstop Francisco Lindor arrives, so if Ramirez has a place at Progressive Field, it will be patrolling the outer reaches and filling in on the infield. Of course, Cleveland’s outfield is chock full of veterans like Michael Brantley, Michael Bourn, David Murphy and Ryan Raburn—but, regardless, Ramirez’s positional change bears watching. Fantasy players will want to target him for his stolen-base potential and multi-positional value.