Top 10 Fantasy Prospects: 40-Man Fever

With less than a week remaining in the minor league regular season, Baseball America takes a look at the top fantasy callup options with rosters about to expand.

1. Joc Pederson, cf, Dodgers

Joc Pederson (Photo by Alyson Boyer Rode).Season Totals: .304/.434/.590 (132-for-434), 101 R, 17 2B, 4 3B, 33 HR, 76 RBI, 96 BB, 145 SO, 30-for-43 SB at Triple-A Albuquerque.

Update: Pederson had a bang-up final week for the Isotopes, going 12-for-35 with four homers, nine RBIs and 14 walks and 14 strikeouts.

Prognosis: The Isotopes will give away Pederson’s car—it’s got 166,000 miles on it—because they know the Dodgers will fix him up with a new one as soon as Sunday. One of the Pacific Coast League’s top position players, Pederson became the league’s first player to reach 30 homers and 30 steals in the same season since Frank Demaree in 1934. Given playing time, his power should translate to about 20 homers at Chavez Ravine, and evaluators give his defense solid marks.

2. Daniel Norris, lhp, Blue Jays

Daniel Norris (Photo by Cliff Welch).Season Totals: 12-2, 2.57, 122.2 IP, 96 H, 37 R, 35 ER, 7 HR, 42 BB, 160 SO at high Class A Dunedin, Double-A New Hampshire and Triple-A Buffalo.

Update: Norris had his worst start in more than a month in an anticipated matchup with Pawtucket’s Henry Owens. Norris gave up six runs and eight hits over four innings.

Prognosis: Last Thursday, according to the National Post‘s John Lott, Norris was told he’d be in the Blue Jays bullpen by the weekend. On Friday, he was told he would start Buffalo’s final home game, which was Tuesday. With the season down to a precious few innings and the Jays looking out of chances for a playoff spot, it appears they’ll wait until September if they call up Norris at all. According to Lott, the Jays typically restrict young pitchers to a 30 percent increase in innings, year over year. With his four innings Tuesday, Norris reached 122 2/3—just over 30 percent more than 2013.

3. Francisco Lindor, ss, Indians

Francisco-Lindor-Field-2014Season Totals: .278/.339/.387 (135-for-486), 72 R, 15 2B, 4 3B, 10 HR, 60 RBI, 46 BB, 92 SO, 28-for-43 SB at Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus.

Update: Lindor has heated up with Sept. 1 looming, going 16-for-43 in the past 10 games, though he’s whiffed nine times.

Prognosis: Defensively, Lindor appears set to play in the majors as soon as September, and he’s turned up the offense after an initial struggle since the promotion. With the Indians still hanging around in the AL Central and wild-card races, Lindor might get called up but not see a lot of playing time. Still, he’s a player you’ll want to add and hold in keeper leagues.

4. Henry Owens, lhp, Red Sox

Henry-Owens-2014-kbSeason Totals: 16-5, 2.82, 153 IP, 118 H, 49 R, 48 ER, 9 HR, 57 BB, 161 SO at Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket.

Update: Owens got the better of his matchup with Norris, but still allowed eight hits and four walks over 6 1/3 innings.

Prognosis: The lanky, 6-foot-7 lefthander seemed a safe bet for a September callup, but perhaps the Red Sox are pumping the brakes because of how many innings he’s thrown. Scouts are enamored of Owens’ changeup, which they evaluate as plus. His fastball has average velocity (88-92 mph) but it plays well because of deception.

5. Alex Guerrero, 2b, Dodgers

Alex GuerreroSeason Totals: .332/.371/.614 (92-for-277), 43 R, 18 2B, 6 3b, 16 HR, 54 RBI, 15 BB, 44 SO, 4-for-4 SB at Rookie-level Arizona Leauge, high Class A Rancho Cucamonga and Triple-A Albuquerque.

Update: Guerrero has been on fire the past 10 games, going 16-for-41 with three homers and 12 RBIs. He’s struck out nine times and has not walked in that span.

Prognosis: Guerrero is almost certain to get a September call, especially given his age (27) and contract ($28 million). Guerrero might not see a bunch of playing time since the Dodgers are fighting for the NL West crown, but he could be used to spell Dee Gordon or Hanley Ramirez.

6. Maikel Franco, 3b, Phillies

Maikel Franco (Photo by Cliff Welch).Season Totals: .258/.299/.433 (130-for-504), 63 R, 32 2B, 4 3B, 16 HR, 77 RBI, 29 BB, 81 SO, 2-for-3 SB at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Update: Franco has salvaged what has been a disappointing season to this point, going 18-for-39 the past 10 games with four homers and 13 RBIs.

Prognosis: Franco, who turned 22 on Tuesday, has had a great surge, but the Phillies are unclear about a callup. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told he does not want to “bring him up here just to sit around.”

“The biggest thing for him is playing time,” Amaro told Matt Gelb, “and making sure this is the right thing, the right atmosphere, and the right time. . . . We’d like to assess some other things. There are a lot of different factors. We still have time to make a decision on it.”

Andrew Heaney7. Andrew Heaney, lhp, Marlins

Season Totals: 9-6, 3.23, 131 IP, 115 H, 58 R, 47 ER, 9 HR, 34 BB, 138 SO at Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A New Orleans.

Update: Heaney allowed seven hits and three earned runs in a no-decision Wednesday at Salt Lake.

Prognosis: The Marlins are five games out of the final wild card spot in the National League despite being under .500 and Heaney could be a spark in the final month. He’s already reached 131 innings, 36 more than last season, but the 23-year-old has plenty of amateur experience, having pitched at Oklahoma State. His slider is his out-pitch, but he has enough velocity (90-93 mph), and he’s using his changeup more.

8. Noah Syndergaard, rhp, Mets

Noah SyndergaardSeason Totals: 9-7, 4.67, 131 IP, 153 H, 77 R, 68 ER, 11 HR, 42 BB, 144 SO at Triple-A Las Vegas.

Update: Syndergaard beat Round Rock on Wednesday, allowing seven hits and a run in 6 2/3 innings with nine strikeouts.

Prognosis: With the Mets out of contention, the team appears to be leaning against bringing up the 6-foot-6, 240-pound righthander for a September look. Big league manager Terry Collins told Newsday that Syndergaard has “not very many” innings left before hitting his cap. The hard-throwing Syndergaard has thrown 131 innings, with his limit believed to be about 150. Scouts are unconcerned about Syndergaard’s results, noting the difficulty in pitching in the Pacific Coast League. He’s been clocked as high as 99 mph while pitching comfortably at 95-97. He also has feel for a changeup.

9. Anthony Ranaudo, rhp, Red Sox
Season Totals: 14-4, 2.61, 138 IP, 112 H, 45 R, 40 ER, 9 HR, 54 BB, 111 SO at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Update: Ranaudo was named International League most valuable pitcher on Monday.

Prognosis: One of the cadre of candidates for a 2015 rotation spot for the unsettled Red Sox, Ranaudo has made two major league starts and seems primed for a third Friday against the Rays in place of the demoted Brandon Workman.

10. Kris Bryant, 3b, Cubs

kris-bryant-2014-mugSeason Totals: .328/.438/.643 (157-for-478), 114 R, 34 2B, 1 3B, 43 HR, 109 RBI, 84 BB, 157 SO, 15-for-18 SB at Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa.

Update: Bryant’s went 9-for-34 the past 10 games with six homers in that time to all but lock up the minor league home run crown with 43.

Prognosis: The Cubs have insisted Bryant won’t be called up, but with each passing summons of another top prospect (Arismendy Alcantara, Kyle Hendricks, Javier Baez, Jorge Soler), the ivy-covered wall keeping him away crumbles a little. Even if he doesn’t arrive in 2014, Bryant will in 2015 for sure, barring injury. In that case, grab him now for your fantasy team. Opposing PCL managers call Bryant’s power line-to-line and evaluate it as an 80-grade tool on the 20-80 scale.