Fantasy Baseball: 4 Hitting Prospects Who Could Make an Impact This Season
Every year, there are certain rookies who take the league by storm and are difference-makers in fantasy baseball. Just look at the last few years, for example.
Last season, we saw Carlos Correa, Kris Bryant, Noah Syndergaard, and Miguel Sano step up and put up huge numbers. In 2014, we were treated to three rookie starting pitchers with a sub-3.00 ERA, as Jacob deGrom, Masahiro Tanaka, and Collin McHugh made immediate impacts. That class also included a 36 home run season from Jose Abreu and late-season contributions from Mookie Betts and George Springer.
If you look at this year's class, the likes of Corey Seager, Byung-Ho Park, Trevor Story, and Kenta Maeda were all hot commodities in season-long drafts. Several of them are already making noise, including Story, who has six homers in his first four games.
While those players all have some huge potential this season, you most likely already missed out on the opportunity to draft them. You could buy into the hype and trade for them now, but what if I told you there was another option?
There are other rookies with as much potential as the aforementioned youngsters, and they are likely all available in your fantasy league. All you have to do is exercise a little bit of patience.
Intrigued? You should be -- there is some serious potential in the minors right now, and several will be ready to contribute to your fantasy team from June to September, if not sooner. In case you missed it, we hit on this year's top pitching prospects last week. Here are four position players who have the ability to make a difference on your fantasy team down the stretch.
J.P. Crawford, SS, Philadelphia Phillies
21 Years Old
2015 Minor League Stats: .288 BA, 6 HR, 12 SB, .793 OPS, 63 BB, 54 K
J.P. Crawford has the potential to be an impact all-around player, and is probably the most complete position player prospect in the minors right now. He also has one of the clearest paths to the Major Leagues, when Philadelphia feels he is ready, as Freddy Galvis is their current shortstop.
Crawford has already developed into an excellent defensive player, which doesn't affect his fantasy value, but could accelerate his rise to the Majors.
As a hitter, Crawford possesses a patient approach that is uncommon for a player his age. He posted a higher walk rate than strikeout rate last season between Single and Double-A, which also bodes well for a potential call-up.
He doesn't yet offer much power at the plate, but scouts believe that he can develop above average power for a shortstop. Crawford also has the ability to be a regular double digit base thief, further adding to his diverse repertoire.
We may not see him until after the All-Star Break, but Crawford is definitely worth keeping an eye on. He has the ability to be one of the most well-rounded shortstops in the game and should be up this season.
Joey Gallo, 3B/OF, Texas Rangers
22 Years Old
2015 Minor League Stats: .240 BA, 23 HR, .862 OPS, 51 BB, 139 K
We've heard legends of Joey Gallo's power for years now, and we finally got to see the free-swinging lefty in action last season. His power was as good as advertised, as he posted a .417 slugging percentage, .213 ISO, and 49 percent hard hit rate, which resulted in six homers in 123 plate appearances.
Unfortunately, his free-swinging nature was as advertised, too. Gallo posted a ridiculous 46.3 percent strikeout rate, along with a 22.6 percent swinging strike rate. He also swung at 31.2 percent of the pitches he saw outside of the zone.
While Gallo's strikeout rate has always been a major concern, it was never that high in the Minors. Also encouraging is the fact that Gallo has struggled initally every time he has moved up a level, and then cut down on his strikeout rate after making adjustments.
Gallo showed signs of promise in Spring Training this year, where he hit .286 with a .429 on-base percentage and .607 slugging percentage. He belted three home runs in just 28 at-bats, and he posted a respectable 6:9 walk to strikeout ratio.
Gallo can play third base or either corner outfield position, and his diversity makes his call-up all the more likely. If he keeps raking like he did this spring, he may just force Texas' hand. Keep a close watch on this situation. If he were to get the call, he'd be a must-add. No other free agent offers close to the power potential he does.
Trea Turner, SS/2B, Washington Nationals
22 Years Old
2015 Minor League Stats: .322 BA, 8 HR, 29 SB, .828 OPS, 38 BB, 97 K
Lucas Giolito gets all the attention when it comes to Washington's prospects, but Trea Turner is also a very exciting prospect and has far less competition at the Major League level. While Turner can't possibly rival the incumbent shortstop Danny Espinosa's facial hair, he is a more capable defender and hitter, and is clearly the superior baserunner. It's only a matter of time until he supplants Espinosa as the starting shortstop, and potentially takes over as Washington's leadoff hitter.
Turner's lanky frame doesn't offer much hope for him as a power hitter, and he needs to cut down on his strikeout rate, but it's clear that Washington thinks he is very close to being ready judging by his rapid ascent through the Minors. Washington even gave the youngster a taste of the big leagues last season, where he held his own in 27 games.
Turner's best attribute is his speed, which he showed off with 29 steals between three Minor League levels last year. He also went a perfect eight for eight on stolen base attempts this Spring Training. If he gets the call in June and hits near the top of the order, he's a good bet for 15 to 20 stolen bases.
Once Turner's Major League service time is no longer a concern, presumably in June, the youngster should be up to stay. Make sure you have room for him before then!
A.J. Reed, 1B, Houston Astros
22 Years Old
2015 Minor League Stats: .340 BA, 34 HR, 127 RBI, 1.044 OPS, 86 BB, 122 K
A.J. Reed absolutely crushed Minor League pitching in his second year in Houston's system, with a .340 average and 34 homers between three levels. He ended the year in Double-A, where he hit .332 with a .571 slugging percentage and .239 ISO. His strikeout rate rose at each level, which is something to keep an eye on, but it is not nearly as big of a concern as some power-hitting prospects.
While Reed is far from a defensive stalwart, and offers next to nothing in the base-running department, his ability at the plate is definitely enough to make up for it for fantasy owners. His 6'4" and 240 pound frame and patient approach at the plate has already translated into one of the most dangerous power hitters in the Minors, and should allow him to hit for a solid average with scary power in the Majors.
In 45 Spring Training at-bats, Reed hit .311 with a .600 slugging percentage. He launched three home runs, and knocked in nine runs. Ultimately, he was demoted to Triple-A, because he still needs to show he can handle that level before he gets the call. Based on how well he has performed to this point in his career, it seems like it will only be a matter of time until he finds himself as the starting first baseman and hitting near the middle of a stacked Houston lineup.