One of my fellow fantasy league players once compared the process of tracking MLB prospects to playing the stock market. There is a lot of the same process involved for both as one needs to track progress, news, and other outside factors to determine when you decide to buy in or pass on the transaction. There is also the “kind of stock” that a person wants to buy into. That is why two catchers are included in this list as this position does not have a really deep pool of resources for a fantasy player. Finding good young arms is always on the top of the list for most fantasy managers. This is a list of 7 players who will not be starting out their season with their big league club but have the strong possibility of being called up and/or activated early enough in 2017 to be an integral part of your fantasy team.
Yoan Moncada, 2B/3B, Chicago White Sox
Any discussion of prospect help in 2017 should start with Moncada. The switch-hitting Cuban is an electric talent with plus speed and the ability to make consistent hard contact from both sides of the plate. His approach is still a bit raw, but he makes in-game adjustments and has all the tools to handle advanced pitching once he gains more experience. Moncada’s ability to hit for power from both sides of the plate with speed (20-plus HR/30-plus steals) and a bunch of playing time make him the one to watch in 2017.
Jorge Alfaro, C, Philadelphia Phillies
Alfaro has some of the best tools for a catcher in the minor leagues. He has raw power and a cannon for an arm. He’s a high-risk, high-reward guy, but the certainty that he’ll stick at catcher, his plus power potential, and his .285 batting average at Double-A all are reasons for optimism. There is still work to be done in terms of his pitch selection and plate discipline but he continues to show the ability to drive the ball to all fields. A good start in Triple-A to start the season could see him with a quick promotion.
Tom Murphy, C, Colorado Rockies
Don’t let the four to six-week DL stint scare you off of Murphy. When healthy, Murphy should get significant playing time in Colorado this year. Murphy is built to hit for power because he’s strong and has a quick right-handed swing with loft. He has a pull-happy, aggressive approach that could translate into 20 or more homers annually at Coors Field. Murphy made his bid for the Rockies’ starting catching job last September, homering five times in 44 at-bats and throwing out four of 10 base stealers.
Gleybar Torres, SS, New York Yankees
In 18 Grapefruit League contests, Torres hit .464 (13-for-28) with six doubles, two home runs, and nine RBI. Torres finished last year in the Arizona Fall League, where he became the youngest MVP and batting champion (.403). Torres has exceptionally quick hands that allow him to excel at the dish and in the field. He’s very advanced at the plate, recognizing pitches well, displaying patience and using the entire field. His power projections seem to increase each year as he adds strength and experience, and he now looks like he’ll deliver 20-plus homers on an annual basis. Expect to see him in pinstripes sooner than later. Torres, acquired from the Cubs last July for Aroldis Chapman, has done nothing but impress everywhere he’s gone.
Jeimer Candelario, 3B, Chicago Cubs
Josh Hader, LHP, Milwaukee Brewers
Hader and his long flowing blond locks opened 2016 with a dominant showing back at Double-A Biloxi but struggled following a mid-season promotion to the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Hader possesses electric stuff, as he’ll consistently operate at 93-97 mph with his fastball and complement it with a wipeout slider. The pairing enables him to miss bats with ease, a notion evidenced by his full-season-best 11.5 K/9 in 2016. Hader has a not-quite-sidearm slot is very difficult to pick up, especially from the left side. He sweeps a hard slider across the plate that is nearly unhittable for lefties. He has a realistic shot to be up by early summer, although Brewers fans hope that he is ready sooner.
Reynaldo Lopez, RHP, Michael Kopech, RHP, Lucas Giolito, RHP, Chicago White Sox
This is a three for one proposition. The White Sox pitching staff in one of the worst in the league, and it is only a matter of time before one, two, or even all three of these prospects see big league time in 2017. Lopez pitched adequately in a late 2016 call-up with the Nationals (4.91 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 44 innings). His arsenal includes a mid-90’s fastball that can reach triple digits. His above-average mid-70’s curveball is a solid second offering, and his high-80’s change flashes plus with good sink and arm-side fade. Giolito has dynamite stuff, featuring a mid-to-upper-90s fastball and a nasty 12-6 curve, but he experienced a shaky big league debut with the Nationals in 2016 (6.75 ERA and only 11 strikeouts in 21.1 innings). The White Sox have one of the best, if not the best, pitching development staffs in baseball and should be able to right Giolito’s ship. Kopech had a dominant showing in High-A (2.25 ERA and 82/29 K/BB in 52 innings) followed by an impressive stint in the Arizona Fall League (2.01 ERA and 26/8 K/BB in 22.1 innings). This bodes well for the future. His command still needs some work, but he has a smooth delivery and the pure stuff worthy of a No. 1 starter.