Rangers’ prospect Joey Gallo stole the show at the Future’s Game. His two-run moon shot in the sixth inning of the game propelled the U.S. team to a 3-2 victory over the World squad, and also earned him MVP honors. Gallo has skyrocketed up midseason top prospect lists, and comfortably finds himself in the top 10 of the major publications, courtesy of 31 homers. Can he display elite power against better pitching though? While the power is completely legit, Gallo is striking out 42 percent of the time since arriving in Double-A, an alarming number for any prospect. It would certainly be fun to see the Rangers give him a crack at the majors in September, but he’s simply not ready yet. Gallo has made great improvements this year, and should continue to make strides as he refines his approach, making him a prime candidate to arrive during the first half of 2015.
Braves shortstop Jose Peraza has done nothing but hit this season (.349 across two levels), especially since arriving in Double-A (.374 in 20 games). He’s always been known for his outstanding glove work, but has really made strides offensively this season, showing extra base pop (18 2B, 9 3B, 2 HR) and great wheels (43 SB). In discussing him with colleague Michael Salfino, I tossed out an Elvis Andrus comparison, which I feel is pretty accurate for the 20-year-old Peraza’s current skill set. With Andrelton Simmons entrenched at short for the Braves, Peraza could be the club’s long term answer at second base, as well as in the leadoff position. At this rate, a 2015 debut is very realistic.
After the A’s traded Addison Russell, fellow shortstop prospect Daniel Robertson took on the title as the organization’s top prospect, which is well deserved based on his body of work. While seen only as an average defender with some limitations, Robertson has displayed strong power (12 HR) and on-base skills (.405 OBP). I snatched him up in my 20-team dynasty league shortly after the Russell deal, which also happens to be an OBP league.
Royals top prospect Kyle Zimmer has been on the shelf all year due to a shoulder issue, but has recently been cleared to resume throwing, and should make his debut in the very near future. Shoulder injuries are a huge red flag for pitchers, and the injury has tarnished his prospect status a bit following an outstanding close to his 2013 Double-A campaign (4 G, 18.2 IP, 1.93 ERA, 27/5 K/BB). Zimmer throws his fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s, and compliments that pitch with a curveball and slider that are well above average. His change lags behind but shows promise. His talent is worth gambling on. So if an owner is looking to sell based on his injury, be a buyer.
Another top prospect returning from injury is Padres lefty Max Fried, who has been shut down since this spring due to forearm discomfort. Fried generates plenty of ground balls with his two and four seem fastball mix, a pitch that can reach the mid-90s when he wants. His curveball flashes plus, with his change still a work in progress. While he’s still two years away, he’s another buy-low candidate to target if you’re in need of pitching in dynasty formats.
While this space is usually reserved for current minor leaguers, the primary focus has always been to provide deep dynasty players names to file away for the future. That said, it’s never too early to look to the Far East, with this year’s intriguing name being Korean third baseman Jeong Choi. Choi, who has been dubbed the “David Wright of Korea” by John Heyman, may be one of the more attractive free agents in what is shaping up to be a thin third base crop this winter. While Choi is having a bit of a down year in ’14 (42 G, .284, 5 HR, 38 RBI, 6 SB), his track record speaks for itself, making him a nice lottery ticket for dynasty players. If you’re in a league that allows you to pick up unsigned international talent, snap him up. While he may not make the impact of a Darvish or Tanaka, the talent is there for him to be a productive fantasy asset in ’15 and beyond.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rsteingall