*The following list is based solely on future fantasy value projected for each player during the prime years of their career. Defense is not taken into account whatsoever in this list. Comps are based on who a player will profile most comparable to during the prime years of their career in terms of fantasy value. Prospect value is based on a mix of future fantasy value plus how soon they will be contributing to fantasy teams.
1) Gary Sanchez – Sanchez just finished helping lead the Trenton Thunder to the AA Eastern League title. Many of the Yankees top prospects played for the Thunder, and Sanchez is probably the best of the bunch in terms of future fantasy value. He only hit 15 HR’s this year, after hitting 17 and 18 the previous two years, but the power should improve as he gets older. He is still very young, turning 21 this December. He did improve his defense this year, which should lead to a quicker call-up. The Yankees don’t have anyone clearly blocking Sanchez from taking center stage in the Bronx once he is ready. Expect the Yankees to sign a stopgap at catcher this offseason. Who they sign and the length of that deal will have a major impact on when the Yankees decide to debut their young prospect in New York.
Future Fantasy Comp: Brian McCann
2) Travis d’Arnaud – The Mets top catching prospect already got his call to the big league club. d’Arnaud is extremely close to losing prospect eligibility, but should just hold on until the 2014 season gets underway. Travis has not had an impressive debut up to this point with the Mets, and his AAA season was not that much better. Give him a pass though, because he has battled injuries all year, which he has become accustom to in his young career. The injuries will be something to take into heavy consideration when determining his ability to stay healthy in the future while playing catcher and producing at a high level with the bat. His skill set will be on full display next year with the Mets.
Future Fantasy Comp: Jonathan Lucroy
3) Jorge Alfaro – The Rangers prospect played in the Futures Game this summer after displaying an unusual mix of power and speed from the catcher position. The Columbian native is still in A-ball, finishing the year with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Alfaro still has a ways to go before contributing at the major league level, but has one of the highest ceilings of anyone on this list. The problem with that is being so far away gives him one of the lowest floors as well. Next year will be a key in terms of development for the Rangers top prospect. A.J. Pierzynski’s contract with the Rangers is up at the end of the year, so this is another situation to closely monitor when factoring in Alfaro’s ETA. If the Rangers were to sign a free agent to a 2-or-3 year deal, that would be close to perfect timing for the Rangers to get Alfaro ready and bring him to Texas for his major league debut.
Future Fantasy Comp: A young, base-stealing Russell Martin.
4) Reese McGuire – Another high-risk, high-reward prospect that is still a ways away from making his MLB debut. McGuire was the 14th overall pick in the 2013 draft. The Pirates have been doing a great job of developing talent lately, and McGuire could continue to make the brain-trusts in Pittsburg look smart. After the draft, he hit the field and accumulated 192 AB’s with a .323 batting average. He is only 18 years old, so we will have to wait and see what comes of his power prospects. But we know the batting eye is already there. He is the furthest away from the majors on this list, and development over the next few years will determine how he ranks among the top prospects. Another reason the future is bright in Pittsburg.
Future Fantasy Comp: Matt Wieters
5) Austin Hedges – One of the safest bets on the list and also one of the lowest ceilings. The Padres prospect is coveted for his real baseball value more than his fantasy value. Hedges was selected to play in the Futures Game this summer and is currently playing in the Arizona Fall League. His stat lines won’t impress, but he has displayed the development needed to give the Padres front office what they need to believe he is their catcher of the future. He could arrive before the end of the 2014 season, but a 2015 timeframe would be the more conservative approach.
Future Fantasy Comp: A.J. Pierzynski
ETA: Late 2014