We've reached the point in the year where updated top prospect lists are coming out, and we are no exception. While we did a consensus list during the offseason, I've decided instead to update my own individual list, which you can find below. Creating ranked lists are one of those exercises where you can continue to tweak the list as things occur, but you run the risk of not getting the update out in a timely manner as a result. A player here suffers an injury, another one there goes out and has a string of great games in a row, and all of a sudden even the work done a week earlier looks outdated.
As with all lists, the caveat remains the same: this is a snapshot of how these players are viewed by me at this point in time. I probably won't argue with you if you believe a player is a few spots too high or too low, and know that as more information is available that these rankings will likely change again. The goal here is more to provide an approximate idea going into the offseason of how they should be valued.
Graduates: Xander Bogaerts (3B-BOS), George Springer (OF-HOU), Gregory Polanco (OF-PIT), Kevin Gausman (RHP-BAL), Billy Hamilton (OF-CIN), Travis d'Arnaud (C-NYM), Yordano Ventura (RHP-KC), Masahiro Tanaka (RHP-NYY), Jose Abreu (1B-CHW), Nick Castellanos (3B-DET), Carlos Martinez (RHP-STL), Marcus Stroman (RHP-TOR), Chris Owings (SS-ARI), Jake Marisnick (OF-HOU), Jon Singleton (1B-HOU), Kolten Wong (2B-STL), Rougned Odor (2B-TEX), Jonathan Schoop (2B-BAL), Josmil Pinto (C-MIN), Erik Johnson (RHP-CHW), Jake Odorizzi (RHP-TB), Jackie Bradley (OF-BOS), Trevor Bauer (RHP-CLE), Mike Olt (3B-CHC), Tommy La Stella (2B-ATL), C.J. Cron (1B-LAA)
#1 - Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs (Preseason Consensus Rank: 7)
A new name at the top of the list, but probably not a surprising one if you've been reading about prospects at all. Bryant was expected to be a quick mover through the minors, and has gone out and destroyed nearly every pitcher in his path. He's among the leaders in the minors in home runs, has done that damage at both AA and AAA, and realistically has a shot at being the starting third baseman for the Cubs before the end of the season. The reports on his defense point to at least the ability to stay at third base, although with the Cubs' logjam of prospects, he may end up in an outfield slot.
#2 - Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins (PCR: 1)
It's been an odd season for Buxton, who was injured in spring training, missed the first month of the season, returned for five games, and then missed another two months. He's essentially lost most of a full season of development, but was still way ahead on the development curve to begin with. At this point, hopefully he can get some time at AA before the end of the year, which would help potentially lead him to an MLB debut by the end of 2015.
#3 - Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs (PCR: 3)
The news finally came on Monday that Baez would be promoted in time for Tuesday's game, and it appears that Baez has finished working on what he needs to in the minors. The bat will play anywhere on the field, but it seems like second base may be the most likely spot for that to happen in the long-term.
#4 - Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals (PCR: 5)
#5 - Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros (PCR: 4)
Correa was having a great year at High-A Lancaster before breaking his fibula sliding into third base on June 21st. He was hitting for a high average, showing a lot of speed, some solid power, and was expected to finish the season in AA. He still won't turn 20 until after the season, and is way ahead on the age curve as well, even with this half season lost. The injury isn't expected to have any long-term impact on Correa's value, but until we see him return to the field we won't know for sure.
#6 - Addison Russell, SS, Chicago Cubs (PCR: 9)
Considered the shortstop of the future for the A's, Russell was the key piece heading back to Chicago in exchange for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel over the Fourth of July weekend. His path to playing time is a lot cloudier than it had been in Oakland, but Russell is the most likely of the Cubs' shortstops to stay at the position long term. He's not going to provide the elite power potential that teammate Javier Baez will, but should be an above-average contributor in all five categories while playing an elite defensive position.
#7 - Joey Gallo, 3B, Texas Rangers (PCR: 73)
The biggest riser on this (and a lot of other) prospect lists, Gallo has gone out and shown a number of the improvements that people felt he needed to take his talent to the next level. His power is the stuff of legends, and he's now adding to that an improved approach which should continue to allow him to provide top flight fantasy value. He's not likely to be a first-round pick due to the potential downside with batting average, but he should still end up in the top 25 overall most years.
#8 - Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners (PCR: 6)
The top pitching prospect on our list at the start of the season, Walker hasn't graduated as had been expected at the time due to missed time with injuries and additional time spent in the minors. He was called up after the All-Star break to take the fifth rotation spot, and immediately sent back to the minors afterward. and has been there ever since. The Mariners held onto him through the deadline, and at this point I would assume that his most realistic timeframe is the start of the 2015 season.
#9 - Dylan Bundy, RHP, Baltimore Orioles (PCR: 13)
Bundy has been working his way back from last year's Tommy John surgery, but it seems less and less likely with each day that he will be able to contribute to your fantasy team this year. I can see a potential bullpen role this year, followed by a shot at the starting rotation in 2015. The early reports since he returned to game action have been very good, and his value long-term for fantasy owners appears intact.
#10 - Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins (PCR: 12)
Sano has missed the whole season after having Tommy John surgery, and it remains to be seen whether he will end up with a new position following the rehab from that injury. He has the potential to stay at third base, and provide a ton of power for a team that could use an elite hitter soon.
#11 - Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (PCR: 32)
Performance and proximity have moved Pederson up near the top of the list, as he is capable of providing five-category production, and potentially could do that this season. If he were in any other organization, he'd probably be the every day center fielder by now. The best case scenario for Pederson is some sort of trade which opens up a current spot for him, which could still happen in August given that all the players blocking him are on rather large, expensive contracts.
#12 - Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers (PCR: 34)
Seager was recently promoted to AA Chattanooga, and while he is still playing shortstop, he is expected to be at third base by the time he reaches the majors. The reports on his ability to make adjustments are glowing, and he has the potential to be a top 5 option at third base for fantasy owners.
#13 - Lucas Giolito, RHP, Washington Nationals (PCR: 20)
Giolito has shown some of the potential that had him pegged as a potential top overall pick in his draft year. He has spent the year in Low-A, overall pitching well and also having lasted as long as seven innings in one start. He is still at least two seasons away at least, but the ceiling remains the same, and would be higher on this list if he were closer to the majors now.
#14 - Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (PCR: 8)
Bradley was roughed up in his first few starts at the high-offense environment of AAA Reno, and then was shut down with an elbow injury for a couple months. He has been back in games at AA this month, and could still see time in Phoenix this year. I'm a little more concerned at this point about his ability to limit his WHIP, which is the reason he now sits behind Walker, who I had lower in my offseason rankings. He does appear to be back to full health though, which was the bigger concern a couple months ago.
#15 - Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets (PCR: 19)
Syndergaard's numbers this year in the offense-heavy PCL have not been great, but he still looks like the potential top 10 starting pitcher we saw during the offseason. At this point, I can see him debuting either later this year or out of Spring Training next year.
#16 - Mookie Betts, 2B/OF, Boston Red Sox (PCR: 60)
Now the top prospect in the Red Sox' system with the graduation of Xander Bogaerts, Betts is a player without a position as of right now. He's been playing center field as well as second base in the minors, and is seeing time in the majors in the outfield as well. He's capable of providing good production in all five categories, with batting average being one of his calling cards. I think he gets traded this offseason, as the team has no real place to put him even in 2015 at this point.
#17 - David Dahl, OF, Colorado Rockies (PCR: 56)
Dahl lost most of the 2013 campaign due to injuries, but has come back in 2014 to show some of the potential that made him a top 10 pick in the first place. He was recently promoted to High-A Modesto, after leaving Low-A with 10 home runs, 18 stolen bases, and a .305 batting average. Dahl has the potential to be a five category contributor when he reaches the majors, and your opportunity to buy low is probably just about gone.
#18 - Carlos Rodon, LHP, Chicago White Sox (PCR: N/A)
Viewed as the top pick in the draft at this time last year, Rodon ended up falling to #3 overall and the White Sox. He will pitch in relief exclusively this year, in a similar manner to how the organization brought Chris Sale along. While I don't believe that he debuts this year in relief given how the team sits in the standings, I can see Rodon in the majors by sometime in 2015, and potentially a top 15 starting pitcher at his peak.
#19 - Arismendy Alcantara, 2B/OF, Chicago Cubs (PCR: 47)
#20 - Jonathan Gray, RHP, Colorado Rockies (PCR: 22)
Gray was viewed as having the potential to be up at some point this year, but with the Rockies stagnating in the NL West, that seems less likely to happen. The reports on Gray note that his changeup continues to improve, which will help him to reach his potential top of the rotation ceiling.
#21 - Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians (PCR: 35)
Lindor gets a bit underrated for fantasy purposes, but he's going to be an above-average fantasy producer, potentially as soon as the start of 2015. He's not likely to provide elite production in any one category, but should be above-average in a number of them, and a solid producer all-around.
#22 - Andrew Heaney, LHP, Miami Marlins (PCR: 33)
Heaney has already debuted this year, but it seems that the organization wants him to spend most of this year in the minors. At this point, he seems most likely to earn a chance to win a rotation spot out of Spring Training next year, at which time we could see a top 30 starting pitcher overall.
#23 - Robert Stephenson, RHP, Cincinnati Reds (PCR: 17)
#24 - Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates (PCR: 21)
It's been a lost season for Taillon as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, but it's still possible that he is in the Pirates' rotation by the end of the 2015 season. He should hopefully be able to start the season on time in 2015, which should give us a much better idea of how soon he could arrive.
#25 - Kyle Schwarber, C/OF, Chicago Cubs (PCR: N/A)
The Cubs are keeping Schwarber behind the plate at this point, which could lead him to be a fantasy monster if that sticks. The reports on his defense so far have been better than expected, but it seems most likely that he ends up in left field long term. Either way, his bat will carry him to the majors, and probably as fast as his defense can keep up. He could play in the majors by 2016 if they move him, with mid-2017 more likely if he stays behind the dish.
#26 - Clint Frazier, OF, Cleveland Indians (PCR: 11)
#27 - Raimel Tapia, OF, Colorado Rockies (PCR: 61)
Tapia has the potential to be a truly special hitter, and on pure ceiling would rank among the top 20 prospects. That said, he's still at Low-A, and probably at least three years from a starting job. He's capable of providing high batting averages, to go along with some power, solid speed, and help in all five categories.
#28 - Julio Urias, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers (PCR: 46)
It's rare you see any international signee that debuts in a full-season league before age 18, and Urias is now in his second full season, this time with Rancho Cucamonga in High-A. There are reports out there that point to Urias being ready for AA now, with a debut in the 2015 season not out of the realm of possibility. He should slot in nicely as a mid-rotation starter, with the potential for season with a higher performance level than that.
#29 - Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates (PCR: 58)
All Glasnow does is avoid contact or get weak contact. He's a strikeout machine, and while there are concerns about his walk rate, there's not necessarily a lot of ratio risk that goes along with that. He's probably not going to be in Pittsburgh before the 2016 season, but could be a top 15 starting pitcher most years once he does arrive.
#30 - Hunter Harvey, RHP, Baltimore Orioles (PCR: 63)
Harvey has pitched very well at Low-A Delmarva, and the reports coming out on him have somehow been even better. He is still at least two more seasons away from a potential debut, but he may end up being the steal of the 2013 draft if he turns into a top of the rotation type starting pitcher.
#31 - Josh Bell, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates (PCR: 103)
Until this season, we were really just dreaming on what Bell could be, and whether he would be able to turn the reports of all five tools into in-game production. The performance started matching up this year, as he's going to provide a high batting average along with power and speed. The only real question is one of location for Bell, as he would likely move to first base if the current configuration of outfielders remains when he gets to the majors.
#32 - Jorge Alfaro, C, Texas Rangers (PCR: 24)
Recently promoted to AA, Alfaro remains more the dream than the reality at this point. He is expected to provide above-average production for a catcher, hitting for power and a decent batting average. He could reach Texas at some point in 2015, with 2016 the more realistic timeframe for a starting job.
#33 - Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies (PCR: 36)
It was a rough start to the season for Franco, but he hit much better in July (.343/.371/.596). He has the potential to be a high batting average, high power producer, but the questions about his long-term position keep him from a higher spot on this list. The reports on his defense at third base have been better this year though, which could keep him from pushing Ryan Howard for at least a little while.
#34 - Jimmy Nelson, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers (PCR: 91)
Nelson finally got the call to the Brewers' rotation, and has shown at times that he can be a solid mid-rotation starting pitcher for fantasy purposes as well as the Brewers. His ability to get ground balls is among the best in all of baseball, and should serve him well in the majors.
#35 - Daniel Norris, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays (PCR: 192)
Norris has finally started delivering on the potential that made him a second round pick three years ago, reaching AA this year and striking out a ton of batters in the process. He could be in line for a late season call up in 2015, and profiles as a solid fantasy starter once he reaches the majors.
#36 - Matt Wisler, RHP, San Diego Padres (PCR: 67)
Wisler went out and destroyed the AA level in his first six starts, and a promotion to AAA has made the overall numbers look worse than he really is as a prospect. He should get a shot to make the Padres' opening day rotation next year, and hopefully the numbers will look better than they do in the offense-friendly environs of El Paso.
#37 - Blake Swihart, C, Boston Red Sox (PCR: 80)
Swihart has put together a great season so far at AA, and it looks like his bat has caught up to his defensive ability. He has the potential to be the starting catcher for the Red Sox as soon as 2015, and should be an easy top 10 fantasy option at the position once he is in the majors.
#38 - Henry Owens, LHP, Boston Red Sox (PCR: 52)
After a strong performance at AA, Owens was just recently promoted to AAA Pawtucket. He's pitched extremely well, and will likely compete for a rotation spot at some point in the 2015 season. Long term, he's likely to be a mid-rotation starting pitcher, with the potential for more in some starts.
#39 - Jorge Soler, OF, Chicago Cubs (PCR: 37)
Soler has missed a number of games this year due to injury, but has moved quickly through the system and reached AAA at this point. He's capable of hitting for a ton of power, and yet still makes enough contact that he could provide a high batting average to go with it. Look for Soler to be in right field for the Cubs at some point in 2015.
#40 - Stephen Piscotty, OF, St. Louis Cardinals (PCR: 81)
Piscotty appears likely to be a trade candidate this offseason, but should bring back a nice piece for the Cardinals. The right field prospect is capable of providing solid production in all five categories, and should hit for a good average to go with it. He'd probably be off this list if he were with another organization, but should get a shot somewhere in 2015 at a starting job.
#41 - Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota Twins (PCR: 51)
I've been harping on Meyer all season in the Buy and Hold, and am really wondering at this point what it is that the Twins want to see from Meyer in AAA. He can provide high strikeout totals (although it may come with WHIP issues), and should be in the Twins' rotation by the start of the 2015 season.
#42 - Tim Anderson, SS, Chicago White Sox (PCR: 77)
#43 - Mark Appel, RHP, Houston Astros (PCR: 26)
Ugh. The performance in Lancaster, even when given credit for it being Lancaster, was atrocious. The additional drama surrounding him isn't necessarily his fault, but he has now reached AA and will hopefully be able to put the Cal League behind him. I'm not convinced he still has top of the rotation upside, but it is still theoretically possible, and should still end up as a mid-rotation type fantasy starter.
#44 - Kohl Stewart, RHP, Minnesota Twins (PCR: 54)
The fourth overall pick last year was plugging away at Low-A before being put on the disabled list with a shoulder impingement. The strikeout totals are low this year, but the reports on his repertoire and feel for pitching are both more advanced than the numbers show, and hopefully the shoulder injury is nothing long-term.
#45 - Jesse Winker, OF, Cincinnati Reds (PCR: 86)
#46 - Garin Cecchini, 3B, Boston Red Sox (PCR: 84)
#47 - J.P. Crawford, SS, Philadelphia Phillies (PCR: 55)
#48 - Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays (PCR: 41)
#49 - Luis Severino, RHP, New York Yankees (PCR: NR)
Talk about coming out of nowhere. Severino was barely on the fantasy prospect radar coming into the season, but between excellent performance at three levels (including AA) as well as excellent reports on how those numbers are being achieved, there's a lot to like. I would expect him to be used next year solely to help build up his innings total, as he is already 40 innings past his previous career high, and still at just over 100 total.
#50 - Braden Shipley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (PCR: 84)
Shipley was recently promoted to AA, and more than held his own despite pitching in the southern half of the California League. The concerns at the start of the season seemed to stem from his lack of a true third offering to go with an excellent fastball and changeup, but more recent reports point to a curveball which has the potential to be that pitch he needs as a mid-rotation fantasy starting pitcher. Look for him to reach Arizona some time next year.
The following players were also on at least one iteration of the top 50 as it went through edits, but ended up on the outside looking in at this moment:
Jose Berrios (RHP-MIN), Eddie Butler (RHP-COL), Hunter Dozier (3B-KCR), Alex Jackson (OF-SEA), Tyler Kolek (RHP-MIA), Jake Lamb (3B-ARI), Ryan McMahon (3B-COL), Austin Meadows (OF-PIT), D.J. Peterson (3B-SEA), Domingo Santana (OF-HOU), Michael Taylor (OF-WAS)