As you have already seen so far this week, we're taking a comprehensive look at one position each week in preparation for the fantasy baseball season. That look would not be complete without a look at the future as well, and with that in mind we will be providing a top prospect list at each position also. While I won't be ranking the same amount of prospect at each position, the goal is to provide enough that will be fantasy relevant in both shallow and deeper formats.
These rankings represent how I view the players at this time, and speak to their value long-term. This means that players like Lucas Giolito, who has a higher upside but is a bit further away than some of the other prospects, is ranked higher here based on what his future potential is, rather than his 2015 value.
1. Noah Syndergaard (Mets) - Syndergaard was our consensus top pitching prospect, and will slot easily into the top 10 overall. He has little to work on after spending the year at AAA, and is fairly widely expected to be in the majors at some point in 2015. Timothy Finnegan will have a profile of Syndergaard later in the week.
2. Lucas Giolito (Nationals) - Giolito has the highest upside of any pitching prospect in the minors right now, but his distance from the majors in comparison to Syndergaard keeps him from being #1 on this list.
3. Carlos Rodon (White Sox) - Last year's 3rd overall pick may now end up pitching in the majors even sooner than originally anticipated, and Brian Creagh will have a profile of him later in the week.
4. Dylan Bundy (Orioles) - Bundy missed most of the 2014 season, but the potential for a true ace remains even after the Tommy John surgery. We'll have more on Bundy later in the week as a part of our top 10 fantasy prospects in the Orioles' system.
5. Julio Urias (Dodgers) - The things that Urias has done so far as a professional defy explanation, as we simply don't see pitchers this good at this young of an age. He will be 18 years old this year, and there is a distinct possibility that he will debut at some point in the year, and take over a rotation spot by next year.
6. Tyler Glasnow (Pirates) - Our top prospect from the Pirates' system, Glasnow should pitch at AA this year and has an outside shot at a September call-up. The strikeout potential is immense, even if it may come with a little bit of ratio risk based on his walk rates.
7. Jon Gray (Rockies) - The #3 pick from the 2013 draft spent the year at AA, and will likely head to AAA Albuquerque to start the season. With the current state of the Rockies' rotation, it wouldn't surprise me at all if Gray was in Colorado by midseason. He is one of the few pitching prospects that I am not as concerned about pitching in Colorado, and would probably be in the top 3 for me if he were making half his starts in a pitchers' park.
8. Robert Stephenson (Reds) - It was a bit of a down year performance-wise for Stephenson at AA last year, but the repertoire continues to give hope of an excellent #2 starting pitcher. This is contingent upon his ability to limit his walks, which improved in his second go-around at AA but was still too high at 4.6 per 9 innings.
9. Archie Bradley (Diamondbacks) - It was a down year for Bradley, and while this ranking is a drop from last year, the roster in front of him may be more beneficial. There's not a lot blocking Bradley at this point, and it wouldn't surprise me if he is in the rotation by mid-June.
10. Andrew Heaney (Angels) - Heaney was traded twice this offseason, and has likely moved into a better situation despite heading to the American League. He's very likely to be in the rotation on Opening Day, and will be an interesting starter to watch as the season progresses.
11. Daniel Norris (Blue Jays) - I'm out here on my island a bit with Norris, as I think the gains this past season will hold as he goes for a rotation spot in 2015. Whether he wins that rotation spot out of Spring Training or not will determine his value during the season, but he can be a solid #3/4 starter with a full year of starts in 2015, and the potential for a top 20 starting pitcher in the future.
12. Mark Appel (Astros) - Appel had some huge ups-and-downs in 2014, but reached AA by the end and pitched well there. It's possible we see Appel by the end of the year, but with a number of options ahead of him right now at AAA and in the majors, there's not a lot of incentive for the Astros to rush him.
13. Steven Matz (Mets) - Matz has vaulted toward the top of these rankings after a strong 2014 campaign, and Timothy Finnegan will have a profile on him later in the week.
14. Aaron Sanchez (Blue Jays) - Sanchez is a candidate for both the 5th starter's job as well as potentially the closer's job for the Blue Jays this year. I personally think he ends up in the bullpen, and can be a top 10 closer given his high strikeout potential.
16. Luis Severino (Yankees) - Severino is another fast riser this year, reaching AA to end the 2014 season after making just four starts in full-season ball through 2013. He could return to AA to start the year, and it would not surprise me if he was in New York by the end of the year. There are some varied opinions about whether he is a starter or a reliever long-term, which keeps him down a bit from where his ceiling would warrant ranking him.
17. Hunter Harvey (Orioles) - Harvey was the Orioles' top draft pick in 2013, and has the potential to be an above-average mid-rotation starting pitcher. That timeframe is likely in 2017 or later at the moment, as he pitched at Low-A for all of 2014. He'll also be previewed in our top 10 Orioles prospects later in the week.
18. Henry Owens (Red Sox) - The top pitching prospect in the Red Sox' system, Owens has the potential to provide a high strikeout total, and although it dropped down to around 1 per inning in 2014, he also saw a good drop in walk rate to go with it. He'll head to AAA to start 2015, and could be in line for a call up should the Sox need a starter for an extended period of time.
19. Marco Gonzales (Cardinals) - Gonzales debuted last year for the Cardinals just a little over a year after being drafted, but is likely ticketed to return to the minors to start 2015 based on the current rotation in St. Louis. With Michael Wacha returning from injuries and Carlos Martinez not a lock to start this year, it's possible we see Gonzales for a good part of the year.
20. Alex Meyer (Twins) - The Twins have kept Meyer in the minors almost to the point of it being comical, as he will be 25 for the entire 2015 season and has not debuted yet. He does have some potential risk with ratio categories given an elevated walk rate, and doesn't seem likely to start the year in the majors given the number of starting pitchers already under contract in the majors for 2015.
21. Jake Thompson (Rangers) - Thompson split time between High-A and AA in 2014, and was excellent both before and after the trade to the Rangers. He has mid-rotation upside for both fantasy owners and the Rangers, and looks like a steal in return for Joakim Soria.
23. Braden Shipley (Diamondbacks) - The opinions on Shipley are a bit mixed, as there can potentially be more development given that he has only been pitching since his second year of college. He can be a mid-rotation starting pitcher, and could be in Arizona by season's end.
24. Alex Reyes (Cardinals) - Reyes finished up the season with a strong set of starts at Low-A, and is one of the higher upside arms in the lower minors right now. He's still a couple years away from the majors, but can be a top 25 starting pitcher if he continues to develop at this level.
25. Jeff Hoffman (Blue Jays) - Hoffman had been a candidate for the top overall pick in last year's draft before it was determined he needed Tommy John surgery, which he had in May. He has the potential to be a top 25 starter if he returns to his pre-draft level.
Other Key Prospects
These prospects were in the discussion for the top 25, but did not end up in the final list. They are provided in alphabetical order rather than any ranking order.
Eddie Butler (Rockies), Alex Gonzalez (Rangers), Grant Holmes (Dodgers), Sean Manaea (Royals), Aaron Nola (Phillies), Matt Wisler (Padres)