A running theme last year during the prep of this article was that the post would run on Saturday morning, and so it seemed almost invariable that as soon as I finished the writing on Friday afternoon, two or three of the players would end up being called up and making parts of the list moot. So I guess it really shouldn't be particularly surprising that as I am working on the post, we're getting the news that Max Kepler is being called up to take the place of the disabled-list bound Danny Santana (Kepler was probably going to be at #10 on the list).
These rankings are based solely on their potential 2016 value, and do not include take into account their long-term value for dynasty leagues.
1. Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pirates
Glasnow is scheduled to make his first start of the season today for AAA Indianapolis, but he's also been scheduled to do that each of the last three days as well. The weather hasn't been cooperating, but this actually moves Glasnow onto the same starting schedule as the Pirates' 5th starter, Jeff Locke. Glasnow has posted elite strikeout rates at every stop in the minors, and added in a significantly reduced walk rate at his AA stop in 2015. If the walk rate can be kept in check, Glasnow can be an elite starting pitcher as soon as he gets the call.
2. Jose Berrios, RHP, Twins
Look, it seems relatively clear to a lot of people that Berrios is most likely one of the Twins' five best starters right now, but service time finagling and the desire to keep dead money from being viewed as dead money have Berrios in AAA to start the year. With Tyler Duffey also in AAA with him, Berrios may not be the first call, but he should provide the most value to fantasy owners.
3. Blake Snell, LHP, Rays
A rainout against the Orioles has left the Rays possibly in need of a 5th starting pitcher sooner than expected, but based on how the calendar is playing out, it may not be Snell this time around. He'll be in the rotation to stay at some point this season, and can provide elite strikeouts with good ratios.
4. Trea Turner, SS, Nationals
The Nationals opted to go with Danny Espinosa to start the season, and I think he's going to be given a fairly long leash based on his previous levels of performance. Turner can be a top 10 shortstop if he's up for the full season, but I wouldn't expect him up before mid-June at the soonest at this point.
5. Mallex Smith, OF, Braves
An injury to Ender Inciarte could potentially open up a spot for the speedy outfielder, who is off to a hot start in the first three games at AAA Gwinnett (6-15, 1 SB). I think honestly once Smith is called up, he'll be up to stay, and can provide batting average and stolen bases.
6. Nomar Mazara, OF, Rangers
This one is a hedge, as it is sounding like Mazara may be called up as soon as today as well. It's not confirmed yet, so he stays on the list until then. The severity of the injury to Shin-Soo Choo will give us a better idea, and Mazara can be an impact producer in both batting average and home runs while he's up.
7. Tim Anderson, SS, White Sox
How long you think it is until Anderson is the everyday shortstop in Chicago really depends on how long you think the White Sox stick with the combination of Jimmy Rollins and/or Tyler Saladino as their shortstops. I personally don't think it's particularly long, and can see Anderson up by mid-May.
8. Nick Williams, OF, Phillies
Look, the Phillies are not good. They knew this would happen. But the idea of having Darin Ruf play left field isn't exactly one that seems like a great one long term. I don't think we see him until some time in June given that the team doesn't have any incentive to bring him up sooner, but I think when he is up, it's for good.
9. Robert Stephenson, RHP, Reds
10. Cody Reed, LHP, Reds
Stephenson was reasonably good in his major league debut this week, and as expected was optioned back to the minors as soon as the start was over. There is still opportunity in that rotation, and I think either could be called upon if needed, and really just depending on whose turn it is at the time.
HM. A.J. Reed, 1B, Astros - Reed didn't win the everyday 1B job out of Spring Training, with the team opting to go with Tyler White instead. I can see the team bringing up Reed at some point to serve as the primary designated hitter or split time with White if he struggles, but that may not be until the end of May or June.