Every year, a few prospects either start the season in the majors or are promoted before Mother’s Day and have breakout seasons. The aim of this article is to name a few prospects who have a chance to be one of those prospects. While I am focusing on players who will start the season in the major leagues, there are a few who are worthy of an early season stash with an eye on the playoffs. This list is in alphabetical order:
1. Kris Bryant, Third Baseman, Chicago Cubs
Why he could be big in 2015: Elite power, ability to hit for high average and the hot corner being manned by a platoon consisting of Tommy La Stella and Mike Olt give Bryant a clear shot once he is promoted.
What could go wrong in 2015: 162 strikeouts between AA and AAA in 2014, coupled with questions about Bryant’s defense could lead to a bumpy start to his career.
My prediction: Bryant should take over the hot corner within the first weeks and should easily hit better than the .227/.304./422 line Cubs 3Bs put up in 2014. He may struggle to hit for average early on, but hold on and his power will pay dividends.
2. Dylan Bundy, Right-Handed Pitcher, Baltimore Orioles
Why he could be big in 2015: Elite potential and a few bad Bud Norris starts could result in Bundy’s return to Camden Yards.
What could go wrong in 2015: Ubaldo Jimenez is likely to get the first bite at the apple if an extra pitchers is needed. Additionally, Bundy has only pitched 41 1/3 innings over the past two seasons, so his innings are likely to be limited.
My prediction: Bundy will be up and down in 2015, but his high strikeout rate will make him a solid stream option at the low end and, if he does well, he could be an elite strikeout pitcher despite his limited innings.
3. Rusney Castillo, Outfielder, Boston Red Sox
Why he could be big in 2015: Castillo has the starting center field job on a team with a loaded lineup and in a park that needs good defensive outfielders in both center field and right field.
What could go wrong in 2015: Shane Victorino and Mookie Betts can both handle center field in a pinch, and the Red Sox are likely to try to get Allen Craig’s bat into the lineup by rotating outfielders.
My prediction: Castillo is not projected to be a star, but could hit .280 with 10-plus home runs and 10-plus stolen bases in 2015.
4. Andrew Heaney, Left-Handed Pitcher, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Why he could be big in 2015: Heaney dominated AA and AAA in 2014. Potential to be a #2 pitcher, Heaney has the talent to strike out 170-plus batters.
What could go wrong in 2015: Other than a solid outing against the Mets in his debut, Heaney struggled in the major leagues as a starter in 2014. He will need to continue to improve to allay concerns.
My prediction: Many pitchers struggle in their major league debut and Heaney logged 166 2/3 innings in 2014, meaning he should be ready for 180-plus innings in 2015.
5. Francisco Lindor, Shortstop, Cleveland Indians
Why he could be big in 2015: Lindor held his own as a 20-year old in AA and AAA, setting personal bests in home runs (11) and stolen bases (28).
What could go wrong in 2015: Lindor is a glove-first prospect who will be promoted before his bat is completely ready. He could struggle to keep his average above the Mendoza line in 2015.
My prediction: Lindor will put up a similar line to the .276/.338/.389 he put up in 2014, which will make him a fringe shortstop, though his stolen bases could make him a solid, cheap option in redraft leagues.
6. Henry Owens, Left-Handed Pitcher, Boston Red Sox
Why he could be big in 2015: His walk rate has dropped at each stop over the past two years and his strikeout rate above 9 K/9 make the southpaw an attractive option to make his major league debut.
What could go wrong in 2015: Owens’ fastball is around 90 mph and his hit rate spiked during his time in AAA, as many wonder if he has the talent to succeed at the major league level.
My prediction: Owens will be a solid streamer option in most leagues, especially against teams that are susceptible to left-handed pitching.
7. Joc Pederson, Outfielder, Los Angeles Dodgers
Why he could be big in 2015: Potential to go 30/30 from the start while playing center field on a very good hitting team could give Pederson huge fantasy value.
What could go wrong in 2015: His OPS during his time in the majors was .494 and his 149 strikeouts in 553 PA (26.9%) point to the need to make some more adjustments before he has the chance to shine.
My prediction: Pederson will hit for power and steal bases, but his effectiveness will be limited by a low batting average.
8. Michael Taylor, Outfielder, Washington Nationals
Why he could be big in 2015: Jayson Werth’s injury could prevent him from starting the season with the Nationals, giving Taylor the opportunity to get at-bats early in the season, plus he can play center field if the need arises.
What could go wrong in 2015: High strikeouts are never a good sign and Werth is scheduled to return by May. Nate McLouth should get the bulk of the at-bats unless there is an injury once Werth returns.
9. Yasmany Tomas, Third Baseman, Arizona Diamondbacks
Why he could be big in 2015: Power to hit 25-plus home runs in an offense-friendly environment with a guaranteed starting job.
What could go wrong in 2015: Tomas has a tendency to expand his strike zone and try to hit everything out of the park, which could lead to problems once teams are able to scout him against major league pitching.
My prediction: .270 with 15-plus home runs as part of a season filled with ebbs and flows.
10. Christian Walker, First Baseman, Baltimore Orioles
Why he could be big in 2015: Walker raked in 2014, forcing his way to the majors. He should continue to hit, and could return to the majors if Chris Davis retains his 2014 form or Steve Pearce is unable to retain his 2014 form.
What could go wrong in 2015: If Davis and Pearce both hit and Pearce is not shifted back to the outfield, Walker has no place to play.
My prediction: An early-May promotion and a solid .280 with 15 home runs with sometimes-inconsistent playing time.