Nats' Turner, Rays' Snell could soon make huge impact
By Mike Rosenbaum
Jameson Taillon, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 Draft, was seemingly destined to join '09 top pick Gerrit Cole in the Pirates' big league rotation in 2014 after he had finished the previous year at Triple-A Indianapolis.
But injuries derailed the developmental progress of the promising right-hander, who had his '14 and '15 seasons wiped out by Tommy John surgery and a procedure for an inguinal hernia, respectively.
Now finally healthy, Taillon, MLBPipeline.com's No. 49 overall prospect and No. 4 on the Pirates' Top 30, has once again established himself as one of baseball's better pitching prospects with his outstanding start to the season at Triple-A. The Pirates rewarded Taillon by calling him up on Wednesday to make his big league debut against the Mets, and the 24-year-old righty didn't disappoint as he allowed three runs over six strong innings.
Taillon has since been optioned back to Triple-A Indianapolis while the Pirates attempt to manage his innings early in the season, but he's first in line for a rotation spot the next time the club is in need of a starter.
Who might be next to get the call and make a fantasy impact? That's what this weekly feature is all about. Here is a Top 10 list of fantasy prospects currently in the Minor Leagues, ranked based on potential impact this season. Talent is obviously a big factor, but opportunity also figures heavily into the decision-making process. In parentheses is where each prospect stood in our previous fantasy rankings.
1. Trea Turner, SS, Nationals (Previous rank: 1)
Turner makes his third straight appearance atop this list less than a week after he made his 2016 debut with the Nationals on June 3. Called up to replace Ryan Zimmerman (paternity list) on the active roster, Turner batted second and played second base. But despite going 3-for-3 with a double and a walk, he was optioned back to Triple-A Syracuse two days later. The 22-year-old shortstop has nothing left to prove in the Minors, as he currently owns a .310/.377/.460 slash line and ranks first and second in runs scored (40) and stolen bases (19), respectively, among International League players. Meanwhile, Danny Espinosa holds an average around the Mendoza Line, and he's getting on base at a sub-.300 clip.
2. Blake Snell, LHP, Rays (Previous rank: 3)
Snell has been excellent in his past two starts for Triple-A Durham, striking out 14 hitters and allowing just eight hits across 11 scoreless innings. He's fanned exactly nine hitters in four of his 11 starts and is tied for the International League lead with 77 strikeouts in 57 1/3 innings. Snell proved in his big league debut on April 23 -- 5 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 6 K at Yankee Stadium -- that he's ready for a permanent spot in the Rays' starting rotation, and that could come soon given Matt Moore's ongoing struggles.
3. Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pirates (Previous rank: 2)
That the Pirates opted to call up Taillon over Glasnow on Wednesday speaks more to former's polish than it does the latter's impact potential and overall ceiling. Yes, Glasnow hasn't progressed with his control and command at the Triple-A level this season, walking 31 batters in 66 1/3 innings (4.2 BB/9). But he's continued to pile up strikeouts (77) and generate weak contact (.205 BAA, 3 HR).
Fresh off his impressive big league debut, Taillon returns to Triple-A Indianapolis, where he's posted a 2.04 ERA, a 61-to-6 K/BB ratio and an International League-leading 0.81 WHIP in 61 2/3 innings (10 starts). The 24-year-old right-hander might not offer Glasnow-like strikeout potential, but he may be more capable of successfully turning over a lineup and pitching deep into games right now.
5. Jose Berrios, RHP, Twins (Previous rank: 6)
Berrios got back on track in his latest start for Triple-A Rochester, establishing season highs with 11 strikeouts and eight innings pitched in a win against Buffalo. More importantly, the 22-year-old righty issued only one walk -- his lowest total in four starts since returning from the Major Leagues. If Berrios can continue down that path, he may rejoin the Twins' rotation in short order.
6. Willson Contreras, C, Cubs (Previous rank: 5)
The Cubs' future backstop is raking in his first exposure to Triple-A, hitting a robust .341/.433/.582 through 49 games for Iowa. He's already hit more home runs this year (nine) than he did during his breakout 2015 campaign (eight), with six long balls coming over his past 12 games. While it's difficult to envision the 24-year-old Contreras unseating veteran Miguel Montero as the Cubs' everyday catcher barring an injury, the Cubs have shown that they're not afraid to thrust their young talent into the spotlight.
7. Joey Gallo, 3B, Rangers (Previous rank: NR)
Gallo has made serious strides with his plate discipline this season at Triple-A Round Rock, where he's walking more and striking out less while showing his usual light-tower power. The 22-year-old slugger has seen increased time at first base lately, and with both Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland scuffling, it's the position that could end up being his clearest path to everyday at-bats in the Major Leagues in 2016.
8. Robert Stephenson, RHP, Reds (Previous rank: 4)
Stephenson has already made a pair of starts for the Reds this season, the second of which saw the 23-year-old right-hander toss seven innings of one-run ball against the Rockies on April 19. He turned in one of his better starts for Triple-A Louisville on Monday, firing six scoreless innings in a no-decision versus Syracuse.
9. Orlando Arcia, SS, Brewers (Previous rank: 9)
Jonathan Villar has been a pleasant surprise at shortstop for the Brewers this year, allowing the organization to remain extra patient with Arcia's development at Triple-A Colorado Springs. Though Arcia is hitting .298/.335/.408 through 53 games at that level this season, the electric 21-year-old shortstop will probably not debut with the Brewers until after the All-Star break.
10. Cody Reed, LHP, Reds (Previous rank: 10)
Reed, 23, has been consistent in his first Triple-A campaign as he's pitched to a 3.38 ERA in 58 2/3 innings while posting strong strikeout and ground-ball rates. The impressive lefty still needs some seasoning, but there's every reason to believe he will be up sometime after the All-Star break.
In big leagues
Tim Anderson, SS, White Sox (Previous rank: 7)
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.