Glasnow could soon get chance to join Pirates' rotation
By Jim Callis
There's a sense of déjà vu with Willson Contreras and his recent callup by the Cubs. Kyle Schwarber arrived in Chicago in mid-June a year ago and went nuts in his first week in the Majors, setting the stage for an expanded role in the second half and some playoff heroics.
One year and one day after they promoted Schwarber, the Cubs summoned Contreras with the idea of getting him acclimated to the big leagues. He immediately looked comfortable, drilling a pinch-hit homer on the first pitch he saw, reaching base three times in his first two starts, then going deep again when he came off the bench the next day.
Though he still needs some defensive polish, the 24-year-old Contreras may get more playing time with Chicago than initially planned. He won the Double-A Southern League batting title (.333) a year ago, he put up better numbers in Triple-A this season, and he's already a better offensive option than Miguel Montero or David Ross.
With his hand-eye coordination and raw power, Contreras projects as a potential .280 hitter who can contribute 15-plus homers once he becomes a regular. Even in a part-time role in the second half, he could provide more offense than many fantasy catchers. And he's definitely a keeper for the future.
Below are MLBPipeline.com's updated rankings of the top 10 fantasy baseball prospects in the Minors. They're based on expected 2016 fantasy production in the Majors, as opposed to our Top 100 Prospects list, which reflects long-term value in all phases of the game.
Glasnow still needs to improve his control, but he has flirted with no-hitters three times this month in Triple-A, and the Pirates are trying to stay relevant in the playoff race while Jeff Locke and Juan Nicasio are floundering in their rotation. While he's not as polished as Jameson Taillon, Glasnow leads the Minors in strikeouts (100 in 84 innings) and opponents' average (.174). He could make a difference in Pittsburgh if given the chance.
The Rangers are running away with the American League West despite getting little out of Mitch Moreland, and even less out of Prince Fielder, so they don't have much incentive to install Gallo in their lineup right now. But his top-of-the-scale power would make that a worthwhile move, and he could hit 15 homers in the second half with regular playing time.
Berrios has seen his previously solid control regress this year, particularly during his four-start debut with the Twins. Nevertheless, he has better stuff than any of Minnesota's starters -- and not much left to prove in Triple-A -- so it would behoove Minnesota to let him work on solving big league hitters.
Danny Espinosa has homered seven times this month, further reducing Turner's surprisingly scant chances at playing time. Turner is still a better short-term and long-term option, and he'll be a nice source for fantasy steals once he gets the opportunity he deserves.
Though the last-place Padres have many holes, their outfield may be the most competent part of their club. Nevertheless, Renfroe has better power than anyone on San Diego's roster, and he is tied for the Triple-A Pacific Coast League lead with 17 homers.
6. Alex Bregman, SS/3B, Astros (Previous rank: unranked)
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 Draft has been everything the Astros hoped and more, batting .295/.403/.555 with 14 homers in 59 Double-A games. He has the makeup to handle a jump completely over Triple-A and learn third base on the fly, and he's a better all-around player than Luis Valbuena right now.
Reed isn't on a rampage like he was last year, when he led the Minors in runs (113), homers (34), RBIs (127), total bases (320), slugging (.612) and OPS (1.044). But he has made adjustments after a rough May, and he would be an upgrade over Marwin Gonzalez, who is miscast as Houston's regular first baseman.
8. Lucas Giolito, RHP, Nationals (Previous rank: unranked)
The best prospect in baseball has given up nine earned runs in his past eight starts and struck out 52 over 47 2/3 innings during that span. Though the Nationals don't have a rotation opening right now, Giolito's upside could make him enticing later in the season.
The Reds have quite a few young starters, and Stephenson isn't exactly filling the strike zone in Triple-A. But he still has the potential for three plus pitches, and he held his own in a couple of starts with Cincinnati earlier in the year. He'll be back at some point.
The Brewers are getting solid play at shortstop from Jonathan Villar, and it's in their best interest not to start Arcia's service-time clock in a year in which they won't contend. Yet it may be tempting at some point to see what he can do in Milwaukee, and he could provide batting average, steals and a little pop.
Dropped out:Blake Snell, LHP, Rays (Previous rank: 2/promoted to big leagues); Taillon, RHP, Pirates (Previous rank: 4/promoted to big leagues); Contreras, C, Cubs (Previous rank: 6/promoted to big leagues); Cody Reed, LHP, Reds (Previous rank: 10/promoted to big leagues).
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.