Olivera jumps to top of fantasy prospects list
Braves could get third baseman for final stretch of season after Triple-A tuneup
Every week, the MLBPipeline.com crew will rank the top 10 fantasy baseball prospects in the Minor Leagues. These rankings are based solely on expected 2015 fantasy production in the Major Leagues, in contrast to the MLBPipeline Top 100 Prospects list, which reflects long-term value in all phases of the game.
In a 13-player trade with the Braves and Marlins the day before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Dodgers not only managed to land a pair of rotation reinforcements in Mat Latos and Alex Wood as well as two bullpen pieces in Luis Avilan and Jim Johnson, but they also got the best prospect in the deal as well. Second baseman Jose Peraza may pay dividends much earlier than expected.
Los Angeles placed Howie Kendrick on the disabled list Monday with a left hamstring injury that could sideline him for a month or more. Peraza got the call from Triple-A Oklahoma City to replace Kendrick on the roster, and he started twice in his first four days in the big leagues. Kiké Hernandez also got two starts at second base, though the Dodgers also want to be able to use him all over the diamond after playing him at five positions this year.
Peraza hit .302/.327/.398 with 27 steals in 106 Triple-A games this year, a performance that looks better considering that at age 21 he was the youngest batting qualifier at that level. He can hit -- though he'll need to draw more walks -- and has well-above-average speed, so he could provide a little stolen-base boost to fantasy teams if he continues to get semi-regular playing time.
While Peraza gets acclimated to the Majors, the key player Atlanta received in the three-team deal is on the verge of doing the same and ascends to the top spot on our Fantasy Top 10 Prospects list:
1. Hector Olivera, 3B/2B, Braves (last rank: 2)
Olivera went down with a hamstring injury in mid-July, but he should be back soon and in Atlanta after a Triple-A tuneup. The Braves cleared out Chris Johnson so they can hand third base to Olivera, who signed a $62.5 million contract in March. Only a quarter of the season remains, but he's capable of delivering five homers and 20 RBIs.
2. Dalton Pompey, OF, Blue Jays (last rank: unranked)
Since getting demoted to Double-A New Hampshire on June 6, Pompey has hit .349/.426/.506 in the Minors with 13 steals in 56 games. Kevin Pillar is running out of stream in Toronto, and Pompey is a better player who would enhance the Blue Jays' chances of ending their 22-year postseason drought.
3. Byron Buxton, OF, Twins (last rank: unranked)
Baseball's best prospect got rushed to Minnesota in June; Buxton hurt his thumb at the end of that month and got optioned back to Triple-A Rochester on Monday. The Twins have a number of OBP sinkholes in their outfield (Torii Hunter, Shane Robinson, Eddie Rosario), so Buxton could be back soon. At the very least, he could help fantasy teams with steals; at best, he could contribute across the board.
4. Domingo Santana, OF, Brewers (last rank: 3)
Milwaukee kept Santana in Triple-A at Colorado Springs after acquiring him from the Astros in the deal for Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers, but he has nothing left to prove at that level. He fits the right-field profile nicely, and the Brewers should start finding out if he can make consistent contact against big league pitching.
5. Jose Berrios, RHP, Twins (last rank: 6)
Minnesota needs a starter to fill in on Saturday and could use help in general, but the club apparently has ruled out Berrios for now. That's a mistake, as he's pitching well in Triple-A and has better swing-and-miss stuff than anyone the Twins have in their rotation. Why wouldn't they go with their highest-upside option when they're just three games back in the American League Wild Card race?
6. Micah Johnson, 2B, White Sox (last rank: unranked)
Johnson opened the season at Chicago's second baseman before his defensive deficiencies got him demoted to Triple-A Charlotte in mid-May. Slicker-fielding Carlos Sanchez has kept his batting average above the Mendoza Line in just one of four months since replacing Johnson, who's due for another opportunity. The 2013 Minor League stolen-base champ is another potential late-season steal source.
7. Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers (last rank: 1)
Barring an injury to Jimmy Rollins, Seager isn't coming up before September and is unlikely to play much in Los Angeles this year. Which is a shame, because he could approximate Carlos Correa's production as a rookie shortstop.
8. Joey Gallo, 3B/OF, Rangers (last rank: 8)
Gallo produced some prodigious home runs and plenty of strikeouts with Texas in June, and he has gone the same at Triple-A Round Rock. If the Rangers give Gallo another look in 2015, he's capable of bashing eight to 10 more homers in the Majors if he gets hot down the stretch.
9. Robert Stephenson, RHP, Reds (last rank: 5)
Cincinnati has traded Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake, and rookie Michael Lorenzen is getting pounded. Stephenson still needs to refine his command, but he has a higher ceiling than any Reds starter and could benefit from some big league exposure.
10. Rob Refsnyder, 2B, Yankees (last rank: unranked)
Outfielder Aaron Judge is New York's best position prospect, and first baseman Greg Bird received his first callup on Thursday, but Refsnyder could help the Yankees more this year. His defense is still rough, but he would provide more offense than they're getting from Stephen Drew or Brendan Ryan at second base.
Dropped out: Judge, OF, Yankees (last rank: 4); Trevor Story, SS, Rockies (last rank: 7); Aaron Blair, RHP, Diamondbacks (last rank: 9); Peraza, 2B, Dodgers (last rank: 10/promoted).