Castillo takes over top spot for fantasy prospects
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.
The four most productive fantasy rookies so far this season have been Kris Bryant (no shock), Devon Travis (a surprise, though he started raking on Opening Day), Joc Pederson (saw that one coming) and ...
Delino DeShields Jr.?
Claimed from the Astros in the Major League phase of December's Rule 5 draft, DeShields not only made the Rangers' Opening Day roster but also has started 14 of their last 16 games. He's now hitting .279/.405/.393 in 74 plate appearances, leading the Rangers with 11 steals (third in the American League) and tying for second with 13 walks.
He could lose at-bats when Josh Hamilton joins Texas as early as next week, though Leonys Martin isn't exactly tearing it up in center field. DeShields Jr. has well above-average speed and better on-base ability than most burners, so he could be a valuable source of steals all season. It's not out of the question that he could swipe 30-40 bases while hitting for a decent average and scoring some runs as well.
1. Rusney Castillo, OF, Red Sox (last week's rank: 2): Boston has a moribund offense and Castillo is just the guy to inject some life into it. That's why the Red Sox gave him a $72.5 million contract last August. Capable of providing speed and some power, he had a two-homer game last Friday and a two-steal contest on Sunday. He jumps to the No. 1 spot because he's a better bet to get regular big league at-bats for the next four months than ...
2. Carlos Correa, SS, Astros (last week's rank: 1): You can debate whether or not he's the best prospect in baseball. There shouldn't be any question at all that he's Houston's best option at shortstop with Jed Lowrie sidelined by thumb surgery. After conquering Double-A, Correa is having no problem handling Triple-A at age 20 and has homered in his last two games.
3. Daniel Norris, LHP, Blue Jays (last week's rank: 3): Toronto has the highest-scoring offense in baseball but is surrendering more runs than anyone but the Brewers and Rockies. Norris had the best ERA (3.86) and second-best WHIP (1.500) in the Jays rotation in April before getting sent to Triple-A to refine his control. He still needs to throw more strikes but he's still one of Toronto's five best starting options right now.
4. Brian Johnson, LHP, Red Sox (last week's rank: unranked): Boston's rotation isn't exactly shining either, posting the third-worst starters' ERA (4.97) in the game. Johnson is outpitching the other promising lefties at Triple-A Pawtucket, Henry Owens and Eduardo Rodriguez, and he has the command and poise to succeed as a rookie.
5. Jose Peraza, 2B, Braves (last week's rank: 10): Atlanta second baseman Jace Peterson's bat has heated up in May, but so has Peraza's in Triple-A and he's the better long-term option. He's batting .314/.353/.393 overall with 14 steals in 35 games, and his contact-hitting ability and speed should make him a valuable fantasy contributor once the Braves give him a chance.
6. Francisco Lindor, SS, Indians (last week's rank: 5): An 0-for-14 slump has dropped his Triple-A numbers to .255/.328/.363 with seven steals in 40 games, but that doesn't change the fact that he'd be an offensive and defensive upgrade on Jose Ramirez. Lindor won't post huge fantasy numbers in 2015, but he could hit for a respectable average and steal a few bases at a premium position.
7. Dalton Pompey, OF, Blue Jays (last week's rank: 4): After hitting .193/.264/.337 with Toronto in the first month, he's having trouble getting his bat going in Triple-A. But the Jays are getting nothing offensively out of Kevin Pillar and Chris Colabello and Danny Valencia can't stay hot forever, so Pompey should get a second chance at some point.
8. Marco Gonzales, LHP, Cardinals (last week's rank: unranked): Working his way back from a pectoral injury that sidelined him for three weeks, he had his best Triple-A start of the season on Tuesday. If St. Louis decides to shift Carlos Martinez back to the bullpen or Jaime Garcia gets hurt again, Gonzales could be the next man up. He won't overpower anyone but he can be a steady starter for a team that will win a lot of games.
9. Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers (last week's rank: 6): He'd rank higher on this list if he had a clearer opportunity to earn some playing time in Los Angeles. Will the Dodgers pull the plug on Jimmy Rollins if he doesn't pick up his play? That remains to be seen, but they'd be a better club with Seager in the lineup.
10. Steven Matz, LHP, Mets (last week's rank: 7): He's performing as well as any pitching prospect in Triple-A, but New York had a hard enough time finding a spot for Noah Syndergaard in its rotation. Though it's not clear how the Mets would make room for Matz, they're going to have start considering it.
Dropped out: Andrew Heaney, LHP, Angels (last week's rank: 8); Rodriguez, LHP, Red Sox (last week's rank: 9).