Tigers' Norris jumps to top of fantasy prospects list
Left-hander soars in rankings after landing in Detroit in Price deal
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 frenzied trading activity that began with the Scott Kazmir deal last Thursday will continue until the non-waiver Trade Deadline comes at 4 p.m. ET Friday. The avalanche of transactions not only will have an effect on the present hopes of some clubs and the future dreams of others, but also on fantasy teams.
At this point, the best fantasy prospects for 2015 who are currently in the Minors aren't necessarily those with the biggest upside. They're the ones with the best chance for playing time in the final two months of the season.
The first three players on our updated Fantasy Top 10 Prospects list all have a much clearer shot at immediate big league opportunities after getting traded on Thursday. Rusney Castillo would rank high as well if he hadn't been called up on Monday after the Red Sox parted with Shane Victorino.
1. Daniel Norris, LHP, Tigers (last rank: 6). He was effective in April for the Blue Jays before getting sent to Triple-A Buffalo to improve his command, and he never got another look from Toronto before becoming the key prospect in the David Price trade. Norris will start Sunday against the Orioles, and he could be the best starter in Detroit's decimated rotation down the stretch.
2. Domingo Santana, OF, Brewers (last rank: unranked). Brett Phillips is the best prospect Milwaukee got from Houston in the deal for Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers, but fellow outfielder Santana will beat him to Miller Field. Santana could step right into the Brewers' lineup and hit for a decent average while providing some homers and steals.
3. Hector Olivera, 3B/2B, Braves (last rank: unranked). Signed to a $62.5 million contract by the Dodgers in March, Olivera became the linchpin to a three-team deal that somehow landed Los Angeles not only starters Mat Latos and Alex Wood but also decent relievers Jim Johnson and Luis Avilan plus speedy second-base prospect Jose Peraza. Currently sidelined with a left hamstring injury, Olivera could take the third-base job in Atlanta as soon as he returns in the next 10 days or so. Power is his best tool.
4. Luis Severino, RHP, Yankees (last rank: 2). Barring a trade, New York's best and most obvious move to replace injured Michael Pineda is to promote its best prospect from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Just 21, Severino has allowed just 13 earned runs in 11 Triple-A starts.
5. Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers (last rank: 3). Jimmy Rollins showed some signs of life in July, but Los Angeles would be better off if Seager were in the Majors rather than ranking as the best prospect still in the Minors. He's hitting .293/.342/.500 with 14 homers in 90 games between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City at age 21.
6. Jon Gray, RHP, Rockies (last rank: 5). At some point soon, Colorado should tire of using Kyle Kendrick, Chris Rusin and/or Yohan Flande in its rotation and call up the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 Draft. Gray has a 2.70 ERA and 43 strikeouts in six starts for Triple-A Albuquerque this month, and he has little left to prove in the Minors.
7. Brian Johnson, LHP, Red Sox (last rank: unranked). Boston sent him down after he uncharacteristically battled control in his big league debut July 21 against the Astros. Johnson responded with 6 1/3 shutout innings for Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday, and he won't have to wait long for another chance to bolster the Red Sox's weak rotation.
8. Robert Stephenson, RHP, Reds (last rank: unranked). With Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake already gone, Cincinnati needs rotation reinforcements. Stephenson is the organization's top pitching prospect, and he has pitched well in five starts with Triple-A Louisville, including eight shutout innings in his last outing on Tuesday.
9. Jose Berrios, RHP, Twins (last rank: unranked). If Minnesota wants to hold onto the second Wild Card berth in the American League, it should make a rotation upgrade from Mike Pelfrey (whose 4.3 K/9 rate is the worst among qualified pitchers in the Majors) to Berrios. He's averaging a strikeout per inning in the Minors this year and is on a roll with Triple-A Rochester, allowing just three runs in his past three starts.
10. Joey Gallo, 3B/OF, Rangers (last rank: 10). After hitting .218/.306/.448 with Texas in June, he has batted just .178/.295/.389 with Triple-A Round Rock. Gallo still needs to make more consistent contact and smooth out his defense, but he also could go on a tear with his prodigious power when he gets a second chance with the Rangers.
Dropped out: Vincent Velasquez, RHP, Astros (last rank: 1/promoted); Aaron Nola, RHP, Phillies (last rank: 4/promoted); Stephen Piscotty, 1B/OF, Cardinals (last rank: 7/promoted); Joe Ross, RHP, Nationals (last rank: 8/promoted); Michael Conforto, OF, Mets (last rank: 9/promoted)