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2015 Top 10 Prospects for NL Central: Future Cubs, Reds, Brewers, Pirates & Cardinals

Jorge Soler, Chicago Cubs

Welcome to The Future: 2015 Top 10 Prospects breakdown per division! This is a team-by-team look at the top-10 prospects for each team in each division from a Fantasy Baseball perspective.

We started off with the top prospects in the NL East a division that has plenty of youth  in the majors, and even more talent that will make their way to the majors in the near future. The NL Central however is overflowing with talent. The Chicago Cubs have what many believe to be the best farm system in the majors. Considering they have 7 out of 10 in my Top 109 Prospect Rankings, I am riding that thought process as well.

Aside from the Brewers, every team in the NL Central has three or more prospects in the top 109, and a point of interest is many of these players are very close to making an impact in the majors soon. That was an important aspect when it came to ranking each teams farm system. Allen Hanson in Pittsburgh for example is a talented player, and would normally be ranked in the top 3. However, the Pirates still have Jordy Mercer, and Korean import Jung Ho-Kang now competing for the starting job. Hanson moved to second base late in the 2014 season, but Neil Walker is there blocking him now. So, he has to get bumped down a bit.

As I stated in the last post, I considered things such as injuries, proximity to the majors, and overall ceilings, to distinguish prospects from one another. When it comes to 18- or 19-year-old talents, there really is no silver bullet to assess talent, so using skills, or rating scores from Baseball America, and proximity to the majors all need to be considered. I watch plenty of minor-league ball, but I also rely on and for some guidance. Remember that I’m coming at these prospect rankings from a Fantasy Baseball perspective.

Chicago Cubs 2015 Top 10 Prospects

  1. Kris Bryant, 3B (Overall Rank: 1)
  2. Addison Russell, SS (Overall Rank: 4)
  3. Jorge Soler, OF (Overall Rank: 17)
  4. Kyle Schwarber, C/OF (Overall Rank: 20)
  5. C.J. Edwards, RHP (Overall Rank: 35)
  6. Albert Almora, OF  (Overall Rank: 42)
  7. Billy McKinney, OF (Overall Rank: 95)
  8. Pierce Johnson, RHP (NR)
  9. Dan Vogelbach, 1B (NR)
  10. Eloy Jiminez, OF (NR)

Of all the MLB teams the Cubs should have their own post solely dedicated to their top prospects. Bryant is a star in the making, tops my Prospect Rankings and is getting drafted in all league types early in 2015. Addison Russell is a more forgotten prospect, and he shouldn’t be. He has potential to be a 20/20 guy with great contact skills. Soler will also bring oohs and ahhs to Wrigley for years to come with flash and a five tool arsenal.

C.J. Edwards has some fantastic numbers in his minor league career and should see the majors in 2016. A concern about Edwards is his weight and with it worries about durability. Edwards weighs only 155 pounds.

Jiminez is a mystery with great potential but youth will keep him mysterious for a few more years. The Cubs see something there though, so I will be watching his development.

Cincinnati Reds Top 10 Prospects

  1. Robert Stephenson, RHP (Overall Rank: 31)
  2. Jesse Winker, OF (Overall Rank: 38)
  3. Raisel Iglesias, RHP (Overall Rank: 90)
  4. Yorman Rodriguez, OF (NR)
  5. Michael Lorenzen, RHP (NR)
  6. Alex Blandino, SS (NR)
  7. Anthony DeSclafani, RHP (NR)
  8. Amir Garrett, LHP (NR)
  9. Nick Howard, RHP ( NR)
  10. Phillip Ervin, OF ( NR)

Of the 109 top prospects Jesse Winker is one of my absolute personal favorites. He has fantastic plate discipline, developing power, and won a batting title in the Arizona Fall League in 2014. Comparisons to Justin Upton are enough to be excited about.

Stephenson has ace potential. a 23.3% K rate, and a 4.58 FIP in 136 innings and will likely see the majors in 2015.

DeSclafani pitched in 2014 and projects to be a solid third through fifth starter in the majors. a 3.41 FIP, 23.7% K rate.

Milwaukee Brewers 2015 Top 10 Prospects

  1. Tyrone Taylor, OF (Overall Rank: 92)
  2. Orlando Arcia, SS (Overall Rank: 105)
  3. Monte Harrison, OF ( NR)
  4. Clint Coulter, C (NR)
  5. Jake Gatewood, SS (NR)
  6. Kodi Medeiros, LHP (NR)
  7. Taylor Jungmann, RHP (NR)
  8. Devin Williams, RHP (NR)
  9. Tyler Wagner, RHP (NR)
  10. Gibert Lara, SS (NR)

Taylor  is only 21 with plenty of upside, and started strong last season in the FSL slashing .278/.331/.396. His potential is there to be a 20/20 player and hitting the majors in 2016.

Orlando Arcia is only 20 but he is being compared to Starlin Castro. He is still growing too which means his power will surely develop to go with his near elite speed and ability to get on base. I am keeping a very close eye on his 2015 and he could see the majors in 2016 if he continues to slash .289/.346/.392, or improves on that.

Jungmann improved on his career in the minor leagues, but he is older than most prospects. He looks to become a bullpen type of pitcher and may be called up in 2015. Fantasy relevance is insignificant.

Gatewood has power, and has become a captivating player to keep tabs on. The problem is he doesn’t make much contact and unless that greatly improves his power is meaningless. a 32% K rate paired with a 5.9% walk rate spells trouble. He is young though at 19 years old so time will tell

Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 Top 10 Prospects

  1. Tyler Glasnow, RHP (Overall Rank: 16)
  2. Jameson Taillon, RHP (Overall Rank: 28)
  3. Austin Meadows, OF (Overall Rank: 39)
  4. Josh Bell, OF (Overall Rank: 47)
  5. Nick Kingham, RHP (Overall Rank: 77)
  6. Reese McGuire, C (Overall Rank: 107)
  7. Allen Hanson, SS (NR)
  8. Harold Ramirez, OF (NR)
  9. Jacoby Jones, SS (NR)
  10. Mitch Keller, RHP (NR)

Glasnow is easily one of the leagues best pitching prospects in 2015. His big frame at 6-7 allows his powerful pitches to overpower hitters. He finished 2014 with a whooping 31.9% K rate. His Walk rate also dropped to 11.6%. He should get the call next season and is well worth the wait.

Meadows missed significant time in 2014, but has that high ceiling to become an elite outfielder. Still only 20 years old he needs to play a whole season, and do better against lefties who he slashed nearly 90 points lower against.

Bell too is a future star, but injuries and lackluster plate discipline leave me somewhat skeptical. The Pirates are in no rush to see him with their current outfield so hopefully a full healthy season will bring improvement to the second round 2011 pick.

Hanson is on the fringe, and what seemed to be a potential breakout in 2012 fell apart in 2013 and 2014 and has left much to be desired. He still has great speed, but with the recent signing of Korean player Jung Ho Kang his allure is losing its luster quickly. He still has a few years to work on his skill set.

 St. Louis Cardinals 2015 Top 10 Prospects

  1. Alex Reyes, RHP (Overall Rank: 53)
  2. Stephen Piscotty, OF (Overall Rank: 66)
  3. Marco Gonzales, LHP (Overall Rank: 87)
  4. Rob Kaminsky, LHP (NR)
  5. Randal Grichuk, OF (NR)
  6. Luke Weaver, RHP (NR)
  7. Jack Flaherty, RHP (NR)
  8. Charlie Tilson, OF (NR)
  9. Tim Cooney, LHP (NR)
  10. Magneuris Sierra, OF (NR)

Reyes dominated Low Class A striking out 30% of the batters he faced and wrapped up the season with a 3.45 FIP. He has a fantastic pitch arsenal and although he is 20 years old and years away from the Majors he needs to be on Dynasty owners radar.

Piscotty may be a prospect who has added appeal because of potential play time, and the organization he is in. With the tragic loss of Oscar Tavares in 2014, Piscotty may be with the Big League squad in 2015. He will not be an All-Star caliber player, but has enough tools to break out a few Ben Zobrist consistent type seasons. I wouldn’t fall prey to his pull as a top-level prospect.

Kaminsky is a 4th or 5th Starter potential lefty in the Cardinals organization. He doesn’t overpower hitters,with a K% of 19.4 but can get outs with finesse and location. There is still room to develop but his ability to get outs with ground balls a very solid 49.3% Groundball rate is valuable for sure to a major league squad, but may not be as relevant fantasy wise.

Jorge Soler Photo Credit: Mike LaChance

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