Let’s continue our series on viable prospects to consider draft day in 2014. These come from the NL Central Division. Some I like, some are a wait and see.
Javier Baez could eventually be better than Castro and that’s saying a lot. Baez has raw plus power and has showcased it in the Minors over the last year. He accumulated 17HR, 19 doubles and 4 triples in only 337 plate appearances in a very pitcher friendly league before his last promotion. Baez has a very hard and violent swing that he never shortens or adjusts for and situation. He’s not very widely known yet, but within a year Cubs fans will be clamoring for a Baez-Castro infield combination especially with light hitting Darwin Barney not in the Cubs long term plans. Only an injury away from the bigs or if Barney hits below the Mendoza line in June up comes Baez.
Billy Hamilton will be on everyone’s radar come draft day looking for that potential 100 SB season. The prototypical leadoff hitter needs position in the Red’s lineup and then needs to get on base. The only problem I see is the Red’s using him strictly as a pinch runner and defensive replacement. If that happens he drastically drops in vale. If he gets a starting gig he should be a 3rd round draft pick with a stat line of 80 Runs and 80 SB.
With the Brewers parting ways with Corey Hart and Mat Gamel they are in need of a 1B. Has the answer to 1B been inside the organization all along? At some point, Morris will be given a chance to prove he is the 1B for the job. What he needs to do is be above average with the bat to have value. He does have thump by providing 57 HRs and a .219 ISO in 337 minor league games. He is worth a draft pick if he is the front runner for the job in spring training.
A twin to the other Pirates phenom of Gerrit Cole, righty James Taillon is a genuine monster power arm with a very high ceiling, a top of the rotation guy. But for 2014 I feel it will depend if A.J. Burnett re-ups with the Bucs. If not Taillon make the show. He has cracked 100mph on radar and has a curveball that is a plus pitch. I will be drafting him in all leagues this year.
St. Louis Cardinals
Just about everyone has heard of Oscar Taveras but will he make a contribution to the Cards in 2014? Taveras lost a great deal on playing time in 2013 due to an ankle injury but is now fully healthy and will be given an opportunity to complete for the RF job in 2014. One problem with Taveras in 2014 is that the Cards have too many OF even after losing Beltran. The pickup of Bourjos, they already have Jon Jay, and they will be moving Allen Craig to LF to give Adams the 1B job. I love Taveras’ ability but it may be a numbers game that keeps him out of the line-up on a consistent basis. Unless it is a dynasty league draft I would hold off on Taveras.