With top prospects like Taijuan Walker and Nick Castellanos in the big leagues and the minor league playoffs winding down, what better time for a stock watch of my top-20 dynasty league prospects?
1. Byron Buxton, OF, Twins - Baseball America's High School Player of the Year in 2012 is undoubtedly the choice for Minor League Player of the Year in 2013. Buxton, the second overall selection in the 2012 draft, dominated the Low-A Midwest League with a .341/.431/.559 line in 68 games before he was promoted to the Florida State League. Buxton didn't miss a beat (.326/.415/.472) with High-A Fort Myers, but his power will be tested against tougher pitching in Double-A next season. He projects as a superstar in center field and a true five-tool player if he continues to hit for power.
2. Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals - A nagging ankle injury derailed Taveras' season and held him to just 46 games at Triple-A, but he's still arguably the best and most accomplished hitter in the minor leagues. He won the Midwest League batting title in 2011 with a .386 average and was named Texas League MVP in 2012. Taveras also has a strong arm giving him a classic right field profile, although he's an average runner and has played some center field.
Carlos Beltran is a free agent after this season, although a return is possible. Even if Beltran leaves, the Cardinals might opt to get Matt Adams more at-bats by playing Allen Craig primarily in right field. Where Taveras fits in all of this remains to be seen, but he's expected to recover from ankle surgery in time to be ready to compete for playing time in spring training. Given his injury and lack of any major league service time, the Cardinals might leave him in Triple-A for a few weeks at the beginning of the season.
3. Archie Bradley, RHP, Diamondbacks - Bradley's command is still an issue. His stuff is still nasty, just ask Southern League hitters as his strikeout rate for the season is 23.3 percent. However, he's walked 59 batters in 123.1 innings at Double-A including 30 walks over his last 56.2 innings. In a late-July start against Birmingham, Bradley walked seven in just five innings. Bradley bounced back in a big way in his next start against Birmingham with 10 strikeouts and no walks in seven innings of two-run ball. His high leg kick can cause him to lose his mechanics at times, but Bradley's elite velocity and knockout 12-to-6 curveball make him the premier minor league arm going into the offseason.
4. Addison Russell, SS, Athletics - Who needs Double-A? Not Addison Russell this year. Russell signed quickly after the June draft in 2012 and made it all the way from rookie ball to the Midwest League by September so it should hardly be a surprise that the A's let him get his feet wet in Triple-A for a few games this year. He spent the bulk of the season in the California League where he hit .275/.377/.508 in 107 games and he was the only 19-year-old hitter in the entire league. I'm looking forward to continuing the Xander Bogaerts vs. Russell debate in AL-only leagues for the next decade, but with Bogaerts already in the big leagues the top minor league shortstop heading into the offseason is Russell by default.
5. Miguel Sano, 3B, Twins - Sano, from San Pedro de Macoris, signed with the Twins for $3.15 million in 2009 and is now the best power hitter in the minor leagues. He annihilated the Florida State League to the tune of a .330/.424/.655 line in 56 games before a promotion to Double-A. Sano, 20, continued his assault with New Britain, though a .265 BABIP held his line down to .236/.344/.571 in 67 games. He actually had more home runs (19) in Double-A than singles (18). That is just ridiculous.
6. Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pirates
7. Mark Appel, RHP, Astros
8. Albert Almora, OF, Cubs - A groin injury put him on the shelf in early August, but he'll finish up his first full professional season in the Arizona Fall League.
9. Carlos Correa, SS, Astros - Since May 11th, Correa is hitting .340/.411/.483 as an 18-year-old in the pitcher-friendly Midwest League. He's been a big part of Quad Cities' run to the MWL Finals.
10. Javier Baez, SS, Cubs - Baez belted 20 home runs in 54 games with Double-A Tennessee and he's also on his way to the AFL. Look out!
11. Jorge Soler, OF, Cubs
12. Gregory Polanco, OF, Pirates - Polanco, like Sano, battled a low BABIP at Double-A while still holding his own (.263/.354/.407) at the plate. Polanco is a speedy outfielder who sprays the ball to all fields. He even mostly maintained the same isolated power (.144) that he had in A-ball (.161).
13. Francisco Lindor, SS, Indians - The eighth overall selection in 2011, Lindor hit .306 and stole 20 bases in 83 games in the Carolina League before holding his own in a late-season stint with Double-A. He has very little power, but Lindor hits for average and has speed. Lindor will start 2014 at Double-A and he'll only be 20 years old.
14. Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Mets - Syndergaard lost it in his last start of the regular season against Bowie allowing nine earned runs in 3.1 innings, but prior to that start he had a 1.59 ERA and 64:10 K:BB ratio in 51 innings with Double-A Binghamton.
15. Robert Stephenson, RHP, Reds - Stephenson started the year in Low-A (2.57 ERA, 96:20 K:BB ratio in 77 innings) and jumped all the way up to Double-A by the end of the season. He has elite velocity on his fastball and can touch 100 mph, but what stands out is his feel for his secondary pitches. His changeup and curveball have the potential to be plus pitches.
16. George Springer, OF, Astros - Personally I have a few AL-only league teams that wouldn't mind if the Astros had called Springer up already. In 135 games between Double-A and Triple-A, Springer notched 37 home runs and 45 stolen bases. If he's called up this month he's even worth a shot in deeper mixed leagues.
17. Jonathan Gray, RHP, Rockies - Gray was brilliant (1.93 ERA 51:8 K:BB) in his first 37.1 professional innings before being shut down as he had a long college season before signing.
18. Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers - Seager was one of the best hitters in the Midwest League while he was there (.309/.389/.529) before a late-season promotion to High-A. His easy swing produces doubles in bunches, but scouts expect him to turn those into home runs down the line. At 6-foot-4, with easy power, and a strong arm he has a third base profile.
19. Clint Frazier, OF, Indians - I snuck Frazier on the back half of the list because I'm enticed by the potential for power and speed down the line. He has incredible bat speed and if he's able to put it all together he could be a fantasy monster.
20. Eddie Butler, RHP, Rockies - Butler has electric stuff. His velocity is elite as he can routinely throw in the upper-90s. Butler, 22, had a terrific first full season in professional baseball as he had a 1.85 ERA and 143 strikeouts in 149 innings over three levels. He made it to Double-A for six starts at the end of the season and even though he didn't go more than five innings in any single Double-A start he had a 0.65 ERA in 27 innings there. Butler isn't a household name yet even in prospect circles, but he's headed there after a season like this. He has the potential to be a No. 2 starter on a playoff team.