Minor-league seasons begin Thursday, which brings a whole new world to scout for potential impact waiver-wire options.
Sure, you can refresh the stats on the free-agent lists in your fantasy league every morning. But that tends to reveal the same Joe Shmoes every week. And, if you pick up the one that was hot last week, he tends to go 2-for-19 the next. Market corrections. And chasing your tail.
Ah, but those highly regarded prospects, now those seem to dominate every week, every day, down on the farm. They can be invaluable assets for when they actually do arrive.
It tends to be around June 1 when the biggest names are ushered to the major leagues, especially those franchise-player types who come up for smaller-budget, non-contenders that merely sent their prospects down to save them from the Super Two arbitration designation. Well, Super Two is going away, but this year's best prospects to open in the minor leagues still won't be coming up until after a couple of months.
There is no Stephen Strasburg-type super prospect in this bunch we will analyze below, but there are some potential Buster Poseys, perhaps.
First, we start with the five most-owned fantasy players to start the season in the minors:
It should be noted Domonic Brown (wrist) did not make this top five because he is currently on the Phillies' 15-day DL. He should get a lengthy rehab stint in Triple-A. Otherwise he would be No. 1 on this list for the earliest impact among prospects to be "called up."
Here is a preseason minor-league must-track team. Notice Harper is not on the list because his arrival has to be deemed unexpected this season. There are hundreds of prospects in the minors who are owned by fantasy owners, but here are the top ones to track by position: