Kris Bryant could become an elite fantasy hitter as soon as next season.
What's the end of a baseball season without welcoming enticing prospects ready to fill the blank canvases of their careers? Plenty of neophytes will get the opportunity of a lifetime this September. Few will make more than a slight peep, but some are capable of creating considerable noise.
Rymer Liriano, OF, San Diego Padres
Those who missed out on Gregory Polanco could gain some solace in Rymer Liriano, another outfielder with terrific speed and a sprinkle of power.
The San Diego Padres called him up earlier this week after he forced their hand by dominating Triple-A to the tune of a .452/.521/.661 slash line. An insane .583 BABIP fueled that average, so owners can't expect anything in that ballpark from a player who hit .264 in 99 Double-A games.
Speaking of ballparks, he'll play half of his games at Petco Park. This limits him to an NL-only and deep-league option, but all owners should keep their eyes and ears alert.
Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs
When Kris Bryant gets promoted, you want him on your team. In keeper and dynasty formats, it's already too late. The chance also might not present itself in deeper leagues with forward-thinking owners.
The offensive machine probably won't even get a chance to swing his thunderous bat this season. Even though Bryant is far more ready than the recently promoted Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein insists the future star won't receive a September call-up, per the Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan:
Nothing has changed. I still don't foresee a scenario where Kris would get called up this year. It would really take extraordinary circumstances to call up anybody in his first full professional season. For us... not only would the player have to be doing extraordinary things, but there would have to be unique circumstances with the big league team, where we were in a pennant race and really needed that boost.
But if he changes his mind, would a guy with 39 homers and 15 steals in 120 minor league games interest you? How about his .322/.434/.672 Triple-A slash line? Those all qualify as extraordinary things.
Bryant is a game-changer who will cost a premium fantasy pick next season, even if he's not guaranteed a spot on Chicago's Opening Day roster. If the Cubs cave and allow him a sniff of MLB action this September, adding him becomes every fantasy manager's No. 1 priority.
Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
There's currently no clear portal for Joc Pederson's big league arrival, but his massive potential still manufactures dreams of him roaming the Los Angeles Dodgers' outfield with Yasiel Puig.
The rising 22-year-old's repertoire is tailor-made for a rotisserie league; he's hitting .302/.425/.568 with 27 homers and 26 steals in Triple-A. Due to his 27.4 strikeout percentage, his batting average could present a concern at the next level, but such an elite hybrid of power and speed is hard to find.
Should the Dodgers grow tired of Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier's mediocre numbers, or if the injury-prone veterans vacation to their DL timeshares, Pederson is another immediate-impact contributor.
Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies
Although he's hitting a measly .246/.292/.390 this season, Maikel Franco has put himself back into the September call-up discussion. Since July 1, he's sporting a .319/.340/.532 slash line with five homers. The last-place Philadelphia Phillies aren't playing for anything, and Cody Asche hasn't exactly locked down his spot at the hot corner with a .671 OPS.
Honorable Mentions: Michael Taylor, OF, Washington Nationals; Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians; Jorge Soler, OF, Chicago Cubs; Blake Swihart, C, Boston Red Sox; Andy Wilkins, 1B, Chicago White Sox; Noah Syndergaard, SP, New York Mets; Alex Meyer, SP, Minnesota Twins; Archie Bradley, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks