The kids are alright: Your 2011 all-rookie fantasy teams

Let me first clarify that this is NOT a top prospects list.  These are the 2011 rookies (as determined by ROY eligibility standards) that I believe most capable of helping a standard fantasy team, position-by-position, based on accumulated statistics over the course of the upcoming season.  Yes I KNOW Mike Trout is kick-ass, and I KNOW Bryce Harper makes Jesus, Einstein and Houdini look like the three stooges (I’d watch that).  Will Harper or Trout play in MLB in 2011?  In all likelihood, no.  Without further ado, and with a nod to the baseball card brands of our youth, here are the Rated Rookies (Donruss), Rising Stars (Score), and potential All-Star Rookies (Topps) for the new season.

1st TEAM

C – JP Arencibia, Toronto
1B – Freddie Freeman, Atlanta
2B – Dustin Ackley, Seattle
3B – Brent Morel, Chicago (AL)
SS – Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Minnesota
OF – Desmond Jennings, Tampa Bay
OF – Domonic Brown, Philadelphia
OF – Greg Halman, Seattle
Util – Mike Moustakas, KC
SP – Jeremy Hellickson, Tampa Bay
SP – Michael Pineda, Seattle
SP – Mike Minor, Atlanta
P – Kyle Drabek, Toronto
P – Jordan Lyles, Houston
RP – Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta
RP – Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati

The pitching staff is stacked – and could very well represent an All-MLB assembly in 3 to 4 years.  All of the starters are Top 50 prospects with reasonable shots at winning slots in their teams’ opening day rotations.  Kimbrel is all but guaranteed the Atlanta closer role, and Chapman will most likely use his nuclear fusion fastball to mow down hitters as the Reds’ set-up man.  While even the best young starters will typically experience some bumps in the road, a number of these guys could log significant innings in 2011.  Only two position players are essentially guaranteed starting jobs out of the gate – Arencibia and Freeman.  The former will probably resemble a Mike Napoli statistically, racking up bombs and K’s.  Freeman could do a young Sean Casey impression this year or, at worst, a Gaby Sanchez.  Or, if Shoemaker’s hopeful predictions are on the mark, Freeman will hit like a Babe Ruth / Roy Hobbs hybrid.  Ackley is by all accounts a future star 2B, but will find his power limited in Seattle, though he should hit a bit this year.  SS was tough (some of the best talents are blocked), and speedy Nishioka will actually play second for the Twins but should carry SS eligibility.  Morel, though far from the best offensive 3B prospect around, may get an entire MLB season to rack up numbers, and has proven a steady .300 hitter in the pros. Jennings will lose some PT to the decrepit duo of Manny and Damon, but has the speed to be a good source of SB even as a part-timer.  Brown is touted as another Heyward-type of lean mean 5-tool guy and an NL ROY frontrunner.  Halman, the beastly Dutchman, offers huge power and good speed, but if he cracks the lineup, could form the most K-prone 4-5-6 in recent memory with Smoak and Cust.  3B Moustakas is the best pure hitter around and though he’ll probably be a later call-up this year, should be putting up Longoria-or-better stat lines soon.

2nd TEAM

C – Hank Conger, LA Angels
1B – Brandon Belt, San Francisco
2B – Jason Kipnis, Cleveland
3B – Lonnie Chisenhall, Cleveland
SS – Danny Espinosa, Washington
OF – Brett Jackson, Chicago Cubs
OF – Ben Revere, Minnesota
OF – Cris Carter, Oakland
Util – Jesus Montero, NY Yankees
SP – Jenrry Mejia, NY Mets
SP – Zach Britton, Baltimore
SP – Yunesky Maya, Washington
P – Ivan Nova, NY Yankees
P – Cory Luebke, San Diego
RP – Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox
RP – Jake McGee, Tampa Bay

Montero’s bat is tough to beat, but with Martin, Posada, Swisher, and now Andruw Jones in the C/DH mix, he’ll have to fight for AB’s with the Yanks when he comes up.  Line-drive hitter Conger only has to beat out annual underachiever Jeff Mathis for a backstop role in LA (hence earning the nod over the Reds’ Mesoraco).  Belt has drawn too many Will Clark comparisons to ignore and has a relatively clear path to the bigs.  Kipnis and Chisenhall represent half of Cleveland’s outstanding young infield of the near-future.  The question is when the powers that be will let them leap-frog the bums currently blocking their positions (Jayson Nix and Jason Donald, guhhh). Espinosa, like Nishioka, will start at 2B but is SS eligible – he has eventual 20/20 potential, but for now will be a low-average high-strikeout guy.  The talented Jackson will be a late-season call-up, whereas Chris “the next Adam Dunn” Carter and Ben “the poor man’s Desmond Jennings” Revere will struggle to crack their respective shaky OF’s from the get-go.  The rookie pitching class is so deep that even on the second team, there are 5-star prospects with shots at opening day rotations (Mejia and Britton).  Nova is nothing too special yet, but anyone with a chance to start for the Yanks could rack up some wins, just as a so-so guy like Luebke, pitching in PetCo, could turn in a strong ERA.  The stork-like Sale is a dominant thrower who will probably set-up for now, but could start if Peavy struggles with injury.  McGee has a very realistic shot at the Tampa closer role, and has the arm to run with it.

Let the outraged comments regarding omissions begin!  Let me give some guidance.  Names that are acceptable to lament the omission of: Lucas Duda, Dillon Gee, Devin Mesoraco, Jean Segura, John Lamb, Matt Dominguez, Mark Rogers, Chuck Norris.  Names that are unacceptable to lament the omission of: Bryce Harper, Julio Teheran, Jose Iglesias, Steve Strasburg and anyone else no longer retaining rookie status, and Hosni Mubarak.  Annnnnnd shoot away!

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