In most fantasy leagues, we are searching for that special player who can elevate our fantasy team from so-so to amazing. Prospects can have that effect. Those who grabbed Eric Hosmer or Craig Kimbrel last season can attest to what rookies can bring. We also can overhype players. Jason Heyward has been over-drafted every year (based on his fantasy return). Delmon Young, in his first season, was drafted as a top-100 player. Japanese and Cuban superstar (fill in the blank) has constantly been drafted too high from year to year.
So, here is part one of my top 15 prospects for 2012. This is a list of prospects who “should” have an impact this season. This is not a list of the top prospects in the minors. This is not a list that includes Travis Snider and Lonnie Chisenhall, or quadruple-A all-stars, as I like to call them. This is not a list of minor leaguers who have already come up (no Jarrod Parker on this list). This is a list of players who should be on your “watch list” for when they come up. Some will make a difference in your league this year, some may come up with all the talent in the world, but this year may not be their year. In 12-team leagues, these guys need to be picked up as soon as possible when they do come up.
Mike Trout — First off, if you just read the name, Mike Trout and asked yourself the question who is Mike Trout?, then this is probably not the article for you. In 78 AB, he is batting .400, with 18 runs, 1 HR, 11 RBIs, 9 BB, 15 K, and 6 SB. I would like some more power out of this guy (especially in the PCL) but the power will come. He is only a Veron Wells injury away (maybe even a trade) from being called up to play full time. I do not think they will platoon him.
Anthony Rizzo — If you are looking for prospects with power, Rizzo is your man. In 75 ABs, he has 7 HR along with a .373 AVG, 15 runs, 19 RBIs, 5 BB and 16 K. He was raking it last year when the Padres called him, and he fizzled in the bigs, which is why I assume the Cubs have not called him up (especially after the Marlon Byrd trade) and are being overly cautious with Rizzo.
Leonys Martin — Putting Martin third on the list maybe a bit too high, but this guy is absolutely killing triple-A ball right now. He is batting .338 with 3 HR, 10 runs, 10 RBIs and 4 SB. What I like about this guy is his plate discipline. He has 8 BB and 11 K with a .410 OBP. When he gets called up, I think he sticks. The speed is already there, the power may be a few years away.
Garrett Richards — It’s not that I think Richards is the best pitching prospect in the minors, but I think Richards is the best pitcher who is big league ready. He is right on the cusp of a starting job. If their fifth starter, Jerome Williams starts to struggle he could be called up anytime to take his place. In 27 IP, he has a 1.67 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP with a 9.0 K/9 and a 2.0 BB/9.
Trevor Bauer — Another bad outing for Josh Collmenter against the Phillies puts this stud closer to the show. Collmenter gave up six runs, which actually lowered his absurd ERA. When the call is made, it is either going to be Bauer or Tyler Skaggs. Either one would warrant an immediate pickup in any sized league (I don’t count eight-team leagues or smaller). Bauer is off to a ridiculous start. In 22.2 IP, he has a 0.40 ERA with a 1.14 WHIP and 11.2 K/9. The only stat that questions his call-up is his 5.56 BB/9.
Ryan Lavarnway — If you need a catcher, you should be in luck soon. Lavarnway has the door wide open for him to come and take the starting catcher job from Jarrod Saltalamacchia (who is not exactly lighting the world on fire). He is has some solid power and a decent batting average, which should be good enough for a pickup in 12-team leagues. I think, if things continue to go bad for the Red Sox, you are going to see some minor league guys come up. Lavarnway will be one of the first through the door.
Brad Peacock — Peacock would have been a lot higher on my list if he would have been given first crack at a starting job (that honor went to Parker which I outlined earlier). In 23.2 IP, he has a 3.86 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP with a 7.71 K/9 and a 2.70 BB/9. While the Ks are down, what impresses me thus far is his BB/9 went from 4.50 (2011) to 2.70. Like with Parker, I think he will do fairly decent in the bigs, largely in part because of his home stadium. He should be next up either due to injuries or if Parker struggles (which is very possible) or because of a trade (can we just go ahead and get the Bartolo Colon and Grant Balfour to Boston for cash and some no-name prospects over with?).
Jacob Turner — After being sidelined early in spring training with tendonitis in his shoulder, Turner was expected to be sidelined a week or so before returning to action. That was not the case as Turner made is first debut Monday night in High A ball. Of course, he was impressive in four innings pitched. No Ks is a little alarming, but he is just getting back into the swing of things. There is definitely a possibility to for him to come up to the rotation at any time, and I would assume things will be a little better than last year when he had a cup of coffee.
Check in tomorrow for part two!