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I spend most of my time here focusing on prospects who’re nearing their big league debuts.  Today, though, I’m gonna be discussing some guys a little further out.  In these rankings, talent trumps all – although, I broke that rule a few times based on lack of experience (see Bundy, Sano, Starling).  Among all of these names, though, one fact is constant:  each has an enormous ceiling.  All of these guys have the potential to develop into tremendous fantasy assets.  Unless you’re drafting in a dynasty league, however, these are not players you want to be considering on draft day.  For the top 25 fantasy baseball prospects for right now, click that link.

1. Jurickson Profar | SS, Rangers:  Profar has already put up some exciting numbers, and scouts are drooling over his physical development this offseason.  The upside here is preposterously high.  More on Profar in my Rangers post.  ETA:  2013.

2. Manny Machado | SS, Orioles:  The slugging shortstop has drawn comparisons to a young A-Rod.  The arrival of Machado and Profar will certainly aid the shortstop scarcity currently plaguing fantasy baseball.  ETA:  2013.

3. Gerrit Cole | SP, Pirates:  Cole was the #1 overall pick last June and made his pro debut in the Arizona Fall League, where he was clocked as high as 102 MPH.  He’ll start at High-A this year, but should move quickly. ETA:  2013.

4. Jameson Taillon | SP, Pirates:  Although he’s a year ahead of Cole in terms of experience, Taillon is behind his teammate developmentally.  Legitimate ace potential here.  The future is bright for the Pittsburgh rotation. ETA:  2014.

5. Travis D’Arnaud | C, Blue Jays:  Projects better than Arencibia both offensively and defensively, so it’s only a matter of time ’til D’Arnaud takes over as Toronto’s regular behind the plate.  He should be up late this season and ready for full-time in 2013.   ETA:  Late 2012.

6. Anthony Rendon | 3B, Nationals:  Rendon is a polished hitter and he could be ready for the bigs by late-season.  With Ryan Zimmerman at third for the foreseeable future, Rendon might have to arrive as a 2B.  More on Rendon in my Nationals post.  ETA:  2013.

7. Nolan Arenado | 3B, Rockies:  Arenado doesn’t impress scouts quite so much as Rendon, but he’s an impressive all-around talent and the Rockies have no one blocking him at third.  He’ll start 2012 at Double-A and try to push his way through to the big club this year.  More on Arenado, here.  ETA:  Late 2012.

8. Dylan Bundy | SP, Orioles:  An ace in the making, Bundy is looking forward to his first taste of pro ball in 2012.  He should move quickly.  Could rank higher if he backs up the hype with on-field production.  ETA:  2014.

9. Taijuan Walker | SP, Mariners:  Ace potential is even more attractive when you factor the Safeco effect.   ETA: 2014.

10. Mike Montgomery | SP, Royals:  Montgomery has a chance to gain some big league time this year if the Royals’ staff is injured and/or terrible.  More likely, Kansas City remains patient with their prized prospect and he makes his impact in 2013.  ETA:  Late 2012.

11. Miguel Sano | SS, Twins:  Sano will get his first taste of full-season baseball in the Midwest League this year.  That means he’ll make a few visits to Kane County, which isn’t too far from me.  Can’t wait to watch him live.  ETA:  2015.

12. Bubba Starling | OF, Royals:  The fifth overall selection last June, Starling is oozing with talent.  He could be playing full-time at Kane County this year.  OH HELL YEAH – when can I pre-order Beloit at Kane County tix?   ETA:  2015.

13. Carlos Martinez | SP, Cardinals:  Command seems to be the only thing holding Martinez back at this point.  He’ll return to the Florida State League to begin 2012 in order to refine that aspect of his game.  Once he can work that out, he’ll push through quickly.  ETA:  2013.

14. Archie Bradley | SP, Diamondbacks:  Bradley joins Trevor Bauer and Tyler Skaggs as three potential aces in the D’Backs system.  He’ll need quite a bit more time than the other two, however.  ETA:  2015.

15. Wil Myers | OF, Royals:  In terms of pure talent, Myers falls a bit short of Starling.  At this point, though, he’s far closer to the bigs.  Long shot to arrive late this year. ETA:  2013.

16. Manny Banuelos | SP, Yankees:  Banuelos is probably ready now, but the Yankees have nowhere for him.  Based on readiness, he’s a good candidate for a late-seasn arrival.  More on Banuelos, in my Yankees prospect review ETA:  Late 2012.

17. Jonathan Singleton | 1B/OF, Astros:  Singleton joined the Houston system by way of Philadelphia in the Hunter Pence swap.  He put up some outstanding post-trade figures in the California League.  A beacon of hope for Astros fans.  More on him, here. ETA:  2013.

18. Christian Yelich | OF, Marlins:  Yelich projects above average in hitting, power and speed.  Defensively, he’s just average, though.  Good thing we don’t care about defense.  ETA:  2013.

19. Mike Olt | 3B, Rangers:  He could very well be ready by the second half of 2012, but the opportunity in Texas won’t exist while Beltre is entrenched at third.  Could be trade-bait.  More on Olt, here.  ETA:  2013.

20. Martin Perez | SP, Rangers:  Three plus offerings has Perez looking like a frontline starter if he can get his command in order.  Read more on him in my Rangers post. ETA:  2013.

21. Zack Wheeler | SP, Mets:  Wheeler profiles best as a #2 starter, but he could develop into an ace if he can transform his curveball into a plus offering – his fastball and changeup are already there.  Wheeler could reach Triple-A this year.  ETA:  2013.

22. Francisco Lindor | SS, Indians:  Yet another huge upside talent who’ll be playing in the Midwest League this year.  The Cleveland system is horrendous, but Lindor provides some reason for hope.  ETA:  2015.

23. Gary Brown | OF, Giants:  Brown will begin 2012 trying to prove he can put up big numbers outside the hitter-friendly California League.  But his speed and defense will play in the bigs, regardless.  Read more on Brown in my Giants post ETA:  2013.

24. Anthony Gose | OF, Blue Jays:  Extremely toolsy centerfielder swiped 70 bags at Double-A.  Gose will work on refining his approach at the plate in Triple-A this year.  He could push Colby Rasmus out of center in 2013.  ETA:  2013.

25. Hak-Ju Lee | SS, Rays:  Lee, for now, is a defensive-minded shortstop, but he has all of the tools to develop into an exciting offensive player.  Shortstop is a weakness at the top of the Rays’ organization, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see Lee up at some point next year.  ETA:  2013.

Ten more, in alphabetical order:  Xander Bogaerts (SS, Red Sox); Nick Castellanos (3B, Tigers); Jarred Cosart (SP, Astros); Yasmani Grandal (C, Padres); Billy Hamilton (SS, Reds); Zach Lee (SP, Dodgers); Rymer Liriano (OF, Padres); Wily Peralta (SP, Brewers); Oscar Taveras (OF, Cardinals); Kolten Wong (2B, Cardinals)

  1. where is the man of steal – Billy Hamilton

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @Mr Baseball, He’s in my “ten more” above, and quite honestly he’s probably #26. I like Lee’s all-around upside a little better.

  2. ray says:
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    how about Jake Marisnick?

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @ray, He falls into the 35-40 range. Right there with Starling Marte.

  3. Bourne says:
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    Matt Barnes could be something special.

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @Bourne, Barnes is my favorite Red Sox pitching prospect. Effortless velocity. No pro data just yet, but he’ll move quickly – could be up by season’s end.

  4. Black Beard says:
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    Great stuff. Wondering if you can help me out. In a 10 team, 7 keeper league where you can keep indefinitely without any increase in value (dollar or round). What round (assuming the keepers are the first 7 rounds) would you take Harper? Trout? Thanks.

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @Black Beard, I imagine you’d want to scoop Harper/Trout somewhere around the 8th or 9th round. Tough to gauge, though – your league might get prospect-happy in the 5th & that’d be justifiable being that you can keep him forever…

      • Black Beard says:
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        @Scott Evans, just to clarify…by 8th/9th round do you mean around 80th player overall or 140th overall? Thanks again.

        • Black Beard says:
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          @Black Beard, maybe I should also mention that this league has insanely deep benches. Not sure if this factor into the decision making but figured I’d throw it out there.

          • Scott Evans

            Scott Evans says:
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            @Black Beard, That factors, sure. I imagine a can’t-miss prospect like Harper will go early in this keeper format. If first seven rounds are keeps, I could see Harper going late 8th or 9th – maybe sooner, depending on who’s out there. Might be wiser to lay off Harper though, and grab Trout later on. Both won’t be making real fantasy impacts ’til 2013, anyway.

            • David Smith says:
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              @Scott Evans, Oops

  5. daniel says:
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    What are your thoughts on having 2 pitching prospects from the same team rostered? I ask because I already have Taillon rostered, and have a shot to add Bundy or Cole through the draft. I won’t compete for the ship this season so I’m okay waiting for the impact next season or even longer.

    • daniel says:
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      League set up is deep 20 team “dynasty”. 25 keepers, and a 15 round draft, making 40 players rostered. Thanks!

    • Vic Damone Jr. says:
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      @daniel, I wouldn’t mind having Halladay/Lee/Hamels or Lincecum/Cain/Bumgarner. I don’t see how there could be any issue with it unless the team was extremely stacked with pitching and a prospect was at risk of not having a rotation spot with the big league club. Not an issue with the Buccos.

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @daniel, I have to agree w/ Vic. A good pitcher is a good pitcher, regardless. I’ve never taken issue with stocking up with arms from one team – I was a proud owner of the aforementioned Lincecum-Cain duo just a few years ago.

  6. Ryan says:
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    What can you tell me about Jorge Soler.A good long term prospect?

    • Vic Damone Jr. says:
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      @Ryan, He’s been compared to Giancarlo quite a bit when it comes to pure power, so I’d say he’s a pretty good fantasy prospect long term. Now if he’d only sign with the 2017 world champion Chicago Cubs…

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @Ryan, He’s certainly intriguing fantasy-wise based on what I’ve heard/read. And if a club like the BoSox or Cubs is willing to invest 8 or 9 million annually, over 5 or six years, then yeah I’ll buy into it too… Be anxious to see some MiLB data, though.

  7. Vic Damone Jr. says:
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    Looking for a critique on my 12 man roto h2h keeper team (yes I know the lineups are wacky with 3 util and no MI/CI)

    C: Carlos Santana
    1B: Miguel Cabrera
    2B: Howie Kendrick
    SS: Asdrubal Cabrera
    3B: Adrian Beltre
    OF: Carlos Gonzalez
    OF: Carl Crawford
    OF: Nick Markakis
    UTIL: Billy Butler
    UTIL: Brennan Boesch
    UTIL: JD Martinez

    SP: Clayton Kershaw
    SP: Madison Bumgarner
    SP: Yu Darvish
    SP: Tommy Hanson
    SP: Shaun Marcum
    RP: Andrew Bailey
    RP: Sergio Santos
    P: Ted Lilly

    B: Jason Kipnis
    B: Jhoulys Chacin
    B: Trevor Cahill
    B: Javy Guerra
    B: Jose Altuve
    B: Brian Matusz

    Am I crazy for thinking that I’m in REALLY good shape to win my league for the 3rd time in the last 4 years?

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @Vic Damone Jr., Love the infield outside of Beltre – 3B is shallow, so he’ll suffice. SP looks pretty damn good too. I’m not big on Crawford or Markakis, though. Some like Crawford for a big bounce-back, but I’m not among them. I actually like Matusz as a better candidate for a bounce-back year – nice snag there (late, I’m assuming). To answer your question, though: no, you ain’t crazy. You’ve got a nice lookin’ team for a 12-team keep, certainly good enough to win. The kicker here is that you’ve won 2 of the last three. Clearly you know what you’re doing in-season. So much is made of the draft, but the real champions are made during the grind of the season. Good luck.

  8. Bourjos says:
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    Ronald Guzman is getting some eye opening reviews. Just hype or is the buzz justified?

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @Bourjos, He’s so far out, it’s tough to say. It’ll be interesting to see how the Rangers handle him. Seems bound for instructional league, but might end up on the short-season Spokane squad. For now, though, the hype is fair. Texas spent like $4MM on him, so until he struggles significantly, they sure as hell better be hyping him…

  9. Andrew says:
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    Scott…great article..can you pls help me out.
    I’m drafting 4th overall in my 16 team keeper league…with 21 man rosters (5 held in minors)
    I shouldn’t compete for title this year, so I’m looking to the future. I’m already holding Matt Moore, Casey Kelly and Martin Perez in my minors so I’m looking for a bat.
    First 3 picks should be Darvish/Bauer/Rendon….
    I’m leaning towards taking Starling at #4, instead of Bundy, Cole, Walker….what do you think?
    Thanks!!

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @Andrew, what about Profar? Already owned?

      • Andrew says:
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        @Scott Evans, yep..he’s already owned. Besides the top 3 picks (darvish,bauer,rendon) here’s a list of the top guys that should be available to me — Starling, G.Cole, T.Walker, Bundy, Lindor, Hultzen, Marisnick)

        who do you think is the best of the bunch long term?
        Thanks

        • Scott Evans

          Scott Evans says:
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          @Andrew, Cole.

  10. Jake Marisnick will be Top 20 prospect on every site next March.

    I own Gose in Dynasty League. I’m hoping he cuts down on K’s. Toronto fan told me his ranking is high because of his defense. For fantasy, that sucks.

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @Joseph Buccellato, I like both for fantasy. Opportunity should be there for them, too. I’m not a believer in Colby Rasmus.

  11. Chuck says:
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    How close was Josh Bell?

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @Chuck, 40-45 range, but he’s a guy who could skyrocket once we see some pro data. Greater upside than Marte, but needs to establish himself.

  12. Mike says:
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    Agree on marisnick. Many sites have him lumped together with yelich, others say top 10 for next year.

  13. TheNewGuy says:
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    Mike Olt baby! Took him with the late 3rd round of my prospect draft in one league and seems like I made a wise move. Didn’t realise he was quite so ready, which is another good thing too, seems like he’s gotta be dealt so am just hoping its too a favourable environment. Can see the Braves being interested (and the Cubs) which wouldn’t be bad despite the tougher park, can’t see the Rangers trading Profar in the deal though. That guys a stud prospect and still a long way away till they have to decide about a position change due to Andrus. Something like Aroydys/Jurrjens for Olt though I can see.

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @TheNewGuy, Braves could use a guy like Olt. Cubs, too.

  14. trick dad says:
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    what do you think the nationals will do with Espinosa? trade him or move to SS maybe?

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @trick dad, Move him to short.

  15. Jake says:
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    Good article…

    If I’m looking for a potential big impact stash for 2013 only, who’s the guy on the list? I would imagine some of the guys listed (like Machado) are boosted by your “beyond” qualifier, rather than “2013.” Matt Moore was my guy last year, and it looks like it’s gonna pay off big time. Would like to make it happen again.

    Right now I’m holding on to Bauer, based on all the Lincecum comparisons and the fact that he seems semi-close to the show. But maybe I could do better.

    Profar and Arenado are already gone from your list (along with obvious ones like Harper, Trout, etc), but the vast majority should still be available.

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @Jake, A few guys to consider for 2013 impact: Shelby Miller (if he’s not already owned), Gerrit Cole, Travis D’Arnaud, Anthony Rendon & Wil Myers. I think Miller could be the guy getting Matt Moore hype at this time next year.

      • Jake says:
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        @Scott Evans,

        Yeah, unfortunately Miller is already rostered. And I agree with you that he may well be the Matt Moore hyped starter of 2013. Curious to see what they both can do.

        Cole does intrigue me, but PIT has just been a doormat for so long, I’m just conditioned to thinking their pitchers are failures, lol. Same goes Taillon, who is probably more of 2014 guy. I am definitely interested in Rendon and Myers though. Do you think Rendon has a legit shot at competing for a starting job in ST of 2013? And if so, at what position? 2B or OF?

        • Scott Evans

          Scott Evans says:
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          @Jake, I think we’ll see Rendon get a lot of work at 2B in the minors this year, readying for the regular with the Nats next year. Myers might be a safer option in that there’s no positional nonsense to worry about. Rendon upside is better, though.

          • Jake says:
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            @Scott Evans,

            Thanks Scott. I’ll pick up Rendon. Think I’ll try to juggle both Rendon and Bauer as stashes on my ML roster for now, even though it was tough to roster just 1 dead spot in Moore last season.

            And I’m just curious…. who do you think is a better impact player for SBs next season? Gary Brown or Billy Hamilton? Won’t have room for either right now, but if they’re still available in late August/early Sept, I might have some room depending on how my team’s doing.

  16. AdamH says:
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    Great stuff Scott.

    How would you rank the following in long term keeper leagues?

    Jonathan Schoop-2B Balt
    Eddie Rosario 2B/OF Minn
    Marcus Stroman P-Duke

  17. AdamH says:
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    Might as well add Anthony Ranaudo P-Boston to the above list.

    Thanks!

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @AdamH, Whoa, first NCAA prospect question yet! I rank those four as follows: Schoop, Stroman, Rosario, Ranaudo.

  18. AdamH says:
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    Got Appel on the same team! Looks like I gotta lose Ranaudo though. Thanks for your help!

  19. pasrls says:
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    Thinking about going with Lindor over Starling in a keeper league because of position. Will I regret it?

  20. TheNewGuy says:
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    Pretty amazed Shelby and Bauer arent on this list. They’d be right up there with Taillon for me.

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