The top 50 fantasy baseball prospects list aims to provide a list solely for fantasy baseball purposes. Due to fantasy baseball’s immediacy of statistical production, players are not necessarily ranked based on tools or projections far into the future, but instead, current production. Aspects taken into consideration are fantasy baseball’s positional scarcity, Razzball philosophies, scouting reports and personal biases. Please keep in mind that this is published before the end of the 2011 season. Therefore, it is highly possible that some rookies on this list may lose their rookie eligibility (e.g. Kyle Seager), others who were expected to continue to acquire enough experience by the end of the season who may not (e.g. Brett Lawrie). Revision in the late offseason shall occur. There are highly touted names omitted from the Top 50 list that some might believe warrant a ranking that don’t fall into the prior caveat(s). Before lamenting, please check the Honorable Mention section. The most notable omissions are either blocked, provide more real world baseball value, need to repeat performance because of their pedigree, have GM’s avoiding Super-2 status or are rebounding from injuries. The signings in the upcoming weeks of the offseason and Spring Training could cause many players to rise or fall. Disputes, inquiries and general feedback is welcomed and encouraged. To be included, I used MLB eligibility requirements — less than 130 ABs or 50 IP, though I’ve made a few exceptions where I felt it was warranted. To see the other half of the Top 50 Fantasy Baseball Prospects for 2012, go there.
1. Matt Moore – LHP (SP) – TB: Two straight seasons of 200-plus strikeouts. A career 12.7 K/9 ratio. Yearly improvement on command. High of 155 innings pitching in 2011 projects for near 180 innings in 2012. Mid 90s fastball, a plus-curveball and a plus changeup make him my number one fantasy baseball prospect for 2012. See Scouting the Unknown article for further details.
2. Mike Trout – CF – LAA: Has shown power in the majors in 2011. Could quickly become a 20/40 hitter with a .290-plus average. See Scouting the Unknown article for further details.
3. Jesus Montero – C – NYY: So much has been written on him and I also wrote a Scouting the Unknown article for further details.
4. Shelby Miller – RHP (SP) – St.L: Top right-handed pitching prospect in the game. Throws a mid to upper 90s fastball and a plus 12-to-6 curveball. I see a 2011 Michael Pineda type season for Miller in 2012. See Scouting the Unknown article for further details.
5. Julio Teheran – RHP (SP) – ATL: Will be the 2012 version of Jeremy Hellickson. Good control, fair strikeout rate and decent ratios. See Scouting the Unknown article for further details.
6. Jacob Turner – RHP (SP) – DET: Historically, the Tigers promote their pitchers aggressively. Could compete for a mid-rotation position in Spring Training and provide good value in AL-Only and deep leagues. See Scouting the Unknown article for further details.
7. Anthony Rizzo – 1B – SD: Struggled upon his first taste of the majors in 2011. The added experience will better prepare him in the future. Should be the Padres 2012 starting first basemen barring any major off-season acquisitions, an injury or management mismanagement. See Scouting the Unknown article for further details.
8. Wil Myers – C/LF – KC: Injuries slowed his 2011 season. Has shown patience at the plate. Defensively has adjusted well to the outfield. Projects above-average power, who pulls the ball often. Better deep league play than shallow leagues. Could be a .280 hitter with 20 home runs. I’d expect numbers similar to Eric Hosmer’s 2011 campaign if call-up in June.
9. Brett Jackson – CF – CHC: The Cubs could use an offensively-adept center fielder. Able to play all three outfield spots and sport a .290/20/20 line for fantasy. See Scouting the Unknown article for further details.
10. Zack Cozart – SS/2B – CIN: Injuries derailed his pleasant start in the majors. He hit .324 in 37 AB with two home runs. Over a full season, could be a sufficient source of both power and steals in the middle infield position(s). Think 15 to 20 home runs – especially at Great American Ball Park – and 20 to 30 steals with a poor average. So were talking Drew Stubbs at shortstop.
11. Brad Peacock – RHP (SP) – WAS: Brad rose from obscurity to relevancy in a few effective months at both Double-A and Triple-A; posted a 10.9 K/9 and a 2.9 BB/9 in 146 2/3 IP across the two levels. Important to note that upon promotion to Triple-A, ratios dropped. Historically consistent pattern within his career. Usually needs additional time – 40+ innings – at each level before thriving. See Scouting the Unknown article for further details.
12. Randall Delgado – RHP (SP) – ATL: The “other” Braves pitching prospect. A year older than Teheran, they are similar but with Delgado having a lower ceiling – a solid number two starter or above average number three. In the Braves rotation, he’ll be seen as the number four or five starter with Hanson, Tim Hudson, Brandon Beachy, Teheran, Jair Jurrjens, Mike Minor and Delgado, the Braves have strong core a pitchers. There will be no rush in promoting Delgado early. See Scouting the Unknown article for further.
13. Arodys Vizcaino – RHP (SP) – ATL: Promoted in 2011 to pitch from the bullpen to save innings and wear. Could easily slide back into similar position to start the 2012 season. With a glut of pitching talent, Vizcaino is the odd-man out of the rotation battles due to injury history and petite frame. See Scouting the Unknown article for further details.
14. Devin Mesoraco – C – CIN: Nothing better than a good hitting catcher, with decent power (20 home runs) and a fair average (~.290). Should be able to set him and forget him once promotion is secured. See Scouting the Unknown article for further.
15. James Paxton – LHP (SP) – SEA: A power throwing lefty with command concerns. The Mariners have shown to promote their stud prospects aggressively. I would expect to see Paxton up before June. Could have command woes and will be a better play in deep mixed-leagues or AL-Only leagues. Dynasty leagues should stash him. See Scouting the Unknown article for further details.
16. Ryan Lavarnway – C – BOS: There are only so many years Varitek’s production, or lack thereof, can be tolerated. J.P. Arencibia 2.0. See Scouting the Unknown article for further details.
17. Leonys Martin – CF – TEX: Grey called him a “a poor man’s Desmond Jennings.” John Sickels stated, “[He's a] line drive hitter … good feel for the strike zone … strong contact abilities … not a huge home run hitter … [gap power] will hit plenty of doubles and could hit 10-15 homers a year in time. His running speed isn’t spectacular but rates as above average … throwing arm and outfield defense rate as above average.” I see him more as a Denard Span.
18. Drew Pomeranz – LHP (SP) – COL: Received in the coup for Ubaldo Jimenez, Pomeranz looks to make 2012 his coming out party after dominating in 2011. He posted a 10.7 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, in 98 innings between High-A and Double-A. His season was cut short by two starts after having an emergency appendectomy surgery. Would not be surprised to see him by June, if not before. See Scouting the Unknown article for further details.
19. James Darnell – 3B/OF – SD: Strong contact skills, gap power – 15 to 20 home run ceiling due to home ballpark – and good command of strike zone. A better Kevin Kouzmanoff.
20. Jarrod Parker – RHP (SP) – ARI: Battled back from Tommy Johns surgery and early season control issues; that should be expect due to injury. Once was a top 15 pitching prospect in the game. Expected to pitch from the bullpen at the end of the 2011 season to prepare for the rotation in 2012. Dominating offering combination of a mid-to-upper 90s fastball and power slider. Changeup is average. See Scouting the Unknown article for further details.
21. Tyler Skaggs – LHP (SP) – ARI: Throws a 88 to 92 MPH fastball with good sinking action, an above-average low 70s curveball (best pitch) and a changeup. Commands and locates well. Pitches aggressively, is confident and poised on the mound; a ground ball pitcher (1.63 GO/AO in 2010 and 1.19 GO/AO in 2011). Projects as a number two or three starter. See Scouting the Unknown article for further details.
22. Henderson Alvarez – RHP (SP) – TOR: Quietly had a strong start to his career. Throws a heavy fastball and splitting action changeup. Will not be a strikeout pitcher; relies on ground balls and defense. Could have his ups-and-downs like Zach Britton.
23. Wade Miley – LHP (SP) – ARI: Not a heavy strikeout pitcher. Reminds me of a Mark Buehrle type pitcher – fair command and the occasional strikeout. He mid-August promotion has given him a jump start on the fourth or fifth rotation spot for 2012.
24. Wilin Rosario – C – COL: The last Rookies catcher to draw fantasy hype has been simply disappointing (Chris Iannetta). Rosario’s bat projects for 20 to 30 home runs a year, is able to utilize the whole field but needs improved strike zone judgment. Defensively is average. If he is able to keep strikeouts in check, he could be a .250 average and 20 home run catcher over a full season.
25. Wily Peralta – RHP (SP) – MIL: Is easily the Brewers top prospect. Throws a straight 92 to 94 MPH fastball with a good slider and slightly above-average changeup. Physically able to handle heavy workload, mechanically sound. A right-handed Ted Lilly.