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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.

From Around The Web

  1. Yep, I said it! says:
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    Am I correct then in assuming you’d rank the following very young arms this way, plus or minus?

    Peacock, Miley, Milone, Surkamp, Diamond, Hand

  2. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @Yep, I said it!: Milone after Surkamp.

  3. MackeySasser says:
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    Great help for my keeper league.

    Montero worth keeping over Posey? Have Posey at $2.50 ($50 salary cap).

    • Scott says:
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      @MackeySasser, Didn’t you catch for the Mets?

  4. Max says:
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    I would have Mesoraco higher, maybe in the top 5-8.

    Hey, what about Trevor Bauer? I think he is THE omission of the list. I would only take Moore and Shelby before him. Bauer should enter into the starting rotation in early 2012 and he is as ready as a prospect pitcher can be.

  5. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @MackeySasser: Push. I’d prefer Posey as he’ll start from Day 1. If Montero is guaranteed a starting spot, I’d prefer him.

  6. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @Max: Playing time concern on Mesoraco, in addition to the physical strain of catching consistently. I would expect roughly 350 AB from him.

    re: Trevor Bauer: I don’t see him getting significant innings in the majors in 2012 (roughly 100 IP at most). Best case scenario is a Tim Lincecum/Michael Pineda type rookie year. If I knew for sure he’d start the season in the rotation, he’d be a top 15 for fantasy purposes. At the moment, it’s just GM Kevin Towers alluding that he’ll get the opportunity to start in the rotation. Personally, with only 25 2/3 IP in minor leagues and questionable control (12 walks in 25.6 IP) in addition to being hittable (9.5 H/9).

  7. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    … (continued from prior comment): Personally … I would expect further instruction in the minor leagues.

  8. Scott says:
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    I just don’t buy Brett Jackson as anywhere close to a .290 hitter w/ his minor league K rate. Guys that strike out that much struggle to hit .260 no matter how talented they are in all other aspects of the game.

    I’m thinking Chris Young with less power or BJ upton with less speed here.

  9. the grate one says:
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    thanks for the great work stephen.
    3 questions:

    1. i have to keep 6 of these doodes as minors…what say ye?

    zach lee, christian friedrich, james paxton, randall delgado, robbie erlin
    hak-ju lee, jaff decker, wilin rosario

    2. also (even though hes like 2 innings over our 50IP max, how do you think alex cobb compares to the above?

    3. and if javy guerra stays under 50 IPs, what are you thoughts on him?

    thanks!!!

  10. len sakata says:
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    profar?

  11. len sakata says:
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    ignore, he won’t be up next year.

  12. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @Scott: That would be fair.
    @the grate one: 1) Zach Lee, Paxton, Delgado, Erlin, Rosairo, Push on Hak-ju/Decker. 2) Take him over my push if given a starting job, however, I doubt that, so just on the cusp. 3) I see him as a reliever long-term.

  13. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @len sakata: Exactly. When he is promoted things will be excited.

  14. HAHa says:
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    Where is Goldschmidt??

  15. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @HAHa: With six more at-bats, he will no longer be a prospect/rookie.

  16. Telemachus says:
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    @Stephen: Do you think Turner and Peacock are in the rotation from Day 1 in 2012? Also, What about Jarred Cozart? And has Tim Beckham finally become a prospect?

  17. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @Telemachus: Yes. I think Cozart starts at SS to start the year as well. As for Beckham, I think he strikes out too much for a doubles hitter.

  18. Telemachus says:
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    @Stephen: Good point on Beckham.

    As for Cozart, I meant to ask about the Astros pitcher, Jarred Cozart. Do you see him making the Astros next season, and will he make your top 50?

  19. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @Telemachus: Sorry for my reading error on Cosart. I don’t see Cosart being an option fantasy wise in 2012. However, I do see the Astros giving him a chance during the middle of the year. He does not make my top 50 list.

  20. Ben says:
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    will martin perez have any 2012 impact?

  21. Don PG says:
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    Shelby Miller: the Cards rotation is set for next year, where would he even fit, unless someone gets hurt? Carpenter, Wainwright, Garcia, Lohse, Westbrook.

  22. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @Ben: In the second half.

    @Don PG: Assuming no trades, yes. But injuries and ineffectiveness cause prospect to be called up each year. He’ll be up by June.

  23. Derek says:
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    I have a chance at getting Jarrod Parker or Brad Peacock for next season, which one would you go with?

    Also, which two would you choose out of these options to make the biggest impact right away next season: Leonys Martin, Yonder Alonso, Jerry Sands, or John Mayberry Jr.

  24. Derek says:
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    Lavarnway is also available.

  25. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @Derek: Peacock; Alonso, Martins.

  26. Dan says:
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    Should I keep Zack Cozart, Yonder Alonso, Zach Britton, Wil Myers or Randall Delgado. I can keep 2 for 2012 in a 20 team keeper league. Thanks.

  27. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @Dan: Sorry for the delay. I would keep Cozart and Britton assuming you need the talent immediately. If you can wait. Swap Britton for Delgado if you need pitching. If you need hitting, swap Britton for Myers.

  28. brett says:
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    peralta a right handed ted lilly? peralta is a power pitcher with velocity around 92-95 with a changeup a work in progress lilly a finese pitcher topping out at 90 mph with an excellent change dont see the comp?

  29. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @brett: The comp is strictly statistical.

  30. Curt says:
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    I have Trayvon Robinson(he still qualifies as a minor keep in my league)……Is he worth keeping????

  31. Pablo says:
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    Should I keep LaHair, , Manny Machado, Dellin Betances,
    Mike Montgomery, Tyler Thornburg, Jose Altuve. I can keep 4 for 2012 in a 20 team keeper leagu , e. Thanks.

  32. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @Curt: In deep leagues yes. In AL only leagues, yes.

    @Pablo: Altuve, Montgomery, Machado and Betances.

  33. Donny says:
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    who has a bigger impact for the rays in 2013 Guyer or Mahtook? Thanks

  34. Chris Shaffer says:
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    Who do you think the top rookie SP to make the rotation on opening day? Who is that top player as far as SO potential?

  35. Tony says:
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    Does Montero start 10+ games in 2012 at catcher? Do you see him cracking 20 homers and 400 abs in 2012?

  36. Chris Cody says:
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    what are your thoughts on Trevor Bauer? I noticed he didn’t make your list. Do you see him making an impact this year? Thanks

  37. Allen says:
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    If your in any spot to hold a prospect, Profar is not far off from getting a shot at the big leagues. His speed and predicted ct% is useful on any club.

  38. Raj says:
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    Bryce Harper isn’t even listed and he has a better path to the bigs than Trout…and his opportunity is probably even with Shelby Miller.

  39. Austin says:
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    Keeping 12 prospects in Dynasty league: Last 2 spots between Neftali Soto, Edwar Cabrera, Erik Surkamp, Guillermo Pimentel, Jaff Decker. Who are the best 2?

  40. The Talented Mr. Dope Man says:
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    You have James Darnell pretty high on this list… you thinking he makes an impact this year? Padres finally going to move Headley?

  41. Rich Maharg says:
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    Where the hell is Nolan Arenado? The guy will play this year. Casey Blake is hardly the answer and from what ive read, Arenado will hit for power and average

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