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 off-season 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. See Top 50 Fantasy Prospects for 2012, Part I for the complete list.
26. Trevor Bauer – RHP (SP) – ARI: Considered MLB-ready outta the gate when drafted in June 2011. Keith Law’s pre-draft scouting report indicates, “[His] fastball-curveball combination is […] big league-caliber … shown he can get deep into games with regularity despite the lack of prototypical physicality. His heavy college workload — topping 130 pitches in the majority of his starts this spring  … [workload] could impact whether he helps the Arizona Diamondbacks this season or what role in which that would come.” He has a plus-fastball sits between 92 to 95 MPH with good life and a 12-to-6 plus-curveball. His changeup needs work. Control and command is spotty and inconsistent, typically derived from overthrowing. Mechanically the only true concern is him locking his left knee upon delivery of the baseball. There is concern of possible knee injuries in the future. Beyond this quibble, his stuff is not in question, it is his combination of control and command, being overworked in college, and possible mechanically driven medical concern.
27. Martin Perez – LHP (SP) – TEX: Texas is loaded at pitcher, but you can never have enough young arms. Perez followed up a poor 2010 in Double-A with improved numbers across the board at Double-A but a regression in production when promoted to Triple-A. I see a midseason call-up. See Scouting the Unknown article for further details.
28. Garrett Richards – LHP (SP) – ATL: The Angels gave Richards two spot starts in 2011 in which he struggled. Prior to 2011 and before reaching more advanced hitters (read: before Double-A), he was able to produce high strikeout rates. In 2011, at Double-A, Richards strikeout rates plummeted from mid-9 K/9 to 6.5 K/9. Projects as a mid-rotation starter who pitches to contact or a power reliever.
29. Zack Cox – 3B – St.L: David Freese is not the answer for the Cardinals at third base. The 22-year-old Cox had an excellent 2011 season. In 344 Double-A at-bats he slashed .294/.357/.436 with 29 XBH (10 Hr) and a 69:29 K:BB ratio. Is considered a “gifted hitter with strength and strike-zone awareness.” Offensively reminds me of Ryan Zimmerman.
30. Kyle Seager – 2B/3B – SEA: By the end of the season, his rookie eligibility may be void. The Mariners hot-corner hasn’t been the same since Adrian Beltre left. Seager has the flexibility to play multiple positions. Barring an injury, would get the nod over Alex Liddi at this point. Seager has shown to be of average power – gap mostly – produces a decent average and the occasional stolen base.
31. Eric Surkamp – LHP (SP) – SF: Earlier this year, I said, “Surkamp is a soft-tossing lefty … Fastball sits in the upper 80s with heavy sinking action. Changeup and curveball are both plus pitches. Has a three-quarter delivery that creates good deception and he has strong command of all his pitches.”
32. Bryce Harper – RF – WAS: The hype will start early in April and build to a crescendo in June. I don’t think he’ll be up before August at the earliest. I’d expect Mike Trout-type results upon his first call-up. In his prime, I think he’ll be similar to Ryan Braun in his prime. This is all assuming no major setbacks or injuries in 2012.
33. Jake Odorriz – RHP (SP) – KC: The Royals are loaded with pitching prospects. As exemplified by Danny Duffy, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas Johnny Giavotella, Salvador Perez, Aaron Crow and Tim Collins’ 2011 call-ups, the Royals 2012 roster should see a heavy turnover, especially at pitcher. Will start out of the gate or be a June call up. See Scouting the Unknown article for further details.
34. Joe Benson – OF – MIN: The Twins best power hitting prospect. Injury prone. When healthy has shown strong plate discipline, above-average power (25 to 30 home run ceiling), and ability to steal the occasional base. He’s a Hunter Pence with a slightly lower average and a few less steals, if/when healthy.
36. Chris Marrero – 1B – WAS: With Mike Morse coming into his own in 2011, the Nationals will not have to rush Marrero into the starting lineup. He’s proven himself at each level. In his prime, projects as a mid-20 home run hitter. Currently, I would expect a Freddie Freeman-type rookie season: .291/.352/.461 and high-teen home runs over a full season. See Scouting the Unknown article for further.
37. Dellin Betances – RHP (SP) – NYY: As the Yankees best pitching prospect, high expectations will be placed on him, especially with the recent back-end rotation woes for the Bronx Bombers. June call-up looks to be in place. See Scouting the Unknown article for further.
38. Liam Hendriks – RHP (SP) – MIN: With Kyle Gibson’s injury concern, Hendriks becomes the next best pitching prospect ready for the show in Minnesota. Not that the Twins will rush him, but their rotation is easily trumped by the Braves Triple-A rotation. See Scouting the Unknown article for further.
39. Mike Montgomery – LHP (SP) – KC: Will need to improve command, limit walks and gain more consistency to be more than an AL-Only add. See Scouting the Unknown article for further.
40. Kirk Nieuwenhuis – RF – NYM: To quote my Scouting article, “possesses good all-around, broad skill-set played at a balls-to-the-wall approach. Meaning, he has all tools ranging from fringe-average to average tools that make him a solid player but unspectacular at any specific skill. Hitting approach is strong, attempting to utilize all fields and working the count. Still projects as a .270 hitter with gap power within his line-drive swing.” Strikeouts will always be a concern. He’s one Angel Pagan injury away from seeing significant playing time in 2012. See Scouting the Unknown article for further.
42. Robbie Erlin – LHP (SP) – SD: Good strikeout potential, excellent future home ballpark, and amazing control. Yes, please. Listed lower than my praise because I don’t see the Padres rushing him to the majors.
43. Neil Ramirez – RHP (SP) – TEX: Similar to Erlin, I see the Rangers allow him to accumulate more experience at Triple-A. He started the 2011 season at High-A and was promoted to Triple-A and then demoted to Double-A. Needs to improve command. See Scouting the Unknown article for further.
45. Matt Dominguez – 3B – FLA: A strong NL-only and deep league play. He’ll sustain his major league career through his excellent defensive skills not his average-at-best bat. Projects to be a .260 hitter with average power (15 home runs). So David Freese.
46. Jaff Decker – LF – SD: At some point, his old-player skill-set (power and walks with poor defense) will catch up to his prospect value. Currently, I see him being a similar type of player as Jack Cust. That’s both a compliment and a red flag. May need to traded to an AL team to play DH. See Scouting the Unknown article for further.
47. Casey Kelly – RHP (SP) – SD: Similar predicament to Robbie Erlin, but without strikeout potential – not even close. His home park causes his value to rise. See Scouting the Unknown article for further details.
48. Grant Green – SS – OAK: Cliff Pennington is keeping the spot warm for the future A’s shortstop. Better gap power than home run power (projects as average power), strong average, an occasional steal. Defensively, question marks are raise about his efficiency. Think a .300 hitter with 12 to 15 home runs and 10 steals from shortstop over the course of the season. See Scouting the Unknown article for further details.
49. Nick Franklin – SS – SEA: Injuries slowed his 2011 season down. Projects for a .280, 12 to 15 home run and 10 steal player. He plays good defense, has a smooth swing and average speed. His 2010 season was bolstered by his environment (California League). With Dustin Ackley manning second, Franklin appears to remain at shortstop. See Scouting the Unknown article for further details.
50. Travis d’Arnaud – C – TOR: Won the Eastern League MVP with the following slash line: .311/.371/.542 with 55 XBH (21 Hr) and a 100:33 K:BB ratio. Is blocked by J.P. Arencibia at the major league level. Travis d’Arnaud plays much better defense and makes better contact than Arencibia. The power potential is not the same with d’Arnaud, but he could easily hit between 15 and 20 home runs in his rookie year given a full seasons of at-bats (~400). However, that number of at-bats is highly unlikely, more likely to receive 250 at-bats. In that time frame, he could have 5 to 8 home runs with a digestible average.
51. Josh Vitters – 3B – CHC: Hitting wise, I consider him similar to Delmon Young: swings early and often, relies on pedigree and natural talent, is inconsistent. Defensively he is superior to Young. Aramis Ramirez has shown to be injury prone two of the last three years. Cub fans may finally see their 2007 first round pick. Keep in mind he is turned only 22 on August 27th. See Scouting the Unknown article for further details.
Kyle Gibson – RHP (SP) – MIN: He would be a top 15 fantasy prospect if he wasn’t having Tommy John Surgery after injuring his elbow. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported on September 1, 2011, “Gibson will have reconstructive surgery on his elbow after the initial phase of his rehabilitation program did not go well … surgery [was performed 9/7/11] in New York, … surgery done by Mets team physician, Dr. David Altcheck, who also operated on Joe Nathan’s elbow last year.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard a pitcher who’s pitching elbow hurt significantly successfully complete rehab without TJ Surgery. Twins fans hope that the Mets medical staff doesn’t advise on the healing process either. Then again, Joe Mauer had “bi-lateral leg soreness” for a month. Not sure where Dr. James Andrew (a.k.a Dr. Freeze) was in the whole conversation. Gibson was shutdown early August with elbow tenderness. Statistically, it appeared that his injury may have been lingering since early July. Not relevant until 2013. See Scouting the Unknown article for further details.
In no particular order
Nick Weglarz (RF, CLE); Casey Crosby (LHP, DET); Trevor Bauer (RHP, ARI); LJ Hoes (2B, BAL); Jarred Cosart (RHP, HOU); Jedd Gyorko (3B, SD); Carlos Triunfel (SS, SEA); Adeiny Hechavarria (SS, TOR); Anthony Gose (OF, TOR); Yasmani Grandal (C, CIN); Chris Archer (TB) (RHP, TB); Jeff Locke (LHP, PIT); Tony Sanchez (C, PIT); Austin Hyatt(RHP, PHI), Michael Taylor (RF, OAK); Chris Withrow (LHP, LAD); Lars Anderson (1B, BOS); Brandon Guyer (OF, TB); Deck McGuire (RHP, TOR); Simon Castro (RHP, SD); Trevor May (RHP, PHI); Jake McGee (LHP, TB); Jeurys Familia (RHP, NYM); Christian Friedrich (LHP, COL); David Cooper (1B, TOR); Austin Romine (C, NYY); Tom Milone (LHP, WAS); Clint Robinson (1B, KC); David Lough (OF, KC); Tim Wheeler (LF/RF, COL); Alex Liddi (3B, SEA); Adrian Cardenas (2B/MI, OAK); Alex Torres (RHP, TB); Rudy Owens (LHP, PIT); Tanner Scheppers (RHP, TEX); Starling Marte (CF, PIT); Matt Adams (1B, St.L); Jose Iglesias (SS, BOS); Carlos Peguero (LF, SEA); Chris Parmelee (1B, MIN); Caleb Gindl (RF, MIL); Jarred Cosart (RHP, HOU)