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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 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 [2011] … [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.

35. John Lamb – LHP (SP) – KC: See half-inch above in the Odorizzi blurb. See Scouting the Unknown article for further.

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.

41. Steve Lombardozzi – 2B/IF – WAS: The Nationals were unwilling to give him up in a trade for Denard Span. Of course they did, they are the same player but at different positions.

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.

44. Andrew Oliver – LHP (SP) – DET: I think he gets pushed to the bullpen due to inconsistency and command concerns. 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.

Extra
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.

Late Scratch
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.

Honorable Mentions
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)

  1. Jay says:
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    Nester Molina and Andrew Hutchinson

  2. Calogero says:
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    Great article – obviously put a lot of thought into some players that might not be obvious to prospect-watchers, and I will use this list in my league that has minor league rosters.

    There is one omission that I can’t imagine was intended – Jason Kipnis. He has 106 AB, meaning that he’ll come within a few AB in either direction of 130. But I figured since you had Trout (110 AB) on the list that Kipnis would be in play as well.

    Where do you think you’d put him? I’d probably throw him out there between 3 and 5. His numbers are shockingly good so far in 2011 – a .292/.905 6 HR, 4 SB in 106 AB would translate to a 30/20 season over a full slate of AB.

  3. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @Jay: I don’t see Molina getting called up until late summer at the earliest. He barely pitched in Double-A.

    @Calogero: Prospect watchers are usually not watching for fantasy baseball. I would recommend using this list in conjunction with other lists too.

    re:Jason Kipnis & Mike Trout: the difficulty in doing a 2012 list at the end of the 2011 season is that some prospect may not graduate that were expected. There is of course both the days in the majors and/or number of at-bats in the majors that remove the rookie label. When I started the list, Kipnis appeared to be on pace to remove his rookie eligibility.

    If Kipnis remains a rookie, number 4 or 5.

  4. Calogero says:
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    @Stephen: Yeah that makes sense. Kipnis was on the DL for a while, so if you started the list back then, it probably appeared that he was on pace to graduate.

    I’m not sure what the service time limits are, but I think most fantasy leagues I’ve seen just use the official 130 AB/50 IP limits since it’s easier to understand. Since I own both Trout and Kipnis in a league, I’d be glad to see both come in under 130 so I have an extra year of cheap keeper options. The difference will probably be a few AB, so I hope they both start walking a lot and get a few days off over the last week.

  5. Scott says:
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    No Trayvon? Doesn’t have 130 ab’s yet, but maybe you’re assuming he gets there by season’s end? Or does he just not make the list?

    Thanks.

  6. royce! says:
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    Sadly, Drew Cumberland retired due to a rare neurological condition. Nice to see the other (2014 WS Champions!) SD prospects on here.

  7. Scott says:
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    (this is a different Scott than above)

    Sorry to burst everyone’s bubble but Grant Green got moved to CF this year and isn’t going back to SS. His value plummets w/ that news.

  8. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @Scott: re:Trayvon Robinson: That is the assumption. There will be a revised list come January-ish that should include some prospects that didn’t graduate.

    @royce!: thanks for the information.

    @Scott (2): If he doesn’t sustain SS eligibility he has very limited value.

  9. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @Scott (1): He would make the list in the mid 30s.

  10. Jay says:
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    Bauer is listed at 26 and in honorable mention.

  11. Jay says:
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    Also, what do you think of this crop for next year? It seems like this year was full of rookies that came up and contributed significantly, which makes me think that the 2012 class will be worse, thanks to early call-ups like Hosmer, Trout, Weeks, etc.

  12. tourinct says:
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    @Grey: any thoughts on Moneyball? Thinking about going to the movies for the first time in 5 years Friday night.

  13. DrEasy says:
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    @Stephen: I agree with you regarding Nestor Molina, but I wouldn’t be too surprised to see Hutchison being promoted aggressively. The Jays lack good starters, and if they don’t acquire a FA SP in the off-season, we’re a McGowan injury or a Drabek implosion (both very likely events) away from a prospect call-up. You’ve rightly listed Deck McGuire, but Hutchison might be the better pitcher. Alvarez has already leapfrogged older pitching prospects (McGuire, Jenkins) to the bigs, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hutchison do the same.

  14. Cornelius says:
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    Royal’s Lamb got Tommy John and won’t be around next year.

  15. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @Jay: re:Bauer: Untended.
    @Jay: I think the 2012 class underwhelms. This year’s class was one of the best in recent years.

    @DrEasy: Plausible yes.

    @Cornelius: I didn’t catch that. Thank you.

  16. Jay says:
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    #26 Trevor Bauer – RHP(SP) Ari…..& ‘honorable mentions’ Trevor Bauer – RHP Ari……oops?

  17. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @Jay: Yeah.

  18. Ben says:
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    The biggest omission, and a glaring one… Jurickson Profar. To have Iglesias on the list and not Profar is a travesty, as Profar is arguably one of the top 10 prospects in the game with his combo of great defense, youth, power potential, and mature plate discipline.

    Was also surprised to see Betances over Banuelos, but it’s close.

  19. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @Ben: Profar isn’t gong to be in the majors in 2012.

  20. Ben says:
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    Speaking of glaring omissions, I definitely missed “for 2012″. My bad. Any chance Michael Choice sees the majors in 2012?

  21. jack says:
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    Horrible list. And your personal take on players are wildly off-. Comparing Cox to Zimmerman, you have to be joking. Cox isn’t on the same level. And I’m a cardinal Ann, from St Louis. I think you do not have aclue what your talking about

  22. asdfasdf says:
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    Come on Jack, he wrote that Cox “reminds” him of Zimmerman, not that Cox will be as good as Zimmerman. This list is perfectly fine, and in fact very helpful. Even if you think that this is a bad list (which it certainly is not) then you should keep it to yourself. Show some respect.

  23. Pabs says:
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    Is Trevor Bauer the real deal? I picked him up for less than a penny compared to some other prospects I had to bid high on last year. Did his workload exceed typical stats for a college ace?

    I was big on Zach Cox going into 2011 and like the prospect of him manning 3rd with Freese moving to 1B considering his health ssues and Pujols moving to Miami (I Hope). Cox could be a 15/80/80 at best but what upside does the kid really have? Is his stock rising or falling based on a Pujols move?

    Dellin Betances. I am so sick of hearing how the Yankees want to take it slow with Betances. Trade him to Florida already. Da Yankees will never let him be in the 5 man.

    And nice to see Josh Vitters again on the watch list. I know how old I am getting based on how many years I wait for these top draft picks to finally get called up. I don’t buy his power potential and don’t think he will be any better than Reynolds or Dunn in the long term.

  24. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @Pabs: Sorry for the delay in response. Been fairly busy.

    re:Bauer: His fastball is the real deal. I think his stuff is the real deal, but his control needs to be harnessed. Most college aces are ridden harder than a 40 year old hooker. I don’t think that will be an issue moving forward. High-risk, high-reward. Should be given a change to pitch from the bullpen at some point in 2012.

    re:Cox: I think that his upside is exactly what you stated. However, I don’t see Pujols moving. With Freese’s unbelievable playoffs, the Cardinals will give him an extended chance to sustain the third base job. However, I don’t think he stays if Cox is hitting well in the minors.

    re:Betances: hehe. True.

    re:Vitters: If he is as good as Reynolds, than the Cubs break even. If he is as good, as say, Danny Valencia, than tough luck Cubbies. Those are position comparisons. However, he’s more Delmon Young than Mark Reynolds. Adam Dunn is quite the stretch. Truly, he’s a .275 hitter with average power (15 to 20 home runs).

  25. james says:
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    this list may be a bit dated but come on man!! cox instead of freeze? I have been following freeze for years his does nothing but hit when not injured. his two mvp’s was no fluke. will be a 25 hr 290 hitter.

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