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. There are highly touted names omitted from the Top 50 list that some might believe warrant a ranking. Before lamenting, please check the Honorable Mention section. The most notable omissions are likely from the Kansas City Royals; this is due to Dayton Moore’s Project 2012. Other prospects are either blocked, provide more real world baseball performance, 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 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.
1. Domonic Brown – OF – PHI: With Jayson Werth in Washington, it’s Brown’s time to show off his five-tool potential. For further details, see Scouting the Unknown and Domonic Brown, 2011 Fantasy Outlook.
3. Aroldis Chapman – LHP – CIN: Even as a reliever, Chapman has the ability to be helpful in the strikeout category, a la Carlos Marmol. For further details, see Aroldis Chapman, 2011 Fantasy Outlook.
4. Desmond Jennings – OF – TBR: Even with new signings of Damon and Manny, Jennings could be in the majors in the spring. Does have injury concerns; value lies in speed. For further details, see Scouting the Unknown and Desmond Jennings, 2011 Fantasy Outlook.
5. Jesus Montero – C – NYY: The Russell Martin signing complicates his ETA, however, Montero could be a dominating force much like Ryan Braun was in 2007. For further details, see Jesus Montero, 2011 Fantasy Outlook.
7. Dustin Ackley – 2B/CF – SEA: Sneaky speed and power for your middle infielder position, yes please! For further details, see Scouting the Unknown.
8. Mike Moustakas – 3B – KC: What isn’t there to like about Moustakas? Dayton Moore’s 2012 plan doesn’t count. I have him below Ackley due to ETA concerns. For further details, see Scouting the Unknown and Mike Moustakas, 2011 Fantasy Outlook.
9. Brett Lawrie – 2B/OF – TOR: Not sure if he’ll get the playing time, but has 20 home run power, much like Dan Uggla. If he plays more outfield, he’s only waiting for Jose Bautistia to return to his old self. For further details, see Scouting the Unknown.
10. Lonnie Chisenhall – 3B – CLE: He’s a poorman’s David Wright, so an Adrian Beltre clone works too. For further details, see Scouting the Unknown.
11. Simon Castro – RHP – SD: Maybe not be in the opening rotation, but Castro has a power fastball and a solid changeup to have success in the majors. Now let’s see some consistent control and we’ll all be happy. For further details, see Scouting the Unknown.
12. Zach Britton – LHP – BAL: Pitching in the AL East is a daunting task and the string of prior prized Orioles pitching prospects should make us cautious. Britton is a groundball pitcher though, which should be more helpful than Matusz and Chris Tillman who are flyball pitchers. For further details, see Scouting the Unknown.
13. Chris Sale – LHP – CHW: Quote my Chicago White Sox, 2010 Minor League Review, “[Sale's] [f]astball sits in low to mid 90?s – this may sit lower when he starts. He also throws a sharp slider and has a promising change-up. If Sale can maintain the 50% ground ball rate he had this past year when starting, he could easily be the AL ROY. Yeah, I said it.”
14. Danny Espinosa – 2B – WAS: Check out Grey’s Danny Espinosa, 2011 Fantasy Outlook for the best expectations of his 2011 season.
15. Michael Pineda – RHP – SEA: Shot up everyone’s charts this past year. A great fastball and drastic improvement of his secondary pitches makes Pineda an intriguing pick in 2011. He’s still going to be in Hellickson and Chapman’s shadow, could be a sneaky success story. For further details, see Scouting the Unknown, just know I wasn’t sold on him when I wrote that article and still not to the extent everyone else happens to be.
17. Brandon Beachy – RHP – ATL: Could be this year’s Mike Minor while Julio Teheran (ranked 19th) becomes last year’s Hellickson (i.e. everyone just waiting for him to be called up).
18. Jordan Lyles – RHP – HOU: An innings eater who could be up 7.5 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 on a poor team. Not exciting, but should have the chance. Finished his 2010 season in Triple-A. Very close to making opening day roster. For further details, see Scouting the Unknown.
19. Julio Teheran – RHP – ATL: The new Hellickson. For further details, see Scouting the Unknown.
20.a. Matt Moore – LHP – TBR: I am putting Moore and McGee as 20a and 20b due to the fact they both could help in the majors at some point in 2011, Moore as a starter and McGee as a stud reliever. I like Moore’s upside more as he starts. For further details, see Scouting the Unknown.
20.b. Jake McGee – LHP – TBR: For further details, see 1/8th inch above. Throws a mid 90′s fastball and tops at 98 MPH.
21. Craig Kimbrel – RHP – ATL: Another Carlos Marmol and has inside edge on the closer job. Could put up 100 Ks in 70 innings.
22. Matt Dominguez – 3B – FLA: Comparisons to Jeff Cirillo and Mike Lowell make him intriguing. Slightly above-average defense with a solid hitting approach. Could he be another Melvin Mora? Possibly. Won’t hit for significantly high average but could provide deep league value.
23. Brandon Allen – 1B – ARI: Technically not a rookie, but I feel warrants a ranked position (he’s 19 at-bats from having rookie eligibility). Has great power potential deep in the draft. For further details, see Grey’s Brandon Allen, 2011 Fantasy Sleeper.
24. Kyle Drabek – RHP – TOR: The prized pitching prospect that Toronto received in the Roy Halladay trade. I envision him producing a 7.0 K/9 and a 3.2 BB/9 in about 100 innings in the majors. Grey took a look at Drabek’s fantasy prospects when he was called up.
25. Brandon Belt – 1B/OF – SF: The resigning of Aubrey Huff significantly impacts Belt’s road to the show. Nevertheless, a player that strikeouts out as often as he walks with slightly above-average power (think 20 to 25 home runs) shouldn’t be repressed for long if Huff or Nate Schierholtz struggle. For further details, see Scouting the Unknown.
26. Trayvon Robinson – OF – LAD: I have to give props to Jason Grey as he alerted me to this name, and the fact that the Dodgers are struggling in left field. Robinson has great speed and slight power. Think 10/40 with a .280 average as ceiling over a full season.
27. Nick Weglarz – OF – CLE: If he’s healthy over a full season, has 20 to 25 home run power potential with a high OBP, Sickels’ think he could get 100 walks in a season. Doesn’t play great defense nor is there much room in the Indians’ outfield.
28. Kyle Gibson – RHP – MIN: Making stops at three levels of the minors, reaching Triple-A, Gibson is another innings eater like Jordan Lyles. The epitome of a Twins pitcher. For further details, see Scouting the Unknown.
29. Chris Carter – 1B – OAK: Great power potential but has struggled to hit advanced pitching and struggled during his major league debut. For further details, see Scouting the Unknown or Grey’s Chris Carter, 2011 Fantasy Outlook.
30. Casey Kelly – RHP – SD: Great upside, but might be nothing more than a number two starter on an average team. For further details, see Scouting the Unknown.
31. Alex White – RHP – CLE: More of a groundball pitcher than a strikeout pitcher. Throws a 91 to 95 MPH fastball with great sink, a splitter and slider. Threw 104 innings at Double-A in 2010, could be a midseason call-up.
32. Randall Delgado – RHP – ATL: The forgotten pitching prospect in Atlanta. Delgado has a mid-90s fastball, a potential plus curveball and potential plus changeup. Still young, turns 21 on February 9th and projectable (6’3” and 180 lbs).
33. Anthony Rizzo – 1B – SD: I don’t buy him playing in the majors on opening day, that and they signed Brad Hawpe to start the year. There are still some hitting mechanics he needs to work on. For further details, see Scouting the Unknown.
34. Wilson Ramos – C – WAS: Received in the Matt Capps trade to the Twins. Ramos is an underrated catcher who has plus “raw” power, good contact skills, and good defense. With Ivan Rodriguez aging, Ramos may get his chance sooner rather than later.
35. Rudy Owens – RHP – PIT: In my Pittsburgh Pirates, 2010 Minor League Review I stated, “This is who I am extremely excited about … Throwing a 88 to 90 MPH fastball, a changeup – his best pitch – and a ‘slurvy curveball’ doesn’t speak of a dominating pitcher. Baseball America calls him the, ‘classic crafty lefthander.’” That was the recipe for Travis Wood (who I conveniently cut out of that quote).
36. Tanner Scheppers – RHP – TEX: A mid-90s fastball and a power curveball, Scheppers was everyone’s favorite reliever to be called up in 2010. Never happened, but now everyone is expecting him to make the opening day roster. Has trouble with command but 10 K/9 potential and, as everyone knows, strikeouts are fantasy baseballer’s crack. For further details, see Scouting the Unknown.
37. Andy Oliver – LHP – DET: Quintessential pitching prospect, clean mechanics, low-to-mid 90s fastball, a cutter, a curveball and changeup. Pitched 22 innings in five starts for the Tigers in 2010. The Tigers have a shallow rotation and I could see Oliver helping out from day one.
38. Brent Morel – 2B/3B – CHW: Morel is the James Loney of a third base prospect; good defense, solid hitting, but lacking game changing power (e.g. 15 to 20 home run ceiling).
39. Hank Conger – C – LAA: With the way Mike Scoicia treats hitting catchers, I’m not sure Conger will get a long look. Statistically is a Joe Mauer-lite. Solid hitting, good plate discipline, but a lot left to be desired.
40. Dayan Viciedo – 1B/3B – CHW: Good power, doesn’t walk often and has below-average defense. Did have a successful 104 at-bats in the majors this year, but his 25:2 K:BB is scary. I don’t see him having great success in the near future, barring a lucky BABIP run. For further details, see Scouting the Unknown.
41. Scott Cousins – OF – FLO: Considered to have a high ceiling, second highest in the Marlins farm system behind Mike Stanton. Cousins has 20/20 potential, more realistically a 20/10 type player.
42. Zach Braddock – LHP – MIL: Should anchor a bullpen with John Axford. Throws a mid-90s fastball and a power/sharp slider. Great strikeout pitcher, career 11.8 K/9 in the minors (281 strikeouts in 214 innings).
43. Corey Luebke – LHP – SD: Throws a low 90 to 92 MPH fastball, a solid slider, and a changeup. Luebke isn’t a strikeout pitcher. Ceiling is a number three starter. Helps that he throws in Petco. Should get a shot before Simon Castro.
44. Ivan Nova – RHP – NYY: Personally, I think his 2010 in the majors was a mirage. You can’t pitch in the AL East with a 5.6 K/9 and a 3.6 BB/9 in the majors, or a 6.3 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 career numbers in the minor league. Nevertheless, he has the inside track at a rotation spot for the Yankees. For further details, see how the media bought into the same hype as J.A. Happ in 2009.
45. Tyler Flowers – C – CHW: A poor 2010 season, marked with a career low.283 BABIP, at Triple-A really hurt Flowers prospect status. Baseball America states he has “light-tower power,” and “strong plate discipline.” A.J. Pierzynski signed a new deal, so Flowers will have to play second fiddle for at least the next two years.
46. Mark Trumbo – 1B – LAA: Trumbo is having a hard time playing any other position but 1st with positive results. And Kendry’s there. Trumbo has hit well in the minors, and was atop the minor league home run leader boards this past season. Then again, Brandon Wood hit at the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate in the past. For further details see Scouting the Unknown.
47. Jeff Locke – LHP – PIT: A left-handed Jordan Lyles? Pretty darn close.
48. Jordan Walden – RHP – LAA: The last of the relievers with good strikeout potential (8.2 K/9 career in minors). Helps that he throws a “heavy 90 to 94 mph fastball … [and] a mid-80s slider.” Baseball America has already pegged him as late-innings reliever with “his power fastball/slider combo.”
49. Daniel Descalso – 2B – St.L: Average across the board, Descalso is a Felipe Lopez type MI with 10/10 upside.
50. Martin Perez – LHP – TEX: Much like Tyler Flowers, his 2010 season was disappointing. He did have a 9.1 K/9 rate, but combined with a 4.1 BB/9 and a .368 BABIP he was flirting with disaster. The upside, he did have a 4.24 FIP (nearly 1.50 point better than ERA) and a low LOB% of 62.6%. For further details see Scouting the Unknown.
In no particular order: Eric Hosmer (1B, KC); Arodys Vizcaino (RHP, ATL); Jason Kipnis (2B, CLE); Mike Trout (CF, LAA); Fernando Martinez (CF, NYM); Lance Lynn (RHP, St.L); Jenry Mejia (RHP, NYM); Chris Marrero (1B, WAS); Jerry Sands (1B, LAD); Jeremy Jeffress (RHP, KC); Mike Montgomery (LHP, KC); John Lamb (LHP, KC); Danny Duffy (LHP, KC); Derrick Robinson (CF, KC); Christian Friedrich (LHP, COL); Michael Taylor (OF, OAK); Dee Gordon (SS, LAD); Grant Green (SS, OAK); Ben Revere (OF, MIN); Juan Francisco (3B, CIN); Mat Gamel (3B, MIL); Paul Goldschmidt (1B, ARI); Bryan Peterson (OF, FLA); Wilin Rosario (C, COL); Ivan DeJesus Jr. (SS, LAD); Zach Stewart (RHP, TOR); Michael Burgess (OF, CHC); Carlos Peguero (OF, SEA); Tony Sanchez (C, PIT); Nick Hagadone (LHP, CLE); Devin Mesoraco (C, CIN); Alex Liddi (3B, SEA); Jacob Turner (RHP, DET); Jaff Decker (OF, SD); Brett Jackson (CF, CHC); Chris Archer (RHP, TBR); Jarrod Parker (RHP; ARI); Derrick Norris (C, WAS); Yunesky Maya (RHP, WAS); Chris Withrow (LHP, LAD)