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.

2. Jeremy Hellickson – RHP – TBR: The trade of Matt Garza opens the door for Hellboy. For further details, see Scouting the Unknown and Jeremy Hellickson, 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.

6. Freddie Freeman – 1B – ATL: Only thing stopping Freddie is himself, or his Mark Grace type hitting upside. For further details, see Scouting the Unknown and Freddie Freeman, 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.

16. J.P. Arencibia – C – TOR: 25 home runs from my catcher spot, I’ll take the poor average. For further details, see Grey’s 2011 Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Top 20 Catchers and Scouting the Unknown.

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.

Honorable Mentions
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)

  1. GopherDay says:

    When do you expect Kipnis to make a major league impact?

    Nice list! Thanks Stephen!

  2. Stephen

    Stephen says:

    @Gopher Day: Re:Kipnis: Could be like a Carlos Santana ETA if 2B is playing poorly. However, more realistically would be late summer, most likely September. 2012 should be expected.

  3. MKEeast says:

    If Kimbrel gets the closers job how high does he go up this list?

  4. Stephen

    Stephen says:

    @MKEeast: I would say 12 to 15 is the highest. He does have control issues but the strikeouts will be there.

  5. shawn says:

    how many years is fernando martinez going to be a prospect. geez ive been seeing him on top prospect lists for like 4 years now

  6. Stephen

    Stephen says:

    @Shawn: He’s only 22 (born 10-10-1988). Plus, he’s in the NY media market.

    @Steve: Thanks for the kind words. re:Teheran: I don’t expect him to play much in the majors actually. I think he’ll get the Hellickson treatment with Beachy and Delgado getting chances before him as they will want to save his Arbitration status more. But then again, I’ve been known to be wrong.

  7. MLB Network did their Top 50 last night. Mike Trout was #1. You have him as Honorable Mention. I’m not saying your right and they’re wrong, or vice-versa… it’s just extremely odd that you guys are so far apart.

    Thanks for list.

  8. Woops….
    my bad

    “Current production”. Ignore above.

  9. John says:

    The fact that you don’t have Mike Trout on this list is ALARMING.

  10. Stephen

    Stephen says:

    @Joseph Buccellato: No worries. I think Trout is a great talent, but he doesn’t appear to have a major league position secured for at least another year. Especially now that the Angels traded for Vernon Wells.

    @John: This list is for Fantasy Baseball purposes and not list of pure talent. If that was the case, Trout would be in the top 5. However, Trout is on this list as an Honorable Mention – fourth one listed – for fantasy purposes. There are many Top MLB Prospects list: Baseball America, John Sickels, MLB, Baseball Prospectus, Keith Law,et. al. I’m not competing with them, nor are their lists perfect for fantasy baseball.

  11. tourinct says:

    Juan Carlos Linares

  12. xtremehulk says:

    Awesome list dude. last year I drafted Heyward, Posey, Feliz, and Matusz and used the blogs to get the jump on Santana, Stanton, and Alvarez about a month before they were called up. Needless to say I had a lot of talent to keep/trade and had a great season!

    Keep up the great work man!

  13. Stephen

    Stephen says:

    @Smokey: I was just thinking about him when I was researching Linares. Technically Nishioka is a rookie, and he should have been included. Since he is guaranteed playing time, I would put him down near Danny Espinosa. Grey has him hitting 80/5/45/.290/22; I think that average might be bit high. As a Twins fan, I only hope he is able to put up what Grey projected.

  14. Stephen

    Stephen says:

    @xtremehulk: Hopefully I don’t steer you in the wrong direction(s) this year. Also, that doesn’t seem like a competitive league if you got all those rookies.

  15. LMack says:

    Awesome, awesome article. Literally saved me hours of work.
    As far as Trout goes, I get it. He played single A ball last year. He’s 19 years old. He’s a dynasty stash sure, but the article seemed geared more to 2011 MLB production.

  16. tourinct says:

    Opps, same link you posted. Guess it depends on how you read it. “He rakes” or “who puts himself in a position to help in event of an injury”… Drew.

  17. xtremehulk says:

    Actually I was drafting them a little earlier than their ADP and skipped out low-upside veterans of the same position and it worked out. While other league members were drafting Abreu I was getting Heyward, they were getting Russell Martin I was rolling the dice on Santana and letting Ruiz play until he was called up and so on. Its a 16 team leauge with 2 bench spots so people dont hold players who dont play often. I do, and it pays by mid-season.

  18. Stephen

    Stephen says:

    @tourinct: I’d still expect R.Kalish to get a chance before Linares. In response to “raking” in the AFL. You have to take that with a grain of salt too. Typically hitters shine while pitchers struggle. Plus, they prospects are usually much younger and still developing, something Linares has moved through.

    @LMack: Thank you. I’m glad I could help. He’ll “shoot” through the roof later in the year when he’s closer to the majors.

    @xtremehulk: Nice.

  19. RMM says:

    I didnt see Chris Nelson on the list, does he have a chance to make the opening day roster? with Barmes gone isn’t it just EY jr in his way? I know he has good speed but the bat didn’t show much at all.

  20. Stephen

    Stephen says:

    @RMM: Interesting … With Jose Lopez, Ty Wigginton, Jon Herrera, and EY Jr I don’t know if he’ll make a huge impact. Nelson also seems to have a lot of injuries.

  21. Giant JJ says:

    I thought Belt would be higher on the list since Huff can move from 1st to the outfield and free up space for Belt.

  22. David says:

    where is Mike Minor?

  23. Stephen says:

    @Giant JJ: Belt can play botg 1B and OF. I want to see numbers without so much luck.

  24. Giles Just Wanna Have Fun says:

    Great list – here’s my question: I’ve got the first pick in the NL Minor leage keeper draft. My options are Belt, Trayvon Robinson, Tallion or Casey Kelly. Who would you pick and why? Cheers.

  25. Stephen says:

    @David: he graduated.

    @Giles just wanna Have Fun: Belt as he has good upside and value isn’t in just his legs. Tallion is too far to project and Kelly isn’t a strikeout pitcher.

  26. Mike from Jersey says:

    Why isn’t Ryan Kalish on this list? unless i missed him, thats a very bad omission imo.

  27. Stephen says:

    @Mike from Jersey: Kalish graduated

  28. Stephen says:

    @Mike from Jersey: Graduated = lost rookie eligibility. Kalish is no longer a Rookie.

  29. Mike from Jersey says:

    Ok, my bad. Didn’t understand. Good list btw.

  30. Pops says:

    Who do you like to make the most immediate fantasy impact in 2011? I just don’t see Dom Brown figuring it out this early in the game, and I’m a Phillies fan.

  31. Clodbuster says:

    Minor only pitched 40.2 innings starting on 8/9, so I don’t think he was on the ML 25 man roster for more than 44 days(Was he on the playoff roster and does that count?). I believe he maintains his rookie status through 2011. Where does he land on your list? Thanks

  32. Stephen says:

    @Mike from Jersey: No worries and thank you for the compliment.

    @Pops: Hellickson

    @Clodbuster: The other qualifier is 45 days. Assuming 8 starts equals 5 days, that leaves another 5 days. However, his first start was Aug. 9th and his last appearance was Oct. 1st. That is far more than 45 days. Maybe I am wrong, and if so, I’d place him in the top 10.

  33. Stephen

    Stephen says:

    Sorry for the non-picture replies. I was using my smartphone.

  34. Stephen

    Stephen says:

    @Eddy: Thank for the kind words. I do have to give credit to Baseball America, Keith Law/Jason Grey and John Sickels for their fine work as they provide all the “insider” information.

    re:fantasy impact for 2012 form this list: I’m assuming you want good production during ’11 and ’12. Montero, Hellickson, Freeman, Brown, Moustakas – in that order.

    If 2011 isn’t an issue: Mike Trout, Julio Teheran, and Hosmer are other options.

  35. Czernobog says:

    The 45 days on a roster doesn’t count days after Sept 1 when rosters expand. So Minor is still a rookie.

  36. Stephen

    Stephen says:

    @Czernobog: I was under the impression that was if they were called up on or after Sept. 1? Either way, I am wrong and he should be listed in the top 15 players.

  37. zk says:

    Carlos Marmol is the right handed Carlos Marmol. Right?

  38. zk says:

    @ #21.

  39. Stephen

    Stephen says:

    @zk: Yup, should read “another Carlos Marmol.”

  40. G says:

    The lack of Manny Banuelos is a pretty glaring hole. He comes in the top 15 on most lists and is only 19 and already killing it.

  41. Stephen

    Stephen says:

    @G: At best he should be an Honorable Mention. However, do you really think the Yankees are going to start him after only pitching 15 innings at Double-A (three starts)? Yes, he’s very talent. But he averaged 4.41 innings in 10 starts at High-A and his starts at Double-A he gave up 2 home runs (2/3 of his total) and his walk rate doubled. I honestly think his fantasy relevance is minimal at this point in the year.

  42. Smoothman says:

    Eric Hosmer and Mike Trout as honorable mentions? Terrible.

  43. Stephen

    Stephen says:

    @Smoothman: This is for fantasy baseball, not just talent in general. Trout and Hosmer wont see significant time in the majors for them to be highly ranked this year.

  44. People called me crazy for suggesting that the Cubs would call up Starlin Castro before June… I’m making a similar prediction for Brett Jackson. He’ll be up in May, because the Cubs know that they can’t count on Fukudome and Colvin.

  45. Stephen says:

    @IowaCubs: I could see that happening. However, I still am a more conservative projector when dealing with MLB ETAs.

  46. Commish Cauda says:

    I’ve been consulting this list since it came out. It has been very helpful. But I just noticed something. No mention of Shelby Miller whatsoever?

  47. Stephen

    Stephen says:

    @Commish Cauda: Glad the list has been helpful. Shelby Miller pitched just at Class Low-A. Even though it was spectacularly, he is probably another 1 1/2 to the majors. At most he would be an Honorable Mention.

  48. jennings just got ticketed to the minors….

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