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Top 100 Fantasy Prospects for 2012: 40-21

Posted By Jason Catania On March 2, 2012 @ 4:15 pm In Prospects,Sleepers,Stock Watch | 9 Comments

From Garrett Richards to Wily Peralta.

After spending the past few weeks at a secure, undisclosed location (Code Name: Parent’s Basement), I’ve emerged with a list of 100 prospects who, I’m fairly confident, will make an impact on the 2012 fantasy baseball season. Just how much impact? In some cases, it could be a lot; but in others, it could be minimal — or even none. That’s the inherent risk in predicting and projecting not only prospects’ development curves but also how these players could possibly fit into their big-league team’s plans during the upcoming season.

That’s why, much like I do with my Mining the Minors columns, I’ve done my best to incorporate both talent and opportunity. Sometimes, a player’s talent is so elite that it’s worth bumping him up the rankings even if his path to playing time isn’t all that clear (think: Mike Trout). But there are also plenty of players in the rankings who will skew more toward the opportunity side of the spectrum, as in: talent aside, they’re (nearly) ready from Day One. Trying to weigh and balance these two aspects — talent and opportunity — is what makes a list like this so challenging. And so fluid. Which is to say, my mind could change on any of the players on the list between today and tomorrow. Or even today and later today.

What I hope this ranking provides for you readers is some semblance of an idea of which prospects will be making an impression on the 2012 fantasy baseball landscape. If you happen to think that the guy ranked No. 18 should be No. 93 … or that there’s no way the dude at No. 47 should be outside the Top 10 … well I can’t say you’re wrong. I can only say this is my guess based on my knowledge of these players and their teams — and where everything stands at the moment.

So over the coming weeks, I’ll be unveiling my rankings 20 players at a time, starting from No. 100 and working all the way to the top of the list.

Remember, to be eligible for this, a player must not have exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (or 30 appearances) in his career.

Also to be clear: This is strictly for 2012. While some of these players are already owned, about to be drafted or could make for nice in-season acquisitions in keeper leagues, the goal here is to help fantasy owners in 2-0-1-2.

Previous Installments
Nos. 100-81
Nos. 80-61
Nos. 60-41

40: Garrett Richards, Angels SP
Talent: 7
Opportunity: 8
2011 Highest Level: Majors

Richards, 23, jumped from Double-A (3.15 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 6.5 K/9) to the Majors for a few spot starts last year. He’s competing with Jerome Williams for the final rotation spot with, but another few months in the minors wouldn’t be a bad thing for his development.

39: Charlie Blackmon, Rockies OF
Talent: 6
Opportunity: 9
2011 Highest Level: Majors

The 25-year-old was off to a nice little start in Colorado (.255 BA, 5 SBs in 98 ABs) before injury wrecked the rest of his season. He’ll battle Tyler Colvin and Eric Young Jr. for the fourth outfielder job, and while he’s most likely of that trio to be sent down, Blackmon could also be the best fit going forward.

38: Randall Delgado, Braves SP
Talent: 8
Opportunity: 7
2011 Highest Level: Majors

Delgado is in a weird spot, stuck behind a big-league rotation that is already at capacity and sitting below fellow Atlanta arms Julio Teheran and Arodys Vizcaino on prospect lists. He pitched well in his first taste of The Show (35 IPs, 11 ERs, 18:14 K:BB), but he’ll need to take full advantage of any opportunities.

37: Wei-yin Chen, Orioles SP
Talent: 6
Opportunity: 9
2011 Highest Level: Nippon Professional Baseball

The former Chunichi Dragons lefty (2.48 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 7.1 K/9 career) is currently pegged to be starting for Baltimore every fifth day. That gives the 26-year-old a chance to make an impact right away. But questions abound about how his stuff will translate — or how much value an Orioles pitcher can have.

36: Tyler Skaggs, D-backs SP
Talent: 9
Opportunity: 6
2011 Highest Level: Double-A

Skaggs went from good to great in 2011, thanks to a 2.96 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and an elite 11.3 K/9 across High- and Double-A. All that’s left for the southpaw? Conquering Triple-A, then waiting for an opening in Arizona’s packed rotation to emerge.

35: Manny Banuelos, Yankees SP
Talent: 9
Opportunity: 6
2011 Highest Level: Triple-A

Like Skaggs, Banuelos is a gifted, 20-year-old left-handed No. 2-in-waiting. Some think he took a slight step back last year because of his career-worst 4.9 BB/9, but again, dude was all of two-zero years old. The reason his opp score is so low relates to the challenge he faces trying to break into the bigs in New York.

34: Norichika Aoki, Brewers OF
Talent: 6
Opportunity: 9
2011 Highest Level: Nippon Professional Baseball

Aoki’s stock dropped on this list after we found out Ryan Braun wasn’t going to miss the first 50 games after all. The former NPB star (.329/.408/.467 career with several seasons of double-digits in HRs and SBs) had a career-worst 2011 — .292 BA, 4 HRs, 8 SBs — but he might be a decent reserve in NL-only leagues.

33: Brandon Guyer, Rays OF
Talent: 6
Opportunity: 9
2011 Highest Level: Majors

Guyer is ready to help Tampa now — perhaps as a platoon mate for lefty-swinging Matt Joyce? — and while he’s more of a fourth outfielder than a future first-division starter, he can do a bit of everything: .328 BA, 27 HRs, 46 SBs the past two years.

32: Josh Lindblom, Dodgers RP
Talent: 6
Opportunity: 9
2011 Highest Level: Majors

Lindblom, 24, thrived in his first year as a reliever full time (2.13 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 11.5 K/9 and 17 SVs at Double-A), so much so that he debuted by June 1 and showed he was ready for a big-league set-up role right away (2.73, 1.05, 8.5). With the backend of LA’s bullpen short on experience, Lindblom could be a sneaky holds/strikeouts play in NL-onlies.

31: Chris Parmelee, Twins 1B/DH
Talent: 6
Opportunity: 9
2011 Highest Level: Majors

The 24-year-old isn’t going to continue to hit .355/.443/.592 in the majors — those are his slash stats in his first 21 games — but he has enough stick to make a dent in AL-only leagues. And with Justin Morneau‘s status a constant who-knows, Parmelee should be in line for plenty of ABs at first and/or DH.

30: Taylor Green, Brewers INF
Talent: 6
Opportunity: 9
2011 Highest Level: Majors

Green turned his career around with a .336-22-88 campaign at Triple-A. Beware the PCL Effect, sure, but the 25-year-old is penciled in to be the backup at both third and first base in Milwaukee. If Mat Gamel, who is finally getting his long-awaited shot at first, struggles out of the gate, then Green will be ready.

29: Todd Frazier, Reds INF/OF
Talent: 6
Opportunity: 9
2011 Highest Level: Majors

A former first-round, Frazier is already 26. His power — 6 HRs, 5 2Bs — translated well in his first 112 at-bats, so there’s the potential for 15 bombs if he gets the PT that he deserves. Backing up ancient, injury-prone Scott Rolen should help that cause.

28: Steve Lombardozzi, Nationals INF
Talent: 6
Opportunity: 9
2011 Highest Level: Majors

Lombardozzi might wind up being a deep NL-only owners dream, thanks to his speed, hitting ability and versatility. Who wouldn’t want to roster a guy who is in line to back up at second, short and third, capable of swiping 10-15 bases and hitting enough to keep you happy?

27: Drew Pomeranz, Rockies SP
Talent: 8
Opportunity: 7
2011 Highest Level: Majors

The 23-year-old lefty cut up the minors in his first pro season — 1.78 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 10.6 K/9, 6.1 H/9 — and even made his MLB debut in September after coming over from the Indians and missing time after an appendectomy. He’s nearly big-league ready, but the Rockies added rotation depth, allowing Pomeranz some developmental time at Triple-A.

26: Mike Montgomery, Royals SP
Talent: 8
Opportunity: 7
2011 Highest Level: Triple-A

Monty slipped up in his first shot at the minors’ highest level (5.32 ERA, 1.50 WHIP), but that came in the pitcher-killing PCL. A hard-throwing left-hander who’s still just 22, he just needs to improve over the first few months, and he should be able to crack a rotation that got better, but not good, this offseason.

25: Brett Jackson, Cubs OF
Talent: 8
Opportunity: 7
2011 Highest Level: Triple-A

Jackson, 23, went 20-20 across Double- and Triple-A in 2011. He also whiffed 138 times. The biggest advantage in his corner is being in an org that is clearly rebuilding, so whenever the front office manages to trade off Marlon Byrd — and god willing, find a taker for Alfonso Soriano — Jackson will get his shot.

24: Leonys Martin, Rangers OF
Talent: 7
Opportunity: 8
2011 Highest Level: Majors

There are still some big questions about Martin, who signed last May after defecting from Cuba. Like: Can he hit enough to be a regular? Or: Is he going to make the Opening Day roster as the starting centerfielder? But one thing that is known — dude has speed. If he gets 450 ABs as a potential leadoff hitter in that dynamic Rangers lineup, Martin could be a sweet sleeper. He could also spend the majority of the year at Triple-A getting used to professional pitching.

23: Arodys Vizcaino, Braves RP/SP
Talent: 8
Opportunity: 8
2011 Highest Level: Majors

Vizcaino is one of the toughest guys to rank. He’s got electric goods, including a killer curve, but for now, he seems stuck in a bullpen role in Atlanta rather than a starting one. Not that he won’t rack up Ks and some holds in that role, but it might be nice to see him get another chance to start at some point.

22: Lance Lynn, Cardinals RP/SP
Talent: 6
Opportunity: 10
2011 Highest Level: Majors

The only reason Lynn is still eligible for this list is because a mid-year injury was the only thing that slowed him down in his debut season (3.12 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 10.4 K/9 in 34.2 IPs). He’s most likely a dominant reliever in the seventh or eighth for St. Louis, but he could also pitch his way into a starting job if he’s that good — or Jake Westbrook is that bad.

21: Wily Peralta, Brewers SP/RP
Talent: 8
Opportunity: 8
2011 Highest Level: Triple-A

Gotta love a guy like Wily. He comes from off most folks’ prospect radar and pitches himself into a prominent place on most Top 100 lists, on the strength of a 3.17 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 9.4 K/9 campaign. Better yet, he improved as the season progress, finishing with a better line (2.03, 1.03, 11.6) at Triple-A. He could be power-armed reliever in Milwaukee right now, but the more exciting scenario has Peralta taking over for the decent-but-no-not-great Chris Narveson. And sooner rather than later.


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