Profile: The New York Yankees’ outfield prospect Tyler Austin deserves a top-100 ranking. Just how high is up for discussion, though, as Austin’s not the impact offensive talent he’s reported to be. This often happens to Yankees prospect who receive a turn in the hype machine. Austin projects as a .275/.330/.475 player in his prime. And while that level of production is good enough for deeper dynasty leagues, it’s also possible to acquire veterans who produce those totals now — and you could do so while spending less than Austin’s current prospect value. If I were an Austin owner, I’d be looking to sell high. (Mike Newman)
Quick Opinion: Austin should be rated highly when compared to the entire group of minor league prospects in baseball, but he might also be highly over-rated because he also belongs to the group of Yankee prospects.
Profile: Maybe it was a sexy time sort of attraction that got Hiroyuki Nakajima state-side and on the Athletics, but owners may want to play harder to get with their affections for the Japanese shortstop on the way over. He was an above-average player in Japan, new ball or not, but he’s not about power, and his speed is declining. Also, his range at shortstop isn’t great, so those of you hoping to get a franchise shortstop in your deep keeper leagues may want to hedge their bets. On the other hand, Japanese players aren’t listed on most fantasy platforms yet, making them an opportunity for cheap long-term assets in those deeper leagues where those things matter. So, go ahead and take a calculated risk: a batting-average only shortstop is still a valuable thing in some leagues, and it won’t cost you a ton. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: Don’t stare too hard at those Japanese stats. Nakajima doesn’t have a ton of power, and his speed has already begun to taper. He might be able to put up just enough to register in deeper leagues, but mixed leaguers shouldn’t spend anything more than a bench pick on him because of the risk/reward package he offers.
Profile: Tanaka might actually have a better glove than his new Japanese counterpart in Oakland, but he profiles more as a utility player — if he makes the Giants, he’ll back up second and third when Joaquin Arias is playing short in his platoon with Brandon Crawford, and he’ll be able to play a little small ball. Doesn’t sound like fantasy value, does it. (Eno Sarris)
Profile: Kyuji Fujikawa is all fastball and his fastball averages just over 92 mph. Excited yet? That’s a bit of an exaggeration — he has a split-finger, and it got plenty of whiffs in Japan. And he had great control of his stuff in the Japanese professional leagues. And 92 mph isn’t terrible. And the rest of that Cubs bullpen is terrible. The Cubs say they are going with Carlos Marmol to open the season, but that might just be a play to save his trade value, if there is any. All you have to know in the end is that Fujikawa is decent, and no other Cub reliever is a lock to be any better. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: Kyuji Fujikawa is 32 years old, he’s all fastball, and his velocity has already started to decline. You’ll have to look at his context — the Chicago bullpen — in order to get excited about his fantasy prospects in 2013.
Profile: Any pitcher that can call Dodger Stadium home and pitch against National League West offenses is interesting, but Ryu may be further away then people anticipate. He is 25 years old, but he’s also behind about seven capable starters on the Dodgers roster right now. And while there were reports of plus-plus velocity, the most recent radar gun readings had him sitting around 90. His best secondary pitch is a slider and we don’t know if his changeup will be good enough to keep the hefty lefty from having platoon splits. He could be David Wells, but he could also be a LOOGY. You won’t have to spend $60 million on him like the Dodgers, but make sure you don’t invest heavily in fantasy terms either. He’s more of a long shot than those zeroes would suggest. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: Any high-profile acquisition from Asia gets a lot of fantasy attention. You might want to let this ‘stout’ young Korean lefty go if someone is willing to invest heavily in him, though. There are more questions with him than it might seem from the Dodgers’ interest.
Profile: Almora’s strongest tool right now — his plus center-field defense — is not much help to fantasy managers, but he has the potential to develop into a four- or five-tool player. He hit .321 in his pro debut — split between two short-season levels — after being drafted sixth overall. He could eventually hit 15-20 home runs and steal more than 20 bases in a full season. The Florida native will need a lot of time to polish his game and curb his naturally-aggressive approach. Almora, 18, should open 2013 in A-ball with an ETA in Chicago of 2016. He has good make-up and is instinctive so Chicago is understandably excited about his prospects. The Cubs could eventually have a very exciting young outfield with both Almora and Jorge Soler. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: The 2012 first round pick’s defense is almost MLB-ready but that won’t be of much help for fantasy managers. He could eventually offer a solid all-around offensive game but he’s a few years away from helping out in Chicago. He’s worth a serious look in keeper leagues despite his more real-life friendly game.
Profile: There’s a good chance that — if a pitcher has both (a) posted strong translated minor-league numbers and (b) remained relatively obscure despite that fact — there’s a good chance that such a pitcher has an above-average changeup. Diamondbacks prospect Chase Anderson is such a pitcher. His 97:25 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 104.0 innings was among the best such marks in the Double-A Southern League in 2012. He continued along those same lines in the Arizona Fall League, posting a 26:9 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 23.1 innings there. Reports from the AFL had Anderson’s fastball at just about 90 mph, but it bears repeating: plus changeups are of some use both for neutralizing platoon effects and serving as swing-and-miss pitches. The Arizona rotation is relatively set entering the season, but the departure of Trevor Bauer to Cleveland means one fewer arm between Anderson and the majors. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: Though acknowledged to have an excellent changeup, Anderson receives little attention otherwise. It bears repeating, though: changeups are of some use both for neutralizing platoon effects and serving as swing-and-miss pitches. The departure of Trevor Bauer to Cleveland makes it more likely that Anderson will get MLB time this season.
Profile: Profile: Arenado had a quiet season after garnering significant off-season hype, but his demise is overblown. Prospectors who put a heavy emphasis on statistics have noted that Arenado’s power output has underwhelmed but Arenado’s frame and swing suggest he has untapped power. Far more concerning is is Rockies General Manager Dan O’Dowd calling questioning the third baseman’s maturity. While the comments don’t jive with what I’ve heard from sources, if Arenado has fallen out of favor with the Rockies his time table could be pushed back further. (JD Sussman)
Quick Opinion: Fantasy gurus’ preseason calls for Arenado’s promotion never came to fruition in 2012 as the talented third baseman struggled and had his work ethic questioned. But, 2013 may be time for Arenado’s debut as he isn’t blocked in Colorado. (JD Sussman)
Profile: Baez has been haunted by question marks — make-up concerns and doubts about his ability to stick at shortstop — since his amateur days, but those concerns are slowly being quieted. The Puerto Rico native should hit enough to be an impact player even if he moves over to third base, but he’s also made significant strides at shortstop and people now consider him more confident than cocky. Baez hit very well in A-ball in 2012 but struggled with the bat upon a promotion to High-A ball. He also attended the Arizona Fall League where he hit just .211 before getting hurt. Baez, 20, may spend all of 2013 in High-A ball and is a few years away from impacting Chicago at the big league level — but he could definitely be worth the wait as an above-average, run-producing shortstop with 20-home-run potential and the ability to tally double-digit stolen base totals. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: Baez is probably about two years away from helping the Cubs and the big league level and young incumbent shortstop Starling Castro is a formidable roadblock. The good news for Baez, though, is that there are holes at both third base and second base. He has the potential to develop into a middle-of-the-order bat.
Profile: The 19th overall pick in 2011, Barnes is closer to the majors than one might think. He cleaned up in A-ball to start 2012 (26.2 innings, 12 hits, 42:4 strikeouts to walks) and more than held his own at High-A (93 IPs, 85 hits, 91:25 K:BB), so he’s ready for Double-A to begin 2013. He’s unlikely to make a dent in the bigs until 2014, but the Red Sox rotation has plenty of question marks, so provided he advances and develops at a normal pace, Barnes could have a spot waiting for him once he gets there. A solid bet to be a number three, with a chance to be better, the 22-year-old Barnes is an arm to target for all dynasty leagues. (Jason Catania)
Quick Opinion: He probably won’t get much more than a cup of coffee in 2013, but by 2014, Barnes should be ready to contribute in the major leagues — and in your fantasy leagues of most sizes and settings.
Profile: The development of Christian Bethancourt by the Braves organization has confused me. After being moved slowly through Single-A in 2010 and part of 2011, Bethancourt hit the fast track and was rushed through High-A on his way to opening the 2012 season in Double-A. Offensively, he floundered, showing no power and little plate discipline. The one positive is his continued feel for contact as evidenced by a 15.6% strikeout rate at a level where Bethancourt was over-matched. Defensively, he has elite defensive tools including an 80-grade throwing arm. If the Braves keep pushing him through the system, I worry his offensive development will be stunted. This would be disappointing considering Bethancourt’s impressive batting practice sessions. (Mike Newman)
Quick Opinion: Despite a few strange moves by his organization, and a few missteps by the prospect, there’s plenty of promise left in Braves’ catcher Christian Bethancourt.
Profile: Philly has been busy improving the big league roster at the expense of the minor league system — weak amateur drafts also haven’t helped — but Biddle remains as the club’s top prospect. The lefty enjoyed his 2012 season in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League (A+) and should be ready for the majors at some point in 2014. He projects to develop into a number two or three starter, if he reaches his full potential. Biddle, 21, has a big, strong frame, which should allow him to throw plenty of innings, and his fastball-curveball combination could rack up a healthy number of strikeouts. With the overall quality of top prospects in the minors thinning out (with more and more teams relying on young players) you may start hearing a lot more about Biddle. Now is the time to jump on him, if your fantasy league includes minor league rosters. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: One of the better left-handed pitching prospects in the game, Biddle should be ready for the majors right around the time the Phillies’ aging rotation is ready for an infusion of youth. He could eventually develop into a big strikeout guy.
Profile: Just 19 in 2012, Blackburn dominated A-ball hitters and even earned a start (which he dominated) in the High-A playoffs. He has plus control (18 walks in 131.1 IP) and a strong understanding of command and control, pitching sequences and using his heavy ball to make young hitters look foolish. Blackburn struck out 143 batters last season but his strikeout rate will likely start to dwindle as he climbs through the minors — unless he’s able to polish his secondary offerings. The young pitcher will open 2013 in High-A ball and could taste Double-A by the end of the season. He could be ready for the majors in 2015; there is no need to rush him with San Francisco’s pitching depth. The organization has a strong history of getting the most out of its young pitchers so look for Blackburn to reach his potential as an innings-eating number three starter. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: Blackburn doesn’t have the same high-ceiling potential as prospect-mate Kyle Crick but he has plus control and a strong body that should provide lots of innings. San Francisco has a solid track record for developing pitching prospects and he has mid-rotation potential.
Profile: Will he or won’t he stay at shortstop? That’s the question surrounding Red Sox uber-prospect Xander Bogaerts as he continues his meteoric rise to Boston. Unlike many shortstop prospects, Bogaerts has the hitting ability to make an impact anywhere on the diamond. Fortunately for the Red Sox and fantasy owners alike, his defense has improved to the point where shortstop is a real possibility instead of wishful thinking. For fantasy owners, few prospects are as valuable as Bogaerts. With the hype machine working overtime, it makes little sense to trade for him in dynasty leagues. The price tag will be exorbitant. In 2013, Bogaerts may receive a late season callup, but a 2014 ETA is more likely — especially if he sticks at shortstop. Even with his success, Bogaerts is not a finished product and needs additional time to add the final touches at the minor league level. (Mike Newman)
Quick Opinion: The upper reaches of Bogaerts’ ceiling may be determined by his ability to stick at shortstop. But he has the hitting ability to make a fantasy-relevant impact at other defensive positions, too. Not this year, though.
Profile: Bradley, 22, is the Red Sox centerfielder of the future, perhaps even if the club hangs onto Jacoby Ellsbury long-term. But with Ellsbury a trade candidate entering his final season before hitting free agency, we may get a look at Bradley in late 2013, especially if he performs anywhere near the way he did in 2012: .315/.430/.482 over 463 at bats across Hi- and Double-A. Bradley proved to be an on-base machine, walking 87 times a year ago (against just 89 whiffs). While it would be nice to see a little more of his plus speed put to use on the bases (24 of 33 on stolen bases), he’s got the wheels to be a consistent 30-steals guy, one who should also score bunches of runs thanks to his leadoff ability. Don’t expect much beyond low double-digits in homers, but doubles and triples should help pump up his extra-base hit totals. As a rare toolsy, athletic prospect with both a fairly high ceiling and a very high floor, Bradley could enter 2014 with an everyday job and should be drafted in all keeper leagues. (Jason Catania)
Quick Opinion: This might be your last chance to get Jackie Bradley in your keeper league. He might not figure in at the major league level until late 2013, but it will be all systems go in center field in Boston the following season.
Profile: In terms of stuff, Diamondbacks Archie Bradley has one of the highest ceiling pitchers in minor league baseball. At 19, the 6-foot-4 right-hander logged 140 innings, supporting the idea Bradley will become a consistent 200-plus inning hurler. His walk totals were too high, but showed statistical growth in the second half of the season. With elite strikeout numbers, ground ball rates and low hit totals, one contact was so impressed by Bradley, he found it hard to believe Dylan Bundy could be better. In dynasty formats, he may never be this cheap again, so add Bradley soon. Just remember he’s unlikely to surface until 2015. (Mike Newman)
Quick Opinion: Bradley might be a ways away, but he’s worth acquiring now in keeper leagues so that you can be ahead of the crowd when they realize how good he can be.
Profile: Brown had a disappointing 2012 after a dynamite 2011 in which he hit .336 with 61 extra-base hits and 53 steals. Last year at Double-A, those totals plummeted to .279, 41 and 33, respectively, leading to questions of whether his previous campaign was pumped up by the offense-heavy Cal League. Despite the downturn in digits and the Giants decision to re-sign Angel Pagan for four years, Brown still has a chance to be the club’s centerfielder of the future, but he’ll have to earn that job with a bounceback 2013 at Triple-A. He could make his debut in San Fran and help NL-only owners as a late-season stolen base addition, and he’s still a fine keeper/dynasty target with the ability to be above-average in three categories (batting average, runs, stolen bases), but at 24, Brown needs to make a push to reach the ceiling he appeared to have a year ago. (Jason Catania)
Quick Opinion: Brown’s another year older, but the statistics didn’t advance with him last season. With a bounce-back season in the high minors, though, he might be able to recapture some of the promise he had.
Profile: By any statistical measure, Rangers’ pitching prospect Cody Buckel had a breakout season in 2012. With a 26/4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his final four starts, Buckel began mastering Double-A competition by the end of the season. His stuff is not as dominant as the numbers would indicate, but Buckel is the epitome of a high-floor starter combining sound mechanics, a deep arsenal, and high baseball IQ to great success in the minor leagues. In 2013, Buckel is a sneaky deep-league play as he may vault other Rangers’ pitching prospects should a rotation piece hit the disabled list. In dynasty formats, Buckel has considerably more value, although he may never be more than the ideal fourth starter for a championship team. (Mike Newman)
Quick Opinion: Depending on how you appreciate Cody Buckel, the Rangers’ prospect is either an intriguing piece or a slightly over-rated prospect. Either way, he’s close.
Profile: Twins uber-prospect Byron Buxton is the type of athletic, high-ceiling prospect fantasy owners dream about. If he develops as planned, he is expected to be a true five-category player at the major league level. In seeing him with the Twins Elizabethton affiliate, it was easy to be excited about the second overall pick in 2012. However, his home-to-first times did not point to impact speed and Buxton’s offensive game lacked significant polish. The payoff may be large, but his development will take both patience and a strong player development program. Expect an ETA of 2016 at the earliest leaving him a long term dynasty play who is a solid own in any format. (Mike Newman)
Quick Opinion: Don’t expect him in the major leagues any time soon, but there’s a lot of potential in Buxton’s athleticism.
Profile: Profile: Nick Castellanos, proud owner of one of the prettiest swings in the minors, ended his season on a sour note. After destroying the Florida State League, may were clamoring for a him to be called up to Detroit for the playoff run. But, Castellanos became overzealous during his time the Double-A Erie Seawolves and posted a well below average line. The Tigers decided to send him to the Arizona Fall League where the misery continued, his OPS was just .642. His poor performance late in the year means he will return to Double-A Erie, but expect him to get back to mashing. The road to Detroit is blocked unless an injury occurs or the Tigers commit to Castellanos as a left fielder. (JD Sussman)
Quick Opinion: Castellanos projects to hit for a high average, but he’s yet to grow into his power. Do to a logjam in Detroit, his ultimately position is questionable.
Profile: As impressive as the 22-year-old Cole has been since going first overall in 2011 — 2.80 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 9.3 K/9 over 132 IPs across three levels in 2012 — there’s a sense that the right-hander’s performance could explode, like his upper-90s heater, and get even better. He has some of the best stuff around and a deep repertoire with which to attack hitters, so at this stage, it’s just a matter sharpening his command and control, while also learning the finer points of pitching (i.e., setting up batters better and not overthrowing just to see radar gun readings). Once everything clicks — and that could happen very soon — Cole has all the makings of a real life and fantasy ace. He’s likely to start the year by returning to Triple-A, where he made just one start in 2012, but owners in every league should keep close tabs on each of his minor league outings, because Cole won’t be available if you wait until he gets the call to pick him up. You probably hate the guy who already owns him in your keeper league, right? (Jason Catania)
Quick Opinion: It’s probably too late to get Gerrit Cole in your deeper dynasties, but even shallow keepers, and now redraft leagues, should think about investing in this potential future ace. A few tweaks could lead to a breakout major league debut this season.
Profile: The undersized right-hander saw his numbers dip a bit in 2012 after a stellar 2011 campaign in High-A ball. Pitching at Double-A, his walk rate jumped up significantly while his strikeout rate dipped. Corcino, 22, has work to do with his fastball command but he has two promising pitches and could be a dominating reliever if he cannot improve his command/control, polish his changeup and prove his durability. He has number-three starter potential and could be ready for the majors as early as late 2013. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: Corcino could be MLB-ready at some point in 2013 but he has enough depth ahead of him to suggest that his first big-league break could come out of the bullpen. Eventually, he could become relevant as a starter in mixed leagues.
Profile: The first overall selection in the 2012 amateur draft, Correa was attractive to the Astros — not only because of his impressive skills — but because he should be ready to help the big league club right around the time they hope to be legitimately competitive. The Puerto Rico native should be ready to assume the starting shortstop role for Houston around 2016 and could become an all-star-caliber player. At 6’4” he projects to develop above-average power and could be a run-producer. He has the ability to steal a handful of bases but that likely will never be a huge facet of his game. Correa will spend almost the entire 2013 minor league season at the age of 18, so the club faces an interesting decision whether to start him off in full-season A-ball or be more cautious and have him open the year in extended spring training, potentially delaying his arrival in the majors. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: Correa holds the distinction for being the top pick of the 2012 amateur draft and has a huge ceiling but the Puerto Rico native could be about four years away from reaching the majors. In other words, he’s interesting in longer-term keeper leagues but not so much for traditional one-year formats.
Profile: The Angels haven’t had a prototypical third baseman since Troy Glaus, and Cowart is expected to be that guy, but not for another year or two. That makes the 20-year-old 2010 first-rounder, who hit .276 with 16 homers and 103 RBIs in reaching High-A last year, an intriguing dynasty league pick, but not someone to worry about in re-draft leagues. He’ll be joining a pretty good lineup once he reaches Anaheim, though, huh? (Jason Catania)
Quick Opinion: The Angels need a third baseman. Cowart needs a little more seasoning, though, as he peaked at High-A in 2012. He’s still worth keeping on all dynasty and deep-keeper radars.
Profile: On a night I saw Kyle Crick pitch poorly, he was still very good. Sporting a 92-94 MPH slider and multiple breaking pitches, Crick has the ability for even more. Multiple contacts had him at 95-97 MPH earlier in the season with a wipeout slider. With better command and more consistent mechanics, Crick may surface as one of the best right-handed pitching prospects in baseball by this time next season. For fantasy purposes, Crick’s ETA is not until 2015, leaving him with no single season value. In dynasty formats, he’s a definite add if looking to stay ahead of the curve. With a strong start, you many not receive another opportunity to acquire him. (Mike Newman)
Quick Opinion: All potential and promise, if Crick puts it together this season in the minor leagues, he’ll do so on another dynasty roster… unless you act quickly.
Profile: On the surface, the .293/.327/.516 (with 27 homers) that C.J. Cron put up in his first run at the California League seems pretty good, but it conceals some real concerns. For one, Cron is 23 in January and was older than much of his competition; for another, the California League is notoriously hitter-friendly. Though the power is absolutely for real, he showed a surprising lack of patience (72/17 strikeouts per walk) and as he offers no value on defense, it’ll have to be his bat that carries him to the majors. Even if he’s able to adjust to more advanced pitching to get him to the bigs, it might be somewhere other than Anaheim, where the Angels are clearly well-stocked with first base and designated hitter types. (Mike Petriello)
Quick Opinion: The 22-year-old college bat of Cron showed huge raw power and little else in first full minor league season.
Profile: To this day, Travis D’Arnaud is the best catching prospect I’ve seen in person. A plus athlete with the all-around skill set of a future all-star, D’Arnaud should open 2013 as the Mets’ starting catcher, unless the team wants to make sure his surgically-repaired knee is sound in the minor leagues. (Or wish to keep him from super-Two status.) At present, he’s my current favorite for National League Rookie Of The Year. In the near term, temper offensive expectations some as few catchers make an immediate fantasy impact. However, he is 24 entering 2013 and has been allowed to ripen on the vine a bit. Eventually, D’Arnaud will grow into a .285/.335 hitter with 18-25 home runs annually. That’s a top-four producer behind the plate. (Mike Newman)
Quick Opinion: Travis D’Arnaud has few roadblocks on his path to success. It’s more a question of when — and even then, we’re talking months, not years — than if for the new Mets’ catcher.
Profile: Dahl, the 10th overall pick last year, went absolutely bonkers in his pro debut in the Rookie Level Pioneer League: .379/.423/.625 with 22 doubles, 10 triples, nine homers and 12 steals in just over 300 plate appearances. The 19-year-old is ready for full-season ball and could start 2013 in High-A, but he’s still at least two years away from reaching the ever-appealing chance to hit at Coors. Grab him in formats with minor league slots — now. (Jason Catania)
Profile: As a 21-year old, Matt Davidson moved from the hitter-friendly California League to the Southern League and saw his walk rise, strikeouts drop and experienced increased production across the board. As impressive as his 2012 was on paper, the verdict is still out on Davidson’s ability to stick at third base as well as his long swing plane. If he can develop into a .260/.350 hitter with 25 home runs annually, then he’s a two-to-three-win shortstop — Even with below-average defense. If moved to first base, his prospect stock craters, as Davidson won’t be an impact hitter at the position. In 2013, Davidson is unlikely to unseat the strong duo of Martin Prado and Eric Chavez. However, he’s a decent dynasty league play as a 1B/3B/UT type, especially if the Diamondbacks don’t re-sign Prado. (Mike Newman)
Quick Opinion: There are questions all around for Davidson — the particular position of his future is important, and he’s presently blocked at the major league level either way — but 2012 was a good season for the corner infielder.
Profile: The Reds’ Billy Hamilton gets a ton of hype for his 100+ stolen base season in 2012 but DeShields also broke the triple-digit threshhold while splitting his time between two A-ball levels. He could be an impact player based on his wheels alone but he made major strides with the bat — even though he opened the year by repeating a level. The Georgia native walked 83 times so he’s shown the ability to get on-base even when he’s not hitting well, which is a very important trait for a speedster. The second baseman is still a ways from reaching the majors and did not turn 20 until late in the season. He should open 2013 back in High-A and could reach Double-A at some point in the year. DeShields will likely be ready for a full-time gig in the majors around late 2014 or the beginning of 2015 and there really isn’t anyone standing in his way. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: DeShields is a fleet-footed young player who could end up being as good or better from an offensive standpoint than the more-hyped Billy Hamilton of the Cincinnati Reds. With Houston in a rebuilding mode, the second-generation star should have a spot in the big league lineup as soon as he proves big-league ready — likely in 2014 or ’15.
Profile: Insofar as he made just 14 appearances during the 2012 regular season, Robbie Erlin probably didn’t have the best season of all minor-league pitching prospects. Insofar, however, as he was thoroughly dominant for all the appearances he did make, Erlin merits some attention. In 60.2 innings between Rookie ball and Double-A (although mostly the latter), Erlin posted an 80:16 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The 22-year-old left-hander, who was acquired in the deal that sent Mike Adams to Texas, doesn’t have overwhelming velocity (he sits at about 90 mph), but has demonstrated excellent command of the fastball and his impressive curveball at all levels. A relatively unsettled Padres rotation might create an opening for Erlin — if not to begin the season, then at least to earn a mid-season promotion. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: Limited to just14 appearances during the 2012 regular season, Erlin was excellent when he did pitch — and carried that over to the Arizona Fall League, which circuit he also dominated. A relatively unsettled Padres rotation might create an opening for Erlin, who has given every indication that he’s ready for it.
Profile: The Cuban-born Fernandez went 14th overall in 2011 and then flat-out dominated in his first full season, with a ridiculous 1.75 ERA, a silly 0.93 WHIP and a wicked 10.6 strikeouts per nine over 134 innings between Low- and High-A. Fernandez, a solidly built 6’3”, 215-pounder, possesses a mid- to upper-90s fastball that he maintains deep into games, as well as above-average secondary offerings — all of which play up because of a wise-beyond-his-years approach and bulldog mentality. Once the upcoming wave of nearly-ready pitching prospects graduate to the majors, Fernandez could seize the throne heading into 2014, at which point he, too, might be ready to be unleashed upon the majors. Just 20, the Marlins’ right-hander is easily a Top 10 pick among prospects in any dynasty league. (Jason Catania)
Quick Opinion: Remember this name: Jose Fernandez. This Cuban hurler is closer than some of his peers in High-A, and with crazy good numbers and upper-90s stuff, his upside looks elite.
Profile: Flores enters just his age-21 season in 2013; however, after signing out of Venezuela on his 16th birthday and making his stateside professional debut (and doing well) that same year, he’s already had the opportunity to have been regarded as both a future star and prospect bust. After a 2012 season that saw him hit well in the Double-A Eastern League as one of that circuit’s youngest players, Flores appears to have entered a third, peculiar phase: that of the 21-year-old post-hype sleeper (to the degree that any prospect of a New York-based organization can be of the sleeper variety). Prospect analysts are almost unanimous in their belief that even third base might be too challenging defensively for the former shortstop. That said, Flores’ offensive ceiling appears quite high — capable, that is, of permitting a switch to a corner outfield position. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: Part of the Mets organization since his 16th birthday, Flores has the rare distinction of being a 21-year-old post-hype sleeper. His future defensive home remains unclear, but his offensive ceiling appears quite high.
Profile: The Mariners’ Nick Franklin enters 2013 as a 22-year old nearly ready for the Seattle lineup. Currently playing both shortstop and second base, his fantasy league value takes a hit if the keystone position becomes a permanent home. Coming off a strong 2012 season and even better Arizona Fall League campaign, Franklin’s prospect value is at its peak. It’s possible that second base has become well balanced from a fantasy standpoint, as a dozen qualified players posted league average or better numbers. Plus, I question whether Franklin would be an upgrade over a healthy Dustin Ackley. In dynasty league formats, I expect Franklin to have a long career, but with little impact potential. (Mike Newman)
Quick Opinion: Blocked at his probable position, Seattle middle infielder Nick Franklin is nonetheless ready for the big leagues. Where and how often will he play?
Profile: Profile: In January of last year I received a message from my my colleagues and all it said was “Wow.” They were out scouting Harvard Westlake and Lucas Giolitio, the top high school arm in the draft before his injury,but they weren’t talking about the overpowering righty. No, they were talking about Max Fried, his teammate.(Report, Report, Report). Fried stands 6’4″ and weights 170 pounds and features a high 80s to low 90s fastball that gets as high as 95 MPH. His curveball, his best pitch, comes out of high three quarter arm slot and features tight rotation and 12-6 break. Currently, his change up lags behind. Despite an advanced feel for pitching, don’t expect a quick climb through the minors for Fried. He’ll need time to adjust to his developing body and working on his change up. (JD Sussman)
Quick Opinion: Fried is often wrongly profiled as a soft tossing lefty, but he is a fantastic mix of projection and polish. His success is due to strong command, good fastball velocity and an outstanding curveball. (JD Sussman)
Profile: Fulmer, 20, pitched well in his full-season debut after being a compensation-rounder in 2011. His stuff isn’t overpowering, but the Mets’ farmhand doesn’t have any serious flaw, either, so he’s a decent bet to be a mid-rotation starter. It just might take a few years for him to get there, as the righty will likely start 2013 in High-A. (Jason Catania)
Profile: Gallo qualifies as a potential deep-sleeper target in keeper leagues. He dominated pitchers in rookie ball in 2012 but is still probably about four years away from reaching the majors — if he continues to develop. Gallo, 19, showed prodigious power last season when he hit 18 home runs in 43 games before moving up to a more advanced league and adding another four bombs in 16 games. He’ll likely move up to A-ball in 2013 and the Las Vegas native will look to maintain his impressive left-handed power output while also trimming his strikeout rate and polishing other aspects of his game. With time — especially considering he was also a very good pitcher in high school so his focus was split — he could become a prototypical slugging third baseman (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: Gallo slugged 22 home runs in his pro debut (59 games) and his power potential is off the charts. He’ll likely open 2013 in A-ball and look to follow up on a stunning debut but he’s probably at least three or four seasons away from the majors.
Profile: While second baseman Kolten Wong receives the attention from prospect evaluators, it’s his college teammate from the University of Hawaii (and the last two seasons within the St. Louis system), shortstop Greg Garcia, who posted the better offensive line (a 137 wRC+ vs. Wong’s 111) at Double-A Springfield in 2012. One season at Double-A oughtn’t dictate either player’s fate, of course — and neither Garcia nor Wong is so far removed from his draft year that we should entirely ignore the fact that the former was taken in the seventh round while the latter went 22nd overall. Still, any sort of offensive acumen from a shortstop (and Garcia posted 80:82 walk-to-strikeout ratio in 504 plate appearances in 2012, just his age-22 season) is encouraging. Considered a fringe shortstop defensively, his future might still be merely as a utility infielder — especially so long as Wong continues his own ascent through the minors. There’s also the possibility, however, that he makes a case for a major-league starting position at some point. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: A former college teammate at Hawaii of widely celebrated second-base prospect Kolten Wong, Garcia has more than kept pace with Wong within the Cardinals organization. Just fair defensively at shortstop, Garcia’s future might be as a utility infielder — but he’s young enough to improve his overall game, as well.
Profile: Drafted number four overall last June, Gausman won’t make a major-league impact in 2013, but he could very well be one of the fastest to the majors in his draft class. As a 22-year-old right-handed product of a big-time program in LSU, Gausman possesses both quality stuff — his combo of a mid-90s fastball and plus changeup is particularly devastating — and polish, which should help him climb quickly. After just 15 innings in his pro debut at Low- and High-A, he’ll likely start the year with a return to Frederick of the Carolina League, but a jump to Double-A during the season is likely, if not altogether expected. From there, Gausman could be knocking on the door of the bigs by mid-2014. With a ceiling of a number two starter, he makes for a great get in all keeper and dynasty leagues, especially since he’s a new name to the prospect pool. (Jason Catania)
Quick Opinion: This new name in prospect pools has stuff and polish, and the Orioles could use his arm in the rotation. They might get it as soon as 2014.
Profile: Gibson’s set of circumstances puts him at just the right place to be an impact prospect in 2013: He’s a former first-round pick (2009) with a strong minor league resume (3.72 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 8.2 strikeouts per nine) who is not only big league-ready but also in an organization that is struggling to fill out a five-man rotation. The biggest knocks on Gibson at this point are his age (25) and injury history (Tommy John surgery cost him most of 2012). But after the interruption to his otherwise on-pace development, Gibson got back on track with a solid stint in the Arizona Fall League, showing he had regained much of his heavy, sinking low-90s heater, solid slider and above-average control. He’s not true front-of-the-rotation material, but Gibson is a very good bet to log 100-plus quality innings in a pitcher-friendly ballpark next season, which should make him starter-worthy in AL-only leagues and a streaming candidate in deep mixed. (Jason Catania)
Quick Opinion: A big injury and a lack of a great third pitch have dulled Gibson’s star, but the Twins will need him at some point this season, and the right-hander showed enough in the Arizona Fall League to be interesting in most fantasy leagues.
Profile: Braves pitching prospect Sean Gilmartin is a decent pitching prospect. With back-of-the-rotation potential, the lefty will spend a number of years pitching at the Major League level. Gilmartin has above average-to-plus command and three major league pitches, he’s a safe bet to surface sometime in 2013. However, Gilmartin is more Paul Maholm than Cliff Lee, limiting his ceiling and lowering fantasy interest. I’d own him in deep leagues, but would be looking to upgrade at the first opportunity. Gilmartin is definitely a pitcher whose value to Atlanta will be much higher than in fantasy circles. (Mike Newman)
Quick Opinion: More solid than superstar, Gilmartin should be pitching in the major leagues as soon as this season.
Profile: High school flamethrower Lucas Giolito may have been the #1 overall pick in the 2012 draft had he not sprained his UCL a few months before the draft. The Nationals took a risk on selecting him at #16 and bought him out of a UCLA commitment, but he managed just one appearance before succumbing to Tommy John surgery which will likely delay his pro debut until 2014. (Mike Petriello)
Profile: Goodwin dominated A-ball in the first half of 2012 but his hot start was partially the result of a more advanced player beating up on lesser talent. Jumped over High-A to Double-A for the second half of the year, the outfielder struggled with his strikeout rate jumping from about 15% to 27%. When he’s going well, though, Goodwin flashes four tools and could eventually hit for a solid average with at least average power and 20+ steals. The biggest competition to the left-handed hitter’s big league future is the recently-acquired former Minnesota Twin, Denard Span. Along with the newcomer, Washington now has outfield commitments to sophomore Bryce Harper and veteran Jayson Werth, who is signed through 2017. If Goodwin can find playing time, he has all-star potential. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: Goodwin, a potential four- or five-tool player, is definitely someone that you want to be aware of if you’re in a keeper league. Unfortunately, he’s still too inconsistent as a hitter and has too much veteran depth ahead of him in Washington to be relevant in 2013.
Profile: Gould employs an over the top delivery to throw a true 12-6 curveball which he couples with a straight hittable fastball and a developing change. If he settles in as a back of the rotation arm, the Dodgers will be happy.(JD Sussman)
Profile: With a mid-90’s fastball and wipeout slider, Braves prospect J.R. Graham has rocketed up organizational prospect lists. Since he also pitched 150 innings, including nine starts in Double-A, Graham will be given an opportunity to stick in the big league rotation very soon. Should he stumble, Graham’s power arsenal is a perfect fit in the back of a big league bullpen. Graham’s future role will be determined by how consistent his secondary offerings become. In deep dynasty leagues, Graham is worth owning. However, he’s overvalued right now as evidenced by being ranked ahead of Julio Teheran in some circles. (Mike Newman)
Quick Opinion: The newest shiny arm in the Braves organization shouldn’t quite be considered the best shiny arm in the Braves organization. Not just yet. Watch how Graham refines his secondary offerings this year, that will be tantamount to his future role and fantasy relevance.
Profile: Green, 25, has gone from shortstop, the position at which he was drafted in 2009’s first round, to outfield to utility infielder. His bat has been solid along the way, especially his .302 average and .461 slugging percentage, but his walk rate leaves a lot to be desired (6%). While not finding a true defensive home has held him back and limited his ceiling, Green is also now in a better position to contribute all over the field for the A’s, who still have needs in the infield. Even if Green doesn’t win a starting job out of spring training, he’s ready to play in the majors as a super utility man who will have value as a reserve in AL-only formats, thanks primarily to a won’t-hurt-you offensive profile for owners who take advantage of his multi-position eligibility to cover for injuries and off-days. And there’s even a chance he wins the second base position outright. (Jason Catania)
Quick Opinion: Grant Green is no longer the Athletics’ shortstop of the future. And maybe his ceiling isn’t quite what it was thought to be. He might still provide fantasy value this year.
Profile: Grossman followed up a successful age-21 2011 season at Pittsburgh’s High-A Florida State League affiliate with an even better Arizona Fall League campaign — one that saw him post home-run, walk, and strikeout rates all among the league’s leaders. Despite suffering a broken hamate bone — one which ended said successful AFL season — Grossman returned to begin 2012 at Double-A. The results were less impressive there than the year before, although still included double-digit walk percentages — something which has been the case for Grossman at basically every level. Sent to Houston as part of the Wandy Rodriguez deal, Grossman has fewer Andrew McCutchens and Starling Martes with whom to compete at the major-league level in his new organization. He’s a switch-hitter who’s exhibited the ability to handle all three outfield spots. He lacks standout tools, but the overall package makes him useful. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: Acquired by Houston as part of the trade that sent Wandy Rodriguez to Pittsburgh, Grossman lacks standout tools, but has featured a mature offensive approach and can handle all three outfield spots. With a dearth of talent on the Astros’ major-league club, Grossman could see time in Houston in 2013.
Profile: Profile:Guerrieri dominated the New York – Penn League, he made hitters look silly with the league’s best 1-2 punch. His curveball has tight 12-6 action which Guerrieri is able repeatconsistentlyand throw for strikes at will. His fastball is less dynamic, but is still a plus pitch. Thetwo seam fastball sat 91-93 MPH with strong armside run and the four seamer sat 92-94 MPH and touched 95 MPH. Both pitches are extremely effective due to his ability to control them within thestrike-zone.(JD Sussman)
Quick Opinion: The Quick Opinon:With superb command of a plus-plus curveball and low to mid 90s fastball, Guerrieri has a ceiling as a number two starter if his change-up catches up to the other pitches. (JD Sussman)
Profile: As much as anyone else in the minors the past few years, Gyorko has shown he can really hit. The 24-year-old’s career minor-league slash line is .319/.385/.529, and he’s hit at least 25 homers and driven in at least 100 RBIs each of the past two seasons. So why does the 2010 second-rounder not get more love on prospect lists? For one thing, Gyorko doesn’t have a definitive defensive home, thanks to Chase Headley blocking the way at the hot corner, Gyorko’s most natural spot. The Padres put Gyorko at second base for 47 games in the minors last year, but that seemed like a stretch, so perhaps he’ll have to settle for a corner outfield position, unless Headley is traded. The other thing to be wary of on Gyorko is that a large percentage of his homers the past two years — 42 of 55 bombs, in fact — have come in the hitter-friendly Cal and Pacific Coast Leagues, so one could see how translating his stats from pinball parks to Petco might give pause. Still, fantasy owners in deep mixed and NL-only formats need to be very aware of a guy who has legitimate extra-base power, good bat-on-ball skills and may earn multiple-position eligibility as a rookie while probably getting 300-plus at-bats next season. (Jason Catania)
Quick Opinion: Gyorko needs to be on all radar screens — he’s ready. Determining a position, and his true-talent power level, is all that’s left between him and fantasy relevance.
Profile: Profile: There isn’t a prospect in the game who has capitalized on a single tool like Billy Hamilton. The love he receives is understandable, speed can be tantalizing and easy to identify. Hamilton should be fantastic on the base paths and he could be a great center fielder too. But remember, while speed does correlate with range, range alone can’t be equated with good routes and good defense. Like any change, Hamilton’s move to a new position will take time and could delay a substantive debut (read: non-pitch runner role) well into 2014. Additionally, there is reasonable concern over his ability at the plate. Hamilton’s on base ability relies heavily on speed and deception and without any power to speak of, it’s unreasonable to assume his minor league walk rate will hold up against advanced pitching. Be wary of Hamilton’s batting average too. Defense in the minor leagues is laughably bad and while Hamilton’s batting average may be bolstered by Ichrio-like infield hits, don’t bet on it being above average.(JD Sussman)
Quick Opinion: Without a center fielder on the Reds’ roster, Hamilton’s blazing speed could be ready for the 2013 season earlier than expected. (JD Sussman)
Profile: Hanson was a breakout prospect for the Pirates in 2012, hitting .309 with 35 steals and a .528 slugging percentage in A ball. He has a ton of value as a switch-hitting shortstop but, after making 40 errors at the position last year, there are questions about his ability to stick at the position. Some positional versatility could make him even more attractive to fantasy owners, even as there is a risk he moves off his most valuable position. Hanson just turned 20 in October and is probably about three years away from impacting the Pirates at the big league level with his ability to hit for average with gap power and also run the bases. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: Hanson was one of the top breakout prospects in all of baseball in 2012. Just 20, he spent the past season in low-A ball, so he’s not going to help fantasy managers any time soon but he’s a player you want to know if you’re in a keeper league.
Profile: Courtney Hawkins may end up being named the White Sox top prospect entering this season, but that’s nothing to get excited about given the state of the farm system. He was pushed fairly aggressively last season, but the highest level he reached as High-A. He has a lot of potential, but shouldn’t see playing time with the major league club unless he develops much faster than expected. (Chris Cwik)
Profile: After leading Division I with 140 strikeouts in 2012, the 21-year-old Heaney was considered the top college southpaw in last year’s draft and went ninth overall. His fastball-slider combo is dynamic and should help the lanky lefty continue racking up whiffs. Heaney should start the year at High-A, could debut late in 2014 and will make an impact in fantasy leagues by 2015, so he’s a dynasty grab. (Jason Catania)
Profile: At the time of the 2011 draft, Hedges was considered one of the best defensive high school catchers in recent memory. Now, though, his bat is considered better than expected, making him a much more valuable fantasy prospect. He projects to develop into an everyday catcher with at least average production for the position. Hedges started off the 2012 season very strongly with a .949 OPS in April. His numbers then slowly declined throughout each month as the struggled through the longest season of his career. He still finished off the year in style with an .856 OPS in August. Hedges also showed more power than expected and has very good gap power that could continue to develop into 15-home-run power as he matures. He’ll need to become a little more selective at the plate (23 walks in 96 games) if he’s going to continue to get the most out of his offensive abilities. He should be ready for the majors around 2015. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: The young catcher was known as a glove-only prospect when he was drafted but he’s surprised people with his bat. He’s a much more well-rounded prospect than originally thought and is about three years away from flashing his potential with San Diego.
Profile: Part of the package received by the Brewers in the trade that sent Zack Greinke to the Angels in July of 2012, Hellweg is a giant person whose fastball sits in the mid- to high-90s and whose performances in professional baseball have varied widely in terms of quality. In 2011, for example, he began the season as a reliever with the Angels’ High-A California League affiliate and pitched miserably, striking out just two more batters than he walked (34:32) in 28.2 innings. Following a midseason transition to the rotation, though, he was much improved, posting an 87:31 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 70.0 innings. While not quite as pronounced as in his 2011 season, Hellweg’s 2012 — spent exclusively at Double-A — featured similar highs and lows. Given his raw stuff, however, even a minor epiphany could make Hellweg quite valuable. Owners would do well to monitor his early season performance for such changes. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: Acquired by Milwaukee as part of the Zack Greinke trade, Hellweg is a giant person whose fastball sits in the mid- to high-90s. While command has been an issue,even a minor epiphany — along with his raw stuff — could make Hellweg quite valuable.
Profile: The Giants organization isn’t exactly known for crowding its big league roster with young players but the front office does a good job of identifying key prospects that can help the big league club, such as Brandon Belt, Buster Posey, and Madison Bumgarner in the recent past. Hembree could fall into that category, as well, albeit from the bullpen. He’s had a successful pro career in the ‘pen and has a shot at developing into a high-leverage reliever. He could eventually see some save opportunities if injuries present a path to the gig. Hembree suffered through some elbow issues in 2012 but he made it back in August after missing about a month and is expected to be healthy to begin 2013. He’ll likely open the year back in Triple-A with one of the first tickets to San Francisco in the event of an injury or trade from the big league bullpen. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: Relievers rarely have much value in fantasy baseball and even more so if you’re talking prospects. However, the closer’s role in San Francisco is in a state of flux and Hembree could be a source of saves should current big league favorite Sergio Romo falter or hit the disabled list.
Profile: Luis Heredia more than held his own at Low-A State College with a 3.34 FIP, but the actual stats hardly even matter right now; signed at 16, Heredia spent most of the season playing at 17, and while his talent his clear, he’s still a long, long way away from the big leagues. (Mike Petriello)
Profile: Although it wasn’t a true breakout season, Hicks’ 2012 felt like he finally started to put everything together at the same time. Still just 23 and making his Double-A debut, the 2008 first-round pick posted career-highs in runs (100), homers (13), triples (11) and steals (32), while hitting a respectable .286 with a fantastic .384 OBP. His plate discipline has always been a strong suit (15% walk rate, career), and that obviously helps his above-average speed play up on the bases. Hicks is likely to start 2013 at Triple-A, and considering how the Twins emptied the centerfield depth chart this winter, he could see time in Minnesota during the second half of the season. He might need some time to adjust once he gets the call, but Hicks could be a quality, and sneaky, in-season pick-up in keeper leagues with an eye toward 2014. (Jason Catania)
Quick Opinion: Opportunity in the outfield awaits Hicks, who put a lot of the pieces together in 2012. He could make fantasy waves as soon as the second half this season.
Profile: Just 21 years old, Holmberg breezed through High-A on his way to Double-A in 2012. He hit a bit of wall at the upper level when his batting-average-allowed jumped from .214 to .281 and his strikeout rate dipped from 9.88 to 6.35 per nine. Holmberg was quite young for the jump to Double-A and it is widely considered the toughest promotion so those two factors help to explain the prospects struggles. With that said, Holmberg doesn’t have a huge ceiling and profiles as more of a back-of-the-rotation innings-eater who could be a solid arm to round out a fantasy pitching staff. His chances at a big league rotation spot got better with the trade of fellow pitching prospect Trevor Bauer to Cleveland. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: An underrated starting pitching prospect, Holmberg could develop to be a big league work-horse but that probably won’t occur until 2014, at the earliest. He’s definitely someone to monitor in keeper leagues.
Profile: In 2012, no pitcher confused me more than Hultzen. A year ago, I believed he was ready for Seattle. Now, I’m not exactly sure how far back his ETA has been pushed considering his 7.95 per nine walk rate in 12 Triple-A starts. Hultzen is a buy low play in dynasty leagues, but much of his value is tied to the perception of his having a high floor. In June, the Hultzen I saw was not as good as the year previous. His velocity was down a touch, breaking stuff was not quite as sharp and Hultzen’s mechanics were inconsistent. In 2013, the potential is there for him to jump Blake Beavan and Hector Noesi at some point, but it may not be until the second half of the season. <a href=”http://www.rotoscouting.com/”>Mike Newman</a>
Profile: Pitching in his age-25 season, Irwin posted a good, but not elite, 83:17 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 104.1 innings at Double-A Altoona. Then, for reasons mysterious, he was dominant (21.0 IP, 28 K, 7 BB, one home run) in four Triple-A starts following a late-season promotion to that level. He was even more impressive in an International League playoff performance that saw him post this line: 7.0 IP, 24 TBF, 11 K, 1 BB, 0 HR. Irwin himself is known as a possessing above-average command, but less in the way of raw stuff. How he begins the 2013 season bears watching, though, considering his late-season performances. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: A good season became an excellent one for Irwin following an August promotion to Triple-A Indianapolis, where he struck out just under a third of the 89 batters he faced over four starts. Known previously as merely a command pitcher, his early season performances bear monitoring.
Profile: One of my favorite young arms in the minors, Jenkins is an ultra-athletic right-hander with an outstanding curveball and above-average fastball. Jenkins is a fast learner and has natural ability to helps him repeat his delivery well. The right-hander was slowed in 2012 by shoulder soreness and made just 19 starts. He’s expected to be healthy for the coming season but the injury is certainly something to be conscious of moving forward. Jenkins has a chance to produce solid strikeout rates along with above-average ground-balls rates which will help him keep the ball in the park. He should move up to the pitcher-friendly Florida State League in 2013 and could taste Double-A action by the end of the season. He probably won’t be ready for the majors until late 2014 at the very earliest with 2015 being more realistic. He has number two or three starter potential, if he can stay healthy. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: St. Louis has a lot of pitching depth but Jenkins has one of the higher ceilings of the crew. An injury in 2012 has slowed his table table down a bit and he’s probably two to three years away from the majors.
Profile: The second round draft pick for the White Sox in 2011, Johnson took to pro ball like a fish to water, although a shoulder injury kept him off the mound until mid-season. He breezed through two A-ball levels in 17 starts and has a good shot of opening 2013 in Double-A. Johnson overpowers hitters with a plus fastball and two very good breaking balls, which help him rack up the strikeouts. He has a big, strong frame that should allow him to provide plenty of innings — if his shoulder can hold up. If Johnson, 23, opens 2013 in Double-A, he will be one of the better arms in the upper levels of Chicago’s system and he could reach the majors by the end of 2013 of certainly at some point in 2014. He has the ceiling of a number two or three starter, depending on the development of an off-speed pitch. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: Johnson still has work to do but the potential is there for him to develop into a solid mid-rotation starter. However, he’s probably a year or two away from making an impact in Chicago.
Profile: It’s essential, when evaluating a minor leaguer’s production, to keep in mind (among other variables) his age relative to the level. This is why, for example, we temper our enthusiasm regarding Philadelphia prospect Darin Ruf’s line of.317/.408/.620 from 2012 — because he produced it as a 25-year-old in the Double-A Eastern League, that is. No such check is required when considering Joseph’s line, however: he was one of just eight players under the age of 24 to record as many as 300 plate appearances in the Triple-A International League in 2012 — and, among those eight, he posted the best offensive line relative to league-average (a 134 wRC+, ahead of Pirate Starling Marte’s 131 wRC+ in 431 PA). What Joseph lacks in power or speed, he makes up for with contact ability and discipline. Concerns do exist, however: both for his ultimate defensive home (he’s considered a fringe second baseman) and for his place in the major leagues (because the Yankees are typically looking for elite talent). He’s a candidate for trade to a second-division team, where he might have an opportunity to figure things out in the majors. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: Taking into account age versus level, Joseph had one of 2012’s best offensive seasons in the minors. As a high-floor prospect without a true defensive home, it’s likely that his future isn’t with the Yankees.
Profile: I expected big things out of Lee in 2012 but he stumbled out of the gate and needs to continue to get stronger if he hopes to hang in against the quality pitching found at the big league level. The left-handed hitting shortstop offers a lot of potential for fantasy league managers due to his ability to hit for a solid average while also stealing 30+ bases. His two strongest tools — plus defense and a strong arm — do not help him in fantasy baseball, although his insertion at shortstop at the big league level could have a positive impact on Tampa Bay’s ground-ball-inducing pitchers. Current MLB shortstop Yunel Escobar should be a short-term stopgap only and the hope is that Lee will be ready to assume the full-time job in 2014 — with a spot at the top of the batting order and the potential to score 100 runs a season waiting for him. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: The acquisition of Yunel Escobar allows Lee some further development time in the minors but he’s another underrated prospect. He needs to get stronger and his best tool — his defense — isn’t of much use to fantasy managers, but he should eventually offer both a high batting average and stolen bases.
Profile: Zach Lee found himself in the Southern League as one of the youngest players in the circuit, and he held his own, with a fine 3.89 FIP in his first crack with Chattanooga. Lee seems like a clear major leaguer, but the issue has been that so far, his career has been “good enough” with not nearly as much dominance as the Dodgers expected when they bought him out of a commitment to LSU. He has the potential to have four quality pitches, yet no true out pitch, and that could leave him as more of a middle-of-the-rotation type than the hoped-for ace. Still, those pitchers have value too, and Lee is only 21, so there remains ample time to improve. A solid return engagement in Double-A could land him a cup of coffee with the Dodgers in September. (Mike Petriello)
Quick Opinion: Top Dodger pitching prospect pushed his way to Double-A Chattanooga in 2012, though questions remain about his eventual ceiling.
Profile: Profile: Lindor, a slick fielding shortstop with outstanding tools, played at Lake County Captains for the majority of 2012 and should be slated for Double-A Akron in April. But, if Cleveland is able to trade Asdrubal Cabrera Lindor’s debut could come sooner than anticipated. His defensive ability would justify the move too. He’s a major league ready defender who couples smooth actions with strong range. His ability in the field will alleviate pressure on his bat. Long term Lindor will bat leadoff in Cleveland and be at least average in all five categories. Should Lindor be called up in 2013, fantasy owners should be wary of relying on the 19-year-old. In all likelihood he’ll bat towards the end of the lineup, decreasing his opportunities to score and bat in runs. Expect stolen bases but not much else. (JD Sussman)
Quick Opinion: If Lindor makes his debut in 2013 he’ll provide fantasy owners will above average stolen base totals but don’t anticipate an impact until 2014 at the earliest. (JD Sussman)
Profile: Most of Lindsey’s intrigue for fantasy purposes comes from his position. As a second base prospect with a quality lefty bat, the 21-year-old 2010 supplemental round pick could eventually wedge his way into consideration as starting middle infielder (MI) in mixed leagues or a starting second baseman in AL-only. But after a good-not-great year in the hitter-friendly Cal League (.289 BA, 9 home runs, .736 OPS), Lindsey will need to focus on improving either his pop or his patience (5% walks) at Double-A if he wants to avoid the dreaded utility infielder profile. (Jason Catania)
Profile: Liriano followed up an outstanding 2011 season at the A-ball level with a so-so year split between High-A and Double-A. His stolen base total dropped from 65 to 32 and his power output also went backwards. He made up for the modest year with a strong campaign in the Arizona Fall League and a strong spring could push him to Triple-A — one step away from reaching the majors. When he’s ready, Liriano could eventually make Carlos Quentin or Will Venable expendable. The prospect could in fact end up being a cheaper version of Venable. He should be ready for full-time work in 2014 but could receive a brief taste of the majors in late 2013. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: Liriano is an interesting prospect who has solid gap power, the potential to hit for average and should provide a healthy number of steals. His body type suggests that, over time, his speed total could diminish while his power numbers inflate.
Profile: Another prospect moving from Toronto to Miami during the blockbuster off-season trade that saw Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson move to Toronto, Marisnick is an ultra-toolsy prospect that still has a lot of work to do with the bat. Even with the rough edges, the outfielder reached Double-A in 2012 at the age of 21. His best current tool is his plus defense, which is not much help in fantasy baseball. He projects to have an average bat with slightly-above-average power and above-average speed. Although he hit just .233 in 55 Double-A games, Marisnick headed to the Arizona Fall League after the season and hit .314 in another 19 games. It’s a small sample but Toronto made tweaks to the prospect’s hitting mechanics around the same time he was promoted to Double-A, so it’s possible that he final got comfortable in the fall with the changes. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: The trade from Toronto to Miami could end up accelerating Marisnick’s time-table but he’s still a long way from becoming relevant with the bat. His solid defense isn’t going to help fantasy managers but his speed could interest.
Profile: Profile: If Carlos Martinez had a prototypical pitcher’s build and mechanics, he would challenge Shelby Miller as the team’s top prospect. But, Martinez, generously listed at 6’0″, 165 lbs. is a slight right hander with a gyrating max effort delivery. His amazing tempo allows him to unleash a heavy upper 90s fastball that he can control. His out-pitch is an 11-5 curveball with nasty two plane break. It has consistent shape, but he doesn’t locate the pitch well and hitters can lay off it when they’re not behind in the count. If Martinez can develop a change up, he’ll have a legitimate claim as the Cardinals’ top arm. Even if he doesn’t, given how stacked the Cardinals are at the moment, Martinez could wind up the team’s closer if Jason Motte gets too expensive. (JD Sussman)
Quick Opinion: The slight right hander has an mid to upper 90s fastball and wipe curve, but his max effort delivery could force him to back of the bullpen. (JD Sussman)
Profile: Profile: Mateo’s road to Brooklyn was anything but conventional. Prior to signing with the Metropolitans the Dominican right-hander had a deals voided by the San Francisco Giants and the San Diego Padres. The first of which was voided upon discovering bone chips in his throwing elbow. The deal with the Friars soured upon finding that Mateo was two years older than his birth certificate claimed. Thus observers must keep in mind that he was Brooklyn’s oldest starter in his 2012 campaign. Still, the 22-year-old anchored the staff, leading them in strikeouts per nine innings and strikeout to walk ratio. Mateo dominated the competition with strong slider and two and four-seam fastballs. Early in starts the four-seamer sat between 92 MPH and 95 MPH and touched as high as 96 MPH. As starts wore on, his velocity dipped as low as 89 MPH. Despite the velocity dip, New York – Penn League hitters couldn’t touch the explosive pitch which featured strong natural arm-side run. Mateo also relied heavily on his two-seam fastball which also boars in on right-handed batters and sits between 88 MPH and 92 MPH while touching 93 MPH. Both offerings are easily above average. His slider was less refined but still an exceptional pitch with good downward action that came around 86 MPH. Mateo will also throw a change-up but it’s well below average at this point. He’s got almost no feel for it and it comes in way too hot; I clocked the pitch at 86-88 MPH. While Mateo potentially features three average or better weapons, his current mechanics place him squarely in the bullpen. He features a lot of recoil and throws across his body from a three quarter arm-slot. (JD Sussman)
Quick Opinion: Mateo could move quickly if he moves to the bullpen. But no one expects the Mets to make such a move until he struggles. His upside is a high leverage reliever but his slider isn’t strong enough yet to project him as a closer. If you’re in a holds league he’s one to watch. (JD Sussman)
Profile: May isn’t the flashiest pitching prospect but he has a chance to be a valuable fantasy contributor. He was acquired by the Minnesota Twins in an off-season trade with the Philadelphia Phillies. May has showed his durability by averaging more than 150 innings of work each of the past two seasons and he racks up a ton of strikeouts with his four-pitch repertoire that includes a low-to-mid-90s fastball. His lack of control, though, limits his ceiling to that of a number three or four starter. May had a so-so year in Double-A in 2012 so he may return there to open 2013. However, he’s bound to see some time in Triple-A and — if all goes well — he could reach the majors late in the year with an eye on assuming a full-time starting rotation slot in 2014. His value takes a bit of a hit moving from the National League to the American League, though, and there’s still the chance he ends up in the bullpen. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: May has gone backwards a little bit in his development and has been passed on the depth chart by the likes of Jesse Biddle. With that said, he still has a chance to be a solid contributor — likely starting in 2014.
Profile: With mid-90’s heat, a developing slider and changeup, Astros prospect Lance McCullers is one of the higher ceiling arms in the system. However, his future role is far from determined as a perceived lack of feel may force a move to the bullpen. In game action, I was impressed with his feel for a changeup, which supports the idea he may develop better command. In fantasy leagues, he’s a prospect with an ETA of 2016. At present, he’s not worth owning in shallow dynasty leagues, but worth a flyer in any league where more than 150 prospects are under team control at any one time. (Mike Newman)
Quick Opinion: McCullers has a funky delivery and some kinks to iron out. He also has gas and secondary pitches with legitimate upside. Consider him in deeper dynasty formats.
Profile: Recently dealt to the Minnesota Twins, Alex Meyer fits nicely with the organization’s recent focus on adding big arms. With a fastball I’ve seen as high as 96 mph in person and a wipe out slider, Meyer fits the profile of a starter or closer depending on how his command improves and changeup develops. My concern with Meyer is he’s not dissimilar from the pitcher to whom the Red Sox offered two million dollars of high school in 2008. In 2013, Meyer may earn a September call up, but the Twins tend to move pitching prospects slowly. This limits his value to dynasty league formats only. (Mike Newman)
Quick Opinion: Meyer might be a ways away from the bigs, depending on how his new organization handles him. And he hasn’t done a ton with his development time so far.
Profile: While it remains to be seen, of course, what his career will bring, Miller has already provided some value already, merely by resisting the de facto scouting report for a white, college-educated shortstop. Typically speaking, a Brad Miller’s virtues are supposed to be his sure-handedness and reliability, while his drawbacks might be a lack of range or offensive upside. In fact, reports on Miller suggest almost precisely the opposite profile: while his athleticism is praised, Miller’s 36 errors are attributed to lapses in concentration and/or lack of fundamental play. Meanwhile, Miller posted excellent raw and regressed numbers both at High- and Double-A in 2012. Unfortunately, both incumbent shortstop Brendan Ryan and prospect Nick Franklin have created considerable depth for the Mariners, suggesting Miller is unlikely to make much of an impact in 2013. At least Franklin has begun playing at second base? (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: Miller is likely the tools-iest prospect named Brad in all of baseball. He must contend with Brendan Ryan and Nick Franklin for playing time, however.
Profile: It must be nice to be Raul Mondesi Sr. He earned more than $60 million during his 13-year big league career, mostly with the Dodgers and Blue Jays, and was also the National League Rookie of the Year in 1994 and owns two Gold Gloves. He is now the mayor of San Cristobal in the Dominican Republic and has two sons currently playing professional baseball: Raul Jr. and Adalberto, who is currently the better of the two prospects. Adalberto — just 17 years old — played very well in the Pioneer League in 2012, which features quite a few college-aged players. Mondesi plays a premium position, is a switch-hitter, and shows a diverse game that includes the ability to hit for average, gap power and he can even a little speed. Don’t expect Mondesi to reach the majors any time soon but he could be an impact player. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: Mondesi is still quite young, but he showed an advanced approach given his inexperience. With an impressive pedigree and a diverse attack, the young shortstop remains an intriguing sleeper who could be poised to break out in a big way in 2013 — albeit in the low minors.
Profile: Montero was already 20 when he inked with the Mets as an international free agent in 2011. Despite the late start, though, the Dominican-born righty has displayed top-notch command and control — his 19 walks allowed in 122 innings across two levels of A-ball in 2012 are particularly impressive — and does so with an above-average fastball, quality breaking ball and a change- up. Now 22, Montero should finish 2013 at Double-A, and his pitchability could make him a potential keeper to track by 2014. (Jason Catania)
Profile: Mariano Rivera won’t be around forever and Montgomery is perhaps the best in-house prospect to eventually replace him. With that said, an organization like New York is not going to give the role to an unproven arm so the right-hander will have to prove himself in a lesser role first. He will also have to show that he can dominate big league hitters with his slider, like he did in the minors. Although Montgomery has just 15 games of regular-season experience above A-ball, he dominated the hitter-happy Arizona Fall League this past off-season and struck out 19 batters in 10.1 innings. With New York looking to save money (or, at the very least, spend a little more wisely), Montgomery could be a very solid low-cost option in the bullpen at some point in 2013. For the time being, though, his biggest value to fantasy manager will be possible vulture wins. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: Mariano Rivera won’t be around forever and Montgomery has the chance to become an in-house replacement for the future hall of famer. The rookie’s future will ultimately hinge on the consistency of his breaking ball. He’s almost ready for MLB action.
Profile: A third-round pick out of the University of Alabama in 2011, Morgan hasn’t received a lot of attention necessarily, but pitched too well in 2012 to be ignored. Beginning the season as a 22-year-old at High-A, Morgan posted this line:123 inning, 10.24 strikeouts per nine, 2.05 walks per nine, 0.51 home runs per nine, 2.40 FIP. An August promotion to Double-A proved more challenging, but not prohibitively so. As noted, Morgan’s raw stuff hasn’t receive much praise. His pitchability, though, appears to have compensated for whatever he lacks in velocity, etc. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: Dominant in 123 innings at High-A Clearwater in the Florida State League, Morgan found an August promotion to Double-A more challenging but not prohibitively so. His success is reliant more on command than velocity, etc.
Profile: Profile: Rarely are players of Wil Myers caliber traded, but the Royals, determined to bolster their rotation and challenge Detroit, traded the 2012 Minor League Player of the Year to Tampa Bay. The trade was not a totally surprise as the Royals were strangely unwilling to commit to the talented 21-year-old last season when the team was just four games out of the division lead and could have used an upgrade over their floundering rightfielder, Jeff Francouer. It’s almost certain the disciplined Rays, owners of one of baseball’s tightest wallets, will maximize Myers’s value by keeping him at Triple-A Durham until the super-two deadline passes in mid-June. Unfortunately, this reality greatly decreases Myers value to fantasy owners. Still, Myers is a four category stud who should be drafted even in the shallowest of leagues. (JD Sussman)
Quick Opinion: Wil Myers was the best hitter in the minor leagues last season and will be again in 2013 until Rays recall him after the super-two deadline. (JD Sussman)
Profile: The Indians’ top pick from the 2012 amateur draft, Naquin has a modest ceiling and could end up as a tweener: an outfielder with not enough range to play center field on a regular basis, and not enough pop to be a desirable corner outfielder. What he does have, though, is a smooth, left-handed swing and the ability to hit for average. He should also post a solid on-base average and steal a handful of bases. Naquin, 21, could open 2013 in High-A ball and might be ready for the majors by the end of 2014. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: A recent draftee, Naquin will probably not be relevant in 2013 and his ultimate projection suggests big-league tweener. Even in his prime, the outfielder is probably relevant in AL-only leagues.
Profile: The Brewers’ Jimmy Nelson has a well-rounded arsenal without a true out pitch. His build and stuff are similar to Reds’ reliever J.J. Hoover, who achieved success as a rookie. What may keep Nelson in the rotation are his ground-ball tendencies, even if his Double-A walk rate was worrisome. In deep dynasty leagues, Nelson is a marginal play who is unlikely to reach the Major Leagues before mid-2014. (Mike Newman)
Profile: It’s a long road trip from Florida to Toronto and Nicolino’s commute just got a lot shorter. Drafted by the Blue Jays out of an Orlando-area high school in 2010, the lefty has toiled in the minors in such far away places as Vancouver, British Columbia and Lansing, Michigan, but a late-2012 trade sent the rail-thin prospect home again. Part of the loot that gutted the Marlins’ major league club and sent veterans Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle — among others — north of the border, Nicolino may be the key the deal from Miami’s perspective. Formerly a member of Toronto’s big three pitching prospects — along with Noah Syndergaard and Aaron Sanchez — who were drafted the same year and rose through the minors together, the southpaw was known for having the least ‘pure stuff’ of the trio but also had the best pitchability and was more likely to reach his ceiling of a number three or four starter in the majors. He should open 2013 in High-A ball and could see Double-A before the end of the year. Nicolino, 21, could be ready to contribute at the big league level as soon as mid-to-late 2014. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: The Florida native should really enjoy his new digs in the Miami organization. He doesn’t have a huge ceiling — probably more of a number three or four starter — but he could reach the majors fairly quickly despite his youth and inexperience; he could be in the majors by mid-to-late 2014.
Profile: Signed for a noteworthy $2.2 million as an international free agent in 2010, the Venezuelan native is still very raw. His debut on American soil in the Arizona League last year went about as well as could be expected (.325/.403/.550), but Nunez will turn only 19 just after the start of the season. He’s a slow play for fantasy owners in extremely deep dynasty leagues. (Jason Catania)
Profile: Just 17 in 2012, Osuna played at two short-season levels and struck out 13 batters in 5.0 innings during his Northwest League (heavily populated by 21- and 22-year-old college grads) debut in late July. The teenager received a huge bonus to sign with the Blue Jays out of Mexico in 2011 and he’s expected to open 2013 in full-season A-ball and will follow the same development path as Noah Syndergaard, Aaron Sanchez, and Justin Nicolino (since traded to Miami). Osuna should be capable of providing tons of innings and strikeouts and is a very advanced pitcher for his age. He has the ceiling of a number two or three starter but probably won’t be ready for the majors until late 2015 or 2016 at the earliest. He’s a deep sleeper but could be poised to explode in value at any moment. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: Osuna is poised to become a breakout prospect in 2013 — which is good news for an organization that has been ravaged while focusing on improving the on-field product at the big league level. Unfortunately, the teenager is not going to be ready for the majors for at least another three years.
Profile: Through 2012, the highest level Ozuna has reached is the High-A Florida State League — and, while he acquitted himself nicely there relative to his age (21), there’s no reason (except for the fact that they are the Marlins) to expect that Miami will be particularly aggressive with his promotions in 2013. His power is a decided plus, however — Ozuna has hit 27 home runs per every 650 plate appearances in his age 17-21 seasons as a minor leaguer — and he’s made enough contact to suggest that strikeouts won’t be a tremendous liability, if and when he makes it to the majors. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: Ozuna has hit 27 home runs per every 650 plate appearances in his age 17-21 seasons as a minor leaguer, a considerable display of power for his age — all of it generally against older talent. His next step is to continue to develop at Double-A.
Profile: Broadly speaking, the 22-year-old Joe Panik’s scouting report resembles the 37-year-old Marco Scutaro’s in that both players (a) are excellent at avoiding the strikeout and (b) can play shortstop, but are likely stretched there defensively. ZiPS projects almost identical slash-lines (.262/.318/.342 for Panik and.269/.316/.360 for Scutaro) for the pair in 2013 — nor would it be surprising to see Panik replace Scutaro following the completion of the latter’s three-year, $20 million contract. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: Panik’s profile resembles Marco Scutaro’s. As the latter is signed for three years, however, the former might find playing time difficult to come by, barring injury.
Profile: Profile: Colleague Jeff Reese had the opportunity to see Paulino play during the then 17-year-old’s brief fifteen game stint in the New York Penn League. He came away enamored with Paulino’s approach at the plate and easy bat speed. He did note, however, that while Paulino’s athleticism and arm are good enough for short, his actions at the position lag behind his tools. As you can see below, Paulino employs far more hand movement before the pitch than I typically advocate for, but it does work for him because his hands wind up in the load position before attacks the ball (as opposed to his body moving forward and while his hands move back). I do love Paulino’s path to the ball though. It’s quick, efficient and he keeps the barrel level through the strike zone. (JD Sussman)
Quick Opinion: The Quick Opinion: Lindor’s presence and Paulino’s tools may mean a move off short stop in the future, but his bat is legitimate threat at third too. (JD Sussman)
Profile: Profile: When he’s on top of his game, Paxton can be impossible to hit. The left handed starter features a monster overhand curveball will buckle any batter’s knees. When he’s able to stay on top of his fastball and maintain his release point his fastball complements his curveball well. However, Paxton has battledinconstancy due, in part, to a knee injury. If he remains healthy, there is no question Paxton will miss bats at the highest level, but he will need to keep his walk rate in check if he is to become more than a number three starter.No one in the Seattle rotation is preventing Paxton from making his debut in 2013. (JD Sussman)
Quick Opinion: If his command is strong early at Triple-A Tacoma, expect a call up after the super-two deadline passes. He could provide your team with high strikeout totals and ashinyERA due to the friendly confines of SAFECO field.(JD Sussman)
Profile: By any statistical measure, Dodgers prospect Joc Pederson was a standout performer. In the California League, his .313/.396/.516 line with 26 steals earned Pederson a promotion for the Southern League playoffs. A look beyond the numbers reveals a prospect who’ll eventually move from centerfield, hurting his value. Additionally, his power and speed may dry up at the Major League level. With an ETA of 2014 at the earliest, Pederson is a decent dynasty league play in a five-outfielder format like ottoneu where outfielders are at a premium. However, I wouldn’t count on him ever becoming a core piece. (Mike Newman)
Quick Opinion: Don’t get too excited about Pederson’s numbers in the minors last season. Just a little excited.
Profile: Here’s how Roberto Perez’s profile is similar to Victor Martinez’s through roughly the same age: first, he was born on December 23rd; second, as a professional, he’s been a part of the Cleveland Indians organization exclusively; and third, he’s a catcher. Here’s how Perez’s profile is different: while Martinez’s offensive ability made his defense tolerable, it will likely be the other way around for Perez. Despite his reputation as a catch-and-throw type, however, Perez actually has demonstrated curious patience, having walked in over 15% of his minor-league plate appearances — almost all of them at entirely age-appropriate levels. His lack of power makes stardom a near impossibility, but, given his skills, Perez should likely have received more attention to date than he has. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: Almost entirely unknown, Perez is praised for his defense and has walked in over 15% of his minor-league plate appearances — almost all of them at entirely age-appropriate levels. Any sort of improvement on his power-on-contact would make him a legitimate major-league prospect.
Profile: A 2008 third-round pick, the 22-year-old right-hander has methodically made his way through the Phillies’ system, showing more quantity of innings than quality of stuff. Though not likely to be more than a number four starter, the 6’5” Pettibone has all the makings of a workhorse, having thrown 452 innings over the past three seasons while reaching Triple-A late in 2012. He has is just 6.4 strikeouts per nine over the course of his career, and of course, there’s the problem of cracking a still-loaded big league rotation, but Pettibone would likely be one of the first arms called upon in case of injury or ineffectiveness (looking at you, John Lannan and Kyle Kendrick). NL-only owners should consider him Watch List material. (Jason Catania)
Quick Opinion: More watch-list than want-to-get, even in NL-only leagues, Pettibone has his health going for him, and perhaps some opportunity at the back end of the Phillies’ rotation.
Profile: Signed for $75,000 in 2009 out of the Dominican, Polanco’s first two stateside seasons weren’t particularly inspiring, as the lanky outfielder posted fine, but uninspiring, numbers at Rookie-level and Low-A ball in 2010-11. Given a full season in 2012 at Single-A West Virginia, however, Polanco flourished, posting a 44:64 walk-to-strikeout ratio, with 16 home runs and 40/55 stolen-base record. Talented outfielders Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen remain present at the major-league level, but Polanco’s 2012 was promising enough so’s to give the Pirates front office reason to consider him for a late-season promotion, if nothing else. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: Polanco demonstrated a well-rounded game in 2012, controlling the plate, hitting for some power, and also stealing bases with efficiency. Polanco isn’t likely to see the majors for at least a year, but the talent is appealing right now.
Profile: At 18, the Twins’ Jorge Polanco posted a .903 OPS in the Appalachian League and earned sleeper prospect status made more exciting by being listed as a shortstop… on paper. Unfortunately, Polanco profiles as a second baseman at the big league level, which hurts his value. He’s still worth an add in deep dynasty formats, but Polanco really needs to produce in full season baseball for me to become a buyer. (Mike Newman)
Profile: Before there was Hanley Ramirez or Adrian Gonzalez or Brandon League, there was Yasiel Puig, whose seven-year, $42 million contract proved to be the first indication of the new Dodger financial might. Puig showed himself to be an impressive physical specimen and displayed very good raw talent & power in putting up a 1.076 OPS in 95 plate appearances in the low minors, but an elbow infection prevented him from collecting needed plate appearances in the Arizona Fall League. “Raw” is indeed the word there, since Puig has played so little organized ball over the last two seasons, and so it’s likely that he spends the bulk of 2013 at Double-A. Despite the crowded Dodger outfield, Puig isn’t being paid to be depth, so there will be room for him when he’s ready; it’s not out of the question that he makes his debut in the latter half of the season. (Mike Petriello)
Quick Opinion: Muscular 21-year-old Puig signed a shocking contract that rocked the sport as the last Cuban bonus baby, then showed off prodigious power in limited minor league playing time.
Profile: Considered an overdraft in 2011, Reed is in the running for top prospect in the Dodgers organization after multiple trades stripped the system bare. 91-93 mph from the left side with a wipe out slider is worthy of attention, but the high ranking has led to a pitcher with many question marks being overvalued in fantasy circles. Reed will be a big leaguer, but he’s just as likely to become a reliever as starter. And with Kenley Jansen being one of the best relievers in baseball, Reed’s path to fantasy relevance requires a leap of faith. In dynasty leagues, he’s worth owning in deeper formats, but Reed would rank outside the top five for a number of organizations. (Mike Newman)
Quick Opinion: Circumstance — his draft position and organization — may have led many to overrate Reed’s potential for fantasy value. Stay cynical until he proves you wrong.
Profile: Profile: Injuries have plagued Rendon’s young career, first pushing the consensus top two talent down to sixth overall in the 2011 Rule 4 draft. But, it didn’t stop there. Rendon, a relatively polished third baseman from Rice, has played just 43 regular season games, including 21 games in Double-A – a level he should have mastered. Thankfully, Rendon was able to play in the Arizona Fall League were he hit .338/.436/.494 in 22 games. If Rendon is healthy, he should be major league ready by the season’s end but the Nationals have no room for a third baseman, even one with a plus hit tool, plus-plus plate discipline and average or better power. (JD Sussman)
Quick Opinion: A slew of injuries and Ryan Zimmerman’s presence has prevented Rendon’s ascent to major leagues. As the Nationals embark on a World Series run, expect a roster bolstering trade of the near-ready slugger without a home on their roster. (JD Sussman)
Profile: The Brazilian phenom took his game to a new level in 2012, which is good news for Chicago’s thin system, which is just beginning to build up some pitching depth. The right-hander pitched at three levels last year and even made one start in Triple-A. He also pitched in the Arizona Fall League and the Venezuelan Winter League where his control issues became even more apparent. Although he’s become more of a fly-ball pitcher, the 22-year-old allowed just two home runs in 2012 and it will be interesting to see if he can keep the ball in the yard that well at the big league level (I’d caution that he probably won’t so bear that in mind.) Rienzo would most certainly return to Triple-A in 2013 and will look to continue to improve upon his command and control in an effort to realize his ceiling of a number three starter. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: Rienzo will look to follow up his breakout season with another strong campaign. Chicago lacks minor league depth so a fast start could help Rienzo find his way to the big leagues in 2013 but he still needs to sharpen his game before becoming an impact arm.
Profile: Rodriguez is an impressive defender with good speed, but his offense game is a work in progress (video). He is physically gifted but his long swing has to improve before one can project him as an impact major leaguer. (JD Sussman)
Profile: Talented but raw, 2013 will be a big year for Romero as he tries to overcome the inconstancy which has plagued his young career. His upside warrants holding him in the deepest leagues, but, as it is will all Rays, his ascent will be a slow climb. (JD Sussman)
Profile: As of the writing of this publication, the Detroit front office was still insisting that the big-bodied reliever would be firing 100 mph fastballs as the Tigers’ closer in 2013. A much cheaper option than 2012 closer Jose Valverde, Rondon is not nearly polished enough to handle high-leverage duties for a playoff-calibre big league squad. His secondary pitches need work, his control is below average and he has fewer than 30 innings of experience above A-ball. In a perfect world, the tree-trunk-legged right-hander should open 2013 in Triple-A with an eye on contributing in the second half. Don’t expect Rondon to truly take over the closer’s role in Detroit until he first proves himself in a lesser bullpen role. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: There remains a very small chance that Rondon opens 2013 as the Tigers’ closer. More likely than not, though, he’ll spend most of the season at Triple-A working on his control while also trying to polish his secondary offering.
Profile: Rosario, 21, is the rare prospect whose defense will ultimately determine his fantasy value, as the Twins have been trying to convert him from the outfield to second base. He hit .337, along with a remarkable 21 homers in just 67 games to lead the Appy League back in 2011 (fellow Twins prospect Miguel Sano mashed 20), but Rosario’s gap power and strong contact ability will more likely result in lots of doubles with mid-teens home run pop in the bigs — the kind of profile that would play much better for fantasy purposes at the keystone. Despite missing six weeks in 2012 after being hit in the face by a ball during batting practice, Rosario slashed .299/.347/.499 with 13 homers and 35 doubles in A-ball, so he should start 2013 at High-A. Rosario could hit his way to the majors by the end of 2014, but his value will hinge on whether he can stick at second. The Twins haven’t had much there in recent years, and they’re loaded with outfield prospects, so if you’re a dynasty owner who doesn’t mind a little risk, Rosario could pay off nicely. (Jason Catania)
Quick Opinion: Rosario is a hitter looking for a position. The type of bat he has — while intriguing — will play much better if he settles at second base. Dynasty leaguers, take note. This is how second basemen are found.
Profile: On the plus side, Rosenbaum, a southpaw, has been effective in his season-plus at Double-A (3.61 ERA, 1.24 WHIP) and was picked in December’s Rule 5 Draft, meaning he’ll get a shot to embark on his big league career this spring. On the downside, he’s already 25, relies more on deception and precision than stuff, and was selected by… Colorado. While the Rockies clearly have a need for starters, Rosenbaum’s profile isn’t likely to be one that holds up at Coors Field, so even if he makes the club, this could be more blowup than breakout. Although Rosenbaum will probably make his MLB debut in 2013 — whether with the Rockies or the Nats, who left him unprotected — he probably shouldn’t make his debut in any fantasy owner’s active lineup. (Jason Catania)
Quick Opinion: There are reasons to like Rosenbaum. Those reasons led a team to pick him from the Nationals in the Rule 5 Draft this season. Unfortunately, his new team is a reason to not like Rosenbaum.
Profile: Profile:Drafted 11th overall in June, 2012, Russell quieted all doubters in his first professional season. Prior to being drafted rumors suggested Russell would need to shift from shortshop to third base due to hismuscularbut bulky frame. Russell worked hard to overhaul his body and now has a lean athletic build that is conducive to remaining at short. As an 18-year-old, Russell played 55 games split across three levels of competition. He raked at each stop, showcasing strong contact skills and projecting for above average to plus power. (JD Sussman)
Quick Opinion: Russell is an elite shortstop prospect with power and speed who could reach Double-A this year if everything breaks right. (JD Sussman)
Profile: Just 20, Sanchez climbed three rungs of the White Sox organizational ladder in 2012, hitting .323 while reaching all the way up to Triple-A. A switch-hitter with good speed and a plus glove, Sanchez could turn out to be useful as a utility infielder who sees time all over the infield in 2013, especially for a club that lacks definitive answers at second and third. His spring training performance will go a long way toward determining where he starts the year, but don’t expect him to be much more than a reserve or middle infield (MI) option in AL-only leagues. Sanchez is the type of prospect who has more value in real life, but he could help owners cover for injuries once he gains multi-position eligibility. (Jason Catania)
Quick Opinion: Sanchez could push Gordon Beckham at second, or Jeff Keppinger at third, but his package of skills might be more valuable in real life than in fantasy ball. Keep an eye on him in spring in your deeper and AL-only leagues.
Profile: If Gary Sanchez develops as planned, he’s a power hitting catcher with the ability to impact a Major League lineup. This leaves Sanchez a strong pickup in most dynasty league formats. But for as impressive as his ceiling is, Sanchez’ defense and contact ability are in question leaving him with a lower floor than most are willing to admit. While a catcher who hits .270 with 25-plus home runs has significant fantasy value (see Wilin Rosario), similar production at first base (see Garrett Jones) is replaceable. I’m willing to bet on the ceiling, but would be tempted to pull the trigger on a deal before he ever reaches New York. (Mike Newman)
Quick Opinion: Defense matters here. If Sanchez develops enough glove to stay at catcher, he should have some fantasy value with some upside. But his floor is replaceable.
Profile: Profile: Sanchez is a bit of an enigma. He’s a good athlete with a prototypical stater’s build. His mechanics are clean and his athleticism allows him to repeat his delivery well. But, for some reason, his release point can escape him at times. As he gains experience his inconsistencies should iron out and Sanchez should deploy a strong three pitch mix to dominate hitters. His fastball sits in the mid 90s with bore, his curveball could be a plus pitch and his change up is advanced with good arm side fade. But, it could be a while before we see it. Since Alex Anthopoulos has taken over in Toronto, they’ve been the more conservative with their arms than any other team, even the Rays. (JD Sussman)
Quick Opinion: Now the top prospect in the gutted Toronto system, Sanchez is armed with top of the rotation stuff and a prototypical starter’s build. He is held back by his spotty command and youthful inconsistency. (JD Sussman)
Profile: Profile: Miguel Sano has been around forever, he’ll enter 2013 with over a thousand minor league plate appearances amassed at four stops. While the Midwest League is challenging, Sano’s 20-year-old season will be played in Florida State League, a notoriously difficult league for hitters. Sano’s power is undeniable but his swing is long and he’ll need to make significant adjustments against tougher competition to combat the strikeouts.
Quick Opinion: Sano is blessed with elite power but questions remain about its utility against advanced pitching. (JD Sussman)
Profile: Baltimore has a good kind of problem: between J.J. Hardy, Manny Machado, and Schoop (pronounced “scope”), the Orioles have three players who are capable of handling shortstop defensively while also possessing some kind of offensive upside. Having no major-league experience, Schoop obviously has the most uncertainty attached to him. That said, he controlled the strike zone as a 20-year-old in the Double-A Eastern League — a promising sign in itself. With the frequently injured Brian Roberts at second base for the Orioles and a total absence of Robert Andinos, it’s not outside the realm of the possible that Schoop could see major-league time at some point in 2013. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: BetweenJ.J. Hardy, Manny Machado, and Schoop, the Orioles have what might be called a “panoply” of shortstops. As appears to be the case with Machado, Schoop’s future might not actually be at short — but he can handle, and has handled, second base.
Profile: The 2012 first-round pick and brother of Seattle’s Kyle had a very impressive pro debut by putting up a .398 wOBA debut in the Pioneer League and may find himself seeing time in High-A in 2013 if all goes well. Though it’s still likely he ends up at third base, he showed enough at shortstop to stay there for now and could potentially push his way to the bigs by 2015. (Mike Petriello)
Profile: The Quick Opinion: Schaffer has above average to plus power but his hit tool and fielding ability remain in question. If he gets to the Show, it’ll be because his power and plate discipline make him a imposing threat. (JD Sussman)
Profile: Drafted 21st overall last June, Sims is a local Georgia high school product with mid-rotation upside for the Braves. The right-hander owns an impressive fastball-curveball combo and struck out 39 in his first 34 pro innings in rookie ball, but he’s only 18 years old. In deep dynasty formats where the primary available prospects are those who were just drafted, Sims is as good a long-term gamble as there is once you get outside the top handful of pitchers. Hope you’re not camping out in anticipation of his arrival, though. (Jason Catania)
Profile: Singleton’s offseason took a decided turn for the worse when he was suspended 50 games by MLB for violating the league’s drug policy (marijuana). While it won’t cut too much into his development — he’s ready for Triple-A at 21 — there’s much less of a chance for the slugging first baseman to make an impact in fantasy next season. Expect Singleton, a patient and powerful lefty hitter who owns a career .291/.394/.470 slash line, to spend much of 2013 working his way back into the good graces of the Astros. Assuming those plans don’t, er, go up in smoke, Singleton should be in line to open 2014 in the majors. (Jason Catania)
Quick Opinion: Still full of promise, a minor league suspension — not not that kind, the other kind — probably pushes Singleton’s debut into 2014. He’s still a dynasty target for his power and patience.
Profile: Chicago fans are already drooling at the thought of Soler patrolling right field for the Cubs but he could need a little more polish than many expect. He’s oozing raw power but he also has a very aggressive approach at the plate that could lead to massive strikeout totals as he faces better pitching. The truth is that he doesn’t need to sell out for power to tap into his over-the-fence strength. Soler, alleged 20 years old, could open 2013 in High-A ball if he has a strong spring and Chicago wants to try and accelerate his timetable as much as possible. Nobody projected to open 2013 in the Cubs’ starting outfield can match Soler’s potential so it’s easy to understand why there is so much excitement around him. Just be patient and the reward could be well worth it. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: Soler, a Cuban signee, has impressive raw power but he took some massive cuts in his debut suggesting that he has some work to do before succeeding in the upper levels of professional baseball. It will probably take at least two years before he’s an impact player in Chicago.
Profile: Sure, the tools are impressive, but Bubba’s baseball skills also need to develop. And with Starling making his full season debut in 2013, the center fielder is behind the learning curve with respect to refining those skills: Starling struck out 30-plus percent of the time in the Appalachian League. This, after undergoing an overhaul of his hitting mechanics. In dynasty formats, I’d be looking to sell Starling immediately. Let another owner gamble on his upside. In moderately deep leagues, a shrewd owner might even cash out of Starling and buy White Sox Trayce Thompson as a penny stock. In terms of talent, they are similar players. (Mike Newman)
Quick Opinion: Bubba Starling is one of the more overrated prospects in baseball.
Profile: Another northern California pitching product, Stephen couples a nasty moving fastball with a developing overhand curve that flashes plus. If he can complement the duo with a change-up, he is one of few potential top of the rotation arms in the minor leagues. (JD Sussman)
Profile: Colorado Rockies prospect Trevor Story is the rare shortstop who profiles for power and has the defensive chops to stick at the position. In person, his tools don’t stand out, but Story does everything well. Doubters will point to a higher-than-ideal strikeout rate, but how many shortstops approach 70 extra base hits in a season? Very few. If he surfaces as a .275/.350 player with 15-18 home runs at the big league level, Story immediately becomes an impact shortstop. In dynasty leagues, owners may have to worry about his sliding to second base because of Troy Tulowitzki at some point, but not for a couple of years. Story’s ETA is 2015. (Mike Newman)
Quick Opinion: Don’t get too worried about what’s going on at the major league level ahead of him — Story has the ability to stay at shortstop and the power to be an impact bat at the position. That’s interesting.
Profile: The Giants’ top pick of the 2012 amateur draft out of the college ranks, Stratton could move quickly through the system thanks to his four-pitch mix. He struggled with his control in a small sample size so it will be interesting to see how well it holds up over the course of a full season — although it should be at least average. Stratton, 22, could very well open 2013 in High-A and finish in Double-A. Expect him to be pushing for a regular spot in the big league starting rotation as soon as mid 2014. He could reach the majors before fellow top pitching prospects Kyle Crick and Clayton Blackburn. Stratton’s ceiling isn’t quite as high as Crick’s but it’s a little better than Blackburn. In other words, expect him to be a solid number three starter. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: Stratton flashed some potential in 2012 but he’s probably about two to three years away from helping the Giants at the big league level. With the likes of Kyle Crick and Clayton Blackburn head of him, though, there is probably no need to rush him.
Profile: The tall Texan is one of the hardest throwers in the minors — having reportedly reached triple-digits on numerous occasions — but he also flashes solid control for his age and experience level. The downside to Syndergaard, though, is his lack of secondary stuff, which is problematic because it could A) limit his strikeouts as he climbs through the minors, and B) could push him from the starting rotation to the bullpen. If he sticks in the rotation, Syndergaard could develop into a number three starter or fringe number two depending on how his breaking ball and changeup develop. The right-hander will pitch in High-A ball in 2013 and did not turn 20 until late in the year so there is no need to rush him. Traded to the New York Mets during the off-season as part of the package for 2012 NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, Syndergaard could eventually team with Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler to form a very strong young starting rotation. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: The hard-throwing right-hander has a fair bit of work to do on his secondary offerings if he’s going to stick as a big league starter. Just 20, he’s probably two to three years away from tasting big league action. Eventually, though, he could help New York field a dynamic, young starting rotation.
Profile: Profile: After being drafted second overall in the 2010 draft, Taillon made a debut a year later in the South Atlantic League with the West Virginia Power. Then, in 2012, he was assigned to the Florida State League. Statistically both stops were underwhelming for a top ten pitching prospect, but scouting reports supported the young right-hander. In my viewing of Taillon I saw an elite fastball that never dipped below 95 and routinely touched 97 and a hammer curve that was a true plus-pitch. While it’s a big league out-pitch, the curve is inconsistent at this point and he’ll need to develop a second offering that he can throw for strikes if he is to reach his ceiling. (JD Sussman)
Quick Opinion: Jameson Taillon’s mid to upper 90s fastball and wipe out curve will make him the Pirates’ ace if he can complement the two offerings with even a decent change up. If his performance is strong in Double-A, he could see time in Pittsburgh this season as Neal Huntington tries to save his job. (JD Sussman)
Profile: Domingo Tapia of the Mets is a hulking right-handed pitcher with a fastball that flashes up to 99 mph. The pitch features heavy sink and is enough to project him to be a future big leaguer on its own. His secondary offerings are still works in progress which muddles Tapia’s projection. Additionally, his low three-quarters delivery makes it difficult to envision Tapia developing into a 200-inning starter. In the pen, Tapia profiles as at least an eighth-inning reliever with closer possibilities. Think of him as a better version of fellow Dominican Jeurys Familia. Tapia’s ETA is 2015 at the earliest and is worth owning in deep dynasty formats with 15 or more prospects. (Mike Newman)
Quick Opinion: Since he might be headed to the pen, Tapia’s best owned in deeper dynasty leagues. He’s got a big league pitch, though.
Profile: When you talk about Oscar Taveras, you’re talking about the best player in baseball not to have made a major-league appearance (a qualification which rules out Texas shortstop prospect Jurickson Profar). In fact, even when you’re not talking about Oscar Taveras, somebody else probably is — and is probably talking about how he’s the best player in baseball not to have made a major-league appearance. Taveras has a contact-heavy approach that receives frequent, but not necessarily inaccurate, comparisons to Vladimir Guerrero. His 23 home runs at Double-A Springfield in 2012 come with an asterisk in the form of his home park, which allows home runs at a considerably higher rate than league average. They come with a second asterisk, however, in that 2012 was just Taveras’s age-20 season, which suggests that he’s likely to develop more power. Despite having appeared in center field for much of his minor-league career to date, he’s probably bound for a corner spot eventually. The bat will play there, it appears, though — and could also play in St. Louis as early as this summer, if his development continues at its current pace. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: If the reader is interested in creating a drinking game, he (or she) might consider take a sip every time Taveras is compared to Vladimir Guerrero in a scouting report. This brief cap of Taveras counts as part of the game.
Profile: An 18-year-old infielder with major-league bloodlines was a “first-round pick” in part because supplemental picks stretched the round to 60 choices, but still has potential despite his struggles in rookie ball. Even so, he’s a raw prospect who is four-to-five years away — if he even makes it at all. (Mike Petriello)
Profile: Signed out of Venezuela in 2010, Vasquez is a baby, having just turned 19 in January. Almost immediately, his intro to full-season ball last year didn’t work out (16-for-99, .162 BA), which indicated Detroit pushed him too quickly. (That never happens with Tigers prospects.) The step back to short-season ball went better for the lefty hitter (.311/.341/.401), but at this stage, even dynasty league owners have a year or two before they’ll need to consider adding him. (Jason Catania)
Profile: Profile: It’s hard not to root for a slight right-hander who reaches triple digits. In addition to a big moving fastball, Ventura owns a work-in-progress slider and an even rawer change. The rotation Dayton Moore has assembled is shockingly poor despite spending a large sum on upgrading it. Should an injury occur (likely) or someone underwhelms (likely) expect to see Ventura thrown onto Dayton Moore’s self inflicted wound. (JD Sussman)
Quick Opinion: With the Royals renewal of their annual “this is our year” campaign, expect hard throwing righty to continue his development in Kansas City following a mid-season call up. (JD Sussman)
Profile: Dealt to the Chicago Cubs last summer, third baseman Christian Villanueva has a plus glove and offensive skill set that may allow him to post .275/.335 seasons with 15 home runs and 15 steals at the big league level. For fantasy owners, this isn’t a sexy outcome. But for a big league team, it’s an above-average regular with a high floor. My one concern is his growing weight which is slowing Villanueva down. In fantasy leagues, he may earn a September callup with a strong performance in Double-A — not exactly helpful. However, Villanueva is a definite add in deep dynasty leagues where safe, everyday players have value. (Mike Newman)
Quick Opinion: Hey may not have as sexy ceiling as some of his lower-level minor league numbers may suggest, but new Cubs third-base prospect Villanueva has enough upside to register in most dynasty leagues.
Profile: A highly-desirable college draft pick in 2012, Wacha dominated out of the bullpen after turning pro, in an effort to keep his innings total down. The 21-year-old struck out 40 in 21.0 combined innings and also showed good downward movement that resulted in tons of ground-ball outs. The right-hander has a very impressive pitching frame and injuries have not been a concern so he should be quite durable. He will re-assume his starting role in 2013 and should open the year in Double-A. If he continues to succeed, Wacha could reach the majors by the end of the coming year. He has the ceiling of a number two or three starter and could surprise a lot of people in 2013, so think about picking him up and stashing him away if your league allows minor league rosters. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: Wacha had a dominating debut but an asterisk is necessary because of the small sample size and the fact that he was pitching in short stints out of the bullpen. He’s an interesting prospect to monitor in 2013 with a number of different opinions circulating in regards to his ultimate ceiling.
Profile: That was a lost year for Tsyuoshi Wada, who went down with Tommy John surgery in May and never threw a major league pitch. The good news is that he’s ahead of his schedule in his rehab, the bad news is that he’s still a long shot to start the season with the team, and we don’t have any better idea of his ability to get major leaguers out. He had a 76 FIP- in his last season in Japan, but recent research suggests that velocity is a better predictor of a pitchers’ ability to successfully transition from Japan to the majors. Thanks to Patrick Newman’s NPB Tracker, we know that Wada isn’t likely to crack 90 mph with the Orioles. Will solid command of his slider and changeup combo be enough to strike major leaguers out without much gas? Can he beat out Steve Johnson, Miguel Gonzalez or Brian Matusz for one of the final two spots in the rotation? The answer isn’t likely to be yes, but his name is worth filing away. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: Tsyuoshi Wada, take two. After Tommy John surgery stole his debut season, Wada will take aim at the Orioles’ rotation again. Problem is, it’s a little more crowded this season than it seemed at the beginning of last season.
Profile: The deconstruction of the Mariners’ Taijuan Walker as a prospect this off-season has been a surprise — even if his Double-A production fell short of dominant. In his final start of 2012, Walker’s fastball was 94-96 mph with a hammer curveball and improved changeup. As a prospect, he still ranks as one of the best in baseball based on upside projection. In dynasty league formats, Walker has buy-low possibilities even though the price of acquiring the right-hander will still be steep. Remember, Walker was an untouchable commodity last winter before being discussed in trade scenarios this winter. In 2013, Walker is unlikely to have any fantasy league value, but could receive a September callup. Look for him to spend most of next season back in Double-A refining his arsenal with an eye on 2014. (Mike Newman)
Quick Opinion: For some reason, the shine on Walker’s prospect status has dulled a bit. That could be an opening for a long-term dynasty league buy-low opportunity.
Profile: For short spurts, Allen Webster has the ability to dominate minor league competition. Unfortunately, he tires faster than a 100 meter sprinter tasked with running a marathon. Twice, I’ve seen Webster dominate for four innings before collapsing. Given his ground-ball tendencies and fastball which can touch 98 mph, Webster’s ceiling is tantalizing. However, projecting durability is difficult. This leaves his future role in doubt. The potential is there for Webster to surface as a number-three starter, but so-so command and a lean frame may result in his becoming a late inning reliever — especially if he’s rushed to Boston. (Mike Newman)
Quick Opinion: Webster’s eventual role is the question. Not his stuff, or his ceiling.
Profile: Profile: The Mets have announced that their top two prospects, Zack Wheeler and Travis d’Arnaud will start the season at Triple-A Las Vegas. But, don’t expect the battery to remain there for long. The Mets are on record saying Wheeler is more advanced then last year’s upstart, Matt Harvey who made his debut July 26. Wheeler features a mid to upper 90s fastball and a wicked slider, but he’s been plagued with command issues. If he remains at Las Vegas it will be to work on his command as the Flushing Faithful are too restless to permit the Front Office to penny pitch over Wheeler’s super-two status. (JD Sussman)
Quick Opinion: A full season dominating Triple-A hitters would beneficial, but Wheeler will spend the summer honing his skills in Flushing rather than Las Vegas. (JD Sussman)
Profile: Mason Williams was in the midst of a breakout 2012 when his season was cut short by a fluke shoulder injury incurred while attempting to make a diving catch. For any centerfielder, an .820 OPS and 20 steals is worth taking note of, even in a shortened season. Add a plus defensive profile and the fact that Williams projects to stick in center, and you have a strong real-life prospect. While Williams projects for moderate speed and power at the Major League level, he was caught stealing 13 times and reached base at only a .302 clip after earning a promotion to High-A, so his fantasy ceiling might not be vaulted. At present, Williams has no 2013 fantasy value. In dynasty formats, he’s a strong pick up in deeper leagues where 10-plus prospect may be kept. (Mike Newman)
Quick Opinion: There are flaws to Williams’ game — his patience and speed have asterisks — but his defense will keep him in center and on the fantasy radar in long-term leagues.
Profile: Profile: Little stands in Wong’s way from reaching the big leagues in 2013. The tiny Hawaiian has a smooth left handed stroke that will produce above average batting average. His power is notable for his size, but he’s unlikely to much more than ten to fifteen home runs in season, well below the average fantasy second baseman. If Wong does win the second base job, he’ll likely bat eight in a loaded cardinals line up. (JD Sussman)
Quick Opinion: The door is open for Kolten Wong to seize the Cardinals’ second base job. His main competition appears to be Matt Carpenter, but if Wong is able to secure a spot in the National League’s best lineup he could become a very valuable fantasy piece. (JD Sussman)
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