Arodys Vizcaino is about to throw the ball really hard. His future will include a lot of this in Atlanta.
As you may already know, my name is Bret and I'm one of the new writers emigrating over to Fake Teams from the site formerly known as Roto Hardball. Well, technically it's probably still called Roto Hardball, but now we're just getting into semantics. As Ray opined in his post from yesterday, my two main areas of focus will be the middle infield landscape and how to exploit medium-term schedules for starting pitchers. It should be no surprise that he was spot on, he's a smart man. But for today's post (and next week's), I'm going to focus on a personal project I've been working on for a few weeks now: my Top 100 Dynasty League Prospect rankings.
A few disclaimers first. These rankings only include players who are rookie-eligible heading into the 2012 season. You will notice that Yu Darvish is not on this list despite the fact that I think he's awesome, as I don't consider him a prospect. You will also notice there is no Yoenis Cespedes or Jorge Soler, but that is because as I am typing this, they are not currently in Major League Baseball. Again, not for lack of either baseball ability or core strength. Finally, the intention of this list is to balance the upside, probability and proximity of these players to an active fantasy lineup. So in a vacuum, I'd rather have the #87 player on this list than #88 on my dynasty league roster right now based on all of those factors.
Additionally, if you want to delve any further into the list or have specific dynasty league questions you want my opinion on, either post them in the comments section here or catch me on Twitter at @tfw_bret and I'll answer all of them. If you want to just say hello or tell me I've over/under rated someone you love/hate, that's great too. I'm a firm believer that an ongoing dialogue is always more helpful than a singular monologue, and the goal of this is to be an additional resource in guiding your team to a championship.
So without any further ado, I give you prospects 100 through 51. The top 50 will be posted next Tuesday.
#100 - Jeurys Familia, SP/RP, New York Mets
He's ranked accordingly as his chances are probably less than 50/50 at this point to stay in the rotation. His stuff will play up in the bullpen, but not enough to be a top-flight closer.
#99 - John Hellweg, SP, Los Angeles Angels
Hellweg is a big arm with very questionable but improving control after a move from the bullpen to the rotation. If he continues his 2011 development into this season, he could be the Angels' #1 prospect at year-end.
#98 - Kolten Wong, 2B, St. Louis Cardinals
Seen by some as more of a safe draft pick without a ton of upside, Wong can flat out hit (.335 with 5 HR and 9 SB in 194 ABs last season) and he'll start 2012 in High-A. He could get fast-tracked if he keeps hitting.
#97 - Taylor Guerrieri, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
He's raw and far away from the majors, but it's hard to ignore his upside. His fastball, power curve combination could move him up this list pretty quickly if his command comes together. Guerrieri's "off-field issues" are overrated.
#96 - Marcell Ozuna, OF, Miami Marlins
A classic tooled-up outfielder, Ozuna needs to develop his hit tool and his plate discipline in order to make a real major league impact. But if he does, he could be a good power/speed double threat.
#95 - Bryce Brentz, OF, Boston Red Sox
Players who hit 30 HR in A-ball don't exactly grow on trees, and Fenway would be a very comfortable place for Brentz's right handed power to play. Just don't expect him to win any batting titles.
#94 - CJ Cron, 1B/DH, Los Angeles Angels
He's listed as a "slash DH" here as not only is that how good of a fielder he is, but last I checked, the Angels have 1B covered for the next 10 years. Then again, 30+ HRs with a .275 average should play even with DH-only eligibility.
#93 - Blake Swihart, C, Boston Red Sox
This ranking is really a hedge based on where Swihart ends up positionally. If he's a catcher long-term, then he'd be closer to the top-50. If he's not, he doesn't make this list at all. But his bat can carry him to the majors regardless.
#92 - Chris Carter, 1B/DH, Oakland Athletics
Yes, he still qualifies for prospect lists, though he's extremely likely to get the remaining 18 at bats he needs to lose eligibility in 2012. He is what he is, big power with big strikeouts, no positional value and a home park that will work against him.
#91 - Jonathan Villar, SS, Houston Astros
Villar's fantasy appeal is obvious (14 HR and 34 SB in 2011), but he's a career .251 hitter with a 26.4% K rate. If he could hit just .260 in the majors, he'd be a very valuable player, but he's still very much a wild card.
#90 - Chris Archer, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
Archer's dominating fastball/slider combination and below average control may scream bullpen, but his change-up will be the key to staying in the rotation. Fortunately for dynasty leaguers, shut down closers can be nice too.
#89 - Alex Meyer, SP, Washington Nationals
A 6'9" righty with stuff as big as his frame, Meyer has two potential 70-grade pitches in his fastball and slider. He's got a ways to go to get to the top of a rotation, but the raw materials are there.
#88 - Jose Fernandez, SP, Miami Marlins
Fernandez is a Cuban power arm, who defected prior to starting high school in Florida. With a plus fastball and two projectable breaking balls, Fernandez has a significant ceiling, but just as significant of a development path.
#87 - Derek Norris, C, Oakland Athletics
It's in fashion to talk about how strange Norris' .210/.367/.446 line was at AA in 2011, but for fantasy purposes, don't forget he's also averaged 9 steals in his four full minor league seasons. That's not insignificant.
#86 - Noah Syndergaard, SP, Toronto Blue Jays
A 6'5" power pitcher from Texas (where else?), Syndergaard took a big step forward this year by reaching Low-A right around his 19th birthday. Armed with a big fastball and power curve, Syndergaard's upside is substantial, to say the least.
#85 - Taylor Jungmann, SP, Milwaukee Brewers
Jungmann starred at Texas prior to being taken 12th overall by the Brewers in the 2011 draft. Another big-framed power pitcher from the Lone Star State, Jungmann is ready for a quick trip through the minors. He could be in Milwaukee by mid-2013.
#84 - Neil Ramirez, SP, Texas Rangers
Probably the most improved player in the Rangers' system in 2011, Ramirez jumped from ending 2010 in Low-A all the way up to AAA. He could settle in as the team's long-term #3 starter behind Yu Darvish and Martin Perez.
#83 - Dante Bichette Jr, 3B, New York Yankees
After tearing up the Gulf Coast League in his debut, Bichette has the look of an offensive third baseman (and his dad). He gets rave reviews for his work ethic and approach, in addition to his raw power.
#82 - Trevor May, SP, Philadelphia Phillies
May is the last man standing, of sorts, from the once strong Phillies farm system. After a very strong second go round in High-A, May will look to continue his upward K/9 trend in AA (8.2, 11.1, 12.1, 12.4 over his four seasons).
#81 - Cheslor Cuthbert, 3B, Kansas City Royals
The Midwest League's youngest position player, Cuthbert exceeded expectations in his first year of full-season ball. He projects to have above average hit and power tools, along with an advanced approach which should continue to improve.
#80 - Daniel Norris, SP, Toronto Blue Jays
Norris was ranked as the top prep left-handed pitcher in the 2011 draft by Baseball America and it's easy to see why. Norris sits in the low 90's with his fastball and flashes two plus secondary offerings. The sky is still the limit here.
#79 - Yasmani Grandal, C, San Diego Padres
Things looked a little better for Grandal prior to the trade to San Diego, as Petco will inhibit his average power. The owner of a .303/.401/.488 career line, Grandal has upside but is unlikely to ever be a top tier fantasy catcher.
#78 - Mason Williams, OF, New York Yankees
Even though he's at least three years away from seeing major league action, Williams' combination of a potential plus hit tool with easy 80 speed means he could be your prototypical OF speedster. Think Brett Gardner, but good.
#77 - Brian Goodwin, OF, Washington Nationals
Goodwin has fantasy stud written all over him. His offensive ceiling could be Carl Crawford-ish with average power and a lot of stolen bases. But let's see him at least play one game in the minors first.
#76 - Dellin Betances, SP, New York Yankees
Betances has excellent raw stuff, but he's yet to figure out how to harness it -- and at a not particularly athletic 6'8", it's fair to wonder whether he ever will. His two most likely outcomes remain a power reliever or an inconsistent 3rd starter who gets strikeouts.
#75 - Josh Bell, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
The story is well known by now, but the Pirates did extremely well to bring the top prep power hitter into their system. He won't be in Pittsburgh any time soon, but there's no one in their system with his offensive upside.
#74 - John Lamb, SP, Kansas City Royals
Lamb would be at least 20 spots higher on this list if he was healthy and not recovering from TJ surgery. His upside is still that of a solid 2/3 starter, but there's additional risk here until he starts pitching in games again -- especially since his biggest strength is his fastball command.
#73 - Cory Spangenberg, 2B, San Diego Padres
The Northwest League was not much of a challenge for Spangenberg, who put up a .384 AVG and .515 OBP in 25 games. He profiles as a legitimate top-of-the-order hitter who will contribute plenty in AVG, runs and SB. Just don't expect any HR/RBI production.
#72 - Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
Taveras just knows how to hit. A career .322 hitter in three minor league seasons, including .386 in 2011 at Low-A, he can seemingly put the ball wherever he wants to. His current gap power should develop into at least average power down the road, which could put his offensive ceiling just shy of current Cardinals OF Matt Holiday.
#71 - Joe Wieland, SP, Texas Rangers
Wieland's most impressive 2011 stat was his 150/21 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His stuff may just be average, with a fastball maybe a tick above, but his floor is that of a back-end starter. And a back-end starter in Petco is still a guy you need to be aware of -- he's a high probability stash.
#70 - Joe Benson, OF, Minnesota Twins
Benson could force himself onto the Twins' roster with a strong spring training, but he likely needs a little more seasoning. His hit tool will hold him back from being a star, but he can fill up the remaining categories with power, speed and enough OBP to score some runs.
#69 - Mike Olt, 3B, Texas Rangers
Olt lost a substantial portion of the season after breaking his collarbone in June, but made up for it by raking in the Arizona Fall League. A potential .270 hitter with 30 HR power, his fantasy value is greatly affected by whether he's moved or traded, as he's blocked by Adrian Beltre in Texas for the foreseeable future.
#68 - Tim Wheeler, OF, Colorado Rockies
Wheeler's a guy who has more fantasy upside than real baseball upside. Scouts are varied on his eventual ceiling, but even a second-division regular with Wheeler's power/speed ability playing in the rarefied air of Colorado can be an early draft pick.
#67 - Eddie Rosario, 2B/OF, Minnesota Twins
The important question here is can Rosario make the switch to 2B stick? The Twins desperately need offense from their middle infielders, and Rosario's five tool upside is especially appetizing. So while he'd still be valuable from a fantasy perspective in the OF, he could be special at 2B.
#66 - Arodys Vizcaino, SP/RP, Atlanta Braves
With his move to the bullpen looking more and more permanent, Vizcaino no longer has the same value he had at this time last year. And with Craig Kimbrel looking like he'll be firmly entrenched as the Braves' closer of the future, he's borderline fantasy irrelevant in the bullpen barring a trade.
#65 - George Springer, OF, Houston Astros
Springer is an interesting case, as he's both toolsy and raw for a draftee out of college. He's got power and speed, but scouts are concerned there may be some holes in his swing. If he puts it together, he could be a stud category filler. But if his hit tool lags, not much of that matters.
#64 - Casey Kelly, SP, San Diego Padres
Kelly still has plenty of believers, but has certainly lost some of his prospect shine. He still has the fastball/curveball combination that made him the main piece of the Red Sox trade for Adrian Gonzalez. If his performance can align with his stuff, he should see the majors this year.
#63 - Randall Delgado, SP, Atlanta Braves
The most forgotten member of Atlanta's "big four", Delgado will compete for a rotation spot this season after more than holding his own in his first taste of the majors last season (2.83 ERA in 7 starts). He's got the three-pitch arsenal to start, but there are whispers of him potentially moving to the bullpen in 2012 if he doesn't make the rotation.
#62 - Jarred Cosart, SP, Houston Astros
Scouts continue to be frustrated with Cosart's performance, as it rarely hints at the quality of his stuff. A pitcher with three potential plus pitches in his arsenal should not be putting up a 4.12 ERA and 6.3 K/9 between High-A and AA. The bullpen rumblings are there, but he's still got time to prove there's a front-line starter in his arm.
#61 - Zach Lee, SP. Los Angeles Dodgers
Lee won't be an ace, but fits the athletic 2/3 starter mold very well. He's unlikely to be a star in any fantasy category, but should be a very good all around contributor. If he continues to progress and impress, he should become the starter that Dodgers fans though Chad Billingsley would become, statistically speaking.
#60 - Rymer Liriano, OF, San Diego Padres
After being demoted from High-A 15 games into the season, Liriano not only responded but ended the season as the Midwest League MVP, hitting .298 with 12 HR and 66 SB. Just as important was his improvement in plate discipline during 2011, lowering his K-rate from 24.7% to 18.6% and raising his BB-rate from 6.7% to 9.1%.
#59 - Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians
The youngest 2011 first round draft pick -- he was exactly 4 days old when Nirvana recorded Unplugged in New York -- Lindor was considered as high as the #2 pick with Seattle. His tools, a plus bat with potential average power and above average speed, combined with outstanding makeup, makes Lindor one to watch.
#58 - Javier Baez, SS/3B, Chicago Cubs
Baez is a potential plus-bat, plus-power guy with arguably the best bat speed in the entire 2011 draft. The bad news: he's got about as good of a shot to stick at SS as I do. The good news: he has the potential to put up numbers similar numbers to former Cubs 3B Aramis Ramirez.
#57 - Robbie Erlin, SP, San Diego Padres
Erlin's dynasty league value, like rotation mate Joe Wieland's, jumped in 2011 due to both performance and affiliation. Command/control pitchers and Petco Park often make great bedfellows, and Erlin's raw stuff compares favorably to many in that brotherhood. He could put up sterling ratios and decent strikeout totals.
#56 - Xander Bogaerts, SS/3B, Boston Red Sox
Not many 18 year olds can jump straight from the Dominican Summer League to the Sally League and put up an .830 OPS with 16 HRs. He won't stick at SS long-term, but if he comes close to his ceiling, the bat will play anywhere. His potential plus right-handed power could be fun to watch at Fenway.
#55 - Jake Odorizzi, SP, Kansas City Royals
Odorizzi was a bit overshadowed going into 2011 by Royals' lefties John Lamb and Mike Montgomery, but after a 3.73 ERA and 157 K's in 147 innings in 2011, he's proving he's got just as much upside. He won't be a fantasy ace, but he has the stuff to rack up the K's (possibly 200+).
#54 - Jake Marisnick, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
A dictionary worthy definition of a guy who "looks good in a uniform", Marisnick really started to turn his tools into performance this year, hitting .320 with 14 HR and 37 SB at Low-A Lansing. He may be a few years away, but he could be a fantasy monster.
#53 - Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs
Rizzo crushed the ball in AAA last season, to the tune of a .331/.404/.652 line, but failed to impress in his first taste of the show. Still just 22 years old, he'll need to improve his performance against lefties and show he can handle major league velocity, but has time on his side. The bar is just really high for a fantasy 1B.
#52 - Sonny Gray, SP, Oakland Athletics
Finally, the representative diminutive right-handed pitcher who some scouts still don't believe will stick in the rotation long-term. Gray shot to AA in 2011 and more than held his own, with a 0.45 ERA in 20 innings. Even if he ends up in the bullpen, it should be as an elite or near-elite closer.
#51 - Mike Montgomery, SP, Kansas City Royals
Montgomery had a forgettable year in AAA, but the quality of his stuff did not waiver. The upside he displayed up until this point is still there (although admittedly less likely than it was), and he's right on the cusp of the majors. He could legitimately be the Royals' best pitcher this season.