I'll try to keep the intro somewhat short, since I'm sure you're here to see the rankings and not to read some long-winded diatribe about expectations and the beauty of the development curve. Instead, I'll just make one comment which you'll find holds true in the context of these rankings. If you're looking for me to overreact to two and a half months of performance for any particular prospect, you've come to the wrong place. Simply put, all prospects who achieve major league success go through their own trials and tribulations on the way - and if you believe in the player, a little adversity shouldn't affect your views all that much.
My favorite example of this is comes from 2009. Eric Hosmer was the #3 pick in the 2008 draft and was comfortably within the Top 50 prospects in the game when 2009 lists came out. Then he went and had a disappointing 2009 season between Low-A and High-A (.241/.334/.361 with 6 HR in 377 AB). I was paying particularly close attention to this because he was my first first-round draft pick in a dynasty league I was trying to rebuild. The next year, when prospect rankings came out, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus had dropped him off their Top 100 lists entirely. Only Keith Law at ESPN kept the faith, ranking him #34 on his list. Turns out, he was right to keep the faith as Hosmer truly broke out in 2010 - and he was ranked within the Top-12 in all major outlet lists for 2011.
Overreaction can be the easiest way to get yourself into trouble in a dynasty league, especially when it comes to high-pedigree prospects going through rough stretches. So if you want to see me drop Shelby Miller way down the list after putting up terrible numbers in the PCL this year for a couple of months, you'll be disappointed. It certainly doesn't mean he hasn't sucked, it just means that I'm only going to let a 14 start sample alter my opinion on a player's career so much.
Now for the disclaimer portion of the show. These rankings only include players who are both rookie-eligible and not currently in the majors. For example, you will notice that Jacob Turner is not on this list, as he was just called up yesterday to start against the Cardinals (but for the record, he was at #45 before this news broke). They also (like the other mid-season prospect lists here at Fake Teams) do NOT include 2012 draftees, as we still do not know who will sign. These rankings also take into account the teams these prospects will play for. So a pitcher in Petco or Safeco will get a bump, as will a hitter in Arlington or Coors. But most importantly, 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 #26 player on this list than #27 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 the Mid-Season Top 50 Dynasty League Prospects. After the jump of course...
50) Anthony Gose, OF, Toronto Blue Jays (Triple-A Las Vegas) - Preseason rank: #49 - Profile
Gose will likely never hit for average, but with his speed, he's more valuable the more he can get on base. His realistic statistical upside could look like 2009-2010 B.J. Upton - .240 avg, .320 OBP, 15 HR, 40+ SB.
49) George Springer, OF, Houston Astros (High-A Lancaster) - Preseason rank: #65 - Profile
Springer is doing exactly what was expected of him in Lancaster, so I'm not going to give him a big bump up this list. If he does the same thing in AA, then we'll talk.
48) Jake Marisnick, OF, Toronto Blue Jays (High-A Dunedin) - Preseason rank: #54
If last year was Marisnick's breakout season, this year is his reality check season - though a 761 OPS is still in the top-25 for the FSL. All of the tools are still there to make him a potential star, but remember he's still a work in progress.
47) Martin Perez, SP, Texas Rangers (Triple-A Round Rock) - Preseason rank: #21
I'm sure you're just as tired of talking about how young Martin Perez is relative to his competition. I'm ready to start talking about how awesome he is relative to his competition. He may not be a savior, but he's better than this.
46) James Paxton, SP, Seattle Mariners (Double-A Jackson) - Preseason rank: #41 - Profile
Still pretty inconsistent, Paxton is a power lefty with all kinds of potential outcomes. With his stuff, he could be a #2 starter if his command improves or a closer if it doesn't. Either way, he'll be a lefty pitching in Safeco.
45) Starling Marte, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates (Triple-A Indianapolis) - Preseason rank: #29
After Marte put on a show in spring training, he's struggled to show advancement so far at AAA this year. The two things that concern me most are his uptick in K's and his inability to steal bases at a reasonable clip (15 SB in 25 attempts)
44) Eddie Rosario, 2B, Minnesota Twins (Low-A Beloit) - Preseason rank: #67
Rosario was dealt a rough break last week, when he was hit in the face by a BP line drive and needed facial surgery. But when healthy, Rosario was not only hitting well (.293/.362/.473 with 7 HR & 9 SB), but reports were also positive about his position switch from OF to 2B.
43) Mason Williams, OF, New York Yankees (Low-A Charleston) - Preseason rank: #78 - Profile
The most impressive stat of Williams' 2012 campaign so far is definitely the 23 K in nearly 250 plate appearances. With that kind of contact rate and his speed, his star is clearly rising. If he can grow into 15 HR power, we could be looking at an absolute stud.
42) Matt Barnes, SP, Boston Red Sox (High-A Salem) - Preseason rank: NR - Profile
Talk about making an entrance. Barnes was a bit lost in the shuffle with all of the great college arms in the 2011 draft, but he's on everyone's radar now. After all, 95 K in 72 2/3 IP and a 0.99 ERA will do that. He's ready for AA, and should be ready for Fenway by mid-2013.
41) Brett Jackson, OF, Chicago Cubs (Triple-A Iowa) - Preseason rank: #34
With Jackson, you have to take the good with the bad. The good is that he could be a 20-20 guy at the major league level. The bad is that he might strike out 200 times in the process. In standard leagues, you'll take the trade-off, but in points leagues, it could hamper his value.
40) Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs (Triple-A Iowa) - Preseason rank: #53 - Profile
There's nothing wrong with Anthony Rizzo, but I'm not jumping him way up this list by essentially doing exactly what he did last year in AAA. The scouting reports have been positive, but I need to see it in the Windy City.
39) Jean Segura, SS, Los Angeles Angels (Double-A Arkansas) - Preseason rank: #35
It has taken two months, but it looks like Segura is finally starting to get it going at AA. His 27 SB is good for 2nd in the Texas League and his style of play is highly contact-oriented. In fact, in his last 10 games (40 AB), he's got exactly 1 BB and 1 K.
38) Jorge Soler, OF, Chicago Cubs (Unassigned) - Preseason rank: NR
What to do with Jorge Soler? We still haven't seen him play, we just know about the workouts and the tools. I'm sort of hedging here by putting him between the Cubs current top two prospects in Baez and Rizzo, but his upside (if it is to be believed) could be immense.
37) Jose Fernandez, SP, Florida Marlins (Low-A Greensboro) - Preseason rank: #88
Another breakout star from the 2011 draft, Fernandez is a big man with a big fastball. Though it's his command and control which have been better than advertised. He's still far away, but it's hard not to imagine him throwing smoke in Miami's huge ballpark.
36) Jake Odorizzi, SP, Kansas City Royals (Triple-A Omaha) - Preseason rank: #55
It's time for Odorizzi to stop flying so far under the radar. He'll never be named World's Sexiest Prospect, but his talents have shown through at the highest levels of the minors. He'll get strikeouts and have a solid WHIP due to his low walk rates, although as a fly-ball guy he'll be susceptible to the long ball.
35) Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros (Double-A Corpus Christi) - Preseason rank: #36
If there's one thing Singleton has consistently done since his pro career started, it's getting on base. Here are his OBPs by year: .395, .393, .392, .388. Add his power potential to those on base skills, and you get something to hang onto -- even if he'll only have 1B eligibility.
34) Rymer Liriano, OF, San Diego (High-A Lake Elsinore) - Preseason rank: #60 - Profile
Maybe Liriano is just a slow starter. He's struggled out the gate the last three years, but this season he has kicked it into gear without requiring a demotion. His OPS was 593 in April, 846 in May and 1077 in June - he's hitting .304 overall with 5 HR and 21 SB. Just imagine what he'll turn into if/when his future above-average power becomes present.
33) Manny Banuelos, SP, New York Yankees (Triple-A Scranton) - Preseason rank: #28
It's easy to forget that Banuelos is just now playing in his age-21 season, since he's been on the prospect radar for a while. The upside of a #2 starter is still there, but he really needs to demonstrate that he can stay healthy, as he's only thrown 218 1/3 IP since the start of 2010.
32) Nick Franklin, SS, Seattle Mariners (Triple-A Tacoma) - Preseason rank: #43 - Profile
With his 23 HR explosion in the Midwest League looking more like an outlier, Franklin is settling into who he'll be at the major league level - a pretty good average, some pop and some speed. He'll never win you a category, but should be a solid all-around contributor at a tough position to fill.
31) Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians (Low-A Lake County) - Preseason rank: #59
If this were an actual prospect list, and not a fantasy prospect list, Lindor's probably in the top-20. His 2012 season smells an awful lot like Profar's 2011 in the Sally League - glowing reports, good approach and solid stats, all at 18 years old. Plus, he's a near lock to stay at the position long-term.
30) Mike Olt, 3B, Texas Rangers (Double-A Frisco) - Preseason rank: #69
Olt has had a monster first half (.312/.418/.612 with 20 HR in AA), but it will be his high water mark unless he stops striking out in 30% of his at bats. Also, he's unlikely to man the hot corner in Texas with Beltre's contract, so he's either looking at a new position (1B) or a new home stadium (something other than Texas) - either of which would hurt his long-term fantasy value.
29) Casey Kelly, SP, San Diego Padres (Triple-A Tuscon) - Preseason rank: #64
Kelly's been on the shelf since mid-April with elbow inflammation/soreness, though he's scheduled to return in July. On the other hand, he looked to be on his way to a breakout year beforehand. Between S/T and AAA, he had 32 K and 2 BB in 32 1/3 IP - with the scouting reports to match.
28) Gary Brown, OF, San Francisco Giants (Double-A Richmond) - Preseason rank: #17 - Profile
I don't know about you, but I liked 2011 Gary Brown better than I like the 2012 version. If it all clicks, he could put up near-Carl Crawford type numbers. But realistically, he may be more Brett Gardner offensively (think .270, 40+ steals) - which is still pretty valuable.
27) Carlos Martinez, SP, St. Louis (Double-A Springfield) - Preseason rank: #40
Martinez just returned from shoulder soreness to a promotion from Hi-A to AA. His upside is huge, though I'm not going to repeat the ridiculous Pedro comps he's gotten - and the best part is that even if he doesn't hold up as a starter, he would make a dominant closer.
26) Javier Baez, SS/3B, Chicago Cubs (Low-A Peoria) - Preseason rank: #58 - Profile
I know we're not supposed to get too excited about small sample sizes, but Baez looks like a monster in the making. In just 63 AB, he's hitting .317/.419/.556 with 4 HR and 7 SB. Sure, he's probably not a SS, but last I checked, 3B isn't exactly a bastion of fantasy success. His bat speed is criminal, and I'm buying in.
25) Christian Yelich, OF, Florida Marlins (High-A Jupiter) - Preseason rank: #31
It hasn't been all smooth sailing for Yelich this season, as he is just coming back from a concussion now, but his bat has continued to impress. His 880 OPS is top-5 in the offense-depressing FSL, and he's got 7 HR and 11 SB to go with that. If his progress continues, he could get a cup of coffee in 2013.
24) Matt Harvey, SP, New York Mets (Triple-A Buffalo) - Preseason rank: #25
After 12 mediocre starts in AA at the end of last season, the Mets showed their faith in Harvey by starting him in AAA this year. So far it seems they've made the right call as he's improved as the season's gone on (2.93 ERA & 9.0 K/9 in last 55 1/3 IP).
23) Xander Bogaerts, SS/3B, Boston Red Sox (High-A Salem) - Preseason rank: #56
His stats page may not jump out at you, but Bogaerts has improved in almost every facet of the game in 2012. As one of the few 19-year old regulars in the Carolina League, he's in the top-10 in both HR and OPS - and he's improved his strikeout rate from last season to boot.
22) Bubba Starling, OF, Kansas City Royals (Short-season Burlington) - Preseason rank: #22
I'm not going to ding a guy who wasn't expected to do anything but hang back in extended spring for hanging back in extended spring. His tools and franchise-altering upside are still off the charts, and I can't wait to see how raw he actually is to start his career.
21) Nick Castellanos, 3B, Detroit Tigers (Double-A Erie) - Preseason rank: #48 - Profile
If hitting .405 in 215 AB in the Florida State League is not promotion-worthy, I don't know what is. At this point, we know he can hit. What we don't know is how much power he's going to hit for - though he's a good enough hitter to have real value at the hot corner with even 15 HR power.
20) Archie Bradley, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks (Low-A South Bend) - Preseason rank: #33 - Profile
Talk about creating a buzz. From fall instructs to spring training to his scorching April, Bradley did more for his prospect status than any other pitcher in the game. And now that he's facing some adversity in Low-A (34 K & 33 BB in his last 48 IP), we need to see how he adjusts.
19) Jameson Taillon, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates (High-A Bradenton) - Preseason rank: #18
Taillon should be pitching better than he currently is in Low-A. His stuff should allow him to dominate, but his command and sequencing are still certainly works in progress. That said, he's got the potential to be a top-10 prospect next year with a strong second half.
18) Anthony Rendon, 3B, Washington Nationals (High-A Potomac) - Preseason Rank: #9 - Profile
If Rendon were healthy and performing the way I expected him to, he would have been top 5 on this list. However, there's going to come a point where I'm going to stop his scouting reports with "If Rendon were healthy." But for now, his upside still ranks among any prospect's in the game.
17) Miguel Sano, 3B/OF, Minnesota Twins (Low-A Beloit) - Preseason rank: #23 - Profile
With Sano, it's the story of the AWESOME and the bad. His power is likely the best in the minors and maybe the only guy you can tag a future 80 on, but his strikeout numbers are pretty out of control. If he can make some strides there, he'll be an absolute force to be reckoned with.
16) Zack Wheeler, SP, New York Mets (Double-A Binghamton) - Preseason rank: #26
Sorry Giants fans. Wheeler has not missed a beat going from Hi-A to AA, and he's starting to put a little separation between himself and fellow Mets farmhand Matt Harvey. His stuff's always been great, and he's continuing to make improvements to his BB rate (5.8 in Lo-A, 4.1 in Hi-A, 3.7 in AA).
15) Shelby Miller, SP, St. Louis Cardinals (Triple-A Memphis) - Preseason rank: #7
Let's get this out of the way: 2012 has not been kind to Miller. Supposedly, he was out of shape when the season started and his stuff has been a tick off all year as a result. Some have even suggested he's had some #want issues. I'm willing to write this off as a blip on the radar, unless it carries over into next season.
14) Tyler Skaggs, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks (Double-A Mobile) - Preseason rank: #16
While Bauer and Bradley get most of the attention in the Diamondbacks' system, Skaggs just keeps going about his business and improving. His combination of stuff and polish will give him a better chance for success right away, even in a hitter's park like Chase Field.
13) Danny Hultzen, SP, Seattle Mariners (Triple-A Tacoma) - Preseason rank: #32
Dominating doesn't really do justice to what Hultzen was doing to the Southern League. He gave up 10 ER in 13 starts and is struck out more than a batter an inning. Now, he'll finally make his long-awaited Triple-A debut for Tacoma on Saturday. He's ready now and he'll be a lefty pitching in Safeco. Those are the best kind of lefties!
12) Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies (Double-A Tulsa) - Preseason rank: #19 - Profile1 Profile2
Arenado, for better or worse, has almost become a victim of his own success. After putting up great numbers in the Cal League and winning MVP honors in Fall League last year, there were clamors for him to win the 3B job out of spring training. That's insane. He's hitting in AA and he's got the humidor awaiting him next year. Patience.
11) Julio Teheran, SP, Atlanta Braves (Triple-A Gwinnett) - Preseason rank: #8
When evaluating Teheran, don't forget where he is in the developmental curve. He feels like he's been around forever, but he is also 10 days younger than Trevor Bauer. Just soak that in and then feel bad about wanting to rush him. Teheran still has work to do, but his near-elite ceiling hasn't gone anywhere.
10) Taijuan Walker, SP, Seattle Mariners (Double-A Jackson) - Preseason rank: #20 - Profile
Another 19-year old who's more than holding his own at AA, Walker's upside can hold a candle to that of any other pitching prospect. His athleticism, his power arsenal and the fact that he'll call Safeco home all mean the pieces are in place for a potential top-10 SP.
9) Gerrit Cole, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates (Double-A Altoona) - Preseason rank: #13
Don't sleep on Gerrit Cole, people. He tends to get lost in the shuffle between all of the amazing arms drafted last year, but he went #1 overall for a reason. He's hitting 100 with his fastball with regularity and has just been promoted to AA. He's got a ways to go, but if you made a list of players who have the potential to be the best pitcher in the game, Cole's on it.
8) Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals (Double-A Springfield) - Preseason rank: #72 - Profile1 Profile2
By far the biggest jumper on this list, Taveras has absolutely raked in AA as a 19-year old (he turned 20 just this past Tuesday), building on his eye-opening numbers in the Midwest League last year - even after skipping a level. His ceiling is seemingly getting higher by the day, but it's not difficult to see him as the Cards' #3 hitter for a decade.
7) Travis d'Arnaud, C, Toronto Blue Jays (Triple-A Las Vegas) - Preseason rank: #14 - Profile
We all know that the bar is super low at catcher in fantasy leagues. Take Buster Posey, for example. He's on pace for .295, 19 HR, 83 RBI, 60 R and 2 SB and he's the 5th rated fantasy catcher. Travis d'Arnaud can not only do this, but he may have even more upside in the power department. Now, the Blue Jays just need to make room for him.
6) Billy Hamilton, SS/2B/OF, Cincinnati Reds (High-A Bakersfield) - Preseason rank: #24 - Profile1 Profile2
I won't lie, if Hamilton was doing this at AA instead of Hi-A, he's probably #1 on this list. His speed is such an asset that it's difficult to come up with superlatives for it anymore. His strikeouts are down, his walks are up, and it allows his speed to dominate. Just look up Vince Coleman's 1987 season and imagine having that on your team - regardless of his positional eligibility
5) Wil Myers, OF, Kansas City Royals (Triple-A Omaha) - Preseason rank: #15 - Profile1 Profile2
This power binge is getting a little crazy. By the end of June, Myers may have more HR in 2012 (24 in 256 AB) than he had in his entire minor league career heading into 2012 (27 in 885 AB). I'm still skeptical that he'll be more than a 25 HR hitter at the major league level, but he has the skills to be a Pythagorean Hitter (.300/.400/.500) in his prime.
4) Manny Machado, SS, Baltimore Orioles (Double-A Bowie) - Preseason rank: #6
If you just look at his stat line this year, you're probably not thinking "this is a top-5 prospect." But if you just looked at minor league stat lines, you'd be wondering which remaining spot on this list is occupied by Miles Head (hint: none). He's still a 19 year old holding his own in AA who projects as a plus-hit, plus-power force at shortstop (at first, then eventually at 3B). Studly.
3) Dylan Bundy, SP, Baltimore Orioles (High-A Frederick) - Preseason rank: #12
Amazingly, Bundy has finally shown that he's not a pitching machine sent from space to destroy offense forever after his promotion to Hi-A. He's a legit ace in the making, which gives him a higher upside than the guy one spot in front of him, but he's also not that likely to be up before 2014 and he'll have to contend with the AL East when he arrives.
2) Trevor Bauer, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks (Triple-A Reno) - Preseason rank: #10 - Profile
There's value in sheer upside, and then there's value in sheer proximity. Bauer has near-elite upside, but it's the proximity that puts him at the #2 spot on this list. He could literally get the call tomorrow. Yes, he may have some issues with pitch efficiency and command, but his stuff could strike out major league batters right now. Plus, he's also the first pitcher who may get fans to show up early just to see his pre-game warm up routine.
1) Jurickson Profar, SS, Texas Rangers (Double-A Frisco) - Preseason rank: #5
For me, there is no question here. A shortstop (who will stay at the position) that has power, speed, a preternatural feel for the game, plate discipline and the ability to hit for average. One who's shown it in the upper minors and will join a team with a great offense in a great ballpark to hit in. Profar may never be the #1 player in fantasy for a given season, but he'll be a stalwart of any dynasty league team until 2030 (which sounds forever away, but will still only be his age-37 season).
Honorable Mention: Kolten Wong, Matt Davidson, Drew Pomeranz, Yasmani Grandal, Jackie Bradley Jr
Pre-season Top 50 Graduates: Mike Trout (1), Bryce Harper (2), Matt Moore (3), Jesus Montero (4), Devin Mesoraco (11), Jarrod Parker (27), Addison Reed (30), Yonder Alonso (37), Jacob Turner (42), Wilin Rosario (45), Will Middlebrooks (47)
Pre-season Top 50 Dropouts: Drew Pomeranz (38), A.J. Cole (39), Brad Peacock (44), Wily Peralta (46), Michael Choice (50)
Follow me on Twitter at @tfw_bret.
All statistics are through Wednesday, 6/20 and courtesy of MiLB.com