The Prospects Article
Here’s the ones you’ve all been waiting for (or not): my prospects articles. Here I will outline the top prospects for every major league team, giving you both their potential, and how close they are to the big leagues. You’ll (mercifully) get one hitter and one pitcher per team. Only players who are still in the minors as of May 16 are eligible. For some teams, this is really easy (Thank you, Orioles). But others (I’m looking at you, White Sox), make my life more difficult. You’ll get both here. I hope you enjoy.
Part 1 of 6: NL West
Matt Davidson – 3B – 21
2012 stats through 5/22: .288 Avg, 27 Runs, 9 HR, 25 RBI, 1 SB in 160 AB at Double-A
ETA: Late 2012
With Ryan Roberts showing this year that he is clearly suited better for a utility role, it makes it more likely that we see Davidson starting at third base for Arizona before season’s end. This future all star makes a lot of contact and draws a lot of walks to go along with doubles power. He could hit 20-25 homers in his prime while perennially hitting above .290 with a .360 OBP. He’s also a good defender, meaning he’ll stick at third for awhile, a weak position in fantasy these days.
Runner-up: Adam Eaton
Trevor Bauer – RHP – 21
2012 stats through 5/22: 8 W, 71 K, 1.60 ERA, 1.14 WHIP in 56.1 IP at Double-A/Triple-A
ETA: Mid 2012
You know who Trevor Bauer is. Now that Trout and Harper are now big leaguers, there’s no impending call up more anticipated than the 2011 Golden Spikes Award winner. He’s making Southern League hitters look absolutely ridiculous, and could conceivably be the Diamondbacks’ best starter right now if called up (yes, including Ian Kennedy). He has a mid-90’s fastball, two different curveballs, and a nasty changeup that makes hitters look silly. The only knock on him at this point is that he’s still walking too many guys. Although, it’s not making too much of a difference in his numbers when nobody can hit anything he throws.
Runner-up: Tyler Skaggs
Nolan Arenado – 3B – 21
2012 stats through 5/22: .303 Avg, 15 Runs, 3 HR, 25 RBI, 0 SB in 165 AB at Double-A
The first thing I noticed about Arenado was that he struck out only 53 times last season in 583 plate appearances. That’s outstanding for someone his age with his power potential. Playing at Coors Field half the time, I could see him easily approaching 30 home run seasons in the near future while putting up a solid average. The Rockies currently have Jordan Pacheco manning third, but Pacheco is more suited to being the backup there and at catcher. You can expect that to be the situation next season. The one knock on Arenado would be his defense, which will probably warrant a move to first base when Todd Helton decides to retire.
Runner-up: Tim Wheeler
Drew Pomeranz – LHP – 23
2012 stats through 5/22: 2 W, 9 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.77 WHIP in 15.2 IP at Triple-A
ETA: Mid 2012
The Rockies did me a favor when they sent Pomeranz back down to the minors. It makes my pick for this spot a no-brainer. Pomeranz has a nasty curveball that makes him near-unhittable against lefties, and a plus changeup that carves up righties. He’s also the perfect pitcher for a team that plays its home games at Coors Field, in that he does not pitch to contact and will generate a lot of strikeouts. I’m not sure why the Rockies sent him down after just 5 starts, especially with the team not expected to compete this year. He was walking too many guys, but was definitely missing bats. He should be back up before long though, especially if he keeps dominating in AAA.
Runner-up: Chad Bettis
Los Angeles Dodgers
Alex Castellanos – 2B/3B/OF – 25
2012 stats through 5/22: .366 Avg, 18 Runs, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 7 SB in 71 AB at Triple-A
ETA: Mid 2012
“Why is there a 25-year-old on this list?” you’re probably asking yourself right now, “He can’t be too good of a prospect if he’s not in the majors by this point.” Well, my friend, you’re not crazy. Castellanos making this list is more a function of the Dodgers’ complete lack of position prospects, and less a function of his ability. This isn’t to say he can’t be a productive big leaguer. He’s greatly improved his plate discipline over the last 2 seasons, and added a little pop as well. He’s also increased his value this season by learning to play second base adequately, to go along with already being able to handle third base and all three outfield spots. He was looking like an impending call up due to the Dodgers’ string of injuries, but is currently battling his own hamstring issue. Expect him to be called up soon if he can get healthy.
Runner-up: Tim Federowicz
Nathan Eovaldi – RHP – 21
2012 stats through 5/22: 2 W, 27 K, 3.18 ERA, 1.27 WHIP in 34 IP at Double-A
ETA: Mid 2012
Eovaldi has nothing left to prove in the minor leagues, and is ready to be a contributor to the Dodgers’ rotation right now. The only thing keeping him out at this point is the other 5 starters. Aaron Harang is the only guy who could even be considered for removal, but he hasn’t been awful enough for the Dodgers to consider moving him to the bullpen considering how much money he’s making. It was a little shocking when Los Angeles signed Harang along with Chris Capuano this past offseason, both to 2-year deals, blocking Eovaldi, who impressed in 6 starts with the big league club last season. Eovaldi has a plus fastball that he can rev up to 97 mph when he needs to, as well as two different sliders: a slower one with more break, and a harder one that’s closer to a cutter. He will certainly be the first guy called upon if any of the Dodgers’ starters get injured, and will make a great #2 starter behind ace Clayton Kershaw.
Runner-up: Zach Lee
San Diego Padres
Rymer Liriano – OF – 20
2012 stats through 5/22: .252 Avg, 21 Runs, 2 HR, 21 RBI, 10 SB in 159 AB at High-A
With Liriano, the Padres have a future five-tool juggernaut on their hands. He has a good shot to put up 20-homer, 30-steal seasons on a regular basis, and has a cannon for an arm. He’s also very skilled at hitting the ball to all fields. If not traded, Petco will stifle his power potential, but he will still make for a valuable commodity for fantasy owners once he’s finally ready. Justin Upton with half the homers seems like a god way of putting him into perspective.
Runner-up: Jedd Gyorko
Casey Kelly – RHP – 22
2012 stats through 5/22: 0 W, 14 K, 2.25 ERA, 1.00 WHIP in 12 IP at Triple-A
Kelly has shown outstanding stuff and outstanding control at times, but never at the same time until the second half of last year. He sits mid-90’s with his fastball and has a beautiful, easy delivery to the plate. If he can continue what he began at the end of last year, he’s a potential ace. But at worst, he’ll be a solid number 3 who will consistently put up great K/BB ratios.
Runner-up: Joe Ross
San Francisco Giants
Gary Brown – OF – 23
2012 stats through 5/22: .250 Avg, 19 Runs, 0 HR, 15 RBI, 12 SB in 172 AB at Double-A
Brown, who is considered by most to be the Giants’ center fielder of the future, is mostly lauded for his defense. He’s a future multi-Gold Glove-winner, but also should have lots of value for fantasy players. He’s makes a lot of contact, which means even more by virtue of him being one of the fastest players in the minor leagues. He has little power, but has several 50-steal seasons with above .290 averages ahead of him. Think Scott Podsednik in his prime, only Brown’s defense will help him actually stick around awhile.
Runner-up: Joe Panik
Heath Hembree – RHP – 23
2012 stats through 5/22: 1 W, 8 SV, 11 K, 4.11 ERA, 0.98 WHIP in 15.1 IP at Triple-A
ETA: Late 2012
If Brian Wilson never again can be what he once was, the Giants have a more than capable replacement ready in Hembree. His velocity has steadily risen since being drafted, and he now gets his fastball into the high 90’s with regularity. His slider and change-up are works in progress, but are already good enough to get major league hitters out. Command can be a bit of a concern with Hembree at times, but he’s shown considerable improvement in that area so far this season. He’s basically what Henry Rodriguez could be in H-Rod cut his walk rate in half. And you know that would make a dominant fantasy closer.
Runner-up: Kyle Crick