Today is Day Three. Over the next 29 days, this site will be dedicated almost solely to the task at hand – the 2013 Dynasty League Rankings. If you’re looking for background on both the content you should expect and the dates you should expect them, check out the 2013 rankings homepage. And we’re kicking off the month-long project with the list that I’ve gotten the most questions about since the off-season started. The only difference between the original schedule and what you’ll see this week is that I’ve broken the Top 150 out into five parts, not three. Each day of the week, you’ll get thirty more guys until we culminate Friday with #1.
First, I have a couple of disclaimers specific to the prospect list before we jump in. These rankings are for fantasy purposes only, and do not directly take into account things like an outfielder’s range or a catcher’s pop time. Of course, these things do matter indirectly as they affect a player’s ability to stay at a particular position. So, while Austin Hedges may be a top-50 prospect in baseball, due in large part to his defensive value, he’ll be much lower in these rankings because his upside isn’t nearly as great for fantasy. Additionally, these rankings will take into account a player’s parent organization – so a pitcher likely to call Petco or Safeco home, will get a bump. Same with hitters who are likely to play at Coors or in Arlington. 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 #104 player on this list than #105 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, either post them in the comments section below, catch me on Twitter at @dynastyguru or send me an e-mail to dynastyguru [at] gmail [dot] com and I will answer all of them. If you just want to 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, here is part three of the 2013 Top 150 Dynasty League Prospect list:
#90 – Blake Swihart, C, Boston Red Sox (Low-A Greenville, 2012 rank: #93)
At first glance on paper, Swihart doesn’t impress much as a prospect. He is coming off a season in which he hit .262/.307/.395 as a 20-year old in Low-A. However, he not only improved offensively as the season went along (he was hitting .184/.237/.262 on May 12th), but reports on his defense were more positive than expected. With one of the sweetest swings in the minors, Swihart still projects as a plus-hit, average-power backstop.
#89 – Justin Nicolino, LHP, Miami Marlins (Low-A Lansing, 2012 rank: NR)
A couple of months ago, I got into a long discussion with fellow Fake Teams writer Craig Goldstein about Nicolino and the value of non-elite pitching prospects and posted the conversation here. When valuing Nicolino, the key is balancing his lack of upside with his high probability and floor. In Miami, his skill set can translate into at least a 3.50 ERA and 7.0 K/9, which essentially is what people were drafting Jaime Garcia to be in 2012. That’s a top-50 pitcher.
#88 – Kyle Crick, RHP, San Francisco Giants (Low-A Augusta, 2012 rank: NR)
Clay Blackburn has the highest floor of that Augusta rotation, but Crick has the highest ceiling. In fact, from June 1 to the end of the season, Crick had a 1.64 ERA, 42 hits allowed and 0 HR allowed. He’s going to have to tone down the walks, as he did accumulate 67 of those in 111 1/3 total innings, but Crick is more about projection. With a mid-90’s fastball and the potential for a plus curve, Crick has plenty of work to do (consistency, change), but a great base to start from.
#87 – Corey Seager, SS/3B, Los Angeles Dodgers (Short-season Ogden, 2012 rank: NR)
If we’re being honest, Seager is not a shortstop – but he has the potential to be a very solid 3B. The profile is one that you’ve heard before: strong arm, solid hit tool and potential plus power. So we could be talking about him next year, the way we talk about Mike Olt right now, which means that Seager could be one of the biggest risers on this list next year.
#86 – Yordano Ventura, RHP, Kansas City Royals (Double-A Northwest Arkansas, 2012 rank: NR)
There’s no denying Ventura’s stuff, which includes a fastball that can reach triple digits and a curveball which already a plus pitch and flashes even better at time. Everything beyond that is an uncertainty. Can Ventura hold up in the rotation long-term? Can he develop an average change-up? With the Royals apparently in win now mode, Ventura is likely to be broken in as a reliever, and he might be so good in that role that he never goes back.
#85 – John Lamb, LHP, Kansas City Royals (Double-A Omaha, 2012 rank: #74)
I’m clearly one of the few strongholds of the John Lamb bandwagon, as he seemed to fall out of Royals prospect lists left and right this year. I wrote about why bailing on Lamb is a mistake here. But to sum it up, I’m giving Lamb the standard recovery time we give all pitchers who undergo Tommy John surgery before I give up on him as a #2/3 starter. If he’s at full strength this spring, I expect him to resume moving quickly.
#84 – Dorssys Paulino, SS, Cleveland Indians (Short-season Mahoning Valley, 2012 rank: NR)
One of my favorite short-season prospects, Paulino took the AZL by storm by hitting .355/.404/.610 with 6 HR and 9 SB in 172 AB. This earned him a promotion to the NYPL, where he was the youngest position player in the league by nearly a half a year. While Paulino may not end up at SS at the majors due to both his lack of easy actions at the position and the presence of Francisco Lindor, but has the potential to hit more than enough to be valuable at either 2B or 3B.
#83 – Luis Heredia, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates (Short-season State College, 2012 rank: NR)
Even with the success Heredia had this year as a (mostly) 17-year old in the New York-Penn League, his value is still predicated on projection at this point. He’s got the size (listed at 6’6”, 205 lbs) and the fastball (sits low-90’s and touches 95) to be a frontline starter at the major league level. However, as he moves up the chain, he’s going to need to develop the off-speed pitches – though the potential is there for both his curve and change to be plus in time.
#82 – Robbie Erlin, LHP, San Diego Padres (Double-A San Antonio, 2012 rank: #57)
Perhaps no starting pitcher had a more dominant Arizona Fall League this year than Erlin, who accumulated a 2.28 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 31 K in 23 2/3 IP. That gave him 111 strikeouts in only 84 1/3 IP for the year, as he missed around three months with elbow tendinitis. He’s tailor made for PETCO Park, as he’s a fly ball pitcher with advanced command and control, along with two strong off-speed pitches (curve and change). But don’t let the stats fool you; Erlin is a mid-rotation arm, not an ace.
#81 – Jonathan Schoop, 2B/SS/3B, Baltimore Orioles (Double-A Bowie, 2012 rank: NR)
Schoop gets lost a little in the prospect shuffle, as his statistics are often not as impressive as some of the other players with his talent and upside. However, he’s almost always been young for his league. That won’t change next season, as he’ll play all of the year at 21 and has a real shot at making the majors. No one know what position he’ll end up at yet, and he could still stick at SS, but if his above-average to plus raw power starts showing itself more in games, it won’t matter much.
#80 – Kyle Gibson, RHP, Minnesota Twins (Triple-A Rochester, 2012 rank: NR)
Speaking of re-establishing some value in the fall, Gibson threw nearly as many innings in the AFL as he did all year, as he was recovering from Tommy John surgery. And while his stat line was less impressive than Erlin’s, scouts were impressed at the quality of his stuff. Often pegged last year as a back-end starter, Gibson showed improved velocity and stuff in his return, reminding scouts of why he was so highly regarded coming out of college. For more on Gibson, check this out.
#79 – Josh Bell, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates (Low-A West Virginia, 2012 rank: #75)
It was a bit of a lost season for Bell, who missed most of it with a knee injury. And while he’s already 20 with only 62 full-season AB on his resume, he still has the same potential in his bat. A switch-hitter with plus power potential and the bat speed to develop an above-average hit tool, Bell will need to put it on display in 2013 to avoid the beginnings of being labeled a bust. However, don’t doubt the $5mm man just yet, he still has the upside to hit in the middle of a major league lineup.
#78 – Nick Franklin, 2B/SS, Seattle Mariners (Triple-A Tacoma, 2012 rank: #43)
Many wondered whether the shocking 23 HR that Franklin hit during his 2010 full-season debut in the Midwest League was a fluke, and it turns out it pretty much was. He’s hit 18 HR over the past two seasons, including stops in the high-octane California and Pacific Coast leagues. But he has continued to hit, putting up a .326/.392/.498 line in Double-A between 2011 and 2012. He struggled a bit in his first taste of Triple-A, but Franklin will return there to start 2013 and should see Seattle this summer.
#77 – Manny Banuelos, LHP, New York Yankees (Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre, 2012 rank: #28)
I guess you could call these next two guys, the players I’m docking for 2012, but not yet giving up on. Banuelos will miss the entire 2013 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in October, but don’t forget about him. He will only be 23 in March of 2014 and would likely have seen time in New York this past season if not for the injury. The #2 starter potential is still there as he throws three at least above-average pitches, but his command hasn’t followed suit yet.
#76 – Gary Brown, OF, San Francisco Giants (Double-A Richmond, 2012 rank: #17)
Let’s not pretend there aren’t strikes against Gary Brown. He’s already 24 years old, and he’s coming off a season where he hit .279/.347/.385 in the Eastern League. But discarding him as a fourth outfielder after essentially one rough two-month stretch is bananas. Yes, he was hitting .238/.317/.310 on June 12, but from the next day on, he hit .315/.356/.452 – which is similar on a league-adjusted basis to what he did in the Cal League in 2011. I wrote about him in much greater detail here, but while he’s certainly gained risk, his upside is still there.
#75 – Matt Davidson, 3B, Arizona Diamondbacks (Double-A Mobile, 2012 rank: NR)
Each of Davidson’s first three full seasons has resulted in increased HR output. He hit 16 in 415 Midwest League at bats, then 22 in 606 California League at bats and finally, 23 in 486 Southern League at bats in 2012. He will always be a guy who strikes out, as he’s got some swing and miss, but that’s to be expected for a power bat. Eric Chavez will keep his seat warm in 2013, but expect Davidson to be in Chase Field in 2014. He has the potential to be a Will Middlebrooks type, but with a little more power.
#74 – Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays (MLB, 2012 rank: #55)
In any other organization, Odorizzi would probably have a rotation spot either locked down in 2013 or would be the leader in the clubhouse for it, but for the Rays, he’s likely to get to know Durham pretty well. The prototypical projectable and athletic right-handed starter, Odorizzi developed as Kansas City hoped when they got him as part of the Greinke deal. His ceiling may not be higher than a #4 starter, but the reason he’s ranked so high is that he pretty much is one right now. He just needs an opportunity.
#73 – Robert Stephenson, RHP, Cincinnati Reds (Low-A Dayton, 2012 rank: NR)
Stephenson was selected 27th in the 2011 draft, but signed too late to make his pro debut that season. In 2012, he showed why he was worthy of the pick by dominating in his seven Pioneer League starts before jumping straight up to Low-A. Armed with a big fastball that sits in the mid-90’s and touches 98, Stephenson also showed off a change-up which flashes plus and gives him at least one legit out pitch. His curveball is more of a work in progress, and he’ll need to get it to at least an average pitch in order to have a #2 starter profile.
#72 – Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota Twins (High-A Potomac, 2012 rank: #89)
The tallest prospect on this list, Meyer stands an intimidating 6’9”. But while it often takes very tall pitchers a little longer to develop, he’s trying to prove the exception to that long thought of rule. Between Low-A and High-A, Meyer had a 2.86 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 139 K in 129 IP – showing off two potentially plus-plus pitches in his mid-90’s fastball and hard slider. His develop hinges on his currently below-average changeup; with it, he’s a potential #2 starter and without it, he’s a potentially dominant bullpen arm (read: future closer).
#71 – Albert Almora, OF, Chicago Cubs (Short-season Boise, 2012 rank: NR)
When the Cubs took Almora with the 6th pick in the 2012 draft, many scouts saw him as the safest prep position player available. Almora is a true five-tool talent, including potential gold-glove caliber defense in CF. Offensively, he could be a .290 hitter (or better) with average power and some speed (he’s not a burner). Essentially, he has the same type of skill set as Byron Buxton, but with less power/speed potential. So while Almora is less raw than Buxton, he’s still a good deal behind him in these rankings.
#70 – Aaron Hicks, OF, Minnesota Twins (Double-A New Britain, 2012 rank: NR)
Hicks came a long way in developing from a mountain of tools into a future major leaguer during the 2012 season. In his first taste of the upper minors, Hicks hit .286/.384/.460 with 13 HR and 32 SB – showing off almost every aspect of his skillset. There are still questions about how much Hicks will hit in the long run, but he has many paths to value – the safest of which is his speed. And if his raw power develops into game power, Hicks could be a slightly lesser version of Grady Sizemore (less power, more OBP).
#69 – Allen Webster, RHP, Boston Red Sox (Double-A Portland, 2012 rank: NR)
It’s debatable whether Webster or Rubby De La Rosa is the best arm the Red Sox got back in their monster trade with the Dodgers this summer, although De La Rosa doesn’t qualify for this list. Webster is a power pitcher whose fastball has intense sink on it, generating a ton of ground balls. Add to that two more potential plus pitches in a change-up (his best secondary offering) and a slider which shows it in flashes. Webster needs to harness his command, as he walked nearly a batter every other inning in 2012, but the raw stuff is all there.
#68 – Kolten Wong, 2B, St Louis Cardinals (Double-A Springfield, 2012 rank: #98)
The Wong haters are certainly out there, but it’s always less about Wong’s talent than about a lack of elite ceiling. There’s not much arguing that last point, as Wong will likely never be the #1 2B for fantasy. However, there’s plenty of value for what he is – and he is an extremely steady player who will contribute everywhere. His hit tool is what will carry him, as it’s not difficult to see Wong as a .300 hitter at the major league level. When you combine that with 10-12 HR pop, 15-20 SB ability and the potential to hit in the #2 spot, you get a legit fantasy 2B.
#67 – Adam Eaton, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB, 2012 rank: NR)
Eaton is the little engine that could. Billed his entire career as someone who was too small to succeed and needed to hit all the way up the chain to prove it, Eaton did just that. A 19th round senior sign out of Miami (Ohio), Eaton blew through the minors, accumulating a total line of .355/.456/.510 with 98 SB in 2 ½ seasons. His game is exactly what you’d expect: solid hit tool, plus OBP and lots of speed – and he’ll likely be the lead-off hitter for the Diamondbacks this year. In fact, he might be the #1 NL prospect on this whole list in terms of 2013 fantasy value. I also wrote more about him here.
#66 – Wily Peralta, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers (MLB, 2012 rank: #46)
I wrote about Peralta as a potential September call-up right before he was recalled from Triple-A. Since that point, he made five impressive starts, going 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 22 K in 28 IP. But most importantly, he had a ground ball rate of 55% and did not allow a HR. Peralta should have a rotation spot to lose this spring and, while some scouts think he is destined to end up in the bullpen, the Brewers will give him every opportunity to prove them wrong.
#65 – James Paxton, LHP, Seattle Mariners (Double-A Jackson, 2012 rank: #41)
Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Paxton has an easy plus fastball from the left-hand side (92-95, touching 97, 98) and a curveball that is a true out pitch. However, what Paxton doesn’t have is either average command or an average change-up. He’s going to need at least one of those to make it as a starting pitcher, where his strikeout potential and home park could make him a top-20 starter. If not, he has the one-two punch to be an outstanding reliever.
#64 – Jackie Bradley Jr, OF, Boston Red Sox (Double-A Portland, 2012 rank: NR)
For those of you preparing for the SATs, here’s an analogy for you: Jackie Bradley: Albert Almora:: Albert Almora: Byron Buxton. Same defensive profile, more certainty and slightly lesser offensive tools. So why is Bradley higher on the list than Almora? Because he’s already performed at Double-A, hitting .271/.373/.437 with 6 HR and 8 SB in 229 AB this year. Bradley should occupy both CF and one of the top spots in Boston’s lineup for the better part of the rest of this decade, and could be a poor man’s Shin-Shoo Choo.
#63 – Julio Teheran, RHP, Atlanta Braves (Triple-A Gwinnett, 2012 rank: #8)
There’s really no right or wrong place to place Teheran on a prospect list. He’s been under the prospect spotlight for so long, it’s difficult to tell the difference between his real flaws and the ones you get from watching a player for too long. Does he not have the laxity in his wrist to spin an average breaking ball? Was he having trouble getting it up for another season in Triple-A? Can you believe he’s still only 21? With a rotation spot his for the taking, after the Tommy Hanson deal, Teheran needs to step it up in 2013 and reclaim his shine.
#62 – Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (High-A Rancho Cucamonga, 2012 rank: NR)
Ranking a Cuban defector who’s only amassed 82 professional at-bats is really just guesswork, so I’m not going to pretend that this is much more than that. And he’s different from Cespedes or Chapman because he never played for the top Cuban national team (which more scouts have access to). However, rumors that he was out of shape quickly dissipated when he showed up in Arizona this summer. Puig’s game is strength first and everything else later. He could be a big-time power hitting OF, or he could not make enough contact for it to matter.
#61 – Lucas Giolito, RHP, Washington Nationals (Rookie-league GCL, 2012 rank: NR)
The biggest question on draft day was how far will Lucas Giolito fall? Turns out the answer was to the Nationals at #16, where he signed for nearly $3mm. Unfortunately for Washington, Giolito needed Tommy John surgery after pitching only two innings in the GCL and will miss most, if not all, of the 2013 season. Giolito was young for his draft class and 2014 will still be his age-19 season, so there’s plenty of time for him to get back on the path to being a potential ace.
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