Today is Day Four. Over the next 28 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 four of the 2013 Top 150 Dynasty League Prospect list:
#60 – Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians (Low-A Lake County, 2012 rank: #59)
While he’s certainly a guy who is much more popular in prospect circles because of his defensive ability, don’t let that sour you on who he can be offensively. This isn’t Didi Gregorius. As he continues to build strength, I like his chances of developing into a hitter who can maintain a very solid average (.280+), hit double-digit HR and steal bases in bunches (his likely average speed will play up with great instincts). But what he lacks in offensive upside, he makes up for in likelihood to stay at SS – which is a near certainty at this point.
#59 – Jake Marisnick, OF, Miami Marlins (Double-A New Hampshire, 2012 rank: #54)
A combination of disappointing performance at Double-A and the hyper microscope that prospects who are traded go under have caused Marisnick’s stock to fall in the public eye. He certainly has his warts, but Marisnick is still the same guy who was named best athlete in his organization by Baseball America for the last four years. He’s still raw and was likely not ready for his promotion to Double-A, but that doesn’t put a damper on Marisnick’s upside. As a raw talent, he’s going to take time to get there, and with Miami he’ll get that time – so overlook his 25+ HR, 25+ SB potential at your own peril.
#58 – Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays (Short-season Hudson Valley, 2012 rank: #97)
Ranked as the #1 prospect in the New York-Penn League by Baseball America in 2012, Guerrieri not only showed off the stuff which made him a first round pick in 2011, but also demonstrated fantastic control for a teenager. Guerrieri made 12 starts and finished with a 1.04 ERA, 0.77 WHIP and 45 K in 52 IP. On top of that, he induced ground balls at a 60% clip due to both the late sink on his two-seam fastball and his ability to command his pitches in the lower half of the zone. After David Price and Matt Moore, Guerrieri has the highest ceiling in the Rays’ organization.
#57 – Dan Vogelbach, 1B/DH, Chicago Cubs (Short-season Boise, 2012 rank: NR)
Some men were just put on this earth to hit and Vogelbach is one of those men. As a 19-year old, Vogelbach tore up the Arizona League to the tune of .324/.391/.686 in 102 AB, but he wasn’t done. Next up was the college-heavy Northwest League (a much more depressed offensive environment) and the big man went off, hitting .322/.423/.608 with 10 HR in 143 AB. He may spend his entire career as a defensive liability at 1B, due to his 6’0”, 250+ frame, but fantasy owners won’t care. He has elite upside as a power hitter who can also hit for average.
#56 – Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets (Low-A Lansing, 2012 rank: #86)
The big arm received by the Mets in the R.A. Dickey trade last month, Syndergaard took a step forward in 2012 by not only showcasing his overpowering stuff, but also demonstrating that he knows how to use it. His fastball sits in the mid-90’s and the combination of his steep angle and natural sink on the pitch causes it to be very difficult for hitters to elevate. And with the makings of two potential plus pitches in his curveball and change-up, Syndergaard could be a high-end fantasy arm, amassing tons of ground balls and strikeouts.
#55 – Gary Sanchez, C, New York Yankees (High-A Tampa, 2012 rank: NR)
Part of the prospect-studded portion of the Yankees farm system, which will all likely start back at High-A Tampa this season, Sanchez took some important steps forward in 2012. He was one of the last cuts from my 2011 list and it was more because of his defense than his bat; however, Sanchez showed improvement behind the plate and none of the #want issues which were present the prior year. With a reasonable chance to stay at catcher now, his big raw power pushes him up this list – and his shocking 15 SB don’t hurt either his fantasy prospects either.
#54 – Trevor Rosenthal, RHP, St Louis Cardinals (MLB, 2012 rank: NR)
Many people are probably more familiar with Rosenthal as either a flame throwing reliever or as Will Leitch’s spirit animal, but he took a large step forward in 2012 with his development as a starting pitcher. The Cardinals jumped Rosenthal straight from Low-A to Double-A (along with Oscar Taveras and Kolten Wong) and he responded with a 2.78 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 83 K in 94 innings before making three good starts for Triple-A and joining the Cards bullpen. There is a debate (by some) over whether Rosenthal or Shelby Miller has the better arm, and although I fall on the Miller side, the fact that there’s even a debate is a big pro in Rosenthal’s column.
#53 – Trevor Story, SS, Colorado Rockies (Low-A Asheville, 2012 rank: NR)
Story was a supplemental first round pick of Colorado’s in 2011 and made his full-season debut to great fanfare this season. Hitting .277/.367/.505 with 18 HR, 15 SB and decent defense at SS was enough to get plenty of attention. The questions with Story are what his ceiling is, as he’s not an overly toolsy player. Coors Field will help him plenty, as it showed with Josh Rutledge in 2012 – and Story is a much better prospect than Rutledge ever was. There’s swing and miss in his bat, and he could end up at 3B, but for now, he’s still a potential five-category SS.
#52 – Mason Williams, OF, New York Yankees (High-A Tampa, 2012 rank: #78)
There is so much to like about Williams. He doesn’t strike out much (92 K in 646 career AB). He can hit for average (.317 career). He can steal bases (49 SB in 164 games). He has deceiving pop for his size (11 HR in 359 AB in 2012). The knock on Williams on the field is that his swing can get slappy at times, which inhibits his ability to drive the ball. The knock on Williams off the field is that his makeup often leaves a bit to be desired – and I’m talking about on the field maturity (he was benched several times for not running out ground balls). If he can get past that, he can be a fantasy star.
#51 – Kevin Gausman, RHP, Baltimore Orioles (Double-A Bowie, 2012 rank: NR)
Sometimes you read something on a prospect that just sticks in your head and gives you a mental picture of who he is. For Gausman, this was a piece that Doug Thorburn wrote at BP, where he examined mechanics of the 2012 first round pitchers. Here’s what he said about Gausman: “[he] is all arms and legs, with a lanky frame and long levers. He looks like a bird of prey tucking into folded wings before emerging to strike.” Already armed with a plus fastball and plus change-up, Gausman needs to refine his slider and his command to be a frontline starter.
#50 – Kaleb Cowart, 3B, Los Angeles Angels (High-A Inland Empire, 2012 rank: NR)
To say the Angels system is thin would an understatement, as Cowart is only their second (and final) representative on the list. He’s a switch-hitting 3B with the potential to hit for average and for plus power down the road, and took a big step forward with his approach in his full-season debut. Between Low-A and High-A (where he was promoted to half-way through the season), he hit .276/.358/.452 with 16 HR and 14 SB – with improved strikeout and walk rates from his 2011 summer in the Pioneer League.
#49 – Eddie Rosario, 2B/OF, Minnesota Twins (Low-A Beloit, 2012 rank: #67)
Rosario’s ranking can skew wildly based on whether you believe he can stay at 2B or not. In my opinion, I think it won’t be particularly pretty, but the Twins will end up playing him there, at least until he proves he can’t do it at the highest levels. Fortunately, we don’t care about his defensive ability, just his ability to stick at the position. In the OF, a moderate five-category contributor is nice, but there are a number of those. At 2B, that’s a potential top-5 option, given the dearth of offensive options at the position. If he clicks and sticks, he could be a better hitting Jason Kipnis from a statistical perspective.
#48 – David Dahl, OF, Colorado Rockies (Rookie-league Grand Junction, 2012 rank: NR)
Dahl’s performance in the Pioneer League, fresh off being drafted out of high school, was certainly eye-opening. The numbers were staggering – .379/.423/.625 with 9 HR, 57 RBI, 41 XBH and 12 SB in 280 AB – and were more than enough to earn him league MVP honors. If you believe in his hit tool, you believe that Dahl could be the second coming of Jacoby Ellsbury. If you believe in his hit and power tools, you believe he could be Grady Sizemore. But ridiculous (and crazy) comps aside, Dahl is still yet to play in full-season ball and the Pioneer league is known for its offense. Let’s all just take a deep breath before we anoint Dahl the next Mike Trout, as even Mike Trout didn’t become MIKE TROUT until he blew up the Midwest League.
#47 – Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Kansas City Royals (Low-A Kane County, 2012 rank: NR)
The 5th overall pick in the 2012 draft by the Royals, Zimmer fits in perfectly with both the Royals draft and pitching philosophies. The Royals have been an organization which really has pushed its prospects to throw a curveball as their main breaking pitch, rather than a slider, and Zimmer had possibly the best in his draft class (at least from the right side). With mid-90’s heat and a potential average change-up, Zimmer profiles as a #2 starter. As a converted position player, Zimmer has less mileage on his arm than almost any other college pitcher and had one of the most highly praised deliveries in the draft. He could move very quickly.
#46 – Bubba Starling, OF, Kansas City Royals (Rookie-league Burlington, 2012 rank: #22)
We’ve now gotten the point where there’s no shortage of shiny new potential five-tool outfielders, but the upside Starling brings to the table still needs to be respected. And while he is already 20, hasn’t played full-season ball yet and struck out nearly 30% of the time in the Appy League in 2012, his upside hasn’t changed. I mean, he’s raw, but he still hit .275/.371/.485 with 10 HR and 10 SB in 200 AB during his pro debut. So while he’s gotten a little riskier, Starling still is one of the only players in the minors with true 30-30 potential – and if his hit tool starts progressing in full-season ball this coming year, he could easily be a top-10 prospect next January.
#45 – Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates (Low-A West Virginia, 2012 rank: NR)
One way to say hello to the baseball community is to be a highly thought of amateur who either went high in the draft or got a ton of money to sign as an international free agent. Another way is to hit .325/.388/.522 with 16 HR and 40 SB in 437 AB – not to mention, playing up the middle in CF. On top of that, Polanco improved as the season went on, posting a 1.049 OPS in July and a 1.022 OPS in August before an ankle injury ended his season. In the OMG PIRATES department, Polanco re-injured his ankle in the off-season while being forced to do insane Navy SEALS training during instructs. So if the Pirates can just get out of their own way, they could have a future star here.
#44 – Tyler Austin, OF, New York Yankees (High-A Tampa, 2012 rank: NR)
Speaking of prospects staging their own introductions, Tyler Austin did the same thing in 2012 – hitting .320/.405/.598 with 14 HR and 17 SB in 266 AB in the Sally League before earning a well-deserved promotion. He continued by hitting .321/.385/.478 in the Florida State League and finishing the season off with a HR in the Double-A playoffs. If he continues to display this type of offensive skill, Austin could be a plus hitter with at least average power and enough know-how to contribute in steals as well, despite his average-at-best speed (he’s a career 41-for-43 in SB attempts). The former 13th round pick should start 2013 in Double-A and could get fast tracked if he picks up where he left off.
#43 – Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies (Double-A Tulsa, 2012 rank: #19)
The best thing to happen to Arenado professionally may have also been the worst. After a very strong 2011 season in the Cal League, followed by taking MVP honors in the AFL, there were talks of Arenado breaking camp with the Rockies. Of course, this was insane as he hadn’t played a single game at Double-A, but it brought expectations for the 21-year old to an all-time high. So while his .285/.337/.428 line at in Tulsa was disappointing, it points closer to the type of player Arenado is. A potential plus hit, average power 3B, whose rate and number stats will play up while spending half his games at Coors. So while he may not be the second coming of Todd Helton, he could replicate the second half of Helton’s career as a .300+ hitter with 18-22 HR.
#42 – Chris Archer, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays (MLB, 2012 rank: #90)
I might as well just copy and paste the first sentence from Jake Odorizzi’s write-up here. Archer is good enough to be given a rotation spot out of spring training, but is unlikely to get one with Tampa Bay until an injury strikes – though with Jeff Niemann, that could be any second now. With Archer, stuff has never been a question, as he can tear through a line-up with two plus-plus pitches (in his fastball and slider) and an average change. The problem is that his command has often betrayed him, which has led to role questions. However, after walking 21 hitters in his first 24 Triple-A innings of 2012, he settled down to allow only 41 over his last 104 Triple-A innings and had a 36-13 K/BB rate in his 29 1/3 major league innings. If he can keep his BB/9 rate under 4.0, he could be a huge three-category contributor (not WHIP).
#41 – Jedd Gyorko, 2B/3B, San Diego Padres (Triple-A Tuscon, 2012 rank: NR)
After hitting .311/.373/.547 across Double-A and Triple-A in 2012, there’s not much left for Gyorko to prove in the minor leagues. However, for those expecting him to put up a similar major league line to that are kidding themselves. As Anthony Rizzo proved in 2011, Tuscon and San Diego are on polar opposites of the offensive environment spectrum, so while Gyorko did hit 30 HR in 2012, don’t expect that number to be much higher than 15-18 at the major league level. However, his hitting ability is real, and Gyorko has .300 potential. The kicker is that he’s being shifted to 2B to accommodate Chase Headley, which is great for his fantasy value as it’s a much weaker overall position.
#40 – Max Fried, LHP, San Diego Padres (Rookie-league AZL, 2012 rank: NR)
My #1 arm from the 2012 draft (at least once Giolito hurt his), Fried has almost everything you look for in a prep pitcher. At the base, he has a plus fastball that can sit in the low 90’s (while ticking higher) and a potential plus-plus curveball which had gotten itself ridiculous comps that I won’t even repeat here. OK, one – my personal favorite was when Jon Heyman comped Fried to Sandy Koufax on Twitter because he’s lefty, Jewish and throws a high-end curveball. In reality, that’s crazy, even though Fried claims to have learned the pitch by studying tapes of Koufax. Add to that, a potential plus change-up, very advanced pitchability and command for his age and an athletic frame and you see why it’s very easy to get caught up in the hype.
#39 – Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays (Low-A Lansing, 2012 rank: NR)
[INSERT END OF REALITY SHOW CATCH PHRASE] When I started making this list, there were six Blue Jays on it – and without altering any names, that number is now two. Sanchez is a potentially special arm whose pure stuff was as good as anyone else in the Midwest League, but this ranking is about command projection. In 90 1/3 innings last season, Sanchez walked 51 batters. Of course, he also had a 2.49 ERA, 64 hits allowed and 97 K’s as well. The ease of his cheese suggests that his command can improve, and even if it just becomes average, he could be a stud. With two potential major league out pitches in his fastball and his curve (along with a change-up that could be at least an average offering), Sanchez could be a strikeout machine if he can harness the repertoire.
#38 – Alen Hanson, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates (Low-A West Virginia, 2012 rank: NR)
The second of West Virginia’s breakout prospects, Hanson is the slightly more interesting guy for fantasy for a couple of reasons. The biggest of those reasons is that he will have middle infield eligibility (though it’s to be determined whether that’s SS or 2B) rather than OF. Also, while he and Gregory Polanco share similar power and speed projections, Hanson projects to be the better hitter for average at this point. Finally, he’s more than a year younger than Polanco, which means he’ll play all of next season in High-A at age 20. Outside of any other Polanco comparisons (which are inevitable as they both play for the Pirates and they’ve been thrust into our consciousness), he’s a switch-hitter with an innate ability to fill up the box score, as exemplified by him leading the Sally League in total bases with 258.
#37 – Oswaldo Arcia, OF, Minnesota Twins (Double-A New Britain, 2012 rank: NR)
With both Denard Span and Ben Revere out of town, Arcia could get a shot to win the RF job out of spring training – although I’d expect him to be in Rochester for the first month or two of 2013. With an overall stat line of .314/.371/.535 in 374 minor league games, there’s little question left that Arcia can hit, but where he really made some strides this year was in his approach at the plate. His 51 walks in 2012 between High-A and Double-A were one fewer than he had accumulated in his previous three seasons (52 total). If he continues to show an improved approach against LHP and ability to lay off soft and spinning pitches out of the zone, Arcia can be a plus-hit, plus-power bat – even in Target Field, which hampers left-handed power.
#36 – Matt Barnes, RHP, Boston Red Sox (High-A Salem, 2012 rank: NR)
Welcome to the UConn portion of the list. Barnes was selected 19th overall by the Sox in 2011 and should be a pretty quick mover. For some reason unbeknownst to anyone outside the organization, the Red Sox started Barnes, a pretty advanced college pitcher, in the Sally League – where he put up stats you couldn’t even replicate in a video game (0.34 ERA and 42 K in 26 2/3 IP). With a more reasonable assignment, Barnes was very solid in High-A, striking out 91 batters in 93 innings with a 3.58 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. His bread and butter is a mid-90’s fastball with plenty of life to it, but has a curveball that flashes plus as well. He’s a very aggressive pitcher and he should make a solid #3 in short order.
#35 – George Springer, OF, Houston Astros (Double-A Corpus Christi, 2012 rank: #65)
The question with Springer is the same one that’s been asked since he was at Connecticut: will Springer make enough contact for his power/speed combo to make him a fantasy stud? His .316/.398/.557 line with 22 HR and 28 SB in 433 AB at Lancaster was impressive, but it’s also probably the best offensive environment in the minors. After struggling a little bit in his first 73 AB in Double-A, he finished the season strong, hitting .286/.412/.600 with 4 HR and 5 SB in 70 AB in the Arizona Fall League (another strong offensive environment). Strikeouts are always going to be a part of Springer’s game, but he improved his approach at the plate as the season went on. He’ll need to continue to do that, but Springer could be a legit 25-25 threat at Minute Maid Park.
#34 – Addison Russell, SS, Oakland Athletics (Low-A Burlington, 2012 rank: NR)
Russell literally blew up the AZL, to the tune of a .415/.488/.717 line with 6 HR and 9 SB in 106 AB, before seeing time in both the New York-Penn and Midwest Leagues. A potential shortstop with plus-plus power, Russell is truly a rare bird – and he’s gotten plenty of prospect enthusiasts very, well, enthused. And you can see how rare it is because nearly all of the middle infield prospects before him have had average power at best. The questions about whether he could stay at SS prior to the spring have quieted due to vastly improved conditioning, as well. But don’t go too crazy here y—OH MY GOD ADDISON RUSSELL IS THE GREATEST I WONDER WHAT HAT HE’S GOING TO WEAR IN COOPERSTOWN HE HAS PIERCING EYES I THINK HE CAN SEE INTO MY SOUL.
#33 – Brian Goodwin, OF, Washington Nationals (Double-A Harrisburg, 2012 rank: #77)
You guys all know how much I love Brian Goodwin. Playing the entire season at age-21, Goodwin dominated the Sally League (.324/.438/.542 with 9 HR and 15 SB in 216 AB) and held his own after a two-level jump to Double-A. He then impressed with his athleticism in the Arizona Fall League where he had a .815 OPS with 11 XBH in 80 AB. Goodwin’s skillset is that of a true five-category threat at the major league level. He’s got very quick hands that lead to plus bat speed when he stays balanced. This, combined with his plus speed, gives him a real shot to hit for solid average (think .280-.290) in addition to having enough power to hit 18-22 HR in his prime. By the time you throw 25-30 SB ability into the mix, you get a potentially special player. I wrote more about him here.
#32 – Carlos Martinez, SP, St Louis Cardinals (Double-A Springfield, 2012 rank: #40)
Martinez has a couple of things going against him at this point. He’s a small right-hander who has had some shoulder issues (including missing a month with tendonitis this season). However, there’s a potential special arm in that 6’0”, 165 pound frame. Martinez’s fastball borders on elite, occasionally hitting triple-digits and sitting in the 94-97 range. He also has two off-speed pitches in his curveball and change-up that flash plus. Most importantly, There is a very realistic chance that Martinez ends up in the bullpen, though I still believe in him as a starter. And even if that does happen, he has all of the ingredients to be one of the best relievers in baseball. Read more about him here.
#31 – Casey Kelly, SP, San Diego Padres (MLB, 2012 rank: #64)
We’re finishing out the second to last portion of this list with another member of the Dynasty Guru Crush Club. Despite his lackluster MLB debut, in which he went 2-3 with a 6.21 ERA, 1.69 WHIP and 26 K in 29 IP, Kelly has all the ingredients for a solid fantasy pitcher. Usually working in the low-90’s, Kelly has a fastball which produces a lot of natural sink on it, and when combined with his ability to locate down in the zone should produce high ground ball rates. His curveball and change-up are both potential above-average pitches to match his above-average command and control (helped by his athleticism – he was recruited to play QB at Tennessee). Kelly should have a rotation spot early in 2013 and could be a very solid #3 in short order – which as a righty at PETCO, would make him very valuable. More here.
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