Because I was so verbose with the Top 150 prospects, and nearly half of this list overlaps with a list rife with commentary, this is going to be a shorter version. A much shorter one, in fact. Minor league drafts are likely coming up soon for those of you in dynasty and keeper formats, so hopefully this list will be a nice cheat sheet if your league only uses previous year signees as a draft pool.
For this list, I’ve included all players who have signed during the 2012 calendar year. That means high-profile international free agents like Darvish, Cespedes and Soler are included along with all of the 2012 draftees and more standard international free agents (16 year olds). Obviously these players are more likely to be a long ways away from the major leagues, so a lot of the list is based on upside, since we have a better idea for that as opposed to a level of certainty. And importantly, while we counted down from 150 in the Dynasty Prospects List, all other lists in the rankings package from here on out are going to count from #1 on down the line.
So for your continued long weekend enjoyment, the Top 50 Dynasty League 2012 signees:
#1 – Yu Darvish, SP, Texas Rangers
I know the general rule of thumb is to take the hitter over the pitcher when the values are close, but I’m too bullish on Darvish’s future to do that. I still believe he’s going to win a Cy Young award one day, and could strike out 250+ hitters annually. He’s probably my favorite pitcher in baseball to watch right now.
#2 – Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Oakland Athletics
Being #2 behind Darvish is no slight to Cespedes, who could be a continual fantasy stud in his own right. For a hitter who was supposed to be too raw to start the season in the majors and susceptible to the strikeout, the fact that he struck out only 18.9% of the time is even more impressive than his raw stats (which were great). Just remember that he’s already 27 years old.
#3 – Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros
#4 – Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins
#4 1/2 – Mike Zunino, C, Seattle Mariners
#5 – Jorge Soler, OF, Chicago Cubs
#6 – Addison Russell, SS, Oakland Athletics
#7 – Max Fried, LHP, San Diego Padres
#8 – Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Kansas City Royals
#9 – David Dahl, OF, Colorado Rockies
#10 – Kevin Gausman, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
#11 – Lucas Giolito, RHP, Washington Nationals
#12 – Norichika Aoki, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
For a player the Brewers supposedly didn’t really mean to sign, he sure came through for them in 2012. Originally thought of as a borderline 4th outfielder, he showed really surprising pop and speed (his 10 HR and 30 SB comes as even more of a shock when you see he had 4 HR and 8 SB in 144 NPB games in 2011). His high contact rate should allow him to keep value going forward, but don’t necessarily expect a repeat of 2012.
#13 – Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
#14 – Albert Almora, OF, Chicago Cubs
#15 – Corey Seager, SS/3B, Los Angeles Dodgers
#16 – Lance McCullers Jr, RHP, Houston Astros
#17 – Courtney Hawkins, OF, Chicago White Sox
#18 – Stryker Trahan, C, Arizona Diamondbacks
#19 – Lewis Brinson, OF, Texas Rangers
#20 – Richie Shaffer, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays
#21 – Jose Berrios, RHP, Minnesota Twins
#22 – Hisashi Iwakuma, RHP, Seattle Mariners
#23 – Wei-Yin Chen, LHP, Baltimore Orioles
These were the two (much) lower profile early 2012 pitcher signings, at least when compared with Darvish-mania. Iwakuma is 4 years older than Chen (31 vs 27), but gets the nod because he has the better skill set and home park. In fact, with some improved control, Iwakuma could be a #holytrinity candidate with his 7.3 K/9 and 52% GB rate. Chen throws a little harder, but after posting a 2.22 ERA in April, the rest of his season didn’t quite go as well. Fortunately for him, he doesn’t have the injury concerns that Iwakuma has (Iwakuma had shoulder issues in his days in Japan).
#24 – Andrew Heaney, LHP, Miami Marlins
#25 – Michael Wacha, RHP, St Louis Cardinals
#26 – Chris Stratton, RHP, San Francisco Giants
#27 – Marcus Stroman, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
#28 – Joey Gallo, 3B/1B, Texas Rangers
#29 – Clint Coulter, C, Milwaukee Brewers
#30 – Nick Travieso, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
#31 – Mitch Brown, RHP, Cleveland Indians
#32 – Rio Ruiz, 3B, Houston Astros
#33 – Ryu-Hyun Jin, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Jin is a tricky guy to rank as no one knows what he’s going to be yet. However, I’ve yet to read anything that claims he’ll be a starting pitcher with no reservations. In his 6-year career in the KBO, he has a 2.80 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 1,238 K in 1,269 IP. Good, no doubt, but not the dominant numbers you’d want to see given the level of competition. He’ll clearly be a guy to watch in the spring.
#34 – Onelki Garcia, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
#35 – D.J. Davis, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
Speed, speed and more speed. That’s the name of Davis’ game.
#36 – Jairo Beras, OF, Texas Rangers
You probably know him best right now for the controversy surrounding his signing, but soon you’ll know him best for his power — which could be extraordinary.
#37 – Matt Smoral, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays
A huge lefty (6’8″) who has not played at any level since breaking his foot in April, Smoral is an extreme example of a high risk/high reward guy.
#38 – Zach Eflin, RHP, San Diego Padres
#39 – Franklin Barreto, SS/OF, Toronto Blue Jays
#40 – Luiz Gohara, LHP, Seattle Mariners
Gohara is getting a ton of press clippings as a potential breakout star, after signing out of Brazil and flashing three potential plus pitches for scouts, and it’s well deserved. But don’t sleep on Barreto, who was ranked the #1 international free agent in 2012 by Baseball America. It’s unclear where he’ll end up positionally, but reports are that he has the potential to hit enough for it not to matter.
#41 – Stephen Piscotty, 3B, St Louis Cardinals
#42 – Lucas Sims, RHP, Atlanta Braves
#43 – Mitch Nay, 3B/1B, Toronto Blue Jays
One of the unheralded power bats of the draft, Nay has at least plus raw power. He’ll never be a great hitter, but the potential power (given the dearth of it in the minors) warrants attention.
#44 – Ty Hensley, RHP, New York Yankees
#45 – Gavin Cecchini, SS, New York Mets
#46 – Deven Marrero, SS, Boston Red Sox
#47 – Matthew Olson, 1B, Oakland Athletics
#48 – Jose Castillo, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Gohara is getting all the press among pitching IFA’s, but don’t be surprised if Castillo ends up being the top lefty in the class. Already throwing in the low 90′s as a 16-year old with advanced feel for a change-up, he’s worth keeping tabs on.
#49 – Kevin Plawecki, C, New York Mets
#50 – Luke Bard, RHP, Minnesota Twins
Yep, it’s Daniel’s brother – and apparently the “two plus pitch” gene runs in the family. But just like Daniel, Luke is likely a reliever.
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