Today is Day One. Over the next 31 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 this post from December. And we’re going to kick 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 one of the 2013 Top 150 Dynasty League Prospect list:
Honorable Mention: Domingo Santana, Henry Owens, Rio Ruiz, Cody Buckel, Johnny Hellweg, Onelki Garcia, David Holmberg, D.J. Davis, Trevor May, Nomar Mazara
#150 – Cheslor Cuthbert, 3B, Kansas City Royals (High-A Wilmington, 2012 rank: #81)
It was not a banner year for Cuthbert, as he both struggled statistically (.618 OPS in 475 AB) and continued to receive questions about his effort level. But he’ll still play next season at 20 and it was Wilmington (a strong pitcher’s park). The talent is still there for Cuthbert to develop into an offensive third-baseman with power.
#149 – Ronald Guzman, 1B/OF, Texas Rangers (Rookie-league AZL, 2012 rank: NR)
Still huge offensive tools, still eons away. The positives from his stateside debut this year start with the fact that he made strong contact, leading the Arizona League in hits with 68. He’s also still showing impressive raw power, which won’t show up in games until he starts to develop the strength for it.
#148 – Max Kepler, OF, Minnesota Twins (Rookie-league Elizabethton, 2012 rank: NR)
The best thing about Kepler is his back story. He grew up in Germany as the son of two ballet dancers (one American and one Polish) and received the largest bonus ever for a position player signed out of Europe. Needless to say, he has athleticism in his bloodlines. Repeating the Appy League as a 19-year old, Kepler finally started turning tools into performance with a .297/.387/.539 line with 10 HR and 7 SB.
#147 – Tyler Matzek, LHP, Colorado Rockies (High-A Modesto, 2012 rank: NR)
After completely falling off the map, Matzek at least got his stuff back in order during 2012 with 153 K and only 7 HR allowed in 142 1/3 IP – while getting his velocity back into the 90’s. Next step: his control, which is still pretty terrible (95 BB). Every outcome is still in play for the 22-year enigma.
#146 – Will Swanner, C, Colorado Rockies (Low-A Asheville, 2012 rank: NR)
If Swanner had better than about a 10% chance of staying at catcher, he’d be a top-100 guy. As is, he’s an interesting bat, but with a poor defensive profile and a high likelihood of being a tweener (not good enough defensively to stay behind the plate, and not good enough offensively to profile at 1B). Still, even the small chance of it is worth a lot at this point.
#145 – Mitch Brown, RHP, Cleveland Indians (Rookie-league AZL, 2012 rank: NR)
The Indians may have gotten themselves a cold-weather steal in Brown, who hails from the baseball hotbed known at Rochester, Minnesota. Taken 79th overall in the 2012 draft, Brown will show four pitches – a low 90’s FB, two potential plus pitches in a cutter and curveball and a change-up which could be average. His ceiling may top out as a #3, but he has a higher floor than almost any prep pitcher in the 2012 draft.
#144 – Trayce Thompson, OF, Chicago White Sox (Double-A Birmingham, 2012 rank: NR)
Why is a player who has hit 49 HR over the past two seasons, and stole 21 bases in 2012, so far down on this list? Because he can’t hit very well, as his .240 career minor league average can attest to. If that changes, he could be a fantasy stud – and the first key to that is making more contact (448 K in 1352 career AB).
#143 – Mark Montgomery, RHP, New York Yankees (Double-A Trenton, 2012 rank: NR)
For a pure relief prospect to crack this list, you know his stuff has to be nasty – and Montgomery’s slider may have been the nastiest pitch on display in the AFL. I expect to see him in the Yankee bullpen this year and I expect him to be impressive right off the bat.
#142 – Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (High-A Rancho Cucamonga, 2012 rank: NR)
A total gamer, Pederson makes the most of his non-elite tools. But he’ll need to show it in non-elite offensive environments to move further up this list, and Double-A will be a good test for him. The biggest thing Pederson has going for him is his hit tool, which allows the rest of his game to play up.
#141 – Hak-Ju Lee, SS, Tampa Bay Rays (Double-A Montgomery, 2012 rank: NR)
Lee had a down year in 2012, only hitting .261 in the Southern League, but his skill-set is still that of a solid average hitter with high steal totals. In his last three seasons, he’s stolen 32, 33 and 37 bases. What he needs to prove at the upper levels, and in the majors, is that this isn’t another Dee Gordon – in that, he has the strength to hit premium velocity.
#140 – C.J. Cron, 1B/DH, Los Angeles Angels (High-A Inland Empire, 2012 rank: #94)
Cron is a pretty terrible athlete for a baseball player and his plate discipline leaves a ton to be desired (17 BB in 540+ PA in High-A), but he makes enough hard contact to be a less athletic Mark Trumbo type. So, while he may never be a particularly valuable major leaguer due to his lack of defensive value and walks, he should be more highly regarded in the fantasy world.
#139 – Mark Rogers, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers (MLB, 2012 rank: NR)
Yes, the 5th overall pick in the 2004 draft is still eligible. As a baseball fan, I hope for his sake that he can stay healthy. At this point, Rogers may be on his last shot at convincing the Brewers (or any other team) that he can stick in a rotation and provide quality innings – otherwise, a move to the bullpen is likely in his near future.
#138 – Austin Hedges, C, San Diego Padres (Low-A Fort Wayne, 2012 rank: NR)
A potential future all-star, Hedges is low on this list because it’s his defense that carries his real-life value. A .785 OPS in the Midwest League was a good start, but he’s not expected to be much of a fantasy contributor with the bat. He’ll likely top out as a .260, 12-15 HR type of guy.
#137 – Kyle Parker, OF, Colorado Rockies (High-A Modesto, 2012 rank: NR)
A power-hitting prospect in the Colorado system? I’m paying attention. The former Clemson quarterback continued to take steps forward in 2012 by not only hitting .308/.415/.562 with 23 HR, but also reducing his strikeout rate by more than 25%. Double-A will be a big step for him, as while this was impressive, it was also in the Cal League.
#136 – Jonathan Villar, SS, Houston Astros (Double-A Corpus Christi, 2012 rank: #91)
Villar reminds me somewhat of Anthony Gose, in that if he could just have an average hit tool, he could be a fantasy stud – though he doesn’t quite have the volume of tools that Gose does. He’s also been a successful base stealer considering the overall rawness of his game (78.2% career).
#135 – Wilmer Flores, 3B/OF, New York Mets (Double-A Binghamton, 2012 rank: NR)
It looked like Flores was going to stall out in the minors after a 2011 season which was his third complete season in A ball. But after hitting .311/.361/.494 in 251 Double-A at bats in 2012, he’s back on the map. Most impressively, Flores only struck out 30 times in those 251 AB (and he’s still only 21).
#134 – Slade Heathcott, OF, New York Yankees (High-A Tampa, 2012 rank: NR)
On the bright side, Heathcott impressed in the Florida State League offensively, hitting .307/.378/.470, and then followed that up with a 1.106 OPS in the Arizona Fall League. Unfortunately, he’s still only accumulated 755 AB since being the Yankees’ 2009 first round pick (#29 overall) – and part of that is from a completely all-out approach to playing the game.
#133 – Victor Sanchez, RHP, Seattle Mariners (Short-season Everett, 2012 rank: NR)
The youngest pitcher in the Northwest League, Sanchez won’t turn 18 until the end of this month. This made his 3.18 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 69 K in 85 IP even more impressive. Sanchez’s success at this level comes more from a very advanced approach than crazy stuff, but he still projects as a #2/3 starter if everything comes together.
#132 – Jeimer Candelario, 3B, Chicago Cubs (Short-season Boise, 2012: NR)
A potential 2013 breakout prospect, I contributed a sonnet about him as part of a Cubs system summary by Craig Goldstein over at Fake Teams. His bat brings out my inner Shakespeare. After hitting .281/.345/.396 in the Northwest League as an 18-year old (versus mostly college-aged players), he’ll look to shine in full-season ball.
#131 – Nick Travieso, RHP, Cincinnati Reds (Rookie-league AZL, 2012 rank: NR)
The 14th overall pick by the Reds in 2012, Travieso is a big, raw arm who may take some time to develop, as he’s had less experience than most HS arms (he wasn’t even a starter until his senior year). The Reds will be thrilled if he follows in the footsteps of fellow former first-rounder Robert Stephenson.
#130 – Blake Snell, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays (Rookie-league Princeton, 2012 rank: NR)
Is Snell next in the seemingly never-ending line of Tampa Bay pitching prospects? One of the million (slight exaggeration) supplemental picks the Rays had in 2011, Snell had a 2.09 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 53 K in 47 1/3 IP in the Appy League this year. Snell’s heavy low-90’s fastball also can generate a lot of ground outs.
#129 – Clint Coulter, C, Milwaukee Brewers (Rookie-league AZL, 2012 rank: NR)
The potential at the plate is there for Coulter to be a very solid fantasy backstop (think .260 with 20-25 HR in his prime), but unlike Hedges, he’s not a lock to be good enough defensively to stay there. If not, it’s tough to see him developing into a star offensively at another position.
#128 – Matthew Wisler, RHP, San Diego Padres (Low-A Fort Wayne, 2012 rank: NR)
The Padres seem to have a never ending supply of pitching prospects, and Wisler was one of the breakout guys this year, putting up a 2.53 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 113 K in 114 IP in his first taste of full-season ball. But the most promising number for Wisler was 1 – as in only 1 HR allowed all year.
#127 – Marcell Ozuna, OF, Miami Marlins (High-A Jupiter, 2012 rank: #96)
With Ozuna, it’s about power, power and more power. After all, 24 HR in the Florida State League (with its depressed offensive environment) is extremely impressive. Double-A will be a big test for him, as with many big raw power and questionable hit tool prospects, he can be exploited with sequence and off-speed stuff.
#126 – Tyrell Jenkins, RHP, St Louis Cardinals (Low-A Quad Cities, 2012 rank: NR)
So tempting, yet still so unrefined. Jenkins remains as much of a lottery ticket as anyone on this list, despite the fact that he’s already 20. There are plenty of reasons to list Jenkins in the top-100 on potential alone, but between the work he needs to do on his off-speed pitches and the injury issues he’s had, this is a more reasonable spot. With that said, Jenkins has as much upside as any pitcher in the Cards system.
#125 – Jose Campos, RHP, New York Yankees (Low-A Charleston, 2012 rank: NR)
Campos would be in the top-100, if he had come back healthy at some point this season and looked even close to as impressive as he did in April. Unfortunately, he’s nowhere to be found yet – so this ranking is a bit of a hedge. When healthy, he throws a mid-90’s fastball with impressive command, a hard curve which flashes plus and a change-up which flashes at least average.
#124 – Leonys Martin, OF, Texas Rangers (MLB, 2012 rank: NR)
Martin is unlikely to be a star, but he could be step in for Texas in CF next season. With no real plus tools, but no weaknesses, he should be a lower-level contributor across the board, similar to teammate David Murphy. His .359/.422/.610 line with 12 HR and 10 SB says that he deserves a chance in 2013 if the Rangers don’t move Kinsler to the OF.
#123 – Bryce Brentz, OF, Boston Red Sox (Double-A Portland, 2012 rank: #95)
While Brentz showed a little less power in Double-A than he had at previous stops, he continued to produce despite gaudy strikeout totals. I still believe in him as a potential .270, 25 HR bat – and Fenway is a perfect fit for him, with his often pull-happy approach. A 2014 RF job in Boston should be Brentz’s to claim.
#122 – Joey Gallo, 3B/1B, Texas Rangers (Short-season Spokane, 2012 rank: NR)
Yes, Gallo broke some power records in the AZL this season. But for context, here are the AZL HR leaders over the last five seasons: Jose Cuevas, Jesus Aguilar, Cody Decker, John Contreras and Andy D’Alessio. He is exciting, but temper those expectations. The power could be elite, but there are so many question marks right now including his contact issues and whether he can stay at 3B long-term.
#121 – Marcus Stroman, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays (Double-A New Hampshire, 2012 rank: NR)
Stroman’s stuff is so advanced that even though he’ll begin the 2013 finishing out his 50-game suspension for amphetamines, he may still reach the majors before the season ends – though it will likely be as a reliever. But don’t rule him out as a starter long-term despite his short-stature (he’s 5’8”).
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