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2012 Draft Prep: Top 50 Fantasy prospects

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Next!

That's what most Fantasy owners say, every hour of every day, as they stare at their mundane draft lists wondering how they can slip something past the rest of the league and gain an advantage. They want to know not just the Fantasy stars of today, but the stars of tomorrow. And they want to beat everyone else to them.

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To that end, I've compiled a list of the top 50 Fantasy prospects for 2012. Obviously, their usefulness will vary depending on your exact format -- keepers or no keepers, mixed or league-specific, 12 teams or 24 teams, etc. -- but the idea is these prospects are the ones most relevant to Fantasy owners today. They're not necessarily the ones with the most upside and they're not necessarily ones expected to play the most either. They're just the ones whose names you should know, for one reason or another.

To distinguish between the immediate and long-term contributors, I've included a "2012 Fantasy impact" scale, ranging from one to five. One means the player has no chance of reaching the majors this year. Five means he's on the opening day roster.

Combining the two extremes isn't the most objective task in the world, but if you treat this list as a general overview of the minor leagues and what they can do for you in the not-too-distant future, chances are you'll get the leg up you're looking for.

Top 50 Rookies/Prospects for 2012
Rank Player POS TM Age 2011 high 2012 impact
1 Matt Moore RP TB 22 Majors
If Stephen Strasburg was left-handed and not on an innings limit, he'd be Moore. At least, that's what some talent evaluators believe. The lefty might actually be underrated as a middle-rounder given his relief pitcher eligibility.
2 Yu Darvish SP TEX 25 DNP -- in Japan
Darvish might actually go a little earlier than Moore in some drafts, but the inherent uncertainty of drafting Japanese imports makes him less attractive long-term. Still, by all early accounts, he's an ace-caliber pitcher.
3 Jesus Montero C SEA 22 Majors
Montero was considered a better prospect than both Carlos Santana and Buster Posey when coming up through the minors. He has power to all fields, catcher eligibility and the assurance of full-time at-bats in Seattle. What's not to love?
4 Bryce Harper OF WAS 19 Double-A
We all know Harper is good -- perhaps the best player on this list when all is said and done. This ranking assumes he won't quite make the team this spring but will be a viable mixed-league contributer when he arrives a few weeks later.
5 Mike Trout OF LAA 20 Majors
If the Angels didn't have so many outfield-DH option as it is, Trout would likely get an opening day nod. He'll go back to the minors for extra seasoning, but he won't be there long. Some actually consider him a better prospect than Harper.
6 Trevor Bauer SP ARI 21 Double-A
Bauer's stuff alone would make him a top pitching prospect. Factor in his studious approach and the minors won't be able to hold him for long. He had a shot at the fifth rotation spot before the Diamondbacks re-signed Joe Saunders.
7 Yonder Alonso OF SD 24 Majors
Alonso's performance late last season had Fantasy owners wishing for a trade. Well, they got one, but since it was to San Diego and PETCO Park, Alonso's value will depend more on doubles and on-base percentage than homers.
8 Devin Mesoraco C CIN 23 Majors
A certainy for the opening day roster, Mesoraco will be the full-time catcher as soon as he convinces veteran-lover Dusty Baker that he deserves the job. In the meantime, he has the offensive ability to survive a part-time role.
9 Yoenis Cespedes OF OAK 26 DNP -- in Cuba
Cespedes has plenty of hype as a budding power-speed threat but no results to back it up. Sure, he hit in Cuba, but that's no guarantee he's major-league ready. Still, given his age, he'll be contributing at some point this year.
10 Nolan Arenado 3B COL 20 Class A
Arenado did nothing but impress in 2011, from his combination of contact and power hitting at Class A Modesto to his eye-opening performance in the Arizona Fall League. He's one Casey Blake injury from taking over at Coors Field.
11 Julio Teheran SP ATL 21 Majors
Teheran didn't exactly live up to the Pedro Martinez comparisons in his first look in the majors, but based on his Triple-A numbers, he's close. He may not win a job this spring, but he'll be ready to contribute midseason.
12 Shelby Miller SP STL 21 Double-A
If the Cardinals don't have room in their starting rotation for Roy Oswalt, they won't for Miller either. Still, a late-season look is possible for the pitching prospect whose upside is comparable to Matt Moore's.
13 Wil Myers OF KC 21 Double-A
You'd think Myers' stock would be down after a disappointing, injury-plagued season at Double-A, but his 1.156 OPS in the Arizona Fall League confirmed he's still as good of a hitting prospect as any.
14 Jurickson Profar SS TEX 19 Class A
Yes, he's young. Yes, he's far away. Yes, he's seemingly blocked by Elvis Andrus. But Profar is shaping up to be a first-round type player at shortstop and is a must-have in long-term keeper leagues.
15 Jarrod Parker SP OAK 23 Majors
Parker's 2011 numbers were skewed by early control issues in his return from Tommy John surgery. He's still an ace in waiting and with the rebuilding Athletics, his wait might be over in spring training.
16 Drew Pomeranz SP COL 23 Majors
The only way Pomeranz's first professional season could have gotten better is if he didn't get traded to Colorado. Still, he has the upside to succeed there and is a favorite for a rotation spot this spring.
17 Anthony Rizzo 1B CHC 22 Majors
PETCO Park may not have done Rizzo any favors, but Wrigley Field should be more to his liking. Of course, Bryan LaHair will have to flop for Rizzo to get his shot. The Cubs say they want him in the minors for now.
18 Danny Hultzen SP SEA 22 DNP -- unsigned
Aside from maybe Trevor Bauer, Hultzen is the 2011 first-rounder most likely to debut in the first half this year. The second overall pick is a big reason why the Mariners were willing to trade Michael Pineda.
19 Brett Jackson OF CHC 23 Triple-A
The new Cubs regime prefers a conservative approach with top prospects, but Jackson's Triple-A numbers will force the team's hand by midseason. He's a five-category player if his strikeouts don't hold him back.
20 Manny Machado SS BAL 19 Class A
Machado, who was the third overall pick in the Bryce Harper draft, is in some people's estimation a safer bet than Jurickson Profar offensively. Chances are you'll be happy with either at the weak shortstop position.
21 Gerrit Cole SP PIT 21 DNP -- unsigned
Cole was drafted ahead of Danny Hultzen and Trevor Bauer, but the Pirates are taking a slower-than-molasses approach with their pitching prospects. He's an excellent keeper, but he comes with a definite waiting period.
22 Travis D'Arnaud C TOR 23 Double-A
If you thought J.P. Arencibia was good, just wait until you see D'Arnaud. He has the homers and a batting average to go along with them. Come midseason, the Blue Jays will have a dilemma on their hands.
23 Leonys Martin OF TEX 23 Majors
Still transitioning from Cuba, Martin has looked like a legitimate leadoff hitter in the minors and is the team's best long-term answer in center. He'll get a shot there this year even if not on opening day.
24 Addison Reed RP CHW 23 Majors
Reed's minor-league numbers are Craig Kimbrel-like, only without all the walks. He already has a job in the White Sox's bullpen. If he's able to supplant Matt Thornton for saves, he's mixed-league material.
25 Tyler Skaggs SP ARI 20 Double-A
Skaggs is overshadowed by Trevor Bauer in the Diamondbacks system, but the former Angels farmhand has emerged as an ace-caliber pitcher in his own right. Chances are Arizona won't have a need for him this year.
26 Miguel Sano 3B MIN 18 Rookie
The Miguel Cabrera comparisons became a little more valid when Sano hit 20 homers in 267 at-bats last year. He has a long way to go still, but given his potential, he's well worth the wait.
27 Gary Brown OF SF 23 Class A
A couple years from now, Brown might very well be the best leadoff hitter in the game. His high contact rate and ability to motor around the base paths makes him an ideal fit for that ballpark.
28 Jacob Turner SP DET 20 Majors
Turner looked overmatched in a big-league trial last year, which isn't surprising given his age. His future is still bright, but he'd be better off losing the battle for the fifth rotation spot.
29 Jonathan Singleton 1B HOU 20 Class A
Now that he's out of the Phillies organization, Singleton can stay at first base where he belongs. As good as his bat has looked, he might speed through the minor-league system now.
30 Michael Choice OF OAK 22 Class A
Choice has shown plenty of power in the minors. His strikout rate could come back to bite him in the majors, but the Athletics are so desperate for offense that he might get a look later in the year anyway.
31 Anthony Rendon 3B WAS 21 DNP - injured
Rendon projects to hit for average and power, which is great and all, but the Nationals already have a third baseman who does that. So how does a second baseman who hits like Ryan Zimmerman sound? It could happen.
32 Hak-Ju Lee SS TB 21 Double-A
Lee's combination of speed, extra-base pop and bat control makes him something like the Shane Victorino of shortstops. Given the Rays' lack of production at that position, he could move faster than expected.
33 Taijuan Walker SP SEA 19 Class A
Yet another reason why the Mariners were willing to trade Michael Pineda, Walker shows similar ability with a strikeout-to-walk ratio well beyond his years. Don't expect to see him until 2014, though.
34 Jameson Taillon SP PIT 20 Class A
Taillon was drafted between Bryce Harper and Manny Machado in 2010, so nobody doubts his upside. But by giving him less than 100 innings last year, the Pirates showed they plan to develop him slowly.
35 Brad Peacock SP OAK 24 Majors
Provided he wins a rotation spot in Oakland, Peacock has a chance to be this year's Brandon Beachy after coming out of nowhere to post a stellar ERA and strikeout-to-walk ratio in the minors last year.
36 Yasmani Grandal C SD 23 Triple-A
On the surface, Grandal's move to San Diego is bad news, but at least now he's not blocked by Devin Mesoraco. If he overtakes Nick Hundley midseason, he should hit well enough to factor in mixed leagues.
37 Dellin Betances SP NYY 24 Majors
Betances is closer to being a finished product than Manuel Banuelos and, thus, rates a shade ahead of him on this list. A hard-throwing workhorse for the high-scoring Yankees can survive a high walk rate.
38 Manuel Banuelos SP NYY 21 Triple-A
By all accounts, Banuelos has the upside of an ace, but his control has evaporated in the upper levels of the minors. The Yankees won't need to rush him with Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda on board.
39 Zack Cozart SS CIN 26 Majors
Whether Cozart can be a 20-20 player remains to be seen, but he was off to a good start before needing elbow surgery last year. He's the Reds' only choice at shortstop, so he's worth a flier in Fantasy.
40 Wilin Rosario C COL 23 Majors
With Chris Iannetta gone, only Ramon Hernandez stands in Rosario's way for regular at-bats. The 23-year-old's poor plate discipline limits his upside, but you know he'll hit homers in that ballpark.
41 Randall Delgado SP ATL 22 Majors
Delgado is more advanced at this stage than Julio Teheran and, therefore, more likely to earn a rotation spot this spring. His command is still spotty enough that it could be short-lived, though.
42 Mike Montgomery SP KC 22 Triple-A
To this point, Montgomery's numbers haven't lived up to his stuff, but his issues are more mechanical than anything else. As soon as he figures them out, he'll be a fixture in the Royals rotation.
43 Nate Eovaldi SP LAD 22 Majors
A shortage of arms forced the Dodgers to rush Eovaldi last year, but he performed well enough that he'll likely be on call again this year. His hard fastball could make him a surprise contributor.
44 Garrett Richards SP LAA 23 Majors
The hard-throwing Richards doesn't profile as a true ace, but he's good enough to factor in mixed leagues if he's able to bump Jerome Williams from the fifth starter role at some point this season.
45 Ryan Lavarnway C BOS 24 Majors
Lavarnway's minor-league numbers are off the charts, and he proved his bat is major-league ready with his clutch two-homer game late last year. Still, he won't get at-bats until he proves himself defensively.
46 Chris Parmelee 1B MIN 24 Majors
Not only did Parmelee's on-base ability translate to the majors in his late-season trial last year, but he also showed surprising power. He could get a shot this year if Justin Morneau continues to flounder.
47 Arodys Vizcaino RP ATL 21 Majors
On the spectrum of Braves pitching prospects, Vizcaino is closer to Julio Teheran than Randall Delgado. But he's set to work in middle relief this year and could get stuck there. He's risky as a long-term keeper.
48 Joe Benson OF MIN 24 Majors
Benson has shown some tools in the minors -- some power, some speed and a decent walk rate -- but his exact upside is still in question. Given his age, he'll get the first call if the Twins have a need midseason.
49 Wei-Yin Chen SP BAL 26 DNP -- in Japan
Imports from the Japanese league have often been disappointments in Fantasy, but Chen might be an exception given his youth and command of his low-90s fastball. The Orioles will give him every chance to prove himself.
50 Tyler Pastornicky SS ATL 22 Triple-A
The Braves let Alex Gonzalez walk this offseason because they were confident Pastornicky could replace him. Of course, if he can't hit .314 like he did in the minors, he'll end up being just another Ryan Theriot.
Best of the rest: James Darnell, 3B, SD; Tommy Milone, SP, OAK; Dylan Bundy, SP, BAL; Archie Bradley, SP, ARI; Billy Hamilton, SS, CIN; Bubba Starling, OF, KC; Zack Wheeler, SP, NYM; Adam Eaton, OF, ARI; James Paxton, SP, SEA; Jean Segura, SS, LAA; Nick Franklin, SS, SEA; Jake Odorizzi, SP, KC; Chris Carter, 1B, OAK; Matt Harvey, SP, NYM; Jedd Gyorko, 3B, SD; Will Middlebrooks, 3B, BOS; Taylor Green, 2B, MIL; Matt Davidson, 3B, ARI; Brandon Guyer, OF, TB; Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF, NYM; Hisashi Iwakuma, SP, SEA; Liam Hendriks, SP, MIN; Alex Liddi, 3B, SEA; David Cooper, 1B TOR; and Eric Surkamp, SP, SF.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott White at @CBSScottWhite . You can also send our staff an e-mail at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Rockies 2B DJ LeMahieu breaks loose with three-hit game
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:55 am ET) So much for the slump plaguing Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu. He ended that in style Saturday night with three hits in a loss to Arizona.

LeMahieu ripped three singles, including one that tallied a run in the third inning. He also scored a run and raised his average back to .300 in breaking a 3-for-30 slide.


Diamondbacks CF A.J. Pollock has strong effort Saturday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:52 am ET) Diamondbacks leadoff hitter A.J. Pollock did a nice job setting the table Saturday and allowed his team to feast on the Rockies.

Pollock slammed a double and single, drove in two runs and scored another. His double plated a pair in the fourth inning.

The center fielder now boasts a solid slash line of .304/.348/.465. He has nine hits in his last 19 at-bats.


Rockies SP David Hale ineffective in loss to Diamondbacks
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:47 am ET) At least Rockies starter David Hale did not give up five runs Saturday against Arizona. However, four was bad enough.

Hale had allowed five runs in each of his previous three starts. But he wasn't much better in a loss to the Diamondbacks, his fourth straight. He surrendered three earned runs on five hits and three walks.

The right-hander yielded two runs in the first on a groundout and single, then two more in the fourth on a double by A.J. Pollock. Wildness caused him to throw 104 pitches - just 57 for strikes - through five.

Hale has given up 22 runs on 36 hits and 10 walks in his last 27 2/3 innings pitched to send his ERA soaring to 5.89.


Diamondbacks closer Brad Ziegler perfect in non-save situation
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:40 am ET) A three-run Diamondbacks eighth inning wrecked a save opportunity for closer Brad Ziegler, but he didn't perform like he was affected by it Saturday night.

Ziegler retired Colorado in order in the ninth. His sinker was working - all three were groundouts.

He has been pretty much lights-out over the last month. He has not allowed a run over 11 innings during that time and has recorded eight saves.


Diamondbacks SP Patrick Corbin has triumphant return
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:35 am ET) Mark the return of Diamondbacks starter Patrick Corbin a success. His first start after recovering from Tommy John surgery nearly two years ago resulted in a victory Saturday night.

Corbin allowed two runs on eight hits in five innings with no walks and three strikeouts against Colorado. He blanked the Rockies aside from the third, when RBI hits by Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu tied the game. He left after tossing 76 pitches.


Padres RP Dale Thayer makes first rehab appearance Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:32 am ET) Padres reliever Dale Thayer began his minor league rehab assignment on Saturday. Thayer made the start for Double-A San Antonio, allowing three runs on three hits in one inning of work. 

The right-hander has been on the disabled list since June 24--and hasn't pitched since June 16--due to a strained shoulder. It is not known when Thayer will be ready to return to the Padres' bullpen.


Dodgers OF Yasiel Puig not worrying manager over power outage
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:18 am ET) Don Mattingly claims to be unconcerned about the declining power numbers of Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig. But perhaps he should be.

The numbers are pronounced. Puig has just three home runs in 35 games this season. He has just seven in nearly 400 plate appearances since appearing in the Home Run Derby before the 2014 All-Star Game.

Puig missed 38 games this year due to a hamstring injury and four more when a blister opened on his left hand. Mattingly believes those setbacks have played a role in the power outage.

"Before he was hurt he already had two and that was in like 12 games," Mattingly explained to the Orange County Register. "So he was off to a decent start. Then he got hurt and that was an extended time. ... Home runs come in bunches. I don't really worry about home runs. I worry about at-bats and I think they've been OK."

Puig indeed owns a strong .287/.378/.457 slash line. But he hasn't blasted off in his last 20 games.


Rangers OF Josh Hamilton has groin strain, status uncertain
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:12 am ET) Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton did not play on Saturday in-part because of a groin strain. Hamilton had exited Friday's game in the seventh inning, and had an MRI on Saturday, though the results have not been made available as of yet.

Rangers manager Jeff Banister did say Saturday was a planned day off for Hamilton, but there does seem to be some concern in regards to Hamilton's health.

"Obviously, we’ll see where he is throughout the night," Banister said, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "We’ll continue to try to manage how he feels. This is a guy we’d like to have for an extended period of time. I’m trying my best to figure this whole thing out with him and what is best for Josh."

Hamilton just returned on Tuesday from a stay on the disabled list with a hamstring strain. His status for Sunday's series-finale against the Angels is in question at this point. 


Cubs RF Jorge Soler (ankle) ready to return on Sunday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:01 am ET) The Cubs are set to activate right fielder Jorge Soler from the disabled list on Sunday. Soler has been out since June 3 with a sprained left ankle, but he has made four rehab outings.

Soler struggled though, going 2 for 13 in the four games. But manager Joe Maddon doesn't necessarily buy into those stats.

"I don't worry about that stuff," Maddon said, per MLB.com. "To me, it's a matter of, 'If he's healthy and he's seeing the ball, what does his timing look like?' Those are the kinds of things you're trying to get from the guys down there."

Soler is expected to be in the lineup for the series-finale against the Marlins on Sunday. He was batting .237 (9 for 38) with a homer and five RBI over his last 10 games prior to the injury.


Red Sox returning RF Shane Victorino gives encouraging effort
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:58 am ET) Red Sox veteran right fielder Shane Victorino didn't look like a guy Saturday that had not played for nearly seven weeks.

Victorino slammed two hits and scored twice batting eighth in a defeat of Houston after recovering from lower-body strains.

"He steps right back in with a couple of base hits," John Farrell exclaimed to the Boston Herald. "We all know the start and stop of his season. To have another guy in the bottom of the order right now with his base-stealing ability, the base-running ability, two base hits against a right-hander today, very encouraging."


 
 
 
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