2013 could be a banner year for contribution by rookies. While I doubt we will see the next Trout or Harper emerge, the talent is deeper than in 2012 and this could put pressure on older and/or fringe major league players. For instance, why should the Cardinals sign Kyle Lohse when they have high-upside, and not to mention cheaper arms in Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal waiting in the wings. If they don’t work out, then make a deal at the trading deadline to bring in a proven mid-rotation arm.
Also included on this list are several player who will be promoted in mid-June to avoid Super Two status – Wil Myers, Gerrit Cole, Zack Wheeler, and Travis d’Arnaud. Each one of these players could make a difference in your fantasy team as they all have enormous upside. The trick will be in determining which one of these players should be added to your fantasy roster upon promotion. Well…check back throughout the season for updates and I’ll try and help you figure that out (sorry for the shameless plug)
Finally, assuming all of the Top 25 prospects that I have included in this list make it to the big leagues in 2013, you have to wonder who will be the top ranked prospect in 2014? Taijuan Walker, Jose Fernandez, Christian Yelich, and Xander Bogaerts would seem the likely candidates to lead the list next year. While I like all of these players, 2014 feels like it will be a drop off in talent from the last three years that saw Profar, Taveras, Myers, Harper, Trout, Moore, Strasburg and Heyward as the top talent.
A word about the rankings
We did our best to provide reasonable projections based on both when the player will be called up and the initial level of success they may have. The rankings take both of these assertions into consideration as well as how confident we are in those assertions in order to create the ranking order. Is it a perfect science? By no means; and we know that makes drafting these prospects for your fantasy team a challenge. To that end, we will frequently update this list as factors change throughout Spring Training and the early part of the year. Those rankings can be found here.
|Expected Call-up Date: April 10
Shelby Miller ended the season in strong fashion and that should translate in breaking camp with the Cardinals at the start of the 2013 season. Miller is ready and should excel in 2013. While I believe the Cardinals will be careful with his innings, Miller should be owned and drafted in all deep fantasy leagues for 2013. Assuming he stays injury free, put Miller at the top of the pre-season list for NL Rookie of the year.
|Expected Call-up Date:April 1
The Diamondbacks traded Justin Upton so they could play…wait for it…Adam Eaton.
Eaton is not your typical highly ranked rookie prospects but is instead, more of a “grinder” ; a player who will make solid contact while having long at-bats. That said, I like Eaton for 2013 and believe he’ll be a contributor to your fantasy team. Speed is the reason why fantasy owners should be drafting Eaton to their team. I’m projecting 35 stolen bases with a possibility of a higher total given his on-base skills. While I don’t think Eaton will win the NL Rookie of the Year, the amount of playing time he’ll receive should put him in the discussion.
|Expected Call-up Date: June 5
The Rays have a history of delaying the start of a player’s clock and that should be the case with Wil Myers. Fortunately for fantasy owners, the Royals kept Myers in the minor leagues for the entire 2012 season, so he should be up in early June.
While my long-term comp for Myers has always been Andre Either, I don’t expect that production for 2013. Instead, look for Myers to be very aggressive with an increased strikeout rate that will put pressure on his batting average. The power should be there as should decent counting statistics.
|Expected Call-up Date: April 1
You’ve got to give it to the Tigers – they have kept steadfast throughout the winter that Bruce Rondon is their closer for 2013 and on the eve of pitchers and catchers reporting, Rondon is still at the top of the list.
Rondon can throw hard – really hard, but has struggled throwing strikes for most of his minor league career. However, he did show improvement in 2012 where his walk rate went from 7.65 BB/9 in 2011 to 3.78 BB/9. What is encouraging about his 2012 performance was he demonstrated better pitching mechanics. Was it enough? I don’t know, but we are going to find out very soon.
|Expected Call-up Date: April 10
At the tender age of 21, Tyler Skaggs held his own in six big league starts; although a 1-3 record with a 5.83 ERA would suggest otherwise. However, trust the arsenal and command that he displayed in 122.1 innings across Double and Triple-A as more of a benchmark in what he will do in the majors. Skaggs definitely has a top of the rotation profile and while he could struggle from start-to-start, I’m drafting him late in deeper leagues as I believe he will break camp as the number five starter for the Diamondbacks.
|Expected Call-up Date:May 20
Dylan Bundy is going to be a fantasy pitching stud with high strikeout totals and excellent ratios. However, like a fine wine, he needs time to age in order to bring out that true ace potential. The question is when will the Orioles promote their prized prospect and will he be ready? I’m projecting mid-May, but could see that call-up date slip to mid-June in order to avoid Super Two status. I believe he’ll be good and will improve throughout the year, but 2014 will be the year that Bundy establishes himself and never looks back.
|Expected Call-up Date: April 15
I saw Dan Straily first pitch in a Spring Training backfield minor league game in 2012 and was stunned by his pitchability and deep arsenal but also in the fact that I’d never heard of the guy.
As everyone knows by now, Straily had a remarkable 2012 season by first being one of the top overall minor league players and more importantly, making seven big league starts to help Oakland win the AL West. While there is no guarantee that Straily will make the A’s rotation out of camp, I believe he is one of the five best arms and therefore I’m projecting 30 starts for the 24-year-old. Straily will be one of the pitchers that I’m targeting in the late rounds of my fantasy draft.
|Expected Call-up Date:April 1
The Texas Rangers held to their guns and did not trade any of their top prospects for an outfielder and seem to be confident in the centerfield platoon of Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry. Fortunately, Martin is on the good side of the platoon and also happens to be the better player. Martin had an excellent 2012 Triple-A season where he batted .359 with 12 home runs and 10 stolen bases but was also caught stealing nine times. I believe that poor percentage will improve as he learns to read pitchers better and I’m projecting 16 stolen bases for the 2013 season. Martin is somebody that you should be drafted in a deep mixed league.
|Expected Call-up Date: June 10
When you’re taken as the number one overall draft pick the year following Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg, expectations are a little high. While Gerrit Cole had an impressive 2012 minor league campaign, it wasn’t Strasburgian. Candidly, people seem to be down on Cole and I don’t get it. I understand that his four-seamer can be flat and he still needs to work on his command, but he also has three plus pitches and a great mature pitching frame. Additionally, as he gains experience, he will start to rely on his two-seamer that has better movement but is still running up to the plate in the mid-90′s. Cole has a chance to be a real stud and fantasy owners should get a glimpse at the potential in the second half of the year. I only have him projected at 98 innings, but with a ton of strikeouts and decent ratios.
|Expected Call-up Date: June 10
I’m very bullish on Zack Wheeler for both the long-term and for 2013. He has the arsenal, mechanics, and physicality to pitch at the top of the rotation and is nearly Big League ready. While Wheeler will likely start the year in Triple-A, there is an outside shot that the Mets will bypass Triple-A and start him in New York. Why? The Mets Triple-A affiliate is now the hitters paradise of Las Vegas and they may be concerned about damaging the confidence of the 22-year-old. If that happens, Wheeler may go to the top of this list and be a favorite for NL ROY.
|Expected Call-up Date:July 15
Oscar Tavares has nothing left to learn or prove in the minors and if all things were equal, should be the starting right fielder on April 1st for the Cardinals. However, as of this writing in early February, that is not going to happen as Carlos Beltran is manning that position. What I’m pretty convinced of is once Tavares makes his big league debut, he’ll be there to stay – he’s going to be that good. I’ve got Tavares finding 250-300 at-bats in 2013 but the real year of Tavares is likely 2014.
|Expected Call-up Date: June 15
Travis d’Arnaud was the center piece to the December R.A. Dickey trade that sent the knuckleballer to the Blue Jays. It was an expensive acquisition for the Blue Jays as d’Arnaud has first division talent and should be a mainstay behind the plate in New York for many years. The Mets will likely bring him up in mid-June as to not trigger his Super Two status but starting him off in New York is not out of the question. Expect power but some pressure on his batting average as he adjust to big league pitching and his catching duties on the biggest stage.