2013 Rookie Projections

Original Published Date: Feb. 5, 2013

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. For instance, while we firmly believe that Trevor Bauer will break camp with the team, we are equally concerned about the success he will have. That calculus puts Bauer at #13 and Profar at #16. We believe that Profar will hit the ground running, but the lack of obvious playing time pushes his ranking down.

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.

1. Shelby Miller (St. Louis Cardinals)

Expected Call-up Date: April 10
Position: SP
25 157 13 145 3.65 1.12

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.

2. Adam Eaton (Arizona Diamondbacks)

Expected Call-up Date:April 1
Position: CF
575 .268 6 82 42 35

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.

3. Wil Myers (Tampa Bay Rays)

Expected Call-up Date: June 5
Position: RF
385 .265 15 54 58 3

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.

4. Bruce Rondon (Detroit Tigers)

Expected Call-up Date: April 1
Position: RP
45 43 28 54 3.14 1.31

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.

5. Tyler Skaggs (Arizona Diamondbacks)

Expected Call-up Date: April 10
Position: SP
28 171 11 145 3.75 1.25

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.

6. Dylan Bundy (Baltimore Orioles)

Expected Call-up Date:May 20
Position: SP
25 157 13 145 3.65 1.12

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.

7. Dan Straily (Oakland A’s)

Expected Call-up Date: April 15
Position: SP
30 185 13 160 3.85 1.32

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.

8. Leonys Martin (Texas Rangers)

Expected Call-up Date:April 1
Position: CF
410 .270 11 52 31 16

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.

9. Gerrit Cole (Pittsburgh Pirates)

Expected Call-up Date: June 10
Position: SP
15 98 7 101 3.80 1.30

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.

10. Zack Wheeler (New York Mets)

Expected Call-up Date: June 10
Position: SP
15 101 10 92 3.75 1.28

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.

11. Oscar Taveres (St. Louis Cardinals)

Expected Call-up Date:July 15
Position: RF
280 .285 12 38 42 3

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.

12. Travis d’Arnaud (New York Mets)

Expected Call-up Date: June 15
Position: C
270 .255 10 34 40 1

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.

13. Trevor Bauer (Cleveland Indians)

Expected Call-up Date: April 10
Position: SP
23 135 8 128 4.55 1.44

With only 16.1 major league innings under his belt, the Arizona Diamondbacks determined that Trevor Bauer, the third pick in the 2011 draft was not their man. They sent him packing to the Indians and a new lease on his pitching life. Bauer has great stuff and fantasy owners should benefit from elite strikeout totals as early as 2013. However, his unconventional pitching mechanics are not working for me and therefore I believe he’ll struggle with his command and limit his ultimate upside. That said, I would take a late round flyer on Bauer as I believe he’ll have a chance to pitch considerable innings for the Tribe in 2013.

14. Jedd Gyorko (San Diego Padres)

Expected Call-up Date: June 15 Position: 2B
330 .245 8 42 48 2

Jedd Gyorko looks ready for a promotion to San Diego after an impressive year in 2012 where he hit .311 and belted 30 home runs. Best suited at third base, it appears he will break-in at the keystone and that could prove difficult as I don’t believe he has the athleticism to play the position at an above average level. However, he should be a better solution than Logan Forsythe and I expect to see him after the Padres are assured that he will not trigger Super Two status.

15. Wily Peralta (Milwaukee Brewers)

Expected Call-up Date: April 1 Position: SP
30 165 12 128 4.15 1.41

Wily Peralta started five September games in Milwaukee and pitched very well posting a 2.48 ERA with a 2-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In fact, Peralta pitched better than he did in 146.2 innings in Nashville. I expect Peralta to break camp with the Brewers and be at-best, a league average pitcher. While that might seem like a bit of negative, he should be a guy you can get very late in a deep league and should provide value at that draft position. As he matures and improves his command, I see Peralta having a ceiling of a number three starter.

16. Jurickson Profar (Texas Rangers)

Expected Call-up Date: July 15 Position: SS/2B
270 .280 7 37 27 11

Jurickson Profar is my number one overall fantasy prospect but given the lack of playing opportunities in Texas, I just don’t see him breaking camp with the big club. The best case scenario for Profar owners is an injury to Ian Kinsler or Elvis Andrus. You might be thinking…what happens if Mitch Moreland under performs? While possible, I think this bodes well for Mike Olt and not Jurickson Profar. Additionally, if Ian Kinsler doesn’t move to first base or the outfield in Spring Training, I don’t see that happening mid-season.

With wishful thinking, I have put Profar’s arrival date at mid-July. While I have low confidence in this date, Profar is a unique prospect that is nearly ready for the show and can make Texas better. Sometimes, things just work out.

17. Aaron Hicks (Minnesota Twins)

Expected Call-up Date: June 15 Position:CF
385 .235 8 39 32 16

God help me, but I still think Aaron Hicks will be a solid major league player. With a depleted center field position, the stars are aligning for the toolsy outfielder to make his major league debut in 2013. While he could break camp with the Twins, there is no motivation for them to start his clock, so I am anticipating a mid-June call-up. He’ll likely struggle making contact, but his speed and power should translate well. Hicks is one of the players I am watching very carefully in Spring Training as I have a feeling the Twins might accelerate his arrival.

18. Kyle Gibson (Minnesota Twins)

Expected Call-up Date: April 1 Position: SP
22 145 8 121 4.23 1.36

After only pitching a handful of innings in 2012 due to recovering from Tommy John Surgery (TJS), the Twins will likely keep 25-year-old Kyle Gibson on a strict innings limit. However, with the lack of pitching depth on the Twins staff, I expect Gibson to break camp with the team and be a league average pitcher. Expect some early season control problems as command is the last thing to return after TJS.

19. Mike Olt (Texas Rangers)

Expected Call-up Date: May 15 Position: 1B/3B
360 .240 14 41 45 1

Similar to Profar, Mike Olt is falling between the cracks in Texas as there is just no room for the young slugger. While Adrian Beltre turns 34-years-old in April, he’s spent very little time on the DL during his career and it’s hard to suggest Olt will see more than a handful of games at the hot corner. He’s more likely to see time at first base or DH.

I’m suggesting that Olt will somehow find 360 at-bats and slug 14 home runs with a below average batting average. Don’t be surprised if Olt struggles to make contact early in his career as he adjust to major league pitching. However, the power is for real and the amount of home runs will increase accordingly with his playing time.

20. Mike Zunino (Seattle Mariners)

Expected Call-up Date: August 1 Position: C
175 .265 10 21 34 0

There is a chance that Mike Zunino could break camp with the Mariners, however, as with many players on this list, it just doesn’t make sense to start his clock for a team who is still a couple of years away from competing. However, the Mariners did not treat the 2012-13 off season like they were far away, so Zunino is definitely an interesting player to monitor. He’s got power with the ability to hit in the middle of the lineup. I don’t trust the hit-tool yet and have capped his batting average as league-average.

21. Billy Hamilton (Cincinnati Reds)

Expected Call-up Date: August 15 Position: CF
125 .210 0 18 3 15

I would love to see Billy Hamilton break camp with the Reds as I’m sure just about every other baseball fan would, but I just don’t see it in the cards. Hamilton’s ultimate position will be in the outfield, particularly center field, but with only a handful of games under his belt from the Arizona Fall League, he needs more grooming. The good news for Hamilton is that Choo is not a centerfielder and this might accelerate a promotion. Of course the other problem is Dusty Baker’s reluctance to play rookies, particularly when his team is in contention.

I’ve put Hamilton’s projection at 125 at-bats with 15 stolen bases. While he’ll be tough to draft, a smart owner should consider a preemptive pickup shortly after the all-star break in order to take advantage of some late-season stolen base contribution.

22. Darin Ruf (Philadelphia Phillies)

Expected Call-up Date: April 1
Position: LF
375 .245 17 42 50 2

Who will be the left fielder in Philadelphia? As of early February, that could be 26-year-old rookie Darin Ruf. He’s got legitimate over-the-fence power but that will come with a lot of swing-and-miss in his bat. He does punish left-handed pitching but I’m hopeful that the Phillies will use him against some right-handed pitching as well and have therefore projected him to 375 at-bats. The power will be there but the average may lag behind.

23. Danny Hultzen (Seattle Mariners)

Expected Call-up Date: June 15 Position: SP
14 87 6 71 3.80 1.34

Danny Hultzen will be a good major league pitcher and that in fact might come as early as 2013. He will not be stud fantasy pitcher and projects as a fourth or fifth pitcher on a fantasy team. For 2013, he’ll be a classic “pitch-and-ditch” guy that you’ll start at home after he makes his major league appearance in mid-June.

24. Julio Teheran (Atlanta Braves)

Expected Call-up Date: April 15 Position: SP
17 92 6 82 4.85 1.32

I honestly don’t know what to think about Teheran. If he struggles like he did during 2012, then my projection of 17 games started looks silly. If he figured something out over the winter, then my projections looks silly. So, I’m riding the fence. I think Teheran will show enough during Spring Training to emerge as the fifth starter but will struggle and eventually loose his job by July when young J.R. Graham takes his spot. Remember, you heard it here first. To cover myself, switch out Graham and insert Beachy.

25. Jake Odorizzi (Tampa Bay Rays)

Expected Call-up Date: June 30 Position: SP/RP
10 82 5 75 3.85 1.34

Jake Odorizzi has two negatives going against him. First, he plays for the Rays and therefore he’ll get called up once they are sure he will not achieve Super Two status. Secondly, he plays for a pretty good Rays team that have deep starting pitching. That said, Odorizzi is nearly big league ready and I believe he will contribute as a swing pitcher in 2013, making both relief appearance while starting games as a fill-in for injured players (see Jeff Niemann).


2 comments on “2013 Rookie Projections

  1. Rondon has great stuff, it’s just his ability to control it. I think he makes the club out of ST and may initially be given the closer job. Will he keep it the entire year? Candidly, it’s doubtful as control will be an issue. Is there long-term upside for saves…Absolutely. Good grab!

  2. Rodon as closer seems more legit after the past few outings, and comments by Leyland.

    I just took him in a keeper league in the minor league snake draft assuming he will either start the year as closer or be sent down. Do u see him staying up in a non closer role?

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