Yahoo recently opened registration for fantasy baseball, and that means Opening Day is quickly approaching. Every year, there are rookies that come up and make an impact in both the real and fantasy worlds. Players like Buster Posey, Desmond Jennings, Jeremy Hellickson and Craig Kimbrel have helped some managers win their leagues over the past two seasons.
Who are the prospects to watch for the 2012 fantasy season, not only this season but in future years in dynasty leagues?
Note: I’m keeping the standard Yahoo scoring format in mind while doing this: BA-R-HR-RBI-SB W-SV-K-ERA-WHIP
Travis D’Arnaud, Toronto: D’Arnaud will be a midseason call-up at the earliest, but sometime in the next couple years, he will be Toronto’s starting catcher. While J.P. Arencibia is a limited player, D’Arnaud is strong in most areas. He’s going to hit for a good average and above average power which can be valuable at the catcher position. He could become a very good fantasy catcher.
Devin Mesoraco, Cincinnati: Mesoraco should be Cincinnati’s starting catcher in 2012, and he has All-Star potential. Ryan Hanigan is a decent player and will prevent Mesoraco from catching 120 games immediately, but he should get a majority of the time. He’s going to be an above average hitter with very good power, especially for a catcher. Down the road when he rises up through Cincinnati’s batting order, he’s going to drive in and score a lot of runs.
Jesus Montero, Seattle: It seems unlikely that Montero will maintain his catcher eligibility for very long in his career, so take advantage of it as long as possible. He’s going to be a great hitter even if he plays home games at Safeco Field. He should be capable of hitting 25 home runs in a season while hitting around .300. He’ll be in the middle of the lineup, so expect him to pile up the RBI as well.
Wilin Rosario, Colorado: In terms of fantasy, Rosario is probably a bit of a one trick pony because a significant portion of his real life value comes behind the plate. Over 175 games the last two seasons in AA, Rosario has hit 40 home runs, and his plus power is rare among catchers. He probably won’t hit for a good average, but he should have plenty of chances to drive in runs. Ramon Hernandez may be a bit of a roadblock in 2012.
Yonder Alonso, San Diego: Alonso will finally have a chance to start every day in the majors, but moving from Great American Ballpark to Petco Park will put a dent in his numbers. He didn’t have as much power as the typical first baseman in the first place, so the ballpark is not a good fit for Alonso. He’ll hit for a pretty good average, and he should have a chance to drive in runs because he’ll be hitting in the middle of San Diego’s lineup. For now, there will probably be better 1B options.
Anthony Rizzo, Cubs: Rizzo will start 2012 in AAA in a situation very similar to Eric Hosmer’s last year. A veteran AAA producer (Bryan LaHair ) will be given a chance as the starter, but if he can’t hit major league pitching, the organization will go to their prospect. He’s not as good as Hosmer, but he could still be a very good contributor. He could become a 25 home run hitter and might hit for a solid average. Going from PetcoPark to Wrigley Field helps a lot.
Zack Cozart, Cincinnati: Cozart could eventually become a starting shortstop in a 12 team league. He’s got the Reds’ starting job and had a bit of experience in the majors last year, so he should be prepared for 2012. He could provide above average power for a shortstop and steal some bases too. He could hit for a solid average, and if he bats near the top of their lineup despite his lack of patience, he’ll score a lot of runs with the talented hitters behind him.
Tyler Pastornicky, Atlanta: The last two seasons, the Braves had Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman break camp with the team, but Pastornickyisn’t as good as those two, and he’s not even the best shortstop prospect they have. He does have a great chance to be the team’s Opening Day starter, but he doesn’t offer much in the fantasy world. He could steal 30 or more bases if he starts the whole season and hit for a solid average once he adjusts.
Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland: Cespedes is going to take some time in the minors, and Oakland’s depth in the outfield means he can go to AAA for a couple months with no pressure. If he develops the way the A’s expect, he’ll be a major fantasy threat as a potential 20-20 player, and he could hit 25-30 home runs. He’s not going to be a great hitter for average, but he won’t completely tank the category either.
Bryce Harper, Washington: He likely won’t start 2012 in Washington, but everyone should expect to see him soon. His prodigious power will make him one of the most productive hitters in baseball, and he should hit for average once he adjusts to big league pitching too. They won’t be a big part of his game, but he could pick up a handful of steals per season, especially when he’s young.
Mike Trout, Anaheim: Trout is one of the most electric prospects in baseball, and if the Angels are smart, he’ll get a lot of at bats this season. Even if it takes a couple months for them to come to their senses and bring him up, he’ll be worth picking, especially in dynasty leagues if he’s somehow still available. He’s going to contribute in all areas. He’ll be a huge stolen base threat and become a 20 home run hitter, all while hitting for a really good average and scoring a lot of runs.
Trevor Bauer, Arizona: It’s unlikely that Bauer breaks camp with the Diamondbacks, but if there’s an injury or Josh Collmenter regresses, he could be the first starter called up. He was the 3rd overall pick in the 2011 draft, and Arizona gave him a major league contract, possibly expecting him to help in their playoff run last season. He’s going to rack up a lot of strikeouts, and his great durability will make him one of the leaders in complete games which will help his win total. Tyler Skaggs is another Diamondbacks starter to watch later this season.
Yu Darvish, Texas: Darvish arrives in America with a lot of hype, and that will probably result in him going off draft boards early. He has All-Star potential and could be a top fantasy pitcher. It’s tough to say exactly how his stuff will translate, but he should be able to get a lot of strikeouts. Even if he struggles to adjust at first, his durability plus Texas’ big time offense should win him a lot of games.
Randall Delgado, Atlanta: Delgado has a chance to beat out Mike Minorfor Atlanta’s 5 th starter job, but Minor is probably the leader. Last season, Delgado didn’t strike out many batters in his ML stint, but he is capable of getting strikeouts. If Atlanta’s offense improves, he could win a bunch of games.
Matt Moore, Tampa Bay: Everyone saw what Moore is capable of in the postseason last year, so he shouldn’t be slipping under anyone’s radar. He has some of the best strikeout stuff in baseball, and as long as he stays healthy, Moore is going to have a chance to win some Cy Youngs. As long as his command doesn’t revert back to previous years, he’ll have a low ERA and WHIP, and owners don’t have to worry about workload concerns after he pitched over 170 innings last season.
Jarrod Parker, Oakland: Parker was a key part of their trade that sent Trevor Cahill to Arizona. He’ll have some competition with fellow rookies (and trade acquisitions) Brad Peacock and Tom Milone, but in the end he should beat them out if not in spring training, sometime in the first couple months of the season. He’ll get a good amount of strikeouts on his path to being a #2 or 3 starter.
Drew Pomeranz, Colorado: Pomeranz was the centerpiece of the UbaldoJimenez trade last July, and he could earn a spot in Colorado’s Opening Day rotation. If not, he should still make a significant amount of starts this season. He’s a strikeout pitcher, and he’s not particularly prone to allowing home runs which will allow him to succeed in Colorado. As long as he continues to improve his command, he’ll soon be pitching at the top of a major league rotation.
Jacob Turner, Detroit: Turner is said to be competing for the 5thstarter’s job in Detroit, but the competition is poor, and it seems likely that he’ll win. When he develops, he’ll fit nicely behind Justin Verlander in the Tigers rotation and should be solid across the board in all statistics. He’ll win games due to his offense and durability, he gets a decent number of strikeouts, and his good command keeps the walks down.
Addison Reed, White Sox: Reed had a meteoric rise through Chicago’s system, and he should start the season in the ML bullpen. With Chris Salemoving to the rotation and Matt Thornton coming off a subpar season by his standards, Reed could have a shot at the closer’s role sometime in 2012. He could become a very valuable fantasy relievers helping in saves, strikeouts, ERA and WHIP.
Arodys Vizcaino, Atlanta: Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty should eat up most of Atlanta’s high leverage innings this season, but if they’re overworked again, it’s definitely possible that Vizcaino gets a chance in the late innings. He has the potential to be one of the league’s best strikeout relievers, but unless there are multiple injuries it seems unlikely that he’ll get the save opportunities most expect from fantasy relievers.
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Scott Grauer writes for PSC and Bus Leagues Baseball – check him out! Scott also regularly updated the PSC 2011 Minor League Thread with player stats, game results, and more, and will be doing the same for the PSC 2012 Minor League Thread as well…