Here’s MLB.com’s top 50 prospects list. There are plenty of picks that I agree and disagree with, but the goal in this article is to pinpoint which players in particular could help your fantasy team in 2011.
1. Mike Trout, Angels | – There is a chance, albeit unlikely, that Trout performs so well at double and triple-A that he makes an appearance in Anaheim this summer. ZiPS projects Trout to hit .274/.345/.375 with 46 steals in 632 at-bats. Not bad for a 20-year-old. You can check out my scouting report for Trout at ProjectProspect.com. 2. Jeremy Hellickson, Rays | – See: Hello Hellickson!
3. Bryce Harper, Nationals | – It’s going to be a while until we see Harper in the big leagues. His raw talent is undeniable, but there could be some growing pains as he hacks his way up the minor league ladder.
4. Domonic Brown, Phillies | – Brown is clearly going to be a factor on fantasy teams in 2011. However, I do expect some growing pains and somewhat limited playing time, at least out of the gates. Temper expectations just a bit.
5. Dustin Ackley, Mariners | – See Organizational Impacts: Mariners
6. Aroldis Chapman, Reds | – Will he start or will he relieve? We’ll have to wait and see for now. His fantasy value might actually be better out of the bullpen, with a chance for some saves, than the rotation. Chapman’s control issues have been well documented back to his days in Cuba and were evident in his time at triple-A, where he walked 5.5 per nine innings as a starter.
7. Mike Moustakas, Royals | – Moustakas has an outside (very outside) chance of breaking camp as the Royals starting third baseman. Even if he doesn’t break camp with the big club, he’ll likely be up at some point mid-summer. His power game is for real, but issues against left-handed pitching might hold back his potential for now.
8. Eric Hosmer, Royals | – His potential is huge, but he only has 50 games above single-A. Look for his impact to come in 2012.
9. Jesus Montero, Yankees | – No one doubts that Montero can hit, but his skills behind the plate are, well, lets just say he’ll be a great DH someday. If at some point he does get a call and gets playing time, he’ll be an add in all formats.
10. Julio Teheran, Braves | – Teheran has electric stuff and should be an impact fantasy starter at some point. The Braves don’t need him in their rotation to start the season, but he could fill in if and when the Braves need a spot start or two. Given his high strikeout potential, he could be a nice add as soon as he gets the call.
11. Desmond Jennings, Rays | – The addition of Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon pushed Jennings back to triple-A for the time being. Jennings is going to be a nice fantasy player someday, capable of hitting for AVG/OBP and stealing a ton of bases. If he gets a chance at playing time at some point in 2011, fantasy GM’s in need of speed will want to snag him asap.
12. Kyle Drabek, Blue Jays | – Drabek is known for having a good fastball and an outstanding curve. He didn’t show great command/control in the minors or very high strikeout rates, so expecting a big 2011 may be expecting too much.
13. Michael Pineda, Mariners | – His fastball and slider are ready to get big league hitters out, but his changeup still needs some work. His lack of a good changeup is one of the reasons he struggled against left-handed hitters a bit in the minors and why he might not dominate out of the gates in the big leagues.
14. Mike Montgomery, Royals | – The Royals could have two front-end type lefties in Montgomery and Lamb, and both could be making a small fantasy impact come September.
15. Jacob Turner, Tigers | - Turner has a chance to be a front-end starter, but he needs work at the higher levels first.
16. Wil Myers, Royals | – Officially moved to the outfield now, Myers’ fantasy value is significantly less than it would have been behind the plate. Still, he has the talent to be fantasy relevant in the outfield, but that may be a few years away.
17. Freddie Freeman, Braves | – The Braves are giving 21-year-old Freeman an everyday big league job, but temper your expectations fantasy wise in 2011. At his age, he could struggle adjusting to big league pitching, especially with his tendency to chase pitches outside the strike-zone.
18. Jameson Taillon, Pirates | – Tons of long-term potential, but years away.
19. Zach Britton, Orioles | – There is a very good chance that Britton could approach 100 major league innings with the Orioles in 2011. He’s not going to be a strikeout machine, but his ability to generate extreme ground ball rates should make him a decent matchup fantasy pitcher in 2011.
20. Shelby Miller, Cardinals | – See my Shelby Miller scouting report at ProjectProspect.com.
21. Mike Minor, Braves | - Minor had an interesting spike in velocity last year, which he’ll need to keep up in 2011. I’m not crazy about him, even though he has a rotation spot in Atlanta.
22. Casey Kelly, Padres | – Scouts still see the stuff to be a fantasy impact starter, but it won’t happen at the big league level in 2011.
23. Martin Perez, Rangers | – 2010 was a down year for Perez, but all reports indicate that the raw stuff was still there. He could be an ace-level lefty someday, but he’d be a September call-up at best in 2011.
24. Manny Machado, Orioles | – Should be an impact fantasy shortstop down the road.
25. Chris Sale, White Sox | – If the White Sox keep him in the pen, I’d put my money on him leading the team in saves in 2011.
26. Brandon Belt, Giants | – Belt is a pure hitter, with natural power and line drive ability. If he continues to hit like he did in 2010, no one on the Giants current roster should block him.
27. Matt Moore, Rays | – John Sickels of MionrLeagueBall.com says that the sky is the limit for Moore. If he improves his command, he could be an ace lefty. However, he has yet to throw an inning above high-A at this point.
28. Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays | – His effort and attitude have been questioned, but his natural ability has not. Many think Lawrie will develop into a 20/20 threat someday, but that has yet to be realized. Not many think he can stay at second, but he might work some at third base this spring. Left field might be his ultimate destination. Look for an impact in 2012 at the earliest.
29. Jarrod Parker, D-backs | – See: Organizational Impacts: Diamondbacks
30. Jonathan Singleton, Phillies | – Tons of potential, lots of time before he reaches it.
31. Jordan Lyles, Astros | – Despite very solid minor league numbers (other than his 31 innings at triple-A), Lyles seems to have a limited ceiling as more of a command guy. That may ultimately limit his fantasy value if he gets a big league shot in 2011.
32. Gary Sanchez, Yankees | – A 2011 fantasy impact is very unlikely this season.
33. Tyler Matzek, Rockies | – High ceiling, but it’s not likely we see him in Colorado in 2011.
34. John Lamb, Royals | - I’m a big fan of Lambs long-term projection, but he’s at least one, maybe two years away from the big leagues.
35. Manny Banuelos, Yankees | – The Yanks are desperate for starting pitchers. If Banuelos pitches well at double and triple-A, he could be up by mid-season.
36. Lonnie Chisenhall, Indians | – Love the swing, but I keep reading mixed reviews about his ultimate potential. Bottom line, he doesn’t need to be a star to have fantasy value at 3B. Look for him to earn an everyday job with the Indians before the 2011 season is over.
37. Jake Odorizzi, Royals | – Like all the other Royals pitching prospects, Odorizzi is a ways away.
38. Nick Franklin, Mariners | – Should be a top 10 fantasy shortstop down the road with above average power at the position.
39. Aaron Hicks, Twins | – Long term projectability is there, but he’s a long way from that right now.
40. Kyle Gibson, Twins | – We could see Gibson at some point in 2011, but I’d like to see better strikeout numbers at the upper minor league levels before I feel good about his possible fantasy impact in 2011.
41. Wilin Rosario, Rockies | – He may be the best defensive catcher in the minors right now and has the bat to be a top five fantasy catcher someday. His path to the bigs will be determined by how he comes beck from a knee injury last season.
42. Jose Iglesias, Red Sox | – Awesome defensive ability, but his bat and lack of stolen base potential are of no help to fantasy GM’s.
43. Tanner Scheppers, Rangers | – If the Rangers make him a reliever, Scheppers could be closing out games in 2011 (If they move Feliz to the rotation).
44. Dee Gordon, Dodgers | – If Gordon gets a call in 2011, he could impact teams in need of steals, but I’m not optimistic that he can do much with the bat right away.
45. Devin Mesoraco, Reds | – The Reds have their catchers in Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Hannigan, but Mesoraco could make his debut should he perform at triple-A and injuries occur at the big league level.
46. Brett Jackson, Cubs | – 20/20 potential, maybe, but he has a lot yet to prove at the upper levels.
47. Chris Archer, Rays | – Control has been an issue, but pure stuff is top-notch. If they move him to the pen, he could be a sleeper for saves in Tampa Bay.
48. J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays | – Top ten catcher in 2011 with 20-plus home run power, but not likely to hit for much AVG.
49. Yonder Alonso, Reds | – Plenty of people still believe in Alonso’s offensive impact, but he’s not going to play at 1B in Cincinnati. He’ll have to hit in the minors (his numbers were down due to a hand injury last year) and prove he can play well enough defensively in the outfield.
50. Christian Friedrich, Rockies | – He’ll have to prove he’s past his elbow issues first.