After weeks of in-depth analysis, Josh Culp aka “James Posey” has compiled a list of his Top 100 Fantasy Prospects. He has broken them down into the Top 50 Position Player Prospects, and Top 50 Pitcher Prospects. More weight is put on players that have the potential to make Major League contribution this year. However, there are also players that made the cut that virtually have no chance at seeing a Major League At-bat before the year 2010, those are the players that have the potential to be the next great Fantasy Superstar. Many attributes that it takes to be an elite baseball prospect, mainly Defense, are not factor into these rankings. The purpose of these rankings are to help find the next set of Fantasy Baseball stars. Here are the #50 through #26 Position Player Prospects…
Hitter Requirements: Under 100 MLB Plate Appearances.
Note: Projections assume a full season in the majors unless stated otherwise.
Don’t want to read about the Prosects? Rankings without Write-Ups
Players who Just Missed the Cut:
Josh Vitters (Cubs 3B), Taylor Teagarden (Rangers C), Bryan Anderson (Cardinals C), Allen Craig (Cardinals 3B), Mat Gamel (Brewers 3B), Jed Lowrie (Red Sox SS), Jose Tabata (Yankees OF), Gerardo Parra (D-Backs OF), Wes Hodges (Indians 3B), Aaron Cunningham (A’s OF), Chris Carter (A’s 1B), Lars Anderson (Red Sox 1B), Dexter Fowler (Rockies OF), Chris Pettit (Angels OF), Michael Burgess (Nationals OF), Seth Smith (Rockies OF), Dan Dorn (Reds OF), Ben Revere (Twins OF)
50. Emmanuel Burriss – Giants SS (1/17/85, 23 Years Old)
Burriss is not on a lot of prospect lists, but we are looking at a potential fantasy stud. Who cares if Burriss’s SLG% is lower than a lot of prospects batting averages? Who cares if Burriss is 22 years old and in A+ ball? Who cares if Burriss will probably never get any bigger than 6’0″ 170 pounds? Burriss can flat out fly, proving it last year by swiping 68 bases and totaling 4 triples in 125 games. Burriss is one of the select prospects that have the potential to steal 60 bases in the big leagues. Burriss may be the next Chone Figgins, Scott Podsednik, Juan Pierre, etc. Vizquel is signed to a one year deal with a 2009 option, that’s when you can expect Burriss to get his chance.
2009 Projection: .264/.320/.335 — 84 R 0 HR 32 RBI 55 SB
49. Tyler Colvin – Cubs CF (9/5/85, 22 Years Old)
Colvin was a surprising choice by the Cubs two years ago in the first round (13th overall), but it’s looking like it might pay off. Last season between A+ and AA Colvin hit .299/.324/.488 with 72 Runs, 16 Home Runs, 81 RBIs and 17 Stolen Bases. The most impressive thing is that his power is developing nicely, shown by his XBH% of 39% in 2007. Colvin needs to work on his plate discipline before he’ll make any impact in the majors. Best Case scenario for Colvin is somewhere between Jacque Jones, Paul O’Neill and Shawn Green.
2009 Prediction: .271/.305/.455 — 70 R 17 HR 69 RBI
48. Neil Walker – Pirates 3B (9/10/85, 22 Years Old)
Neil Walker managed 49 extra-base hits (35.7%) last season while playing at AA most of the season, but then reached AAA in August at the ripe age of 21. Before last season Walker made the position change from behind the plate to the hot corner, making him a little less desirable as a fantasy prospect. Even at third base, Walker has some solid fantasy potential. Walker has 25 HR potential, and should hit for a decent average.
2008 Projection: .270/.325/.413 — 66 R 13 HR 62 RBI 7 SB
47. Wladimir Balentien – Mariners RF (7/2/84, 23 Years Old)
With Adam Jones out of town, Balentien is the next Tacoma outfielder ready for the big leagues. Wilkerson was signed by the Mariners recently, hopefully there plan is to use Wilkerson as a short term plug until Balentien is ready to take. Balentien took huge strides last year, lowering his K rate from 26.8% to 19.2%, it’s likely that Balentien will have some rookie bumps, but his power should be there no matter what.
2008 Projection: .253/.343/.451 — 61 R 18 HR 63 RBI 10 SB
46. Chad Huffman – Padres LF (4/29/85, 22 Years Old)
Huffman was drafted 53rd overall out of TCU as a Second Baseman, but has been shifted into the Padres outfield. After 192 games of A- to AA ball Huffman is currently in the 300-400-500 club (.306/.401/.512) Huffman had a 34% Extra-Base hit percentage in 2007, doesn’t strike out a lot, and walks a pretty solid 11%… I don’t think Huffman will be outstanding in PETCO, but he could make a splash if he ever gets traded.
2008 Projection: .265/.335/.416 — 75 R 14 HR 64 RBI 0 SB
45. Chris Nelson – Rockies SS (9/3/85, 22 Years Old)
Nelson has developed very nicely in his four minor league seasons, and is still only 22 years old. In 2007 Nelson played in the hitter-friendly CAL league, but played his home games in a very pitcher-friendly park. 16 of his 19 Home Runs were on the road, and his Road SLG% of .560 dwarfs his .438 Home SLG%. Nelson is no where near a gold-glove shortstop, and with ROY Troy Tulo blocking him, we may see a shift to the outfield or somewhere else in the infield. Nelson has a lot of potential if he continues to improve yearly like he has, 25 Home Runs with 15 Stolen Bases is looking like Nelson’s potential. As a Shortstop playing at Coors Field, he’d be an elite prospect, as an outfielder he is still above average.
2008 Projection: .274/.334/.440 — 79 R 18 HR 77 RBI 11 SB
44. Scott Moore – Orioles 3B (11/17/83, 24 Years Old)
Scott Moore won’t be winning any batting titles soon, or any Gold Glove’s for that matter, what he can do is crush the ball. The Orioles are pretty thin for talent at the major league level, which could mean a good amount of At-bats for the 24 year old Moore. If you’re looking for a quick Home Run fix, look no further. This is a make or break season for this aging prospect, it could mean a Moore breakout party, or we could never hear about him again. Keep him on your watch list.
2008 Projection: .259/.337/.455 — 59 R 18 HR 63 RBI 7 SB
43. Adrian Cardenas – Phillies 2B (10/10/87, 20 Years Old)
Cardenas is still very young, and not by any means ready for the majors, but his ceiling of potential is outstanding. Utley will become a free agent in 2010, if the Phillies decide Cardenas is the next Chase Utley then it would make parting ways with Utley a little bit easier. Those are big shoes to fill, first, let’s see how Cardenas fairs vs. AA competition. Of course, there’s always the possibility that the Phillies shift him around the diamond.
MLB Projection: — ETA: 2009 Call-Up/2010 —
42. Kyle Blanks – Padres 1B (9/11/86, 21 Years Old)
Blanks has the advantage of playing in a hitter-friendly league, but at 6’6″ 270 it’s hard not to crush the ball wherever you play. His physical stature makes it easy to draw comparisons to Adam Dunn or Richie Sexson, which is the type of player Blanks will become in a best-case scenario. Blanks XBH% exceeded 40 percent, while striking out fewer than 20% which tells me he’s not hit or miss like a lot of power hitting prospects. Adrian Gonzalez is not go9ing anywhere soon, and Blanks may be ready as early as next year. Don’t be shocked if AL teams try to steal Blanks away from San Diego, and use him as their Designated Hitter. Conditioning will be the biggest key to KB’s future success.
MLB Projection: — ETA: 2009/2010 —
41. Sean Rodriguez – Angels SS (4/26/85, 22 Years Old)
Rodriguez has 5 years of Minor League experience now, it’s time for Rodriguez to put up or shut up. The Angels Shortstop position is by no means in control by anyone now that Orlando Cabrera has left LA. Rodriguez will battle Aybar, Izturis and Brandon Wood for the starting Shortstop position in Spring Training. Rodriguez has a lot of potential, so if he gets playing time and produces quickly, don’t be surprised to a Clint Barnes-like breakout rookie year.
2008 Projection: .264/.330/.416 — 66 R 14 HR 61 RBI 13 SB
40. Steven Pearce – Pirates 1B (4/13/83, 24 Years Old)
For a player with a .551 career minor league SLG % would expect a K% of at least 25%, but Pearce is just not what you would expect. A power hitter with 15 % strikeout percentage. Pearce is not your typical power hitter, standing only 5’11” tall, yet he stills packs a powerful stroke. Pearce started 2007 in A+ Lynchburg by cranking out 11 Home Runs in 75 At-Bats (.867 SLG). That’s enough to earn anyone a promotion, Pearce finished the season with 290 AB at AA (14 HR, .589 SLG) and 131 AB at AAA (6 HR, .557 SLG). Pearce may not have a favorable Home Park, but the other 4 Ballparks in the Central are all pretty hitter-friendly. Expect Pearce to get a lot of opportunity this year, and expect a lot of Home Runs to follow suite.
2008 Projection: .265/.331/.479 — 63 R 22 HR 73 RBI 5 SB
39. Austin Jackson – Yankees CF (2/1/87, 21 Years Old)
Austin Jackson has always been ahead of his peers… So far ahead, that he was deemed a “can’t-miss” prospect by Baseball America… at AGE 12! Jackson relies a lot on his incredible athletic ability. Many prospects like Jackson have a “turning point” when they evolve from an an uber-athlete who plays baseball into a great baseball player who happens to be an athlete. Jackson hasn’t made this transformation yet, and may never for all we know. If he does become baseball savvy, then we are looking at a superstar in the making. If he doesn’t, maybe Georgia Tech will offer him another full-ride scholarship to play Basketball.
MLB Projection: — ETA: Late 2009 or 2010 —
38. Eric Young Jr. – Rockies 2B (5/25/85, 22 Years Old)
Eric Young Jr., son of former MLB great Eric Young, is a base stealing machine. When I say machine, I mean he averages 80 stolen bases over the past two seasons! His home run potential probably maxes out around 10, but who needs power when you can steal 60+ bases? The rest of Young’s tools don’t really stack up, but if he finds his way to the Majors then he’ll be worth owning in most fantasy league. Young will need to improve his plate discipline if he wants to become a regular major-leaguer.
2008 Projection: .261/.315/.370 — 80 R 6 HR 53 RBI 54 SB
37. Gorkys Hernandez – Braves CF (9/7/87, 20 Years Old)
Gorkys was acquired in the off-season in the Edgar Renteria trade. The Tigers clearly decided Granderson was the Centerfielder for years to come, as they traded two elite Center Field prospects in the off-season. This Venezuelan native doesn’t speak much English at all, but the Braves don’t care if he can’t speak at all, as long as he continues to develop as a player. Gorkys’ best tool is definitely his speed, he’s probably one of the top 15 fastest players in the Majors and Minors combined. Gorkys is still very raw, not likely to see the Majors until late 2009, or 2010.
MLB Projection: — ETA: 2010 —
36. Matt Antonelli – Padres 2B (4/8/85, 22 Years Old)
Wake Forest product, Matt Antonelli can flat out get on base. His OBPs at each stop have been .426 at A-, .409 at A+ and .395 at AA. In 2007, Matt had 21 Home Runs, while playing in pitcher-friendly ballparks at both stops. This will make the adjustment to PETCO a lot easier, and won’t zap his power as much as you might assume. Iguchi is the only thing that stands in Antonelli’s way, which means we may see Antonelli before the year is over.
2008 Projection: .262/.349/.394 — 77 R 12 HR 57 RBI 17 SB
35. Chin-Lung Hu – Dodgers SS (2/2/84, 24 Years Old)
Chin-Lung Hu accomplished some interesting feats last season. He became the first Taiwanese infielder ever in the MLB, and he has the shortest last name in major league history. This could become a problem when you’re trying to search for him on Yahoo! player database because they require you to put 3 letters in the search box. It’s unlikely that Hu plays a big role this year, seeing that Rafael Furcal is blocking his entry to the big show. Keep an eye on his progress if a roster spot opens up for him, and keep him on your watch list for next year.
2009 Projection: .266/.318/.430 — 70 R 14 HR 53 RBI 14 SB
34. Carlos Triunfel – Mariners SS (2/27/90, 17 Years Old)
Triunfel is still very, very raw to say the least, and he has yet to hit a HR in his 371 Minor League At-Bats. However, the Mariners have no problems rushing prospects through the minor leagues, and it looks like Triunfel will be their next target. Carlos already moved from Rookie to A and then to up A+, all in his first season (at the age of 17). It is likely that he will start 2008 in A+ again, and get promoted up to AA by the middle of the season if he proves himself. Don’t be shocked if you see Triunfel in Seattle as early at 2009.
MLB Projection: — ETA 2010 —
33. JR Towles – Astros C (2/11/84, 24 Years Old)
Justin (J.R.) Towles major fantasy impact will be due to his catcher eligibility. My predicted 45 runs and 51 RBI’s are not outstanding for most prospects, but only 10 catchers last season accomplished both of those stats. His speed is above average for a catcher as well, he has potential for double digit steals; consider him a poor-man’s Russell Martin. Ausmus was re-signed to a one year deal, but it’s basically to mentor Towles, and show him the tricks of the trade.
2008 Projection: .280/.340/.446 — 45 R 10 HR 51 RBI 7 SB
32. Ryan Kalish – Red Sox CF (3/28/88, 19 Years Old)
Kalish is very young, and has been constricted due to injuries; however he has phenomenal potential, possibly the future Red Sox leadoff hitter. The biggest weakness of most prospects is plate discipline, while that is Kalish’s biggest strength. In a small sample size, Kalish walked 16 times while only striking out 12 times. This is not surprising for people who know Kalish, he has an incredible eye. So incredible that he did not swing and miss at a pitch once during his senior year of high school! Clearly, Kalish focuses on putting the ball in play, but if his power develops, he profiles along the same lines as a Johnny Damon, Nick Markakis, or Steve Finley type of player. In his prime, expect a .300 hitter with 15 Home Run and 15 Stolen Base potential.
MLB Projection: — ETA: late 2010 —
31. Chris Davis – Rangers 3B (3/17/86, 21 Years Old)
Chris Davis’s power numbers are just ridiculous. In 2 Minor League seasons, Davis has a SLG% of .576, including a .688 SLG% in his 30 game stint at AA Frisco. Davis currently has an XBH% of 50 percent which is also nearly unheard of. If you’re not familiar with what most players XBH% usually are, here are some players and their Minor League XBH%: Manny Ramirez (47%), Teixeira (44%), A-Rod (44%), Andruw Jones (43%), and Ryan Howard (42%). If Davis continues to rake at this pace, you have to start considering that he may be the next great power hitter. If Blalock moves over to First Base then Davis can slide into the Hot Corner, or else Davis will have to wait until next season. Long-term, Davis will likely become a full-time First Baseman.
2009 Projection: .255/.326/.476 — 63 R 23 HR 75 RBI 0 SB
30. Chase Headley – Padres 3B (5/9/84, 23 Years Old)
Coming from the University of Tennessee, people knew Headley could hit, but Headley completed his development as a hitter last season by adding power to his vast repertoire of tools. Headley appears to be ready for test his skills at the major league level. In Headley’s three minor league seasons, he sports a .7 K/BB ratio, 13 BB%, 19 K%, and a .891 OPS… sounds like a legitimate threat to challenge Kouzmanoff’s Third base position, however, PETCO Park Factor lowers the expectations a tad bit.
2008 Projection: .270/.355/.434 — 67 R 13 HR 68 RBI 1 SB
29. Jason Heyward – Atlanta RF/1B (8/9/89, 18 Years Old)
Heyward was drafted 14th overall in last years Draft, and might end up being the best power hitter end the draft when all is said and done. He is growing like a stalk of corn and is bulking up like a wholesaler. He currently stands tall at 6’4″ – 220 lbs. Players that have the same attributes include: Big Papi, Teixeira, Delgado, Thome and Pat the Bat. All five of those players have hit at least 37+ HRs in a season, so you have to like Heyward’s power ceiling. Considering he is 18 years old, he could end up growing even more (Richie Sexson or Adam Dunn, anyone?) Heyward is quite a few years away from the big show, but don’t let this guy out of your sites.
MLB Projection: — ETA 2011 —
28. Elvis Andrus – Rangers SS (8/26/88, 19 Years Old)
Andrus is a raw 19 year-old, recently traded from Atlanta to the Texas Rangers, as a part of the Mark Teixiera trade. Andrus is a magician in the field, but we’re focusing on the fantasy aspect of things here. Andrus’s defensive skills will help him get to the major leagues faster (2009 most likely), his speed will give him 30+ stolen base potential, and the Ameriquest park factor can only help. One thing is for sure, and that is that ‘Elvis Andrus’ has endless possibilities for fantasy team names.
MLB Projection: — ETA 2009 —
27. Matt LaPorta – Brewers LF (1/8/85, 23 Years Old)
LaPorta played four years of college ball, attending the University of Florida. While at Florida, LaPorta established himself as a great power hitter early, setting the school record for home runs his sophomore season with 26 dingers. LaPorta was originally drafted as a catcher out of high school, but then slide over to first base with the Gators, now the Brewers have him pegged as their future left fielder. Signing Mike Cameron to a one year deal with a second year option gives the Brewers some choices next season. The odds of LaPorta playing a major role for the Brew Crew this year are slim, but given LaPorta’s college experience, they won’t hesitate to give him the nod if there happens to be an injury of some sort. I see a lot of Tim Salmon, Pat Burrell, and Jeromy Burnitz type of potential when I look at LaPorta. If he is still eligible, LaPorta will be one of the front runners for Rookie of the Year in 2009.
2009 Projection: .262/.360/.491 — 79 R 26 HR 87 RBI 0 SB
26. Daric Barton – Athletics 1B (8/16/85, 22 Years Old)
If you haven’t heard or seen Barton’s numbers in June last year, let me display them for you: 119 PA .449/.496/.654 while hitting 25% Line Drives, Walking 7.6% and Striking out only 5.9%! Drafted 189th overall in 2003 as a catcher, Barton has since moved to the one-bag. The only thing that concerns me is that June was the only month that Barton managed to hit over .273 last year. While his average may not be stellar this year, he has and always will be an On-Base machine, and some of his 38 doubles he hit in 2007 should end up in the stands in 2008 as his power develops like it should. Barton should see the majority of the First Base At-Bats this year for Oakland; I’d highly consider taking Barton at the end of your fantasy drafts this year.
2008 Projection: .275/.353/.439 — 55 R 13 HR 59 RBI 5 SB
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photo courtesy of braves.mlb.com, under the Creative Commons license.