Top 5 fantasy baseball prospects
1- Wil Myers, OF
Myers made the transition from catcher to outfielder, but didn't put up the stats in Double-A most would have hoped for. It should be noted that he suffered a knee injury that ended up getting infected, and it's possible that was a big contributing factor to his struggles. He made up for his “down,” year by impressing onlookers in the Arizona Fall League (AFL). In the AFL he hit .360/.481/.674 with four home runs and 20 walks in 106 plate appearances.
Myers outstanding plate discipline should help him be an on-base percentage monster. He projects to be a middle of the order hitter with more power than he's presently showing. There isn't a consensus on what his home run output will be, but it should be average at worst, and plus at best. He'll likely open the year by taking a second crack at Double-A pitching. If he hits anything like he did in the AFL, it will be a short stay followed by a promotion to Triple-A.
2- Cheslor Cuthbert, 3B
Cuthbert's final season line is marred by an ugly finish that was the result of wearing down. Prior to August, he'd hit above .300 in every month of the Low-A season showing solid discipline and keeping his strikeout rate quite low. With a year of full season ball under his belt, he should be able to better handle the rigors of a long season. He's not a slam dunk to stay at third base, but he has made strides there. His hit and power both project as plus tools. If his projections come to fruition, he'll have value at any position, but would be a star level fantasy third baseman. He'll open the year in High-A.
3- Bubba Starling, OF
Starling's tools are special. He's an exceptional athlete that was signed away from a football scholarship to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has huge power potential in the future, and solid present power. Starling is also an above average runner, and epitomizes what it means to be a five tool player. His ceiling is unrivaled by his peers in the system, but he has yet to play in a professional game, and there is bust potential here. Starling has a chance to open the year in Low-A.
4- Mike Montgomery, SP
Montgomery came into 2011 looking like a strong candidate to make a summer time major league debut. Instead, his play regressed and he'll be stuck repeating Triple-A to open the year. His stuff remains premium, especially from a southpaw, and the sky is the limit. Consistency and sharpening his control and command will be the keys to him reaching his ceiling.
5- Jake Odorizzi, SP
Odorizzi breezed through High-A, but found Double-A to be much more difficult. He has a flyball centric approach that resulted in 13 home runs in 12 Double-A starts. He pounds the strike zone, and can get some swinging strikes with his fastball or curveball. He also throws a change-up and slider that can be average offerings in the future. He should begin the year back at Double-A, and may not be far from the majors.
Bonus- John Lamb, SP
Lamb's season ended prematurely when he underwent Tommy John surgery in June. When healthy, he's a southpaw with a fastball that resides in the low-90's, a change-up and a curveball, both of which flash plus and could help him rack up strikeouts. If he were healthy, I'd have likely ranked him ahead of Odorizzi.
Top 5 in 2012
1- Mike Montgomery, SP
If it comes together for Montgomery this year, he'll force his way into the Royals rotation.
2- Wil Myers, OF
Myers has an uphill battle to reach the bigs and make an impact this year, but would it really be all that shocking if Jeff Francouer reverted back to being roughly a replacement level player? If that's the case, Myers quest to reach the majors will be less daunting.
3- Kelvin Herrera, RP
After struggling to stay healthy as a starter, the Royals moved him to the bullpen full time in 2011 where he flourished. He started the year in High-A, and finished it making two relief appearances in the Royals bullpen. He has a blazing fastball that can hit triple digits, and had an average velocity of 96.2 mph in his two innings of major league work according to FanGraphs. He also throws a curveball, and a change-up. The change-up average velocity was approximately 13 mph less than his fastball, and the gap is even larger between his curveball and heater. There is little shot he'll record any saves this year, but he has a chance to be a contributor in leagues by helping ratios and striking hitters out.
4- Jake Odorizzi, SP
Odorizzi will open the year in the upper minors, and could reach the bigs before season's end. I anticipate on him needing an adjustment period facing major league hitters, but he may be a spot start option late in the year.
5- Christian Colon, 2B/SS
Colon has disappointed after being selected by the Royals with the fourth pick in the 2010 amateur draft. That said, he played all year in Double-A, and plays the middle infield. The bar is set low offensively at both shortstop and second base. He makes a lot of contact, and could provide plug and play value in extremely large mixed leagues at middle infield, or AL-only formats if he were pressed into action. In order for him to receive an opportunity, he'll need to show more with the bat in the upper minors, and have Alcides Escobar or Johnny Giavotella suffer an injury.