Top 100 Fantasy Rookies for 2013: 20-1 by Jason Catania April 26, 2013 At long (long, looong) last, the time has come. Here are the top 20 fantasy rookies for the 2013 season, from Aaron Hicks to, well…why spoil the fun? Apologies for taking so long to finish off this final batch, as your requests for it were read and heard. Hoping you’ll find it in your hearts to forgive, maybe if one of these guys helps you along the way this season… Nos. 100-81 Nos. 80-61 Nos. 60-41 Nos. 40-21 What I hope these rankings provide for readers is some semblance of an idea of which prospects will be making an impression on the 2013 fantasy baseball landscape. If you happen to think that the guy ranked No. 12 should be No. 41 … or that there’s no way the player at No. 77 should be outside the Top 25 … well, I can’t say you’re wrong. I can only say this is my opinion based on my knowledge of these players and their teams — and where everything stands at the moment. This year, to make be even more fantasy-friendly, I’ve added two new aspects: 1) Category Strengths to indicate the primary scoring categories in which each player might best contribute. Categories considered: BA, R, HR, RBI, SB, OBP, SLG, OPS, XBH for hitters; W, ERA, WHIP, K, SV, IP, K/9, K/BB, HLD for pitchers 2) Potential 2013 Fantasy Peak, which presents the best-case but realistic fantasy role for each player, specifically in 2013. Starting lineup considered: 14 hitters (C 1/2, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, MI, CI, OF 1/2/3/4/5, UT); 9 pitchers (SP 1/2/3/4/5, RP 1/2/3/4) These rankings will be unveiled 20 players at a time, starting from No. 100. To be eligible, a player must not have exceeded 130 at-bats for hitters, or 50 innings pitched or 30 appearances for pitchers to this point in his career. All ages are as of April 1. Also to be clear: This is strictly for 2013. In keeper or dynasty leagues, many of these players are already owned, are about to be drafted or may become in-season acquisitions, but the primary goal here is to help fantasy owners in 2-0-1-3. 20: Aaron Hicks, Twins OF Talent: 8/10 Opportunity: 10/10 Age: 23 2012 Highest Level: Double-A Category Strengths: R, SB, OBP, XBH Potential 2013 Fantasy Peak: Mixed league OF 4 The combination of Hicks’ big spring and the Twins clearing out centerfield by trading away Denard Span and Ben Revere over the winter paved the way for this rook. The former first-rounder’s strengths — patience, defense and speed — are more likely to make him better in real life than fantasy, and he’s been known to struggle initially at each new rung of the ladder, so the big thing for 2013 is whether he can make adjustments quick enough to stay in the majors. So far? Ummm… 19: Dylan Bundy, Orioles SP Talent: 10/10 Opportunity: 8/10 Age: 20 2012 Highest Level: Majors Category Strengths: ERA, WHIP, K/9, K/BB Potential 2013 Fantasy Peak: Mixed league SP 3 Unfortunately, tightness in Bundy’s right elbow and forearm in March caused the O’s to shut down the top pitching prospect in all of baseball, he’s still not throwing and now he’s headed to see the great — and dreaded — Dr. James Andrews. At this point, it’s tough to know what to make of the situation, which makes Bundy a wild card in fantasy: He could still return to health, dominate the high minors for a couple months and be a midseason call-up — and the No. 1 waiver pick-up — or he could not throw a pitch in the majors all season. 18: Travis d’Arnaud, Mets C Talent: 9/10 Opportunity: 9/10 Age: 24 2012 Highest Level: Triple-A Category Strengths: HR, RBI, SLG, OPS Potential 2013 Fantasy Peak: Mixed league C At this point, you have to start wondering whether d’Arnaud is like Mr. Glass, Samuel L. Jackson’s character from Unbreakable. Dude just cannot stay healthy, as we witnessed again after he suffered a fracture in his left foot in mid-April that could sideline him for up to two months. What looked like a potential May or June promotion now may be no more than a July or August debut. He’s still one NL leaguers should add once that happens. 17: Dan Straily, A’s SP Talent: 7/10 Opportunity: 9/10 Age: 24 2012 Highest Level: Majors Category Strengths: W, WHIP, K, K/BB Potential 2013 Fantasy Peak: Mixed league SP streamer Straily led the minors with 190 whiffs in 2012, but he’s not the power-armed right-hander that might make you believe. He’s got good command of a deep repertoire, though, so Straily should be the type of pitcher who won’t hurt as a streaming option in fantasy, particularly when pitching at home. While he’s currently the “sixth starter” for the A’s, Straily should reach double-digits in starts, given the injury history of some of the arms ahead of him (ahem, Mr. Anderson). Much more valuable in AL-only leagues but has mixed appeal, too. 16: Trevor Rosenthal, Cardinals RP/SP Talent: 8/10 Opportunity: 10/10 Age: 22 2012 Highest Level: Majors Category Strengths: ERA, WHIP, SV, K/9, K/BB, HLD Potential 2013 Fantasy Peak: Mixed league RP 3 After breaking out as a reliever in the postseason, Rosenthal was briefly considered for a rotation spot in the wake of Chris Carpenter’s injury but ultimately wound up back in the pen. Long-term this righty with the triple-digit heat looks like a starter, but for 2013, expect some ridiculous ratios and a combination of holds and saves that make him owning in most formats, even if he never seizes the closer job full-time. 15: Tyler Skaggs, D-backs SP Talent: 9/10 Opportunity: 8/10 Age: 21 2012 Highest Level: Majors Category Strengths: WHIP, K, IP, K/BB Potential 2013 Fantasy Peak: Mixed league SP streamer Skaggs debuted late last year but lost out on a starter’s role to fellow left-hander Patrick Corbin this spring. That might work out better for his development in the long run, as he looks like a legitimate mid-rotation arm right now but could be more if he can improve his command and find a little more on his fastball at Triple-A. A lot to like, but it might not be an immediate impact in fantasy. 14: Wily Peralta, Brewers SP Talent: 7/10 Opportunity: 10/10 Age: 23 2012 Highest Level: Majors Category Strengths: ERA, K, IP, K/9 Potential 2013 Fantasy Peak: Mixed league SP streamer The late spring addition of Kyle Lohse pushed Peralta one notch back in the five-man, so while he has a job at the outset of the season, he’ll need to pitch well enough to keep it. The heavy, mid-90s fastball from the right side has always been there, but the control (4.0 BB/9) has not. Still, Peralta is big league-ready and off to a solid enough start. 13: Leonys Martin, Rangers OF Talent: 7/10 Opportunity: 10/10 Age: 25 2012 Highest Level: Majors Category Strengths: BA, R, SB, XBH Potential 2013 Fantasy Peak: Mixed league OF 3 The skill set and minor league stats point to a productive, all-around fantasy asset, but it hasn’t happened yet for Martin, who’s still splitting time in center with Craig Gentry. If he can get hot — and if the Rangers give him a chance to play everyday — though, then Martin could be worth considering in mixed leagues for the possibility of double-digits in both homers and steals. 12: Jedd Gyorko, Padres 2B/3B Talent: 8/10 Opportunity: 10/10 Age: 24 2012 Highest Level: Triple-A Category Strengths: BA, R, HR, RBI, OBP, OPS, XBH Potential 2013 Fantasy Peak: Mixed league 2B or 3B Gyorko hits, has eligibility at both second and third base in most formats and has a starting job on a big league club, so he’s set up to do some damage. He hasn’t thus far (.233 BA, 0 HRs), and Petco and the Padres lineup will suppress his stats somewhat, but he’s got the skills to post a .280 average with double-digit homers and enough RBIs and runs to be useful. Gyorko won’t be the breakout star of this rookie class, but don’t overlook him either. 11: Zack Wheeler, Mets SP Talent: 9/10 Opportunity: 9/10 Age: 22 2012 Highest Level: Triple-A Category Strengths: ERA, WHIP, K/9, K/BB Potential 2013 Fantasy Peak: Mixed league SP 4 Wheeler looks to be on the Matt Harvey plan: Tighten things up for a few months at Triple-A, earn a midseason call-up and, hopefully, dominate in his first taste of the majors. Keep close tabs on this righty’s minor league starts, because he could be up sooner than later. Oh, and if his numbers don’t look super sexy, don’t freak out too much, because the righty is roughing it in the PCL and his home park is Las Vegas, which is basically where pitching statistics go to die. 10: Danny Hultzen, Mariners SP Talent: 8/10 Opportunity: 9/10 Age: 23 2012 Highest Level: Triple-A Category Strengths: ERA, WHIP, K, IP, K/9, K/BB Potential 2013 Fantasy Peak: Mixed league SP 4 The M’s acquisition of Aaron Harang probably pushes Hultzen’s debut back a bit, but really, it should only be a matter of time before the No. 2 pick in 2011 earns his way to Seattle, where he’ll get to pitch half his games in Safeco. After last year’s control catastrophe upon his promotion to Triple-A (43 BB in 48.2 IP), things seem back to normal for the left-handed Hultzen, who’s walked just six against 25 whiffs in 22.2 frames. 9: Kyuji Fujikawa, Cubs RP Talent: 7/10 Opportunity: 10/10 Age: 32 2012 Highest Level: NPB Category Strengths: ERA, WHIP, SV, K/9, K/BB, HLD Potential 2013 Fantasy Peak: Mixed league RP 2 It’s been a rough start for the Japanese import, who was handed the reigns to the closer role after the first week of the season, only to immediately hit the DL. Expect the righty to be back soon and regain the ninth-inning role, so a 20-save season with solid peripherals isn’t out of the question. 8: Jurickson Profar, Rangers SS/2B Talent: 10/10 Opportunity: 8/10 Age: 20 2012 Highest Level: Majors Category Strengths: BA, R, SB, XBH Potential 2013 Fantasy Peak: Mixed league SS or 2B Profar is this high because he’s the consensus top prospect in the game. There’s no easy path to PT in Texas, though, and he doesn’t seem like the kind of player who’s going to rip it up for fantasy purposes. Still, he’ll do a little bit of everything and his eligibility (both middle infield spots in many leagues) makes him very intriguing. Assuming, of course, he gets a chance to play regularly at some point. 7: Julio Teheran, Braves SP Talent: 8/10 Opportunity: 10/10 Age: 22 2012 Highest Level: Majors Category Strengths: W, ERA, WHIP, K, IP, K/BB Potential 2013 Fantasy Peak: Mixed league SP 4 A crazy-good spring bumped Teheran up on this list a few spots. His so-so start in the regular season? It’s tempered expectations a bit again. The right-handed Teheran continuously appears to be on the verge of something good, only to never quite get there. He’s a deep-league streamer for now, but the potential for finally figuring it all out remains, so Watch List him in mixed formats. 6: Adam Eaton, D-backs OF Talent: 8/10 Opportunity: 9/10 Age: 24 2012 Highest Level: Majors Category Strengths: BA, R, SB, OBP, XBH Potential 2013 Fantasy Peak: Mixed league OF 3 Eaton would have ranked in the top three had it not been for his late-spring elbow injury, which is expected to keep him out through late-May. The undersized lefty hitter isn’t an elite hitter, but he knows how to put barrel to baseball, get on base and then steal them. Depending on how his rehab goes and what the D-backs outfield sitch looks like in a few weeks, Eaton could be installed as the everyday center fielder and leadoff hitter — as intended until his injury — as soon as he’s ready to return. Pick him up sooner than later, especially if you need help in average, runs and/or steals. 5: Gerrit Cole, Pirates SP Talent: 9/10 Opportunity: 8/10 Age: 22 2012 Highest Level: Triple-A Category Strengths: ERA, WHIP, K, IP, K/9, K/BB Potential 2013 Fantasy Peak: Mixed league SP 3 Cole’s power arsenal portends a pitching prospect who could come up and dominate immediately. Plus, the Pirates rotation lacks a frontline arm, which this righty possesses. There will be “adjustment periods” here, but Cole has the ability to provide a boost in the middle of your fantasy rotation once he’s called up, likely by June. 4: Oscar Taveras, Cardinals OF Talent: 10/10 Opportunity: 8/10 Age: 20 2012 Highest Level: Double-A Category Strengths: BA, HR, RBI, SLG, OPS, XBH Potential 2013 Fantasy Peak: Mixed league OF 2 This is a gamble. Taveras is blocked in the outfield depth chart in St. Louis, but the guess here is that something gives in the very near future. Maybe the Cards want to see if Taveras can prove he can handle center instead of Jon Jay? Maybe an injury opens the door? Or just maybe Taveras’ preternatural hit tool will force the issue. If any offensive rookie is going to knock our socks off this year, Taveras is that guy. 3: Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dodgers SP Talent: 7/10 Opportunity: 10/10 Age: 26 2012 Highest Level: KPB Category Strengths: W, ERA, WHIP, K, IP, K/BB Potential 2013 Fantasy Peak: Mixed league SP 4 Ryu was handed a rotation spot after inking with the Dodgers over the winter, then he went out an earned it in spring training. And now he’s proving to be a perfectly cromulent big league starter — and a mixed league fantasy arm to start most times out. More solid than great, but the fact that the deceptive lefty is new to major league hitters and pitches in the NL West (Dodger Stadium, Petco Park and AT&T Park) help Ryu’s stuff play up. 2: Wil Myers, Rays OF Talent: 10/10 Opportunity: 9/10 Age: 22 2012 Highest Level: Triple-A Category Strengths: HR, RBI, OBP, SLG, OPS, XBH Potential 2013 Fantasy Peak: Mixed league OF 2 The 37-homer campaign at Double- and Triple-A in 2012 got fantasy owners everywhere excited over Myers — and rightfully so. While he’s likely going to be stuck in Triple-A until the Rays deem him “fully ready” (i.e., once the Super Two hurdle is clear), Myers should be a starter-worthy fantasy outfielder upon his promotion. Whether he’ll provide more average or more power at first is unclear, but he’ll provide at least one — and maybe both. 1: Shelby Miller, Cardinals SP Talent: 9/10 Opportunity: 10/10 Age: 22 2012 Highest Level: Majors Category Strengths: W, ERA, WHIP, K, IP, K/9, K/BB Potential 2013 Fantasy Peak: Mixed league SP 3 Miller ranked No. 1 on this list since the beginning of spring training (and no, I didn’t jump him up just to look smarter after a hot start to his rookie season — honest). Everything — team, ballpark, pedigree, stuff, readiness, innings total — was in line for Miller to contend for Rookie of the Year in the NL, and so far, the hard-throwing right-hander looks like he’ll do just that.