In 2012, it remains to be seen if we will see strong performances out of rookies like we did with Jeremy Hellickson, Michael Pineda, and Brandon Beachy. This list is far more useful for those looking for deep mixed league help than those in standard leagues outside of a few top prospects. Those with the strongest prospect stock are either stronger 2013 fantasy options, or are simply blocked by others in the organization.
- Matt Moore, Rays: Just in case you haven’t heard, Matt Moore is pretty good. He has a vast arsenal of pitches at his disposal, and many of them are quality swing-and-miss pitches. Moore throws plenty of strikes as well, so he could become a big part of your rotation (although watch out for innings limits).
- Drew Pomeranz, Rockies: He has the opportunity and the stuff to make an impact this year. Pomeranz can miss bats, induce weak contact, and limit his walks quite a bit. If he’s on he could be a nice piece at the back of your rotation.
- Jacob Turner, Tigers: The 20 year old has always risen to the challenge of Detroit’s aggressive promotions, and it should be more of the same in 2012. Turner has the potential to be fantastic in time, but temper your expectations for this year (at the ML level). He’s still developing his arsenal, (understandably so as Turner is just approaching the legal drinking age in May), so some growing pains are to be expected.
- Julio Teheran, Braves: The righty has top-of-the-rotation stuff, it’s just a matter of him showing it more consistently. He might have a bit of a learning curve (fair for his age), but he could be fun to watch if he begins to really command his pitches. Most are hoping for a much more dominant year from him this year.
- Trevor Bauer, Diamondbacks: I don’t think the righty’s path to the majors will fall into the
“normal” career progression. Even with talented hurlers like Tyler Skaggs and Pat Corbin down in the minors, Bauer’s pitching could earn him the first call-up in 2012.
- Wily Peralta, Brewers: Peralta picked a nice time to make big improvements in his approach to pitching. There’s lots of potential for him to grab a rotation spot, and his stuff could produce solid K and ERA help.
- Shelby Miller, Cardinals: Well, it’s hard to argue against him being one of the best pitching prospects in baseball. Even with that though, the Cards won’t be in a big hurry to promote the 21 year old. For as good as he is, Miller still has things to improve upon. If he dominates and Chris Carpenter struggles to stay healthy, he could be up sooner.
- Jarrod Parker, Athletics: The former Diamondback has looked good since returning from arm surgery. It sounds like Parker still needs to work on his breaking stuff a little, but he can definitely throw strikes and miss bats. We’ll see how quickly the A’s push him to be up at the ML level.
- Tyler Skaggs, Diamondbacks: The Dan Haren trade is looking a lot less lopsided now. Skaggs has done great things since switching organizations, and will be competing with the incredibly talented Trevor Bauer for ML playing time. The lefty is capable of missing lots of bats, and getting above-average ground ball rates. If Bauer is slow to dominate this year, keep an eye on Skaggs.
- Brad Peacock, Athletics: One of the newest additions to the A’s organization, he could provide a nice boost to your roster’s K totals. There will be some growing pains as he works towards having a more solid third pitch. Plenty of opportunity to seize some major league innings as Billy Beane rebuilds.
- Robbie Erlin, Padres: I’d say he’s pretty happy with the Mike Adams trade. He’s got big fly-ball rates, and thus should take full advantage of the spacious dimensions of Petco. Erlin can also definitely miss bats while still throwing strikes, so look for big WHIP and K help from him in time. As he enters his age-21 season, there’s still lots of room for him to improve his stuff and become more than just an elite strike-thrower.
- Garrett Richards, Angels: If you were a Juan Nicasio fan last year, here’s a guy who’s fastball rates just as well (it’s actually better). The Angels top 4 are great, but beyond that the righty could easily solidify himself a role at the back of the rotation.
- James Paxton, Mariners: Well it took him quite a while to finally sign with a MLB team after leaving Kentucky, but it all seems well worth the wait. Paxton steamrolled through Low A and Double A, posting great K and GB rates, leaving only weak contact in his wake.
- Mike Montgomery, Royals: It’s true 2011 was a very down year for him, but it still very much sounds like he has the kind of stuff that could still put him at the top of the Kansas City rotation. Just entering his age-22 year, he’ll need to really improve his command. If he makes the necessary adjustments, there aren’t many at the ML level that should get in his way.
- Martin Perez, Rangers: Just now entering his age-21 season, Perez has yet to have a dominating season worthy of how good his stuff can be. He’s always been a bit too hittable, mainly from a lack of command. The lefty certainly has the stuff to post big K rates and strong ERA/WHIP numbers at some point in the future. In his first full year at Triple-A, it might be time for him to finally have a dominant year.
- Drew Smyly, Tigers: Similar to James Paxton in that he dominated during his first full pro season, Smyly also has posted very strong K numbers. He was an excellent strike-thrower in his first year of pro ball, missing bats and keeping his walks low. A strong start at Double-A could bring him a shot at ML innings, possibly even over Casey Crosby.
- Manny Banuelos, Yankees: The pure stuff is obviously there for him to be great, but it still should take some time for him to post useful fantasy numbers. For starters, more consistent strike-throwing will go a long way for him, the walk numbers are a bit high. The Yanks don’t exactly have much of a spot ready for him anyways.
- Joe Wieland, Padres: A part of the Mike Adams trade, Wieland should benefit a lot from Petco. He is a control/command guy with better off-speed stuff than velocity, but that should not keep him from being a useful fantasy option. As Wieland heads into his age-22 year, an improving change-up could make him an interesting guy to keep an eye on.
- Eric Surkamp, Giants: It’s hard to ignore his minor league track record. He’s consistently missed bats at a high rate, and thrown strikes at similarly high rates throughout his career. Surkamp’s small major league sample saw lots of walks, something that shouldn’t happen as he progresses on in 2012. The lefty’s fastball is just average, but his offspeed stuff more than makes up for it. As does his excellent command and ability to change speeds.
- Nathan Eovaldi, Dodgers: Though he still struggles with consistently throwing strikes, improved stuff has made him an interesting fantasy option. Eovaldi’s hard, slurvy off-speed stuff works well off of a quality four-seamer. I like him in deeper leagues, and he might even have potential in standard mixed leagues in time.
Others to keep in mind:
Alex Torres, Rays
Neil Ramirez, Rangers
Casey Kelly, Padres
Danny Hultzen, Mariners
Casey Crosby, Tigers
Tommy Milone, Athletics
Randall Delgado, Braves
Trevor May, Phillies
Jake Odorizzi, Royals