York Yankees – Ravel Santana, OF
. I know that at least one of my fellow
Baseball Shark fantasy writers doubts Santana. That’s OK. The more people that
doubt him, the easier it will be for you to nab him and reap the rewards.
Santana is a very athletic player, with plus
tools across the board. The power hasn’t played a ton yet, but it is definitely
there. He also possesses well above average speed, and his best tool is his
arm, which may not play in fantasy baseball, but it will certainly help him get
to the big leagues. The issue with Santana is health. He suffered a significant
ankle injury near the end of last season. I haven’t seen it, but I’ve heard it
was in line with Stephen Drew’s injury from last year, or maybe worse, Jason
Kendall’s from years back. This is why my colleague shies away from Santana. I’m
optimistic that he’ll be healthy. More important than me (but not in my own
mind) the Yankees believe he’ll be ready to go by June. If he is, Santana will
climb up prospect charts, and you’ll know him by July.
Athletics – Michael Choice, OF.
This one took me a while, as this
system is relatively thin as well. I like many of the lower level prospects,
but they’re miles away. Let’s talk about one that is closer. Choice has immense
power. Lots of home runs is what you can expect from Choice, but also lots of
strikeouts. His 30 home runs last year in the California league is impressive
enough (though most of the league is a launching pad), but he did not stop
there. He hit very well in the Arizona Fall League as well. The problem with
Choice is that he strikes out way too much, as in 134 times last year in 467 at
bats. For you non-math majors, that’s 29 percent. Any strikeout rate that high
is miserable, and that makes Choice a risk. The power is real, but so is the
risk that higher-level pitchers will figure him out. He’ll be in Double-A for
the beginning of the year, but I can see him progressing quickly if he can
figure out the strike zone.
Phillies – Trevor May, RHP.
The Phillies are another system that
does not seem to have much talent remaining, and with good reason. They’ve
traded away most of their higher level prospects for immediate help on the
major league level. The problem with that is, they’re aging, and the cupboard
is almost bare. May might be able to help. May struck out 208 batters in 151
innings last year in High-A Clearwater. Very impressive. For us fantasy
leaguers, that’s stand up and take notice kind of stuff. That was no fluke
either, as he threw 135 innings in 2010, and struck out 182. His control has
made a lot of improvement as well, and could very well move up the ladder
quickly now after languishing a bit in Single-A ball. I see May as more of a
trade piece for the Phillies, but he’s someone you should have on your radar. If
he stays with the Phillies, I can see him making his debut early next year. If
he’s traded for a bat, you may see him on the big league stage wearing another
uniform this year.
Pirates – Jameson Taillon, RHP.
Prospect-heads definitely know Taillon,
and it’s time you should, too. Big and strong, Taillon’s power arm and sharp
curveball make him very difficult to solve. He is able to get good leverage on
his fastball, and actually has above average command and feel for his age. He
will play 2012 at only 20 years old, and will likely start the year in High-A. However,
I have a feeling he dominates the Florida State League, and is in Double-A by
May. Don’t be surprised if Taillon is a member of the Pirates rotation sometime
in 2013, and if you’re in a dynasty league, he needs to be on your roster soon.
I firmly believe that Taillon will be a better pitcher than just as highly
touted Gerrit Cole. These two will be huge upside arms that will help bring the
Pirates back to relevance.
Louis Cardinals – Oscar Taveras, OF.
All you need to know about this kid is
that he can hit. And by hit, I mean he can absolutely mash. He played his 2011
season in Low-A Quad Cities, where he finished the year at 19 years old. And he
hit .386. That’s the highest average in that league since 1956. Not too shabby.
The power isn’t quite there yet, but the hitting ability is real. He has a very
loud swing and uses a lot of motion, which leads some to believe that he can be
figured out by more experience pitching. We’ll see this year, as he climbs the
ladder. He has no really projectable speed, so his elite hit tool is going to
have to get him to the show. It will, and then some. He may never be an elite
power corner outfielder, but you would love to have this guy bringing up your
batting average. Look for him at the end of 2013.
Diego Padres – Rymer Liriano, OF.
The Padres’ brass is drooling over this
kid, and it is about time that you stand up and take notice of him, too. Liriano
has very good speed right now, as is evident by his 65 stolen bases from a year
ago. He also possesses very good power, which will only continue to grow as he
develops. The speed numbers won’t stay throughout his career, as he will likely
lose a step as he progresses. He’s very big already (6-foot, 230 pounds), and
could continue to get stronger. I am going out on a limb with this one right
now, as we are going to see him in the California League this year: Liriano
will be a Top 10 or higher prospect by the end of the year. The California
League is a very hitter-friendly environment that will allow for Liriano to put
up some truly exceptional numbers. I’m just throwing this out there, and some
of you will think I’m crazy … I think Liriano hits .300 with 30 home runs and
50 stolen bases this year in that environment. Pay attention, as you’ll know
his name soon.