In the interest of keeping this article manageable going forward, I will only be featuring prospects in Double-A or higher starting this week. With that change in mind, fantasy owners should be happy to know that the prospects highlighted will be the most likely to help teams this year or next. Multiple organizations are well represented this week, and whether you are looking for a hot hitting prospect, or a hot pitching prospect, you have come to the right place. We covered the AL edition of this week’s Future Rookies yesterday; the NL edition is below.
Julio Teheran, SP, Atlanta Braves, 21 years old
The biggest knock on Teheran has been his lack of a consistently good breaking ball. Kevin Goldstein mentioned a scout talking highly of Teheran’s breaking ball in a recent start as a part of an excellent article at Baseball Prospectus called What Scouts Are Saying: Young Pitching Edition. Teheran has been quite sharp in his last two starts, refusing to give up an earned run in either start, and missing bats while striking out 11 in 10.2 innings. He’ll have to wait his turn to get a shot at facing major league hitting again, but Teheran remains one of the top pitching prospect in baseball.
J.J. Hoover, RP, Cincinnati Reds, 24 years old
Hoover was acquired from the Braves in return for Juan Francisco. A former starting pitcher, Hoover has been converted to a full-time reliever, a process that started last season, and he has taken to the role change like a fish to water. His ceiling falls short of closing according to most prospect outlets, but his early results this year are provide hope he could be a nice relief pitching option in holds leagues. He has struck out a batter in all eight of his relief appearances this year, and struck out multiple batters in seven of eight appearances. The Reds bullpen has been effective, but Hoover should earn a promotion during the season if he keeps pitching this well.
Wellington Castillo, C, Chicago Cubs, 24 years old
Castillo turned a hot year in 2011 into a cup of coffee with the Cubs for the second consecutive season. He’s following that up with an outstanding start in 2012. He doesn’t have star potential but does have enough power to be an asset at the catcher position in fantasy games. Geovany Soto is off to a slow start and, now that he is in his arbitration years, is becoming expensive. The Cubs may decide to take a look at Castillo soon and determine if he’s ready to take on a full-time catching role. If that’s the case, the team could decide Soto is dispensable and opt to trade him by the deadline.
Wily Peralta, SP, Milwaukee Brewers, 22 years old
Peralta made his first major league appearance on Sunday out of the Brewers bullpen. He was promoted after the team placed Chris Narveson on the disabled list. Narveson has a torn rotator cuff, but is seeking a second opinion as to whether or not it will require surgery. If he undergoes surgery, he’ll be lost for the season, and Peralta is a strong bet to take his place in the rotation.
Peralta had a breakout season in 2011 and is considered the top prospect in the Brewers organization by most outlets. He struck more hitters out last year than in season’s past while demonstrating improved control. He has a workhorse pitcher build, and has a chance to be a large mixed league and NL-only option this season.
Zack Wheeler, SP, New York Mets, 21 years old
Wheeler may not have won a game yet, but as Felix Hernandez and Matt Cain can attest, wins are a poor way of measuring a pitcher’s level of success. Outside of a forgettable first start in which he pitched just three innings, Wheeler has been nothing short of dominant. He has pitched six innings in each of his last two starts, allowing one run in each start, and sports a spectacular 17/2 K/BB rate. The ability to strike out batters has been evident since he began toeing the rubber as a pro. It is his advancements with his control that he began to display after joining the Mets organization that makes him a potential fantasy star.
Trevor May, SP, Philadelphia Phillies, 22 years old
Like Wheeler, May’s ability to miss bats has never been the problem, his ability to pound the strike zone has. He made huge strides with his control last year, and has been even sharper in three start this year. The best part is, even while making gains throwing strikes, he is still striking out better than a batter per inning. The jump from High-A to Double-A is often referred to as a big test for a prospect, and thus far, May is passing with flying colors.
Matt Davidson, 3B, Arizona Diamondbacks, 21 years old
Davidson has been a man on fire this season. In addition to his three home runs, he has drilled seven doubles. His 16.5 percent strikeout rate would easily be the best of his career if the season ended today. Of course, the season isn’t ending today, but for a slugger with a previous best rate of 22.9 percent while playing in Low-A in 2010, it is a nice start. Ryan Roberts is struggling mightily to prove his breakout 2011 performance was anything more than a fluke. While it would have seemed a huge stretch to suggest Davidson to could the reach the majors this year coming into the season, it seems more improbable than impossible now.
Ryan “Scooter” Gennett, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers, 21 years old
This tiny second base is continuing to hit at yet another minor league level. He’s hitting .415/.419/.683 with all three of his home runs, including two in a multi-homer effort on April 16, in his last 10 games. His bat is his carrying tool; so far, so good.
Trevor Bauer, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks, 21 years old
The strikeouts are nice and the ratios are pristine, but the walk rate is high for Bauer. That said, there may be a reason why his control has been a bit off. Bauer was pitching through groin pain in his second and third starts of the season. Nine of his 14 walks on the season came in those two starts, and feeling healthy in his fourth start, he walked just two batters. Josh Collmenter has an ERA north of 10 on the season, and time could be running out for him to turn it around before the Diamondbacks decide it is time to pull the plug. It’s not a slam dunk that Bauer would be the first starter the Diamonbacks turn to. Mobile teammates Patrick Corbin and Tyler Skaggs could also get consideration.
Tyler Skaggs, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks, 20 years old
Skaggs has demonstrated much better control than teammate Bauer, and has struck batters out at a higher rate too. In terms of prospect ranking, Skaggs and Bauer are in essentially the same class. Both could be in a race to the majors, and both have a significantly higher ceiling than Corbin.
Tyler Thornburg, SP, Milwaukee Brewers, 23 years old
Thornburg continues his quest to prove he can be a major league starting pitcher in spite of a smallish frame and unorthodox delivery. He was perfect through seven innings in an April 16 start, and finished his 7.1 innings allowing one hit, one earned run and no walks while striking out 11. His next start wasn’t nearly as good, and he pitched just four innings, allowing three earned runs and another unearned run. Even including his last start, the season numbers are excellent, and his 6.5 K/BB is superb.
Kolten Wong, 2B, St. Louis Cardinals, 21 years old
Wong came out of the gate on fire. He has since cooled off a bit but is still hitting .286/.342/.457 in his last 10 games. If he keeps hitting, a promotion to Triple-A could be in the cards for this Card, sooner than most would have probably expected coming into the year.
Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals, 19 years old
Taveras’s play as a 19-year-old in Double-A is nothing short of remarkable. He has 11 extra base hits on the season and is tearing the cover off the ball. His bat is what lands him on top-100 prospect lists, and it’s easy to see why.
Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies, 21 years old
Arenado has slowed down just a smidge in his last ten games but is still raking, and he’s smacked his first home run of the season. He’s still more of a doubles hitter than a home run hitter, but that’s completely understandable given his age. He’ll hit more home runs as he matures. The rest of his game is very fantasy friendly. He makes a ton of contact, and walks at a solid rate. He’s a prospect worth getting very excited about. The Rockies current third basemen, Jordan Pacheco and Chris Nelson, are doing little with the bat and won’t provide resistance to Arenado when the club deems him big league ready. A pre-All-star break promotion is looking increasingly likely.
Edwar Cabrera, SP, Colorado Rockies, 24 years old
The change-up artist, and last year’s minor league strikeout leader, is posting video game numbers in 2012. Cabrera’s last start was his best. He carried a perfect game into the ninth inning before giving up a hit. It was the only base runner he would allow, and he was lifted after the hit. His ceiling is limited by his upper-80s-to-low-90s fastball and a curveball that is below average. His change-up is a plus weapon, though, and has helped him move up the ladder so far. He’ll continue to have the burden of needing to outperform his stuff if he hopes to get to the show and stick.
Josh is a graduate of SUNY Cortland's Sport Management program, and an aspiring fantasy writer. You can catch up with Josh in the Cafe Forums where he posts as B-Chad. You can also follow his work at The Hardball Times and follow him on Twitter (BChad50).
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