Fantasy Baseball: 20 Youngsters' Names You Need to Know for Your Draft
This year's class of youngsters has plenty to show off.
There are pitchers who will become stars with their respected clubs such as Yu Darvish and Julio Teheran. There will also be some position players who can blast the cover off the ball and be a terror on the base path such as Anthony Rizzo and Yoenis Cespedes.
Young players will fill the rosters of teams that are rebuilding such as the Oakland Athletics, where the players will get many at-bats. Others might spend a few more months back in Triple-A ball before their moment to shine comes.
The players on this list will eventually find their way into major-league clubhouses and provide some offense because they are just too talented.
These players will be perfect for those late-round roster spots on all fantasy teams that have a manager looking for hidden talent.
Jesus Montero: DH/Catcher
People who follow the New York Yankees already know about Jesus Montero.
Since joining the Yankees' minor-league affiliates in 2006 when he was 16, he has become one of the top hitters despite him always being younger than his competition.
Montero can just plain hit. He will need to improve his catching abilities in order to play catcher full time. Lucky for him though, he plays in a league with a designated hitter.
2012 Playing Time: Montero got traded to the Mariners for Michael Pineda. The Mariners ranked last in all the important batting categories last year, including batting average and runs. It is safe to say that Montero will start from day one as the Mariners' primary DH.
Matt Moore: Starting Pitcher
Matt Moore is a beast of a left-handed pitcher—or he will be soon enough.
Moore has an impressive strikeouts-per-nine-innings stat in the minor leagues of 12.7, which was even more than Brandon Morrow's 10 in the majors last year.
He has a fastball that can reach the upper 90s, and parlays that with a good change-up. He only pitched 9.1 innings last year but managed to strike out 15 batters. In 10 innings of work in the postseason, he struck out eight batters while only giving up one hit which was a home run.
2012 Playing Time: Moore is just too darn talented to not start for the Rays, even though they have a plethora of pitching. He might start in Triple-A ball, but soon enough he will be a starter at the major-league level.
Bryce Harper: Outfield
If you don't know who Bryce Harper is, either you have been living in a hole or do not follow baseball. This kid has power.
He has the ability to just crush the ball. He is still young, and his maturity level needs to increase (see: his sticking out his tongue at an opposing pitcher after a home run). Also, his plate discipline could use some work along with his defense.
People have set lofty expectations for Harper since he decided to leave high school early and enroll in community college at the age of 16 to improve his baseball skills.
2012 Playing Time: Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson said, "Harper is still in the mix to have an opportunity." He could potentially make the roster as an extra outfielder or a player who could come off the bench. His power numbers are intriguing enough to play in the majors right now, but it is unsure when that could be.
Yu Darvish: Starting Pitcher
The Texas Rangers shelled out $111.7 million for Yu Darvish—to talk to him ($51.7 million) and to sign him ($60 million).
Darvish has the added benefit of playing professionally over in Japan, but it wasn't until last year, when he went 18-6 with an ERA of 1.44, that big-league teams started looking closer at him. He also posted a WHIP of 0.83 and had 276 strikeouts.
He comes to MLB as a better pitcher than Dice-K was at the same time.
2012 Playing Time: The Rangers did not invest all that money for Darvish to pitch in Triple-A for awhile. He will come out of spring training with a starter's role all wrapped up and neat for him.
Yoenis Cespedes: Outfield
Yoenis Cespedes is a Cuban defector who signed in the offseason with the Oakland Athletics.
He already has a viral video showing the rest of baseball just what he is capable of and what an athletic freak he is.
He has the power and the speed to not only hit a lot of home runs, but also steal a lot of bases. He will strike out a lot and most likely will not hit for average, but he can still put up fantasy points.
2012 Playing Time: If Cespedes was looking for a team where he could get a lot of playing time, he found the right one. The A's are currently in a rebuilding year, and nearly every position has a battle to see who is going to start. Cespedes has the benefit of having Manny Ramirez in the same clubhouse to provide tips on MLB. Look for Cespedes to get his at-bats in, but do not be surprised if he starts off the year in Triple-A.
Addison Reed: Closing Pitcher
Addison Reed is going to be the future closer for the Chicago White Sox.
A third-round pick in the 2010 draft, Reed progressed from Single-A ball all the way to the majors in his first full season. He had an ERA of 1.41 and a WHIP of 0.74. He also struck out 12.88 batters per nine innings.
Reed possesses both a fastball and a slider, and he is comfortable enough to throw both for strikes.
2012 Playing Time: The White Sox traded away their starting closer. Management doesn't want to rush Reed into the starting role, which really doesn't matter because it looks like Reed will be getting some saves in his first, full major-league season.
Hisashi Iwakuma: Starting Pitcher
After the Oakland A's could not come to a deal with Iwakuma in 2010, he returned to Japan and signed with the Mariners as an international free agent in the offseason.
Iwakuma was the second best pitcher in Japan last year behind Yu Darvish. He posted an ERA of 2.42 and a WHIP of 1.05. He struck out 90 batters, but dealt with a shoulder injury that limited him to only 119 innings pitched.
Iwakuma has a nasty forkball that he used to strike batters out in Japan, and people are questioning whether he will be able to fool better competition at the major-league level. He also has a low-90s fastball and a splitter that sits in the upper 80s.
2012 Playing Time: The Mariners signed him to be a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher, plain and simple. Look for him to get plenty of starts this year.
Devin Mesoraco: Catcher
Devin Mesoraco was drafted in the first round by the Reds in the 2007 draft, and has spent most of his time in the minor leagues. He has never been the player the Reds thought he would be.
In five seasons in the minors, he had a batting average of .269 and 59 home runs. This is the year that Mesoraco must prove that he is a capable player. He has the potential to be a perennial All-Star because of his rare ability to hit for power as a catcher.
2012 Playing Time: Right now, Mesoraco is competing for the starting role with the veteran Ryan Hanigan, and Dusty Baker will most likely want to ease Mesoraco into the starting role.
Leonys Martin: Outfield
Leonys Martin was the big Cuban free agent last year, but he possessed none of the hype that Yoenis Cespedes had.
In the minors, he had an average of .295 and hit four home runs in 73 total games. He also stole 19 bases while getting caught 11 times. He does not have the power ability of Cespedes, nor is he as fast, but he can hit for average while putting up decent home run totals and stealing around 20 bases once he gets accustomed to the majors.
In the long run, Martin will he the starting center fielder for the Rangers or whatever team he plays for.
2012 Playing Time: The Rangers will most likely start Martin in Triple-A to get him some more experience, but it is realistic that the Rangers will call him up during the summer months. The Rangers are not terribly deep in center field, as Craig Gentry is the starter and Julio Borbon is the backup, so there is room for Martin to break into the majors.
Mike Trout: Outfield
Mike Trout has been regarded as the best prospect in the majors.
In three seasons in the minors, Trout owns a .338 batting average, hit 22 home runs, 29 triples and stole 102 bases. He reached the majors at the age of 19.
In his prime, he will be able to hit for power and average while stealing many bases. Also, he has great plate discipline that allows him to draw a lot of walks.
2012 Playing Time: Trout will start the year in Triple-A Salt Lake, but if he has a good spring, he could compete for playing time. In order for that to happen, Vernon Wells must also struggle, which is a very real possibility.
Drew Pomeranz: Starting Pitcher
Drew Pomeranz has the minor-league stats that would make a manager want to instantly promote him to the starting rotation.
He was included in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade and immediately paid dividends in the minors. He posted an ERA of 1.78 that included a WHIP of 1.05. He struck out 119 batters while only walking 38. He uses his fastball, which can reach upwards of 96 MPH, to strike out batters, and a power curveball which could be the best in his draft.
In his major-league debut, he shut out the Reds for five innings.
2012 Playing Time: Pomeranz will be on the Opening Day roster for the Rockies and therefore will get innings and strikeouts. He does pitch in Colorado, which means that he might give up more home runs than another park, so he might have a higher ERA—be cautious.
Jacob Turner: Starting Pitcher
Jacob Turner was the ninth overall pick in the 2009 draft by the Detroit Tigers.
In two seasons in the minors, he posted an ERA of 3.36 and a WHIP of 1.14. He struck out 212 batters, compared to 58 walks. He started 43 games and pitched a total of 246.1 innings.
Turner was promoted to the Tigers' starting rotation in July 2011 and struggled. In 12 innings of work, he gave up 17 hits and 12 earned runs. He only struck out eight batters and gave up three home runs.
He has a powerful arm that can throw a fastball around 95 MPH and a plus changeup.
2012 Playing Time: Right now, Turner is competing for a spot on the back end of the Tigers rotation, most likely the fifth spot. Since the Tigers were unable to procure a starting pitcher in the offseason, Turner has a high chance of making the Opening Day roster.
Brett Jackson: Outfield
Brett Jackson's 2011 minor-league campaign gave Chicago Cubs fans everywhere a reason to celebrate, and then shake their heads.
In both Triple-A and Double-A ball, he hit .297 with 20 home runs and tacked on 21 stolen bases. Jackson also hit five triples and 23 doubles. He is the Cubs' top prospect, and scouts say he has all the tools necessary to be an outstanding player for the long run.
On the negative side, Jackson strikes out a lot. And by a lot, I mean A LOT. In 185 at-bats in Triple-A Iowa, Jackson struck out a total of 65 times. That is 35 percent of his plate appearances. He is going to have to bring the number down significantly if he wants to be on the Opening Day roster.
2012 Playing Time: As I mentioned before, Jackson is going to have to bring his strikeouts down to an acceptable level. However, he is good enough to play this year. The only thing stopping him is Marlon Byrd—but if Jackson can improve his game, the Cubs are will have no reason not to get him some playing time on the major-league level.
Julio Teheran: Starting Pitcher
Julio Teheran is the best pitcher in Triple-A ball.
Last season, he posted a 15-3 record with 122 strikeouts and 48 walks. He had a WHIP of 1.18 in just 144.2 innings of work. He did struggle a bit in some starts for the Braves, but when you realize that this prospect is only 20 years old, you see how amazing he really is.
He possesses a fastball that ranges from 92-96 MPH and has shown good control. He also has a good changeup that is quickly getting better.
2012 Playing Time: Currently, the Braves have six pitchers for only five pitching spots. Teheran will most likely get sent back down to Triple-A to work out a few kinks, but he will eventually force the Braves' hand to bring him up to the major-league level after the All-Star Break.
Ryan Lavarnway: Catcher/DH
Ryan Lavarnway made a big splash when he blasted two home runs against the Orioles last season for the Boston Red Sox.
He has developed tremendous power and could easily hit 25 home runs on a yearly basis. His defense needs improvement for him to be an everyday catcher. In Triple-A Pawtucket, he slugged .612 and hit 18 home runs and 55 RBI in just 61 total games played.
Whenever Big Papi decides to retire or gets hurt and needs rest, Lavarnway could easily step into the DH role because he has awesome power.
2012 Playing Time: Right now, Lavarnway is the third-string catcher behind Jared Saltalamacchia and Kelly Shoppach. If he wants playing time in the majors, he must prove that he has enough defensive prowess to be a catcher. The Red Sox will most likely experience their fair share of injuries, which will probably result in Lavarnway being called up to DH or play catcher if Salty or Shoppach goes down.
Tyler Pastornicky: Shortstop
Tyler Pastornicky is not going to be the next big thing for the Atlanta Braves.
However, he does possess fantasy value. He will swipe a lot of bases. Over the past two seasons he spent in High-A ball through Triple-A, he stole a total of 62 bases and got caught 20 times. He only posted a .251 batting average with 15 home runs and seven triples in the same time frame. Although, he did have a much better Triple-A season when he hit .356 in 104 plate appearances.
He is definitely a contact hitter who can get on base and use his speed to disrupt pitchers and cause chaos in the infield.
2012 Playing Time: Since Alex Gonzalez is now with the Brewers and Jack Wilson is injured, Pastornicky will be the Opening Day starter. Unless the Braves bring in someone else, he will face no competition in the spring.
Anthony Rizzo: First Base
Anthony Rizzo put up monster numbers when he played in the minors for the Padres last season.
He had an average of .331 with 101 RBI and 26 home runs. He collected 118 hits and posted a slugging percentage of over .650 in 413 plate appearances. It looked like he was going to be a star.
Things all changed for him when he got to the majors, however. He hit a measly .141 with 18 hits and struck out 46 times. However, this trend is not expected to continue for Rizzo.
He plays above-average defense and hits for power as well as average.
2012 Playing Time: He is going to start the season playing for Triple-A Iowa because Bryan LaHair is the Cubs' Opening Day starter, but if he figures out his swing in the minors, then he could be called up mid-season.
Chris Carter: First Base/DH
Chris Carter is a pure power hitter.
In the past five seasons in Triple-A ball, he has hit 144 home runs and posted an OPS of .919. This season is going to determine whether or not Carter will make it in MLB. That is because when he was called up last season, he hit .136 with no home runs, six hits and 20 strikeouts in only 44 at-bats.
The only thing that Carter can really do is hit the ball a long way. He does not have a set position and cannot run.
2012 Playing Time: Carter is in luck. He plays for the Oakland A's, who are rebuilding, so he will have plenty of at-bats. If he can figure out major-league pitchers, he will have no problem hitting bombs and driving in runs, even for the A's.
Wei-Yin Chen: Starting Pitcher
Wei-Yin Chen is of Taiwanese descent and has played in Japan for the past four years.
In 2009, he posted a record low 1.54 ERA, which was only recently topped by Yu Darvish. In his career, he has an ERA of 2.48 and a WHIP of 1.06.
Chen throws a fastball that rests in the low 90s, and a plus slider. He had some leg issues last season, which made his velocity drop as well as his strikeout rate.
His fantasy value lies in his ability to have a low WHIP. He doesn't walk a lot of batters and has shown strikeout potential.
2012 Playing Time: The Orioles signed him to be a starting pitcher. It looks like he will take the fourth position in the starting rotation.
Yonder Alonso: First Base
The Cincinnati Reds drafted Yonder Alonso and people questioned why, when they already had a star in Joey Votto. Alonso became an important piece in the trade for Mat Latos.
During his time in the minors, Alonso had an average of .296 and 36 home runs in 1,179 at-bats. He did steal 20 bases, but is by no means a consistent base stealer. Alonso generated a lot of walks during his time (143) compared to 203 strikeouts.
Since he will play in Petco Park, his power numbers will go up. He is expected to hit around .300 on a yearly basis, but because he plays for the Padres, he probably won't put up a ton of RBI and score a lot of runs.
2012 Playing Time: He is going to be the everyday first baseman since Adrian Gonzalez and Anthony Rizzo are gone. He will get plenty of at-bats.