Fantasy Baseball 2012: 10 Red-Hot Minor League Pitchers and Hitters to Watch

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Fantasy Baseball 2012: 10 Red-Hot Minor League Pitchers and Hitters to Watch
Cubs prospect Anthony Rizzo (23 HR, 59 RBI, .364 BA at Triple-A Iowa) could earn a permanent promotion to Chicago sometime in the next 10 days. (Photo Credit: US PRESSWIRE)

Here are 10 under-26 prospects (in alphabetical order) who are tearing it up in the minor leagues.

Whether any of these talents get promoted to the majors soon is unknown, but if their numbers are called sometime between late June and early September, be ready to scoop 'em up in 12- 14- or 16-team leagues.

Pitchers

SP Trevor Bauer, Reno Aces (Triple-A)
Age: 21
Parent Club: Arizona Diamondbacks
2012 Stats: 11-1, 2.11 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 104/42 K-BB
 

Skinny: There's no time like the present in splurging for a Justin Verlander/Clayton Kershaw/Stephen Strasburg-esque prospect who's been nearly unstoppable at every level of the minors. (Bauer was recently promoted to Triple-A Reno.) Given the Diamondbacks' patient approach with super prospects (Justin Upton would be a rare exception), there's no guarantee Bauer will see a major league ballpark before Sept. 1. However, he could easily force Arizona's hand with a few more dominant starts in Reno.

 

SP Tony Cingrani, Pensacola Blue Wahoos (Double-A)
Age: 22
Parent Club: Cincinnati Reds
2012 Stats: 6-2, 1.45 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 91/17 K-BB
 

Skinny: Cingrani went 13 starts (and 60-plus innings) before allowing more than two runs in an outing. That alone should garner Cingrani (the Reds' No. 10 prospect) prime consideration to be Cincinnati's next big callup to the majors, among pitchers. At the very least, Cingrani may be evolving into the organization's No. 1 pitching stud (fractionally ahead of Donnie Joseph/Robert Stephenson).

SP Jose Fernandez, Greensboro Grasshoppers (Single-A)
Age: 19
Parent Club: Miami Marlins
2012 Stats: 7-0, 1.59 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 99/18 K-BB
 

Skinny: In recent years, the Marlins haven't been afraid to promote teenagers to The Show. Of course, Miguel Cabrera and Edgar Renteria were hitters, but Jose Fernandez, a pitcher in the mold of Felix Hernandez, might be too great a force to ignore during the pennant chase.

 

SP Danny Hultzen, Jackson Generals (Double-A)
Age: 22
Parent Club: Seattle Mariners
2012 Stats: 8-3, 1.19 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 79/32 K-BB
 

Skinny: It may be just a matter of time before Danny Hultzen—the Mariners' No. 1 prospect—punches a permanent ticket to Seattle. In his last seven appearances (spanning 44.2 innings), Hultzen has allowed a microscopic two runs (0.41 ERA in that span), while collecting six wins and 45 strikeouts. In the fantasy realm, Hultzen projects to be a high-end No. 2 starter in the majors.

 

SP Jake Odorizzi, Omaha Storm Chasers (Triple-A)
Age: 22
Parent Club: Kansas City Royals
2012 Stats: 8-2, 2.89 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 81/20 K-BB
 

Skinny: Odorizzi, who headlines the Royals' next wave of big-time prospects to Kansas City, would be a welcome sight upon earning an MLB promotion. Since April 23 (covering 10 appearances), Odorizzi has surrendered just 15 runs (2.21 ERA in that span) while racking up seven wins and 74 strikeouts. In the fantasy realm, Odorizzi could evolve into Kansas City's No. 1 pitcher throughout the decade.

 

Hitters

OF Jackie Bradley, Salem Red Sox (Single-A Advanced)
Age: 22
Parent Club: Boston Red Sox
2012 Stats: 3 HR, 34 RBI, 53 R, 16 SB, .359 BA, .480 OBP, 1.006 OPS
 

Skinny: According to the Roanoke Times (Va.), Jackie Bradley will earn a promotion to Double-A ball this week, a nod to his consistent success over the last two months. But with outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford likely rejoining the Boston lineup in the next 30-45 days, Portland, Maine, may be Bradley's last new destination for the season. That aside, he could provide three-category production if given the chance to succeed in the majors.

 

C Travis d'Arnaud, Las Vegas 51s (Triple-A)
Age: 23
Parent Club: Toronto Blue Jays
2012 Stats: 15 HR, 48 RBI, 42 R, 1 SB, .335 BA, .385 OBP, .987 OPS
 

Skinny: The Blue Jays already have a solid, young catcher in J.P. Arencibia (nine homers, 32 RBI). But the club can only stash a great prospect like d'Arnaud in the minors for so long. In the last two seasons, d'Arnaud (36 homers, 126 RBI, .319 batting) has separated himself from the pack of under-25 prospects. He's also built up expectations to the point where he could be a top-10 catcher to open the 2013 season. But that distinction is based on him getting quality at-bats in the majors this season—hopefully in the next three weeks.

 

2B Jake Elmore, Reno Aces (Triple-A)
Age: 25
Parent Club: Arizona Diamondbacks
2012 Stats: 1 HR, 48 RBI, 60 R, 23 SB, .395 BA, .473 OBP, 1.007 OPS
 

Skinny: In the course of his 26-game hit streak (May 20-June 17), Jake Elmore has 14 multiple-hit games, 15 steals and a whopping .420 batting average. Hopefully, it'll be enough to motivate the Diamondbacks to give Elmore a look in the coming weeks, although Aaron Hill just hit for the cycle on June 18.

OF Wil Myers, Omaha Storm Chasers (Triple-A)
Age: 21
Parent Club: Kansas City Royals
2012 Stats: 24 HR, 61 RBI, 59 R, 5 SB, .337 BA, .408 OBP, 1.127 OPS
 

Skinny: Check out this run of statistical success from May 31-June 17 for Myers: In that span, he notched eight homers, 18 RBI, 23 runs and batted at a .358 clip. As hitters go, Myers could be Kansas City's next big target to burst onto the scene. As fantasy leagues go, there's a chance Myers will have outfield and catcher eligibility whenever he breaks through to the bigs. If that's the case, he'll definitely be worth rostering in 16-team leagues.

 

1B Anthony Rizzo, Iowa Cubs (Triple-A)
Age: 22
Parent Club: Chicago Cubs
2012 Stats: 23 HR, 59 RBI, 46 R, 2 SB, .364 BA, .426 OBP, 1.170 OPS
 

Skinny: Of the prospects listed here, Rizzo is the odds-on favorite to garner the next big-league promotion. In fact, the Cubs recently placed first baseman Bryan LaHair in the outfield, a move that could precipitate Rizzo's permanent relocation to Chicago in the coming days or weeks.

 

Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.

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