Fantasy Baseball: Top 20 Rookies for the Second Half

Devin Noonan@@devinnoonanCorrespondent IIIJuly 3, 2012

Fantasy Baseball: Top 20 Rookies for the Second Half

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    Bryce Harper, Yu Darvish and Mike Trout are the most talked about players in the 2012 MLB rookie class.

    With the constant emergence of new young talent, fantasy baseball owners everywhere are loving the depth of their leagues this year.

    It's recently been a rarity in baseball to see so many rookies shine at the major league level, especially so early on in the season.

    Four rookies have been selected to the All-Star teams and the Rookie of the Year races both look as though they will come down to the wire this fall.

    With so much young talent out there, I've narrowed down 20 rookies for you to keep your eye on in the second half of the season, especially if you play fantasy baseball.

20. Kirk Nieuwenhuis (OF, New York Mets)

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    To say the New York Mets have not been happy with their Jason Bay investment would be a major understatement.

    Let's hope that rookie center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis works out a bit better.

    He's currently batting .275 with seven home runs and 25 RBI on the year, and has yet to disappoint so far.

    He's not quite having the monster season that former Mets center fielder Carlos Beltran is, but he's done more than enough keep to Mets fans content for now.

    He's a very solid option in some of the deeper, NL-only fantasy leagues.

19. Jesus Montero (C/DH, Seattle Mariners)

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    The Seattle Mariners have been doing all they can to make sure they keep the bat of rookie Jesus Montero in the lineup.

    They've had to use him at catcher during some interleague games, but he has already solidified his spot at designated hitter for years to come.

    Can you say "Edgar Martinez" anyone?

    He has eight home runs and 28 RBI on the year thus far, but needs to boost his .249 average a bit in the second half of the season.

    Still, not bad numbers for a rookie catcher who plays a position that is always tough to fill.

    He should be able to bring up that average and be a solid starter by the end of the season in most leagues.

18. Felix Doubront (SP, Boston Red Sox)

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    Felix Doubront is the first of our left-handed hurlers to make the list.

    The Red Sox rookie has done a nice job in Josh Beckett's absence this season, getting off to a great start at 8-4.

    His 4.42 ERA isn't phenomenal, but he's still blowing the ball by batters with 91 Ks on the year.

    Expect that ERA to drop as the season goes on and consider him a safe pickup if you need some depth and some strikeouts out of your starting rotation.

17. Quintin Berry (OF, Detroit Tigers)

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    Quintin Berry of the Detroit Tigers is hitting .295 with a .385 OBP and 12 stolen bases after just his first month in the big leagues.

    With his blazing speed and high on base percentage, you can expect at least 20-30 more steals on the season out of this youngster.

    He's still probably flying under the radar in most leagues, so grab him while you can if you're team is lacking in the steal department.

16. Wilin Rosario (C, Colorado Rockies)

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    In 2012, Wilin Rosario leads all of the major league rookies with 13 home runs as we approach the half-way mark.

    His 35 RBI on the year tie him for second amongst rookies with Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland Athletics.

    Rosario has emerged as a top 10 catcher in every league, but like Montero, needs to improve upon his .246 batting average going forward.

    Fantasy owners must be happy with the production they're getting out of this young catcher regardless, especially considering the lack of depth at the position.

    Keep in mind, Colorado's thin air is always home run friendly!

15. Trevor Bauer (SP, Arizona Diamondbacks)

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    Trevor Bauer has started only one game so far this season, allowing two runs in four innings and earning a no decision in his first outing.

    That lone four inning start, however, is not the reason he has earned a spot on this list.

    Bauer started the season in Double A and Triple A ball with a stellar 11-1 record and 2.23 ERA before being called up to the majors.

    If he can keep throwing like he did in the minors and fellow rookie Wade Miley can keep up his performance, than the Diamondbacks may actually have an outside shot at earning a playoff berth this year.

    Keep your eye on Bauer over his next few starts to see how he adjusts to the big leagues.

14. Matt Moore (SP, Tampa Bay Rays)

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    Sure he's only 5-5 on the year with a 4.17 ERA, but Matt Moore also has 93 Ks in his rookie campaign.

    His 8.81 K/9 ratio ranks him among the top 20 pitchers in the majors and he hasn't quite found his best stuff yet.

    It is very possible that Moore pulls out another 10 wins before season's end, and it's even more likely that he mows down another 100+ batters before it's all said and done.

    Consider him to be a solid third or fourth starter in most fantasy leagues.

13. Anthony Rizzo (1B, Chicago Cubs)

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    Anthony Rizzo finally got the call up to Chicago roughly a week ago.

    I'd say it was well deserved, considering he hit .342 with 23 HR in Triple A this year.

    In his first six games as a pro, he's continued his offensive attack going 7-23 with two dingers and five RBI.

    I highly doubt he'll continue to average one home run every three games, but he does have the power to keep driving the ball every now and then.

    Not to mention he'll have plenty of RBI opportunities too, considering he's now hitting in the heart of the Cubs' order.

12. Jose Quintana (SP, Chicago White Sox)

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    Jose Quinatana has only taken the mound in nine games so far this season, starting seven of them.

    His 2.19 ERA and very impressive 3.22 K/BB ratio lead me to believe that he'll be seeing plenty of time on the hill from here on out.

    Add him to the list of talented young lefties who really know how to bring it, and add him wish list if he can keep these early numbers up.

11. Mike Fiers (SP. Milwaukee Brewers)

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    Another relatively new face in the MLB this season is Milwaukee's starting pitcher Mike Fiers.

    Fiers too has only started six games so far this year, but he's gone 3-2 with a 2.29 ERA in those starts. In 39.1 innings pitched, he's recorded 41 Ks and boasts a 1.07 WHIP.

    He's another quality pitching prospect that owners should look into if he can continue to produce this effectively over a longer period of time.

10. Jarrod Parker (SP, Oakland Athletics)

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    In 13 starts this year, Jarrod Parker has gone 5-3 with a 2.46 ERA for the Oakland Athletics.

    He has 61 Ks with a 1.22 WHIP on the season and has won four of his last five decisions.

    He's going to be heading into the All-Star break with a full head of steam, so let's hope that this rookie doesn't start to cool down.

    He's looking like a promising pickup for any team currently plagued by starting pitching.

9. Robbie Ross (RP, Texas Rangers)

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    Robbie Ross may be a rookie, but he has the composure of a professional.

    The 23-year-old lefty specialist has worked wonders out of the bullpen for Texas this season and has not allowed a run since May.

    His 1.03 ERA and 6-0 record speak for themselves as he has blown away all expectations for his rookie year.

    His 43.2 innings pitched is the highest among American League relievers this season and he has proven to be a highly reliable relief pitcher in any league.

8. Ryan Cook (RP, Oakland Athletics)

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    Ryan Cook may not be the most talked about rookie in the MLB this season, but he is one of only four who are going to the All-Star game.

    The Oakland Athletics newest closer boasts a 1.54 ERA on the year with a 0.94 WHIP and seven saves.

    The USC alumnus did not look great when he was brought up at the end of last season, but he came back a different man in 2012.

    Expect his saves to increase, but only as that's also contingent upon the A's being able to hand him a lead.

7. Bryce Harper (OF, Washington Nationals)

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    Everyone knew that this kid could was going to be good.

    The only questions were how good? And how quick?

    Bryce Harper is an all-around player from Nevada who is best known for his big-bat and constant hustle.

    At just 19 years old, he has already proved that he has more than enough talent to play with the big boys.

    The first pick of the 2010 MLB Draft has eight home runs and 22 RBI with a .276 BA so far this season.

    Expect these numbers to only get better as he gets more and more comfortable with major league pitching.

6. Yoenis Cespedes (OF, Oakland Athletics)

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    Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes drew a lot of attention from major league scouts this past offseason.

    The super athletic outfielder has already begun to show his raw power, belting nine home runs and bringing in 35 RBI on the season thus far.

    He's hitting .282 on the season as well, showing that he has the glorified combination of both power and consistency when he steps up to the plate.

    His average won't change much, and expect Cespedes to have over 20 home runs and close to 80 RBI by the end of the season.

5. Will Middlebrooks (3B, Boston Red Sox)

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    The Boston Red Sox have officially gotten 10 years younger at third base after sending Kevin Youkilis to the Chicago White Sox last week.

    Will Middlebrooks has given the team all they could hope for so far this year, shining with his .298 batting average in contrast to Youkilis' career-worst .233.

    He currently leads all rookies with 37 RBI and is ranked second in HR with 10 to his credit thus far.

    If the Red Sox have enough faith in him to get rid of their fan-favorite third baseman, then there must be a future for this kid in Boston.

4. Lance Lynn (SP, St. Louis Cardinals)

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    The 6'6" rookie right-hander got off to a phenomenal start this season going 6-0 with a 1.40 ERA in his first six games.

    In 10 outings since then, he's gone 4-4 while bumping that ERA up to 3.62 on the year.

    He's looked really sharp in a few of those outings, however, striking out batters in the double digits on multiple occasions.

    We'll see if this midseason break does him any good, but he could be flirting with 20 wins and 200 Ks by the time September comes around.

    He's one of four rookies who earned themselves an All-Star bid in 2012.

3. Yu Darvish (SP, Texas Rangers)

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    Yu Darvish is the best pitcher we've seen out of Japan in quite some time.

    He's started his career in the majors with a 10-5 record and a 3.95 ERA.

    His 10.26 K/9 ratio is among the top five in the league and he ranks third in the MLB with 117 strikeouts.

    He is currently one of five finalists in the voting for the last spot on the AL All-Star team, and he's been an integral part of the Texas Rangers starting rotation that has been plagued by injury.

    He could very easily be a 20-game winner by season's end and there is no doubt that he'll break the 200 K mark before it's all said and done.

2. Wade Miley (SP, Arizona Diamondbacks)

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    With Ian Kennedy's pedestrian numbers not living up to last year's performance, Wade Miley has stepped up big time for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

    Miley has filled some pretty big shoes with his 2.87 ERA over 16 starts this season.

    His 9-4 record on the year places him sixth in the NL in wins while his 1.06 WHIP ranks eighth.

    The rookie left-hander's most impressive stat however might be his 3.47 K/BB ratio.

    The 25-year-old lefty has also only allowed one steal against him so far this season, with the other four attempted thieves being caught in the act.

    He's a quality starter that any fantasy owner should covet for the second half of the year.

1. Mike Trout (OF, Los Angeles Angels)

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    Bryce Harper may have had all the hype leading up to the season, but Mike Trout has officially taken the spotlight.

    This man right here can do it all.

    Trout is currently running away from the pack in the AL Rookie of the Year race hittting .339 with nine home runs, 33 RBI, and 22 stolen bases thus far.

    He is a five-tool player who is expected to be a staple point in the Los Angeles Angels' lineup and outfield for years to come.

    His impressive numbers earned him a spot in this year's All-Star game, making him one of four Angels (Pujols not included) to make the AL squad.

    He's a top 10 overall player in all fantasy leagues who is well worth trading for at this point.