Most prospect lists have a criteria and this one is no different. This one is very simple, though, so don't get excited. I mean, do whatever. Here are my top 20 fantasy baseball dynasty league prospects for 2013:
20. Christian Yelich, OF, Marlins - Yelich is a gifted hitter. He makes a ton of hard contact and sprays the ball to all fields. He's going to hit above .300 with plenty of walks, so act accordingly in OBP leagues. He'll make his Double-A debut in 2013 after leading the Florida State League in slugging as a 20-year-old. For now, consider his home run upside in the 19-24 range at peak. Expect a lot of doubles and some stolen bases.
19. Archie Bradley, RHP, Diamondbacks - Bradley, the seventh overall pick in 2011, led the Midwest League in walks in his full-season debut, but it wasn't all bad. He was second in the league in strikeouts, made 27 starts (136 innings), and had a 28.2 K%. Bradley's raw stuff is elite. He can touch 98-99 mph with his fastball and regularly works 92-97 mph. Bradley's hard curveball is also a plus-plus pitch. He's got the size and frame to handle a ton of innings and he's going to miss a lot of bats. There's still front of the rotation potential here, but the command has to improve.
18. Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Diamondbacks - Skaggs started the season in Double-A (2.84 ERA in 13 starts) before promotions to Triple-A (2.91 ERA in nine starts) and the majors (5.83 ERA in six starts). He has a three-pitch mix of fastball (89-92 mph), big curveball, and changeup. Skaggs has the body to handle a big workload and, despite the lack of a big fastball, he'll still get strikeouts with his secondary offerings. He's currently penciled in as the fifth member of the Arizona rotation, but he can be a No. 3 starter soon enough.
17. Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pirates - The Pirates are taking their time with Taillon as he enters his age-21 season with just 17 innings above A-ball. Still, he pitched very well in those three Double-A starts (18:1 K:BB, 1.59 ERA, 0.70 WHIP) and likely won't need much more than another half season in the minors before he's ready. Taillon is similar to Bradley in that size, strength and a fastball-curveball 1-2 punch headline the package. Taillon gets the edge because he's a year ahead of Bradley and his floor is that much higher.
16. Trevor Bauer, RHP, Indians - Bauer doesn't have Taillon's ultimate upside, but he's closer to the majors and has a fairly high floor himself. Assuming he grabs a backend rotation spot out of spring training, he has the potential to be a No. 3 starter this year and even more in the future. Command will be important to watch as he sometimes struggles to find the zone with his fastball and tries to get batters to chase pitches once he's behind in the count, but the stuff is there. He just needs to make the most of his opportunity.
15. Jose Fernandez, RHP, Marlins - Primed to make his Double-A debut in 2013, Fernandez is coming off a season across two levels where he struck out 158 in 134 innings and posted 0.92 WHIP. He dominated, and he's clearly ready for the next test. They might have to bring him to the majors for that as Fernandez's fastball and curveball are so nasty that he can get away with a lacking changeup and pitchability in the minors. The Marlins aren't going to rush him to the majors, but he should get there sometime this summer.
14. Javier Baez, SS, Cubs - Baez showed very well as a 19-year-old in the Midwest League hitting .333/.383/.596 in 57 games. He has incredible bat speed and raw power that makes him one of the best prospects in the minors, but he'll need continued development to stay this high on the list. Baez struggled in the Florida State League at the end of the season and it's safe to say he'll start 2013 there. The tools are loud, but the overall game needs refining. ETA: 2015
13. Addison Russell, SS, Athletics - Russell, the 11th overall pick in 2012, made it to the Midwest League even faster than Baez, as he was still just 18 last year. Overall he hit .369/.432/.596 across three levels in 244 plate appearances and answered every question about him on draft day. He has a really nice swing and excellent bat speed. There are few up-the-middle players around with this type of potential.
12. Travis d'Arnaud, C, Mets - Despite my usual bias against catching prospects, d'Arnaud finds himself pretty high up on this list. Usually, I downgrade catchers for their propensity to get hurt (which d'Arnaud has been quite a bit in the past), but on the other hand the offensive baseline for a catcher is fairly low these days and he is very close to the big leagues. I even bought d'Arnaud for $1 in the RotoGraphs Expert Mock Auction. He better not get hurt again.
11. Shelby Miller, RHP, Cardinals - People still don't know what to think of Miller's unseemly first half in 2012, but nobody seems to mention it after he pitched his way to the big leagues in the second half (59.1 innings, 2.88 ERA, 70:7 K:BB). I made this list before Chris Carpenter's injury news broke, but now it seems Miller has the inside track to the fifth rotation spot to open the season. Obviously, that should only boost his value after getting his feet wet with two big league starts last season.
The top-10 portion of this list will be posted next week.
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