This is the second part of a short series looking at my Top-20 Dynasty League prospects for the 2013 season. You can view the players from 20-11 here.
10. Miguel Sano, 3B/1B, Twins - Sano led the Midwest League in home runs (28 in 129 games) and total bases in 2012. He also tied for second in the league in strikeouts. Sano, 19, is a free swinger with crazy elite power. His value certainly depends on how that aspect of his game develops, and some fear that his approach may ultimately be his undoing. Time will tell as Sano is a few years away from the big leagues, but you don't see teenagers with this type of power often.
9. Taijuan Walker, RHP, Mariners - Walker has been on my radar since his impressive turn in the Midwest League in 2011 (2.89 ERA, 113:39 K:BB in 96.2 innings), but after making 25 starts at Double-A as a 19-year-old he's getting plenty of attention now. There is some risk here because he's a bit raw (loose with delivery/command) and will need more time in the minors, but he has the potential to be an ace down the line.
8. Zack Wheeler, RHP, Mets - The Giants have won two of the past three World Series titles, but in between they traded Wheeler straight up for Carlos Beltran in an ill fated attempt to make the playoffs. Wheeler is going to make them start regretting the deal even more at some point this summer when he takes his excellent four-pitch arsenal to Flushing. Wheeler has elite fastball velocity, but he could use a few Triple-A starts to work on his command. The Giants were smart enough to draft Wheeler sixth overall in 2009, but don't make the same mistake they did. Wheeler shouldn't be traded in a dynasty league right now unless you're absolutely sure the move will win you the league.
7. Gerrit Cole, RHP, Pirates - Cole, the first overall pick in 2011 from UCLA, started 2012 in High-A before spending half of the season in Double-A and even making one start in Triple-A. His stuff was good (three above average pitches) and the results were pretty good (136:45 K:BB in 132 innings), but Cole is a guy with ace potential and he didn't really dominate. Entering his age-22 season, he's looking to show even more. Cole's massive frame will allow him to handle heavy workloads for many years.
6. Dylan Bundy, RHP, Orioles - Bundy, 20, made it all the way to the big leagues in his first professional season of baseball, but even with those extra five outs he got in the majors he only threw 105.1 innings all season thanks to the organization limit his outings. The piggyback start system is used in the low minors to keep innings down and it works, but I'm not sure how exactly that helps Bundy contribute to the Orioles in the second half of 2013 or in 2014. A starter needs a base of innings to build from at some point because I'm sure they'd like to avoid a big innings jump that may cause him to miss time. I'm obviously sold on him in the long term, but skeptical about his immediate future. How much will they use him? How effective is he even going to be without his cutter?
5. Wil Myers, OF, Rays - Myers returned from a knee injury that cut short his 2011 to mash and hit .314/.387/.600 across Double-A and Triple-A while taking home Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year award. It's a safe assumption that Myers is going to hit for average and power at the next level, but unless he signs a seven-year deal with the Rays he won't be there before June. Once he's actually in the lineup, though, I expect him to hit at least .280 with power the rest of the way and be a middle-of-the-order mainstay for many years in Tampa.
4. Xander Bogaerts, SS/3B, Red Sox - In 127 games across High-A and Double-A, Bogaerts hit .307/.373/.523 with 60 extra-base hits (20 home runs), and 81 RBI. Then he turned 20 last October. Bogaerts is a big shortstop right now and most see his future at third base. Considering the offensive baseline for each position stinks (though shortstop is worse), it doesn't really factor into his overall value. Bogaerts is going to hit so well it won't matter. This is a perennial .300 hitter with power, the fact he even has a chance to stick as a shortstop is merely icing on the cake at this point.
3. Jurickson Profar, SS, Rangers - Profar does a lot of things that are great but won't help your fantasy team so much. He has plate discipline, takes walks, plays a good shortstop, has a good arm, has good makeup, and speaks many different languages. He will still help your fantasy team quite a bit with his combination of decent home-run power and speed. Profar also hit .281 as a 19-year-old in Double-A and don't forget about the walks in OBP leagues. With Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler still in place, I anticipate a return to the minors, but he could be a difference maker once the opportunity presents itself.
2. Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals - Taveras destroyed Double-A in 2012 hitting .321/.380/.572 in 124 games in the Texas League, so unless you're starting up a dynasty league it'll be impossible to acquire him. His bat is elite thanks to wicked bat speed and a ton of raw power. The swing is violent, but not in a way that takes away from his game. This is a franchise changing type player. He's going to be an absolute stud.
1. Billy Hamilton, OF, Reds - Some scouts questioned if Hamilton could get on base at the higher levels after posting a .340 OBP in the Midwest League in 2011. Last year, he hit .311/.410/.420 in 135 games across High-A and Double-A. Oh, and he also stole 155 bases. Hamilton isn't going to help you in the power department or driving in runs, but he tops the list because of the combination of his off-the-charts speed with his ability to hit for average and get on base. Being in the Reds lineup probably isn't going to hurt either. This man is going to absolutely dominate the stolen base category and be excellent in runs scored while providing a good batting average.
One last note:
Looking at prospects for real life baseball purposes and for fantasy drafts are very different. In the real world, Profar's positional and defensive value might move him up above a guy like Taveras, the prototypical fantasy basher. For real baseball purposes, I would look more at the overall future potential of the prospects regardless of their respective timetables or specific roadblocks in their organization. For fantasy, I try to find players who I think can carve out a realistic major league role in the next one or two seasons. It sounds obvious, but players in the majors are going to help your fantasy team more than the guys still in the minors. I loosely define these dynasty rankings as which players I think will provide the most value over the next five years (hence the impetus put on arriving to the majors soon), but even for just this year I believe Hamilton and Taveras are only mere injuries away from becoming the darlings of the 2013 fantasy season.
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