Let’s take a look at the Top 20 prospects for 2010. Keep in mind, this list is meant look at the players with the best opportunity to make an impact for fantasy owners in 2010. With that said, away we go (the entire list is Top 50, which is available to those who purchase the Rotoprofessor 2010 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for just $5):
- Jason Heyward – Atlanta Braves – 20 – OF
He is among the best prospects in the game, but at 20-years old you have to wonder if the team will push him to the Major Leagues or give him more time to develop at Triple-A. Considering he’s had just 173 AB above Single-A, I wouldn’t expect him to break camp with the team. Even when he gets there, he has the potential to struggle, though he has shown signs of greatness. He hasn’t developed his power yet, though it is coming along (his flyball rate continues to improve, up to 37.5% last season leading to 17 HR). His average in 2009 was buoyed by a tremendous BABIP (.346). Is that impossible to see him repeat? He’s got all the talent and certainly is worth taking a flyer on, as he is the premier prospect in the game.
- Stephen Strasburg – Washington Nationals – 21 – SP
There are a ton of questions on if he will break camp with the Nationals or not, but when you have a pitcher armed with a 100 mph fastball on the fast track, all owners must take notice. He has the potential to be among the elite as soon as 2011.
- Madison Bumgarner – San Francisco Giants – 20 – SP
With Randy Johnson’s retirement, Bumgarner assumes the fifth starter duties in San Francisco. After going 12-2 with a 1.85 ERA over 131.1 innings (9-1 with a 1.93 ERA at Double-A), he has little to prove in the Minor Leagues. He’s not going to bring elite strikeouts (at least not yet, with just 92 in the Minor Leagues), but he certainly has the stuff and the position to be successful.
- Neftali Feliz – Texas Rangers – 21 – SP
He’s proven what he can do in a Major League bullpen (1.74 ERA, 11.32 K/9 over 20 relief appearances), but will the Rangers give him a chance to open the season in the rotation? We’ve seen a similar situation with Joba Chamberlain and the Yankees, but I don’t see the Rangers repeating their mistakes. I’m thinking the Rangers will utilize him in both roles, depending on the number of innings they want to allow him to throw, meaning he’s likely to be worth using at some point in 2010. As it is, with his arm, even if he’s in setup duty, he’s going to have some value.
- Brian Matusz – Baltimore Orioles – 22 – SP
The Orioles 2008 first round draft pick, Matusz wasted no time flying through the system and reaching the Majors in 2009. He may have struggled at times (4.63 ERA and 1.48 WHIP over 44.2 innings), but don’t be misled. He was hindered by a .343 BABIP, certainly showing that a lot of his problems were related to bad luck. He’s got tremendous upside and should spend the season in the Baltimore rotation. You are going to watch him closely against the AL East foes, but against others he easily could prove usable.
- Wade Davis – Tampa Bay Rays – 23 – SP
After exploding onto the scene in 2009 (3.72 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 8.92 K/9), he has the inside track on the Rays fifth starter spot to open the season. For his minor league career he had a 3.29 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 8.7 K/9, so his success should not be all that surprising. While facing the Red Sox and Yankees on a regular basis is a scary thought, he will have the opportunity and ability to thrive in his rookie campaign.
- Alcides Escobar – Milwaukee Brewers – 23 – SS
One of the new “big three” shortstops and has as much talent as any of them, though the big question is where he will bat in the Brewers lineup and if they actually take the handcuffs off and allow him to run wild, utilizing his immense speed (42 SB in 430 AB at Triple-A in ’09). He’s guaranteed to start, with J.J. Hardy shipped to Minnesota, meaning he is worth using in all formats.
- Carlos Santana – Cleveland Indians – 23 – C
He has the potential to be among the best hitting catchers in the game. Can you imagine that the Dodgers were willing to part with him as part of the Casey Blake trade? He hit .290 with 23 HR, 97 RBI and 91 R at Double-A in ’09 and considering Lou Marson is now all that stands in his way, it’s just a matter of time before he makes a major impact in ’10.
- Daniel Hudson – Chicago White Sox – 23 – SP
This ranking may be a bit aggressive, but the 2008 fifth round draft pick is on the fast track. He was impressive in 2009, posting a 2.32 ERA over 147.1 minor league innings (including a 1.60 ERA in nine Double-A starts). He has impeccable control and while Freddy Garcia may break camp with the White Sox, it’s just a matter of time before Hudson assumes the role.
- Aroldis Chapman – Cincinnati Reds – 24 – SP
We all know his story at this point, big arm but does he have the control to excel? While he may not open the season in the Reds rotation, you don’t give a pitcher that big of a contract if you don’t plan on using him. He’ll be in the Reds rotation at some point in 2010.
- Scott Sizemore – Detroit Tigers – 25 – 2B
He’s in line to open the season as the Tigers starting second baseman, which immediately makes him a player to target. He may not produce overwhelming statistics, but he’s a solid option as a middle infielder thanks to his potential to go 10/10 with a solid average.
- Pedro Alvarez – Pittsburgh Pirates – 23 – 3B
The perennially rebuilding Pirates easily could turn to their 2008 First Round Pick at some point in 2010. He reached Double-A in his first pro season, hitting .333 with 13 HR and 40 RBI in 222 AB (though the average came courtesy of a .407 BABIP). Overall he hit 27 HR with 95 RBI in 465 AB (while hitting .288). He has a ton of potential, though the strikeouts (26.6% at Double-A) will likely make it difficult for him to hit for a good average initially. Still, with Andy LaRoche the only thing standing in his way, he’s going to get a shot at some point in ’10.
- Justin Smoak – Texas Rangers – 23 – 1B
The only thing blocking his way of potentially making an impact is a slow start from Chris Davis. How unlikely does that seem? However, after hitting just .244 with 4 HR in 197 AB in the high-powered Pacific Coast League, he has his own concerns hanging over his head.
- Brett Wallace – Toronto Blue Jays – 23 – 3B
He is in-line to open the season as the Blue Jays DH, but the power has not yet developed (28 career minor league HR in 755 AB). He also doesn’t appear likely to hit for an extreme average, meaning he’s a marginal option at best.
- Desmond Jennings – Tampa Bay Rays – 23 – OF
He could produce a similar line to Carl Crawford (in just 115 AB at Triple-A he hit .325 with 3 HR and 15 SB in ’09). That really should tell fantasy owners all they need to know about him. It’s debatable if he’s the best OF prospect or not, but without a doubt he’s a top prospect for 2010. With Matt Joyce and Gabe Kapler all that’s standing in his way, it is just a matter of time, at least you’d think. Unfortunately, at this point, word is that it will take something extraordinary to get him into the lineup in 2010, so time will tell.
- Chris Carter – Oakland Athletics – 23 – 1B
Earlier in the offseason it appeared that Carter could break camp with the team, but their moves may have put a slight kink in those plans. There are only so many available positions and with the slew of outfielders, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Jake Fox and Jack Cust all looking for AB, it’s likely someone (probably Fox) opens the season at 1B. His power makes him worth monitoring, however, because it may just be a matter of time. At Double-A he hit .337 with 24 HR, 101 RBI, 108 R in just 490 AB.
- Austin Jackson – Detroit Tigers – 23 – OF
The opportunity is going to be there, thanks to being shipped to Detroit in exchange for Curtis Granderson. Is he going to be successful, however? I’ve never been the biggest fan of his as there as several questions surrounding his bat. He has little power. He strikes out way too much (24.4% strikeout rate at Triple-A in ’09). He’s got speed, but that’s just not enough to make him a solid gamble. Think Cameron Maybin, meaning it’s going to take some time for him to potentially reach his full potential.
- Buster Posey – San Francisco Giants – 23 – C
Had Bengie Molina not resigned with the Giants, Posey would have been a sure fire Top 10 prospect, even without the power potential. Now, once again being completely blocked, he’s ticketed for full-time duty at Triple-A unless the Giants need a spark (or an injury necessitates playing time). If you are looking for help in 2010, he’s just not the answer anymore.
- Jeremy Hellickson – Tampa Bay Rays – 22 – SP
Wade Davis gets the attention given his production in 2009, but Hellickson has just as much upside, all he needs is the opportunity to succeed. Over his Minor League career (461.0 innings) he’s posted a 2.71 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 9.9 K/9. In any other organization he’d be given his chance out of Spring Training. In Tampa Bay, he’ll just have to bide his time.
- Gaby Sanchez – Florida Marlins – 26 – 1B
The Marlins did not address their gaping hole at 1B, meaning that one of their two young prospects will get a chance to break camp with the team. Having already gotten a cup of coffee with the squad, it would appear Sanchez gets the first look. He makes good contact, giving him a chance to hit for a decent average, but there isn’t much power there to get you excited about.
What are your thoughts on this list? Who was left off? Who is ranked too high?
Think someone is missing? It’s possible they just missed out on cracking the Top 20. If you want to see the entire Top 50 list, you can do so by purchasing the Rotoprofessor 2010 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for just $5 by clicking here.
For more looks at prospects, you can check out the following articles: