Fantasy Baseball Player Prospecting: MLB draft picks 1-5, Nick Castellanos, Trevor Bauer

by Chris Hadorn on June 5, 2012 @ 00:32:30 PDT's Fantasy Baseball Player Prospecting series highlights the exploits of minor league baseball players, including top MLB prospects. Find out who'll make an impact, whether it's in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball game next week or in your fantasy baseball keeper league two years from now.

For hardcore dynasty players, the draft presents an opportunity to add new stars. The top five picks yesterday aren't sure things, but they have real fantasy potential.

1. Houston Astros: Carlos Correa, SS, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy

Correa is a well-rounded shortstop who has a chance to hit for average and power as well as run a little. Already 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, Correa could outgrow the position, but his defense draws rave reviews so don't worry about that just yet.

In a strictly offensive comparison, Buxton is probably a better bat to bet on right now. But Correa has positional value working in his favor, and his strong makeup makes him a safe play for a high-school-age pick.

Best-case, prime-season output: .300 BA, 20 HR, 80 RBI, 95 R, 10 SB

2. Minnesota Twins: Byron Buxton, OF, Appling County HS (Ga.)

Buxton has hands down the highest ceiling in the draft. The 6-foot-2, 170-pound center fielder is a five-tool talent who has a chance to be a five-category player in fantasy baseball.

Buxton's plus wheels should immediately impact games when he makes his professional debut, but it might take some time for his raw power to come into play. He has lightning-fast bat speed that he generates with little effort, so the tools are there for it to be great. It's just a matter of translating those elite skills in real games against professional pitching.

Best-case, prime-season output: .300 BA, 25 HR, 100 RBI, 105 R, 30 SB

3. Seattle Mariners: Mike Zunino, C, Florida

Although not the sexiest pick of the draft, Zunino is safer than the previous two because of his track record versus collegiate pitching. He's much closer to the majors. Zunino doesn't have standout tools, but he is smart and projects as an above-average offensive catcher.

This season, the Florida junior hit .316 with 18 homers, 60 RBIs, 50 runs scored, nine steals and a 1.055 OPS in 231 at-bats. Lauded for his ability to work with a pitching staff, Zunino is being projected as a catching mainstay who can help develop the Mariners' promising stash of young arms.

Best-case, prime-season output: .280 BA, 20 HR, 80 RBI, 75 R

4. Baltimore Orioles: Kevin Gausman, RHP, LSU

In 115 2/3 innings this season, the draft-eligible sophomore went 11-1 with a 2.72 ERA and a 128:27 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Gausman features a heavy mid-90s fastball, an effective two-seamer and a plus changeup.

The big knock on Gausman is his lack of a quality breaking pitch to complement his fastball-changeup combo. The 6-foot-4, 185-pound righty has a smooth, easy delivery, and some feel his velocity still has room to grow into the high 90s.

Best-case, prime-season role: No. 2 starter.

5. Kansas City Royals: Kyle Zimmer, RHP, San Francisco

Zimmer raised eyebrows early this spring when he enjoyed an uptick in velocity, hitting the high 90s on the radar gun in some early starts. An athletic pitcher who easily repeats his delivery, Zimmer attacks hitters with a mid-90s fastball, a nasty curveball, a solid changeup and a usable slider.

The 6-foot-4, 200-pound righty can throw all four of his pitches consistently for strikes. Despite suffering a hamstring injury late in the year that affected his performance, Zimmer managed to register a 2.85 ERA and an eye-popping 104:17 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 88 1/3 innings this season.

Best-case, prime-season role: No. 2 starter


Yesterday the Detroit Tigers promoted hitting prospect extraordinaire Nick Castellanos from high Single-A Lakeland to Double-A Erie.

The 20-year-old third baseman posted the minors' highest batting average (.405) this season in the Florida State League, which is historically a difficult circuit on hitters.

In addition to batting average, Castellanos led the FSL in slugging percentage (.553), on-base percentage (.461), OPS (1.014) and hits (87).

It will be interesting to see what the Tigers do when Castellanos is ready. They already have too many bats at the corner infield spots (Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez), and their defense has already suffered from their attempts to accommodate their superstars' wishes.


According to reports, right-handed pitching prospect Trevor Bauer may be called up soon.

No word on whom the Arizona Diamondbacks would replace to accommodate Bauer if the reports are true. Arizona starter Wade Miley (2.72 ERA) has exceeded expectations since entering the rotation, and even veteran lefty finesse pitcher Joe Saunders (3.65 ERA) has pitched well enough to stick around.

Since being promoted to Triple-A Reno, Bauer is 2-0 with a 2.52 ERA and a 31:12 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 25 innings.

Bauer has the nasty stuff to be a top-10 or top-15 strikeout artist in the majors immediately, but he could be a shaky play in MLB-universe leagues because of his walk issues.

If Bauer is still available in one's deep mixed league, this might be the last chance to scoop him up.

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About Chris Hadorn

Chris Hadorn has covered minor league and amateur prospects for more than a decade. He writes for San Diego's North County Times and has been a KFFL fantasy baseball contributor since 2006.

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