By Rob Gordon and Jeremy Deloney
The minor-league staff at BaseballHQ.com has assembled the HQ100, a list of the top 100 prospects in the minor leagues for 2013. What follows is the cream of the crop - the Top 10 prospects in the game. These players are projected to have the most long-term impact on fantasy rosters over the next several years and should be on every fantasy player's radar.
New uni for Myers
Each player's snapshot includes a short scouting report, a note about where the player is expected to be assigned in 2013 (some are closer to the majors than others), and what to expect several years down the road, when the player reaches maturity at the MLB level.
For additional information including the entire HQ100, as well as the most complete daily fantasy baseball analysis, subscribe to BaseballHQ.com. Now, on to the list:
1. Jurickson Profar (SS, TEX)
Comments: Young and advanced infielder who bypassed High-A and was September 2012 callup. He has a myriad of skills and talent and projects as perennial All-Star. Mostly plays SS, but can slide over to 2B. Possesses excellent range and a strong arm along with nimble actions. Owns incredible bat speed, bat control, and pitch recognition. Could grow into plus power with natural strength and seems destined to be .300+ hitter.
Development Path: Unless Elvis Andrus is dealt, Profar will likely head to Triple-A to begin the season. The Rangers will have some difficult decisions to make if he continues to produce.
Fantasy Impact at Maturity: There are few questions about his game offensively or defensively. At his peak, he'll hit an easy .300 with 20 HR and 25+ SB.
2. Dylan Bundy (RHP, BAL)
Comments: Advanced and strong starter reached Baltimore at age 19. Few prospects can match his upside and ability to dominate. Despite a strict innings limit and pitch count, he easily worked way through minors due to his advanced repertoire. His plus-plus 93-98 mph fastball is thrown with and effortless delivery and command while his curveball and changeup also elicit swings and misses. Once he achieves consistency, Bundy should be an annual Cy Young contender.
Development Path: He has the skills to pitch in the big leagues now, but will likely begin 2013 in the minors to build up stamina and arm strength. He's likely a second-half call-up.
Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Bundy has ace stuff and should evolve into legitimate #1 starter who contends for strikeout titles.
3. Wil Myers (OF, TAM)
Comments: Natural-hitting prospect who finished second in minors in HR in 2012 and is banging on door for immediate big league success. He profiles as an ideal middle-of-order run producer with exceptional bat speed and strength. Myers should hit for both BA and power due to pitch recognition and plus hand-eye coordination. He offers slightly below average wheels, but has plus arm strength and instincts suitable for RF.
Development Path: He was the subject of trade rumors for much of the offseason, and the speculation came to fruition in his move from Kansas City to Tampa Bay. He has the talent to not only win a starting outfield job, but vie for Rookie of the Year.
Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Other than stolen bases, he should be a multi-category standout, particularly with BA and HR.
4. Gerrit Cole (RHP, PIT)
Comments: Cole has developed into the best pitching prospect in the NL. He is aggressive on the mound and comes after hitters with a plus 92-97 mph fastball that tops out at 100 mph. Cole also has nasty power slider, a good change-up, and a curveball. His command within the zone can be a bit iffy and he sometimes leaves pitches up in the zone, but his raw stuff lets him get away with it.
Development Path: Look for Cole to get a shot to make the Pirates starting rotation this spring. He likely needs a bit of additional seasoning at Triple-A and the Pirates will look to delay the start of his arbitration clock, but if Cole pitches up to his potential, it might be hard for the Pirates not to take him north.
Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Cole has the potential to be a true #1 starter and a stat stuffer. He doesn't miss as many bats as you would expect, but that should change as he becomes more consistent and improves his control. Look for a k/9 rate north of 9.0 with a low WHIP and plenty of wins. He also has the size and mentality to develop into a workhorse who logs plenty of innings.
5. Oscar Taveras (OF, STL)
Comments: Taveras has quickly developed into one of the top prospects in baseball. He has an aggressive approach at the plate and takes a viscous hack, but makes consistent contact and has good balance. Plus bat speed, excellent hand-eye coordination, and good strike zone judgment enable him to hit for power and average. A year ago, scouts wondered if he would hit for much power, but he responded by smacking 23 round-trippers at Double-A. Solid speed and a strong arm allow him to play all three OF positions.
Development Path: Taveras will likely start 2013 at Triple-A Memphis, but he is not going to need much more minor-league seasoning.
Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Taveras has the power, contact ability, and plate discipline need to hit for both power and average and could a multi-category fantasy stud.
6. Taijuan Walker (RHP, SEA)
Bauer power, even in AL
Comments: Walker bypassed High-A and pitched most of year at age 19 in Double-A in 2012. Few can match athleticism and upside and has potential for three above average offerings. An exceptional 92-97 mph fastball may be the best in the minors with explosive velocity and life. He can dominate with a hard curveball, but needs to find consistency. His clean, loose delivery and arm action and should lead to very high strikeout rates.
Development Path: He may not have dominated Double-A, but he may be given a shot in the Triple-A rotation to begin 2013. If not, he'll return to Jackson to add some polish.
Fantasy Impact at Maturity: With front-of-the-rotation stuff, he could win a lot of games while ranking among the league leaders in strikeouts. His stuff is tough to hit and his WHIP should be low as a result.
7. Trevor Bauer (RHP, CLE)
Comments: Bauer zoomed to big leagues with deep repertoire, but has trouble commanding the plate at times. He has two plus pitches in 90-96 mph fastball and a curveball. Both pitches register significant strikeouts while his slider and changeup are average pitches, with potential to become plus. He has dynamite stuff and pitch action, though needs to be more efficient with offerings.
Development Path: The Indians will give their new acquisition ample opportunity to win a rotation slot in spring training, though it's more likely he will begin the season in Triple-A. Barring a disaster, he'll pitch meaningful innings in Cleveland in 2013.
Fantasy Impact at Maturity: His walk rate could lead to an elevated WHIP, but his ERA and k/9 should be among the league leaders due to his nasty stuff.
8. Jose Fernandez (RHP, MIA)
Comments: Strong, powerful right-hander might have been the most impressive pitcher in the minors last year. Fernandez added velocity to his fastball as he gained strength, and the pitch is now a 93-97 mph sinker that tops out at 99. He also throws a late-breaking slider, a slow curveball, and an improved changeup. His formidable frame should allow him to work deep into games, though the Marlins have limited his work so far. He has a confidence and flair that rub some the wrong way, but he more than backs it up on the field.
Development Path: The Marlins would probably like to go a bit slower with Fernandez, but he continues to force their hand as he has dominated at every level. He's set to start at Double-A, but it would not be shocking to see Fernandez in the majors by the end of 2013.
Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Has the raw stuff and competitive make-up to be a true staff ace.
9. Travis d'Arnaud (C, NYM)
Comments: An agile and athletic backstop, d'Arnaud was having a standout season before his year ended in June with a knee injury. He offers all-around tools and skills that could lead to All Star campaigns. He controls the bat with strong swing and has average-to-plus power to all fields, though can sell out for pop. Quick hands and bat speed offer BA potential as well. Defensively, he has improved his blocking and receiving and has a plus, accurate arm.
Development Path: The trade to the Mets creates a potential opening for d'Arnaud to win the starting catching job. If he proves not ready, he'll be assigned to Triple-A Las Vegas.
Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Catchers who can hit for a high BA with plus HR potential are extremely valuable. He won't steal bases, but his defense has improved enough to warrant a full-time job behind the plate.
10. Miguel Sano (3B, MIN)
Comments: Sano is a big and powerful infielder who led the Low-A Midwest League in HR and was second in walks. Has produced consistent plus-plus power to all fields and should continue to grow. His selective and disciplined approach could eventually lead to higher BA, but his vicious swing does have holes. Runs fairly well for size, but not much of SB threat. Exhibits agility at 3B with cannon for arm, but likely to end up in OF corner.
Development Path: The logical next step is High-A where the expansive ballparks will be tested. He may only hit 20 HR in the Florida State League, but that will be massive. Sano is several years away from a big-league uniform.
Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Forty-plus HR isn't out of the question, though he'll need to make more contact to hit for a good batting average.
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