In 2010, Major League Baseball saw a mammoth influx of young talent, but fantasy baseball players can't expect that impact each year. Properly valuing rising farm players' talent, timetable and opportunity will help win your fantasy baseball league.
16. Brett Jackson, OF, Chicago Cubs
Coming out for the draft as a college junior in 2009, Jackson was known for his tools but wasn't considered a polished product at the plate. Jackson dispelled some of the criticism in his first full professional season, batting .297 with 12 home runs, 32 doubles, 14 triples, 66 RBIs, 30 steals, 73 walks and a .395 on-base percentage in 2010.
Jackson is a multi-faceted player who has the ceiling of an early-round mixed fantasy league star. However, he struck out a total of 126 times in 491 at-bats last year, and his average dropped to .276 in Double-A after posting a .316 mark in high Single-A. His batting average is still a concern, but his athleticism is going to translate into steals, runs scored and RBI opportunities right off the bat. He shows a lot of promise in the slugging department as well.
Last season the Cubs weren't shy when it came to aggressively promoting prospects (Starlin Castro, Andrew Cashner), so expect Jackson to figure into the Cubs' outfield equation sometime this season.
17. Wilin Rosario, C, Colorado Rockies
Mejia, Mets press Reset
Rosario is expected to be 100 percent by April after tearing the ACL in his right knee last August. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound catcher hit .285 with 19 home runs, 52 RBIs and an .894 OPS in only 270 at-bats at Double-A Tulsa last year. Rosario has the thunder in his bat to club 25 to 30 home runs in his prime, and that should translate well at the hitter-friendly confines of Coors Field. The Dominican is an excellent thrower but still needs some work blocking balls in the dirt, so the Rockies aren't ready to throw him to the fire just yet.
Following the departure of Miguel Olivo to Seattle, the Rockies are relying heavily on Chris Iannetta to rebound to his old form as their everyday catcher this year. If that experiment doesn't work out, Rosario could become a part of the Rockies' catching mix this year if he continues to rake in the Pacific Coast League. Beware that they also might stick one of their other younger catchers (Mike McKenry, Jordan Pacheco) as a stopgap until they deem Rosario ready.
18. Trayvon Robinson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Robinson enjoyed a breakout season in the California League in 2009, but because of the hitters' paradise stigma attached to the circuit, not many took his performance seriously. One year later, Robinson, 23, has surfaced as a prominent prospect following a season in which he hit .300 with nine homers, 57 RBIs, 38 steals, 73 walks and a .404 on-base percentage at Double-A Chattanooga.
The switch-hitter shows signs of developing into a solid major league leadoff hitter, but he probably still needs another year of seasoning. He still has problems with strikeouts (125 in 2010) and his base stealing needs some refinement. The Dodgers don't have the most desirable left field situation (Marcus Thames, Jay Gibbons) so don't count out Robinson playing his way onto the big league roster at some point; he'll at least be a decent candidate for a September call-up if he continues to grow.
19. Jenrry Mejia, SP, New York Mets
Even though his secondary stuff wasn't ready yet, Mejia was thrust into a big -league relief role last year, where the 20-year-old relied predominantly on his electric fastball. Many critics thought it was a wasted year for Mejia where he struggled in the majors (4.62 ERA) and logged only 42 1/3 innings in the minors to work on developing his pitches.
Now with general manager Sandy Alderson in charge, the Mets plan to take a more conservative approach with the Dominican right-hander and are committed to developing his craft as a starter at Triple-A Buffalo this season. Although Mejia's slider and changeup are not big-league ready, he still misses his share of bats with his fastball and induces a healthy percentage of groundballs. The 6-foot, 160-pound righty is still well ahead of the growth curve and has the talent to develop into a frontline starter.
20. Jarrod Parker, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks' top prospect missed the entire 2010 season due to Tommy John surgery. This spring Parker is slowly regaining his previous form; his fastball was recently clocked in the low to mid-90s during a Cactus League exhibition.
Prior to his injury, Parker's fastball sat consistently in the mid-90s, while both his slider and changeup were considered plus pitches. The ninth overall pick of the 2007 draft has the upside of an ace, but Arizona will bring the 22-year-old along slowly in the first half of the minor league season. If he flashes his old form and gets up to speed, Parker has a chance to make a second-half impact in Phoenix with the big-league club.