Welcome aboard. Throughout the season this space will document and examine the prospects of baseball’s top, well…prospects. Were going to start with a top 25 of youngsters and follow that up with a weekly top 10 prospect power ranking (PPR from here on out) column. Since prospects come and go with great regularity, we will keep only the most legit of minor leaguers as the focal in order to maintain continuity. These baseball rankings will be fluid and ever changing, so expect fresh and insightful content every time out. Now that we got that housecleaning out of the way, lets dive right into the inaugural top 25 for the beginning of the 2011 season. We’ll begin with 13-25, to be followed shortly by ranks 1-12.
25. Zach Britton (Bal) – Britton is expected to begin his 2011 season at AAA Norfolk, but don’t be surprised to see him make an impact at the big league level sometime this season. He was very impressive last season pitching at AA Bowie and Norfolk and has the Orioles thinking they have the makings of a dominant rotation for years to follow.
24. Shelby Miller (STL) – Miller is projected to start the season with Single-A Palm Beach and hopes to make an impact this spring in camp.Riding high off a strong finish to his first professional campaign in 2010, Miller will be looking to continue his trajectory and make a splash come September.
23. Jacob Turner (Det) – Turner is poised to start his season off in AAA Toledo, but will be the first one on the scene should the Tigers require an injury replacement for their rotation. With a lightning quick fastball and a devastating curve ball, Turner is the future of the Tigers rotation and should continue to anchor that staff for years to come.
22. Michael Pineda (Sea) – Pineda is scheduled to begin the season at AAA Tacoma, but will be given every opportunity to win a spot in the Mariners rotation coming out of spring training. Pineda has dominated every step of this way in the minors and projects as a solid number two starter behind ace Felix Hernandez. He could be a fantasy baseball sleeper when he makes it to the show.
21. Eric Hosmer (KC) – Hosmer is projected to begin his season at AAA Omaha, but as always these situations are fluid. With an impressive power stroke and above average defense, he is the future for the Royals at first base. Once he pushes his way into the big league lineup the Royals plan to move Billy Butler to DH in order to open up a spot at first. That just goes to show how highly they think of this young man.
20. Brett Lawrie (Tor) – Lawrie is slated to start the season with the Jays AAA squad in Las Vegas, but he may be dawning a Toronto unicorn rather quickly. A young man not short on confidence, Lawrie is pushing hard to contribute at the big league level this season and the Jays might not be able to hold him back if he continues to rake in the manner has lately. While he has yet to be penciled into any specific position, most feel his future is brightest at one of the corner outfield spots. Count on seeing plenty more of this youngster in the near future.
19. Kyle Gibson (Min) – Gibson is poised to begin this season with the Twins AAA affiliate in Rochester. Gibson slid deep into the first round of the 2009 draft and right into the Twins lap due to a stress fracture suffered towards the end of his collegiate career. After playing catch up and getting back on track the last few seasons, Gibson looks ready to contribute to the big league club by the end of the season at the latest.
18. Casey Kelly (SD) – Kelly is projected to open up this season with the Padres AA affiliate in San Antonio. Casey Kelly was the prize haul of the Adrian Gonzalez trade this past winter and the Padres expect big things from the youngster. A converted shortstop, Kelly has an advanced arsenal of pitches and is expected to anchor the Padres rotation and possibly your fantasy team for many years.
17. Jesus Montero (NYY) – Montero was originally expected to begin the season in the big leagues with the Yankees, but the signing of Russell Martin has left that projection in doubt. There is no doubt Montero is ready to contribute now and with Martin’s checkered injury history, don’t count Montero out in his quest to play in the show this season.
16. Jose Iglesias (Bos) – Iglesias is slated to start the season with the Red Sox AAA affiliate in Pawtucket, but his arrival in Boston is not long off. A slick fielding shortstop in the mold of Omar Vizquel, Boston figures to be set at the position for years to come. As soon as his bat catches up to his fielding prowess, his spot in Boston’s lineup will be secure.
15. Jameson Taillon (Pit) – Taillon is prepared to begin the season with the Pirates Single-A affiliate in West Virginia since he got no experience last season on account of a lengthy contract dispute. His Major League debut is likely a few years away, but Taillon was unanimously regarded as the best high school pitcher in the 2010 Draft and his stock is as high as it gets.
14. Freddie Freeman (Atl) – Freeman is poised to begin the season with the Braves AAA affiliate in Gwinnett, but many folks think he could be starting at first base in Atlanta by the middle of the year if not sooner. A smooth swinging lefthander, Freeman has drawn comparisons to Will Clark, which is obviously lofty praise. You can count on seeing him with the big club sooner rather than later.
13. Tyler Matzek (Col) – Matzek projects to begin the upcoming campaign with the Rockies AA squad in Tulsa. A hard throwing lefty who can mix in a whole host of secondary pitches, Matzek figures to be a top of the rotation starter for Colorado and your fantasy lineup for many years. Still a year away from the show, Matzek will continue to dominate the lower levels until his eventual call-up and subsequent explosion onto the scene.
Tags: 2011 fantasy baseball, 2011 fantasy baseball prospects, Brett Lawrie, Casey Kelly, Eric Hosmer, Fantasy Baseball, fantasy baseball risers, Fantasy Baseball Sleepers, Freddie Freeman, Jacob Turner, Jameson Taillon, Jesus Montero, Jose Iglesias, Kyle Gibson, Michael Pineda, Shelby Miller, Tyler Matzek, Zach Britton