When it comes to prospects, timelines change all the time. Injury, exceptional performance, poor performance, or the needs of the parent club can all slow or expedite a prospect’s path to the Major Leagues.
In an attempt to give fans and fantasy players a gauge of when to expect prospects in the Majors, Baseball America attached an ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) with their write-ups for this year’s Top 100 Prospects list. Today, Down On The Farm looks at those players ranked inside the top 50 at the beginning of the year who had an ETA of 2013. I chose 2013 because this group is essentially players who were expected to be adding the final seasoning to their repertoires or profiles.
Players with a 2012 ETA are either no longer prospects, having reached the Majors, or probably have a well-publicized reason for not making it yet, whether it be injury or performance. For your reference, the players Baseball America listed as Top 50 prospects with a 2012 ETA who have not had significant time in the Major Leagues this year are: Julio Teheran (struggles), Trevor Bauer (organizational decision), Danny Hultzen (struggles, ETA too aggressive), Mike Montgomery (struggles), Manny Banuelos (lack of team need), Brad Peacock (struggles), and Arodys Vizcaino (injury). Players with a 2014 ETA were not expected to be on our radar quite yet, so if their projection is now 2013, they are likely a special case, and we’ll highlight them in the future. That is all to say…I couldn’t update on everyone, and those with a 2013 ETA seemed the most logical.
Top 50 Prospects, Pre-Season 2012, 2013 MLB ETA
Per Baseball America rankings.
#7. Jurickson Profar – The Rangers shortstop prospect is still just 19 but getting a taste of Major League life already as a September call-up. Profar’s glove profiles as extraordinary, and his bat held up at Double-A with a 129 wRC+ (.281/.368/.452 AVG/OBP/SLG triple-slash line). Profar has some power and will steal bases in the Majors, making him a potentially hot commodity in 2013 drafts due to positional scarcity. While he hasn’t played at Triple-A yet, the Rangers will likely try to make room for him next year, potentially moving Elvis Andrus and/or Ian Kinsler to new positions.
#8. Shelby Miller – The Cardinals’ top pitching prospect is getting a September taste of the Majors out of the bullpen even though his 2012 was not as successful as the Cardinals had hoped. His 4.74 ERA and 4.48 FIP were disappointing, but he still grades out well in the “stuff” department, striking out 10.54 per 9. The Cardinals have their entire rotation locked up beyond this year, so Miller will probably be forced to compete for a spot in the spring.
#10. Dylan Bundy – Bundy pitched at three different levels this year, dominating at each stop and closing with a 3.24 ERA and 3.86 FIP in three Double-A starts. If it were me, I’d probably send the 19-year old back for more seasoning next year, but the Orioles’ sudden rise to contender may make them more aggressive with his timeline. As I was editing this, in fact, news broke that Bundy will be joining the Orioles for the stretch run later today.
#11. Manny Machado – Machado got the nod in early August to help out the contending Orioles at the hot corner, and he hasn’t disappointed with a 95 wRC+ and solid defense thus far. He was aggressively promoted right from Double-A, where he showed 20-20 potential, making him a potential 2013 draft target and a solid keeper option. He can probably stick at shortstop, too, and may be one of those valuable dual-position fantasy players while J.J. Hardy is still around.
#12. Gerrit Cole – Cole shot through the system this year, starting in High-A and finishing with a single start at Triple-A. He strikes out over a batter an inning and had FIPs around 3.00 at High-A and Double-A, making him a likely candidate for many prospect top-10 lists next year. His ETA is probably more in the mid-season range, though.
#17. Travis d’Arnaud – d’Arnaud had a solid season derailed by injuries, and the Blue Jays have J.P. Arencibia and a recently-extended Jeff Mathis in house to hold the fort down if d’Arnaud needs extra time at Triple-A next year. When he did play, though, d’Arnaud sure looked ready, with a 147 wRC+ showing that his .333/.380/.595 line was not just fuelled by the Las Vegas air.
#19. Anthony Rendon – The Nationals’ third base prospect is blocked by Ryan Zimmerman but it may not matter in the short-term since his first year in the minors was cut short by an early ankle injury. As it is, Rendon played just 43 games across four levels, finishing up in Double-A where he was a slightly below-average bat. Rendon will almost certainly be back in Double-A to start the season but will probably be among the first call-ups should the Nationals run into injuries.
#28. Wil Myers – I believe my love and excitement for Myers has been well publicized at this point, and I don’t see how the Royals could justify him not being on the 2013 Opening Day roster. Jeff Francoeur, Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, and Billy Butler are holding down the OF and DH spots, but I don’t see a way Myers doesn’t force one of them to the bench or the trade block come March.
#31. Martin Perez – Perez has a brief stint with the Rangers in the summer and is now back working out of the bullpen down the stretch. The 21-year old lefty hasn’t missed many bats in Texas (5.52 K/9), a fact that isn’t surprising given his downward trending K-rates in the Minors (bottoming at 4.89 K/9 in Triple-A this year). I know some are still high on Perez, but if he can’t miss bats at a greater rate he won’t be ownable for fantasy purposes.
#34. Jonathan Singleton – Singleton is not really blocked in Houston given Brett Wallace’s relative lack of pop for a first baseman, but he didn’t get pushed past Double-A despite a pretty successful Minor League season. The Astros may be taking it slow with the 21-year old and waiting for his power to further develop before tapping him for a call-up.
#35. Zack Wheeler – The news that the Mets will now be affiliated with Las Vegas at the Triple-A level is bad news for Wheeler, as he’ll now essentially need to break camp with the Mets or head to a pitcher’s graveyard. Wheeler had great success at Double-A and performed well in a 6-start stint at Triple-A, so making the Opening Day roster is certainly not out of the question, though fantasy owners would want to express caution at first.
#38. Gary Brown – Brown was merely league-average at Double-A this year, but he’ll likely be challenged with Triple-A at age 24 next season. I can’t see Brown making the club out of Spring given that his only Major League-ready tool is his speed right now, but he could be in line for a call-up if he starts off hot, especially if the Giants don’t improve their outfield in the offseason.
#39. Anthony Gose – Gose was forced into action with Toronto well ahead of schedule but despite struggling so far, he seems relatively assured an Opening Day spot unless the Jays make an addition in left. Gose is ownable right away for the speed, but he’ll probably bat ninth and he’s only ever had a strong average at Triple-A Las Vegas, so tread carefully.
#41. Christian Yelich – Yelich’s timeline is definitely not 2013 anymore, if it ever was. He spent the year at High-A and outclassed the league with a 164 wRC+, but the fact that he didn’t get a Double-A promotion means it’d be far too big a jump to expect him to have an impact next year.
#42. Nolan Arenado – Many were calling for Arenado’s promotion early in the year but his Double-A performance hasn’t really warranted it. He’s been a shade above average with a 109 wRC+ but hit just 12 home runs and adds little on the bases. With the Coors Field effect he could be rosterable for fantasy, but there’s no reason for the Rockies to think he’s a better 2013 option than Chris Nelson or Jordan Pacheco.
#43. Mike Olt – Olt has struggled to an atrocious 14 wRC+ over 39 at bats with the Rangers, but this is obviously far too small a sample in which to judge him. Instead, expectations for 2013 should be tempered but his long-term outlook should stay the same. A half-season or more at Triple-A could be beneficial given that he jumped from Double-A to Texas, albeit after a dominant 95 games (28 HR, 170 wRC+).
#44. Hak-Ju Lee – Lee got his first full-season crack at Double-A and was league-average with the stick, chipping in 37 stolen bases as well. He also improved in the second half and maintained his reputation as a stud defender, so a strong start at Triple-A could put him on the radar for Tampa, where I’m sure Joe Maddon would find a way to get the most out of him.
#50. Jarred Cosart – Cosart followed the path this year, performing well enough at Double-A to get the promotion to Triple-A, where he looked great across six appearances. He’ll need to work on an out pitch to improve his strikeout rates, but there’s no reason to think he won’t join the Astros at some point in 2013.
Hopefully this article was able to update you on some players you were expecting to be fantasy-relevant in 2013. It should also serve as an early reminder to take ETAs from prospect sites with a grain of salt, as a whole lot can happen between March and September. Next week, I’ll take a look at prospects in general who could have a 2013 fantasy impact.