Congo Hammer's End of Season Top 30 AL Prospects for Fantasy Baseball

The things that I emphasize for a fantasy list are offense (no defense) for hitters, major league readiness/immediate impact /upside, general distrust of pitchers and power having priority over speed. I know more about AL than NL so I'll stick with what I'm good at. Without further ado:

1. Jurickson Profar - As long as he stays at shortstop, his position alone makes him valuable. I can't shake the feeling he'll crush tempered expectations and have a few years like Nomar in his prime. I kind of like Nomar as a high-end comp, but his floor is also quite high with his preternatural hitting ability and plate discipline.

2. Wil Myers - I'm less worried about the K rate than many others... unlike guys like Olt, this wasn't a problem with Myers in the past, and I think he might have just gotten a little homer happy and can scale it back with better discipline if needed. Jay Bruce is a reasonable comp, but I think he can be better as he's shown he's a multidimensional hitter.

3. Manny Machado - I'll admit, I wasn't a big fan and have been swayed by seeing his progress at the MLB level. The quickness with which he picked up 3rd base is a great sign for his ability to adjust. He needs to stay healthy but I do see star potential in him. If Profar has Nomar upside, Machado could be Jeter. I think he'll stick at short, at least for the early part of his career.

4. Dylan Bundy - He's got a good head on his shoulders, I think his learning curve will be faster than most pitchers at the major league level. Still, I'd temper my early expectations, with at Matt Moore-like rookie season (a bit less Ks, a bit fewer walks). It may take a few years before he's a real ace, but he should be plenty good in the meantime. Still, he barely pitched at Double A and AL East will not give him much slack.

5. Mike Zunino - This will seem bold, but I think he can win the catcher job out of Spring Training, and immediately be one of the best offensive catchers in baseball. He just has a great knack for hitting and should stay at catcher. I think Matt Wieters is a reasonable comp, but Zunino could be even better offensively in his prime.

6. Taijuan Walker - I don't think he necessarily improved his stock, but he hasn't really hurt it much either. I get the feeling that his big breakthrough will come in 2013. If everything breaks right, he could be every bit as menacing as Bundy. Being in the AL west gives him a bit more breathing room, but he also has more work to do than Bundy. I could see a Pineda-like impact, hopefully minus the injury.

7. Xander Bogaerts - He has a lot of potential in the bat, he'd move up a few spots if I truly believed he'll stick at short. But then again, the hope that he can has him up as high as he is. Good to see plate discipline coming around, but a bit further away than the other hitters on this list as he has already been pushed aggressively and needs to be handled with kid gloves to make sure he develops properly.

8. Travis D'Arnaud - Major league ready, and has a good bat. BUT I'd be wary of Vegas inflation, not to mention that D'Arnaud does have some previous injury history, and knee injuries are always a concern for catchers. But I think if he can stay healthy, he'll get his chance in 2013, but I highly doubt at this point that he'll have a job out of ST.

9. Nick Castellanos - I have my reservations with him, but his upside is pretty high if he improves his plate discipline and builds some power. I don't think moving to OF completely kills his fantasy value if he can keep hitting for average... I'd say high upside, Sean Burroughs-like floor. But he's young and I have hope.

10. Kevin Gausman - Has all the makings of a strong #2 starter, extremely limited minor league sample size but I am a big fan of big guys with both Ks and low walks. I have a good feeling he'll exceed expectations due his great makeup. I'd give him David Price ceiling, though I think he'll more likely be a #2 or quality mid-rotation guy as his floor.

11. Miguel Sano - He still raises a ton of red flags despite the sloth-like pace with which he's moved through the system, but he's still very young and has made some strides. Good to see he is taking walks, but if he doesn't improve the Ks he won't be much more than a Chris Carter-like hitter.

12. Francisco Lindor - He'd be higher if he wasn't relatively far away, but he's also regarded mostly for his defense at this point. Still, he's a shortstop showing some upside with the bat, and has exceeded expectations. He probably won't be a Profar 2.0 but he'll best Profar defensively and could certainly hit well enough to be a top-of-the order hitter, with good plate discipline and 10-15 HR upside and 15-20 SB annually.

13. Gary Sanchez - For those saying he'll be better offensively than Montero, I don't buy it. His defense won't be great either, and he does have some makeup issues. But he is still young and has power, and his D should be adequate enough for him to stick at C, which gives him solid value. Russell Martin upside, Tyler Flowers floor.

14. Bubba Starling - I know, I know, the upside is sky-high, supposedly. I'm not saying it isn't. But I'm skeptical he fulfills it and think he's being really overrated at the moment. He doesn't really have a great attitude, and despite the drool-worthy tools, I haven't seen enough skills yet to merit a higher ranking, especially considering how far off he is. I'd rate him a Johnny Damon ceiling, Aaron Hicks floor right now.

15. Aaron Sanchez - His walk rate is kind of high but he's gotten glowing scouting reports and is arguably the best Jays pitching prospect due to his upside. I don't buy the Verlander comp I've heard but think he could be a strong #2 starter and maybe more if he continues on his development path.

16. Eddie Rosario - I previously viewed him as a high upside, low floor type, but he's proven beyond a reasonable doubt he can be reliable offensively and stick to 2b on defense. I still think he has an outside shot and having a huge breakout. He could be a .260 15-15 type with average plate discipline... I'd give him Ian Kinsler ceiling, Placido Polanco middle, Jose Lopez floor.

16. Matt Barnes - More experienced than Gausman, has done well but I'm not so sure his upside is as high, and I think his floor is still a bit lower. Still has a great K/BB, want to see if he can maintain it at higher levels. I think a quality mid-rotation guy is his most likely outcome, but can become a #2 if he continues to improve.

17. Nick Franklin - He is what he is at this point, a solid bat with questionable D at short. It's looking like he'll likely be traded or moved off the position, even with Brendan Ryan at short. Still should be a solid regular but if he's not a shortstop it takes a sizable hit on his fantasy value.

18. Byron Buxton - Crazy far away, crazy high upside. He'll be moved along slowly being a Twin, but could force their hand if he performs as well as some project. Hard to know, but worth the gamble here.

19. Danny Hultzen - Hard to know what to make of his year. He wasn't nearly as reliable as expected and his walk rate was scary at times, but I still think he can be a solid mid-rotation guy at least and maybe better if he gets the walk rate under control. The AL west should help his ERA and I think once up he'll be there for good.

20. Mike Olt - I want to be a fan, but I'm not so sure he can hack it at the major league level. But with his defense, he should be given the opportunity, and with his power he can do big things if he can cut the Ks and/or walk more. But it's now or never, since he's getting too old to be a prospect, and it's why I'm less optimistic he can fix his plate discipline. Chris Davis (with better D) upside, Bucky Jacobsen floor (aka org depth, though I loved Bucky).

21. Rougned Odor - Gotta love the power-speed combo from an 18-year old. Looks like he'll be moving off short, but upside quite high even as a second baseman. Far away, but could be an excellent long-term investment for his upside. I'd like to see some better plate discipline in 2013.

22. Jackie Bradley Jr. - 5-tool outfielder, love the plate discipline. He may have displayed less power and is older than his Yankees counterpart but I think he has better makeup and a higher floor. Think he can be a Denard Span or Michael Brantley type and a good table-setter.

23. Noah Syndergaard - He's got some pretty nasty stuff, improving command. Don't think he has ace upside but could be a high-strikeout #2, perhaps like Brandon Morrow. Youth is on his side, hope he takes it to the next level in 2013.

24. Jake Odorizzi - Think he'll be an okay mid-rotation guy with strikeouts, but the fly ball rate concerns me. He could give up a lot of dingers. But he at least plays in an okay ballpark for fly balls and can succeed if he keeps his walks down.

25. Mason Williams - 5-tool outfielder, could be a quality major leaguer. Not too worried about the makeup concerns right now but will be if it becomes an issue again later. Higher upside than Bradley somewhat, want to see what he could do at higher levels. I'd say his ceiling is Austin Jackson, floor closer to a Melky Cabrera (minus PEDs) type

26. Michael Choice - He was having a pretty terrible season at Double-A, started picking it up a bit before the injury. Still has a relatively high ceiling as I still believe in his power, but with his K rate his floor is rather large. 2013 will be a make-or-break year as he's an older prospect and needs to adjust his mechanics to utilize his power.

27. Hak-Ju Lee - Had a disappointing year, I don't think he'll ever hit for power, but the speed alone could make him valuable as a shortstop in an Elvis Andrus kind of way. That being said, he probably won't hit for as high average or have as spectacular D as Andrus, so he'll need to produce offensively to stay in a lineup.

28. Jake Marisnick - Stock has definitely dropped, but still young enough that he can pick things up. I think he has less upside than Choice, but still greater odds of fulfilling it, which would likely make him a regular with some power and speed. Could be a decent regular and #7 or #8 hitter, but needs a better 2013.

29. Taylor Guerrieri - Gotta love the K/BB, small sample size but I'm optimistic for his future.

30. James Paxton - Could be a back end starter with potential for mid-rotation if he improves control. But his upside is not as high as once thought, if not in Seattle probably would not make the list. I wouldn't object to putting one of the 1st 3 Honorable mentions here instead.

HM: Cron, Nicolino, Buckel, Arcia, Hicks

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