UPDATE: My apologies to John and all Minor League Ball readers for posting this before it was completed earlier today. I started it a few days ago, and thought I would get to it this weekend, but was not able to. Couple that with the fact that I did not change the schedule date and time, and it posted in an incomplete state. So let's get to the new Fantasy Prospect series.
I am starting a new series here to talk about the some prospects who might help you in 2012. My plan is to pick one prospect from each of John's Team Top 20 Prospect lists who you should consider on draft day. Not all prospects who get the call make an impact for their teams or for your fantasy team, but some will. Here's are my top fantasy prospects for 2012 from John's Top 20 lists for the Twins, Braves and Royals.
Twins - Chris Parmelee - First Baseman
As sad as it is for me to write this, Justin Morneau struggled with post-concussion syndrome and was not productive when he was on the field in 2011. First base prospect Chris Parmelee could be a nice fallback for the Twins should Morneau not be healthy in 2012. Parmalee had a productive cup of coffee after being called up in September, hitting .355-.443-.592 with 4 HRs, 14 RBI, and 8 runs in 76 at bats. In AA, Parmalee hit .287-.366-.436 with 13 HRs, 83 RBI and 76 runs in 530 at bats. He doesn't hit for much power for a first baseman, but he owns a solid eye at the plate, as his 15.4% strikeout rate and 11.1% walk rate would indicate. Early in his minor league career, Parmalee struck out a bit too much, but has reduced his K rate from 27.3% in 2007 to just 15.4% in 2011. He may not hit for much power in the big leagues, but could perform better than an injured Morneau.
My choice for the top fantasy prospect in 2012 for the Braves and Royals after the jump:
Braves - Julio Teheran -Starting Pitcher
John ranked Teheran as his Braves #1 prospect for 2012, and he is major league ready, but he does not have a spot in the Braves rotation as of this writing. Braves GM Frank Wren appears to be making moves this offseason to open up a spot in the Braves rotation though, as he has already dealt Derek Lowe to the Indians and has made Jair Jurrjens available as well. Recent trade rumors indicate that the Braves are interested in Yankees utility hitter Eduardo Nunez to play shortstop, and the Yankees definitely have a need for another starter.
Teheran is a potential ace starting pitcher, but like other young starters, it is almost a given that he will struggle initially. Teheran went 15-3 in 24 starts at AAA Gwinnett in 2011, with a 2.55 ERA and 3.06 FIP in 144.2 innings of work. The only negative I see is the trend in his strikeout rate at each level in the minors:
A+ (2009) - 10.80 K/9
AA (2010) - 8.55 K/9
AAA (2011) - 7.59 K/9
Teheran made 3 starts and appeared in a total of 5 games for the Braves in 2011, and struggled in his 19.2 innings. Like other young starters, he was probably nervous and trying to make adjustments in his September cup of coffee. I think Teheran will have a spot in the Braves rotation at some point in 2012, possibly out of spring training. He should be a late round selection in mixed league drafts in 2012, and a must own in dynastly and keeper leagues.
Royals - Lorenzo Cain - Outfielder
John did not rank Cain in his 2012 Royals Top 20 Prospects, and he did have 147 big league at bats in 2010 with the Brewers, but he will be given the starting center field job in spring training after the trade of Melky Cabrera to the Giants a few weeks ago. Cain hit .312-.380-.497 with 16 HRs, 81 RBI, 84 runs and 16 stolen bases at AAA Omaha this season, and turns 26 in April, so he will have to prove himself vs big league pitching in 2012. He doesn't hit for much power, but has the speed to be valuable to fantasy owners in 2012. I think he can provide fantasy owners with double digit home runs and should be given the green light on the basepaths a bit more than in AAA, as manager Ned Yost likes to lets his hitters run.