Top 20 MLB Rookies for 2012

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The Mariners hope Jesus Montero can bring life to a weak lineup as soon as 2012.

*This list is to rank the top 20 Rookies in 2012. Ranking is based on likely 2012 performance, not career potential.

**Only players that meet MLB Rookie guidelines qualify (130AB/50IP/45 days spent on active Roster).

1. Matt Moore – SP Rays

Moore threw only 19.1 total innings (including playoffs) in 2011, but flashed his enormous potential. The top pitching prospect in baseball throws in the upper 90′s, giving him a plus fastball to go along with his plus change up and breaking ball. Moore profiles as a future ace. Moore should be the Rays’ 5th starter in 2012, edging out one of Wade Davis or Jeff Niemann. Moore could put up numbers similar to jeremy hellickson last season, with a higher K Rate.

2. Jesus Montero – C/DH Mariners

In just 18 games in 2011, Montero put up a .5 wins above Replacement. Montero, recently acquired by the Mariners for Michael Pineda, has a middle of the order bat. His only question is whether he will stick at catcher or have to move to DH. Montero will likely split time at each position this season and could put up a .280/.350/.490 slash line with 25+ homers.

3. Yu Darvish – SP Rangers

The 111 million dollar prized Japanese pitching prospect will likely start 2012 in the Rangers rotation. i was debating on putting him number 1, because he has the potential to outshine Moore this season, but there are enough questions about him to put him at 3.

4. Mike Trout – OF Angels

If I were to put out my top 50 prospect list (which will be out within the next 2-3 weeks) today, Trout would almost certainly be number 1. Hes a potential 5 tool player a la Jacoby Ellsbury or pre-injury Grady Sizemore if all goes well. But this isn’t based on future upside, it is based on what he is likely to contribute in 2012. If Trout weren’t blocked in the outfield down in Anaheim, then he would be number one on this list. In 40 games last season, Trout put up a .9 WAR. I expect Trout to spend a couple months in AAA before getting called up, most likely for good, to Anaheim.

5. Yonder Alonso – 1B Padres

The trade to the Padres really helped alonso. The move gives him a chance to finally start at the major league level. Although PETCO may hinder his numbers a bit, he still should put up a solid rookie season. I see him hitting around .280/.340/.450 with some power and decent defense.

6. Devin Mesoraco – C Reds 

Unlike Montero, Mesoraco will almost definitely stick behind the plate. Mesoraco has the potential to be an above average defender with a middle of the order type bat. He should take over the Reds starting catcher job by june and should stick there for years to come. He is an early frontrunner for NL ROY.

7. Julio Teheran – SP Braves

One of the trio of Braves stud pitching prospects, Teheran has the highest ceiling of the three. He is also probably the most likely to contribute in 2012. The Braves have a deep yet oft-injured Rotation so Teheran should see his fair share of starts in 2012.

8. Shelby Miller – SP Cardinals

There isnt much left to do in the minors for Miller, the cardinals top prospect. The 21 year old put up a solid 11 k/9 in 25 starts split between high A and AA last season. Miller will likely get a June callup and pitch in the Cards rotation the rest of the season barring injury.

9. Jarrod Parker – SP Athletics

In his major league debut in 2011, parker threw 5.2 innings, allowing only 5 baserunners and zero runs. Parker will likely spend most of 2012 in the A’s rotation. The trade to Oakland definatly helps his his potential to contribute this year. 20-25 starts and a 2.0+ WAR is a real possibility.

10. Jacob Turner – SP Tigers

The 20 year old will likely open the season as Detroit’s 5th starter and he has the potential to someday join Verlander at the top of Detroit’s rotation. In 2012 i expect a decent season. A Rick Porcello type rookie season is probably a best case scenario.

11. Anthony Rizzo – 1B Cubs

Despite Rizzo’s struggles last season, albeit in a small sample size, Rizzo still projects as an above average major league first baseman. The Cubs have stated that AAAA slugger, Bryan Lahair, will start the year at 1B, but Rizzo should be up by July at the latest. Rizzo has the potential to put up 20 home runs this season at Wrigley.

12. Addison Reed – RP White Sox

Reed has a good chance of taking over the White Sox closer job and running with it. Reed is probably a good ROY candidate because BBWAA voters love their saves, but he ranks this low due to him not starting.

13. Bryce Harper – OF Nationals

The legendary Bryce Harper should make his debut this season. Its just a matter of when. There are reports that he will be in the Nationals’ opening day lineup, but there are also those who think he will be up sometime during the summer. No matter when he comes up, i dont expect him to produce much. A 19 year old in the majors should be held at a lower standard as a majority of 19 year olds are beginning college or just beginning their pro career in baseball. Harper will someday be a superstar but dont expect that in 2012. If he is in the opening day lineup, a .255/.330/.450 line with 18-20 is probably an optimistic outcome.

14. Drew Pomeranz – SP Rockies

The 4th overall pick by the indians in the 2010 draft, acquired by the Rockies in the Ubaldo Jiminez deal, went 2-1 in 4 starts with the Rockies last season. Pomeranz is MLB ready and should get around 20 starts from Colorado this year

15. Trevor Bauer – SP Diamondbacks

Bauer is a wild card here as he will likely get called up, but we dont really know when. the 3rd overall pick of last year’s draft, struck out over 200 batters for the UCLA Bruins last season. He is an MLB ready talent and should be the first of his draft class to reach the Majors. He should get a chance to start for the Dbacks at some point this season, and he will get his fair share of strikeouts.

16. Yoennis Cespedes – OF Free Agent

The 26 year old Cuban has been cleared to sign with an MLB team. If he signs soon, you should expect him to spend a couple months in the minors before making his big league debut.

17. Brad Peacock – SP Athletics

Peacock, acquired in the Gio Gonzalez trade, is an MLB ready starting pitcher. He may even start the season in Oakland’s rotation. Expect to see him make 25+ starts in 2012.

18. Zack Cozart – SS Reds

Cozart should provide solid defense for the Reds this season with some pop in his bat. He projects more as a solid regular than an all star.

19. Leonys Martin – OF Rangers

Martin could be the Rangers everyday centerfielder in 2012. Although he projects as a possible 20-20 type leadoff hitter, id expect an OK 2012 with around 8-10 HRs, 20 steals, and a .275 batting average.

20. Tyler Pastornicky – SS Braves

Pastornicky will likely be the Braves starting shortstop in 2012. He has some speed and a decent glove, he also could hit for a decent average. He likely wont be the starting shortstop long term, but it is fair to say he doesn’t have much competition in 2012.

– Justin (@justinmillar1)

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