American League Rookie Preview, With Fantasy Impacts

As an accompaniment to our Top 20 Rookies list, we’re taking an in-depth look at rookie candidates for every club. In this installment, it’s the American League clubs, highlighting those with the most real-life and the most fantasy impact potential. If you missed yesterday, click to read our National League Rookie Preview.

To review, we’ve broken each club’s rookie candidates into one of four groups:

Rookies: Players who have reached the major leagues but still have rookie eligibility.
No MLB Experience: Players on the 40-man roster who have not reached the major leagues. A single asterisk (*) denotes a player added to the 40-man last offseason, while a double asterisk (**) signifies a Rule 5 draft pick.
Who You Calling Rookie?: Players who appear in the 2013 Prospect Handbook yet are not eligible for the Rookie of the Year balloting because they have too much major league service time. Not every team has a player in this category.
On The Horizon: Players who were on a Top 10 Prospects list but are not yet on a 40-man roster, yet have sufficient experience (200 plate appearances or 200 batters faced at Double-A or higher) to forecast at least a cup of coffee in 2013.

We also identify each team’s top rookie—right out of the Prospect Handbook—and the rookie with most potential for fantasy impact in 2013. Bear in mind that with few exceptions, such as Mike Trout and Bryce Harper last year, rookies are poor percentage plays in fantasy sports. That’s why we recommend most rookies only in keeper or deep single-league formats.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Rookies (6)
RHP Dylan Bundy, RHP Steve Johnson, C Luis Exposito, OF Xavier Avery, OF Russ Canzler, OF L.J. Hoes
No MLB Experience (5)
LHP Mike Belfiore*, RHP Zach Clark*, LHP T.J. McFarland**, LHP Tsuyoshi Wada, 2B Jonathan Schoop*
On The Horizon
RHP Mike Wright

Top Rookie: Steve Johnson laid claim to a big league job for 2013 by going 4-0, 2.11 in 12 appearances with Baltimore last year.

Fantasy Impact: The Orioles signed Dylan Bundy to a major league contract out of the draft, so even with his youth he’s on an accelerated timetable to Baltimore. A month or two in Double-A and he could be ready to join the big league rotation, where his athleticism and precociousness could rival the 20-year-old version of Zack Greinke. (Leagues: prime keeper target)

BOSTON RED SOX

Rookies (3)
1B Mauro Gomez, SS Brock Holt, SS Jose Iglesias
No MLB Experience (7)
LHP Drake Britton, RHP Allen Webster*, RHP Alex Wilson*, RHP Steven Wright*, C Dan Butler*, C Christian Vazquez*, OF Alex Hassan*
On The Horizon
OF Jackie Bradley, OF Bryce Brentz

Top Rookie: The Gold Glove potential of Jose Iglesias made him a good candidate to replace Mike Aviles at shortstop, prior to Boston’s signing of Stephen Drew. Now the field is wide open.

Fantasy Impact: If Jacoby Ellsbury is injured or traded, it could create playing time for Jackie Bradley, a 2011 draft pick who finished last season in Double-A with a .373 on-base percentage. Bradley could serve as a viable source of batting average, runs and double-digit stolen-base totals, though he’s a better long-term play than immediate contributor. (Leagues: deep AL-only)

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Rookies (6)
RHP Deunte Heath, RHP Jhan Marinez, RHP Brian Omogrosso, C Hector Gimenez, 3B Conor Gillaspie, OF Blake Tekotte
No MLB Experience (7)
RHP Simon Castro, LHP Charlie Leesman, RHP Nestor Molina, RHP Andre Rienzo*, LHP Santos Rodriguez*, C Josh Phegley*, OF Jared Mitchell*

Top Rookie: Part of the Ozzie Guillen compensation package, Jhan Marinez has the power fastball/slider combination to be a bullpen weapon.

Fantasy Impact: Conor Gillaspie is out of options and the White Sox are virtually out of lefthanded bats, creating the perfect situation for the erstwhile Giants prospect to establish himself in the big leagues. If he gets off to a fast start, Gillaspie could carve out platoon at-bats at third base, sharing time with Jeff Keppinger, while spotting for righty-hitting Paul Konerko at first base and Dayan Viciedo in left field. (Leagues: deep AL-only)

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Rookies (3)
RHP Cody Allen, RHP Trevor Bauer, SS Juan Diaz
No MLB Experience (7)
RHP Trey Haley*, LHP T.J. House*, RHP Chen Lee*, RHP Danny Salazar, 1B Mike McDade, 1B Chris McGuiness**, OF Tim Fedroff*
Who You Calling Rookie?
LHP Scott Barnes (19 innings, 65 days), C/1B/3B Yan Gomes (98 at-bats, 83 days)

Top Rookie: Don’t be surprised if Cody Allen, with his stuff, finishes the year as Cleveland’s closer.

Fantasy Impact: Trevor Bauer may be the better keeper target, but Allen offers the most immediate impact potential, particularly in light of the spring-training shoulder injury to closer Chris Perez. A 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and low hit rate in Triple-A last season suggest that Allen could vault past Vinnie Pestano on the closer depth chart. (Leagues: AL-only end-game flier)

DETROIT TIGERS

Rookies (5)
LHP Casey Crosby, RHP Jose Ortega, C Bryan Holaday, 2B Hernan Perez, OF Avisail Garcia
No MLB Experience (6)
LHP Kyle Lobstein**, RHP Melvin Mercedes*, RHP Bruce Rondon*, C Ramon Cabrera*, 2B Jeff Kobernus**, SS Dixon Machado*
Who You Calling Rookie?
RHP Luke Putkonen (16 innings, 79 days)
On The Horizon
C James McCann, OF/3B Nick Castellanos

Top Rookie: Expectations are high for toolsy outfielder Avisail Garcia after he hit .455 in the American League Championship Series.

Fantasy Impact: Bruce Rondon might not begin the season as closer—or in Detroit, for that matter, if he continues walking the tightrope in spring training—but short of acquiring another closer, the Tigers may not have a more natural internal solution. Rondon faded after a jump to Triple-A last season, but his Double-A peripherals (1.11 WHIP, 9.6 SO/9, 3.7 BB/9 in 21 appearances) point to a sturdy future closer option. (Leagues: deep AL-only flier for now)

HOUSTON ASTROS

Rookies (1)
RHP Brad Peacock
No MLB Experience (11)
RHP Jose Cisnero*, RHP Paul Clemens, RHP Jarred Cosart*, RHP Josh Fields**, RHP Chia-Jen Lo*, LHP Brett Oberholtzer*, LHP Rudy Owens, RHP Ross Seaton*, 1B Nate Freiman**, SS Jonathan Villar*, OF Robbie Grossman*
On The Horizon
1B Jonathan Singleton

Top Rookie: Jonathan Singleton has the polished bat to wrest Houston’s first-base job from Brett Wallace and Chris Carter—but first he must serve a 50-game drug suspension.

Fantasy Impact: For a rebuilding team, the Astros project to have few significant rookies this season. Either Brad Peacock or Jarred Cosart would seem to have the best chance of replicating the success of rookie Lucas Harrell from a year ago. Peacock has significantly more Triple-A time and better present feel for his secondary stuff, while Cosart lights up radar guns at 96-97 mph. Either way, you’re probably not going to want either on your fantasy team this year. (Leagues: very deep AL-only)

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Rookies (2)
LHP Francisley Bueno, OF David Lough
No MLB Experience (5)
LHP Noel Arguelles, LHP Chris Dwyer*, LHP Donnie Joseph*, LHP John Lamb*, LHP Justin Marks*

Top Rookie: Picked up in the Jonathan Broxton deal with the Reds last summer, Donnie Joseph has a tough fastball/slider combination.

Fantasy Impact: Scouts love Joseph’s fastball/power slider approach, but the results last year (1.23 WHIP, 3.9 BB/9 in 55 relief outings) have lagged behind his stuff. While any wild reliever could blow up your fantasy team’s ERA and WHIP in a hurry, Joseph will balance that risk with a strikeout or two in each outing. Given his strikeouts-and-groundballs profile, Joseph has a mild chance of developing into a Jonny Venters clone. (Leagues: deep AL-only)

LOS ANGELES ANGELS

Rookies (5)
RHP Steve Geltz, LHP Nick Maronde, LHP Drew Taylor, 2B Tommy Field, OF Kole Calhoun
No MLB Experience (4)
RHP Ryan Brasier*, LHP Brandon Sisk*, 3B Luis Jimenez, OF Travis Witherspoon*
Who You Calling Rookie?
SS Andrew Romine (44 at-bats, 140 days)

Top Rookie: Starter or reliever, Nick Maronde should make an impact in either role for the Angels.

Fantasy Impact: On a veteran club such as the Angels, Maronde probably won’t pitch in the most critical spots—particularly after Los Angeles signed Sean Burnett this winter—though he won’t damage your bottom line, either. (Leagues: deep AL-only)

MINNESOTA TWINS

Rookies (2)
C Chris Herrmann, OF Joe Benson
No MLB Experience (10)
RHP Kyle Gibson*, RHP B.J. Hermsen*, RHP Trevor May*, RHP Ryan Pressly**, LHP Caleb Thielbar*, RHP Mike Tonkin*, C Josmil Pinto*, SS Danny Santana*, OF Oswaldo Arcia, OF Aaron Hicks*

Top Rookie: The Twins intend to give Kyle Gibson as many big league innings as possible.

Fantasy Impact: He has been the story of Twins spring training so far, but Aaron Hicks still has to prove the Twins were right in trading Denard Span and Ben Revere in the offseason. Hicks’ blend of range and arm in center field, speed on the bases, and plate discipline will be hard to ignore when stacked up against his competition. For the short term, expect more walks and steals than anything else, along the lines of early-career Dexter Fowler. (Leagues: AL-only)

NEW YORK YANKEES

Rookies (3)
RHP Adam Warren, C Austin Romine, OF Melky Mesa
No MLB Experience (11)
LHP Manny Banuelos*, RHP Dellin Betances, LHP Cesar Cabral**, RHP Brett Marshall*, RHP Jose Ramirez*, LHP Francisco Rondon*, LHP Nik Turley*, 2B David Adams, 2B Corban Joseph, OF Zoilo Almonte, OF Ramon Flores*
On The Horizon
RHP Mark Montgomery

Top Rookie: Mark Montgomery’s devastating slider gives him a chance to contribute in the bullpen.

Fantasy Impact: Take it as a bad sign that Austin Romine can’t find traction in New York when his competition consists of career backups Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli. For that reason, Montgomery is probably best positioned to log significant big league time in 2013—check out that 6-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 15 Double-A appearances—but even he may have little fantasy impact unless you’re in a league that credits holds. (Leagues: deep AL-only)

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Rookies (4)
LHP Pedro Figueroa, RHP Dan Straily, LHP Andrew Werner, OF Michael Taylor
No MLB Experience (5)
RHP Arnold Leon*, RHP Michael Ynoa*, SS Hiroyuki Nakajima*, OF/2B Grant Green*, OF Shane Peterson*
On The Horizon
RHP Sonny Gray, 1B/3B Miles Head, OF Michael Choice

Top Rookie: Dan Straily, the minors’ reigning strikeout king, was an effective starter down the stretch for Oakland.

Fantasy Impact: A.J. Griffin got to Oakland first, and performed better upon arrival, so he holds an advantage on Straily. However, if Straily comes close to replicating his Triple-A peripherals from last year (11.1 SO/9, 2.6 BB/9, 5.4 H/9), he’ll be in the rotation by the end of May. (Leagues: deep AL-only)

SEATTLE MARINERS

Rookies (3)
RHP Carter Capps, RHP Chance Ruffin, SS Carlos Triunfel
No MLB Experience (8)
LHP Anthony Fernandez*, LHP Danny Hultzen, LHP Bobby LaFromboise*, RHP Brandon Maurer*, RHP Yoervis Medina, 3B Vinnie Catricala*, 3B/OF Francisco Martinez, OF Julio Morban*
Who You Calling Rookie?
RHP Stephen Pryor (23 innings, 125 days)
On The Horizon
LHP James Paxton, RHP Taijuan Walker, C Mike Zunino, SS/2B Nick Franklin, 2B Stefen Romero

Top Rookie: The No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 draft, Mike Zunino showed he could handle a full season’s catching workload.

Fantasy Impact: After saving 19 games with a 6-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio for Double-A Jackson last year, Carter Capps could collect a few big league saves if provided the opportunity this season. Barring an injury to Tom Wilhelmsen, however, Capps’ real fantasy value probably won’t come until 2014. (Leagues: Deep AL-only)

TAMPA BAY RAYS

Rookies (6)
RHP Chris Archer, RHP Jake Odorizzi, LHP Alex Torres, C Robinson Chirinos, C/OF Stephen Vogt, OF Brandon Guyer
No MLB Experience (7)
RHP Alex Colome, LHP Frank de los Santos*, LHP Mike Montgomery*, LHP Felipe Rivero*, LHP Enny Romero*, SS Tim Beckham*, SS Hak-Ju Lee*
On The Horizon
OF Wil Myers

Top Rookie: The James Shields trade brought back Wil Myers, a much-needed middle-of-the-order bat who is big league ready.

Fantasy Impact: Tampa Bay will find a way to integrate Myers’ powerful bat into the lineup at some point during the season, though doing so will involve displacing an outfield regular, be it Matt Joyce, Desmond Jennings or Ben Zobrist, or possibly DH Luke Scott. (Leagues: Deep mixed)

TEXAS RANGERS

Rookies (7)
LHP Jeff Beliveau, RHP Cory Burns, RHP Wilmer Font, RHP Justin Grimm, LHP Martin Perez, 3B/1B Mike Olt, SS Jurickson Profar
No MLB Experience (7)
RHP Roman Mendez, RHP Justin Miller, LHP Joe Ortiz*, RHP Matt West, RHP Coty Woods**, SS Leury Garcia*, OF Engel Beltre
Who You Calling Rookie?
OF Leonys Martin (54 at-bats, 113 days)
On The Horizon
RHP Cody Buckel

Top Rookie: Baseball’s top prospect, Jurickson Profar has tools and skills that ought to translate to rapid big league success.

Fantasy Impact: The best prospects tend to force their organization’s hand, and that’s exactly what Profar could do if he plays well this spring. He won’t start over shortstop Elvis Andrus, but he could take over at second base if Ian Kinsler softens his stance on switching positions. (Leagues: prime keeper target)

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Rookies (3)
LHP Evan Crawford, RHP Chad Jenkins, OF Moises Sierra
No MLB Experience (2)
C A.J. Jimenez*, SS Ryan Goins*
On The Horizon
RHP John Stilson, RHP Marcus Stroman

Top Rookie: Following the offseason trade of Travis d’Arnaud, Marcus Stroman moves to the head of Toronto’s rookie class—though he’ll have to serve a 50-game drug suspension before he begins his climb this season.

Fantasy Impact: If Stroman delivers on pre-draft expectations, he could blaze a trail to Toronto this season thanks to a double-plus slider. The Blue Jays targeted him with the 22nd pick in last year’s draft because of his perceived proximity to the majors, so don’t expect a long matriculation process. (Leagues: deep AL-only flier)


Rookie qualifications: A player shall be considered a rookie unless, during a previous season or seasons, he had: 1) exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the major leagues; or 2) accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a major league club or clubs during the period of a 25-player limit (excluding time in the military service and time on the disabled list).