National League Rookie Preview, With Fantasy Impacts

The annual American League and National League media guides, the so-called Red (AL) and Green (NL) books, offer a wealth of contemporary and historical information on all 30 major league clubs: 2012 league leaders, comprehensive managerial registers dating back to the Deadball Era, and listings for all-time league category leaders and award winners, to name just a few.

Of the greatest interest to BA readers of the Red and Green books, however, is the inclusion of each organization’s official list of rookies for 2013. This takes the guesswork out of service-time considerations, particularly for relievers, who can log weeks of big league time while making few appearances. The Red and Green books even include an official definition for rookie qualifications (which we have conveniently included at the bottom of this post).

So as an accompaniment to our Top 20 Rookies list, let’s take a closer look at rookie candidates for every National League club (we’ll do the American League tomorrow). 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. This group includes elite prospects such as the Cardinals’ Oscar Taveras and the Pirates’ Gerrit Cole.

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.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Rookies (4)
LHP Tyler Skaggs, SS Didi Gregorius, OF Adam Eaton, OF A.J. Pollock
No MLB Experience (8)
RHP Chase Anderson*, RHP Charles Brewer*, LHP Eury de la Rosa*, RHP Starling Peralta**, RHP Eric Smith*, RHP Zeke Spruill*, OF Keon Broxton*, OF Alfredo Marte*
On The Horizon
LHP David Holmberg, 3B Matt Davidson, SS Chris Owings

Top Rookie: Tyler Skaggs made three strong starts for Arizona before tiring in September and has a good chance to win a rotation job in spring training.

Fantasy Impact: A blend of speed and patience in the minors makes Adam Eaton a safe bet to accumulate runs and double-digit stolen bases for the Diamondbacks, and batting average risk is mitigated by a high contact rate. Just don’t expect any contributions in home runs or RBIs. (Leagues: deep mixed)

ATLANTA BRAVES

Rookies (1)
RHP Julio Teheran
No MLB Experience (6)
RHP David Hale*, RHP Juan Jaime*, RHP Aaron Northcraft*, RHP Cory Rasmus*, C Christian Bethancourt*, 1B Ernesto Mejia*
On The Horizon
LHP Sean Gilmartin, OF Todd Cunningham, OF/C Evan Gattis

Top Rookie: After a difficult encore in Triple-A, Julio Teheran worked through some mechanical issues and should be back in contention for a starting job with Atlanta.

Fantasy Impact: Brian McCann’s bum wing could open the door just enough for Evan Gattis to insert his foot. As a part-time left fielder or first baseman, Gattis probably isn’t worth a look for 2013, but pick him up in two-catcher leagues if he earns a place in the Braves’ catcher rotation. He slugged .607 in 272 at-bats in the minors last season, then led the Venezuelan League with 16 homers. (Leagues: deep NL-only)

CHICAGO CUBS

Rookies (6)
RHP Alberto Cabrera, LHP Brooks Raley, LHP Chris Rusin, RHP Arodys Vizcaino, 3B Josh Vitters, OF Brett Jackson
No MLB Experience (9)
RHP Kyuji Fujikawa*, RHP Trey McNutt*, RHP Hector Rondon**, RHP Robert Whitenack*, SS Junior Lake, 3B Christian Villanueva*, 2B Logan Watkins*, OF Jorge Soler, OF Matt Szczur
Who You Calling Rookie?
RHP Lendy Castillo (16 innings, one year for the Rule 5 pick)

Top Rookie: Japanese import Kyuji Fujikawa could be the Opening Day closer if the Cubs jettison Carlos Marmol.

Fantasy Impact: Fujikawa has the best combination of opportunity, experience and ability after notching 220 saves, a 1.77 ERA and 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings in Japan. (Leagues: end-game option for deep mixed)

CINCINNATI REDS

Rookies (3)
LHP Tony Cingrani, RHP Pedro Villarreal, 2B/3B Henry Rodriguez
No MLB Experience (9)
RHP Carlos Contreras*, RHP Daniel Corcino*, LHP Ismael Guillon*, RHP Kyle Lotzkar, RHP Curtis Partch*, RHP Josh Ravin*, 1B Donald Lutz, 1B Neftali Soto, OF Yorman Rodriguez*
Who You Calling Rookie?
RHP J.J. Hoover (30.2 innings, 102 days)
On The Horizon
OF Billy Hamilton

Top Rookie: While he has upside as a starter, Tony Cingrani could serve the Reds as a lefty reliever if needed this year.

Fantasy Impact: Billy Hamilton may hit like Tony Campana initially, but he also should run at will just like Campana. Hamilton attempted 192 stolen bases in the minors last season, succeeding 81 percent of the time, but you don’t need us to tell you he should be considered an elite stolen-base source in all fantasy formats—if he gets called up. (Leagues: NL-only for now)

COLORADO ROCKIES

Rookies (6)
LHP Edwar Cabrera, RHP Will Harris, RHP Rob Scahill, 2B Charlie Culberson, 3B Ryan Wheeler, OF Rafael Ortega
No MLB Experience (5)
RHP Joe Gardner*, LHP Danny Rosenbaum**, RHP Josh Sullivan*, SS Cristhian Adames*, OF Tim Wheeler*
On The Horizon:
3B Nolan Arenado

Top Rookie: Rob Scahill has the stuff and versatility to help the Rockies as a starter or reliever.

Fantasy Impact: Good things tend to happen for lefthanded hitters who can pull the ball in the air consistently at Coors Field—see: Carlos Gonzalez or Tyler Colvin—which could bode well for offseason acquisition Ryan Wheeler, even though he probably won’t open the season in the big leagues. Colorado’s corner-player logjam includes Todd Helton at first base, Chris Nelson (who’s out of options) and Jordan Pacheco at third, Gonzalez in left field and Michael Cuddyer and Colvin in right. Wheeler would need at least one injury or demotion to work his way into the rotation, but if given a chance he could contribute in the batting average and home run categories. (Leagues: deep NL-only)

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Rookies (5)
RHP Stephen Fife, LHP Paco Rodriguez, RHP Josh Wall, C Tim Federowicz, OF Alex Castellanos
No MLB Experience (5)
RHP Steve Ames*, RHP Matt Magill*, LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu*, RHP Chris Withrow, OF Yasiel Puig
On The Horizon
RHP Zach Lee

Top Rookie: The Dodgers spent $61.7 million to import Korean lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu into the middle of their rotation.

Fantasy Impact: Given his stuff, track record in Korea and supporting cast in Los Angeles, Ryu is positioned to succeed right away. The Dodgers expect him to fill a No. 3 or 4 starter role, and so should you in mixed leagues. (Leagues: standard mixed)

MIAMI MARLINS

Rookies (8)
RHP Jose Ceda, RHP Sam Dyson, LHP Dan Jennings, RHP Tom Koehler, RHP A.J. Ramos, C Rob Brantly, SS Adeiny Hechavarria, 1B Joe Mahoney
No MLB Experience (9)
RHP Arquimedes Caminero, LHP Braulio Lara**, LHP Edgar Olmos*, RHP Evan Reed, C Kyle Skipworth*, 3B Zack Cox, OF Kyle Jensen*, OF Marcell Ozuna*, OF Alfredo Silverio**
Who You Calling Rookie?
RHP Chris Hatcher (25 innings, 157 days)
On The Horizon
OF Jake Marisnick

Top Rookie: After coming over from the Blue Jays in the Jose Reyes blockbuster, Adeiny Hechavarria is the logical choice to replace him at shortstop.

Fantasy Impact: Catcher Rob Brantly hit for average and power versus righties during his callup last season, batting .313/.396/.513 in 91 plate appearances and hitting home runs against Stephen Strasburg and R.A. Dickey. He faces virtually no competition for playing time in Miami, but because rookie catchers are risky, make sure you have a backup plan. (Leagues: standard mixed)

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Rookies (5)
RHP Jim Henderson, RHP Wily Peralta, RHP Tyler Thornburg, SS Jeff Bianchi, OF Logan Schafer
No MLB Experience (12)
RHP Nick Bucci*, RHP Hiram Burgos*, RHP Johnny Hellweg, RHP Santo Manzanillo, RHP Michael Olmsted*, RHP Ariel Pena, RHP Jesus Sanchez, RHP Josh Stinson, 2B Scooter Gennett*, OF Khris Davis*, OF Caleb Gindl, OF Josh Prince*
Who You Calling Rookie?
RHP Mark Rogers (49 innings, 92 days)
On The Horizon
RHP Jimmy Nelson, 1B Hunter Morris

Top Rookie: If he pitches in the spring as he did last September for the Brewers, Wily Peralta will make the starting rotation.

Fantasy Impact: Jim Henderson (1.27 WHIP, 13.2 SO/9 in 36 appearances) and Peralta (2.48 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 7.1 SO/9 in 29 innings) head to camp with the brightest prospects for playing time, though they’re probably too volatile for mixed leagues. Keep in mind that Miller Park played as an extreme home run park in 2012, featuring 2.84 per game, a higher rate than any park but Yankee Stadium. (Leagues: deep NL-only)

NEW YORK METS

Rookies (5)
LHP Robert Carson, RHP Jeurys Familia, RHP Collin McHugh, RHP Elvin Ramirez, 3B Zach Lutz
No MLB Experience (10)
RHP Gonzalez Germen*, LHP Darin Gorski*, RHP Hansel Robles*, RHP Zack Wheeler*, C Travis d’Arnaud, 3B Wilmer Flores, 2B Reese Havens, SS Wilfredo Tovar*, OF Juan Lagares, OF Cesar Puello

Top Rookie: Zack Wheeler, the system’s top prospect, could make a Matt Harvey-like debut in the second half, and possibly sooner.

Fantasy Impact: Wheeler may not help your team in wins, ERA or WHIP this season, but he could inject strikeouts into the mix—he fanned 148 in 149 innings last year—while also serving as a strong keeper candidate for the future. (Leagues: prime keeper target)

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Rookies (4)
RHP Phillippe Aumont, RHP Tyler Cloyd, RHP B.J. Rosenberg, OF/1B Darin Ruf
No MLB Experience (8)
RHP Ethan Martin*, RHP Jonathan Pettibone*, LHP Mauricio Robles, C Sebastian Valle, 2B Cesar Hernandez, OF Zach Collier*, OF Tyson Gillies, OF Ender Inciarte**
Who You Calling Rookie?
RHP Justin De Fratus (14.2 innings, 150 days)
On The Horizon
C Tommy Joseph, 3B Cody Asche

Top Rookie: Manager Charlie Manuel likes power bats, and Darin Ruf will be given a chance to win at least part of the left-field job after leading the minors with 38 homers last season.

Fantasy Impact: Ruf smacked 51 home runs in 2012, which included three in 12 September games for Philadelphia and 10 more in 32 games in the Venezuelan League. At age 26 the time is now for Ruf, so teams in deep NL-only leagues might consider him if he earns a share of playing time in left field or first base. (Leagues: deep NL-only)

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Rookies (5)
RHP Kyle McPherson, RHP Bryan Morris, LHP Andy Oliver, LHP Justin Wilson, 1B Clint Robinson
No MLB Experience (6)
RHP Vic Black*, RHP Phil Irwin*, RHP Stolmy Pimentel, RHP Hunter Strickland*, RHP Duke Welker, C Tony Sanchez*
On The Horizon
RHP Gerrit Cole

Top Rookie: Kyle McPherson will get a chance to win a rotation spot after showing great poise in a September callup last season.

Fantasy Impact: McPherson may get to Pittsburgh first, but Gerrit Cole will make the biggest fantasy impact. (Think 2012 Matt Harvey.) In his minor league debut last season Cole went 9-7, 2.80 with a 1.20 WHIP and 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. (Leagues: prime keeper target)

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Rookies (8)
RHP Maikel Cleto, LHP Sam Freeman, RHP Shelby Miller, RHP Trevor Rosenthal, 1B Matt Adams, SS Ryan Jackson, SS Pete Kozma, OF Adron Chambers
No MLB Experience (5)
RHP Michael Blazek*, RHP Keith Butler*, RHP Eric Fornataro*, RHP Jorge Rondon*, LHP Kevin Siegrist*
On The Horizon
RHP Carlos Martinez, 2B Kolten Wong, OF Oscar Taveras

Top Rookie: Trevor Rosenthal hit 99 mph as a reliever in the playoffs for the Cardinals, and he has the stuff to start if given the opportunity, though he will open the season in the bullpen.

Fantasy Impact: Oscar Taveras won batting titles in the Midwest League in 2011, in the Texas League last year and then hit .316/.379/.507 with five homers in 39 games in the Dominican League. In other words, his bat looks ready. Taveras showed a rare combination of power (.252 isolated slugging) and contact ability (strikeouts in 10.5 percent of PAs) at Double-A last year, helping to make him one of the best long-range keeper targets among rookies. (Leagues: prime keeper target)

SAN DIEGO PADRES

Rookies (4)
RHP Brad Boxberger, RHP Casey Kelly, LHP Tommy Layne, RHP Nick Vincent
No MLB Experience (5)
RHP Adys Portillo*, OF Yeison Asencio*, OF Jaff Decker*, OF Rymer Liriano, OF Edinson Rincon
Who You Calling Rookie?
RHP Miles Mikolas (32.1 innings, 104 days), RHP Joe Wieland (27.2 innings, one year), OF/3B James Darnell (62 at-bats, one year, 26 days)
On The Horizon
LHP Robbie Erlin, 3B/2B Jedd Gyorko

Top Rookie: Casey Kelly has the stuff and the control to succeed, so all he needs is to command the ball better to halve his 6.21 ERA from 2012.

Fantasy Impact: Jedd Gyorko mashed 30 home runs in the high minors last season, but even in a reconfigured Petco Park, expect a heavy diet of doubles and line drives if he wins the second base job from Logan Forsythe. (Leagues: deep NL-only)

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Rookies (3)
RHP Jean Machi, RHP Dan Otero, OF Francisco Peguero
No MLB Experience (7)
RHP Jake Dunning*, LHP Edwin Escobar*, RHP Chris Heston*, SS Ehire Adrianza, SS Nick Noonan*, OF Roger Kieschnick, OF Juan Perez*
Who You Calling Rookie?
LHP Eric Surkamp (26.2 innings, one year, 33 days)
On The Horizon
RHP Heath Hembree, LHP Mike Kickham, OF Gary Brown

Top Rookie: Roger Kieschnick was close to breaking through when he injured his shoulder crashing into a wall last May.

Fantasy Impact: The defending World Series champs have a deep, veteran roster, so rookie contributions could be scant. The best bet for 2013 could be reliever Heath Hembree, who sits in the mid-90s and features a power slider. He saved 15 games and struck out 8.5 batters per nine innings for Triple-A Fresno last season in 39 appearances. Hembree would have to leapfrog Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla and Jeremy Affeldt for save opportunities, so impact potential is minimal. (Leagues: deep NL-only, possible keeper target)

WASHINGTON NATIONALS

Rookies (4)
RHP Christian Garcia, 1B Chris Marrero, OF Corey Brown, OF Eury Perez
No MLB Experience (5)
RHP Erik Davis*, RHP Nate Karns*, LHP Matt Purke, 3B Anthony Rendon, 3B Carlos Rivero
Who Are You Calling Rookie?
C Sandy Leon (30 at-bats, 102 days), C Jhonatan Solano (35 at-bats, 96 days)

Top Rookie: After a 2.13 ERA in 13 appearances for Washington in 2012, Christian Garcia is ready to assume a full-time role as a power reliever in the majors.

Fantasy Impact: Garcia notched a 0.86 ERA and near 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in the minors last season, but save opportunities will be scarce in a Nationals bullpen that features Rafael Soriano and Drew Storen. That’s why Eury Perez could have the most fantasy currency as a cheap source of speed in deep NL-only leagues. He swiped 51 bases in 66 attempts in the minors last year, and has 160 bags in 203 tries (79 percent) since 2010. (Leagues: deep NL-only)


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).