Fantasy Baseball — 04 April 2011
In 2010 we saw an influx of talented rookies who had huge impacts on the season, with the likes of Jason Heyward, Stephen Strasburg, Neftali Feliz, and Buster Posey all turning in impressive debuts.  While it will be tough to top that kind of star power, the 2011 class of rookies is very talented as well. Below are the top rookie candidates to have a major impact for their teams this season.

 

Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants

Belt (above) may not be the opening day starter for the Giants at first, but unless Aubrey Huff turns in a miraculous year, expect to see this young slugger up in the majors for a good amount of time this season.

Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves

Freeman will take over full time first base duties for the braves in 2011. A great hitter with above average power which can cause many to forget about his tremendous fielding skills, Freeman has a bright future ahead of him.

Jeremy Hellickson, Tampa Bay Rays

Last years’ USA Today minor league player of the year earned a spot in the Rays’ rotation this spring and is more than capable of becoming a reliable every-day starter. The Rays however are hoping he turns into an ace.

Mitch Moreland, Texas Rangers

Moreland may end up splitting some time with Mike Napoli and Michael Young, but for now he’s been named the starter at 1b. Moreland offers big time power that may come as a trade-off of some batting average points.

Domonic Brown, Philadelphia Phillies

Prior to a spring training injury, people were buzzing about the potential of the former No.  1 overall prospect in baseball. When healthy, Brown is capable of being dangerous not only at the place, but also on the bases. Once he recovers he should regain a spot in the Phillies’ outfield, but keep in mind that may be at least a month or two away.

Desmond Jennings, Tampa Bay Rays

Filling the shoes of Carl Crawford would be a tough task for any major league player, but Jennings will be asked to do just that as a rookie in 2011. Jennings has been described as having a very similar skill set to Crawford and it will be interesting to see how he deals with the scrutiny he will face as a result.

Kyle Drabek, Toronto Blue Jays

The son of former Cy Young winner Doug Drabek, Kyle earned a spot in the Jays rotation and will look to live up to the huge amount of hype surrounding him.

J.P. Arencibia, Toronto Blue Jays

Arencibia’s numbers improved each year in his time in the minor leagues. He will be the opening day starter at catcher and offers a good amount of power to go along with his solid defense behind the plate.

Jesus Montero, New York Yankees

Montero has all kinds of potential at the plate, but the Yankees have decided to give him some more time to develop in the minors rather than put him on the opening day roster. Nevertheless, expect to see him on the team in some capacity at some point this year.

Mike Moustakas, Kansas City Royals

The Royals have had their fair share of disappointing prospects recently, but Moustakas looks to be the first in a long line of prospects expected to turn this organization around. Moustakas has tremendous power and will definitely see some playing time at the major league level this year.

Ivan Nova, New York Yankees

Nova had a strong showing in his limited time in 2010 and was named the 4th Starter in the rotation as a result. He will be under a much greater amount of pressure than the rest of the names on this list, partly because of where he plays, but mainly because he is seen as someone who could make or break the Yankees because of their pitching depth.

Brandon Beachy, Atlanta Braves

Beachy turned in a handful of decent outings in his late season call-up last year but will face a much larger role after being named the 5th starter in the Braves’ rotation after a strong spring.

Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox

Sale provided solid late-inning relief last year and could perhaps be called upon to start some games this season. If so, he will definitely be a rookie to keep an eye on in terms of fantasy value.

Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds

Chapman burst onto the scene in 2010, catching widespread attention with his 100mph+ fastball. He may not see time as a starter yet as the Reds will look to protect his young arm, but look for him to provide some late innings relief and possibly even be given some opportunities at closer, similar to how Neftali Feliz was used in Texas.

Brett Wallace, Houston Astros

Wallace was a highly touted hitter in the minors, but didn’t quite live up to that billing in his brief stint with the ‘stros after being traded in 2010. Houston would love to add some power to their lineup and are hoping Wallace can start to develop into a middle of the order presence.

Danny Espinosa, Washington Nationals

Espinosa will be the opening day starter at 2nd for the Nationals and is an intriguing prospect with a good amount of pop in his bat.

Peter Bourjos, Los Angeles Angels

Bourjos’ speed and glove have him as the odds-on-favorite to be the starter in center field for the Angels. He will swipe plenty of bags but still has a lot of room for improvement with the bat.

Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles

Britton is the second of the Orioles’ top pitching prospects to arrive in the majors recently and by all accounts has some filthy stuff. He may not start on the opening day roster, but a call-up to the bigs shouldn’t be too far off.

Cory Luebke, San Diego Padres

Luebke is a promising young starter who pitched well throughout the minors and won a spot on the Padres roster. He could be called on to start some games in the immediate future with the depth issues the Padres currently have on their staff.

Dustin Ackley, Seattle Mariners

Ackley is another guy who will probably spend some time in the minors this year before getting the call up to the majors, but in his case this has more to do with delaying his arbitration clock. Once Ackley gets to the show, expect big things from the former No. 2 overall pick.

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