The other day I kicked off the first of a series of posts in which I will take a look at rookies who should or could have an impact in 2012. I will be going by division by division taking a look at rookies for each team. I will make my pick for the rookie whom I think will have the biggest impact as well as other guys to watch for. In the first article I took a look at the rookies in the NL West and up next is the National League Central.
Where does one start with the Astros? Unfortunately for Astros fans, I see another season in which they finish in the bottom five of the league. The roster is interesting though as most spots in the lineup and rotation are taken up by young guys who no longer have rookie status but still are not proven. You’d figure that in the rebuilding movement, it would be difficult to bump these youngsters off of their position but the guy who I think will have the biggest impact is infielder Marwin Gonzalez (Who?). He was a rule 5 pick by the Red Sox in December and was then traded to the Astros for AAA Rule 5 pick, Marco Duarte. He is versatile being able to play both middle infield positions. Short and second seem to be taken by Jed Lowrie and Jose Altuve but both players have yet to really prove themselves and Gonzalez could fill in at either position when needed. Other names to watch for are outfielder J.B. Shuck as a potential fourth outfielder, reliever Juan Abreu, and RHP Paul Clemens.
The Brewers system is turning it around after being so depleted a few years ago and the system looks ready to produce some guys that could make an impact in 2012. Baseball America rated RHP Wily Peralta as the number one prospect in the system and I believe he will have the biggest impact in 2012. He should start the year at AAA but baring any injuries or struggles by someone in the Brewers rotation, I believe Peralta is first in line to fill the spot. Another guy I like is infielder Taylor Green who could fill in at either third or second if anything happens to Aramis Ramirez or Rickie Weeks. I like his bat and the defense is passable at both spots. Watch for outfielder Logan Schafer, catcher Martin Maldonado, and RHP Mark Rogers as well.
The Cardinals are out to defend their World Series title but which rookie will have the greatest impact in 2012? I think that it will be RHP Lance Lynn. Lynn played an important role for the Cards out of the pen in last years championship run but this year I think he’ll be producing as a starter. Lynn looks to have a spot in the opening day rotation with Chris Carpenter likely on the DL and I think that he will perform well and stick there for the year. Watch for RHP Eduardo Sanchez as well who could be an important part of the bridge late in games to Jason Motte. Shelby Miller should get some time in the bigs but probably only as a September call up or out of the bullpen late in the year.
The Cubs are under new regime and it will be interesting to see how 2012 turns out for the club and which direction the club will be moving. There are a lot of rookies who I like to make an impact this season but my pick for the guy with the biggest impact is Brett Jackson. I would pick Bryan LaHair here who I think will be a huge sleeper but he is just barely over the AB qualifications for rookies. I believe he is ready to take over the spot in center field around June and post solid numbers for the remainder of the year. Another guy to watch is Welington Castillo who should backup Geovany Soto and who knows, maybe Soto is traded and Castillo gets the starting job. Watch for first baseman Anthony Rizzo who could take over LaHair’s job at first if he does not perform and watch for RHP Rafael Dolis as well.
The Pirates made themselves a nice little run last year and I think they will cause teams trouble again in 2012. The guy I think will have the biggest impact as a rookie for the Pirates this year is LHP Jeff Locke. A lot of the Pirates guys need more time in the minors, but Locke, who pitched a little in the bigs last year, should be first in line if a spot opens up in the rotation. I think a spot opening up is pretty likely too with a handful of guys with injury history or question marks. Starling Marte could also have an impact if he looks good at AAA and the Pirates think he is ready. Watch for LHP Justin Wilson out of the bullpen as well. .
I expect big things from the Reds this year, and they were my pick to represent the National League in the World Series. There are a handful of guys ready to contribute this year but my pick for who will have the biggest impact is shortstop Zack Cozart. Cozart will be the starting shortstop opening day and he is a nice sleeper for 2012. He should post a solid average, some power, with good speed as well. Maybe something like a .270 AVG, 15 homeruns, and 15 stolen bases. Cozart barely beat out one of the best catching prospects in the game in Devin Mesoraco as my pick. I think Mesoraco will play an important role, stepping up as the starting catcher at some point during the year, but I just think Cozart will have a bigger impact. Watch for utility man Todd Frazier as well.
Filed under: Digging Deep - Analysis, Fantasy, On the Farm - Prospects Tagged: | Anthony Rizzo, Aramis Ramirez, Brett Jackson, Bryan LaHair, Chicago Cubs, Chris Carpenter, Cincinnati Reds, Devin Mesoraco, Eduardo Sanchez, Geovany Soto, Houston Astros, J.B. Shuck, Jed Lowrie, Jeff Locke, Jose Altuve, Juan Abreu, Justin Wilson, Lance Lynn, Logan Schafer, Marco Duarte, Mark Rogers, Martin Maldonado, Marwin Gonzalez, Milwaukee Brewers, Paul Clemens, Pittsburgh Pirates, Rafael Dolis, Rickie Weeks, Rookie of the Year, Shelby Miller, St. Louis Cardinals, Starling Marte, Taylor Green, Todd Frazier, Welington Castillo, Wily Peralta, Zack Cozart