March 10, 2009

In general, I would say to be wary of investing too much in a rookie. There is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to projecting young players and a lot of the elite prospects tend to get hyped up by the media. Keep this in mind as we go over a few AL prospects that could help. Also, please note that this assumes you are playing in a single season league, not a keeper league.

Herewith, the best prospects to consider this season ...

Most of you should be familiar with Wieters as of now. Most projection systems have him as one of the top catchers in '09, including our own THT projection system, which has him slated for a .286 average with 25 home runs and 83 RBIs. While Wieters clearly has outstanding statistics, along with excellent scouting reports, I would be careful about not going too high for Wieters. Obviously, some top prospects, like Evan Longoria, have lived up to the hype in their initial major league debuts. But one must also keep in mind guys like Alex Gordon, who had some growing pains as he adjusted to the majors. Wieters could very well be the No. 1 catcher of the '09 season. However, you will have to ask yourself how much you are willing to invest to find this out.

Snider is one of the top hitting prospects in the minors and should see significant time playing for Toronto this year. Snider has very good power but has struggled to make consistent contact at times. He should be able to help you out with home runs and RBIs, but he could be a big batting average liability. If you need some power, Snider wouldn't be a bad guy to invest in. Just know what his weaknesses are.

Price had an impressive major league debut with Tampa Bay last year, but it is yet to be seen where he will he start '09. Regardless of where he starts, Price should see some pretty good playing time in the majors next year. While Price dominated teams in the majors last year, keep in mind he was performing in relief. Look for Price to be a solid, if not dominating, starter next year, while facing a few struggles at times.

Miller has had injury concerns during spring training. When healthy, Miller has electric stuff that plays even better coming out of relief, which he is projected to do in '09. With Kerry Wood being no sure thing, Miller has the potential for saves, as well. The big question with Miller will be his health.

Cleveland has been looking for a slugging corner outfielder for some time now, and Laporta could be the guy that fills that need. While he will probably start the year in Triple-A, Laporta is a viable call up option for '09. Laporta has similar current skills as Snider, possessing above average power but struggling to make contact at times. Laporta brings batting average risk, but he's another who can help you out in the power department if/when he gets called up.

While Trevor Cahill may possess more upside among Oakland's top starting pitching prospects (not including 16-year-old Michael Inoa), Anderson is the most polished, giving him a better chance to get playing time in '09. Anderson combines excellent command with above average stuff. While he's thrown only 31 innings above A-ball, Anderson could force his ways to the major leagues in '09.

Another one of Oakland's talented pitching prospects, Gonzalez has a much better shot of starting '09 in Oakland's rotation than Anderson. Gonzalez uses a plus curveball to rack up strikeouts, but struggles at times with his command. Gonzalez could struggle initially, but he provides good upside and the chance to help you out with strikeouts.

Cunningham doesn't have one tool that particularly sticks out, but he has a polished approach and can help out in multiple fantasy categories. While he doesn't have the same upside as Snider or Laporta, Cunningham's game may be more suited to help contribute in '09. The big question with Cunningham is if he can squeeze into Oakland's outfield. He may have to start '09 in Triple-A but look for him to make contributions in the majors soon.

Ramirez doesn't have a starting spot with Texas right now, but if he makes the team, he should see some time as a back up catcher and subbing for Chris Davis and Hank Blalock. Ramirez can really hit, and he projects as a much better offensive option than Texas' other catching prospect, Taylor Teagarden. Watch carefully to see what Texas does with their catching situation.

Once a top prospect with the Braves, Lillibridge has seen his stock fallen but is competing for the White Sox second base job. Lillibridge has seen his approach at the plate regress over the last few years, but when he's on, he provides solid power and very good speed. He provides pretty good upside for a late round pick.

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