Prospects Report: Reviewing our rookie forecast

Sometimes the best things are those you don't see coming.

Sure, you can salivate over the potential of Stephen Strasburg, celebrating Strasmas in July everytime he pitches. Or you can anticipate the return to health and the NL East pennant race of Jason Heyward, who set the Fantasy Baseball world on fire with his opening day three-run, first-inning homer that sent former ace Carlos Zambrano spiraling into obscurity.

But it is those truly hidden gems that really get you excited, like lucking into the breakthrough player of the year (Robinson Cano) or having the first-half AL (Miguel Cabrera) and NL (Joey Votto) MVPs on your team. (Each of that trio is in their age-27 season, by the way).

Let's review's preseason Top 25 rookies to target in a "Where are they now?" fashion. But first, we lament -- and celebrate -- the completely missed ones we didn't see coming.

How about slugging Brennan Boesch? All he is doing is hitting .341 with 12 homers, 47 RBI, 33 runs, two steals, a .391 OBP and .595 SLUG. That is what is meant by playing with the house's money on a player.

Not only was Boesch a bit player for the Tigers in spring training, he was overshadowed by trade acquisition Austin Jackson, and was left off our top 25 rookies to target. Heck, he wasn't even in our top 85 AL-only prospects to watch.

It wasn't just an oversight by this writer. Boesch slotted just 25th by the esteemed Baseball America Prospect Handbook ... among Tigers prospects alone, not all of baseball. Amazing.

In our Mea Culpa specific to and this writer, it has to be one Mike Leake. He was just 51st in our NL-only prospects list, just out of the Top 100 overall. We projected he would begin his pro career in high Class A, not the major leagues without ever throwing an official pitch as a professional. Even if we were quick to jump on the bandwagon when he beat out Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman and recent callup Travis Wood for the Reds' No. 5 starter's spot days before the season opener, we have to admit we didn't see Leake rising this quickly.

In reviewing our final preseason Top 25 rookies to target from late March we now have to take note of No. 23 on the list, one Daniel Hudson. Not only was he the biggest faller from our initial run in early March, but he also is the next one to impact Fantasy Baseball.

We figured in the spring that Hudson could beat out Freddy Garcia for the White Sox's No. 5 starter's spot after stating a brief case last September (3.38 ERA in six games). Once he was ticketed for Triple-A, we said wait until the summer.

Hudson was one of the overlooked prospects of 2009, when he had his own first full pro season and rose to Fantasy relevance come August. See, when acquiring Jake Peavy in trade-deadline deal last year, GM Kenny Williams said on national TV that the Old Dominion product (7-0, 1.61 ERA in Double-A at the time) would be a potential contributor down the stretch before their new trade piece Peavy would be off the DL with his ankle injury.

Coincidentally, the loss of Peavy (detached lat muscle behind his throwing shoulder) for the rest of the 2010 season puts Hudson squarely in the must-add zone in Fantasy again. Since writing the player update that Hudson was pulled from Sunday's Futures Game as a potential Peavy fill-in that day, the 23-year-old White Sox right-hander's ownership on more than doubled from 12 percent to 27.

He could warrant being owned in over 75 percent of leagues with a quality start Sunday for the White Sox. Despite no official word the White Sox will go to Hudson as their No. 5 starter for the second half, we fully expect Hudson will be recalled this weekend and hold outstanding value in any Fantasy format.

Hudson had a brutal April after losing the No. 5 starter's job, posting a 9.37 ERA in Triple-A through four starts. He has steadily improved, though, going 4-0, 2.43 in May and 5-1, 2.06 in June. He lost his first two starts but is now an impressive 11-4 with a 3.47 ERA, 108 strikeouts to just 31 walks in 93 1/3 innings in his 17 starts. Batters are hitting just .228 against him.

Yeah, he is ready for the major leagues.

He might not have surprised us like Leake did this spring, but Hudson can be even more productive than Leake from here on out. Some might not see him coming and that at least makes him an affordable addition to your Fantasy team right now.

Here is the rest of our review of the top 25 rookies to target. This list below was our updated version in late March after our initial look earlier that month. Just don't laugh at us for not having Leake or Boesch on there.

Reviewing the preseason Top 25 rookies to target on Draft Day
RK Player POS TM AGE 2009 high 2010 start
1 Jason Heyward OF ATL 20 Triple-A Majors
We changed our No. 1 to him because of all the hype in spring, which was justified early but is empty since June 1.
2 Stephen Strasburg SP WAS 21 NCAA Double-A
He opening in the minors warranted him off the top spot, but clearly he looks every bit worthy, perhaps even more so.
3 Aroldis Chapman SP CIN 22 Defecting Double-A
Love the talent, but the fact he will finish up in the Reds' bullpen makes him a wasted roster spot in non-keeper leagues.
4 Alcides Escobar SS MIL 23 Majors Majors
The preseason first rookie picked is easily the most disappointing one to date. The worst part is he hardly steals bases.
5 Wade Davis SP TB 24 Majors Majors
He was great in April, mediocre in May and completely terrible in June and July. Is it Jeremy Hellickson time?
6 Brian Matusz SP BAL 23 Majors Majors
We said he would be a victim of his supporting cast, but at least his awful May (0-4, 7.50) is out of his system by now.
7 Austin Jackson OF DET 23 Triple-A Majors
He has been surprisingly impressive, but he has been dramatically overshadowed by his teammate who was off the radar.
8 Ian Desmond SS WAS 24 Majors Majors
He has been streaky, but his first-half numbers have him on a pace that is right about where our projections slot him.
9 Jaime Garcia SP STL 23 Triple-A Majors
Everyone underrated the Tommy John survivor. It will be very interesting to see if he holds off 1-2 above for NL ROY.
10 Neftali Feliz SP TEX 21 Majors Majors
Had we known he was going to take over as the closer so early this season, we might have considered him No. 1.
11 Scott Sizemore 2B DET 25 Triple-A Majors
A big early disappointment, but back in Triple-A his numbers look pretty good; the homer or steals just aren't there.
12 Adam Moore C SEA 25 Triple-A Majors
We ranked him high because of his position, but he couldn't earn the job and is resigned to hitting .385 in Triple-A.
13 David Freese 3B STL 26 Triple-A Majors
He had his moments in the first half, but he hasn't been an impact Fantasy player since May and is on the DL now.
14 Michael Brantley OF CLE 22 Majors Majors
We overrated his steals potential. He could be a decent sleeper in real deep Rotisserie leagues post-break, though.
15 Buster Posey C SF 23 Majors Triple-A
It didn't take long for him to become the regular catcher once called up and now the HRs are coming in bunches.
16 Madison Bumgarner SP SF 20 Majors Triple-A
He has been dominant since his bad spring and early bad start in Triple-A; his last start shows he can star now.
17 Desmond Jennings OF TB 23 Triple-A Triple-A
A wrist injury slowed him in spring and the first half, but he looks like he could stay in Triple-A until September.
18 Pedro Alvarez 3B PIT 23 Double-A Triple-A
After a slow start in the majors, he has showed his potential with a pair of homers and a .304 average in July.
19 Gaby Sanchez 1B FLA 26 Majors Majors
We ranked him modestly because his numbers at a deep position would be just that, but he was great in June (.375).
20 Carlos Santana C CLE 23 Double-A Triple-A
It will be very interesting to see where he finishes with regard to Posey and Wieters among young catchers.
21 Chris V. Carter 1B OAK 23 Triple-A Triple-A
His power potential is great, but you have to ask what would his PCL average (.237) translate to in Oakland?
22 Jonathon Niese SP NYM 23 Majors Majors
He has really come on after coming off the DL, which makes him far more valuable than where we ranked him.
23 Daniel Hudson SP CHW 23 Majors Triple-A
We had him much higher originally, just outside the top 10, but moved him down when he didn't make the team out of spring.
24 Michael Stanton OF FLA 20 Double-A Double-A
Embarrassing ranking: We knew the talent, but he just rose far more quickly than we could have envisioned.
25 Kyle Drabek SP TOR 22 Double-A Triple-A
He is perhaps the one name of this 25 that really hasn't gotten a sniff of a callup, but he does have a no-hitter.

Newbie needs

Chris A.: I was wondering if you could add Charles Furbush to your player database and provide some expert info or updates on him in your next prospects report. I am surprised he is not already in the system, as he is vastly superior to most pitchers in the minor leagues and is K/BB and K/IP ratios are sick. He is a minor-league pitcher in Double A for the Detroit Tigers.

Emack: Speaking of overlooked prospects we didn't see coming, great suggestion. Furbush, a lefty out of LSU, has been solid in his promotion to Double-A, going 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA, .218 batting-average against and 19 strikeouts in 21 innings (three starts). For the season, he is (5-5)-3.21-.227-128 in 98 innings (16 starts). The Baseball America Prospect Handbook didn't have him in their top 30 prospects coming into the season, but he is one of the Tigers' best now. He was listed behind fellow lefties Casey Crosby and Andrew Oliver this spring, but he might even be better than both of them going forward. Consider him a solid add in long-term keeper leagues, even if we don't see the 24-year-old impacting Fantasy this year, yet.

Mario Marchetti: Can you add Trey McNutt, RHP, Cubs to your prospect list. He was just promoted to high Class A after going 6-0 with a 1.51 ERA in low Class A.

Emack: More in the way of things we didn't see coming. McNutt, whose first name is Kenneth but goes by his middle name Trey, was a 32nd-round pick by the Cubs in 2009. Major league teams passed on him after he turned down an eighth-round offer by the Twins. He is now a hard-throwing potential major-league starter prospect. He and Furbush should be owned in at least 1 percent of's leagues by next week.

Bill W.: Jordan Lyles. Have you heard why he hasn't started in 10 days?

Emack: Continuing to help you stay abreast of things you cannot see, Lyles pitched Tuesday to poor results. Either he struggled after an extended break to limit his innings, or there could be a lingering injury issue. The important note is the 19-year-old Astros right-hander isn't expected to impact the majors or Fantasy this season. He is just a bit too young and raw. He remains a strong long-term keeper prospect, though.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter . You can e-mail us your Fantasy Baseball questions to . Be sure to put Prospects Report in the subject field. Please include your full name, hometown and state.

Crave freelancer Eric Mack is a writer, radio producer, and podcaster based in Taos, N.M., but he lives in Google+. He's also managing editor of Full Bio

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