This is the last of a three-part series counting down the top fifteen prospects who will make a fantasy impact in the 2013 season. See Part I and Part II for a thorough discussion of #15 through #6. Keep in mind that this list is specifically focused on fantasy impact players– those guys who you can expect to contribute significantly to their teams and yours in the coming campaign. With that in mind, let’s get into the second group!
#5: Dan Straily (SP, OAK)
Highest Level in 2012: MAJ
Straily is a name that gets overlooked quite often on top prospect lists. This is strange considering the quality of his stuff and the success he has had at every level. In 152 IP between AA and AAA last year, Straily posted a 2.78 ERA and struck out 190 batters while only allowing 110 hits. He was rewarded with a September call-up, and he delivered by going 2-1 with a 3.89 ERA, striking out 32 in 36 innings. He features a low-to-mid-90s fastball and very good breaking stuff. With Bartolo Colon serving a suspension for PED use, Straily should break spring training as Oakland’s number-five starter; look for him to deliver some fantasy impact in W and K from day one.
Darin Ruf will probably not show up on many top prospect lists. He's already 26 years old, and he doesn't really have a place to play with Ryan Howard blocking him at 1B. What can't be overlooked is the awesome power he possesses. In 483 AB in AAA last year, Darin hit 38 HR to lead all minor leaguers. Then in a September call-up with the big club, he smacked 3 more in just 33 at bats. In those 502 combined AB, he struck out 114 times, which is far from terrible in this day and age. He also walked 67 times and hit nearly .320 in the process. Ruf has moved to the OF and he could end up in a platoon situation with Delmon Young. A half-season worth of ABs could easily lead to 20 HR.
#3: Zack Wheeler (SP, NYM)
Highest Level in 2012: AAA
The Mets thought enough of Zach Wheeler’s ability to make him the centerpiece of a trade for Carlos Beltran. Wheeler hasn’t disappointed, delivering 12 W and a 148 K in 149 IP between AA and AAA. He only surrendered 115 H and 59 BB over that period, which equates to a stellar 1.168 WHIP. His electric stuff has been compared to Stephen Strasburg’s, but the Mets are trying to take it slowly with the 22-year-old phenom. Developmentally, they consider him a year behind Matt Harvey, meaning Wheeler will make his debut late this season and join the rotation full-time in 2014. Wheeler is high on my list of impact rookies for 2013 because I believe that with the Mets relying on oft-injured starters like Johan Santana and Shaun Marcum, we could see Wheeler much sooner. If that happens, he has the potential to be the fantasy steal of 2013.
#2: Wil Myers (OF, TB)
Highest Level in 2012: MAJ
When MLB scouts are asked "Who could be this year's Mike Trout or Bryce Harper?" their answer is usually Wil Myers. The centerpiece of the James Shields trade should get every opportunity to put up a huge year in Tampa. In just over 520 AB between AA and AAA last year, Myers hit over .300, smacked 37 HR and drove in 109 RBI. His approach at the plate is solid and draws comparisons to Ryan Braun. I like Myers to crack Tampa's weak-hitting outfield relatively soon, if not right out of Spring Training. He'll hit-- and hit with power-- wherever he plays.
Peralta established himself as the top Milwaukee pitching prospect by the beginning of the 2012 season, but finished 7-11 with a 4.66 ERA at AAA Nashville, causing him to be passed on the organizational depth chart by Tyler Thornburg. This didn't stop him from getting a September call-up though, where he impressed with a 2-1 record over 5 starts, allowing 24 H over 29 IP and striking out 24. Peralta has dominant stuff including a high-90s fastball, and he's an imposing presence on the mound. He has averaged close to 1 K/IP for his entire professional career, and you should not forget about him on draft day. He projects to win a rotation spot with the Brewers coming out of Spring Training. If that's the case, he should be a cheap source for Ks.