This is the first installment of the Prospect Report, which will be a series of articles highlighting different players that fantasy baseball owners need to know about for the future. This is a great way to stay ahead of the curve by learning about the new wave of talent getting ready to make their names known in fantasy circles.

The players mentioned below are the most “Big League ready” hitting prospects and could play a part on your fantasy baseball team this season. The long-term fantasy value of these players are extremely unpredictable, so they are ranked for this 2012 MLB season only. If you are playing in a standard league (non-keeper and non-dynasty leagues), these players are of interest to you.

1. Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs – The left-handed hitting first baseman was traded to the Cubs this past offseason in a deal that sent reliever Andrew Cashner to the San Diego Padres. Rizzo is having a monster season for Triple-A Iowa, .364 BA/23 HR/59 RBI in 231 AB’s, and will likely be in the majors before too long. Bryan LaHair is the Cubs’ current first baseman and he is having a pretty good season so far, better then most would have expected. LaHair would likely move into an outfield position to make room for Rizzo at first base.

For now the 22-year-old Rizzo will sit back and wait for the inevitable call that has him headed for his Major League debut at some point. There has been speculation on when that will happen and it should be before the All-Star break so keep an eye on the situation. Rizzo is certainly a player who can be of good fantasy relevance this year, it just remains to be seen how much playing time he will get if and when the call is made.

Fantasy Baseball Prospects Volume 1 - Hitting Prospects Who are Ready for Majors - Travis D'Arnaud2. Travis D’Arnaud, Catcher, Toronto Blue Jays – The 23-year-old backstop is destroying Triple-A pitching this season with a .335 batting average, 15 homeruns and 48 runs batted in just over 250 at-bats for the Las Vegas 51s. The roadblock to the Big Leagues is J.P. Arencibia, who is currently the starting catcher in the major leagues.

Arencibia, who is 26-years-old, has great power but doesn’t hit for a very good average and could be trade bait as the season goes on. The Blue Jays are currently 6.5 games out of first place in the American League East 2 ½ months into the 2012 campaign. If they start to slide in the wrong direction, don’t be surprised if they ship out Arencibia and give D’Arnaud a shot to play everyday for the big club.

If that happens, owners will want to give D’Arnaud a look, especially in deeper leagues because his talent could make him a top 10 catcher in fantasy baseball next season. The combination of great power and average will make him an All-Star in the future and a mainstay in fantasy leagues. The Jays two other notable prospects in shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria and outfielder Anthony Gose who could surround D’Arnaud in a potentially potent lineup in a couple seasons.

3. Wil Myers, OF, Kansas City Royals – The Royals are hoping that the 21-year-old Myers will be on their Opening Day roster for the beginning of the 2013 season which is a very likely scenario. Myers started this season in Double-A and hit very well before being promoted to Triple-A just over a month ago where he has continued to produce. In 66 minor leagues games between the two levels this year, Myers has hit .337 with 24 long balls and 61 RBI’s and doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all.

With the way things are going right now, the Royals may want to think about bringing Myers up to the Show after the All-Star break to see what he can do. The former 3rd round draft pick in 2009 is exceeding expectations and is ahead of schedule on his development as a professional. Myers is also an above average fielder with a very good arm who figures to play right field in Kansas City when he arrives. The Royals also have another top outfielder prospect in Bubba Starling who was drafted fifth overall in 2011 and should play alongside Myers in center field in a couple seasons. It could be a very formidable duo in the Kansas City outfield if everything goes to plan.

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