You got some sleepers yesterday. Now you want rookies. What, you want this year’s Ryan Braun? Well, you may have to wait another lifetime because The Hebrew Hammer set the all-time rookie slugging percentage record at .634. These things don’t happen every year. More often than not, you get rookie numbers like Delmon Young put up. Respectable, but nothing more than 5th outfielder type stuff. Just don’t overpay for some of these guys and you’ll be fine. Risk averse? Draft Lyle Overbay and come in fourth in your league. Better yet, draft Chad Tracy and come in 7th. Better still, have your niece draft your team for you. If you’re in a keeper league, you absolutely must draft a few of these 2008 rookies. In advance, you’re welcome.
Joey Votto – Opposite field power in a hitter’s park? Yes, please. All indications point to Votto having the 1st base job in ’08. Dusty Baker at the helm? Okay, Votto might get 120 games in. Baker thwarted Murton’s growth and he could do it again, but Votto looks special. Minors numbers, a near .900 OPS. 1st year projections: .285-20-75
Geovany Soto – I got called out for excluding Soto on my top twenty catchers draft list; I also have money riding on Kristy Joe winning Rock of Love (she looks like a long shot at best) and had Fidel Castro in my ’07 death pool, so I’m not perfect. I’m starting to come around on Soto and he’s looking more and more like he needs to be drafted in every mixed league. Got a PCL MVP under his belt, plus power in Wrigley — fifteen homers might be an underestimate. Still use caution, but Soto might be a great steal on draft day. Projections: .270-17-65
Manny Parra – I’m high on Parra, as he’s already turned up on one of my sleeper lists. Grab rookie pitchers with nasty stuff when the league doesn’t know them, then use extreme caution in their second year when they hit their adjustment period (Jered Weaver in ’07). Projections: 8-3/3.30/1.22/130 over 140 innings. If he’s not in the rotation in April, just wait for Sheets to get injured.
Daric Barton – At 22, I think he’s still way too young to make an impact in mixed leagues, but in AL-only keepers, you gotta grab him. He should be a great one in two years tops; his eye is right out of the Moneyball mold. A top twenty pick overall by 2012 (when, obviously, you will be doing all of your drafting in flying cars). This year’s projections: .290-15-70.
Clay Buchholz – The other day a Sox fan emailed me this, “One word – BuchholzBeckettBuchholzBeckettBuchholzBeckettBuchholzBeckett!” Ah, Southies. Buchholz has nasty stuff. An Oswaltian 12-6 that falls off the table, a major league ready changeup combined with a low-90s fastball. AL East is not too kind to pitchers, but he could make an impact this year with a spot in the rotation, which he’ll probably have. Projections: 13-6/4.25/1.20/140 in 160 innings.
Joba Chamberlain – Can’t have a Sox mention without a Yankees follow-up. It’s Constitutional. Obviously, Joba was filthy in ’07 as the 8th inning man. Can he do it again? Sure, but probably as a middle reliever again. At least for part of the year. Does this mean you should avoid him? Nah. As you can see from our 2007 Player Rater, lots of value from solid middle relievers. Projections: 8-2/2.25/1.00/115 in 110 innings.
Cameron Maybin – Wrap your head around this; he was born in 1987. That’s right; the same year Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Iron Sheik were caught doping up in the same car. They were hated rivals! But I digress. Do I see big things for Maybin? Yes, in three years. Let’s just hope he makes the Reggie Abercrombie era a distant memory. Projections: Lots of growing pains and 20 steals. Come back in ’09 mixed-leaguers. NL-Only, take a look. Keepers, you gotta take a flier.
Evan Longoria – Quick stroke with power. Hopefully, the Rays don’t hesitate as long as they did with Upton and Young. Just start the major league clock already! Keep your expectations to a minimal. There will be Mike Seaver-sized growing pains. Projections: .275-15-70
Justin Upton – Now here’s a team that doesn’t hold its prospects in the minors. Technically, he’s not a rookie anymore, but it’s my site and I do as I do. At the time of his call up, Baseball America considered Justin to be the minors’ best prospect. Once upon a time, they awarded the same honor to Gregg Jefferies, back in 1987. (At least it wasn’t Sgt. Slaughter and the Iron Sheik. That would have been devastating.) But, no caveat emptor, Justin’s better than Jefferies. In fact, his ceiling is Miguel Cabrera with the bat and his brother on the bases. 30/30, not this year, but it may not be that far off. I say you should grab him as early as your fourth outfielder in mixed leagues and he’s probably taken already in your keeper. If he’s not and you’re rebuilding, you gotta grab him before someone else. He could be a top twenty player by as early as 2010 (and if you’re following along, that is two years before flying cars). Projections: .290-15-60-25
Post down in the comments names you think I’ve forgotten.