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As of 4/10, these middle infielders are all owned in less than 10% of ESPN leagues, and contingent on the context, I would conditionally own them all. And that’s how you alliterate league format dependency.

While they’re ranked by %ownership, I’ll furnish my zeal for each:

#1 – Kolten Wong (6.5%) – He’s only 23, so give him a little time. He’s already got a top-20 contact rate this year and has impressively walked more than he struck out. He’s batting .276 with a .382 OBP and 2 stolen bases. I’m not sure why he’s owned < 10%. Mark Ellis (DL/knee) and Daniel Descalso won’t consume that much time away from him. Very soon, he’ll be owned in over 10% of leagues, so make that happen sooner than later. 70+ runs near the top of that lineup with a 7HR-45RBI-20SB-.270BA is playable at MI.

#7 – Alcides Escobar (3.4%) – If you need cheap SB and are not in an OBP league, I still think he’s playable this year. I thought if he could average his 2012 and 2013 BABIP, he’d have a normal line this year, and by normal I mean a Kolten Wong-like 70r-5hr-25sb with a .260BA. Unfortunately, a slow start this year, driven by an elevated flyball% and horrendous pop-up% is killing his value.

#4 – Alberto Callaspo (2.3%) – Unlike Escobar from both a speed and on base perspective, he’s a good deep league option with enough PA’s. If you got Billy Hamilton on your team, don’t need speed at MI, and need to offset Hamilton’s OBP, here’s your guy.

#3 – Javier Baez (0.6%) – Let’s look at the Cubs’ second base and third base options: Michael Olt, Luis Valbuena, Darwin Barney and Josh Vitters. There’s no chance for the Cubs to be in the NL Central race, otherwise Baez would be up already. I don’t like him as much as other prospects that have a higher initial BABIP potential (Gregory Polanco, Oscar Tavares), but he’s also an infielder, which could provide immediate power in a fantasy baseball world that is lacking power. If you’re in a keeper/dynasty league, obviously he’s already owned, but I would consider holding onto him in redraft leagues for value June-onward…similar to Garin Cecchini at 3b who I mentioned in my Deep Impact: CI post.

#6 – Nick Franklin (0.4%) – I think he’s already got the Quad-A tag on him, but at the same time he’s raking in AAA right now: 1.00 K/BB ratio and 3 HR and 1 SB in only 21 plate appearances. Simultaneously, Brad Miller has basically struggled since his 3rd game of the season: 2 hits in his last 21 AB with a 8:1 K/BB ratio. I’m a Miller fan, so no way I’m selling, but it’s worth watching. Franklin has put up awesome numbers in AA & and AAA the 2nd time around. The average sucked due to the K-rate, but nothing else was that out of hand and he still walked over 10% of the time. I’d take the chance on him if an opportunity arises.

And the guys at < .2%:

#2 – Jonathan Schoop (0.1%) – His Spring won him a spot, has already hit a homer off Masahiro Tanaka and in my opinion can hold is own so long as he shows some discipline. I think the Orioles realize he’s not an uber-prospect, didn’t 100% care about his service time and want to win-now. Ryan Flaherty and Steve Lombardozzi won’t kill his PT and he seems like he’s heating up too. Deep/AL-only leagues…sc(h)oop him up.

#8 – Derek Dietrich (0.1%) – I pointed to Derek Dietrich as a deep sleeper in my “BGLIF” – xBABIP Approach to Sleepers because of his potential speed/power combination. He’ll need the combo to inflate the BABIP, but so far so good and he’s even walked 3 times to 4 K’s. Jeff Baker and Rafael Furcal is the issue here. Keep an eye on Dietrich if he can continue to consume 2b time.

#5Tommy La Stella (0.1%) – You won’t find La Stella on top prospect lists, but he’s in AAA, he’s 25 already and he’s already at a 2.0 BB/K ratio this year. Oh – and Dan Uggla is batting sub .200 with a K-rate approaching 30%. The Braves need to make a change and 2B could be one of the earlier changes that they make. I compared La Stella to Dustin Pedroia here.

I surprised myself by ranking Schoop #2 above, but the Orioles are in win-now mode, the opportunity is his and he looks to be heating up. Chances are Baez takes over the #2 spot on this list sooner than later. While you should be excited about Correa, Lindor, Russell and Betts below long-term, none of them should provide significant impact this year. On the other hand, I ranked Tommy La Stella with the above list as I do think he’ll see plenty of time.

Finally, here are the high impact prospects that should provide value by 2015:

1) Francisco Lindor – Already saw time in AA last year at 19 with a 2.0 BB/K ratio in almost 100 PA! The ratio was on its way up too. The contact rate in conjunction with the discipline makes him elite. Even if he’s not uber fast, the on-base% will ensure 20+ SB’s per year. All this, his fielding capability and the performance thus far by Asdrubal Cabrera (or his trade candidacy) could expedite Lindor’s arrival. Lindor is some more power away from being perhaps the #2 prospect in baseball next year.

2) Mookie Betts – Currently 21 in AA dominating early (1HR, 2SB, .458BA, 1.244OPS). I own him (and guys like Garin Cechhini and Stephen Piscotty) rather than spending big money on top prospects. I also trade my top prospects for win-now assets and then keep guys like Betts, Cecchini & Piscotty who will likely grow into their value based on their MLB-translatability.

3) Addison Russell – 20 in AA, Russell basically went 20/20 last year in A+ with solid discipline. He has much more power than Lindor and probably Correa for the near future.

4) Carlos Correa – Only 19 in A+ but he should be the #4 prospect as of 2015 with a big power jump this year. I just wouldn’t roster him until 2016 in redraft leagues.

 

Lastly – Dan Schwartz. You haven’t heard of him and he’s a bit chubby for a 30 year-old 2nd baseman, but he’s currently hitting 85 mph in batting cages prior to sweating profusely after about 27 swings while grown men hitting softballs and little-leaguers watch on. He’ll be the CI/2b/Util for the TCMABL MN Lake Monsters. He’s also Dano on Razzball.

You can follow me on Twitter @Rotobanter.

  1. Picard56 says:
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    How many Home runs can you see Baez hitting if he is called up by June?

  2. al koholic says:
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    Baez will hit 15,

    • Chuckles Tiddlesworth says:
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  3. The Thumb says:
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    Despite going into the season thinking is have the best rotation with Sale, Cobb, Teheran, Salazar, Gray, Masterson, I currently have a 4.09 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP through 105.2 innings

    Talk me down from the ledge lol

    • @The Thumb: Dude, that rotation is studly, and we have not even finished week 2!!

      You should not even be near the ledge just yet..LOL Be patient mate..cheers

      • stonepie says:
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        @Malicious Phenom: exactly. patience and overcoming the fear associated with a slow start are essential to fbb. in fact, you should be capitalizing on other league mates panic

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @The Thumb: yeah, it’s still nice but salazars showing some injury concerns…boy did I love him

      • RickeysHotSauce says:
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        @dano:

        Hey dano can you elaborate on this? Are you speculating he is showing injury concerns based on performance or has this been reported as news?

        • Dano

          dano says:
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          @RickeysHotSauce: velocity drop and control/release point…Jeff zimmerman on twitter and pitch f/x

          • RickeysHotSauce says:
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            @dano:

            thanks dano

  4. Nelson says:
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    Betts over Odor?

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @Nelson: for me yeah…I think he’ll provide impact a year sooner

  5. I need Grey 7 days a week, not just 5.

    .I love going to the site Monday through Friday and see Grey’s column and then this at the end:

    “here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball”

    I need that 7 days a week. I need to see what else Grey saw yesterday in fantasy baseball, EVERYDAY..

    Maybe someone else could do Saturday & Sunday!! cheers

    • goodfold2 says:
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      @Malicious Phenom: they already have the saturday version from dan pants.

  6. peejer says:
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    NL very 5×5 deep keeper–Following the auction we have a 15 round draft for ANYONE (minors-highschool-japan-etc) not on the opening day roster taken

    I pick 7th so who are your top 7 in 2014 PRODUCTION that I can garner from who will be available?

    Polanco(pitt)
    A Guerra(la)
    La Stella
    Stephenson
    Syndergard
    Hansen(pitt)
    R Montero
    Marisnick
    Ruf
    piscotty
    federowitz
    (morales/drew/hanrahan are more a second round flyer in my opinion as they may wind up in the AL)

    • Peejer says:
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      : He will not be available

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @peejer: doubt polanco will last …so syndegaard or piscotty

  7. Sherm says:
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    Do you like Mike Olt at all?

  8. Jim says:
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    2 catcher 12 person league

    I have to get rid of Avila, top catchers on waivers are Castillo, Norris, Pinto, Sukuki

    Which ones should I drop Avila for? None? all?

    Thanks

    • @Jim: They all kinda of suck, but it is only your 2nd C, so no worries. I would play the hot hand until one of them takes off..for example, if Avila starts hitting like it is 2011 again..cheers

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @Jim: yeah prob none

    • coachgonzo says:
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      @Jim: Pinto! Do it

  9. FMFBL says:
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    i just got this offer- Votto for Cashner and Iwakuma. I have Crush a 1B but it’s a 6×6 OBP league. I gotta take this, right?

      • FMFBL says:
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        @Malicious Phenom: forgot to mention it’s a QS league over wins, but thanks!

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @FMFBL: yes buttttt cashner is real deal. He prob saw cashners crazy sick game last night against tigers….I watched too. You have to take this nutty try to offer something insteadof cashner.

      • FMFBL says:
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        @dano: unfortunatly, not sure it’ll happen. cashner was my rebuttal to his initial request of jose fernandez. i have homer, fister, latos, jofer and lackey. felt cashner could be moved but i don’t love parting ways with him. i too think he’s the real deal – might be this year’s scherzer.

        • Dano

          dano says:
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          @FMFBL: you have to do it. Unless homerbailey gets it done but he might be turned off by slow start. Just know cashner could go 14-2.95-1.15-200 this year

          • FMFBL says:
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            @dano: good stuff thanks for the insight!

  10. Would you cut Odorizzi for Ivan Nova?

    Nova is a FA in one of my leagues…

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @Malicious Phenom: prob rather odor…Taylor Jordan, erasmo Ramirez or Robbie Ross avail instead?

  11. elipitt says:
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    I am sitting on Baez. Given the hot start, should I drop him for Pilanco? Or drop a temp closer (Kelley, Broxton, Mujica) for Polanco?

      • elipitt says:
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        @dano: Thanks, who’s worth keeping, Mujica or Kelley?

  12. Mikey says:
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    I decided (quickly) to drop Ben Revere for Gyorko but I’m also wanting to add Plouffe for runs and RBI. Here’s my team would you make any changes?

    Salvador Perez
    Pedroia
    K(C)hris Davis (whoever hits the first dinger)
    Bonifacio
    Desmond
    Ellsburry
    Pagan
    Eaton
    Cuddyer
    Cespedes
    Beltran
    And Donaldson

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @Mikey: I wouldnt drop any of those guys for plouffe

  13. Ben says:
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    12 team league. Drop Ethier for Kubel? Or hold?

    • jal179 says:
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      @Ben:

      Based on playng timr alon, I would prefer Kubel

  14. Is Carlos Martinez STL, worth adding to my bench in hopes of him becoming a 2nd half SP?

    I could drop any of these for Martinez:
    Derek Holland
    Khris Davis
    Michael Brantly
    BJ Upton
    Derek Jeter
    Dee Gordon
    Christian Yelich

    cheers

  15. Sange76 says:
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    Got a trade offer in to me. 12 team h2h points keeper league.

    My Jordan Zimmerman, Jed lowrie and Carlos Santana for
    Matt Harvey (rd 11 keeper next year), Jose Reyes and Matt weiters.

    I have depth at sp. Jose Fernandez, shields, zimm, Alex wood, archer, and Hamels on the DL. I’d have to drop one eventually anyway for Hamels (prob wood, maybe zimm). Thoughts?

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @Sange76: I wouldn’t do that. Hurts hardcore for the now.

  16. tamale says:
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    2 catcher OPS H2H league. Need power.

    Drop Wilson Ramos (no DL spot available) or Miguel Montero for Mesoraco?

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @tamale: ramos since no dl slot

  17. Scooterboy says:
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    In one of my 8 team leagues I have a dilemma I could use some help with. Yesterday someone, (for unknown reasons to me), dropped Edwin Encarnacion. I guess I was the lucky one, and grabbed him as soon as I saw him available. My dilemma however, is that now I have Goldy, Encarnacion, Pujols, and Rizzo all on my team. I can’t play them all. My question is, which one should I trade and what kind of value should I be looking to get back for them. Wish I could keep them all, but I can’t.

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @Scooterboy: whoa! Jackpot. Trade pujols. Still has name value. Get what you can get. Or offer Rizzo + pujols for freeman to upgrade

  18. Korey says:
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    I looked real hard at adding Schoop yesterday but struggled with who to drop in my AL only 10 team league. I really like his 2B/3B eligibility in yahoo leagues. I have Freese at 3B with no other options. I am carrying Shuck as a back up OF to Hunter, Myers, and Jones so platooning is nice. So do I drop Shuck or drop one of these RP I am carrying in hopes of vulture saves? Doolittle, Daniel Webb, or Fields. Rodney and and Allen are my other RP.

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @Korey: they’ll prevent Doolittle from saves for financial reasons. I’d consider him droppable unless u could also use his peripherals

      • Korey says:
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        @dano: Interesting take on Doolittle I haven’t thought of. I appreciate the feedback and love these reads for my AL only league. Been finishing in the top three and really want to win this year. Thank you!

  19. Jon says:
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    Dano, what do you think about dealing Zimmerman and Lawrie (two third basemen I’ve really soured on) for Donaldson and Wong.

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @Jon: I’d keep zimm

  20. Shawnuel says:
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    I think I would take a chance on Arismendy Alcantara coming up to play 2B before Baez. At this point, Alcantara is more advanced with the bat. Fewer holes right now. Baez totally has the greater upside, though.

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