Make sure you check out Scott Evans’ Prospect ETA’s for a sense of potential high impact call-ups. I’m going to focus on prospects and MLB sleepers beyond the obvious list of prospects. If I list a prospect, that said prospect should have the opportunity to make an impact this year, and in my opinion, have the minor league numbers/skill to translate well enough.
My ‘translate’ for fantasy purposes is simple: do they make enough contact (how often they put the ball in play); what is their approach to putting the ball in play (balls in play mix i.e. linedrives, flyballs, groundballs, HR/FB, infield flyballs, etc.); and what power/speed potential do they have from a fantasy counting stats perspective. Speed won’t have much of a weight in this post though.
Onto the fat-a$$es (w/ an ESPN Ownership <10% as of 3/31):
Alex Avila (3%): He’s really just staying-on-the-field-away from 20 HR considering the 17% homerun to flyball ratio, and he’ll bat 6th at times meaning he’ll have a ton to drive in. He’s actually a pretty solid option if you’re in an OBP/SLG/OPS league over using AVG.
Dioner Navarro (1.4%): He wants to prove he’s a full-time catcher and why not plug him into your c2 spot since he gets to do it in Toronto. I’m down with 15+ homers with a .270+ avg. I’m skipping a Matt Wieters to go Navarro and basically any of the guys below based on draft position and the lack of value differential.
Yasmani Grandal (.4%): Did everyone forget his 2012 already?! Even last year, he walked exactly as much as he struck out: 16.7%! I can see him batting 5th later in the season when he’s healthy…6 at worst. His .201 BA last year came from an insanely low .257 BABIP. In A+, he had a .359; .377 in AA; .381 in AAA. In his first go, he had a relatively realistic .333 BABIP. I think a .275 BA is a floor for this guy if he can stay on the field enough to reach a sustainable BABIP for us to enjoy.
Josmil Pinto (.4%): It’s great that he made the opening day roster, but Gardenhire is still the manager and Kurt Suzuki is batting 2nd. His balls in play approach could make him a solid fantasy counting stats catcher. He could be surprisingly fun to own the next few years if they’re putting Buxton-Dozier-Mauer-Arcia-Sano out there in front of him. Or the Twins can trade him like Wilson Ramos where he becomes a monster for another team.
Wellington Castillo (.2%): I think the Cubs finally know what they have with him. BABIP has little face, but it’s been .3475 in the last 600+ plate appearances. He’s a solid AVG play, but he’s as good or better in OBP leagues. He’s another catcher that could be batting 5th sooner than later meaning more counting stats. Staying rational though, I’m projecting something along the lines of 55-15-65-270/.345/.765. Even without a ballsy proportionate Chris Davis-esque age 27 season, he’ll do for your c2.
For your 2015 Fantasy Baseball Pleasure:
1) Travis d’Arnaud: I like Travis, but unless he hits in or closer to the heart of the order, I don’t see him outperforming the above tier this year on the Mets. Bump him up to your 2015 lists though.
Here are 2 other 2015-2016 catchers to keep an eye on in dynasty leagues after more obvious names like Gary Sanchez, Jorge Alfaro and far-away prospets like Stryker Trahan and Reese McGuire.
2) Tom Murphy: When the power catcher that is Rosario could no longer catch, another power catcher will be in Colorado. He doesn’t have the same raw power that Rosario has, but he could be more of an overall onbase threat. As a catcher (with impact by 2015), he’s worth an add in dynasty leagues.
3) Blake Swihart: If Swihart trends forward again in the discipline department and takes a step forward in the power department, he could shoot up lists in conjunction with other on base sox-monsters Mookie Betts and Garin Cecchini (and the more-known Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley of course). By the time Ortiz/Pedroia/Napoli are too old, the sox will have an influx of homegrown talent.
Next up – CI followed by MI & OF. Here’s my post last week on Sleeper Starting Pitchers. Some Sneak Peeks:
SS: Alcides Escobar – his 2013 BABIP simply offset the 2012 BABIP. Assume the in-between and expect something closer to .270 with 25 SB.
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