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We’re two weeks away from Major League Baseball’s First-Year Players Draft, during which droves of high school and college baseball players will be chosen by MLB organizations to fill their farm systems.  Most all the draftees will never make it further than the low minors.  A handful of the college guys, however, are already too advanced for short-season or instructional ball.  Mind you, this group is merely a tiny fraction of the overall draft class — there aren’t many guys worth noting for fantasy baseball purposes just yet.  But there are some.  And for the next couple weeks I’m going to highlight a few of my favorites in this weekly feature, which is typically reserved for already-pros.  Anyway.  We start with a Dukie:

Marcus Stroman | RHP, Duke

Gifted pitchers tend to arrive in the majors a bit more quickly than the hitters.  2011 first-rounders like Trevor Bauer and Danny Hultzen are already on the cusp of breaking through in the bigs, and they’ll be making impacts in fantasy ball this year.  Marcus Stroman, a starting pitcher out of Duke, could find himself in a similar position a year from now.  At 5-9, 180, Stroman isn’t your prototype pitching prospect, but he’s strong and athletic and can bring it at 98 with his fastball.  He counters with a plus changeup and a filthy slider, giving him a three-pitch repertoire that’s not far from big league-ready.  His ceiling as a starter is that of a #2, but many think he’d make an outstanding high-leverage reliever.  Either way, Stroman will go in the first round and he’s well suited to climb the ladder quickly.

Richie Shaffer | 3B, Clemson

It’s extremely rare that a college hitter would be ready for for MLB action within a year of being drafted, so you need a more patient outlook when considering the position players.  Richie Shaffer is likely no exception, but he’s advanced enough to put on your fantasy radar.  Out of Clemson, Shaffer is a slugging 3B and he’s put up some impressive figures this year in collegiate play:  .344/.470/.590.  At 6-4, 195, Shaffer figures to fill out nicely and many project him as a 1B in the bigs.  There is serious power potential here.  Shaffer could put up 30+ homers annually in the majors, but he’ll need a couple years of seasoning in the minors first.  Look for for him to go mid-late first round.

Kyle Zimmer | RHP, San Fransico

Standing 6-4, 220, Zimmer is a more typical power pitching prospect than Stroman, but in terms of development, he’s not likely to move as quickly.  With a mid-90’s fastball that touches 99 to go along with a steeply breaking curve, Zimmer features a couple of outstanding offerings.  But his third pitch, a change, is more of a work-in-progress.  Scouts see that pitch developing into a plus weapon, but it’s clear that the repertoire as a whole is in need some refining before it’s ready to face MLB hitters.  As a fantasy-minded fan, I’d love to see Zimmer sign early and get some pro experience this year.  I suppose I’d love to see all the highly touted prospects sign early and start playing, but Zimmer in particular.  Should he get some time at A-ball under his belt in 2012, he’d be on pace to reach Double-A in 2013, and for arrival early 2014.

  1. AdamH says:
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    Thoughts on Appel, particularly in relation to stroman? Had both in a dynasty league and had to drop Stroman, kept appel.

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @AdamH, I’ll cover Appel next Weds, so stay tuned. He’s probably the better guy to hold in a dynasty — higher ceiling than Stroman, but I think he’ll take a little longer to develop…

      • AdamH says:
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        @Scott Evans, Thanks Scott. This is good stuff.

  2. MackeySasser says:
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    Good info here.

    Question, 14 team keeper, who should I stash Hultzen or Shelby Miller?

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @MackeySasser, Miller.

  3. Jacob says:
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    Chris Davis or Kyle Seager ROS?
    Need to pick one
    Thanks!

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @Jacob, Davis is the safer choice.

  4. EA says:
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    Drop Brett Lawrie for Kevin Youkilis?

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @EA, Naw. Hold Lawrie.

  5. Jacob says:
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    would u trade Eithier for cliff lee?
    need a starter ..he also has verlander and strasburg and mcdonald
    Thanks!
    standard league

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @Jacob, I would, indeed.

  6. In regards to the end of your Zimmer blurb, the drafts Signing Deadline is now July 13th with the new CBA, so even if he doesn’t sign until deadline he can still get some starts in Short Season (NYPL/NWL) this season

    • WOW, went right to the player blurbs, didn’t read the lead in…FAIL

      • Scott Evans

        Scott Evans says:
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        @@th3madtitan, Still important to note. And admittedly, I wrote the Zimmer blurb on the tail end of a peyote bender, so it’s possible that I neglected the new signing deadline. Still would like to see him get some full-season work. Thanks for the comment, Titan.

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