Let’s look at rookie-eligible players (not including foreign imports) who can help your fake baseball teams this upcoming season. Mock draft ADPs come via Yahoo! and if you don't like them, make your own.
Billy Hamilton, OF, Reds (ADP: 67.1): You’ve read plenty about the legend of Hamilton’s speed by now, and saw first hand last September what he’s capable of when given even a small opportunity (7-for-22, 9 R, 13 SB). I’m not going to beat around the bush on this one: I’m all-in on Hamilton as a full-time regular in ’14. While I don’t believe the average and on-base percentage will be world beating, it’s not crazy to think he can hit .260 with an OBP around .310. That will make him a valuable fantasy asset. I’ll set the floor for his stolen base total at 80, and that may even be too conservative. His defensive value should buy him plenty of time to figure it out with the stick. Bid with confidence.
Michael Wacha, SP, Cardinals (ADP: 95): A studly postseason debut put tons of helium in Wacha’s stock, and rightfully so. He was lights out. The scariest thing about Wacha is that he became even more dominant as the season went on. Given his total workload in 2013 including postseason, Wacha should be cleared for ‘14 with no innings limitations. The continued development of his curveball will be key to whether he becomes a future ace or not. But he’ll be nasty this year either way and a great source of Ks and WHIP.
George Springer, OF, Astros (ADP: UNDRAFTED): Springer’s talent more than justifies a mixed-league draft pick. But I’ll be shocked if the thrifty Astros start his service clock before June. So what can you expect from half a season of George Springer? Initially, he’ll probably struggle with batting average due to his propensity for the whiff (24.4% K% in AAA); expect .250-.260. The power and speed should arrive immediately, and it’s not crazy to think he could be a 15 HR/20 SB guy over the final four months of the season. Draft and stash, gamers.
Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals (ADP: UNDRAFTED): Injuries snatched 2013 away from him, but make no mistake, Taveras is still a top notch talent worthy of your attention once he arrives. His keen batting eye and advanced hit tool should result in a .300 average coupled with 20-25 home runs in his prime. A log jam of average options may delay his arrival. His results at Triple-A should dictate his timetable though given his status as an elite prospect.
Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox (ADP: 181.7): Bogaerts prospect pedigree and loud tools should not be ignored. At shortstop, he could net nice returns -- .260-270 with 12-15 homers and perhaps 10 steals as a bonus. Keep in mind, that’s more of a floor for Bogaerts, so draft for upside here and enjoy the ride.
Taijuan Walker, SP, Mariners (ADP: UNDRAFTED): An electric arm, a pitcher friendly home park, and an improved roster make Walker an intriguing late round target. Seattle has a solid history of producing quality pitchers, so I’m willing to take a flier hoping for a K/9 north of 7.5 and ERA south of 4.00.
Kolten Wong, 2B, Cardinals (ADP: 237.2): Expected to start the season as the starting second baseman for the Cards, Wong makes for a sneaky fantasy option. He’s been a source of strong batting averages during his minor league career, and that should continue in the majors, with .270 being the floor. If the power and speed follow him to the bigs, 10-15 home runs and 20 steal are a reasonable expectation. He’s a nice middle infield option for those ballin’ on a budget.
Nick Castellanos, OF, Tigers (ADP: UNDRAFTED): The Prince Fielder trade paved the way for Castellanos' return to the infield. So third base eligibility should come in pretty short order. I’m not expecting miracles from Castellanos in his rookie year, since he’s likely to bat lower in the batting order and has still-developing power. An average in the .265-.275 range with around 15 homers would be a solid debut from this young Tiger.
Miguel Sano, 3B, Twins (ADP: UNDRAFTED): Sano is an exciting dynasty stock with colossal power that not even Target Field will contain. We’re talking 30 home runs, and that’s the floor. Those numbers aren’t going to happen in ’14 though, as the Twins don’t have much incentive to rush their prized third baseman, meaning a late season cup of coffee is most likely.
Rob Steingall is a syndicated fantasy analyst. Follow him on Twitter (https://twitter.com/#!/rsteingall)
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- Billy Hamilton
- George Springer