As last week was the “post-hype sleeper” edition of RotoBaller’s Spring Training Stock Taking: Three Up, Three Down (or as I like to call it - STST:3U3D - for short), this week’s article has a prospect theme. Prospects are exciting, aren’t they? Fantasy GMs drool over them, targeting them in the late rounds of their draft with the hope that they will make a significant contribution to their team. Last season, oft-hyped prospects Mike Trout, Yu Darvish, Yoenis Cespedes, Wilin Rosario and Bryce Harper did just that. Chances are you won or cashed in your league by employing one or more of these players during the season. Other prospects - like Anthony Rizzo, Josh Rutledge, Norichika Aoki, Addison Reed, and Todd Frazier - made lesser contributions to fantasy teams, but were starting caliber players for most of the season.
In our last Spring Training Stock Taking of the pre-season, RotoBaller will take a look at some prospects who should make an impact on fantasy teams in 2013:
Jedd Gyorko (2B/3B, SD) - Gyorko is a rather obvious choice for the Three Up list. RotoBaller’s #6 ranked Impact Prospect has had a solid spring thus far with a .268 batting average, 3 home runs and 10 RBIs in 20 Cactus League games. He’s expected to stick at second base for the Padres, even with Chase Headley out for the first month of the season. Just don’t forget that Gyorko won’t gain eligibility at the position until Week 2 or 3, depending on your league rules.
Aaron Hicks (OF, MIN) - Twins manager Ron Gardenhire finally named the twenty-three year old Minnesota’s starting center fielder this past Sunday. Hicks earned it too. In 18 Grapefruit League games, he has a .350 batting average with 16 runs, 4 HRs, 16 RBIs and 3 SBs. Yes, he hit a respectable 13 bombs last year at Double A New Britain, but you should temper your expectations in the power department for Hicks, given that he will play half of his games at the spacious Target Field. While it’s difficult to project how many home runs he will hit, Hicks is a lock for 20 steals with the potential to double that number if he stays atop the Twins’ lineup throughout the entire season. Target him in the late rounds of your draft as a 5th outfielder.
Yasiel Puig (OF, LAD) - This spot was reserved for Wily Peralta (SP, MIL) until free agent Kyle Lohse signed with the Brewers on Monday afternoon. While I still like Peralta, Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig has been the star of Spring Training thus far. He leads MLB hitters with a .526 batting average to go along with 16 runs, 5 doubles, 2 triples, 3 home runs, 11 RBIs and 4 stolen bases. He’s been so impressive, that he went in the 4th(!) round of my keeper league draft last night. While it’s highly doubtful that Puig will crack Los Angeles’s opening day roster, you have to imagine that Puig will be up at some point this season with injury risks (Kemp, Crawford) in the Dodgers’ outfield. In keeper leagues or leagues with deep benches, be sure to target Puig as a stash player in the late rounds of your draft.
Adam Eaton (OF, ARI) - It was only two weeks ago when the Diamondbacks’ center fielder earned himself a spot on the Three Up list, but Eaton sprained the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his left elbow and will be forced to miss 6-8 weeks. Before the injury, I was targeting Eaton as a fourth or fifth starting outfielder on all of my teams. Now that he’s not expected back before mid-to-late May, drafting Eaton means that he would tie up a bench spot for the first two months of the season or a DL slot which isn't as bad. Those will little roster flexibility will surely pass on the popular 2013 sleeper pick, but I’m willing to be patient with Eaton and will look to add him as a late round DL-stash player.
Trevor Bauer (SP, CLE) - RotoBaller’s #7 ranked Impact Prospect was optioned to Triple A Columbus last Thursday after posting modest numbers this spring. 16.1 IP - 6.06 ERA - 1.65 WHIP - 17/13 K/BB ratio wasn’t enough to beat out Carlos Carrasco or Scott Kazmir for the Tribe’s fifth starter spot, but this native Clevelander expects to see Bauer pitch live at Progressive Field sometime before the All-Star break. When he does get call, Bauer will surely help fantasy teams with his high strikeout potential. It just won’t be right away as some were predicting it might be.
Hiroyuki Nakajima (SS, OAK) - The thirty year old Japanese import was expected to open the 2013 season as the Athletics’ starting shortstop, but an uninspiring .150/.277/.175 triple-slash line in 47 Spring Training plate appearances has Nakajima in danger of opening the year in the minors. Jed Lowrie’s versatility gives Oakland the flexibility to play him at shortstop until Nakajima is ready. In Japan, Nakajima regularly hit .300 with double digit home runs, so the fantasy potential is there. He will just have to show the A’s something with the stick before they rely upon him as an everyday option at shortstop.