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Five Rookies / Prospects You Should Draft in 2015

By mikelachance816 [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

MLB Rookies & Prospects to Make Fantasy Impacts

Whether you are a 5 year old opening your presents on your birthday or a 40 year old getting a new fancy car during your mid-life crisis, everybody loves new toys. Rookies and prospects are the new cars of the MLB and untapped potential is their fuel.

The appeal of drafting a young stud and having them carry you to a fantasy league championship, a-la Mike Trout in 2012,  can cause for some over-drafting of young players, but with the right approach, drafting young players can be of massive value.

The names below are the top five player's that I would draft considering this season only. Some names such as Byron Buxton, Carlos Correa, and Addison Russell, generally considered top five prospects in baseball, will not appear on this list because they are unlikely to contribute at the major league level this season (they should however be considered in drafts with Minor League roster spots or keeper leagues). Additionally, players were only considered for this list if that did not already hit the MLB rookie year qualifications of 130 at-bats, 50 innings pitched, or 45 on an MLB active roster.

 

Kris Bryant - 3B, CHI

I've seen quite a few fantasy professionals list player's other than Bryant as their number one prospect for the upcoming fantasy season. The reason being he probably isn't going to break camp with the Cubs so that the team can reserve an extra year of control on his contract. He'll probably be in the minor's for the first month while the Cubs bide their time, but to me, five months of Kris Bryant plus one month of a replacement is still going to be more valuable than a full season of anyone else on this list. Bryant has major power to all fields, hitting 43 homers last season while maintaining a .325 AVG and 1.098 OPS while splitting plate appearances equally in AA and AAA (297 PA each). Yes, Bryant will strike out a bunch in the bigs and the average will likely settle in this year in the .270 range, but the power and run producing potential is real at a fantasy scarce position in 3B. Lastly, have you seen this recent spring training bomb? I'm not sure that it's landed yet.

My projection: 450 AB, 26 HR, 80 RBI, 65 R, 7 SB, .265/.345/.515

 

Rusney Castillo - OF, BOS

While Castillo, 27 years old on Opening Day, is the second oldest player on this list, he remains rookie eligible after his defection from Cuba resulted in a 7 year $72.5 million dollar deal last season with the Red Sox. At 27, Castillo has already developed his power potential and should provide 12-15 HR with the potential for more hitting in the friendly Fenway Park. The real value in Castillo though is in his legs. Castillo has plus speed that could result in a 25+ steal season. Even if he struggles at first with making contact, speed doesn't slump. Castillo should be able to find his way on base enough to help fantasy teams in the SB category while also providing some power and run production numbers from your outfield roster spot.

My projection: 500 AB, 15 HR, 70 RBI, 70 R, 28 SB, .275/.330/.420

 

Jorge Soler - OF, CHI

Unlike his Chicago Cubs teammate Bryant, Soler is almost guaranteed to break camp with the team and be an instant contributor. The 23 year-old outfielder will likely start in right for the Cubs and provides a solid all around game. Soler has plus power and absolutely crushed minor league pitching this past season .340/.432/.700 over 200 minor league AB spread across mainly AA and AAA. Soler added 15 HR in those 200 AB and continued showing that power at the Major League level hitting 5 HR in just 89 AB with the Cubs. So, what is a guy with 25-30 HR potential, good contact skills, and a starting job doing at 3rd on this list? Well, Soler comes with some injury risk. He's had several leg issues in the past that have forced him to miss time and have influenced the Cubs to have him tweak his running style to try to keep his legs healthy. Soler won't help you on the base paths with SB, but he will provide upside in the power categories while maintaining a healthy average.

My projection: 525 AB, 25 HR, 75 RBI, 70 R, 4 SB, .275/.330/.470

 

Joc Pederson - OF, LAD

Though the Matt Kemp trade this offseason seemingly clears the Dodgers center field position for Pederson to take over, there is still some uncertainty as to how much playing time Pederson will get, especially as long as Andre Ethier remains on the team despite his trade requests. The fact of the matter is that the job should be Pederson's and ultimately the Dodgers will find a way to get his talent on the field. Pederson went 30/30 last season in just 445 triple-A AB while triple slashing .303/.435/.582. Some fantasy experts are wary of these numbers because he was playing in the extremely hitter friendly confines of Albuquerque, but he's flashed the power/speed combo throughout his minor league career and it's just too juicy to pass up in fantasy. Even if Ethier is traded, there is a chance that Pederson sits out against lefties in a platoon with Scott Van Slyke, so playing time is certainly something to consider here, but the tools are real.

My projection: 470 AB, 22 HR, 65 RBI, 65 R, 20 SB, .250/.330/.440

 

Jung-Ho Kang - MI, PIT

Kang, 28 years old, may be the biggest unknown going into fantasy drafts as he transitions from South Korea to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League. As always with rookies, the first question is about opportunity. Kang can play all over the infield, but he does join a crowded one in Pittsburgh. Kang's value comes from his unique ability as a power-hitting middle infielder. You should be able to slot him in either the SS or 2B slots of your roster and get a power boost where you may not normally expect one. Kang hit 40 HR in Korea last season and has already shown his power in spring training, going the opposite way for a home run in his debut. Kang will be able to find some playing time in the early season as a utility man, eventually transitioning to a starting roll somewhere in the infield once he proves he can handle big league pitching.

My projection: 420 AB, 18 HR, 55 RBI, 50 R, 10 SB, .260/.330/.425

 




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