The race for the postseason is heating up and teams that need a boost will likely call upon reinforcements from the farm. This may not indicate that top prospects are going to be called up, but it does mean that desperate teams will send for prospects performing well in the upper echelons of their minor league system. Relatively unknown players will pop up on their team's rosters-much to the confusion of their fans. On the other hand, the boost can come in the form of a top tier prospect; one who can be an impact player in the long run. Here, I'll highlight both of these types of players so you can grab them before they reach the scene.
Most of these players will be overlooked come draft day, but a team that takes the chance on them could end up reaping the rewards. Last year, Josh Donaldson, Starling Marte, and Greg Holland all provided their owners with incredible results at the cost of a late-draft pick. Whether an owner requires power, speed, or saves, these players have the potential to surprise.
There were numerous surprises and some awful disappointments this year in fantasy baseball. While some greatly exceeded their expectations, other fell flat far behind. Using a normal ESPN point scale, I will recap some of the most controversial players and steals from the 2013 season. Players like Matt Kemp, Justin Verlander, and Ryan Braun cost owners high draft picks and returned little value compared to a player that could be picked up much later. On the other hand, Chris Davis, Matt Carpenter, and Josh Donaldson proved to be much better than their draft stock at the beginning of the season. Player in the disappointment category are not there because of injuries but rather poor play with, if applicable, injuries.
I've played in a variety of leagues and know the ins and outs of most all of them. This past season I played in 15 different leagues this past season on ESPN, my fantasy baseball program of choice. The leagues had different settings, different amounts of members, different amounts of players, but I finished with an average of 3.4th place. The only leagues I don't like are rotisserie leagues that are based on percentages and a good combination of power, speed, average, ERA, WHIP, and saves. They are more difficult to master because a team needs to be very balanced. I prefer point value leagues that quantify every statistic. In my opinion the way to win leagues is to draft with insight and potential in mind.
Overview: Drafting creates a core of players that can either carry your team to victory. Some of it is luck, some is skill. The first couple of picks should be conservative and based on consistency. I advise waiting on pitching; good pitching is available when good and consistent batting is not. Hiroki Kuroda and Jon Lester were still available when players like Jose Altuve and Angel Pagan were left. A batter can provide consistent points every day but an unfavorable matchup can be unpredictable once or twice a week. The first ten picks should be seven batters and three pitchers. The middle of the draft are usually boring picks that will serve as decent players.
(Offseason - Rookies to Watch for Next Year)
Joc Pederson - potential power/speed combo
Kris Bryant - Cubs 3B of the future, 30 HR possible
Dalton Pompey - Jays CF with average/speed in favor
Jorge Soler - top 10 prospect with great tools
Randal Grichuk - 4th OF but good situation in loaded lineup
Aaron Sanchez - flashed top-tier potential in call-up last year
Andrew Heany - star LHP traded to LAA with spot in rotation
Alex Meyer - 6'9" righty uses extreme downhill plane
Rafael Montero - solid #4 starter in Mets' rotation
Brandon Finnegan - went from college to World Series
Deep Sleeper Picks:
D.J. Peterson - offers power and is likely in the Mariners' plans soon
Bryan Mitchell - great stuff but lacks consistent control