Ten Fantasy Baseball Rookies to Watch for 2013
No rookie is a sure thing; even the best of them is a high-risk fantasy investment and requires a confluence of talent, opportunity, and luck to pan out in the short run. With that rule in mind, here are ten rookies for fantasy owners to watch in 2013.
No rookie is Mike Trout. Not even Mike Trout was supposed to be Mike Trout.
Jackie Bradley, Jr, OF, Boston Red Sox: Bradley's defense and across-the-board hitting skills make it likely that he will see considerable playing time in 2013, although as I write this he has yet to officially win a roster spot. His best attributes should be batting average, OBP, and occasional moderate power contributions. His glove will keep him in the lineup even when he slumps.
Rob Brantly, C, Miami Marlins: Brantly is easy to overlook when rookies are discussed, but he's a solid contact hitter who should provide a solid batting average, plus he plays a premium defensive position that is often hard for fantasy owners to fill with decent players. He'll start on Opening Day.
Jedd Gyorko, 2B, San Diego Padres: Expected to open the season at second base, Gyorko has made a successful transition from third base and should provide strong power contributions for the middle infield position, though we'll have to see if his home park is a hindrance.
Aaron Hicks, OF, Minnesota Twins: Winner of Minnesota's center field job, Hicks has outstanding physical tools including above-average speed and power potential. He should draw some walks, but might not produce much in the batting average department in the short run. Like Bradley, his glove should keep him in the lineup even if his bat has adjustment issues.
Brandon Maurer, RHP, Seattle Mariners: Winner of Seattle's fifth starter job, Maurer has received less pre-season notice than teammates Taijuan Walker and Danny Hultzen, but beat them into the rotation. He projects as a solid number three starter and has always performed well when healthy. The key will be staying healthy, as he has both elbow and shoulder problems on his resume.
Shelby Miller, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals: Another rookie winning a rotation spot, Miller showed his ability to dominate hitters last fall, and with a strong team backing him up he has a better chance than most freshmen to contribute something positive in context-based fantasy categories like wins.
Bruce Rondon, RHP, Detroit Tigers: Rondon can throw 100-103 MPH but doesn't always know where it is going. He's the leading candidate to close games in Detroit, and like Miller he has a good team backing him up, which should help in the contextual counting categories. On the other hand, if he falters the Tigers might not have a huge degree of patience with him. (NOTE: Rondon was demoted to Triple-A Toledo a few hours after this article was published. Apparently the Tigers did not have much patience with him and are going with a closer-by-committee plan. He is still a potential fantasy investment if you are willing to see him as a possible save or hold source later in the year)
Hyun-Jin Ryu, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers: While most prospect attention in Dodgers camp has been focused on Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig, it is Korean lefty Ryu who will debut in the majors first, scheduled to start on April 2nd. Scouting opinion is a bit mixed on him, but overall he has performed well this spring and should be a solid mid-rotation presence at least, and possibly much more. The Dodgers hope so anyway: they committed more than $60 million to acquire his services between his bonus and the posting fee.
Julio Teheran, RHP, Atlanta Braves: A difficult 2012 Triple-A season brought on by mechanical adjustments hurt Teheran's stock to some extent, but he's looked outstanding this spring and has shot back up the prospect charts, allowing a mere seven hits in 26 innings with 35 strikeouts and a 1.04 ERA and seizing a rotation spot.
Other Impact prospects who should see time but are opening in the minors: Chris Archer, RHP, Rays; Trevor Bauer, RHP; Indians; Dylan Bundy, RHP Orioles; Travis D'Arnaud, C; Mets; Kevin Gausman, RHP, Orioles; Gerrit Cole, RHP, Pirates; Wil Myers, OF, Rays; Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Rays; Jurickson Profar, SS; Rangers; Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals; Zack Wheeler, RHP, Mets; Christian Yelich, OF, Marlins
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