Saturday, February 1, 2014

Hold Off On Pitching In 2014


 
By Will Banks
 


The fantasy baseball 2014 season is right around the corner, and people are starting to do their initial research for their draft strategy. There are always several different ways to attack a draft, but this season it would probably be wise to avoid going after starting pitching early on.

 

When you take a look at starting pitchers these last few years, there have really only been a handful of dependable starters who can be counted on to provide outstanding value. There is just too much inconsistency at the position right now, and a lot of that has to do with injuries. So many of the best pitchers in the game go through cold spells or injury issues that is just seems like a huge risk to draft them in the first, second or even third round in fantasy baseball 2014.

 

One pitcher who is the exception to the rule is Clayton Kershaw. He has been a Cy Young caliber pitcher for the last three seasons, and he should be dominant once again in fantasy baseball 2014. However, even he is not completely clear of any injury. His workload has been pretty heavy these last few years. The Dodgers might be wise to cut him back a little bit now that they have him locked in to such a long contract.

 

Pitchers such as Yu Darvish, Adam Wainwright, Felix Hernandez, Max Scherzer and more may appear to be bonafide aces, but they are simply not as consistent as top end positional talent. There are also going to be plenty of starting pitchers who come out of nowhere and post low ERAs while picking up double-digit wins. The same can’t be said quite as much for an infielder or outfielder. The smart money going into fantasy baseball 2014 is to invest in the Mike Trouts and the Miguel Cabreras of the world and wait for pitching later on.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

NL East Prospects...Worth a Look


This crop of prospects coming up in the NL East has All-Star written all over most of them. Each has a specific skill set that separates them from others in their organization. They are worth drafting in all Dynasty Leagues or a spare bench spot if possible. Definitively keep them on your waiver priority list when they get their shot.

NL EAST

Atlanta Braves




Atlanta has a stockpile of B grade prospects but no real slam dunk prospect that will contribute in 2014. That being said I feel their best prospect for the future is Lucas Simms. He is a local kid who throws in the mid 90s with both a curve and change. He throws strikes and has a very athletic build. Last year he went 12-4 with 134K in only 117 innings while only giving up 83 hits. Look for an increase in innings and monitor how a larger workload could affect him.

Miami Marlins




Many come draft day will be thinking of Christian Yelich as a possible sleeper to target. He is the one getting all the pre draft press at the moment. The one I want you to consider is Jake Marisnick. He went from A ball to The Show last year. Coming off minor knee surgery he is good to go come spring training. CF is his to lose as I feel Yelich will have competition from Ozuna in LF.  Once he secures CF the best possible scenario would for him to hit 2nd in the order . If he hits 7th or 8th his value drops dramatically. He has potential for a 12/12 guy who could put up some good Run numbers hitting in front of Stanton.

New York Mets



Probably a mid season call up Noah Syndergaard is the real deal. IN 117 innings pitched between High-A and Double-A last season the right hander went 9-4 with a 3.06 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 133 Ks. After getting time in big-league camp during spring training in 2014, Syndergaard will likely start the season with the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s. Sound familiar? New York did the same with its other two top pitching prospects; Harvey and Wheeler. Be the first to use your waiver request or FA dollars to snag this guy if you do not draft him.

Philadelphia Phillies



Maikel Franco, 3B, began the 2013 season with the Clearwater Threshers for 65 games. All he did was hit 16 home runs (40 XBH), 52 RBI for a .299/.349/.576 slash line. At the time of his promotion he was leading the Florida State League in doubles (23) and tied in HR (16) with Minnesota Twins mega prospect Miguel Sano. He was promoted to Double-A and continued to hit. Somehow the fast rising prospect performed even better against more advanced pitching. The final line after 69 games though was promising to say the least: .339/.363/.563 with 15 HR, 51 RBI (30 XBH). His combined stats for the season were 36 2B, 3 3B, 31 HR, 103 RBI, 1 SB, 2 CS, 30 BB, 70 K, .320 AVG, .356 OBP, .569 SLG in 541 total at bats across High-A & Double-A. It looks like Asche and Howard are blocking his spot at the Major League level but he is only 1 injury away from a call-up.

Washington Nationals



The Nats have a true 15/20 leadoff hitter in Brian Goodwin. He is the top OF prospect in the Nats system. The 2011 1st round pick put up a fantastic slash line last summer and then was a standout in the Arizona Fall League which is a final tune up for the Bigs.  In Arizona he had a 19 game season which he put up a .296 BA with 4 Doubles, 1 Triple, 2HRs and 3 SB in 88 Pas for the winning Mesa Solar Sox. He wil be the Nats replacement for Denard Span who is signed through this year so a trade of Span or an injury will keep Goodwin down in Triple A until then.

Monday, January 6, 2014

AL Central Prospects...Worth a Look


It’s been 3 years today since launching my site. With 63K hits and 500 posts I still enjoy the writings and interaction with other passionate Fantasy Baseball followers.  Made some great internet friends, joined some fantastic leagues and helped many compete in their leagues.  So a simple quick thanks for all the people who come by my site from all over the world.  I do appreciate your support.  Now back to the task at hand. Let’s continue with prospects to keep on your radar for 2014. I especially like all that the AL Central has to offer.

AL Central

Minnesota Twins

 


Josmil Pinto should be drafted in all leagues this year as a backup catcher. With Mauer being moved to 1B the Twins will have an opening behind the plate. To date the Twins have signed Kurt Suzuki to mentor the core of young catchers the Twins have in camp. Of that core Pinto is by far the best offensive and Fantasy relevant catcher in Minnesota.  He followed up his strong 2012 numbers with a .309/.400/.482 line in 2013, combined between Double-A and Triple-A, with 32 doubles, 15 homers, and 66 walks in 126 games. In a small sample size with the big league club he hit .342 with a .964 OPS in 83 PAs. If he breaks camp this spring on the 25 man roster he could see ABs at DH 1x a week when not catching.

Kansas City Royals 


Yordano Ventura has quite an electric fastball. His 97.5 average fastball velocity was the highest among every single pitcher who made a start in 2013. Even cooler, his fastball touched 101.9 mph according to PITCHf/x. It’s not outrageous for a reliever to throw that hard, as nine of them have since PITCHf/x has delivered reliable data. But starting pitchers simply don’t. That velocity comes with some wildness but that is expected for a 22 year old. I feel he gets a shot in the Royal’s rotation but will be on a 120-140 innings limit. So take a chance on this pitcher with tremendous upside.

 

Detroit Tigers


There’s plenty to like about Castellanos, the top prospect in Detroit’s organization. His bat is very quick through the zone, and there’s never been much of a question among scouts about the quality of his hit tool. His power stroke is showing signs of life, as he has increased his home run total in each of his three full minor-league seasons; he hit seven homers in A-ball in 2011, 11 across three levels in 2012 and 18 in Triple-A last year. Another big positive for Castellanos is the improvement in his contact rate. He struck out in 23.1% of his plate appearances in 2011, followed by 20.2% in 2012 and 16.8% last year. Though he will not be a top 10 3B in 2014 he will not hurt your peripherals if you miss out on a top tier player at the hot corner.

Cleveland Indians


Danny Salazar throws one of the game’s hardest fastballs, as a starter. He knows it and he loves it, and for him, the heater is a swing-and-miss pitch. He uses it to work up in the zone, and the fastball accounted for half of Salazar’s strikeouts in his career. The other stuff is pretty good, but the fastball is special. He did start 10 games in 13 for the tribe but is still an unknown commodity come draft day. I have  participated in a couple of mock drafts so far this year with some true fantasy baseball junkies and was able to get him in round 13 and 14…remember that come draft day.  A true 2nd SP stud.

Chicago White Sox


I have to admit I have not seen much video on Jose Dariel Abreu but I do trust the brain trust for the White Sox and the other 10 teams that tried to land him. With the emergence of Cespedes and Puig you have to think this kid is as well is very special. What we do know is he will have 1B and OF eligibility and be hitting in the 3 hole. I will be targeting him in all drafts. He recently went in the 10th round of my most recent mock. If he is still available at round 10 he is a steal!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

NL Central Prospects...Worth a Look


Let’s continue our series on viable prospects to consider draft day in 2014. These come from the NL Central Division. Some I like, some are a wait and see.

Chicago Cubs

 


Javier Baez could eventually be better than Castro and that’s saying a lot. Baez has raw plus power and has showcased it in the Minors over the last year. He accumulated 17HR, 19 doubles and 4 triples in only 337 plate appearances in a very pitcher friendly league before his last promotion. Baez has a very hard and violent swing that he never shortens or adjusts for and situation. He’s not very widely known yet, but within a year Cubs fans will be clamoring for a Baez-Castro infield combination especially with light hitting Darwin Barney not in the Cubs long term plans. Only an injury away from the bigs or if Barney hits below the Mendoza line in June up comes Baez.
 
Cincinnati Reds



Billy Hamilton will be on everyone’s radar come draft day looking for that potential 100 SB season.  The prototypical leadoff hitter needs position in the Red’s lineup and then needs to get on base. The only problem I see is the Red’s using him strictly as a pinch runner and defensive replacement. If that happens he drastically drops in vale. If he gets a starting gig he should be a 3rd round draft pick with a stat line of 80 Runs and 80 SB.

Milwaukee Brewers




With the Brewers parting ways with Corey Hart and Mat Gamel they are in need of a 1B. Has the answer to 1B been inside the organization all along? At some point, Morris will be given a chance to prove he is the 1B for the job.  What he needs to do is be above average with the bat to have value. He does have thump by providing 57 HRs and a .219 ISO in 337 minor league games.  He is worth a draft pick if he is the front runner for the job in spring training.

Pitsburgh Pirates



A twin to the other Pirates phenom of Gerrit Cole, righty James Taillon is a genuine monster power arm with a very high ceiling, a top of the rotation guy. But for 2014 I feel it will depend if A.J. Burnett re-ups with the Bucs. If not Taillon make the show. He has cracked 100mph on radar and has a curveball that is a plus pitch. I will be drafting him in all leagues this year.
 
St. Louis Cardinals


Just about everyone has heard of Oscar Taveras but will he make a contribution to the Cards in 2014? Taveras lost a great deal on playing time in 2013 due to an ankle injury but is now fully healthy and will be given an opportunity to complete for the RF job in 2014. One problem with Taveras in 2014 is that the Cards have too many OF even after losing Beltran. The pickup of Bourjos, they already have Jon Jay, and they will be moving Allen Craig to LF to give Adams the 1B job. I love Taveras’ ability but it may be a numbers game that keeps him out of the line-up on a consistent basis. Unless it is a dynasty league draft I would hold off on Taveras.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Prospects in AL West...Worth a Look


Here is the next round of prospects to keep on your radar. With only 60 days until pitcher/catcher report it time to start ranking your players. I’m in my first mock draft with the guys at Fantasy Gameday and you can follow along here. Some surprises so far on player valuations with these managers.

American League West

Seattle Mariners

Taijuan Walker looks like a number one starter on almost any team but the Mariners do have King Felix. Saying that, he will get the nod at probably the #3 SP slot to begin the season. He has accomplished all he can in the minors and even got a quick look (15 innings) in 2013. He has 94-95 mph stuff with late movement, a sluvre curve and a straight change in the mid 80’s. He is worth a draft slot in any  format his year. I will be targeting him in the 22nd round area.

 

Texas Rangers

Michael Choice grew up driving past the Rangers Stadium as a youth. He is now back as the hometown kid. The 24 year old should take over the duties in LF for the Rangers on opening day after being traded from Oakland. He had a debut in September and went 5 for 18 in nine games. He has been a Minor League All-Star averaging 14 HR and 89 RBI while hitting .302 in 132 games.  The latest scouting report is a guy with raw power good bat speed and draws walks.

 

Oakland A’s

Addison Russell has moved up the ladder very fast in Oakland after being drafted #11 in 2012. Probably still a year away but an injury to Lowrie or Sogard could bring him up. His stat line from Double and Triple A last year was just sick…29 Doubles, 10 Triples, 17 HR and 21 SB while hitting .275. The scary part is that he still has room to fill out his 6’ 195 pound frame at on 19 years old.  

 

Los Angeles Angels

Kole Calhoun has less than 220 MLB ABs and may not be a true prospect but he gets the nod because he will be the everyday RF in 2014. In the minors he never hit below .292 and had a .354 season gong before being called up again in 2013.

 

Houston Astros

Even though Jonathan Singleton had the 50 game suspension setback last year he still has the chance to win the 1B job this year in Houston. Since only 7 1B hit over 25 HRs last year in MLB he has the raw power to exceed that figure and worth a draft pick. The knock on him is his dedication and of course it’s hard to draft an Astros player but he has the opportunity to work himself into a run producing spot in the middle of Houston’s line-up.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Prospects in NL West...Worth a Look

Well, it’s Zero degrees in my neck of the woods and no better time than now to start our Fantasy Baseball work for 2014.  I will open up the season with a breakdown of each team’s prospect that should have fantasy value at some point in the season. These guys may not break camp with the big club but they will contribute at some point. All of these players should be drafted in Dynasty Leagues and taken with late round picks to stash on your bench at least keep on your radar.
NL West
The D’Back’s have in my opinion the best pitching prospect in baseball. He is Archie Bradley. It seems strange to say that a  #7 overall pick in the 2011 draft has exceeded expectations but he has and here is why. His control and command. It is what moved him from High A to Double A in just 5 starts. He ended the season with a combined 14 Wins, 1.84 ERA and 162Ks in only 152 innings pitched.  With a 6’4” 225 pound frame he can consistently hit 94 mph and touches 97 with late life. He is Verlander/ Latos like and will not start the season with the big league club but should be a fixture in their rotation come June. Worth a draft pick to stash on your bench.
With the Rockies bringing up so many young players like Arenado, Rutledge, and Rosario over the last year plus the cupboard must be bare for prospects. That may be true for position players but the weakness of the Rockies has always been their SP. Their best prospect (that will see time in 2014 and provide Fantasy Baseball relevance) is Eddie Butler. He will not break camp with the Rockies but he is projected as a top of the rotation guy with the best Slider and Changeup in Colorado’s organization. A 1.90 ERA and an 8.2 K/9 minor league stat line is impressive. He will be 1st call up to fill rotation spot for the often injured Rockies SPs. Not worth a draft pick but keep on radar.

It’s well known the Dodgers have OF depth as deep as it gets with Kemp, Crawford, Puig, and Either. It is also known they miss a lot of games due to injury. So if a trade does materialize to move an OF or the injury bug comes biting sooner than later up comes Joc Pederson. Playing this winter in the Venezuelan league to get more ABs he has projected again as a 20/20 guy at the MLB level. Last year he put up 22 HR and 31 SB in 123 games. A wait and see come spring training if he is worth drafting.
The Padres have one of the youngest teams in MLB and many of their top prospects are at the age of 20 years old. The only real prospect that has a chance to break camp is C Austin Hedges. He will get a shot because of Grandal’s injury when he came back from his 50 game suspension.  Grandal had reconstructive knee surgery in early July and should miss some time to start 2014. Hedges is a 15 HR guy with a little speed. He really only should be looked at in the deepest drafts this year.
The Giants are very deep pitching wise at the Minor League level but the best chance for an early season contributor will be Andrew Susac at catcher. With Posey possibly moving to1B and DHing at AL parks, Susac could break camp with the team as the 2nd Catcher. What he does best is get on base. He sports and incredible .507 OBP in the Arizona Fall League and had a .368 OBP last year. He has some pop with 29 XBH is 262 ABs last year.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Finish Strong


I know it has been awhile since I have posted...due mainly to an injury, then there are kids, family and even a little burnt out. But it’s final stretch time; time to take out all stops and try to win your league. I want to help you gain ground in a category, block another manager from gaining ground against you and maximize your games played and innings limits down the stretch. Let me know how I can Fix Your Team.

Many injuries lately and they have rippling effects. Harvey goes down and that may keep the Mets from sending Wheeler out for the rest of the season. If it wasn’t already decided, Harvey’s injury will make Miami shut down phenom Fernandez very soon too. Those coming back from injury will be Kemp, Jeter, and Montero. Those still hurting are Tulo, Rasmus, Reddick, Weeks and Cain. The waiver claims are coming fast and furious. Some mid level vets may get placed in a high potent offense so keep eyes on Morales, Byrd, and Willingham.

 The call ups are coming soon so keep an eye on minor league studs like Castellanos in Detroit, and a Polanco in Pittsburgh. These two bats can give big dividends for 30 games. In Tampa any of their stud SP can come up and give a spot start. The Pale Hose have already called up Avisail Garcia after the Rios trade and he can play. The 2 studs in Minnesota should be called up but I feel only Sano gets the call and Buxton stays put. Would live to see both Springer and Singleton get the call in Houston but do not see the last place AAAstros doing either. Recently Seattle DFA’d Harrang so that leaves a chance Seattle’s best prospect Walker gets a few starts on the hill before the season ends.