Rankings, strategies and projections help fantasy owners on draft day, but a look at Major League rosters, sprinkled with some spring training nonsense, can change your perspective on certain sleepers and busts.
Let’s review the Houston Astros.
Wallace, late-round sleeper
Brett Wallace is the first name we have to talk about. He’ll be the likely first baseman in Houston. On March 15, his grand slam and 4-for-5 game propelled the Astros to a spring training victory. Always take spring training statistics with a healthy dose of salt, but Wallace has clearly done enough to be the dude at first base. His minor league numbers were hardly dominant, which is disturbing because he played in leagues known for inflated numbers, but he’s worth a late-round flier. The soon-to-be 25-year-old was a former first-round pick.
There is a four-man fight for the last spot in the starting rotation. I’m not going to tell you the names because, well, they’re fighting for a spot behind Bud Norris, who should really be drafted in one kind of league this year. Another year like 2010 and we’ll be throwing No. 3 starter J.A. Happ in the same category. Wandy Rodriguez, the Astros ace, is a value pick if healthy and Brett Myers will likely get some play in mixed leagues in 2011. The sad sacks at the bottom of the ‘tation are just holding a spot for Jordan Lyles, the organization’s top prospect. The right-hander made his double-A debut last year, and advanced to AAA. He struggled with the competition, but has four effective pitches. If the 20-year-old impresses early, expect the callup rumors to start flowing generously
Castro out for season?
It’s more for those of you in NL-only or 2-catcher leagues, but Juan Castro will likely miss the season with a torn ACL. That means Brett Myers’ personal catcher Humberto Quintero and Brian Esposito will be competing for the job. At age 32, Esposito only has three major league at-bats. It’s early in the spring, but Quintero is hitting .353 and OPSing .977. Easy math.
Who? Telvin Nash
This is from www.mlb.com: “Telvin Nash, an outfielder from Minor League camp who traveled with the Astros’ split squad to play the Braves, hit perhaps the longest home run in the history of Champion Stadium in the ninth inning Sunday. Nash, who’s from Griffin, Ga., sent a pitch from Cristhian Martinez over the tall scoreboard in left-center field. He has 14 career homers in 355 career Minor League at-bats.” Nash, 20, is a masher, but very raw. He made his single-A debut last year and was still playing high school ball two springs ago, so there’s time for him to develop.
The Astros have six outfielders in camp. Everybody knows about Hunter Pence, Michael Bourn and Carlos Lee. The outfielder to watch is Brian Bogusevic. The 27-year-old made his ML debut last year. He should translate to a good defender with some above average speed and maybe 10-homer potential. He’s nothing more than a fourth outfielder for the Astros, but NL-only players should know his name. His only competition for playing time as the backup (to all three outfield spots) is 34-year-old Jason Michaels. You should be more excited about the potential of my Road to the Show player in MLB: The Show than Michaels. And I haven’t even created a Road to the Show player yet.