Everyone who can read and who enjoys playing fantasy baseball has heard, at this point, about rookie sensations such as Matt Wieters and David Price. Wieters, especially, has been discussed at length among those of the ninja nation here at chinstrap ninjas, with ep issuing some caution and your’s truly somewhat throwing caution to the wind.
However, there are much more rookie talent that could harvest some solid fantasy production this year — even if some of it may not be heard from until the second half of the season.
A few rookies that should be on every fantasy owner’s peripheral radar:
Elvis Andrus, Texas, SS: How much talent does Andrus have? So much so, that the Rangers followed through with converting Gold Glove shortstop Michael Young to third base. Andrus will find himself immediately in the starting lineup. His offense may not make him a fantasy baseball MVP (he should steal around 15-20 bases, bat around .300), but for leagues who reward good fielding, Andrus could provide a good late-round value.
Cameron Maybin, Florida, OF: Just ask Hall of Fame player Al Kaline … Maybin will be a star some day. At this point, it is pretty certain that he’ll start Opening Day as Florida’s leadoff hitter. He batted .500 with four steals in eight September games last year, and was one of the key figures that the Marlins snagged from the Detroit Tigers in the Miguel Cabrera trade. He’s a threat to steal every time he gets on base, and early projections indicate he may add 10-20 home runs this season. Maybin is one rookie that most every fantasy owner should be nabbing in the later rounds.
Brett Anderson, Oakland, SP: The Athletics have a long pedigree of finding and then polishing diamonds in the rough (on the mound). Anderson has the potential to be yet another front-line starting pitcher for the A’s at some point. He went 11-5 between both A and AA play with a 3.69 ERA, striking out 118 batters in 105 innings. The future might be now for Anderson, who could find himself playing for the fifth rotation spot in light of Justin Duchscherer’s elbow surgery scheduled next week. He may be worth a late-round flyer (or waiver wire pickup) in case he does start the season on a tear — just be smart about how much you invest him Anderson early — he is a young talent who needs time to mature. Expect him to provide some worthy fantasy games moreso in the middle to late part of the season.
Jordan Zimmermann, Washington, SP: Hope springs eternal for young baseball prospects in spring training, but many players are not able to capitalize on their spring extended job interview the way that Zimmermann has for the Nationals. Prior to March 21, he had not allowed a single run. He did give up five runs in two innings last Saturday versus the Cardinals, but allegedly was battling the flu. The Nationals are very thin on the mound, and Zimmermann should have no problem making the tail end of the rotation.
Chris Dickerson, Cincinnati, OF: Another player expected to see his stock rise after a solid spring, Dickerson is known mostly for his speed — but also cranked out six home runs in 102 at-bats for the Reds last year. Dickerson has stolen six bases this spring, and will definitely make it into the Reds lineup — however, he lacks some maturity on the basepaths, getting caught five times this spring and whiffing 17 times. Dickerson may be someone you want to keep a close eye on in regular re-draft leagues, although it wouldn’t hurt to stash him away on your roster if you have the extra space.
Koji Uehara, Baltimore, SP: A legend in Japan, with a 112-62 record (3.01 ERA, 56 complete games in 10 seasons with the Yomiuri Giants. In his most recent outing this spring, he struck out seven batters in 3 2/3 innings against the Nationals (this past Tuesday). He currently is projected as the Orioles No. 2 pitcher.
Who are your rookies to watch? Which of these guys do you think will represent the next wave of MLB fantasy stud? We’d love to hear your opinion.