Fantasy Futures: Rookie Hitters

April 28, 2009

With the season officially under way, the big-name studs are already taken in your fantasy league. Luckily, fantasy leagues are won with depth throughout your roster. Here are some rookie hitters who may be of some value to you this year:

Matt Wieters: It seems like he is a household name already, but if you’re looking for the player who could be this year’s version of Evan Longoria or Ryan Braun then Wieters is your guy. He absolutely tore up the minor leagues last year on his way to a .442 wOBA and 27 home runs. Baseball America has likened him to a hitting combination of Jason Varitek and Mark Teixeira in a Joe Mauer body, but he’s probably a few seasons away from that level of production. While Wieters could end the season as at least a top 10 catcher, you may have to wait a while for him to help your team, as the Orioles will likely keep him in the minors until late May – to delay his arbitration clock.
‘09 Prediction: 450 AB, .275 BA, 25 HR, 90 RBI, 70 R, 0 SB

Elvis Andrus: The Rangers moved Michael Young off shortstop to make room for Andrus, so it’s clear he’s highly thought of. That being said, he could probably stand to see more seasoning at Triple-A. He should give you solid production for stolen bases and runs, but don’t expect him to do much more than that. He’s a guy who is more valuable in real life than he is to your fantasy team, and is better served for Rotisserie leagues than Head-to-Head leagues, though you could do worse than him in a reserve MI role.
‘09 Prediction: 500 AB, .255 BA, 5 HR, 40 RBI, 80 R, 23 SB

Travis Snider: Snider found a lot of success last season, making his way through four levels of competition. Profiled as a power hitter, many people expect him to compete for ROY honors this season. Snider definitely hit well last season, but unsustainably high BABIP levels inflated his numbers (.400+ in 150 MLB/AAA PA). While his 2008 isolated power numbers may not stack up with true power hitters just yet (.199 in AA), his power will progress, likely allowing him to become a middle-of-the-order bat in his prime. Given regular playing time, Snider should put up a decent home run total this season. His production may just be average elsewhere, which may make him a guy who’s best saved for deep fantasy leagues.
‘09 Prediction: 480 AB, .250 BA, 16 HR, 65 RBI, 50 R, 0 SB

Dexter Fowler: Fowler had a breakout year in 2008, realizing the potential that so many people saw in him. He will be competing for playing time with Rockies this season, and you should expect him to make the most of it. While he isn’t going to carry your team with his power, he will get on base regularly and give you good production in runs and stolen bases. He should be a viable option as a reserve outfielder in all leagues this season.
‘09 Prediction: 450 AB, .270 BA, 5 HR, 40 RBI, 70 R, 18 SB

Colby Rasmus: Rasmus is a guy who some though of more highly at this time last year than they do currently. His 2008 production wasn't as impressive as his 2007 campaign, though some of that can be attributed to his knee injury. Tony LaRussa is notoriously stubborn about giving young guys a lot of playing time, so barring an injury, expect Rasmus to be one of four outfielders competing for everyday at-bats all season in St. Louis. In the playing time does receive, Rasmus should post numbers good enough to use in most leagues as a backup outfielder.
‘09 Prediction: 425 AB, .265 BA, 14 HR, 55 RBI, 60 R, and 10 SB

Brett Gardner: After winning the center field job for the Yankees out of camp, Brett Gardner is a guy who has jumped from relative obscurity to relevancy in a short amount of time. Gardner will likely hit at the back end of the order, but he should still post productive numbers. Speed is his calling card. Of the 39 times he was on first base last year with the parent club, he stole 13 bases. You should expect those totals to go up this year so long as he’s playing regularly. Gardner is a solid pick up in Rotisserie leagues, and many Head-to-Head leagues as well.
‘09 Prediction: 550 AB, .265 BA, 3 HR, 40 RBI, 90 R, 36 SB

Matt LaPorta: The centerpiece of the deal that landed CC Sabathia for the Brewers, LaPorta is a clearly a guy with a lot of potential. Profiled as a middle-of-the-order bat down the road, he should still put up solid power numbers when he gets the call to Cleveland – likely sometime this summer. Count on LaPorta to be a pure power hitter in his first season in the majors, with the potential to put up huge power numbers if called up soon. He’s a guy worth stashing in your reserves while he's still in the minors.
‘09 Prediction: 400 AB, .270 BA, 22 HR, 75 RBI, 60 R, 0 SB

Jordan Schafer: Schafer (pictured above) was considered an elite prospect going into the 2008 season before getting suspended for HGH usage and falling out of favor with a lot of prospectors. When he returned from his suspension, the fact that he replicated his power numbers from his 2007 season seemingly went unnoticed. With regular playing time for Atlanta, Schafer should produce numbers worthy of a pickup in all leagues.
‘09 Prediction: 550 AB, .250 BA, 18 HR, 75 RBI, 75 R, 15 SB

Cameron Maybin: Maybin has been near the top of prospect rankings for the last few seasons. He has a world of potential, and is getting a chance to play every day this season. But he is still very raw. His power isn’t consistent, and though he doesn’t make enough contact to be an elite player yet, his speed should make him a decent bench player this season.
‘09 Prediction: 500 AB, .245 BA, 12 HR, 55 RBI, 65 R, 20 SB

Emilio Bonifacio: Involved in a couple trades over the last year, Bonifacio caught the fantasy world by storm with his unbelievable opening week. Temper your expectations though, as many scouts have said that he is nothing more than an average player. As the Marlins’ everyday third baseman, he’ll get a handful of at-bats, but don’t expect him to continue producing like an elite player. That being said, use him in Rotisserie and deeper Head-to-Head leagues as a low-end third baseman who’ll provide runs and stolen bases.
‘09 Prediction: 550 AB, .260 BA, 4 HR, 45 RBI, 90 R, 34 SB

Mat Gamel: Gamel hit as well as, if not better than, teammate Matt LaPorta in the first half of 2008. Even though he was hampered by an elbow injury for much of the second half of the season, he still posted a .394 wOBA on the year. And while he may never hit above .275, his power numbers should be there as soon as he gets called up. Gamel will likely step in this year when the Brewers get tired of Bill Hall at third base, at which point he should be considered as an average player for the rest of the season, with the potential for more.
‘09 Prediction: 350 AB, .260 BA, 14 HR, 55 RBI, 40 R, 2 SB


Discuss this article in our fantasy forum. Contact Ethan Saporito at