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Players To Watch: Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates are always a good source of fantasy sleepers.  Here are the players you'll want to keep an eye on for 2011.

  • Andrew McCutchen, OF.  Drafted in the eighth round before the 2010 season, McCutchen performed very close to his projection.  Perhaps the added reliability and the fact that he's only 24 make him go a round or two earlier in 2011.
  • Ronny Cedeno, SS.  If you squint you can see a shortstop capable of 10 homers and 10 steals, which is worth something.
  • Neil Walker, 2B.  Despite down-ballot ROY buzz he'll be a sleeper for next year.  Read more on him here.
  • Ryan Doumit, C.  I could see him traded to another club and having some use as a second catcher.
  • Chris Snyder, C.  He'll get the lion's share of the catching duties, and should be good for 15 homers and an ugly batting average.  With 450 ABs he could actually push 20 homers.
  • Jose Tabata, OF.  He could steal 30 bags with 600 plate appearances.  He's only 22, and the power has yet to arrive.  Even so, he could supply runs batting in the #1-2 spots along with a nice average.  A sneaky three-category player who will likely be had late.
  • Pedro Alvarez, 3B.  He's already capable of 30 homers and 100 RBIs.  Probably won't help in average or steals, but he could provide good value in the eighth round or so.
  • John Bowker, OF.  The Pirates gave 654 PAs to Quad-A guy Garrett Jones, and maybe Bowker could get that chance next year.  He hit .313/.382/.587 with 18 homers in 322 Triple A PAs this year and was even better last year.
  • Evan Meek and Joel Hanrahan, RP.  These two righties will compete for the closer job in spring training.  My money's on Hanrahan, but it's too early to call.  If you draft one, try to snag the other later.  Chris Resop is a deeper sleeper to get into the saves mix.
  • James McDonald, SP.  An 8.6 K/9 in 11 starts catches the eye.  A .330 BABIP helped push his WHIP to 1.38, as did a just-OK 3.64 BB/9.  On the flip side he can't sustain a 4.3% home run per flyball rate and he does allow a lot of flies.  SIERA had him at 3.74 in his 64 Pirates innings, and he throws pretty hard, so there's enough here for a speculative 20th round-type pick.
  • Brad Lincoln, SP.  He failed in the bigs but had solid peripherals at Triple A.  Someone to watch, but not to draft in mixed leagues.  Another note on the Pirates' rotation: they're likely to add a veteran free agent starter.

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