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Prospect Prospectin'

This time of year, there are two questions on the mind of every fantasy-baseballer:

1. Who is going to be this year’s breakout youngster?  

2. Why haven’t I stepped foot outside in three weeks?

I’ll let you in on a secret about who is going to be this year’s breakout star: I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA. But what I can do is make educated guesses then gloat if my predictions turn out to be correct.

This season I’ll be giving weekly updates on prospects that you should have on your fantasy radars. From players you need to pick up immediately to guys you should be keeping tabs on in case of an injury, “Prospect Prospectin’” will be your go-to resource for regular fantasy advice (feel free to hit me up in the comment section too).

I hope you join me on my quest to succeed at this year’s version of fishing for Trout and hunting for Harper!

RUN, DON’T WALK TO THE WAIVER WIRE:

Jose Fernandez

If you’re in a keeper league, stop reading this right now and go pick him up. I’ll wait until you get back...

...okay. Now then. The Marlins are full of unexpected moves: “Let’s sell off our whole team after one year!” “Let’s design a ballpark that will give fans seizures!”  And now: “Let’s call up our best prospect even though he’s only 20 and hasn’t pitched above High-A!”  Well, what’s questionable decision-making by the Marlins front office could be fodder for fantasy baseball success in the form of Cuban import Jose Fernandez.  The facts:

- The 20-year-old Fernandez was lights out last year, averaging a 1.75 ERA, .93 WHIP, and 10.6 K/9 between Low-A and High-A.

- See above.

With numbers like that, you absolutely have to take a flyer on him even though he’s a Marlin and might win negative 4 games this year. On the plus side, he’s in a pitcher’s park and has the pedigree to at best be a breakout pitching star and at worst help you in strikeouts and WHIP. Go grab Jo-Fern now and thank me later (sorry, that was the best nickname I could come up with on short notice)!

Billy Hamilton

Okay, if you’re on this site, Billy Hamilton is already on your radar, so I’ll just say this: Ryan Ludwick is out for three months, so one more injury to a Reds outfielder and their front office has to take a long, hard look at Billy Hamilton. His bat didn’t look major-league ready this spring, but last year’s minor league numbers say otherwise (.311 with a .410 OBP between High-A and Double-A). The worst that can happen is he gets called up and can’t get on base so you drop him (see: last year’s Gordon, Dee). The best that can happen is he gets called up and steals 4,891 bases and wins you your league.

SNEAKY MOVES THAT WILL INFURIATE YOUR OPPONENTS:

Evan Gattis

In two-catcher leagues or leagues where you are waiting for Ruiz, McCann, or Grandal to return to action, the Braves beast-like catcher prospect Evan Gattis could be a great temporary fill-in for the first month of the season (until McCann returns).  Last year between High-A and AA, he hit 18 HRs in only 301 PAs, and in 2011 he cranked 22 HRs in 377 PAs.  He’ll be splitting time with Gerald Laird, but could easily go on a tear and win some more playing time over the next few weeks. McCann is supposed to return by the end of the month, but who knows if the next few weeks will go according to plan? If you roll the dice on this catcher who also qualifies as an outfielder, the risk is low and the reward could be sky high.

Trevor Rosenthal

Last year, Trevor Rosenthal was absolutely lights out in the postseason coming out of the bullpen for the Cardinals. Some thought he was battling Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller for the 5th spot in the rotation, but it seems as though Matheny wants him in relief. So here’s my question: how many saves does Mitchell Boggs have to blow before they give Rosenthal a shot? Motte doesn’t even have a timetable to return, so taking a chance on Rosenthal could pay off if you’re already short on closers.

 HIDE YOUR STASH:

This section is aimed primarily for keeper league owners, but could be valuable in redraft leagues as well if you have room on your roster.

Christian Yelich

This spring, the 21-year-old Yelich mashed to the tune of .364 with 5 homers in 22 games. Take a glance at the Marlins outfielders who are blocking the 21-year-old Yelich from the majors: Juan Pierre, Chris Coghlan, and Justin Ruggiano... not exactly the ‘61 Yankees. The Marlins just promoted their best pitching prospect prematurely, so who’s to say they won’t promote their best hitter, too? With one of the sweetest swings in the minors, Yelich is worth stashing away just to see if Jeffrey Loria & co. are dumb enough to rush all of their best prospects to the majors.

Travis d’Arnaud / Mike Zunino

If you have room on your roster, you should stash one of the two top catching prospects. Both are major league ready and don’t have much competition ahead of them (Jesus Montero is a terrible fielding catcher and John Buck is, well, John Buck). And at such a volatile position, you might as well have someone on your bench with a little upside. Who else are you going to roster, Dioner Navarro?


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