2014 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers and Saves Vultures

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In this article we will take a look at up and coming players who are due for a serious bump in playing time and/or promotion.

Sleeper status will occur with a couple of the Saves Vulture players. We will also look at a few names I think should be on Deep Keeper league, ReDraft and Dynasty radars. By now, you’ve probably seen a BA top 100 prospects list or Keith Law’s top 100 prospect list. I’ll try to stay away from most of those names but, there are players on that list who will impact even your small ReDraft leagues. Dynasties obviously already know most of the players in top prospect lists; some may have slipped through the cracks. Here’s where you have an crisis/opportunity = Crisistunity to use that FAAB money once the guy is called up. No! Don’t rush out and draft Tracy McGrady for the sole purpose of novelty.

Michael Tonkin RP MIN

Groomed to be a closer in the Minnesota Twins organization; Michael Tonkin has sleeper status all over him. He’s the likely candidate to step in for a Glen Perkins injury and has skills to never give the job back. Tonkin’s BB/9 has always been below league average and he has the ability to get strikeouts from his fastball that he relies on. At 6’7″ he’s an imposing relief pitcher and a definite Saves Vulture.

Jose Berrios RP/SP MIN

First and foremost, he’s raw. He currently sits at 93-95 mph.

Jose dominated Single-A en route to racking up 100 Ks in his first full season. He’s displayed good control to go along with the strikeouts by only issuing 40 BB in over 110 IP. Jose role isn’t defined by the Twins just yet. They may bring him to the bigs as a RP due to his innings being capped though. Jose projects as a mid rotation starter long term. Something the twins sorely need. At this point he’s not a sleeper anymore. An early ETA would be mid 2015 even with the prospect-cold-feet Minnesota Twins.

Cody Allen RP CLE

Potential Saves Vulture. An 88/26 K/BB ratio and second in the league in strikeouts amount rookie relievers. Cody had an excellent season for the Indians where he finished sixth in AL – ROY voting. Cody’s K/9 was sixth among rookie pitchers and a stellar 11.26 while his BABIP was a bit high at .307. A regression to the mean should result in a lower ERA in 2014. Right now the job as Indians closer goes to newcomer John Axford. But if he stumbles Cody Allen could step in long term. Those who count Holds in their leagues may want to jump on as well.

Victor Black RP NYM

Only 16 IP in 2013 but considered to be a dark horse Saves Vulture on the Pittsburgh Pirates. He did however get put into some high risk situations in 2013 for the New York Mets. Should the Mets tire of Bobby Parnell I’d wager Vic gets the closer job.

Vic carries a K/9 of over 12.15 between AA and AAA. He should be successful at the major league level even if those K/9 numbers dip a bit.

Arodys Vizcaino RP CHC

Why is he under the radar as of right now? Well the once Atlanta Braves top prospect and oft-injured Righthander has yet to throw a pitch in a Minor League game for the Cubs Organization. Still the Cubs have a depleted bullpen where Vizcaino’s name is among some high WHIP competition. A name to target and a definite post hype sleeper for 2014. Arodys’s showed a solid K/9 in the minors but is prone to being wild. A bit of an unknown as to what he’ll provide. Arodys’s hit 98 on the gun this offseason and does carry the Saves Vulture title.

Luis Sardinas SS TEX

The reason the Texas Rangers can throw Elvis Andrus name out there as a possible trade candidate is they have Jurickson Profar. And well, to a lesser extent they have been grooming Elvis Andrus .5*. Sardinas so far looks to be another draft day steal for the Rangers who are developing the best middle infield prospects in the game. Luis could be a four tool middle infielder when he arrives at the big league level. The missing tool would be the power, not something you rely on at the middle infield spot anyway. Small Sample Size: Luis walked only 2.8% in 141PA in AA last season. This number has to come up for him to sustain success at the higher levels. An ETA would be late 2015 or sooner if Elvis Andrus is traded.

Burch Smith SP SD

Starting Pitchers who help me win a championship, in my opinion hold a good amount of sentimental draft value the following year. If not for helping my team over the hump in September РI will likely draft Burch. If not for having a cool name like Burch. If not for being a HodgePadre . I will draft Burch Smith. Burch Smith displayed a ridiculous 11.39 K/9 rate in his late season call-up last year. This number should go down as well as his BABIP from last season: .330.

Corey Seager SS LAD

The younger brother of Kyle Seager 3B SEA, Corey could be considered a sleeper and a steal for first year dynasty’s. Corey has more total tools and projects to stay in the middle infield. His strikeout rate in High-A last season was alarming however (27%). Its a small sample size but the previous season his strikeout rate was 18%. This could sway wether he turns into a Rickie Weeks type player with a plethora or more strikeouts, or a contact guy who can swipe a base. He needs to work on that K rate because his BB % is average at 10%. Corey is a couple of years away in LA but could be a nice middle infielder who puts up great counting stats.

Tracy McGrady OF SGR

No, this isn’t a joke. It’s about a retired NBA superstar fulfilling his dream of playing professional baseball. (Scoff) You could say this is a tired act disguised as a dream granted. You could say that because the same team (Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League) that signed Tracy McGrady “to fulfill his dream”. Also signed Roger Clemens to fulfill his dream of pitching Independent baseball in his fifties. You also could say Tracy McGrady is following in Bryce Harpers footsteps. Both superstars forwent a college education in lieu of playing professional baseball.

Five Players to Target In Re-Drafts and Dynasty’s

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A players draft round usually is a good indication that they were underrated or overrated for the season. As of now here’s my first five list of fantasy baseball players who are poised to make big/small impacts this upcoming season. These are players who will help you in Dynasty formats, Keeper Leagues and possible Re-Drafts.

Who’s going to be this years Yasiel Puig? Will it be Yasiel Puig again? Wil it be Wil Myers? (Bad Typo) Who’s going to be this years Alex Rios? That is a question that could be considered facetious every other year. Fantasy Baseball is easy when you find those helpful late round flyers. Someone like Josh Donaldson could take you from playoff contender to championship round. These are some players I wouldn’t mind reaching for early or in some cases staying away from as they’ll likely be over drafted. And if you play in Salary Fantasy Baseball Leagues, drafting Robinson Cano would be shooting yourself in foot as well as the guard in the foot, while robbing the bank that is the Seattle Mariners. Don’t feel bad for them! They willingly signed him to that contract. The Yankees wanted to go a different direction – and they did by signing Tanaka.

Take A Chance On Me in 2014:¬†Matt’s First Five Players to Target to Help Your Fantasy Baseball Team

Nick Castellanos, Tigers 3B:

The best thing that could happen to Nick was a trade of a corner infielder. That corner infielder was in fact Prince Fielder. Oh the almost alliteration! Nick moves back to the hot corner where he is projected to be a Gold Glove winning third baseman. His outfield experiment proved he’s serviceable but, doesn’t use his skill set properly. The job is essentially his to lose come march. He’s proven the Minors is not a challenge for him as he breezed through Single-A hitting above .400 for a couple of months. His average will be there it’s just a matter of time that the gap power starts to go over the fence.

The lack of home runs in his track record shouldn’t discourage you, he’s got that mobster sounding name to go along with sneaky solid power potential in waiting.

Like Joe Pesci in Casino, he’s got the right name and some serious scary hit’ potential. 2014 Projection: Four WebGems and 18 home runs while maintaining a .270 BA.

Matt Adams, Cardinals 1B:

The stature of a prototypical beer league ringer. Mr. Burns might replace him in favor of Cap Anson on your company softball team. But he shouldn’t, Matt Adams has a lightning struck secret weapon sitting on his shoulder – his bat. He is on the verge of being a young star first baseman. Adams belted 18 home runs in 318 ABs last season and now has a clear path to everyday starting lineup duties in 2014. In those limited ABs Adams had a BABIP of .337 which could produce a drop in his career .284 BA. Prone to the swing and miss Adams isn’t projected to be a big BA guy. His career BABIP sits at .332 based on very limited ABs (410PA), Suggesting he may sustain an above league average BABIP. You don’t always get a major league caliber player (from Slippery Rock University) in the 23rd round, So far Adams look to be a steal.

Matt Davidson, White Sox 3B:

It was always a waiting game for Davidson. When are the Dbacks going to stop playing Willie Bloomquist everywhere and call him up. They’ve since done that – and have since issued a trade involving the young third baseman. The White Sox traded closer Addison Reed for Matt Davidson. While Davidson doesn’t possess elite upside or have the skills to take a team to a World Series by himself. He does however have the necessary attributes to take the third base job and make it his from day one. A former Futures Game MVP, He projects to be a power hitting – low average third baseman who ranks amount the top ten in fantasy counting stats. He might be the most un-sexy name in the third basemen crop this year. Sort of like being Ross from Friends. Annoying average delivery, but succeeds in the end. Pro-tip: He marries Rachel. C’mon it’s been ten years! If you haven’t got around to see it, You were never going to.

Byron Buxton, Twins CF:

The greatest thing since sliced bread. Sliced bread being invented in 2009, Byron Buxton is the unquestionable top prospect in the game and has high ceiling projections in nearly every facet of his game. The Minnesota Twins are notorious for taking time with their prospects. They’ve already issued a Spring Training invite to Byron Buxton and top prospect colleague Miguel Sano. Rallying the base supporters and giving everyone a sneak peek into their elite talent waiting in the wings.

Despite the invitation; All indications are that Buxton will start the season in Double-A with a chance of hitting himself into a cup of coffee in the majors around August. News broke today that Byron is 100% healthy after a November bone bruise. He’s not projected to actually make this years Twins club but he’s on my radar for keeper leagues of all sizes. SG at Replacement Level Yankees Weblog gives Buxton a full season CAIRO projection of 57/7/43/.264/24 This is based on 450+ ABs which is highly improbable. This projection gives an idea that his tools will play right away in the big leagues. Draft and stash him for 2015, anything you get this year can be counted as a bonus.

George Springer, Astros OF:

George Springer may have had the quietest season of any top prospect. The Astros future OF posted 37 home runs, 45 steal .303 BA – a mammoth line. The Astros acquired Dexter Fowler from the Rockies this off-season but have stated, it will not block Springer’s ETA at all. In fact the only OF spot that’s not open if Dexter Fowler’s CF. George will have a chance to make the roster this spring and if not he should be a huge May call up. If seems I repeating myself but here’s another top prospect who whiffs far too much. While his Minors BB rate is a respectable 12.2%, his K rate is a staggering 26.5 in over 1,400 Minor league ABs. He will need to shrink the discrepancy between those two percentages to survive at the big league level. CAIRO gives Springer a 2014 projection of 52/18/49/17/.243. Given enough at bats for the young outfielder I wouldn’t bet against him making those numbers being his actual line.

Robinson Cano a Mariner?

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A Timeline from Thursday Morning to Friday Morning

  • Robinson Cano not yet ready to make a decision.
  • It appears Jay-Z might have overplayed his hand – Seattles declined adding a Tenth year.
  • Robinson Cano headed to Seattle Mariners in a 10 year $240 million signing – Pending physical.
  • ESPN deportes was the first to report the deal.

The New York Yankees originally offered Cano 7 years $160 million. This is the largest Mariners free agent signing and third largest in baseball history. And pretty much locks up the 30 year old as a a Mariner into retirement. If the Prince Fielder recent trade taught us anything it’s that these contracts become troublesome sooner rather than later. If the Mariners wish to compete – They have made a grand gesture here.

Cano will provide elite power and elite defense for Seattle. Cano will bring a career batting average of .302 with 24 home runs per season. He’s durable – he’s missed more than 40 games in a season once. And that was in 2006. Cano is an ESPN deportes was the first to report the deal. The New York Yankees originally offered Cano 7 years $160 million. -base machine who should lead the team in runs scored for the next few years. He’s batted in 97 runs since he joined the majors and has made the all star team all but three seasons.
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This signing comes on the heels of a lucrative television deal the Mariners had signed this offseason. With more television revenue they have the luxury of going out an getting a bat that they sorely have needed. I didn’t think this was in the cards!

The Mariners might not be done with their offseason blockbusters. It’s been rumored they are Also interested arbitration eligible David Price TB SP who’s been on the block since May of last year. All indications point to Seattle including young uber prospect Taijuan Walker in any potential David Price talks. This is as of now just a rumor.While Seattle has been clearly building from within for the last few years – this seems like a too good to pass up free agent signing. Hall of fame second basemen don’t hit the free agent market very often.

If Seattle elects to go after David Price – it will no doubt rally the fan base but will we not question the deal. If they trade away three top SP prospects ( one who’s undergone Tommy John surgery) for an ace, will it feel like a half-hearted rebuild. Those assets who you’ve got 7+ years of team control over, don’t come very easily. Do the Mariners have anymore blockbusters this offseason? I highly doubt that they can top the buzz around this one.

Can the Minnesota Wild continue their Hot Start?

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The Wild face the best of the west in December, Can they avoid a nosedive?

Two years ago – the Wild were leading the league in points and on a mission to make some noise in the playoffs. This is before the July fourth double signings of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. This is before they ran into the impressive college-bowl-student-section fanbase that is thee Winnipeg Jets. Coming down by the bus load, Jets fans infiltrated the Xcel Energy Center. They were loud! They chanted Go Jets Go! They turned the Wilds season and sent them into an embarrassing second half record. Including said Jets game the Wild lost 8 consecutive games – three by Shootout loss. The Wild record before the Jets game was 20-8. And after said game they found themselves below .500 at 35-36.

Winning only 15 of their final 36 games the Wild pointed to this Jets loss as the turning point. Injuries played a part as Mikko Koivu and Guillaume Latendresse missed a combined 93 games. The promising start to the season was lost as the wild finished 4th in the Northwest division with 81 points.

The question is – Can this happen again?

The Wild are off to another excellent start this season getting 37 points in 29 games – good for tenth in the NHL. Seven of their next eight games are against current playoff teams. Six of those games are against the dominating Western NHL conference. With the current schedule that the wild have – being Eastern conference heavy early on, The wild need under performing players to step up now during this stretch.

Mikael Granlund has been shutdown after missing four of the last five games with concussion like symptoms. Mikael was injured on a seemingly even hit that he initiated against Phoenix. He came back Wednesday and played one shift then subsequently left the game. Mikael was placed on injured reserve today placing him off the roster for at least a week.

Jason Zucker was recalled from Iowa. We’ll see if he can crack the roster over Justin Fontaine who’s on pace for a Rookie record in goals for the Minnesota Wild.
Dany Heatley is a player who needs to step up and get some points for the wild during this tough schedule stretch. Dany has six goals and three assists in 29 games this season.
Kyle Brodziak also needs to contribute more this season. Kyle enjoyed a 20+ goal season only two years ago and more is expected from him. He’s look good on the ice as a forechecking line but only has eight points this season. Kyle is projected for 23 total points in 2014 – that’s a career low.

Two stats you need to know:

Power Play Percentage: The Wild enjoy the eighth ranked Power Play percentage in the league. But the flip side is the team is relying and succeeding only on the Power Play. The team has been deadly early on this season when they get on a power play. The problem is how many penalties they are drawing to get those Power Plays. As a team they have drawn only 20 Power Plays in the last nine games. In those games the Wild only have three Power Play goals. They are clearly trending down and need to work on drawing more chances by playing more in the offensive zone.

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Courtesy of SportingCharts.com

Even Strength Scoring: The Wild rank 21st in the league in Even Strength scoring. Mike Yeo needs to address these five on five numbers if they hope to avoid a nose dive. While the Wild are tough defensively minus a ugly Penalty Kill – They rank 23rd out of 30 teams in Penalty Kill percentage. It’s clear they need to stop relying on the Power Play – score Even Strength. The wild rank 22nd in the NHL in Total Goals.

Having a team with a Zach Parise doesn’t make you a guaranteed cup contender. But it does make the expectations higher. The fans of Minnesota expect the team to make the playoffs for the next ten years and have a couple deep playoff runs at the cup. If you factor in the 2011-12 nose dive coupled with the Wild missing the 2013-14 playoffs – Head Coach Mike Yeo will be looking for a new job. I doubt the Wild will miss the playoffs this season but they are headed for a tough stretch against the best of the west. As of now the club has a 58.6% chance to make the playoffs. Surviving this stretch would make those numbers of being playoff bound inevitable.