Don't sleep on Marte, Lux or Stott at 2B in 2023

D.J. Short and Scott Pianowski discuss sleepers and late-round steals at the second base position, headlined by Ketel Marte, Gavin Lux and Bryson Stott.

Video Transcript

D. J. SHORT: So a player I'm willing to take a shot on in the late round of drafts-- rounds of drafts this year is Ketel Marte with the Diamondbacks. I look at his current ADP-- 210.35 on the NFC, and coming off a really bad year, to hit .240, .727 OPS, 12 homers, 137 games, just five steals as well.

But you look at 2021-- he hit .318 with 14 homers over 90 games. So he's one of those players that's highly erratic. We remember the amazing season he had, what, four years ago where he looked like a breakout five category stud. I don't think he's that player. He just isn't. We have to adjust our expectations to that.

But he is someone who is capable of making contact. I think the shift changes help him. He's still capable of hitting the ball hard. Didn't happen as much last season, but also had some injuries going on his side. I like that Diamondbacks lineup. I think they can be sneaky good this season, and I could see Marte being right in the middle of it.

And in the past, where maybe he's been a disappointment relative to ADP, I think this year he has a chance to be a value.

SCOTT PIANOWSKI: Yeah, it's very important to know the non-contend-- nobody thinks Arizona is going to contend. At least, I don't. Maybe you can pitch me on that, but the NL West is so deep. It's just so top heavy. It's hard for me to see Arizona contending, but that doesn't mean we can't have fantasy value there. We talked about Walker being a good first round first base pick in an earlier podcast. And I know I'm going to have good things to say about Jake McCarthy when we get around to the outfielders.

So it's important to know those teams. I think Marte gets a mulligan for last year, and he's a really good value. It's not-- I didn't realize-- we talked a little bit about Gavin Lux earlier. I didn't realize his ADP was outside the top 200 until now. I think that's going to get corrected. But I want you in the early drafts to be one of the correcters on that. Right now, 233. Just skip the line by round or two and get Gavin Lux on your team.

Again, he's going to be in the lineup every day, batting in the middle of a Dodgers order that we want to have a piece in. He used to bat ninth and play part of the time. Now, he's going to bat sixth and play all of the time. As long as the shortstop change isn't overwhelming for him, I think it's a breakout season just waiting to happen.

D. J. SHORT: Nick Gordon is a name I've looked at as I've been doing some research here. Had a sneaky good last-- good year last year. Hit .272, nine homers, six steals. Gives you a little bit of everything there. I wonder, following this [INAUDIBLE] trade-- we mentioned Alex Kirilloff in the first base episode, but I could see Gordon playing in this mix somehow with the Twins this season.

Plate discipline is not great, but he hits the ball surprisingly hard for someone with his body type. Maybe not as fast as you would think, but he's hitting the ball harder these days. And he's kind of put himself back on the map for me. He's kind of a player we're going to have to watch. As Spring Training develops, we see what their lineup looks like. We see what the playing time patterns are.

But for someone you can get late in a draft, 286.86 on NFC. Gordon is on my radar.

SCOTT PIANOWSKI: I like it. I think the Arraez trade speaks to them feeling good about Gordon if he has to play a lot. You know, the Angels-- and right next to Gordon, I'll give you one more cheap option at the position. The Angels don't look at Luis Rengifo is one of their main guys. But what's going to happen is somebody's going to get hurt. I know right now, he's- maybe he's going to start. Maybe he's going to not start. He may bat ninth, all that.

Eventually, injuries are going to happen. And we're going to look up the end of the season, and we're going to be like how did Luis Rengifo hit 22 home runs?

D. J. SHORT: Yeah.

SCOTT PIANOWSKI: Or how did he get 570 at-bats? I thought he'd be like a super utility guy or not one of their primary guys. He's going to play somewhere, and he's probably not going to bat ninth all season. And Gordon, you mentioned, he's second base/outfield eligibility. It's always nice to scoop up some extra eligibility. And Rengifo qualifies at second and third base. A lot of these second baseman do have position eligibility options.

Now, with second base being thin, you may want to use him at second base, but it's always nice to have flexibility. Again, it's a case of I just look at the Angels roster. It's old enough that I feel like Rengifo's going to get playing time somewhere, even if it doesn't look that way on opening day.

D. J. SHORT: Right. I agree, totally. So let's jump to some of these young names to keep an eye on, basically late round flyers, maybe waiver wire material. Starting off here with Bryson Stott. Had a lot of hype coming into Opening Day last season with the Phillies, but he started out extremely slow. But he hit .278-- again, arbitrary endpoints-- .278 over his final 70 games, packed six homers and nine steals in that time.

So you project that out over a full season, you have someone pretty useful. Sprint speed, 91st percentile. He's going to play second base for the Phillies this year, Trea Turner at shortstop. And again, it's a ballpark that's pretty friendly for offense. Getting maybe 10 homers, 15-20 steals, decent average. I think Stott could surprise some people this year.

SCOTT PIANOWSKI: I'm surprised. He's stole 12 bases last year in 127 games. And all the projection systems are giving him about the same amount of games and about the same amount of stolen bases. I mean, that doesn't make any sense. He's going to play 150 games. He's going to steal 18 to 20 bases. This is where the projection systems get it wrong because he hasn't done it before.

But the Phillies are sold on him. It's a park we want to hit in. Even without Harper, the depth of the lineup is pretty good. I think he's a really nice option where he's going to-- because the playing time is already secured, and he's not-- he's not powerless. He's going to hit double-digit home runs as well. So I think this is-- if you're playing the value game at this position, which I admittedly will not be me, I think he's a perfectly reasonable option.

D. J. SHORT: Staying in the NL East here, Luis Garcia with the Nationals-- and kind of an opposite side of the spectrum from the Phillies, where they're expected to contend. The Nationals are not, and I actually think that plays to Garcia's favor because I think he'll get every chance this time to stick in the Majors. He'll only be 23 years old in May. Hit .275 with seven home runs, three steals in 93 games with the Nationals last season.

Pretty troubling plate discipline with Garcia. Drew just 11 walks in 360 plate appearances but made a decent amount of contact. I think he could hit for average. Pretty good pop, tiny bit of speed as well. But most important thing-- volume. He's going to be in that lineup every day. I think he's someone who is kind of a little more of a deeper league option, but I don't think we've seen his ceiling yet.

SCOTT PIANOWSKI: The key for him, for Garcia, for me, is where does he bat. Right now, he's projected to hit seventh. But with Lane Thomas and C. J. Abrams at the top of the lineup, there's no guarantee that that's going to be how they roll out the lineup on Opening Day.

Man, it's hard to believe Washington won the World Series not that long ago because this is one of the worst lineups in baseball. They're going to get trampled in the National League East, where there's three superpowers, and Miami's not a bad team. So it looks like Washington's ticketed for last place.

I'm just worried-- with Garcia, I would need him to bat first or second just to get those extra at-bats and maybe even the extra impetus for him to run. If he hits it the bottom third of a lineup I don't like, I'd be less likely to go after him. But again, like, you're talking about somebody who could be one of your last picks. It could be somebody you call up on the waiver wire when injuries hit or somebody you pick up when your IL spots give you some flexibility. You're not asking for him to be a savior by any means.

But I'm just worried that this Washington team could be maybe the worst team in the National League.

D. J. SHORT: They're going to be rough. No doubt about that. Final one for me, and this is really digging deep-- Jonathan Aranda with the Rays. Put up some really big numbers in AAA last year. Hit .318, 18 home runs, .915 OPS. Didn't replicate in the Majors. Hit just .192 with a .596 OPS. Small sample, 32 games. Exit velocity was consistently solid. I think, if anything, that was a good sign for me.

There's opportunity there with the Rays as well. They traded Ji-Man Choi during the offseason. Isaac Paredes is also figuring in there. But you know how the Rays love to mix and match. I think there's going to be opportunity for Aranda. Also qualifies in multiple positions. I think if you're looking for a potential late round reserve pick breakout, Aranda is that guy.

SCOTT PIANOWSKI: Yeah, he could be. Yeah, we always think of streaming as a pitching strategy, but it's also possible to stream hitters. Aranda may be in the heavy side of a platoon. So he may be-- like, if you're in a weekly lineup league, you may look at him and say, oh, Tampa Bay's against all righties this week. I can play Aranda.

And also, whenever you're batting with Tampa Bay, right, as you said, they moved Choi. That's obviously with an eye towards Aranda being a quasi-regular for them. Tampa Bay's right so often that when they're betting on a player, it's probably a good idea to bet on him, too, at least for the reasonable returns. Aranda more of a deep league, as I mentioned, a streamer. You know, a DFS play once in a while, American League-only pick, all that stuff, because he's not going to play probably against left-handed pitching.

But when the schedule lines up favorably, he'll be-- again, I want to do what-- I want to-- if Tampa Bay believes in somebody, if Tampa Bay bets on somebody, I'm likely to do the same. I think at the current buy-in, Aranda is set up to give you a profit because the Rays are right so often.