Last week we covered rookies who have been showing up in mock drafts, ranking them by average draft position (ADP). Here is a list of some other names that could be notable fantasy assets as the season progresses.
Gregory Polanco, OF, Pirates: Fresh off winning the MVP award in the Dominican Winter League, Polanco looks poised to make an impact in the majors at some point this summer. After a solid debut in Double-A last season (.263, 6 HR, 41 HR), Polanco slashed a tantalizing .331/.428/.494 en route to his DWL honors (he was named Rookie Of The Year, too). He added five homers and swiped seven bags, showing he’s a true five-tool prospect. Expect a .280+ average along with 20-25 homers and a similar number of steals in his prime. But with a long swing and some pitch recognition issues, Polanco needs some extra seasoning in Triple-A to iron out the kinks.
Archie Bradley, SP, Diamondbacks: Bradley posted a dominant season in ’13, going 14-5 with a 1.84 ERA (152 IP, 162/69 K/BB) across two minor league levels, with a bulk of those numbers being collected at Double-A (123.1 IP). The scouting reports on the big righty are awesome, headlined by a plus fastball that touches the upper-90s and plus curveball. His changeup continues to be a work in progress that could be plus over time. That said, there are some flaws holding him back, primarily mechanical. Bradley will return to the upper minors to work on improving the consistency of his delivery to help him cut down the walks. Arizona looks like a playoff contender, and should call on their young ace at some point later this summer, as either a starter or power reliever.
Yordano Ventura, SP, Royals: He might have the biggest fastball in the minors, and was hitting triple digits during his September audition in the majors last season. Ventura significantly raised his stock due to the rapid improvement of his curveball, which profiles as a second plus pitch now. The biggest knock on Ventura has always been his size, with many scouts and pundits questioning whether his 5-foot-11 frame can handle a starter’s workload. He may be capped around 180 innings in ’14, but those innings could be filled with high strikeouts and solid ratios, making him a frontrunner for AL Rookie Of The Year.
Josmil Pinto, C, Twins: With the move to first base by franchise superstar Joe Mauer, the door has swung wide open for Pinto to claim the starting job in ’14. Unfortunately, Kurt Suzuki (who looks toasted) will be the starter heading into the year, meaning Pinto will need to bide his time in a reserve role or back in Triple-A. His minor league results during the past two years have been great – .300 average and homers well into the double digits. Defense seems to be his biggest hurdle, but if passable behind the dish, Pinto could soon develop into a sound fantasy backstop.
Chris Owings, SS, Diamondbacks: All signs point to a spring battle for the Diamondbacks shortstop gig between Didi Gregorious and the rookie Owings. While Gregorious is a relatively boring offensive talent, Owings brings an intriguing blend of power and speed that could be very useful to fantasy gamers. The biggest blemish on his game is his lack of plate discipline, which could lead to low on-base numbers and high strikeout totals. If he wins the starting job and sticks all season, he could hit .275 with 10 homers and 20 steals, useful totals for those in deep leagues.
Jackie Bradley, OF, Red Sox: With the departure of Jacoby Ellsbury, it seemed like a lock for Bradley to be the starter in centerfield heading into ’14. With Grady Sizemore now in the mix, a competition will ensue, at least until Grady succumbs to a DL trip that seems inevitable. Bradley is a great defender with strong plate discipline, who is likely to be more valuable in real life than fantasy. That doesn’t mean he’s a total fantasy dud, though. Over the course of a full season, .275/10/15 isn’t unreasonable, making him an option for deep leaguers.
Travis, d’Arnaud, C, Mets: Health has been the major issue holding d’Arnaud back from being an impact fantasy backstop, and that’s again a question heading into ’14. There is good power and patience here. So if his health cooperates, .260 and 15 homers isn’t a stretch. If you plan on waiting for a catcher, d’Arnaud may prove to be a solid late-round gamble.