Fantasy rookie report, part two

2nd Base

There are enough veteran second base options around, so rookies won’t need to be relied upon. But if you’re looking for upside, there are some rookies that should have your attention.

Danny Espinosa is intriguing and appears to be Washington’s top option at second base. I don’t think he will ever get there, but he has legitimate 20-20 potential. His batting average will never win your league, either, but his upside is enough to take a late-round flier on and plug him in during his hot streaks.

Dustin Ackley doesn’t do much for me, but others consider him to be a future all-star. With a hot two months in Triple-A, Seattle will find it difficult to keep him from the big leagues. And that means all of you looking for a spark at second base should take notice.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka is getting some “shiny new toy” buzz, but his upside is limited. He should produce a good batting average and 10-20 steals, but little else. He is a good injury replacement for your No. 1 option.

Brett Lawrie is the only other rookie I could see making an impact at second base, even though it seems that he will end up at third base full-time before long. His bat speed could spell a .300-30 future, which could come sooner rather than later with a great showing at Triple-A to start the season.

On the non-rookie front, Gordon Beckham is someone I am investing heavily in as a classic post-hype sleeper, although I would prefer to have a proven No. 1 option to rely on if things don’t work out. I’m not a Sean Rodriguez supporter, but judging by some of his minor league seasons, there is upside to be had. He’s worth a plug and play if your options are limited and you can ride a hot streak. Staying in Tampa, I like Reid Brignac more than Rodriguez due to his dual eligibility and proven major league power.

Shortstop

There really isn’t much to speak of in terms of rookie shortstops ready to make an impact, given that Espinosa and Nishioka should be shortstop eligible but have already been written about. So it might be best to talk about some of the young guys ready to make a name for themselves.

Ian Desmond is getting a lot of love from a lot of fantasy experts, but I’m thinking we’ve already seen a career year out of him. The .269 average and 17 steals seems doable again, but I honestly don’t see double-digit homers out of his bat ever again. I see him as a solid No. 2 option or injury replacement.

I would take Elvis Andrus over Desmond every time. His batting average is going to get better, and his stolen base production is the real separator. And I think he will end up with more home runs than Desmond, too, despite giving us a goose egg in 2010, making him a solid fantasy starter.

I have Starlin Castro ahead of Desmond, too. I see a better batting average, a bit more power, and similar stolen base production. He is a great No. 2 option for those rainy days.

Asdrubal Cabrera is a strong injury replacement option, but he lacks the overall upside of Castro and the speed upside of Andrus.

And that leaves Alcides Escobar, who I have rated a slight notch below Castro and Desmond. Despite his rookie showing, he has similar upside to Andrus, but I need to see the numbers to believe it.

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Comments

  1. Brad Johnson said...

    May I ask why you don’t expect Desmond to be capable of 10+ homeruns annually?

    Having watched him quite a bit, he’s a fairly powerful guy who can get good leverage from time to time. Every stop in the minors flashed 15+ homerun potential and unlike Andrus and Castro, he’s actually a pretty strong player who takes big hacks.

    His homeruns last season (albeit a sample of ten) averaged 400 feet according to Hit Tracker although the dimensions of Nationals Park turned 7 of those into ‘Just Enough’s.’ The only other red flag is a ground ball rate above 50%, which from watching his swing, it’s something that’s fixable.

    It’s easier for me to see upside than downside with Desmond’s power.

  2. Chris said...

    I have to agree with Brad here, Desmond has hit double digit home runs three other times in his pro career, and three years straight (12 in AA in 2008, 11 between AA, AAA and MLB in ‘09, and 10 last year). I have to think that 10+ is something to be expected and Bill James, Marcel and the fans at Fangraphs all think so too. Meanwhile Castro has never hit five home runs in his pro career. NEVER. I have to think that a 25 year old who’s hit 10 four times in his pro career is more likely to produce 10+ HR’s every season than a 21 year old who’s never even hit half of that.

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