2014 Fantasy Baseball - Outfield Sleepers
Shawn Childs, High Stakes Fantasy Baseball Winner and Contributor from scoutPRO.com is helping FFToolbox readers dominate their fantasy baseball leagues this season.
Trout should really be the #3 hitter for the Angels, but that plan will have to wait one more season. In order to create as much value for Trout, LA needs to have a quality bat leading off and they really need a solid option hitting 9th in the batting order. Aybar is nice major league hitter, but his on base % is only .317 in his career. Kole Calhoun gave the Angels 195 plus at bats in 2013. He showed upside power and a willingness to take a walk (9.5 %). His K rate (18.5 %) was about the major league average. He is a career .317 hitter in the minors with 55 HR's, 263 RBI, and 45 SB's in 1364 at bats. He had a solid walk rate (11.9 %) in the minors, which gives him more upside in this area in the majors. In his limited at bats (50) against lefties in the majors, Kole hit .340. At AAA in 2013, he hit .439 against left hand pitching in 57 at bats with 3 HR's and 16 RBI. His skill set probably isn't built on being a leadoff hitter, but he does enough things well where he appears to be the best option in the team after Trout. His career on base % in the minors was .402. Calhoun even has underlying speed even though he only has average base running ability. Kole is an older prospect with low upside tools, but he has great character and smarts. I expect him to be undervalued on draft day especially if he does get a chance to bat at the top of the order.
Adam Eaton was expected to be the leadoff hitter for the Diamondbacks last season, but he suffered a sprained UCL in his left elbow. He didn't return to the majors until July 9th. Adam was unimpressive in his 250 at bats, but he does have a knack for scoring when he gets on base (over 50 % in his short major league career). Last year his walk rate (6.1 %) wasn't in the elite area he showed in his 85 at bats in the majors in 2012 (13.6 %) and in his minor league career (11.5 %). For whatever reason, Eaton didn't steal bases last season. He is career .348 hitter in the minors with 106 steals in 1300 at bats. Adam should have 30 steal upside in the majors with 7 to 10 HR power. The White Sox acquired him over the winter and he has the best skill set to be their leadoff hitter. The elbow injury last season has to be a concern as it could lead to TJ surgery down the road. He has an intriguing skill set with upside in batting average and his price point should be fair in the 2014 draft season.
Byron Buxton is one of the few bright spots in the Twins system. Last year he hit .334 at Low A and High A with 12 HR's, 77 RBI, and 55 SB's in 488 at bats. His K rate (18.3 %) is about major league average and he will take a walk (13.2 %). His speed is intriguing, but he didn't have a great success rate in 2013 (74.3 %). The Twins have nothing in centerfield so he could move quickly in 2014. He'll start the year at AA with a very good chance of reaching the majors at some point this summer.
It really make no sense for Houston to start George Springer in the minor this season. He played well in 219 at bats at AAA in 2013 (.311 with 18 HR's and 22 SB's). His K rate (24.2 %) was even improved from his AA results (29.7 %). Overall George has hit .299 in his minor league career with 223 runs, 62 HR's, 198 RBI, and 81 SB's in only 1026 at bats. His walk rate (12.2 %) is solid. Without his huge K rate (26.5 % - career), his skill set looks elite. His lack of contact make him a tough player to project in 2014. If he struggles to make contact early in the year, he could be send to the minors quickly. Just by looking at Chris Carter, we can see a minor league 23.5 % K rate translates into a much higher K rate in the majors. Springer could have all the talent in the world, but he can't have elite success in the majors with a 35 % strikeout rate. He has a 30/30 skill set, but we have no idea how far his batting average will fall in the majors.
Logan Morrison's lack of success over the past 2 years was more due to injuries. Last year he missed 2+ months of the season due to his recovery from right knee surgery. Logan had no value against LH pitching (.183 with no HR's and 6 RBI in 71 at bats). He is career .244 against lefties with 9 HR's in 357 at bats. His K rate (16.8 %) was a career low and he has a solid walk rate (11.4 %). In 2011, he had a solid HR/FB rate (18.1 %), but it has declined in the last 2 seasons due to injuries. Morrison has been more of a GB hitter (46.1 %) in his major career. Logan is a much better player than his resume suggests. He has a 20/80 skill set with upside in batting average. Morrison hit .286 in his minor league career with 57 HR's and 292 RBI in 1742 at bats. His K rate (15.0 %) was in a good area and he took some walks (12.3 %).
The Reds really don't have any upside players ready to make the step up to the majors this season and most their bench option are weak. Jesse Winker has a chance to make an impact in the near future. He has had a plus walk rate (13.5 %) in his first 2 seasons in the minors and his K rate (16.4 %) is in a good area and it improved last season. Winker has a nice batting stroke that will offer upside in batting average, but he has limited speed with only 20 HR power at this point of his career. His skill set may work was as the #2 hitter for the Reds in the future. Jesse is expected to start the year at AA and he could force his way to the majors if the Ludwick and Heisey combo doesn't work out. His time table looks like to 2015.
Khris Davis may be an attractive fantasy player in 2013 if he can get full time at with the Brewers. He had plus power (11 HR's) in his 136 major league at bats and it is supported his minor league resume. Khris was a career .288 hitter in the minors with 69 HR's, 253 RBI, and 41 SB's in 1426 at bats. His K rate (22.2) was a bit higher in the majors and it was only slightly lower in his minor league career (20.5 %). His walk rate (7.2 %) came in short with the Brewers, but it has shown upside in the minors (12.7 %). Davis is extremely slow with no range and a weak arm. He needs to play in left field, but Braun has called that home for the last few years. Milwaukee has talked about moving Braun to right in 2014, which will open the door for regular at bats for Davis. He has a possible 20/80 skill set with upside in power, but he is worthless if Braun doesn't change positions.
After a slow start in his minor league career, Gregory Polanco has blossom into an upside prospect over the last 2 seasons. Last year he hit .285 with 12 HR's, 71 RBI , and 38 SB's at High A and AA. He has 127 career steals in 1495 at bats with a solid walk rate (9.5 %) and a low K rate (15.5 %). He might have the best skill set to bat near the top in Pittsburgh's lineup. He has enough size where some believe he may develop into a 30/30 hitter. He should start the year at AAA and I expect him to make the major by early summer.
Oscar Taveras had a tough season in 2013. He injured his right ankle in mid May that required surgery in August. He is expected to be ready for spring training. He is a career .320 hitter in the minors with 45 HR's, 275 RBI, and 34 SB's in 1437 at bats. Oscar has played about 1/3 of a season at AAA so he is really close to being ready for the majors. He played 34 games in CF and 6 in RF last year. Possible impact rookie bat and he would make a very good handcuff for Bourjos or Craig. I expect Oscar to push Bourjos to the bench over the 2nd half of the 2014. If he hits well, he could move to 2nd in the batting order. His whole key is the recovery from his ankle injury.
Corey Dickerson has an upside bat. He is a career .321 hitter in the minors with 78 HR's, 279 RBI, and 43 SB's in 1480 at bats. His K rate (19.3 %) and walk rate (7.5 %) should come in about major league average. Corey struggled in his limited at bats with the Rockies against LH pitching (.194 - .306 SLG %). Last year he had a huge infield FB rate (25.0 % - too much swing for the fences). Dickerson isn't a great outfielder and he has below average speed. His power gives him the edge in left, but he won't see full time at bats until he proves he can handle lefties in the majors. He has high upside in power with a strong enough approach to deliver a positive batting average.
Rymer Liriano missed all of the 2013 season due to TJ surgery on his right elbow. He is career .270 hitter in the minors with 40 HR's, 248 RBI, and 152 SB's in 1845 at bats. He played about 1/3 of a season at AA with limited success in 2012 (.251 with 3 HR's, 20 RBI, and 10 SB's). His K rate (24.4 %) is much too high for him to make an impact in the majors in the near future. His walk rate (8.1 %) is just under the league average. He has a 60+ stolen base season on his minor league resume. Rymer hasn't hit for plus power in his minor league career, but he is expected to have 20+ HR upside down the road. This year he should start the year at AA and he may sniff the majors late in the season. Liriano has upside, but he isn't close to being majors league ready and his approach at the plate will invite downside risk.
Mac Williamson had a very nice season at High A last year. He showed plus power with underlying speed. His K rate (22.0 %) was a bit high and his walk rate (8.5 %) was about the league average. Mac is a career .298 hitter with 34 HR's, 121 RBI and 10 SB's in 651 at bats. He should start the year at AA and he could move quickly to the majors if Morse has an issue. He looks like the Giants future right fielder.