Everyone remembers those late-round guys who swung your fantasy season. Maybe you got lucky and picked up a prospect who quickly came up to the majors that season. Maybe you were scouring the net and found a beat writer gushing over this player’s ability, which convinced you that you had to grab him. Or, more often than not, you just got lucky and grabbed a guy out of the vast sea of undesirables who carried your team to glory.
Below, I have broken down late-round guys that I like position-by-position, as well as possible prospects we may see this year who would be worthy of a roster spot or a waiver-wire pickup. Like I have said before, I am looking for pure upside with these late-round guys, because if they struggle from the start, I can always look elsewhere via the waiver wire. I could probably list a dozen or so guys who have upside, but I focused on a few of my favorites.
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J.P. Arencibia — If you missed on all of the catchers in the top 10, this is the guy you want. He has 25-30 HR power and was, by all statistical measures, considered unlucky (BABIP .255); however, his strikeout percentage (27.4%) is very high, and the Blue Jays do have Travis d’Arnaud waiting in the wings. He is one of these guys who, if he knocks the cover off of the ball early, I would sell high.
When he comes up … Derek Norris — If you read my VORP column, you may have noticed Norris was in the top 10 for catchers. Now the A’s have released their backup catcher altogether, which will give Norris a chance to compete. His ISO (.237), BB% (18.2%), HR (20) and low BABIP (.257) make this guy very intriguing.
Justin Morneau — 1B is very top heavy this season, and if I am going to take a gamble on a 1B, it’s got to be a player who has the ability to give me top-50 production. With Morneau, I can throw numbers at you till your head turns blue, but if he is still having concussion problems, then you must stay away. For right now, he is crushing it in spring training, so I am buying.
When he comes up … Anthony Rizzo — everyone jumped off of the Rizzo wagon and for the right reasons; however, his BABIP went from .297 for the Red Sox minor-league organization to .210 when he came up to the big leagues for the Padres in 2011. He is not a guy you want to draft (unless you are in a keeper league and you are reaching for anything), but he is a guy you want to monitor.
Sean Rodriguez — this guy has been a “sleeper” for years now, and he has got to put it together eventually. Tampa Bay has not traded him, so he has got to have some value. His numbers were down last year including his BABIP (.268) and AVG (.223); however, his K% (20%) and BB% (8.7%) were significant improvements. If the stars align, this post-post-post-post-post-hype sleeper could be a nice grab in the late rounds.
When he comes up … Good luck; there is not much coming up through the pipe that is fantasy worthy.
Pedro Alvarez — Pedro hits straight balls very far; however, when Pedro sees curveball, bats are afraid. Other than that spot-on movie reference, his BABIP (.272) and isolated power (.098) were way down. I expect a batting average around .245-.250 and 15-20 HR.
When he comes up … Nolan Arenado — Even though he has never played above high A, there is a rumbling that Arenado could have a shot to make the opening day roster. He projects as a low strikeout guy with decent pop. This guy has superstar potential and is in the friendly confines of Coors. He could be a very sneaky midseason pickup.
Zack Cozart — coming back from Tommy John surgery, this young player has the ability to hit for average (I am expecting a .275 AVG) while giving you 15 HR (ISO .162) and 15-20 SB. This guy has huge potential and could be a steal in the late rounds.
When he comes up … Hak-Ju Lee — This guy has the ability to come up sometime this season and could be a nice grab in your leagues. He could be a guy who hits for average and get you 30+ steals.
Jose Tabata — Tabata definitely did not shine like most people thought he would in his second season. He could definitely bounce back and bring his batting average back up to the .300 range you are expecting. I am predicting a .295 AVG with 30 steals.
Ben Revere — This is a pure-speed and decent-batting-average pick. Revere is going to give you 40+ steals with a .280 batting average. He his a very solid late-round grab with those numbers.
Travis Snider — He is a very risky grab, but was a top-tier prospect and seems to be putting it all together in spring training (3 HRs). If he becomes more disciplined at the plate, he could be a nice grab for power.
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