This is the transition time of the year when you must be on your toes at all times. Somewhere, out there, in the vast depths of the wavier wire sits fantasy gold. It could be anyone. Sometimes, all it takes is the right timing coupled with opportunity. I am throwing some names out that I am watching in these first few weeks. If some of these guys get hot, by the end of the week they will be 100 percent owned. Right now, all of them are less than 50 percent owned, most are less than 10 percent owned.
Without further ado …
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Bartolo Colon — If you woke up yesterday morning and jumped on the net to see what happened in Japan like I did, I am sure you took a long hard look at Colon’s numbers. He set down the first 12 batters he faced and earned the win with 8.0 IP, 6 SO, 3 hit, 1 ER and 1 BB. He is owned in roughly three percent of leagues, and if your team was auto-drafted, he may be a guy you might want to pick up.
Luis Mendoza — This 28-year-old journeyman will crack the Royals sorry excuse for a five-man rotation. In three starts and three victories, he’s given up just one run on five hits in 10.2 innings. He’s got 11 strikeouts with one walk. He was the Pacific Coast League’s Pitcher of the Year in 2011 (this is more commonly known as a hitter’s league, which makes it that much more impressive) and has continued to be dominant this spring. He is currently owned in less than one percent of leagues and should be picked up in AL-only leauges and monitored in mixed leagues.
Lorenzo Cain — Sticking in Kansas City, this guy has also garnered some spring buzz. He is batting .431 with 4 HR and 8 RBI. Looking at his history, in 2010 with the Brewers, in 143 plate appearances he batted .303 with 1 HR, 7 SB, 17 R and 13 RBIs. Looking at his projected numbers, he could give you some cheap speed with a decent batting average. I do not think the power is legit. If it is, and you picked him up, you just won the jackpot, mofo!
Jose Altuve — “Scrappy” is a word people are throwing around about this guy. He is not a speedster, though some have projected him at 20+ steals. He is not a guy who hits for power, though he could give you double-digit home runs. Nor is going to kill your batting average. I believe Altuve gets a lot of Dustin Pedroia comps, which is not a bad thing. He is owned in roughly 40 percent of leagues and is a young player who could find his way onto your team this season.
Justin Morneau — At 50 percent owned, he may already have too much buzz to be called a sleeper. He started out slow this spring, but has killed it in his last five spring games (8-for-17, 3 HR). He is going to probably play DH only this season, which will limit his chances of getting hit on the head. He has the ability to give you a return of fourth- or fifth-round talent. If no one grabbed him in your draft, he would be the first one I would grab off of the waiver wire.
Gordon Beckham — This post-hype sleeper is also starting to generate some buzz. Owned in less than 20 percent of leagues, he is off to a solid spring training (.296 BA, 1 HR and 2 SB in 54 AB) and contributes it to his new plate approach. This guy could be a nice late-round grab, but if he struggles early, feel free to drop him, because he has openly admitted that it affects him if he struggles.
Eric Thames — This guy ended the Travis Snider buzz by playing well enough to get him sent down to triple-A. He has 20+ home-run power and should not completely kill your batting average. He is owned in less than one percent of leagues. He should be owned in AL-only leagues, and in mixed-leagues, he should be monitored.
Aroldis Chapman — Wow, things are a mess in the bullpen of Cincinnati. The easy fix would be sending Chapman back to the pen and let him be the closer. He has also looked very good on the mound as a starter and is still competing for the fifth spot in the rotation alongside Homer Bailey. He is owned in 35 percent and his potential alone (either as a closer or a starter) garners a roster spot.
Bobby Abreu — Owned in less than three percent of leagues, this guy has no chance of getting any playing time this season on the Angels. However, a deal is in the works to send him into the starting lineup for Cleveland (sorry, Shelley Duncan). Last year was a huge power drop off for this veteran slugger. A new home could rejuvenate Abreu and give you something like a .270 AVG, 10-15 HR and 20 SB.