In case you didn’t know, the name of this post was taken from the song lyrics of “Centerfield” released by John Fogerty in 1985. The front man from Creedence Clearwater Revival actually played every instrument on this album; thanks to a process know as overdubbing.
By now everyone has seen some sort of list that ranks the top prospects in baseball. These lists are great for keeper leagues and leagues with minor league systems, but what about non-keeper leagues? What good is a pitching phenom in single A going to do a fantasy team this year? The answer is nothing except eat up a valuable bench spot.
The purpose of this article is to identify some of the young players who will be on the field when their big league team opens the 2009 season. I’ve excluded guys like Evan Longoria, who has already reached superstar status, and Joey Votto, whose extremely impressive stats have him ranked among the best at his position. My list is more about the young players that may be overlooked on draft day but who could help pave the way to a fantasy payout at the end of the season.
C – Jesus Flores (Nationals)
Nobody f#cks with De Jesus! Sorry I had to throw that one in there for all of my fellow Lebowski lovers. Flores showed great potential last year when he drove in 59 runs in 300 at bats. Don’t expect him to keep up that pace in 2009 but he can be among the top 10 fantasy catchers.
FANTASY BASEBALL ADVICE – He deserves to be in the second tier of catchers behind McCann, Mauer, Victor and Soto.
1B – Travis Ishikawa (Giants)
This smooth swinging lefty has Giants’ fans reminiscing about “Will the Thrill”. Ishikawa hit two HR’s in SF’s first spring game and recorded 24 long balls last year in the minors. Ishikawa was never considered an elite prospect but if he continues to exhibit HR power he will be a serviceable fantasy 1B.
FANTASY BASEBALL ADVICE – Consider him a steady back up that you can take in the late rounds.
2B – Chris Getz (White Sox)
Getz is competing for the starting job in Chicago. He doesn’t have a whole lot of power but his high batting average could help him find his way to the top of the line-up where he should score some runs.
FANTASY BASEBALL ADVICE – At this point I would consider him equivalent to someone like Mark Ellis. He will be a decent starting 2B if he wins the starting job
SS – Alexei Ramirez (White Sox)
In my opinion this guy is already a star, but some casual baseball fans still don’t know who he is. His wirey frame and immense power remind me of Soriano.
FANTASY BASEBALL ADVICE – Draft him in the mid rounds after Hanley, Reyes, JRoll and Drew.
3B – Ian Stewart (Rockies)
It seems like this guy has been around for a while now, but this is the first season where he will have a starting job. I think he is capable of hitting around .275 with 20+ HRs. He will need to avoid a slow start to ensure he doesn’t lose a starting position when Helton comes back
FANTASY BASEBALL ADVICE – Stewart could be a breakout performer at a fairly weak position. Draft him in the middle rounds and you can realistically expect him to finish in the top ten at his position.
OF – Travis Snider (Blue Jays)
This super prospect is expected to start in left field this year for the Blue Jays. He has incredible potential and could end up hitting in the middle of the line-up. Travis had an off year in AA in 2008, however 40% of his hits went for extra bases, which translates well into fantasy numbers.
FANTASY BASEBALL ADVICE – Snider will be available in the very late rounds in most drafts. Select him with a late round pick and he could end up being one of your starting OFs once he gets past some of the growing pains of facing the best pitchers in the game.
OF – Cameron Maybin (Marlins)
This guy is unbelievable. He should have been the starting CF and lead off hitter for the Fish last year but the team opted to leave him in their minor league system. The few Marlins fans that actually show up to games are going to love young Mr. Maybin. He has all the tools and his potential is off the charts. He will be among the league leaders in steals this year and will put up great numbers in every fantasy category.
FANTASY BASEBALL ADVICE – Don’t wait until the middle rounds to select Maybin or you will miss out on the Marlin’s next superstar.
OF – Jay Bruce (Reds)
This young slugger could potentially hit 30 HRs this year and he will be 22 on opening day! Jay has elite power and playing 82 games at the Great American Ballpark is a terrifying proposition for opposing pitchers.
FANTASY BASEBALL ADVICE – Bruce is ready to break out in a major way. Consider his a top 25 fantasy OF who could be substantially better than that if he continues to improve.
Stay tuned and I will give you some of my young pitchers who could make a splash in the fantasy world….