Colby Rasmus, CF, St. Louis Cardinals
Rasmus takes a big hit on this list with word that Rick Ankiel
will be given every opportunity to open the season as the Cardinals starting centerfielder, and either Skip Schumaker
or Ryan Ludwick
manning right. If Rasmus was assured of a job, he'd move up this list. A true five-tool talent with nary a weakness, it's looking more and more like Colby will begin the season at Triple-A Memphis, which is where he should be at in terms of his natural progression.
One only has to take a cursory look at his metrics from last season to see a true star in the making. He's still growing into his frame, but still hit 37 doubles and 29 home runs in 555 plate appearances! While he struck out 19.5% of the time, he also showed promising plate presence by walking 12.6%. His fly ball rates were also quite high, while keeping his ground ball rate at a very low 28%. His average was at .274, which does suggest he could struggle at the major league level, and could use a little more time in the minors, but this average is due to climb as he gains more experience against better competition and learns how to avoid prolonged slumps. The sky is the limit with Rasmus.
The big wild card this season with Rasmus is his playing time. If he gets regular at bats, he'll be an above average producer with a slightly better-than Adam Dunn
-esque batting average. But because the risk is so high that he'll actually see less than 250 at bats, for 12-team mixed redraft leagues, he's nothing more than a final round flier, and very risky one whom could be taking up valuable bench space with no discernable return for quite some time. Unfortunately, I'd bet on the under with Rasmus in terms of playing time.
240 AB, .248 BA, 11 HR, 31 R, 26 RBI, 8 SBDeeper Mixed Leagues:Matt LaPorta, LF, Milwaukee Brewers
Led the NCAA in slugging and OPS and possesses incredible power and excellent plate discipline. A student of the game, if defense improves only moderately, bat will carry him far. Move to left field could yet pay off big dividends for Milwaukee. LaPorta is definitely one to nab in deep leagues earlier than later, and if a keeper league, bump up even further. Might even be worth a flier in a 12-team mixed if he gets the playing time.Johnny Cueto, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
Small frame but has plus command. Though his stamina lacks, his light weight indicates this shouldn't be a future issue. Has impressive pitch movement which is his key to strike outs. Because he can succeed in a variety of roles, may see bullpen action or spot starts for 2008. Future is bright and has shot up many prospect lists. Do not discount because of size.Manny Parra, LHP, Milwaukee Brewers
Despite history of arm problems, had an incredibly successful season, highlighted by a perfect game against Red Rock in only his second start in the Pacific Coast League. Has the stuff to absolutely dominate hitters due to plus command and plus curve mixed with above average mixed fastball. Because last season was his first healthy one, he's more than likely due for extended time in Milwaukee's bullpen, but all it will take is another semi-annual Ben Sheets
trip to the DL to move him into the rotation. He could easily rocket into the top list provided his arm stays healthy and the opportunity manifests.