Over the last couple weeks, the Rotoworld staff has taken a division-by-division look at players who are trending up in fantasy value heading into the 2013 season. We’re calling them “fantasy risers,” and this is the final installment.
Check out the American League East, American League Central, American League West, National League East and National League Central. Now, to wrap it up, the National League West ...
Brandon Belt, 1B, Giants
We’re feeling a breakout 2013 season for Belt, who should finally start close to 150 games as the Giants’ regular first baseman. He made just 102 starts in 2012 for reasons that can’t entirely be explained -- you’ll have to take that up with Giants manager Bruce Bochy. Belt had a .343/.457/.596 career batting line in the minor leagues and slugged 23 home runs in 136 games between High-A San Jose, Double-A Richmond and Triple-A Fresno in 2010. The 24-year-old native of Nacogdoches, Texas can flat out rake, and the power is coming soon.
David Hernandez, RP, Diamondbacks
Hernandez has made a steady but impressive climb into the ranks of the game’s top setup men. He had a 5.42 ERA as a rookie in 2009 with the Orioles, then dropped it to 4.31 in 2010, 3.38 in 2011 and 2.50 in 2012. All the while, his strikeout rates have been soaring. The 27-year-old right-hander fanned 98 batters across 68 1/3 innings this past season in Arizona for a career-high 12.9 K/9. If the development continues and the D’Backs decide to move contract-year closer J.J. Putz around the July 31 trade deadline, Hernandez will be ready to carry his special brand of dominance into the ninth-inning role.
Wilin Rosario, C, Rockies
In most given baseball seasons, Rosario would have easily been the favorite for National League Rookie of the Year honors after slugging 28 home runs and tallying 71 RBI alongside an .843 OPS. But the 2012 version of that award went to Nationals phenom Bryce Harper, and fellow worthy candidates Wade Miley and Todd Frazier finished second and third, respectively. That left Rosario fourth and will hopefully keep his profile somewhat discreet as fantasy baseball draft season approaches next spring. The 23-year-old Dominican has immense raw power and plays his home games in a park that caters nicely to his particular skill set.
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Diamondbacks
To understand why we love Goldschmidt, you need look no further than his almost-legendary minor league career. He smashed 18 home runs in 74 Gulf Coast League games as a first-year pro in 2009, 35 homers in 138 games at High-A Visalia in 2010 and 30 homers in 103 games with Double-A Mobile in 2012. And he also boasts a 1.026 career minor-league OPS. Goldschmidt strikes out quite a bit, but he’s not as bad in that department as some of your more prominent free-swinging sluggers. The 25-year-old is a fairly well-rounded as a hitter, and he should be ready to take another large leap forward in 2013 for the Diamondbacks. Chase Field is going to do wonders for him.
Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP, Dodgers
The Dodgers spent a total of $61.7 million -- $25.7 million for the posting fee and $36 million on a six-year contract -- to lure Ryu over to the states. And they plan to give him a spot in their season-opening starting rotation behind Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Josh Beckett. Ryu is certainly an unknown commodity, but that’s what should attract him to deal-hunting fantasy owners. The 25-year-old left-hander had a 2.80 career ERA over seven seasons in the Korean Baseball Organization while averaging close to a strikeout per inning. We like his odds of succeeding right out of the gate in MLB.
Adam Eaton, OF, Diamondbacks
Eaton appeared in only 22 games as a rookie in 2012, but that was enough to give the baseball universe a glimpse of what kind of major leaguer he can be. The quick and intelligent 24-year-old center fielder plays exceptional defense -- with great range and an elite-level throwing arm -- and he also excels at the other elements of the sport. Eaton managed a .382 on-base percentage over his first 103 major league plate appearances this past season for Arizona while tallying seven extra-base hits. And he swiped 98 bases in 319 games during his minor league career. It all hints at a potential fantasy star. He’s expected to bat in front of Aaron Hill, Justin Upton, Miguel Montero, Paul Goldschmidt and Jason Kubel during the 2013 campaign. Let the runs flow.
Andrew Cashner, SP, Padres
A hunting accident is going to sideline Cashner through most of spring training and will probably lead to him opening the 2013 season on the disabled list. But that just makes him more of a fantasy steal in our eyes. The hard-throwing 26-year-old right-hander fanned 52 batters in 46 1/3 innings this past summer for the Padres and boasts an 8.9 career K/9. The guy misses bats with great regularity -- thanks to a dynamite power fastball-slider combination -- and has the luxury of making his home starts inside the cavernous confines of Petco Park. Yes, the walls are moving in for 2013, but it should still remain the most pitcher-friendly environment in the majors.
Chris Denorfia, OF, Padres
Denorfia stole 13 bases in 2012 despite starting only 77 games. He should get more playing time in 2013 and could reach the 20-swipe plateau. Take a flier on him in the final round.
Sergio Romo, RP, Giants
Romo finally got a shot at ninth-inning duties near the end of 2012 and will open the 2013 season in that role. The bearded right-hander boasts a 2.20 career ERA and a 0.88 career WHIP.
Luke Gregerson, RP, Padres
The 28-year-old setup man had a career-best 2.39 ERA in 2012 and fanned 72 batters in 71 2/3 innings. He’s a great guy to stash behind injury-prone Padres closer Huston Street.
Wade Miley, SP, Diamondbacks
Miley, 26, finished second in the National League Rookie of the Year balloting in 2012 after posting a 3.33 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 144/37 K/BB ratio in 194 2/3 innings for the Snakes. He’s a solid mid-rotation fantasy starter with room to grow.
Josh Rutledge, 2B, Rockies
The 23-year-old filled in admirably for Troy Tulowitzki (groin) in 2012, dialing up a respectable .775 OPS while belting eight home runs in just 73 games played. A young middle infielder with pop, playing his home games at Coors Field? We’re sold.