Potential Breakout Fantasy Stars for 2013
During the 2012 season, several young players such as Mike Trout, Chase Headley, Edwin Encarnacion Allen Craig and Jason Heyward, took the gigantic leap forward to fantasy stardom. Being able to identify these players before the season, and secure them for your fantasy squad, provided tremendous return on your investment. Today, we’ll take a cursory glance at a few budding young stars who could make that leap themselves in 2013.
Salvador Perez – C – Royals
The Royals young backstop burst onto the scene as a 21-year-old in 2011, hitting .331/.361/.473 with three homers and 21 RBI in just 148 at-bats at the end of the 2011 campaign. He was slated to be the starting catcher heading into 2012, but a torn left lateral meniscus sidelined him for the first half of the season. Ahead of schedule, he returned from the DL at the end of June and went on to post a .301/.328/.471 line with 11 homers and 39 RBI in only 289 at-bats. He continued to pound the ball in the Venezuelan Winter League after the season, mashing to the tune of .371/.412/.629 with eight homers and 39 RBI in just 32 games. He looks like a tremendous bet to finish with a plus batting average, and should have no problem providing 15-20 homers and 75 or more RBI. In early NFBC drafts, he’s been the 10th catcher off the board on average (108th overall), and will deliver considerable value at that position.
Adam Eaton – OF – Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks have made it perfectly clear in recent weeks that their intention is to trade either Jason Kubel or Justin Upton before the season, and the main reason being is that they want Eaton to open the season as the everyday centerfielder. The 24-year-old outfielder posted some gaudy numbers over two minor league levels in 2012, hitting .375/.456/.523 with seven homers, 48 RBI and 44 stolen bases. In his brief 85 at-bat audition with the big club, it was encouraging to see him hold his own, hitting .259/.382/.412 with seven extra-base hits (including two homers) and a pair of steals. Should he open the season as the D’Backs leadoff hitter, Eaton could be a tremendous source of runs and stolen bases, while not hurting you in average or the power categories like a typical speed-only asset. He’s currently coming off the board at an ADP of 245 (62nd among outfielders), and could deliver profit from that spot purely on speed alone.
Josh Rutledge – SS/2B – Rockies
The 23-year-old infielder made the jump from Double-A Tulsa midway through the 2012 season, after he hit .306/.338/.508 with 13 homers, 35 RBI and 14 stolen bases through 87 games. He didn’t disappoint in Colorado either, slashing .274/.306/.469 with eight bombs, 37 RBI and was seven-for-seven in stolen base attempts. He’ll open the season as the Rockies everyday second baseman, but also has shortstop eligibility from his time in 2012. He’s easily capable of delivering 15/15 production without being an average drain, though his counting stats will depend on where he’s slotted in the lineup. If he does indeed hit second, where he spent most of his time a season ago, he’s an absolute steal at his current ADP of 178 (13th among shortstops).
Will Middlebrooks – 3B – Red Sox
Middlebrooks made his long awaited Red Sox debut in May of 2012, and hit a solid .288/.325/.509 with 15 homers and 54 RBI through his first 75 games before a broken right wrist ended his season in August. The 24-year-old slugger has been doing baseball activities since October and is expected to be at 100% for the start of spring training. He should slot somewhere in the middle of an improved Red Sox lineup, where he should be faced with plenty of RBI opportunities. Early fantasy drafters have taken notice, taking him as the 10th third baseman off the board (123rd overall), but if he lives up to expectations there’s still plenty of room for profit. Expect around 20 homers, 85 RBI and a handful of steals with an average in the neighborhood of .275.
Ben Revere – OF – Phillies
The speedy 24-year-old outfielder should see his stock elevate with the move from Minnesota to Philadelphia this offseason. He possesses absolutely blazing speed, and hitting atop the Phillies lineup he should have no problem accumulating 100 runs scored and 50 stolen bases. He’s also a career .326 hitter in the minor leagues, and posted a very respectable .294 with the Twins in 2012. Even in the smaller ballpark, Revere isn’t going to give you anything in the way of power, but he will more than compensate for that deficiency with spectacular three-category production. He’s currently the 47th outfielder off the board according to ADP (172nd overall).
Brandon Belt – 1B – Giants
Sure, we’ve profiled the Baby Giraffe extensively in this space before, but the 24-year-old is far too talented to continue to disappoint. He finally has the full support of his manager, and will head into the regular season as the defending champion’s unquestioned starter at first base. Even in his “disappointing” 2012 campaign, he hit .275/.360/.421 with seven homers, 56 RBI and a dozen stolen bases. The power hasn’t developed as quickly as many hoped it would, but he’s certainly capable of approaching 15/15 while not being a negative in any other categories. At his current ADP of 245, he represents tremendous value as a corner infielder or utility option.
Billy Hamilton – SS/OF – Reds
With the addition of Shin-Soo Choo, there is little-to-no chance that Hamilton opens the season with the big league club. However, if incumbent shortstop Zack Cozart gets off to a slow start, or there is an injury in the outfield, the single-season minor league stolen base champion will make an immediate impact. He’s a tough draft-and-hold, as it’s certainly possible he spends the majority of the season in Triple-A, but teams that are hurting for speed could do far worse for a late round flyer at pick 278. Even if he only plays half a season for the Reds, he could approach 50 stolen bases.
Darin Ruf – 1B/OF – Phillies (Current ADP: 302)
The late-blooming, 26-year-old slugger possesses mammoth power, swatting 41 bombs in 2012 between the Triple-A and major league levels. He struggles to make consistent contact, but has always hit for a high average in the minors, and even during his September call-up. If given the opportunity to play every day, he could be one of the biggest surprises of the 2013 season.
Jedd Gyorko – 2B/3B – Padres (Current ADP: 307)
Early indications are that Gyorko has a solid chance at opening the season as the Padres starting second baseman. While he won’t steal more than a handful of bases, he offers massive power potential from a scarce position, with the ability to hit for a plus average.
Colin Cowgill – OF – Mets (Current ADP: 617)
Cowgill has always possessed an intriguing combination of speed and power, but has struggled to his consistently at the major league level. With limited competition in the outfield for the Mets, he should see enough at-bats to deliver 10/10 pretty easily, with potential for much more.