It’s too late on Anthony Rendon, Jose Altuve and Nolan Arenado. Those youngsters have already broken out, meaning we’ll have to pay more than fair market value to land them.
The key to your fantasy baseball draft will be finding the next crop of players on the verge of making a leap. We can go hunting for these guys in the middle rounds, after we’ve secured safer assets early on. Here are 2015’s breakout candidates:
Everyone in your league knows of George Springer after he hit 20 homers in 78 games as a rookie last year. Not everyone will realize how good he can be he only stole five bases and hit .231. As a minor leaguer in 2013, the Astros right fielder hit 37 homers and stole 45 bases – part of 87 steals in 287 games. He was also a .302 hitter in the minors, giving us hope he can raise his big-league average closer to .260 despite all the strikeouts. Springer is worth taking in the fourth round of drafts so we can get in early on a future superstar.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN LOW
Drew Pomeranz was a highly-touted prospect coming out of Ole Miss in 2010 and went fifth overall to the Indians. Unfortunately for him, he was traded to starting pitcher hell (Colorado) in 2011 as part of the Ubaldo Jimenez trade. Pomeranz was predictably a fantasy liability during his two-plus years in the Mile High city, posting a 5.20 ERA across 136 2/3 innings. But he was set free last year when the A’s traded for him and he rewarded their faith by going 5-4 with a 2.35 ERA. Now set for a full season in the pitcher-friendly AL West, Pomeranz is a fine mid-range fantasy starter.
Now that Matt Kemp is in San Diego, Joc Pederson will have every chance to win the Dodgers’ starting gig in center this spring. If he does it, he’ll be one of the league’s best sleepers. Pederson dominated Triple-A last season, hitting .303 with 33 homers and 30 steals – flashing his versatility and plus five-tool ability. Even if Pederson scuffles in the spring, his ability to play all three outfield spots and run the bases will lead to playing time. He’s a rookie to watch very closely come March.
NBA Pickups of the Week
Paul George, SF, Pacers – Now targeting a mid-March return, George is a low-risk/high-upside kind of bench stash.
Lou Amundson – In the last four games Amar'e Stoudemire missed before the buyout, Amundson averaged 8.5 pts, 8.0 rebs and 2.0 blocks.
Gary Harris, SG, Nuggets — Harris is a deep-league speculative add just in case the Nuggets completely clean house at the deadline.
Larry Fitzgerald agreed to a contract restructure Wednesday that ensures he’ll stay with the Cardinals. It does not ensure his numbers will improve. Fitzgerald is used as Bruce Arians’ late-career Hines Ward at this point, blocking and running routes close to the line of scrimmage. Michael Floyd is the No. 1 receiver, John Brown is the deep threat and Andre Ellington is a pass-catching back. It leaves Fitz with a capped upside heading into his age-32 season.