Each week, Baseball Press will be providing some "under the radar" fantasy players for NL-only leagues, AL-only leagues and mixed leagues. We'll review the diamonds in the rough on the waiver wire that might help you boost your fantasy team in 2011.
Reggie Von Bartles
Under the Radar - Preseason Pickups
Tuesday March 29th, 2011
With many fantasy baseball drafts finishing up this weekend, owners have some time between now and opening day to ponder their roster. While it may be against one's better judgment to start dropping and adding players right away, you can certainly consider improving your roster in areas where you feel production will be lacking. Here's a look at a few players who may be able to help:
* Owned percentages via Yahoo! Fantasy Sports
Mike Morse - OF/1B, Washington Nationals (35% owned)
Mike Morse showed power potential last year in Washington by hitting 15 home runs and slugging .519 over 293 plate appearances. During spring training this year, Morse found himself fighting for an outfield position once again, but due to recent front office moves and the manager's decision, Morse has secured a spot in left field and the fifth spot in the lineup. With the demotion of Roger Bernadina and trade of Nyjer Morgan to the Milwaukee Brewers, Morse will see plenty of at-bats behind Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman. He has nice power upside, but owners will have to deal with the strikeouts (21.2% strikeouts of all career plate appearances). Regardless, Morse is a nice addition for teams lacking power, and will likely hit between 20 and 25 homers in 2011.
Kila Ka'aihue - 1B, Kansas City Royals (13% owned)
Rarely do the Kansas City Royals have a player worth owning in mixed fantasy leagues, but there are several up-and-coming prospects in their system who are worth keeping an eye on (we're looking at you, Mike Moustakas). While "Moose" isn't among the starting nine right now, Kila Ka'aihue is starting and will likely bat fourth for the Royals. First base is a very deep position in fantasy baseball, but he's a nice option at the corner infield or utility spot on your roster. Ka'aihue posted a 11.7 walk percentage (BB%) over 230 big league plate appearances and has shown throughout his professional career that he can hit the long ball. A possible 25 to 30 home runs along with nice OBP and OPS numbers make him a solid addition to your fantasy roster.
Jon Rauch - RP, Toronto Blue Jays (32% owned)
So you waited to draft closers and got stuck with nobodies? No problem. With relievers Frank Francisco and Octavio Dotel likely on the disabled list to start the season, Jon Rauch is the favorite to land saves early on in Toronto. Jon has some proven success as a closer and has converted 47 of 69 saves over his eight-year career. However, he's not likely to be a long-term solution at closer, as Francisco and Dotel are expected back early in the season (barring any setbacks). That would return Rauch to a setup role for the Jays. Regardless, cheap saves are cheap saves.
Will Venable - OF, San Diego Padres (12% owned)
The Friars will most likely pencil Will Venable in as the leadoff hitter this season, providing him with an excellent opportunity to swipe bases. I have a man crush on Venable (probably in thanks to Eno Sarris from Roto Hardball) and also view him as a nice power/speed combo. Though Venable tends to strike out way too much for most fantasy owners, he's a nice grab for those searching for steals and a little pop.
Jake Fox - 1B/OF/C, Baltimore Orioles (9% owned)
Before you go crazy on me for listing Jake Fox here, I've simply listed him here to advise you against adding him to your team, despite his spring training stats. He's hit ten home runs and slugged over .800 this spring, but the truth is that he doesn't have a lineup spot. The Orioles lineup is, surprisingly, pretty loaded with bats this season, which should make playing time for Fox during the regular season difficult to come by. Don't be that owner who falls into the trap of putting too much importance on spring training numbers.
Because starting pitching is usually deep in fantasy leagues, here is list of a few starters to get you going this spring:
Brandon Beachy, Atlanta Braves (8% owned)
Tim Stauffer, San Diego Padres (50% owned)
James McDonald, Pittsburgh Pirates (10% owned)
Kyle McClellan, St. Louis Cardinals (17% owned)
Michael Pineda, Seattle Mariners (22% owned)
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