Are you looking for an under-the-radar prospect who could pay dividends later on in 2012? Let’s take a look at a few names that others in your league may be overlooking, but who could become viable options at some point this season:
Kolten Wong – Second Baseman – St. Louis Cardinals
Through April 15 – .424 (14-33), 1 HR, 7 RBI, 7 R, 1 SB at Double-A
The Cardinals are trying to go with Danny Descalso (.200, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 3 R, 0 SB in 30 AB) and Tyler Greene (.200, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 0 R, 0 SB in 20 AB) at second base, though neither player has been able to distinguish themselves with the bat. That could lead to the team turning to Wong, their first round pick in 2011, sooner then we would’ve imagined.
At 21-years old, it definitely isn’t out of the question. Thus far Wong has shown a great command of the strike zone, with 3 strikeouts vs. 5 walks. He also has shown great extra base power, with 2 doubles, 2 triples and 1 home run (a .697 SLG).
It’s a continuation of what he showed at Single-A after being drafted last year, as he had 22 extra base hits (15 doubles, 2 triples, 5 homes runs) and 9 SB in 194 AB. He also managed a 24-to-21 strikeout-to-walk rate. In other words, the kid can hit.
While he may not bring significant power or speed, he can clearly handle the bat. He appears to have the makings of a potential 15/15 player, if not more. With the Cardinals searching for a long-term answer at the position, if Greene and/or Descalso don’t establish themselves soon Wong may not be very far away.
If you are in a deeper format that requires a middle infielder, his potential to hit .300+ (thanks to his control of the strike zone) with some speed and power makes him a player that has to be on your radar.
Will Middlebrooks – Third Baseman – Boston Red Sox
Through April 15 – .364 (16-44), 3 HR, 11 RBI, 8 R, 2 SB at Triple-A
We all know that it is likely going to take an injury to Kevin Youkilis (though the recent controversy definitely makes things interesting) to give Middlebrooks an opportunity to contribute in 2012, but how long of a shot is that? Youkilis hasn’t played more than 120 games in either of the past two seasons (and no more than 136 in the past three). In other words there is a good chance that we see Middlebrooks at some point this season.
Thus far he is showing fantasy owners why he needs to be on their radars. He is currently on a 7-game hitting streak (including four multi-hit games), and a 4-game RBI streak (three consecutive multi-RBI games).
That’s not to say that it is all positive, as he has not shown the ability to control the strike zone. Thus far in 2012 he has posted 8 K vs. 1 BB. It’s not a terrible number, but in 439 AB across three levels in 2011 he struck out 114 times while walking just 26. In 2010 it was 121 K vs. 35 walks in 435 AB. In other words, he needs to correct that issue before fantasy owners can count on him to make an impact. Especially when he first gets an opportunity to produce in the Majors, you know pitchers are going to try to take advantage of him going out of the zone.
Keep him on your radar, just in case, but he’s not likely to make a major impact this season.