by Will Overton
Every year there are a few rookies who get an exorbitant amount of hype in the preseason. These are the players that everyone wants and have their price skyrocket due to the love and allure of potential stardom (nearly as much as real stardom). Then there are another group of rookies who no one pays any attention to that fly under the radar, go undrafted and inevitably a few blow up and you just hope to get them off the wire in time.
Today I am looking at batters who made their teams opening day roster, so not looking at potential callups. These may not be guys you want to grab immediately (depending on your format), but you should watch closely for a possible breakout.
Jeimer Candelario – 3B, Detroit Tigers: This is one of the Tigers many 2017 midseason trade acquisitions and one they are excited about (enough that they have moved Nick Castellanos to the outfield to make room). Candelario isn’t your typical power hitting corner infielder, but he has a strong knack for getting on base and good things happen when someone gets on base regularly. He played 27 games for the Tigers last year and hit .330 while walking 11.3% of the time, leading to a .406 OBP.
The Tigers lineup isn’t the scary force of years past, but Candelario is hitting second and being in front of Miguel Cabrera and Castellanos while having a knack for getting on base is a pretty good combination. Candelario should have a walk rate in the double digits and an OBP in the high .300’s, which could lead to 90+ runs. I mentioned him not being a prototypical power hitter, but he could still approach 15 HR. He’s worth watching in all formats, but especially if your league uses OBP.
Lewis Brinson – OF, Miami Marlins: Another player in a good spot for a bad team. Brinson is someone with a lot of upside, but also a fair amount of risk to flame out. He’s going to get the opportunity in Miami to see about that upside and they’re experimenting with him in the leadoff spot in the lineup.
Brinson has flashed 20/20 skill in the minor leagues and had a big breakthrough last year in what was essentially a half year at Triple-A, where he hit .331 with 13 HR and 11 SB. The worry is that his past issues with striking out will come back to haunt him in the big leagues, and if they do he may not be long for the leadoff spot (even with his stellar track record of walks).
He’s probably already owned in deeper leagues, but standard league owners should be watching closely to see how this one plays out.
Ryan McMahon – 1B, Coloradro Rockies: Due to seeing a heavy dose of lefties thus far Ryan McMahon has yet to start a game for the Rockies, but his time is coming to prove himself. The Rockies let Mark Reynolds walk in the offseason, making McMahon their guy against right-handers. McMahon is not Reynolds, he is much more of a contact hitter than a power hitter, though he still possesses enough power to push close to 20 HR in Colorado’s air.
McMahon has a skill set similar to Candelario, who we discussed earlier, with the advantage of playing in Colorado but disadvantage of being in a platoon. Keep an eye on him to see what he can do with his playing time when it comes.
Drew Robinson – OF, Texas Rangers: Here’s a much deeper sleeper name for you than the others on the list. It was expected that the Rangers would be starting Willie Calhoun, a more highly touted prospect, in left field but first crack at the job is going to Robinson. The 25-year old rookie got a cup of coffee last year and flashed some power potential with 6 HR in 107 AB.
Robinson has shown a nice blend of power and speed throughout his minor league career with a better than average walk rate. The thing that will potentially be his downfall would be the strikeouts. In seven plate appearances this season he’s already struck out five times. If he can keep the strikeout rate somewhat down, even in the mid 20%’s, he could keep the job and there is definite 20+ HR upside with 450+ AB, plus a little speed. It’s just keeping that K rate seems like it’s going be a real challenge.
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Preseason Rankings:
|Starting Pitchers||1-20: 03/24/18|