I'm calling it now, 2006 is the year of the "young guy"! No question there are a few players out there who are totally going to rip this game up this season. These players are the players that everyone is going to hope they slip in the draft, but the fact is.... they won't! Due to the lack of talent at certain positions, some of these guys will fly off the shelves before you can say "wait, what round are we in?" The following players, in no particular order, although young and plenty to prove, are still must haves on any fantasy team. Score 2 or 3 of these guys and your all set. I have picked out a few so lets begin....
1. Feliz Hernandez, SP, Seattle
Felix is probably the most exciting player in the fantasy draft world this year. Just 18 years old, he is considered a pitching phenom! He's got a heater and gets K's o' plenty. He'll even rack up innings for you if they are counted. He is already the Seattle ace and should be for years to come. Grab him now and keep him for next year. But don't get too crazy, take these factors into consideration...... First, he is still only 18 and has a lot to learn. Second, he pitched a ton of innings the second half of last year. Third, his team stinks. Still, if you can grab him in the middle rounds, snatch him up!
2. Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia
Another guy who had a tremendous first full season technically although he wasn't a full time starter until the second half when the Phillies traded away his roadblock in Placido Polanco. Utley came out with a vengence with a .291 avg, 28hr, 105 rbi and 16 sb. Expect everyone of those numbers to increase and even expect 100+ runs as well. Total, I expect .300, 30hr, 115 rbi, and another 15 sb's. He's the next Jeff Kent in a great lineup and argueably the top 2Bman in the league next to Alfonso Soriano....in just his 2nd full season. He'll definitely be gone by the end of the 2nd round.
3. Grady Sizemore, OF, Cleveland
Sizemore will be the next 5 tool player every team must have. He got off to a rocky start in his rookie season but bounced back with a bang finishing .289, 22hr, 81rbi, 111 runs, and 22 sb with a total of 640 at bats. Thats a lot of at bats and he should have no problem reaching that total again this year. Obviously, we can expect his power to go up a bit as he matures and I would also expect a .300+ average. He'll keep running too. Once the big boppers are off the board, probably somewhere in the late 2nd and 3rd round might be a good time to grab this go-getter! Also, remember he will be hitting in a healthy monster lineup this year.
4. Jhonny Peralta, SS, Cleveland
Here's a guy who plays the in a position that is weak this year, Short Stop, when he really should be playing a corner position. A combination of this guys power and size will make him the 2nd or 3rd top SS in the league this year. If they are saying this guy should be a 3rd baseman, then you know he has some serious power. After Tejada and Jeter, the SS position this year is weak. I would expect to get Peralta at half the price of Jeter and put up better power numbers. Think about that. Expect all of his numbers to increase. 25hr/100 rbi is not totally out of the question and he should be hitting 3rd in the Cleveland lineup. If he's out there, go get 'em!
5. Jorge Cantu, 2B/3B, Tampa Bay
Here's a guy who doesn't get the recognition he deserves because he plays in Tampa. Last year he quietly amassed 28 hr and 117 rbi with at .286 average. Not bad for a guy who had to split time the first half of the year. He also made himself eligible at 3B in fantasy leagues too. So a versatile guy who has some nice power. I'm sure Tampa will continue to suck, but look for Cantu to shine this year!
6. Rickie Weeks, 2B, Milwaukee
Weeks has been projected to be a fantasy stud with his combination of speed and power at the 2nd base position. Although last year he had a somewhat low average, he still projects to be a .300 hitter. Look for Weeks to bat atleast 2nd in the Milwaukee lineup and watch his numbers increase in his first full season. He may struggle early but should pick it up nicely by mid season. Expect .285, 20+hr, 85 rbi, 30sb. A nice pick in the mid rounds if Utley, Soriano, and Cantu are gone.
7. Huston Street, Closer, Oakland
Street came on in the second half last year as Octavio Dotel fell to injury. Street struggled for playing time at first when Oakland struggled to get him in the game but he showed some real promise the second half with his low 1.72 era, 23 saves and 72 K's in only 78 innings. If Oakland is good this year which they project to be, watch out, Street may save 40+ games and possibly accumulate 100+ strikeouts!
There you have it......there are even a few other players I could have mentioned, but these 7 are seven of the most exciting players in the draft. Get 'em while they're hot!
- The Fantasy Man Show - Podcast #2 .... as the Fantasy Man dips into the mail bag!
- The Fantasy Man will rank the 12 best Fantasy Closers
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