What is Fantasy Baseball Advice without a top prospects list? Every year there is usually a number of prospects who get called up or make the opening day roster that can help your fantasy team. The one thing fantasy owners must watch out for is while these prospects can help and once in a while be a huge success initially, it is very important not to over rate these young players. Young players take time, so you should view these prospects as secondary players who can help your team. Most good fantasy baseball teams have a very strong base of secondary players like the ones below. While if you look at the teams in your league that are struggling, odds are, they have fewer star players with a wealth of underperforming secondary players.
With that said, let's take a look at the NL prospects for 2010 who could make the opening day rosters:
Jason Heyward - Atl - OF - Wrote a whole article on Heyward last week.... Again 5 tool player with intangibles. A decent to good spring and he will be the starting right fielder.
Alcides Escobar - Mil - SS - Escobar could be a real good leadoff hitter who is strong in average and runs and gives you 30 plus steals for years to come. However, while I like Escobar (hit .304 in 125 AB's in Aug & Sept last year with the Brewers) I wouldn't go bonkers with your aucton dollars come draft day. I believe that the Brewers will look to protect Escobar which means he will probably start the year batting either 7th or 8th. That means less runs and most importantly less stolen base situations. But a good first half and then I can see the Brewers putting Escobar at the top of the lineup in the 2nd half and you will see a big difference in runs and steals. If you do draft Escobar you must stay patient. I think 20 steals is a strong possibility (had 42 steals in AAA last year in 430 AB's) but don't count on anymore than that even though he is more than capable.
Stephen Strasburg - WAS - SP - We all know the stories about Strasburg between his velocity and stuff. However with young pitchers it is a big learning curve and the Nats are not exactly going to be compared to Murders Row. I would also think with the amount of money the Nats gave Strasburg (15 Mil signing bonus) they will be cautious with their future ace and I can see Strasburg starting the season in the minors and getting called up in June - July (not to mention to avoid Strasburg being a Super 2 in terms of arbtration). If Strasburg makes the opening day roster, do not spend more than $13 on him because on the Nats he will only win so many games and remember, he hasn't thrown a pitch in the majors, so an ERA below 4 & a ratio in the low 1.3's would be great. Strasburg should be a big help in K's for 2010 however. To be honest with you with a $13 auction price there is a good chance you won't get a $13 value in 2010 but in a keeper league $13 for Strasburg for 2011 could be a steal.
Gaby Sanchez - Fla - 1B - A good spring and Sanchez could be the starting 1B for the Marlins come opening day with Jorge Cantu manning 3B and making Bonifacio a utility player which is a role he is probably best suited for. Sanchez has a short swing, hits for average and scouts feel he has the ability to be 25HR guy. Sanchez did turn 26 in September and Logan Morrison is knocking on the door so this spring Sanchez needs to come up with the goods.
Madison Bumgarner - SF - SP - Bruce Bochy said last week that the #5 starting pitchers job was Madison Bumgarner's to lose. Bumgarner is only 20 years old but the Giants feel he has number one stuff. Also Bumgarner dominated in the minors the last 2 years. Bumgarner would be a great end of the draft pickup for the back of your rotation and again in a keeper league a low draft day buy this year would be a great keeper for 2011.
David Freese - Stl - 3B - As of now I don't know who is competing with Freese for the 3B job. Freese in the minors was a consistent .300 hitter with a short swing and drives the ball to the opposite field. All great signs but keep in mind Freese is a little bit of a late bloomer since he is 27. Having said that the league is full of proven players such as Raul Ibanez & Ryan Lucwick who didn't start producing on the MLB level until their late 20's.
Ian Desmond - WAS - SS - With the signing of Adam Kennedy last week or so to play 2B with the Nats and with Christian Guzman's contract (signed for 1 more year at around 8 Mil) it looks like if Ian Desmond makes the opening day roster it will be as a utility player. The Nats like Desmond and feel he would be good in that role. Desmond could be a great 14th hitter on your roster as he could play all over the field and give you nice numbers with some cheap steals.
Final point - In preparing for the last 3 drafts I have come up with a strategy of using my UTIL or 14th hitter on a prospect I targeted who I could get for a $1 or $2 at the end of draft on a kid who may not make the opening day roster but could get called up by June and help my team for that year or use as him as a trade chip with a rebuilding team in the 2nd half. For the 2007 draft I got Hunter Pence for $1 at the end of the draft, same thing in 2008 where I got Andrew McCutchen for $1 (used him as a trade chip in a big trade that helped me win the league that year) and last year in 2009 I got Dexter Fowler for a $1. I think this is a great strategy to use even if you give up small numbers in the beginning of the year by drafting a prospect who will start the year in the minors instead of guys like Craig Counsell or Gary Matthews Jr.
Part II will focus on the NL prospects who will be June - July call ups.
NL King - C.Lizza