Unlike fantasy football where leagues are generally won through savvy draft strategy, fantasy baseball is won by finding the guys who breakout and by playing the waiver wire successfully. In 2010, Buster Posey helped many fantasy owners win their leagues. So who are these players in 2011? That's the million dollar question. Lets take a look at some guys who could fill that role. (Note: This is only a few names to look at. "Post-hype" type players were intentionally left off as well as players who seem to be a little further away from a spot at the big leagues this season.)
Zack Cozart Cin-SS
With the old and oft injured Edgar Renteria currently teaming up with Paul Janish to man the shortstop position for the Reds, Cozart could earn his way up to the majors at some point in this season. Janish is not a very good hitter with a career .228 batting average in the majors and he only has 3 stolen bases and 7 homeruns over 3 seasons. Last season at AAA Louisville, Cozart batted .255 with 30 stolen bases and 17 homeruns. He also hit 30 doubles and 4 triples during the season which increases his potential value for H2H leagues in particular.
Jed Lowrie Bos-2B/SS
It seems that someone is injured in Boston's infield every season. While it is usually Kevin Youkilis, both Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez have a very recent history of injury as well. Lowrie seems poised to be the guy to get most of the playing time behind all three of these players. There is also the strong possibility that Lowrie could unseat Marco Scutaro as the teams starting shortstop. For just a taste of what Lowrie has the potential to do in the majors just look at his stats over 171 at-bats last season. In that limited time he had a .287 average with 9 homeruns and a slugging percentage of .526. Lowrie is off to a slow start, probably pressing a bit, and his value is super low right now.
Mike Moustakas KC-3B
Over the past year Moustakas has become a very well known prospect to most who follow baseball. The most frequent comparison I hear is to Evan Longoria. While I'm not prepared to make that comparison, I am ready to own him in fantasy baseball. Between AA NW Arkansas and AAA Omaha Moustakas hit .322 with a whopping 36 homers in only 484 AB. He also had 124 RBI, .630 slugging percentage, and 67 K's to 34 BB's. For those of you playing in H2H leagues he also ripped 41 2B. Expect Moustakas to get called up at some point this season, maybe as soon as this summer.
Brandon Belt SF-1B
Because of injuries Belt has been able to forgo starting the season in the minors this year. He already has a homerun and appears to be comfortable at the plate. The only concern for Belt has been his quick rise from the low minors to the majors. The majority of Belt's 136 games last season came below the AA level. However, In those 136 games Belt hit 23 homeruns while swiping 22 bases. With a batting average of .352 in the minors last season we know Belt can hit and it seems inevitable he will do it in the majors. As Belt is already in the majors, he should be a must get in any deep keeper or dynasty league.
Jesus Montero NYY-C
At 6-2 235 lbs Montero is a pretty big catcher. He sounds more like a linebacker. The only problem for Montero thus far has been his defense, and his defense appears to be holding him out of the majors for the time being. But this could change. With the Yankees in need of starting pitching it would come as a surprise to only a few if the Yanks dealt the young Montero for a more stable arm in the rotation. If he is traded Montero could possibly come up sooner than he would if he remains with the Yankees. His best bet with the Yankees this season is that Russell Martin and currently injured Francisco Cervelli open the position up for him.In 453 AB last season in AAA Montero hit .289 with 21 HR. If his defense continues to hold him back, don't be surprised to see Montero suit up to play in the bigs at a different position as his size and hitting abilities may very well lead to that scenario.
A few more players to keep an eye on that I like include (but are not limited to):
Brett Lawrie Tor-2B
Tsuyoshi Nishioka Min-2B/SS
J.P. Arencibia Tor-C
Freddie Freeman Atl-1B