Like any season, a number of players will be making their big-league debuts in 2009 or getting their first extended shot at legitimate playing time. Keep an eye on some of these fantasy baseball outfielders who could be worthwhile to your team immediately.
Fantasy Baseball Dugout’s “Dashing Dan” continues his series of profiles on the top fantasy baseball prospects for 2009. Prospects make great late-round fliers in fantasy baseball. Here are four outfielders to watch next year.
Matt LaPorta, Cleveland Indians
LaPorta made a big splash when the Cleveland Indians traded for him in their deal for C.C. Sabathia. LaPorta spent the entire year with the Double-A systems in Cleveland and Milwaukee, hitting 22 homers.
He only played in 101 minor-league games last year because of his stint on the U.S. Olympic team. Still, he combined to hit .279 with 74 RBIs and 62 runs scored. LaPorta may be a mid-season call-up instead of winning a job in spring training. Regardless of when he makes his MLB debut, he should have a successful 2009.
Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
McCutchen was a threat to start in centerfield for the Pirates in 2008; however, Nate McLouth had such a good spring training that he won the job. Now that two-thirds of the Pirate 2008 opening-day outfield are elsewhere (Xavier Nady, Jason Bay), McCutchen has a chance to step in.
Spending the entire 2008 season with AAA Indianapolis, McCutchen hit .283 with 34 steals and 75 runs scored. He is not a particular power threat, hitting only 9 homers and driving in 50 runs with Indy in ’08. Generally, he is at the top of the lineup, so he will not be an RBI threat. But, he could reasonably hit a .270 with a dozen homers and 40 steals in his 2009 rookie campaign with the Buccos.
Cameron Maybin, Florida Marlins
Maybin has only played in 32 major-league games, but he may play in a good deal more in 2009. The soon-to-be 22-year old was slightly disappointing in 2008, never landing above Double-A Carolina in the Florida system until his September call-up.
Maybin is a worthwhile late-round draft pick in 2009 fantasy drafts. He hit .277 with 13 homers, 49 RBIs, 73 runs scored and 21 steals in 108 games for the MudCats in 2008. Depending on when the Marlins decide to get Maybin in the lineup, he has 20-20 potential.
Travis Snider, Toronto Blue Jays
Travis Snider spent much of 2008 with the Double-A New Hampshire FisherCats in the Blue Jays organization, but he started the year in Single-A and finished with AAA Syracuse. Over those three levels of play, Snider hit .275 with 23 home runs and 91 runs batted in. He scored 89 runs and stole three bases.
Snider will be a threat to earn a big-league position in spring training. He is probably not worth drafting in 2009 fantasy drafts, but is a strong candidate for fantasy scout teams and watch lists. Keep him on your radar.